This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Life of Pi, Hitchcock, This Must Be the Place ...
This week: Setting sail with Life of Pi, Anthony Hopkins goes full Alfred for Hitchcock, and a blu-ray for Roger Rabbit's 25th anniversary
► You can nitpick all you want how much Ang Lee’s Best Director Oscar was the result of LIFE OF PI’s visual splendor, but the mere fact he made a cohesive, emotionally rich movie out of such a difficult book is worth the statue alone. After awhile, the story of a 16-year-old shipwreck survivor and a Bengal Tiger he names Richard Parker sweeps away any cynicism you might have over the special effects and 3D (though, ya, this had no business winning the cinematography Oscar). This is a beautiful, life-affirming movie which can be enjoyed for its spiritual message as much as its straight-out thrills. Be aware, though - the original Fox press release promised two hours of special features, but Amazon lists nothing.
► Serious fans of the Master of Suspense won’t get much from HITCHCOCK – it’s a mostly tame look at the making of ‘Psycho,’ barely hinting at the director’s creepy quirks and cruelty towards his leading ladies. It focuses on Hitchcock’s difficulties getting the film made (for God’s sake, you had to fight just to show a toilet on screen in 1960) and the tension with his wife (Helen Mirren), who emerges as ‘Psycho’s real hero after she edits the DOA thriller into a classic. Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles provide solid support.
► So, remember that bad-ass Sean Penn played in ‘Mystic River” to win his first Oscar? The kind of guy who could make you wet your pants in fear just looking at you? Ya, he’s the complete opposite of that in THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, and the fact he pulls it off is just more proof the guy is one of our greatest actors, ever. He does the Robert Smith thing here as a retired rock star who decides to track down the Nazi who tormented his dad in Aushwitz.
► Here’s how you make a generic-looking animated movie like RISE OF THE GUARDIANS stand out: You put “executive produced by Guillermo Del Toro” in the credits. Instant intrigue. Based on the William Joyce book series about mythical figures who band together to keep kiddies of the world safe from the ‘Bogeyman.’ They have doubts their newest team member, Jack Frost, is up to the task. While it made over $300 million worldwide, its underwhelming box office led to Dreamworks Animation laying off 350 people.
► I’m not sure what I love more: When Criterion gives the deluxe treatment to already great movies, or B-movie clunkers like THE BLOB. Yes, it’s a cornball cult classic, but have you watched it lately? It’s a miracle Steve McQueen made another movie. I much prefer the ’88 remake with Johnny Drama, but Criterion has loaded up this blu with gooey goodness, including digital restoration, two commentaries, and a photo gallery.
► This is the week Jessica Rabbit goes high-def. For its 25th anniversary, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT gets digitally remastered for its blu-ray debut. A technical marvel at the time, this Robert Zemeckis classic (his follow-up to ‘Back to the Future’) now plays like a loving tribute to traditional animation, as if they sensed Pixar on the horizon. It’s likely the reason there has never been a sequel. Includes the three Roger Rabbit shorts and filmmaker commentary.
► Well, it was nice knowing you MOB DOCTOR. Thirteen episodes, three-and-a-half months on the air, and off you go. As usual, Fox laid the hype on thick for this drama about a Chicago doctor forced to do off duty jobs for the mob when her brother gets in trouble. Of course, a mob show on network television is always so neutered, what’s the point? William Forsythe, suddenly available after getting plugged on ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ plays the baddie.
► The Danish political drama BORGEN is due to make a lot of fans over here. Stephen King named it his favorite show of 2012, and it won Best International TV Series at last year’s British Academy Television Awards. Sidse Babett Knudson plays a party leader who becomes the Danish Prime Minister after a mix of scandal and fluke. Once in office, however, the knives come out and she must contend with the ‘old boys club’ mentality of Danish politics. Plenty of intrigue in this first season, comprised of 10 episodes.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!