This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Brave, Savages, The Watch ...
This week: With Brave, Pixar's slump didn't last very long. Also: The return of Oliver Stone, Todd Solandz makes his least icky movie, and did anyone watch The Watch?
► If last year’s ‘Cars 2’ ended Pixar’s amazing streak, BRAVE is simply the start of another one. Beautiful to look at, emotionally told, and - as always – that elusive mix of maturity and childlike wonder: No other studio puts it together like this. As different and risky as ‘Cars 2’ was safe and familiar, ‘Brave’ offers a feisty little redhead (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) who defies her family’s customs about pre-arranged marriages and heads into the forest alone, where she throws her realm into chaos.
► SAVAGES was supposed to be the Oliver Stone reclamation project. Instead, we’re once again wondering what happened to the dude who made culturally relevant movies instead of paperweight pulp fiction. Based on the Don Winslow book, and directed with Stone’s by-now tiresome hyper-editing, it has pot dealers Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch taking on a Mexican cartel after they kidnap the friend (Blake Lively) they both love. Of all the goofy things Stone has dumped on us, Salma Hayek as a drug lord is right up there.
► Everyone must have had a blast on set of THE WATCH, which leads to a feeling of ‘you had to be there.’ You get the sense director Akiva Schaffer, with his background in ‘Saturday Night Live’ shorts, gave his cast a rough outline of the story and just let them riff on this comedy about a neighborhood watch battling aliens who use a Costco as their base of operations. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade provide the crude laughs (how many dick jokes can one movie have?), but the improv vibe wears thin.
► Don’t know about you but when I think of director Todd Solandz, I think of kiddie jizz dripping off a railing, Selma Blair getting pounded by a huge black professor, and Dylan Baker breaking his son’s heart by telling him he’d never molest him. Ya, the guy left some baggage in my head. By all accounts, DARK HORSE is a kindler, gentler Solandz, though I’d still approach with caution. Jordan Gelber is a 30-year-old toy collector still living at home who convinces a drugged-out train wreck (Blair, again) to marry him.
► Amy Heckerling truly is an enigma. Since the great ‘Clueless’ 17 years ago, she has directed just three films: ‘Loser,’ ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman’ and now VAMPS. This one reunites her with Alicia Silverstone, who joins Krysten Ritter as two socialite vampires having fun in New York, until one of them starts dating a guy with the last name Van Helsing. This opened in some theatres just 11 days ago.
► While filming ‘Dawn of the Dead’ in 1978, George Romero was followed by filmmaker Roy Frumkes for the long-beloved documentary DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD. Originally a bonus feature on the Ultimate Edition of ‘Dawn,’ this new 2012 version includes new interviews and on-set visits to Romero’s subsequent zombie films. Also includes a new Frumkes commentary.
► Even on Blu-ray, you’ll never grasp everything great about David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA until you see it on a big-ass movie screen. There are movies meant for widescreen, then there’s this – it goes to 11.Beautifully restored for its 50th anniversary, the collector’s edition includes the soundtrack CD and hardcover book.
► Criterion’s nifty offering this week is Jean-Luc Godard’s crazy call for anarchy, WEEKEND. A French couple, both secretly planning each other’s murders, head out to the country to secure an inheritance while the world goes insane around them. The film is best known for a brilliant eight-minute tracking shot of a traffic jam. A film full of car accidents, murder and hippie cannibals. Godard is never one to make feel-food flicks but he was especially cranky for this one.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!