Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD 2/12/13

The triumphant return to form for 007 that was Sam Mende’s SKYFALL comes out today on Blu ray and DVD. The film, the 23rd in the James Bond series and the 3rd to star Daniel Craig, is available in a deluxe edition (including a DVD and a digital copy) on Blu ray, and a stand alone DVD version. Read my review from its original theatrical release here.

Special features include a couple of commentaries – one with Mendes, the other with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner, a bunch of ‘making of’ featurettes, a segment on the Royal World Premeire of the film at the Royal Albert Hall (you know, with the Queen!), and a promo for the soundtrack.

Stephen Chbosky’s PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER also drops today on Blu ray and DVD. It’s a movie I enjoyed (read my review), but not as much as my wife who adored it, saying that it captured her teenaged high school years beautifully. Both the Blu ray and DVD contain deleted scenes, a few featurettes, and a commentary with Chbosky, who adapted the film from his own young adult novel, and members of the cast including Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. That sounds like a commentary I might want to check out.

Despite the work of a solid cast headed by John Hawkes, who talks in a nasal voice that often sounds like Norm McDonald, I was not a fan of Ben Lewins’ THE SESSIONS, which is now available on Blu ray and DVD. The film, about poet Mark O’Brien who was paralyzed from the neck down, was a hit with audiences, and the Academy as it garnered a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Helen Hunt, but I found it to be too cutesy, especially for its subject matter, and felt that all it had to say was ‘paraplegics need to have sex too.’ Both Blu ray and DVD versions contain deleted scenes and several featurettes.

Jake Schreier’s ROBOT & FRANK, also out today but only on DVD, is a movie that I liked a lot better. It’s a silly story, about an aging jewel thief who takes on a helper robot as a partner in crime, but Frank Langella gives it a pleasing gravitas. As I wrote in my review last September, “the charming camaraderie between Frank and his robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) make this a breezily enjoyable 89 minutes.” The only special feature is a commentary with Jake Schreier and Writer Christopher D. Ford.

An acclaimed film that I’m ashamed I haven’t seen yet gets the Criterion Collection treatment today: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne’s 2011 drama THE KID WITH A BIKE. The set boasts a new digital transfer supervised by director of photography Alain Marcoen, featurettes including a conversation between film critic Kent Jones and directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, interviews with actors Cécile de France and Thomas Doret, a half-hour documentary, “Return to Seraing,” and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoff Andrew, but who am I kidding? I’ll be watching it on Netflix Instant where it’ll be available until December 2015 (according to instantwatcher.com). Maybe I’ll like it so much that I’ll want to see the bonus stuff one day. Nice to know the Criterion Collection one is out there in any case.

Finally, a movie I was profoundly disappointed by gets a Blu ray and DVD release: Bill Jones and Jeff Simpson's A LIAR’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY: THE UNTRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON’S GRAHAM CHAPMAN. Chapman’s life and comedic legacy aren’t done justice by this misguided adaptation of his autobiography, which he recorded a sort of “book on tape” version of shortly before his death in 1989.

In the faux documentary, those recordings are illustrated by a range of different animation styles, very few of which are appealing, with guest voices by ex-Monty Python members John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones, along with Cameron Diaz as Sigmund Freud. Yep. Except for the few instances of actual footage that pops up (“The Spanish Inquisition” sketch, Cleese’s overplayed yet still hilarious eulogy at Chapman’s funeral) it all falls flat. But if you’re a hardcore Python fan that has to see everything, take note: this is also available on Netflix Instant (until Oct. 2017!).

More later...

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