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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Ides of March Has Arrived

Plus, a couple of the worst films of 2011 and a Luis Bunuel classic.

by | January 17, 2012 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got an interesting mix of really good and really bad (oh, so bad). But before we get to those, let’s mention some of the other items coming out this week that we won’t be mentioning: The Robin Williams classic Good Morning, Vietnam is getting a 25th Anniversary Blu-ray, Criterion releases a new Blu-ray of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, and the recent Journey to the Center of the Earth gets the hi-def 3D treatment… you know, for the kiddies. As far as new stuff, there’s the George Clooney directed political drama starring Ryan Gosling, the new Christian film from the makers of Fireproof, two of the moldiest movies to come out in 2011, and a retro coming-of-age tale. Finally, Criterion is also introducing its new transfer of a Luis Bunuel classic featuring one of Catherine Deneuve’s most iconic roles. See below for the full list!

The Ides of March

83%

Now that awards season is fully under way, 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for George Clooney. He’s already picked up a couple of awards for his work in The Descendants (which has garnered its own fair share of accolades), but his latest directorial effort, The Ides of March, was nominated for four Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. The star-studded cast includes Ryan Gosling (that fourth Golden Globe nom went to him for Best Actor) as an idealistic campaign manager who becomes increasingly jaded by politics, Philip Seymour Hoffman as his wily boss, Paul Giamatti as a competitor trying to woo Gosling away from his candidate, Marisa Tomei as a persistent reporter hungry for a scoop, and, of course, Clooney himself as the seemingly perfect presidential candidate who has a few secrets of his own. With talent like that and a timely story, the film was almost destined to do well, and it indeed managed a Certified Fresh 85% on the Tomatometer. Even if you’re not so much into politics, it’s still an expertly acted, smartly written drama.

Courageous

36%

Independent Christian dramas have been the subject of some ridicule, primarily because they’re often low budget affairs that wear their messages on their sleeves and feature sometimes questionable acting. According to critics, Courageous manages at least to exhibit competent filmmaking, even if, as with previous films of its kind, it caters a little too heavily to a very specific demographic to be openly enjoyable for all. Set against the backdrop of the drug trade in Georgia, Courageous follows four deputies — all fathers — who are urged by their sheriff to spend more time with their families. When tragedy befalls one of the deputies, all four of them make a formal pact to change their lives and honor God in all that they do. The primary complaint coming from most critics had nothing to do with the message of the film itself; rather, they found Courageous to be a bit melodramatic and heavy-handed, choosing to gloss over complex issues with broad platitudes. If you’re a believer, you may find yourself nodding in approval at the film, but at 35%, don’t expect Courageous to do much more than spoonfeed you what you already know it’s going to say.

Abduction

5%

Let’s be fair here: some inspirational cinema may be a bit obtuse and unsophisticated, but there are plenty of worse films that don’t preach any particular spiritual message. Case in point: Abduction, which stars Twilight heartthrob Taylor Lautner as Nathan Harper, a teen who, while researching for a school project on missing children, discovers that his true identity has been kept hidden from him all his life. As Nathan uncovers more about his past, he and his friend Karen (Lily Collins) are plunged into the dangerous world of his biological father, a former CIA agent embroiled in an espionage war. Apart from Lautner, who has yet to establish himself as an actor of some range, the cast is surprisingly solid: Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, and even the original Dragon Tattoo star, Michael Nyqvist are all on board here. We say “surprisingly” because, despite this pedigree, Abduction only managed to eke out a 4% on the Tomatometer, making it one of the worst-reviewed films of the year, with critics calling it soulless and incompetent. Things could have been worse though, and speaking of which…

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

3%

If you haven’t heard of Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, then you are one of three things: 1) only a sporadic reader of RT, 2) extremely fortunate, or 3) both. Considering it only made about $2.5 million in box office receipts and left theaters after two weeks, it’s an understandable oversight. Produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison studio, the film stars comic Nick Swardson as the titular Bucky, a man-child who discovers his uptight parents were once famous porn stars. With this newfound knowledge, Bucky decides to follow in his parents’ footsteps and sets his sights on Hollywood, where his small genitalia make him a popular gimmick. There’s more to the story, but it’s really not worth getting into. At a whopping 0% on the Tomatometer, this aggressively unfunny and severely misguided comedy is the worst-reviewed movie of the year and winner of the Moldy Tomato; do what you will with that information.

Dirty Girl

34%

Though it may not seem obviously so, coming-of-age films are difficult to pull off, because the balance one must maintain in order to offer just the right amount of sentimentality — without crossing over into schmaltz — is a tricky feat to master. In Dirty Girl, first-time writer/director Abe Sylvia makes things even harder for himself by setting the film in the nostalgic 1980s and promising a subversive edginess in his titular protagonist, a promiscuous high schooler named Danielle (Juno Temple) who embarks on a cross-country road trip with an unlikely partner in crime: a closeted bisexual classmate named Clarke (Jeremy Dozier). According to most critics, unfortunately, Sylvia fails to bring it all together and make it work; they found Dirty Girl tame and uneven, never quite bringing the Dirty and then trying to tie it all up in a sentimental bow that’s wholly unearned. Despite an experienced cast that includes William H. Macy and Mary Steenburgen, Dirty Girl sits at 25% on the Tomatometer.

Belle de jour – Criterion Collection

95%

Celebrated Spanish-born surrealist director Luis Bunuel made a career out of exploring the various ways in which fantasy and reality intertwine, from his early work like film school staple Un chien andalou all the way up to his final film, That Obscure Object of Desire. 1967’s Belle de jour is one of the better known examples of his aesthetic, featuring a smoldering Catherine Deneuve in one of her most iconic roles. Here, Deneuve plays Severine, a wealthy Parisian housewife who, bored of her sexless marriage, entertains lurid fantasies and ultimately begins to visit and offer her services at a nearby brothel under the titular pseudonym. When she becomes involved with a gangster named Marcel (Pierre Clementi) and attempts to quit the brothel, jealousies lead to an explosive confrontation with rather ambiguous results; fusing daydreams with reality throughout the film, Bunuel leaves the end open for interpretation. This week, Criterion releases their brand new edition of Belle de jour, which comes packed with extras like a video examination of sexual politics, a new interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, and an excerpt from a television interview with Carriere and Deneuve.