Sunday, February 27, 2011

February '11 New Discs

Fish Tank (Criterion) – Director Andrea Arnold’s follow-up to her debut, Red Road, tells the story of a precocious 15-year-old (the astonishingly mature Katie Jarvis in her first film) who hates life in the housing projects in Essex, England, ending up naively seducing her mother’s boyfriend (the excellent Michael Fassbender) as a way to stave off boredom. Jarvis is so true to life that we seem to be watching a documentary; Kierston Weiting (also superb in Ken Loach’s It’s a Free World) is equally impressive, and Arnold makes inspired use of the old academy framing. Criterion again has produced a top-notch Blu-ray release, with extras that include interviews with Weiring and Fassbender, three early Arnold shorts and 10 minutes of audition footage for the role of Mia.

All Star Superman (Warners Blu-ray) brings the Man of Steel franchise into the hi-def era with a new adventure illustrated by animation that looks amazing on Blu-ray (best extra: Incubating the Idea, conversation with graphic novelist Grant Morrison); Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (Disney Blu-ray), a by-the-numbers sequel about those adorable talking dogs, isn’t improved very much by its hi-def upgrade (best extra: “blooper faux paws”); one of the most inept movies ever, Birdemic (Severin) is a poor man’s Hitchcock thriller combining zero production values and terrible acting that don’t even approach “so bad it’s good” territory (best extra: director/cast commentary); another clever ensemble comedy by writer-director Daniele Thompson, Change of Plans (IFC) has good laughs amid much foolishness among a group of people gathering for a dinner party (best extra: cast interviews); if you want to see some of the most creatively gross killings this side of Saw, then Hatchet II (Dark Sky Blu-ray) is the B-movie thriller for you (best extra: The Killing Machine featurette); the irresistible Isabelle Carre (who was pregnant during filming) makes Francois Ozon’s latest, the modest character study Hideaway (Strand), more memorable than it really is; director Lixin Fan’s visually impressive documentary Last Train Home (Zeitgeist) smartly takes a page from Jia Zhangke in presenting a sobering look at how modern China is shedding its traditions quickly (lone extra: additional footage); the tender love story Leaving (IFC) again demonstrates that Kristin Scott-Thomas is among our most valuable actresses, even (especially) in French; a remake of the overrated Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In, Matt Reeves’ Let Me In (Anchor Bay Blu-ray) comes off better than the original because the plot’s silliness doesn’t seem as oppressive, allowing us to admire the low-key approach and actors (best extra: Blu-ray exclusive Dissecting ‘Let Me In’); Love at First Kill (Image) is a routine romantic thriller whose predictable twists and turns are outclassed by Margot Kidder and Lyne Renee; National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie (LionsGate) makes no bones about its aim to tell the filthiest jokes in the crudest manner possible, with genuine chuckles mixed in with many groans (best extra: cast interviews); Yony Leyser’s compelling documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (Oscilloscope) presents a portrait of an iconoclastic artist that’s worth attending to (best extra: additional interviews); Zhang Yimou’s pretty pictures don’t get much prettier than A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (Sony Blu-ray), an unnecessary remake of the Coens’ odious Blood Simple that exists only for its breathtaking colors and precise compositions, all of which look spectacular on Blu-ray (best extra: two-hour making-of documentary); despite a game comic cast comprising Jamie Lee Curtis, Betty White, Kristen Bell and Odette Yustman (why isn’t she a star yet?), You Again (Disney Blu-ray) is a derivative and surprisingly sexist comedy with clunky farcical elements (best extra: deleted/extended scenes).

No comments: