Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of new releases today with the common theme being that they’re all worth a watch at the very least. So head on down to your local Hollywood Video and check out Coriolanus, A Necessary Death, Goon and yes, even We Need To Talk About Kevin. Seriously, check out that last one as I need someone, anyone, to validate my opinion that the film is more ridiculous than impressive.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Henning Mankell’s Wallander: Swedish Series Two
Chief Inspector Wallander has a knack for solving crimes even as he grows tired of man’s inhumanity towards man in this second Swedish TV series (season) to be based on Henning Mankell’s most famous character. Krister Henriksson stars as the talented but beleaguered detective through thirteen episodes of murder, deceit and drama, and he brings real pathos to the character while still keeping him an engaging but likeable grump. The mysteries are well-constructed and excitingly shot, and they serve as a reminder that our own TV series could benefit from a shorter schedule that allows for more quality over quantity. Now to track down Henriksson’s season one…
Island of Lost Souls
Pitch: Where men and sports equipment are bred together and their offspring are named Wilson…
Why Buy? A shipwreck survivor finds himself trapped on a mysterious island where a power-mad scientist (Charles Laughton) plays god with the concept of evolution. HG Wells’ classic novel has been adapted several times to the screen, and while I’m a fan of Val Kilmer’s Marlon Brando impersonation it’s clear that this 1932 version remains the best. The great Bela Lugosi can be seen beneath makeup (of course) in a supporting role, but the real stars here are Laughton and the themes of right and wrong when it comes to humanity and science. Even 80 years later the film manages to be visually impressive and ethically challenging. **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD/region B Blu-ray which require either a region-free player or the willingness to watch on your PC.**
Pitch: At least 49 of them are pretty good…
Why Rent? Two friends find themselves caught up in a carjacking that quickly deteriorates towards tragedy and deadly consequences when they abduct two girls from the right side of the tracks. Writer/director Aimee Lagos paints her look at pressure and privilege a little too on the nose sometimes, but she still manages to tell a compelling story. That’s a triumph considering one of the characters is ridiculously annoying from his first appearance and in dire need of a bullet to the head.
Pitch: Actually, Lord Voldemort says he always wanted to direct…
Why Rent? A war-loving general (Ralph Fiennes) returns to Rome a hero, but when envious politicians maneuver him into a corner he’s banished from his homeland. He doesn’t take kindly to being booted out by the very people he has always protected, so he joins forces with his sworn enemy (Gerard Butler) to destroy Rome. William Shakespeare’s play comes to life in modern times and with modern implications with Fiennes in front of and behind the camera. The Bard’s words remain intact, but Fiennes does a fine job incorporating Eastern European references alongside some blistering (and sadly infrequent) action sequences.
Pitch: Hockey is for lovers…
Why Rent? Doug (Seann William Scott) is a sweet guy and a bouncer who dreams of something better, but his only real talent seems to be in the area of brutal fisticuffs. That skill-set leads to an opportunity to join a hockey team, but can a truly nice guy make it in a league filled with bruisers? Scott has never been better as he shows far more emotional chops than he’s made evident before, and the script from Evan Goldberg and (co-star) Jay Baruchel has more laughs than there are goals in the average hockey game. Far more.
A Necessary Death
Pitch: Defining ‘suicide’ just got a whole lot messier…
Why Rent? A film student plans his thesis project as a documentary about suicide and takes out an ad in search of someone about to do the deed. He settles on a young man with an incurable brain tumor who’s planning to kill himself in a month’s time. This film is the doc’s making-of, and it lets viewers behind the curtain on the drive and ambition necessary to bring a project to its conclusion… natural or otherwise. This is smart filmmaking that manages to both entertain and enlighten.
Rookie Blue: The Complete Second Season
Pitch: Still the best shoulders on TV…
Why Rent? ABC’s Canadian import about a quintet of newbie cops continues to entertain as a fun and often exciting procedural. The off-duty antics that threatened to undue season one remain, but the balance is far better between those personal dramas and the actual police work. And while I love Missy Peregrym (and her shoulders), I’m happy to report that the rest of the cast gets to share in more of the screen time this season. They’ve truly become a solidly entertaining ensemble with great chemistry.
Pitch: Stealing an old lady’s puzzle piece is just rude…
Why Rent? A man and a woman (Lee Tergesen and Enid Graham) on a road trip interject themselves into strangers’ lives for the sole purpose of screwing with them and causing emotional damage. It’s a game for them where the only thing changing more frequently than the players are the rules, but what are they really up to and how far will they go? Writer/director Simon Arthur has crafted an oddly creepy little indie here that constantly surprises as the couple’s motivations are slowly revealed. Not fully revealed mind you…
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season
Pitch: After every episode we promise we’ll never watch again, but we always do…
Why Rent? The Sookie Stackhouse chronicles continue with season four of HBO’s gory, sexy and trashy romp through a supernaturally infested Louisiana. This season’s villain is Marnie, a witch possessed by the spirit of a long dead sorceress who still holds a grudge against the vampires. Once again, Sookie proves herself to be the show’s least necessary character while also being its most annoying, but the rest of the players offer up some entertaining (albeit often stupid) storylines. WTwelve episodes of werepanthers, evil juju and vampires fighting over an obnoxious dumb-ass!
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Pitch: I think it’s a little late for talking…
Why Rent? A woman (Tilda Swinton) tries to cope with recent traumatic events involving her cartoonishly evil teenage son, Kevin (Ezra Miller). The film explores the past as she remembers it and reveals a child who may have very well been born bad. Or not. This is not a good movie, but it is pretty hilarious at times. It’s in the Rental section instead of the Avoid though because I seem to be the only one who didn’t buy into its false nature vs nurture debate. I’m also alone in laughing at the utterly ridiculous “school incident.” I stand by my assessment, but the numbers seem to imply that I’m the one who’s nuts here… so enjoy!
Nothing worth avoiding this week… although We Need To Talk About Kevin comes pretty damn close
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Life Without Principle
Man On a Ledge
Monroe: Series 1
Summer Interlude (Criterion)
Summer With Monika (Criterion)
The Yellow Wallpaper
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?