New in Home Entertainment – August 16, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

August 16, 2011

Jane Eyre
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements including a nude image and brief violent content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

While there have been many adaptations of the classic novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, each has a different look and feel and this new version from director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) is no different.  While the story of poor Jane is still haunting and moving, it has never looked so darkly beautiful.  The acting is absolutely terrific from the entire cast, especially that of Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (X-Men First Class) as the tortured lovers.  The real star of the film for me is composer Dario Marianelli who creates a score just as lovely and powerful as his Oscar-winning music from Atonement.  The only problem here, and the one that keeps this film from achieving greatness, is the mixing of the elements.  There are some great moments with spectacular cinematography where the score should be singing and instead it feels like they are afraid to let it out and breath.  These types of missteps in editing might sound small, but the film feels a little puny because of it.  B+

The Conspirator
Rated PG-13 for some violent action
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the North did everything in its power to catch those responsible and quickly prosecute them.  When a young lawyer (James McAvoy) is assigned to defend the mother of one of the accused (Robin Wright), he must put on hold his feelings about the case and give her the defense she justly deserves according to the constitution.  If you’ve never heard of this little indie, you might find it strange that a film directed by Robert Redford, starring a talented cast including McAvoy, Wright, Kevin Kline and Tom Wilkinson slipped past the radar.  After watching it you won’t wonder why.  While the subject matter is very interesting, the screenplay, pacing and acting all suffer a hit.  Everything just feels kind of flat.  More interesting than the film, though, is the feature-length documentary “The Conspirator: The Plot to Kill Lincoln” which goes into just the right amount of detail about the story.  C+

Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In a future world where vampires are at constant war with man, a priest (Paul Bettany) goes against church orders in order to go after the vampires that kidnapped his niece.  if you are asking yourself “wasn’t Paul Bettany just in this movie?” you’d be close.  Bettany keeps choosing roles like Legion and Priest possibly because this is the best chance he’ll get of being a big action star.  While it’s good to have such a great actor that is capable of elevating bad material, it can also hurt the actor which is starting to become the case.  Here in Priest we get a big mash up of vampire movies and westerns thrown into one cheeseball script.  And even though the effects budget allows for some impressive action sequences, the movie itself falls apart due to its lack of originality and bad writing.  C-

The Battle of Algiers: The Criterion Collection
Available on Blu-ray

After the French were defeated in Vietnam in the 1950s, they turned their eyes towards Algeirs whose citizens were willing to do anything to win their independence.  This legendary film of that clash is now getting the Criterion treatment with this new 2 blu-ray edition including literally tons of extras.  For a foreign film made in 1966, the print has held up well and the film’s style tells a story that is just as relevant today as it was back then.  A

The Big Lebowski
Rated R for pervasive strong language, drug content, sexuality and brief violence
Available on Blu-ray

Many have declared Jeff Bridges comeback came with his Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Heart, but in my mind, he hit with a vengeance in the Coen Brothers’ crazy fantasy The Big Lebowski.  In case you haven’t had the pleasure of this brilliant comedy yet, the story follows a California stoner/bowler who goes by the simple name of The Dude.  When his rug, which really tied the room together, is stolen by a group of thugs that have mistaken him for a millionaire by the same name, The Dude goes on an adventure with his bowler buddies to recover it.  While many of the special features come from previous dvd releases, there are some nice additions including a case that more closely resembles a book than a blu-ray.  My favorite feature is the inclusion of digital copy which hardly ever comes with catalog releases.  A+