This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Wolf of Wall Street, Veep ...
This week: Make way for The Wolf of Wall Street. Plus: A great second season of Veep, and Vince Vaughn's limp Delivery Man.
► It’s not vintage Scorsese, but THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is a close enough callback to his ‘Goodfellas’ days. Leonardo DiCaprio throws everything into his role as real life stockbroker shark Jordan Belfort, who goes from penny stocks to yachts, indulging every excess along the way. At times it feels like a comedic ‘Scarface,’ but contrary to the film’s biggest criticism, it isn’t celebrating these people. To make their downfall matter, it has to show us the wretched heights they enjoyed by bilking and scamming people. Despite the decadence, this may the funniest movie Scorsese ever made. But for a film all about overdoing things, the blu-ray is flimsy on extras – just a featurette called ‘The Wolf Pack’ with new interviews with Scorsese and the cast.
► I’m convinced we will soon see a Travolta-like comeback for Vince Vaughn. Rest assured, DELIVERY MAN wasn’t it, but it was the least awful thing of a terrible 2013 for him. In this remake of a French-Canadian comedy, directed by the same guy (Ken Scott), he plays a chronic underachiever who learns he actually fathered 533 kids from sperm donations he made in college. And a bunch of them have filed a class action law suit against the fertility clinic to reveal their dad’s real name. Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders co-star.
► While no one was looking, VEEP may have become the funniest show on TV in Season 2. Bettering the first season in every way, it finds U.S. vice-president Selina Meyer (utterly great Julia Louis Dreyfuss) moving ass-backwards up the political ranks despite a dysfunctional family and borderline incompetent staff. Best episode this season has her high on meds after walking through a glass door, which it turns out is the worst time to speak to the media. This is one of HBO’s crown jewels right now.
► An offshoot of the 1999 BBC mini-series, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS foregoes narration and gives the critters voices as three little dinos grow into adulthood while avoiding predators. Dopey decision to add juvenile dialogue miffed fans of the original mini-series. Up against ‘Frozen’ in December, it was soon extinct.
► The storylines ran out of steam a few seasons ago, but CALIFORNICATION is still chugging along for Showtime, somehow pulling in its best ratings yet for Season 6. After nearly dying from an overdose, Hank (David Duchovny) does a stint in rehab and then goes to work adapting his book into a Broadway rock opera. What started out as a satire of L.A. depravity has become a show of far-fetched extremes and really unlikable characters.
► The Avengers get the anime treatment in AVENGERS CONFIDENTIAL: BLACK WIDOW & PUNISHER, made by the same folks who did last year’s ‘Iron Man: Rise of Technovore.’ The Punisher messes with a mission, so S.H.I.E.L.D. sends him out on assignment (as they do all mass murderers) with the Black Widow to stop global terrorist organization Leviathan. This isn’t really an Avengers story but they show up long enough to get their name in the title. ‘Dexter’s sassy-mouthed sister Jennifer Carpenter voices the Widow.
► Don’t look now, but there’s a whole whack of kick-ass Canadian TV shows catching on, with the time-traveling CONTINUUM leading the way. In order to stop corporations from replacing government, a group of rebels in the year 2077 travel back to Vancouver in 2012, with a cop (Rachel Nichols) who accidentally joins them. She enlists help from a computer genius (Erik Knudsen), who she soon realizes is one of the corporate moguls destined to run the world decades later. Season 2 consists of 13 episodes, three more than the first season.
► We are now up to the 29th(!) MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 boxed set, and if you think they’re running out of material, I humbly submit the immortal 1961 Italian classic ‘Hercules and the Captive Women,’ which is almost too easy for the gang to riff on, but riff they do. This set also includes ‘Untamed Youth’ from Season 1, and ‘The Thing That Couldn’t Die’ and ‘The Pumaman’ from later seasons. The usual bevy of extras include the original version of Pumaman, new intros from Joel Hodgson and an interview with Mamie Van Doren of ‘Untamed Youth.’
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!