For the week of April 30th, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment is bringing Silver Linings Playbook to Blu-ray. This comedy-drama won box office and Oscar gold last winter with its portrait of two emotionally unstable outcasts who realize that they might be soul mates - the problem is, that subject matter tends to crumble under deeper scrutiny. Director David O. Russell does such a convincing job of dramatizing the mental hurdles Pat Solitano and Tiffany Maxwell have to face that the picture's third-act detour into conventional rom-com territory feels, at best, false and, at worst, dangerously unrealistic. That said, what the film loses in plausibility, it makes up for in filmmaking verve and dynamism. Russell's direction is as confident and exciting as it was in his Three Kings and The Fighter - the first half of Silver Linings Playbook is especially harrowing - and he gets terrific performances from a talented cast that includes Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper, who's a revelation as Pat; Cooper has depths that fans of Alias and The A-Team might never have suspected.
Jeffrey Kauffman's Blu-ray review notes that "Silver Linings Playbook is a hugely enjoyable film, one with a deliberately skewed sense of humor which may shock some people, but which delivers some really hearty laughs along the way. The performances by Cooper and Lawrence have been rightfully lauded. Lawrence, whom I singled out years ago as a breakout star in Winter's Bone, correctly predicting she'd snare an Oscar nomination for that role, becomes a force to be reckoned with in this role. She's funny, sad, vulnerable, tough as nails—sometimes all within the same scene. Cooper is undeniably winning in an equally diverse role. Pat is obviously a well meaning individual struggling with some major demons. The character's ardent wish for a storybook happy ending may not be realistic (something the film itself gives into, despite its allusions to grittier, less sanguine, works like the novels of Ernest Hemingway), but it's a universal desire that virtually everyone can relate to, even if they don't suffer from any ostensible emotional difficulties."
Also hitting the HD format is Paramount's Not Fade Away. The film is the first project for David Chase since the conclusion of his seminal television series The Sopranos; just as The Sopranos defied conventional stereotypes about on-screen gangster narratives, so does his new movie offer a skewed look at the "small-town rock band makes good" story. Whereas pictures like That Thing You Do and Almost Famous follow a pretty conventional rags-to-riches template, Not Fade Away never leaves the "rags" part of that equation. Its central bandmates - John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, and Brahm Vaccarella - have all the ego and ambition of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones but none of the drive and work-ethic, and Chase derives a perverse thrill from charting their stagnation over the film's two hours. Not Fade Away isn't a completely satisfying experience - its ending is bizarre in ways that make The Sopranos' finale seem normal, and the editing elides key moments and over-emphasizes minor ones at random - but it's always fascinating, and an interesting window into Chase's artistic obsessions and intrigues.
In his Blu-ray review, Martin Liebman wrote that, "The fixation with The Twilight Zone that creeps in from time to time in Not Fade Away may be one of the most errant in film history. Rather than the picture winding up somehow out of the ordinary, it instead moves through with nary a thread out of place. Everything in the movie is as it seems, from the basic plot arc to the shell of the dramatic character elements that never move on beyond the expected teen angst routine. The picture lacks the soul of the best musically inspired films but it does offer sound technical qualities while it traverses its well-beaten path with nary a single footfall astray."
Additionally, Twentieth Century Fox's Broken City is arriving on Blu-ray this Tuesday. This movie finds director Allen Hughes returning to a similar type of gritty, inner-city milieu that made his Menace II Society so compelling; it's all high-stakes corruption and moral rot on the mean streets of New York. However, while Hughes grounded that earlier film in the violence and misery of gang violence, Broken City plays like Raymond Chandler-warmed-over - Mark Wahlberg (pretty much in Max Payne-mode) plays Billy Taggart, a disgraced NYPD cop-turned-P.I. who stumbles onto a massive conspiracy that leads to Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe, devouring the scenery with aplomb). Everything happens pretty much the way you expect it to, but Hughes has a good handle on this type of urban melodrama, and Wahlberg and Crowe spark off one another to reasonably satisfying effect.
Finally, TV-on-Blu-ray gets another addition through the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 3 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. By this point in the iconic sci-fi adventure's small-screen run, the series had gone through the growing pains present in Seasons 1 and 2 and started delivering consistent, intelligently crafted thrills. The large cast (including, but not limited to, Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, and Brent Spiner) was growing increasingly comfortable with one another, and the narrative was hitting its stride, delivering on the promise set by Gene Roddenberry's Original Series; this is the first great season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Martin Liebman notes in his Blu-ray review that "the deep cast chemistry; the total realization of the potential for the dynamic character roster; and the perfect blend of fascinating exploration, intense action, intimate character study, and the many threads that weave together the heart and soul of Science Fiction - the deeply personal inward look at humanity through the forward-thinking outward prism of a possible future and even through the eyes of alien races - all give shape to what is arguably the most impressive season Star Trek has ever known across what is now five unique crews and, counting the animated adventures of Kirk and company, twenty-nine years of boldly going through the final frontier on the small screen, now completely remastered and replicated for the high definition era."
Silver Linings Playbook and The Perks of Being a Wallflower were my two favorite films of 2012. Will definitely pick up Silver Linings. Will rent The Guilt Trip, The Details (not a Tobey Maguire fan but it's from the director of one of my favorite movies - the criminally under-seen gem Mean Creek), and Not Fade Away.
And again, some obvious troll downvoting everyone who is buying an oscar winning film, how typical.. and sad.
Dont you guys have anything better to do? Someone clearly doesnt like the oscars, as this is now Lincoln, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Django, Argo & SLP that have all been voted down when people said they were buying them, its so pathetic.
Spent about $1000 at the Calgary comic expo this past weekend. Got lots of autographs. So probably no Blus for me this week. At least I got to meet Carrie Fisher, Stan Lee, Richard Dean Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Patrick, Michael Beihn, Linda Hamilton, Dina Meyer, Sean Patrick Flanery, Chris Sarandon, John Rhys-Davies, Walter Koenig, and James Callis! Chris Sarandon signed my Nightmare Before Christmas Blu, and James Callis signed my Battlestar Galactica 2nd Season Blu! I will eventually get Star Trek TNG Season 3.