New in Home Entertainment – May 15, 2012

New in Home Entertainment

May 15, 2012

The Grey
Rated R for violence/disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In this modern tale of man vs. wild, a group of oil workers and a skilled huntsman are left to fend for themselves in remote Alaska when their plane crashes.  Dealing with both the bitter cold and the loss of many on board the plane, the group discovers that they might have crashed near a pack of ravenous wolves.  Normally I really like these kinds of films.  Liam Neeson is an extraordinary actor and writer/director Joe Carnahan (Narc) is a master of the gritty action drama.  But for some reason, I just couldn’t connect.  There is a hopeless feel in the air from the first moments of the film that permeate throughout.  It’s almost as if each character can’t wait to die and they are moving on out of sheer stubbornness.  There are some very good scares to found here and the acting is decent enough, but I wasn’t invested in any of their lives.  Honestly, I was completely apathetic to their plight.  The directing was strong enough, but the writing had too much of a dark indie tone that said to it’s audience “I dare you to like me.”  C+

Albert Nobbs
Rated R for some sexuality, brief nudity and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In her sixth Oscar-nominated role, Glenn Close does her best Clay Aiken impression as she pretends to be a male butler in 19th century Ireland.  This is a film stuffed with great performances.  While Close and Janet McTeer were the only Oscar nominees, there are many other small yet powerful performances here.  Also the dialog is very clever and well-written and the production is first-class.  The problem is that the story is just not that great.  While the secret world of Lesbians in this time period makes for an interesting subject, I think that most folks would side with me that the the movie is just a tad boring.  Unfortunately this film really doesn’t have the potential to be too compelling for most audiences, which leaves it as a small niche film for a very select audience that might treasure it.  B-

Being John Malkovich: The Criterion Collection

Rated R for language and sexuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

I can imagine the time when people first got a look at Picasso’s first cubist paintings and what their thoughts might have been.  Some might have been repelled while others were excited and inspired.  The latter is the feeling that came over me when I first saw Being John Malkovich.  The film explores a world where John Cusack discovers a portal in an office building that puts you in the head of the actor John Malkovich for 15 minutes.  It’s so random, yet so perfectly conceived and executed but writer Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze.  It is both hysterically funny and incredibly deep at the same time.  This new Criterion treatment gives a brand new restored digital transfer and audio commentary by director Michel Gondry (who directed Charlie Kaufman’s Oscar-winning script Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as well as several other new featurettes.  I know the word brilliant gets thrown around way too much in film criticism, but there is really no other word to describe this work.  A+

Astros: 50th Anniversary – The Essential Games of the Houston Astros and Astros Memories
Available on DVD

While the good ol’ Astros have proven to be pretty mediocre so far this season, in their 50 year history, there has been a lot of sports history made.  This very reasonably-priced box sets takes a look at many of the greatest games the Astros played in during this time as well as a ton of bonus features.  At almost 12 hours, this is a well-produced set that could be a nice Father’s Day gift if the father in question has a closet full of starred clothing and hats.  B+