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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: World War Z and The Bling Ring

Plus, Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic and a slew of smaller films.

by | September 16, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a pair notably different book adaptations (a biopic of Liberace and a zombie outbreak movie), Sofia Coppola’s ripped-from-the-headlines crime drama, and a bunch of limited releases you may not have seen. Then, we’ve got a couple of scary movies ahead of Halloween (more surely to come in subsequent weeks), and two more choices from The Criterion Collection. Read on for the full list:

World War Z

67%

During production of this adaptation of Max Brooks’s popular novel, initial reports surfaced that the film version deviated heavily from its source material, which sent fans into a tizzy. Then, when its release date was pushed back to accommodate rewrites and reshoots, most thought it spelled doom for the film; luckily, that turned out not to be the case. Brad Pitt stars as former UN agent Gerry Lane, who’s swept — rather immediately — into a globetrotting mission to track down the source of a terrifying epidemic that’s turning the world’s population into zombies. Most critics were pleasantly surprised by World War Z, given its production troubles, and called it a solid thriller with an engaging performance from Pitt, even if the film is unfaithful to the book and a bit uneven. At 67% on the Tomatometer, it doesn’t redefine its genre, but it’ll make an entertaining action-horror rental.

Behind the Candelabra

94%

Speaking of troubled productions, prolific auteur Steven Soderbergh had some difficulty finding a studio who would back his Liberace biopic, something he’d spoken to Michael Douglas about as early as 2000, when the pair worked on Traffic together. HBO finally agreed to premiere the film, an adaptation of Scott Thorson’s 1988 memoir Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, and critics say it’s a winner. Not so much a traditional biopic, the film depicts an already famous Liberace (Douglas) as he’s introduced to a teenaged Thorson (Matt Damon) in 1977, and the two embark on a secret five-year affair before the relationship falls apart. Behind the Candelabra earned Soderbergh some of his best reviews in recent years, landing at a Certified Fresh 94% on the Tomatometer, with critics calling it an honest, brilliantly acted film directed with care and affection.

The Bling Ring

60%

Sofia Coppola has established a reputation for stories infused with melancholy and pathos, so a based-on-true-events crime drama about bored teenagers robbing celebrity homes would seem like an ideal platform for a takedown of vapid pop culture idolatry. It’s too bad The Bling Ring didn’t quite make a strong enough effort to do so. Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga star as members of a circle of high school friends who make a hobby of breaking and entering into the homes of stars like Orlando Bloom and Paris Hilton and making off with their valuables. They become bolder with each robbery until their carelessness begins to catch up with them. Most critics agreed that the film’s topic was timely and, as with all of Coppola’s work, it’s beautifully shot, but many also felt she touched only lightly upon its central themes, rendering the film’s impact almost as shallow as its central characters. The Bling Ring sits just shy of Freshness at 59%, so it’s probably still an okay Friday night watch.

Also available this week:

  • Gimme the Loot (92%), an urban drama about two Bronx teens who spend two days scheming and hustling to raise $500 for a graffiti stunt.
  • Russian import In the Fog (89%), about an innocent rail worker in 1942 suspected of treason who is faced with a grave moral choice when he is stranded alone in the forest with a wounded enemy.
  • The East (74%), starring Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgård in a thriller about a private intelligence officer who goes undercover to infiltrate an anarchist organization.
  • Bless Me, Ultima (71%), an adaptation of the Rudolfo Anaya novel about a boy who is inspired by a mysterious woman with supernatural healing power.
  • Disconnect (67%), starring an ensemble cast — including Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, and Hope Davis — in a drama about the perils of an increasingly interconnected world.
  • Drift (28%), starring Sam Worthington in a true story about two surfing brothers in Australia.
  • The Hammer horror film Dracula: Prince of Darkness (83%), starring Christopher Lee, is available in a new Blu-ray.
  • A Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of George Romero’s Day of the Dead (81%) is available.
  • And lastly, from The Criterion Collection: Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata and Richard Linklater’s Slacker are both newly available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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