This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Silver Linings Playbook, The Guilt Trip, Not Fade Away ...
► Even with David O. Russell behind the lens, everything about SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK looked cutesy and cliche. We should have known better … ask Lily Tomlin how cutesy Russell is. A never-better Bradley Cooper plays a bipolar mental patient grudgingly taken in by his parents (Robert DeNiro & Jacki Weaver), and starts a weird but charming relationship with a mentally unstable neighbor, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, who corrals him into a ballroom dance competition. There’s plenty going on here beneath the sharp dialogue and pretty faces, and Russell, of all people, has made a modern rom-com classic. Some real pain and heartbreak here, but it rarely feels manipulative.
► There’s a distinct old school-meets-new school vibe to THE GUILT TRIP, in which Seth Rogan plays an organic chemist who goes on a road trip with his mom (Barbra Streisand) to try and reconcile her with a former boyfriend. Some of the familiar beats from old Streisand flicks are here, blended with a PG-version of Rogan’s frat boy comedy. This is Streisand’s first leading role since ‘The Mirror Has Two Faces’ back in 1996.
► No, David Chase’s first movie will not be ‘The Sopranos.’ It's the authentic love letter to ‘60s rock NOT FADE AWAY, in which three friends from the Jersey suburbs see the Stones and decide to form a band. Chase’s attention to detail makes this one of the more thorough and realistic musicals in recent years (think ‘That Thing You Do!’ with more edge), and the tunes compiled by Steve Van Zandt are flat-out perfect.
► Lots of prestige to be found in BROKEN CITY, but it’s squandered in a formulaic drama about a private eye (Mark Whalberg) hired by the Mayor of New York (Russell Crowe) to find out who his wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) is cheating with. The first solo flick for director Allen Hughes of The Hughes Brothers.
► After working out the kinks its first two season, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION really hit its stride in Season 3. Michael Piller took over as head writer, veering away from the ‘alien of the week’ rut to focus on the characters and, more importantly, the returning villains. It ends just as things get great with THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, the season finale where the Enterprise take on The Borg, who have assimilated Picard. Production values are also better and the title sequence gets spiffed up. Remastered Blu-ray includes an inside look at the season’s key episodes and a tribute to Piller, who may have saved the show from an early demise. That two-part Borg episode is so great it gets its own Blu-ray, comprised of the Season 3 finale and Season 4 premiere. If a whole season of TNG is too much, you owe it to yourself to at least watch this classic.
► In THE DETAILS, Tobey Maguire takes out the frustration of a sour marriage on the raccoons destroying his lawn. But this declaration of war eventually leads to extortion, infidelity, organ donation and murder. Also stars Elizabeth Banks, Ray Liotta and Laura Linney. First movie for director Jacob Aaron Estes since the awesome ‘Mean Creek’ in 2004.
► British series THE SYNDICATE looks at five grocery store clerks who win the lottery just as their store is about to close. What seems like a godsend presents all new problems … and one of them doesn’t make it to the end. The second season, currently airing on BBC 1, picks up with a different set of winners. ABC has optioned a pilot for a U.S. version called ‘Lucky 7.’
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!