This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Her, Orange is the New Black ...
This week: The weird loveliness of 'Her,' the addictive jailbirds of 'Orange is the New Black,' and the last stand of Kenny Powers.
► Spike Jonze’s HER is a triumph of craft over gimmick. What sounds like a dreary rom-com – guy falls in love with his computer’s female-voiced operating system – is instead one of the most truthful, heartfelt movies about the nature of relationships and loneliness in recent memory. Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t play anything for laughs or easy sentiment here, he’s a normal, depressed dude who can’t connect with real people, even his (ex) wife, so he finds a connection with the hyper-intelligent new program he installs on his computer, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Of course it’s doomed to fail, but so much of what they talk about and feel is genuine. It’s set in the year 2020, and there’s an air of inevitability over the whole thing – this is like ‘The Terminator’ of romance movies. A worthy Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay.
► ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘House of Cards’ opened the door for Netflix last year, and ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK barged right in. The straight-to-web series, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, earned huge buzz off the usual TV grid and may have forever re-defined what a ‘hit’ show is. Taylor Schilling plays a bisexual New York woman sentenced to 15 months in jail for delivering drugs to her ex-girlfriend. Season 2 starts June 6, and Season 3 has already been greenlit.
► For your ‘Underworld’ withdrawal, here’s the spectacular crapfest I, FRANKENSTEIN, otherwise known as ‘You’re Better Than This, Aaron Eckhart.’ The perfect movie for everyone who thought Mary Shelley’s book needed more martial arts and gargoyles. From the same guy who created ‘Underworld,’ and there’s already talk of a crossover. Sure to be the least anticipated movie of 2016.
► The fact EASTBOUND AND DOWN even had a Season 4 was weird enough, since HBO announced Season 3 would be the last. But then the show has its best season ever? Believe it – with a clean slate, the story basically re-positions Kenny as the underdog after his baseball comeback/faked death fiasco which ended season 3 on a weird note. Not liking life as a nobody, he becomes an obnoxious panel member on a sports talk show, eventually usurping the scumbag host (a fantastic Ken Marino) and repeating the sins of his past. It’s basically the first three seasons revisited, but damn if it isn’t funny and Danny McBride doesn’t kill it in his last go-round as Kenny. A glorious send-off.
► The Zac Efron reclamation project started earlier this year with THAT AWKWARD MOMENT, in which he plays a guy determined to stay single in light of his friend’s failed marriage. Naturally, a one-night hook-up with Imogen Poots puts that theory to the test. The highly touted script, on the 2010 Black List of best unproduced screenplays, didn’t make much difference at the box office. Though Efron won Best Shirtless performance at the MTV Movie Awards.
► Before they kill Wolverine off soon (will he ever return? The suspense is killing me), Marvel Knights brings the 2009 ‘Weapon X’ storyline TOMORROW DIES TODAY to blu-ray this week. Jason Aaron - the bad-ass writer of ‘Scalped’ – penned this tale of a wave of Deathloks sent by a future corporation to wipe out all vigilantes, even if they’re babies. The only woman who knows what’s going on is a waitress who aids Wolverine and other heroes. Unfortunately, this is one of those dreaded ‘motion comics.’
► Criterion turns its attention this week to the 1975 docu-drama OVERLORD. Stuart Cooper’s strange flick intersperses archival footage from World War II for this tale of a British soldier preparing for the D-Day invasion and his premonitions of death. Includes Cooper commentary and plenty of featurettes from the war.
► Lacking a buzzworthy match to make WRESTLEMANIA XXX feel special, the WWE did the next best thing: Break Undertaker’s streak. The Dead Man’s mythical Wrestlemania winning streak has been the event’s greatest ongoing story, and it seemed a foregone conclusion it would reach 22 after he mopped up Brock Lesnar here. Instead, about 70,000 people in New Orleans were stunned beyond belief. The match itself is terrible, but the reaction in those few minutes afterwards is one of the great WWE moments. The fact Daniel Bryan winning the championship wasn’t the night’s biggest moment tells you how momentous this was. Not the best Wrestlemania, far from the worst.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!