For the week of January 1st, eOne Entertainment brings David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis to Blu-ray. Adapted from Don DeLillo's acclaimed novel, this indictment of the American capitalist system takes the form of an impressionistic character study; the film's hero is Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), a Manhattan asset manager who spends one very long, very weird day trying to discover if he has any soul left. While early previews suggested that Cosmopolis was a return to grisly form for Cronenberg, the actual result is far more in line with his last film, the psychological biopic A Dangerous Method. Still, as cerebral as Cosmopolis can be, it still finds the director expertly plumbing the depths of the human psyche for conflict, and Pattinson proves himself surprisingly able as Cosmopolis' central empty vessel. It isn't revelatory work for the Twilight, but it hints that Pattinson might have more complexity than that popular franchise let him display.
Also streeting on Tuesday is one of the most iconic cult classics of the past twenty years: Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Ostensibly, The Room is an intense melodrama (Wiseau has cited Tennessee Williams as an inspiration) about a number of young professionals struggling with love in San Francisco, but Wiseau's massive ego and his near-complete lack of cinematic craft turned The Room into something so much more. Scene for scene, the film unfolds as one creative miscalculation after another, with Wiseau's thematic goals smothered under questionable screenwriting, stagnant screen aesthetics, and tone-deaf performances, none worse than Wiseau's eccentrically coiffed and questionably muscled protagonist.
December 31st finds a Best Buy-exclusive finally getting a wide release, with Paramount Pictures' School of Rock becoming available to all retailers. This comedy trades in on Jack Black's hyperbolic Tenacious D persona - he plays Dewey Finn, an aspiring rock superstar (and all-around slacker) who cons his way into a middle-school teaching job as a way to pay his bills; after discovering that his young charges possess surprising musical capabilities, Finn arranges them into a pre-teen super-group in order to win a "Battle of the Bands" competition. Admittedly, the movie's setup is fairly trite, but School of Rock has two secret weapons: Black's effortlessly enthusiastic lead performance and Richard Linklater's tough direction. The Bernie and Dazed and Confused auteur might be helming a family comedy, but he certainly doesn't act like he's slumming, and he gives the proceedings more grit than they normally have.
Martin Liebman's Blu-ray review is effusive in its praise for School of Rock, noting that "This is a movie about life, about what it means to be alive, the importance of discovering talents and taking full advantage of God-given talents. It's also equally about encouraging rather discouraging gifts and talents and wants, about breaking away from the standard, if that is what one is meant to do, and chase dreams fully and without remorse. Sometimes life breaks guitar strings, sometimes nobody's there to catch the diving rock star, but School of Rock encourages people to restring or get up and go for it again, to maintain focus, and strive to live the dream, no matter what anyone else says or wants."
I watched Downton Abbey Season 3 weeks ago as I bought the UK version, so School of Rock and Looper for me. Downton is Quality TV, but I wish there were more episodes in a season. Shirley MacLaine was good, but was only in 1 or 2 episodes.
Re-releases of Planes Trains & Automobiles, Airplane and Hot Rod are also being released on 1 Jan 2013. Amazon did have them up for pre-order, but then took them down. I endued up purchasing them all from Best Buy.com.
So, I picked up School of Rock, Looper, Airplane!, Hot Rod, and Planes Trains & Automobiles this week.