RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Inside Llewyn Davis, Out of the Furnace, and More

A couple of Oscar-nominated movies and a handful of indies round out the list.

by | March 11, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got three Oscar-nominated selections, one thriller from a director who previously helmed an Oscar-winning film, and an actioner starring Jason Statham, as well as a few smaller movie that should also make for some great choices. Read on for the full list:

Inside Llewyn Davis

92%

Early on in this year’s awards season, it looked like the Coen brothers’ latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis, might be a major contender in a handful of Oscar categories including, at the very least, Best Original Screenplay or Best Original Song. In the end, the film notched just two nominations, for Cinematography and Sound Mixing, and left the Oscars empty-handed. Oscar Isaac stars as the titular folk singer, who is trying to get a solo gig started after his former partner has committed suicide. Broke and essentially homeless, Llewyn crashes on his friends’ couches and hitches his way to Chicago to audition for a producer he hopes will jumpstart his career. Inside Llewyn Davis features a lot of Coen brothers trademarks — understated tone, memorable side characters, an off-kilter sense of humor — and critics found the film both funny and thoughtful. Certified Fresh at 94% on the Tomatometer, it’s yet another worthy addition to the Coens’ already impressive filmography.

The Book Thief

48%

Speaking of Academy hopefuls, The Book Thief sported a few tried and true “Oscar bait” elements: it’s based on a book, it’s set in WWII-era Germany (read: “Holocaust movie”), and it features a young heroine who overcomes an obstacle against impressive odds. Relative newcomer Sophie Nélisse plays Liesel Meminger, who is sent to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) as war looms on the horizon. Liesel slowly learns to read from Hans and the pair form a bond; as WWII begins in earnest, a Jewish family friend seeks shelter in their home and sets events into motion that will have lasting effects on Liesel and her new family. While critics acknowledged the committed performances, they also felt The Book Thief skewed a little too sentimental, choosing to play things a bit on the tame side, and for that, the film earned a mixed 46% Tomatometer score.

Out of the Furnace

53%

Scott Cooper’s debut (as director) was the well-received 2009 film Crazy Heart, which netted a Best Actor Oscar for star Jeff Bridges and a second trophy for Best Original Song. For his follow-up, Out of the Furnace, Cooper got another acting heavyweight — Christian Bale — to play the lead in a story about a steel mill worker (Bale) who takes it upon himself to investigate the disappearance of his brother (Casey Affleck) after he returns from a tour in Iraq and falls in with a notorious crime ring. Unfortunately, Out of the Furnace failed to rack up the accolades that Crazy Heart did; despite an outstanding cast that included Willem Dafoe, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, and Sam Shepard, critics had a hard time agreeing whether or not to recommend it. While some felt the acting alone was worth the price of admission, others were let down by the derivative, sometimes needlessly violent story. You may have to decide for yourself who you agree with more.

Homefront

42%

Phil Broker just wanted to settle down in a small town and live a normal life with his daughter; little did he realize that the small town he chose was run by a ruthless drug kingpin who would make his life more eventful than he would have liked. Jason Statham’s latest starring vehicle finds him playing this ex-DEA agent who runs afoul of the local criminal element, spearheaded by James Franco as meth dealer Gator, and critics say it’s a pretty by-the-numbers revenge thriller. Those who weren’t particularly impressed claim Homefront‘s action set pieces weren’t quite up to snuff, while its more dramatic elements also lacked the sophistication to work as an effective thriller. On the other hand, 42% of the critics felt the film was made competently enough to serve as an entertaining diversion if you’re in need of an action fix.

The Broken Circle Breakdown

83%

If you’ve been paying attention this awards season, chances are The Broken Circle Breakdown sounds familiar to you, even if you don’t quite recall why. Based on a play of the same name, this Belgian import about a couple brought together by their mutual love of bluegrass music and torn apart by tragedy was most recently nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Though it ultimately lost the Academy Award to The Great Beauty, critics still found it to be a poignant, heartbreaking romance set to some incredible music, even if it’s occasionally undermined by its artistic ambitions. Certified Fresh at 79% on the Tomatometer, The Broken Cirlce Breakdown isn’t the happiest story of the year, but it’s engrossing, finely crafted, has a killer soundtrack, and serves to remind us how much great cinema we may be missing from other parts of the world.

Also available this week:

  • In Fear (88%), a psychological horror film about a young couple trapped on country roads as an unseen assailant torments them.
  • Certified Fresh Afghan novel adaptation The Patience Stone (86%), about a Muslim woman keeping watch over her paralyzed husband and confessing all the things she could never say before.
  • Enemies Closer (75%), starring Jean Claude Van Damme in an action film about a forest ranger (and former soldier) who is forced by drug cartels to help track down a missing shipment of narcotics.

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