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This Week on Blu-ray: March 26-April 2

Posted March 24, 2013 01:47 AM by Josh Katz

Show all Blu-ray releases this week

For the week of March 26th, Disney and Touchstone Home Entertainment are bringing Lincoln to Blu-ray. Steven Spielberg's drama has received near-universal acclaim - and an Academy Award, to boot - for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as the title character, and this is one time where the accolades aren't overdoing it. For a man who redefines himself with every film role, Lincoln ranks as one of Day-Lewis' most fascinating creations. We see the icon, a shrewd political operator willing to manipulate (by hook or by crook) the halls of Washington in order to further his party's agenda, but the real surprise is how funny Day-Lewis is in the part. Despite his brilliance, Lincoln is a rather goofy fellow, alternatively awkward and halting and enamored of his own voice (one of the film's great running gags is how Lincoln's propensity to ramble at length annoys his fellow cabinet members to no end), and Day-Lewis displays a lightness of touch that we haven't really seen since his wry supporting work in Stephen Frears' great 1985 dramedy My Beautiful Laundrette.

In his Blu-ray review, Kenneth Brown asserts that "Lincoln resonates for a number of reasons, none perhaps more so than this: at a time of unease, uncertainty, partisan bickering and unyielding filibustering in American politics, Spielberg and [screenwriter Tony] Kushner's blend of shrewd realism and principled idealism suggests all is not lost; that democracy is greater than those who would exploit its freedoms or stall its progress; that men and women of conviction will prevail, and that the will of the people and the common good will be their guide. Overly idealistic? Maybe. Still, cynicism accomplishes very little, and Lincoln stands apart from the overwhelmingly cynical political dramas that litter the market."

Also hitting the HD format is Anchor Bay and the Weinstein Company's Killing Them Softly. The film, which is director Andrew Dominik's follow-up to his brilliant-but-flawed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, came and left theaters last November without leaving much of a footprint - it managed a anemic box-office gross of just over $35 million worldwide. That's a shame, considering what a finely wrought tone Dominik has brought to the picture. The trailers promised some kind of Departed-lite crime drama (note the one posted below if you need proof), and the reality is so much more idiosyncratic. Dominik might be trafficking in conventional gangland misbehavior, but his real target is the American capitalist system; throughout the film, he weaves in political rhetoric from around the time of the 2008 Presidental election, a quirk that allows him to draw parallels between a criminal underground that is eating itself and the U.S. form of democracy. This covert satire isn't 100% successful (his thugs watch an unrealistic amount of CNN and C-SPAN), but it's always interesting, and a novel way of injecting unpredictability into a tired genre.

Svet Atanasov describes Killing Them Softly as a "mirror image of a world most people in America knew nothing about, which is now introduced from a familiar angle, with great style and terrific sense of humor...It offers some food for thought for those that might be willing to take a closer look at the relationships between the gangsters, their attitude and agendas, and then think about the real world...The cast is fantastic. Pitt is incredible as the cool enforcer who likes to "kill them softly". There is one particular sequence where he meets one of his targets in a bar that is nothing short of brilliant – the manner in which he utters his lines and the body language are pure class...Great film."

On Friday, March 22nd, Universal brought This Is 40 to disc. Of Judd Apatow's four feature films - the others are The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People - This Is 40 is his first sequel as well as, many critics argued, his most solipsistic venture. Apatow is all over this movie; besides writing and directing it, he cast his real-life wife (Leslie Mann) and children (Maude and Iris Apatow) as the wife and children of Paul Rudd's struggling suburbanite, who begins to function as an on-screen Apatow proxy. It's hard to divorce Apatow from the picture, but that closeness actually yields positive results. This Is 40 isn't perfect (at 137 minutes, it's too long, and Rudd and Mann's frequent arguments can get pretty shrill), but it's funny and honest - Apatow cuts no one any slack, least of all himself.

Kenneth Brown's Blu-ray review notes how "the script clatters behind the characters like stringed cans trailing behind a newlywed's car, with at least six different plots and a dozen unnecessary subplots that could have been removed wholesale. Pete and Debbie are mired in an assault from all fronts: marriage crises, career crises, parenting crises, financial crises, medical crises, father-abandonment crises... it's too much for one film to contain, much less balance. Too much for one director to juggle, much less manage. And it's a shame. [Yet] This Is 40 is easily one of the funniest comedies of 2012, with a terrific cast, a screen marriage that doesn't pull punches or take cheap shots, and enough heart to make the laughs mean something."

