This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: June 25
This week: Humbug to the haters ... The Artist deserved Best Picture. Also: More terrible Titans and Eddie Murphy finds a way to keep digging after hitting rock bottom.
► It’s the bane of every Best Picture winner – the grumps who insist it had no business winning and it’s just Hollywood wanking itself. Still, I defy you to watch THE ARTIST and not feel your heart swell just a bit and your love of film grow a bit more. This is as outside ‘mass appeal’ as a movie gets and it works beautifully, telling its simple story in unconventional ways. And yes, Jean Dujardin totally deserved that Oscar, playing a silent film star who falls into despair when he’s bumped aside for ‘talkies’ in 1929. He loses everything except the friendship of a young star (a superb Berenice Bejo) who owes her career to him. I can’t stress this enough – what a gorgeous movie to soak in. You’ll be affected by it in surprising ways. And that dog … good boy!
► On one hand, WRATH OF THE TITANS is about as needless a sequel as it gets, considering how relentlessly hard the first one sucked. But maybe - just maybe - they could do this whole Greek mythology thing right this time and deliver something as good as a 'God of War' game, at least. Nuh uh. If anything, the acting is even more wooden and the CGI more bloated, as Perseus (the wooden as always Sam Worthington) takes on the titan Kronos, who has been released from his prison by baddie Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to take down the weakened Gods. Why are they weak? Because regular folks are sick of their shit. I can relate
► Wow, did Eddie Murphy go from 60 to 0 in record time this year. Early on he was poised to make a comeback with ‘Tower Heist’ and – even better – host the Oscars. Neither happened, and instead we got A THOUSAND WORDS, yet another comedy that makes you wonder why he doesn’t just retire. The guy is incredibly smart – how can he not see how horrible these movies are? This one, borrowed from the Jim Carrey playbook, has him as a literary agent desperate to close a deal, and makes a deal with a guru in which a tree with a thousand leaves loses one with every word he speaks. What happens when they’re all gone? Um, did you care how ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ ended either?
► The surprising remake of 21 JUMP STREET will be known as the movie Channing Tatum made ‘the leap.’ From annoying one-note hunk of man beef to a legitimate comic actor. It didn’t hurt having Jonah Hill around, as these two turned a movie that drew groans when it was announced into one of the year’s few comedy hits. Where the TV show played its concept straight – young cops going undercover in high school – this one is all about the laughs. Nick Offerman as the chief is a nice bonus
► Faced with cancellation, DAMAGES went the route of ‘Friday Night Lights’ and got a reprieve on Direct TV. The result was an edgier Season Four with nudity and much more graphic violence … makes me wish ‘The Shield’ went this way too (not one ‘fuck’ out of Vic Mackey? Really?). John Goodman steals the show this year as the CEO of a defense contractor Patty and Ellen team up to take down after a botched mission in Afghanistan. As usual, nothing you see in the first episode is what it appears.
► Either I’m going senile or my brain is filtering out Julia Roberts movies, because I have no recollection of MIRROR MIRROR playing in theatres. Probably because, like everything else that opened in March, it got buried by ‘The Hunger Games.’ But more likely because everything Roberts has touched for the past 10 years or so is a complete bore. Including this, another modern take on a fairy tale … because that’s a completely original idea in 2012. At least those dwarves rock.
► An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Michaël R. Roskam’s BULLHEAD drops a haymaker on you early, then dials up the intensity during its grim second hour. Similar in spirit to ‘Bronson,’ it gets a stunning performance out of newcomer Matthias Schoenaerts as a cattle farmer who puts as many steroids into himself as he does his cows. When he makes a deal with a mafia-connected meat trader, a childhood trauma surfaces again. The special edition includes a booklet with intro by Michael Mann. Expect a Hollywood remake to be announced any day now.
► Amid the snugly warmth of ‘80s nostalgia, it’s nice to be reminded the decade also produced some awe-inspiring crap. Stuff that’s so ridiculous, it never even caught on in a kitschy way. Stuff like CASABLANCA … the TV series. Yes, in 1983 someone at NBC pitched David Soul of ‘Starsky and Hutch’ in the Bogey role for a prequel to the classic movie, and they didn’t get laughed out of the room. The fact it only lasted five episodes before common sense prevailed doesn’t erase the fact it still made it to network television. Hector Elizondo and Ray Liotta co-star. What’s more weird? This was the second attempt at a ‘Casablanca’ prequel series (the first was in 1955).
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!