New in Home Entertainment – April 19, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

April 19, 2011

The King’s Speech
Rated R for some language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

I’m not sure if The King’s Speech should have won this years Oscar for best picture, but it sure has all of the right ingredients: WWII period drama, compelling tale about a stuttering king, beautiful score by composer Alexandre Desplat and some pretty great performances.  It’s the kind of stuffy English film that certainly has the power to win, and that power showed through this year at the Academy Awards.  All of the performances were worthy of accolades and the look and the basic story were very engaging and interesting, but where I think it lacks is in its let-down of an ending.  The movie leads up to what I thought was going to be the king of England leading his people, and instead became all about a speech.  I guess I should have known that from the title, but I was really hoping for something more.  B

Rated R for sexual content, nudity and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Sofia Coppola directs this snoozer of movie about a famous Hollywood actor (Stephen Dorff) who doesn’t know what direction to take his life in.  He goes from one long scenario to another in a pseudo-trance, with only the company of his young daughter (Elle Fanning) to pull him back into reality.  While it’s an interesting and probably realistic vision of an A-lister lifestyle, the film becomes too artsy to be enjoyed.  The movie opens up with a wide shot of him racing his sports car around a track over and over and over again for what seems like forever, and never really goes anywhere from there.  And while I didn’t think it was possible to make twin strippers pole dancing uninteresting, Coppola purposefully pulls off the almost impossible feat in order show the audience what a miserable life our hero has.  Too bad that makes the audience miserable as well.  D

Ip Man 2
Rated R for Violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

The first Ip Man film showed the life of the legendary Kung Fu instructor as he helps lead his Chinese town against the Japanese during WWII.  This time around, though, he is living in Hong Kong and having a tough time getting his school enrollment up.  When he does finally get paying students, he is forced to fold by the other Kung Fu schools.  Only when he fights an obnoxious British boxer does he have the opportunity to resolve his financial problems and expose his now-famous Wing Chun style of Kung Fu to the world.  I loved the first Ip Man due to its fantastic fight sequences demonstrating Chinese vs. Japanese styles of martial arts.  Unfortunately, this new movie feels very much like a ripoff of Jet Li’s Once Upon a Time in China.  Donnie Yen certainly has the fighting chops to match Li’s but the movie itself isn’t as compelling or interesting as either of these other two films I mentioned.  It would have been so much nicer had they went a decade into the future and shown Ip Man training the pupil who became his most famous student – Bruce Lee.  C

The Way Back

Rated PG-13 for violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Director Peter Weir (Master and Commander) tells the true story of a group of imprisoned soldiers that escape a Siberian gulag only to cross 4000 miles of treacherous land to find freedom in India.  The story is not only fascinating, but beautifully told and masterfully acted by a strong ensemble including Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, and Jim Sturgess.  So why did this film not get better traction during awards season?  Probably because the subject matter is so difficult.  Inspiring true stories don’t always make the most successful movies when the hardship is so brutal.  Is it worth seeing?  You betcha.  Do I think most of you will watch it?  No way.  A-

Sweetie: The Criterion Collection

Unrated but contains unsettling adult content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Before director Jane Campion released her multiple Oscar-winning masterpiece The Piano, she made this small Australian Indie about two twenty-year-old sisters.  Kay is a bit quirky but her sister Sweetie (who we don’t see until the second act) is a disturbed woman full of delusions.  What starts out as kind of fun, mischievous film ends up being a stomach-turning drama.  Still, the story is well told and beautifully shot.  Also, disc contains an enormous amount of special features including a great interview with Genevieve Lemon and Karen Colston, the two sisters from the film, reflecting on the making of the more than twenty-year-old project.  B