Finally, Shout/Scream Factory is offering viewers an HD upgrade of From Beyond. The film finds filmmaker Stuart Gordon returning to the Lovecraftian mood of terror he cultivated in the 1985 horror classic Re-Animator; a driven scientist (Jeffrey Combs, doing a far more sedate riff on his Herbert West character from Re-Animator) accidentally unlocks a portal to another dimension, and all the ghastly, slime-sopping beasties that come as part of the "Unlocked Hidden Dimension" package deal. Yet Gordon isn't content to rehash old tropes. From Beyond is a darker, nastier piece of work than Re-Animator (which has endured due to its surprisingly blithe sense of humor), with incredible gore effects and just enough psychological/metaphysical depth to outclass the standard Friday the 13th-type slashers that distinguished the 1980s. For fans of the splatter, this picture is a blind-buy.

Martin Liebman writes that "the film's horror attributes are more about making the movie look scary than really scaring the audience. On the visual end, From Beyond is nothing short of one messed-up movie; the slimy, icky ooze that covers the villain and the nasty globular, fleshy, bumpy exterior is enough to leave even the staunchest viewers running for the vomit bag. That creature finds its match for grossness when another character eats a brain and sucks another from a nurse's eyeball socket. This is really hardcore stuff, visually, but at least the visual nastiness is offset by those interesting sci-Fi and human nature themes."

Source: | Permalink | United States [Country settings]

News comments (22 comments)

  Mar 24, 2013
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Picked up Les Miserables yesterday,

Lincoln and the Jurassic park individual releases for me, been waiting for those!

HD Canuck
  Mar 24, 2013
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Lincoln, Futureworld and got to get my hands on Westworld. The Jurssic Park's would be good, but got the boxed set already. May wait to get the 3D edition.

  Mar 24, 2013
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Picking up Lincoln and Enterprise Season One this week.

  Mar 24, 2013
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Ironweed!! I've been waiting for this film to get a proper transfer... now we will get it!

  Mar 24, 2013
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Already picked up Les Miserables and This is 40. Will get Lincoln later in the week.

  Mar 24, 2013
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Picked up Les Miserables on Friday and nothing for the rest of this week. Nice to have a week off once and awhile.

  Mar 24, 2013
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Already Owned: Les Miserables
To be Purchased: Lincoln, The Sandlot, (and possibly Jurassic Park)
To Rent: Killing Them Softly

  Mar 24, 2013
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Wow, I need to buy a lot. I own in VUDU the JP trilogy but for 16 bucks I may rebuy them. Already bough Les Mis. Totally going to get The Sandlot and Lincoln!

  Mar 24, 2013
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I'll be getting Killing Them Softly which I consider to be one last year's best!
Also why did people down vote Boothill Gunslinger's comment?

  Mar 24, 2013
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I'll get the Jurassic Park solo release at some point.

  Mar 24, 2013
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If the Jurassic Park individual release is identical to the 2011 Trilogy version, I'll pass. I just wonder if the 3D release will have the same exact dated VC-1 encode for the 2D version.

Top contributor
  Mar 25, 2013
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@Boothill: I'm sure your regular string of ignorant, racist comments have nothing to do with anyone's opinion of you. Stop playing the victim and take some ownership here.

I don't know why anyone cares about or even participates in the up/down voting. The only time I do is on the Criterion announcements when the same, tired whiners complain about Criterion not choosing to release some obscure snoozefest.

  Mar 25, 2013
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Les Miserables was totally NOT about grumpy gay women... I WAS MISLED!!!

  Mar 25, 2013
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Please, spare me your bullshit

Repete could not have said it better, quite frequently you post rude, racist comments, which are completely unnecessary & uncalled for. God knows ive seen a few, not to mention that sexist crack about women you just made.

Lets not get started on your comment about the Obama family, joke or not it was flat out racist, regardless of how anyone feels about the President, taking it to that level is pointless and immature.

& why get so worked up over a couple downvotes? Its an imaginary vote on a computer..

  Mar 25, 2013
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Was wondering why Les Misérables was not listed for last week, but is down for this week, as it was March 22 release? Course I view Friday releases as poor launch point for consumers, as when Sunday hits, stores can raise the selling price.

  Mar 25, 2013
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Top reviewer
  Mar 25, 2013
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Already ordered the Lincoln 4-disc edition. And maybe I'll get the Jurassic Park individual releases if I don't get the trilogy box set.

  Mar 26, 2013
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from beyond arrived yesterday and it looked great! ... ill watch it a second time today

Top reviewer
  Mar 26, 2013
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Les Mis Future Shop steelbook, Lincoln and A Man Escaped for me this week.

Top reviewer
  Mar 26, 2013
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Give "Killing Them Softly" a spin. It's good.

  Mar 26, 2013
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Lol, u mad, Boothill Gunslinger?
  Mar 26, 2013
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I'm not sure what someone's political viewpoint has to do with anything Boothill, but I agree that voting someone's post down is pretty lame. I think your rant about people being liberal freaks etc. is ridiculous, but I agree that you were just referring to some types of women, I certainly don't see that as sexist.

Let's keep these comments actually related to blu rays people, that's what this site is about.

On that note, looking forward to buying Lincoln.

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