Sorry, What to Watch took a turkey day break as last week was really light on new product worth mentioning. This week? Pretty much the same but we don’t want you to miss us too badly. Here’s five recent Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that may have caught your attention on new release shelves lately, ranked in the order we’d add them to our holiday wish list.
Evan Rachel Wood
CHICAGO – What happens when you give people two months in Romania to make a movie about a lost soul dealing with grief, love, drug use, and general excess? You get a spoiled, bizarre, annoying piece of work like “Charlie Countryman,” starring talented people given absolutely nothing to do that proves that talent. It’s a film more in love with slow-motion shots of its abrasive lead running to electronic dance music than anything approaching character or plot. It’s like watching the travel video of the most annoying guy you know.
CHICAGO – One of the more surprising choices this week by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was to cite the Adapted Screenplay for George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. The Ryan Gosling-led drama has some strengths, but it’s script is the weakest element of the film. The sheer force of talent of the people who bring it to life may have led some to believe it’s better than it actually is. See for yourself.
CHICAGO – I must admit that I am of the school that thinks that “Mildred Pierce” is one of the best things that has ever played on television. It is art of the highest caliber, featuring one of the best performances in the history of the form and were it eligible it would have been in my top ten films of 2011. It’s that good. And the “Collector’s Edition” of the award-winning series lives up to that title, marking the first time that HBO has ever released a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack and weighing the production down with special features. It’s the first must-own of 2012.
CHICAGO – George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” is a star-studded political thriller of the variety that was made much more commonly in the ‘70s and would therefore seem like a perfect vehicle to restart for today’s controversial times.
CHICAGO – The most blood and sex-soaked program on television returns at the end of this month for another round of supernatural chaos but there’s still time to catch up with the third season of HBO’s “True Blood,” recently released in a bonus-packed DVD and Blu-ray set.
CHICAGO – The Latin term “Inter arma silent leges.” (There is no law on the battlefield) is coldly stated in “The Conspirator,” directed by Robert Redford. In plain truth, the new film recreates one of the most controversial military trials in American history.
CHICAGO – When HBO announced that they were producing a six-hour mini-series version of the James M. Cain (“Double Indemnity”) novel “Mildred Pierce” to star Kate Winslet and be directed by Todd Haynes, cinephiles everywhere let out an audible gasp.
CHICAGO – Vampire and werewolf fans may be counting the days until the release of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” at the end of this month but HBO’s spectacular “True Blood” returns this weekend with an excellent start to a third season of one of the most unusual and consistently entertaining shows on television.
CHICAGO – The second season of HBO’s wildly addictive “True Blood” may not have been quite as stellar as the first but Alan Ball’s often-mesmerizing creation still stands as one of the best shows on television. There’s nothing quite like it on the air and HBO pulls out all the stops with their best Blu-ray season release to date.
CHICAGO – There was a time when a Woody Allen film starring Larry David would have been an obvious slam dunk. Both men have created comic personas so vivid and indelible that it’s hard for viewers to pinpoint the line separating “performance” from “personality.” They have mastered the art of neurotic kvetching, though their similarities are skin-deep at best.