Now that the Academy Awards have told us that the best film of 2010 is The King’s Speech the next few months of DVD releases are bound to be filled with mediocrity and bitter disappointment until Tom Hooper’s directorial tour-de-force hits shelves. Speaking of unappealing and visually disturbing movies, Burlesque comes out today! 127 Hours and Love & Other Drugs are probably the week’s highest profile releases, but the best actually come courtesy of of Acorn Media with their British TV titles The Norman Conquests and Murder Investigation Team. One is a bitingly funny and smartly written comedy of manners and the other is about a team that investigates murders.
Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock
Haven’t seen this one yet, but I was sold on the title. I hadn’t even heard of it before looking at a list of this week’s releases, so I checked out the DVD’s web site and discovered it’s actually a pretty popular character in the realm of children’s entertainment. The songs are catchy and dreamy in equal measure, like a Peter Gabriel-led Genesis (if you can imagine such a thing), and what it lacks in educational appeal it looks to more than make up in sheer pop entertainment. I may have to borrow a kid to justify the purchase…
The Norman Conquests
Pitch: Six people, two couples, one cheater, and three different perspectives make for confusing math but stellar British comedy…
Why Buy? Six people descend on a country house for a weekend of laughs, revelations, and stale cookies. British TV comedy from late seventies usually only appeals to me when the names Monty Python or Benny Hill are involved, but this show based on three plays by Alan Ayckbourn is ridiculously good. Friends, siblings, and lovers intermingle over the course of a couple days, and the writing is filled with sharp writing, vicious jabs, and some honest heart. In addition to the great writing and acting the show features three perspectives on the weekend… characters move in and out of scenes, but you have to watch the other two segments to see what’s happening elsewhere. It’s the same story told three different times, and all three are brilliant.
Pitch: From Academy Award Co-Hoster James Franco…
Why Rent? This true story about a young man who goes hiking alone and ends up with his arm trapped beneath a boulder is both inspiring and entertaining. And, thanks to director Danny Boyle, it’s also presented with high energy and a hopping score from A.R. Rahman. Franco stars as Aron Ralston and gives his most natural and quirk-free performance in years as he cycles through joy, adventure, wonder, pain, and imminent loss.
Pitch: Goddamn clowns…
Why Rent? Federico Fellini takes a look at the creepy world of clowns in this mix of drama, comedy, and documentary. What starts as a story about a young boy’s curiosity in the circus becomes Fellini’s search for the clowns of his youth and the fate of their future. The film is dreamy, odd, and practical in equal measure, but it never quite grabs hold with any real investment. Better than the film itself is the packaging and content from Rarovideo. A fifty page booklet filled with the director’s words and drawings is accompanied by a short doc on the film as well as a short movie of Fellini’s from 1953.
Pitch: They shouldn’t have killed The Tooth Fairy’s brother…
Why Rent? Fresh out of prison, Dwayne Johnson only has one thing on his mind… “I can’t wait to see how Lost ends!” But once he’s done with that his only focus becomes revenge for the death of his brother. He immediately sets out to kill each of the bad guys who done him wrong. Hot on his trail are two detectives named Sexy (Carla Gugino) and Slingblade (Billy Bob Thornton), and it soon becomes a race to see who’ll be the last one standing. There’s some solid action and R-rated violence to be found here, and even when the script takes a turn for the massively predictable it’s not enough to ruin the fun.
Love & Other Drugs
Pitch: From Academy Award Co-Hoster Anne Hathaway…
Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but I have faith that between director Ed Zwick and a partially nude Hathaway there’s probably something worth watching here. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a smarmy pharmaceutical rep who sees Hathaway’s boobs and falls instantly in love. They try to keep things casual at first, but if Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher taught us anything it’s that the ‘no strings attached’ concept doesn’t work as well in movies as it does in real life.
Murder Investigation Team: Series One
Pitch: When will the UK put an end to their sexist procedural shows? Men can be lead detectives too you know…
Why Rent? This show follows the UK’s Special Crimes Unit from crime to final arrest, and it’s filled with well written story lines, twists, and CSI-like shenanigans. The title is pretty piss poor though as it sounds generic in full form and unfortunately identical to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when abbreviated. (Seriously, what’s wrong with SCU?) In addition to placing women in positions of authority (typical) the show also continues the UK procedural trend of being noticeably better than their US counterparts. Hopefully a spin-off called Murder Investigation Team: Special Team of Murder Investigators will pop up soon.
ReBoot: Seasons 1 & 2
Pitch: Behold the future of animation…
Why Rent? The city of Mainframe is under attack by Megabyte and others, and the only one standing in the way of utter destruction is Bob. That’s right. Bob. I’m the wrong age group to have appreciated this when it actually aired in the mid-nineties, but its claim to fame as the first completely CGI TV series reminds me of The Last Starfighter. (My nostalgia for that one is immense and it also achieved a CGI milestone.) This children’s series is good fun for the youngsters, but it also has some serious entertainment value for anyone familiar with the videogame and computer world of the eighties and nineties.
Pitch: Who wants to see Cher in a new movie that mixes the hilarity-free parts of Showgirls with the Alba-less parts of Honey…
Why Avoid? Haven’t seen this one yet, but I feel perfectly okay in recommending people avoid it. Why? Because Cher killed my grandmother. No, that’s not true, but she is incredibly annoying in everything she’s done since Mermaids in 1990. I mean Bette Midler level annoying. And while the addition of Christina Aguilera doesn’t make it dramatically less appealing she sure doesn’t make it seem any better.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Ghosts Of Goldfield
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?