This week on DVD catch up on a few big flicks you might have missed in theaters, including an Oscar-nominated suburban period piece by Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio), a real-life tale of WWII heroism (Defiance, starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber), and a sprawling look at dating and relationships in the age of Facebook (He’s Just Not That Into You). If TV’s your thing, pick up the latest seasons of your favorite shows (Weeds Season 4, Prison Break Season 4). And if you dare to go direct-to-DVD, plenty of titles await (Spring Breakdown, Anaconda 4, Direct Contact, Silent Venom).
Although Kate Winslet earned her much-deserved Oscar for Best Actress at the 2009 Academy Awards (for her work in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader), it was her turn in husband Sam Mendes‘ Revolutionary Road that should have earned the accolades. As the stifled 1950s housewife April Wheeler, Winslet shines opposite former Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio; together they paint a portrait of painful suburban ennui, crafted handsomely by Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead). Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe offer commentary on the film and deleted scenes, with Winslet and DiCaprio joining in to delve into the film’s production and story, based on the novel by Richard Yates. Watch our exclusive featurette below.
Next: The blonde Bond and Sabretooth team up in Defiance
It had all the makings of an Oscar film. Holocaust setting? Check. Compelling real-life story? Yup. Respectable actors (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell) doing humanistic, conflicted drama? Got it. And yet, Defiance failed to capture critical praise because of one crucial missing element: soul. At least, that’s what the scribes noted as they gave mixed negative marks to Ed Zwick‘s WWII action pic, about a trio of Jewish brothers who hid a thousand of their fellow countrymen and fought back against the Nazis in the forests of Belorussia. If you’re all for watching a couple of Jews kill some Nazis — and Inglourious Basterds isn’t opening soon enough — then give it a go, if only to admire the true grit and gumption displayed by the real-life Bielski brothers (whose story is recounted by surviving descendants in one DVD feature). Watch an exclusive clip below.
Next: Guess what critics were Just Not That Into?
Critics were just not that into He’s Just Not That Into You, the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling dating advice book that strives to teach women to throw away their needy emotional tendencies in order to succeed with men. Not that there’s anything wrong with said self-help book, but the material just didn’t vibe well with the medium — HJNTIY sells out its own message by wrapping most of its threads up too, well, happily. What does it tell eager young women in the audiences when characters are tsk tsked for succumbing to “female” erratic behavior, only to be rewarded with exactly what they want in the end? And while its sprawling cast (Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Connolly, an underused Drew Barrymore and a sultry Scarlett Johansson) deliver charming-enough performances, there are way too many dramas to keep track of. Hollywood, we need better romantic comedies than this.
Next: Dolph Lundgren is back in Direct Contact
When your tagline reads “They thought he was dead… They were dead wrong” and ’90s action star Dolph Lundgren is your lead, you know you’ve got a promising direct-to-video action (or DTV) flick on your hands. Yes, this is your standard DTV fare, but, as Lundgren himself told our friends at IGN, it’s a no-brainer action flick meant to recall the bombastic, explosion-filled action flick of the ’80s and ’90s. All of which sounds good to us! The plot: Dolph is an American operative imprisoned in Eastern Europe promised freedom in exchange for retrieving a hot woman from some bad guys. But who exactly are the real bad guys?? We know you can’t wait to find out. (Unfortunately, the DVD comes with zero bonus features.) Check out the trailer here.
Next: Saturday Night Live‘s ladies star in Spring Breakdown
After being shelved, demoted to DVD, and playing the Sundance Festival, Spring Breakdown arrives to offer its audience — a demographic that we can’t quite pinpoint — an indie, female-driven comedy that is essentially the anti-Sex and the City: a tale about middle-aged lady losers who bring their baggage and social awkwardness to a collegiate spring break, where they proceed to binge drink, pick up men, and do all the things that they never got to do (and which, of course, men always get to do, especially in movies). Saturday Night Live vets Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch (who shares writing credits with director Ryan Shiraki), and Parker Posey star as the geeky 30-something protagonists, with plenty of their contemporary comic actors showing up in support (watch for Will Arnett, Seth Myers, Jane Lynch, Missi Pyle, and Lineal from Borat). Beware: festival reviews were mixed, so this gross-out comedy might be a bust. A commentary and gag reel highlight the bonus features.
Next: Are you ready for Anaconda 4?
At long last, the creature-feature sequel we’ve all been waiting for arrives! From the makers of, well, Anaconda 3, comes Anaconda 4: Trail of Blood, which picks up right where the previous sequel left off. In Anaconda 4, a giant snake is subject to genetic experiments and when someone tries to kill it by cutting it in half… it turns into TWO snakes! Yup. Like a worm! Contrary to initial reports, Anaconda 3 star David Hasselhoff doesn’t return for this Sci Fi Channel adventure, but Crystal Allen does, along with the esteemed but apparently hard-up for cash Jonathan Rhys-Davies, who seems to take any crappy sci-fi/fantasy role he’s offered these days. Hey, internet: remember when the Anaconda property had real stars (like J. Lo and Ice Cube) and played in theaters? Yeah, we do too. Good times.
Next: Weeds Season 4
In Season 4 of Showtime’s hit series Weeds, single mother Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) heads south for a fresh start — at least, as fresh a start as a suburban pot dealer can get — to reboot her marijuana business closer to the Mexican border. But what’s a drug-dealing MILF to do when her sons are maladjusted, she’s in bed with Mexican smugglers, and she’s having an affair with the Mayor of Tijuana? Catch up on Season 4 this week before the series returns June 8.
Next: At last, Prison Break ends…kinda.
Somewhere along its four-season life, Fox’s hit show Prison Break turned into a 24 knock-off with a touch of Alias — double-crosses, conspiracies, and shady organizations galore, less a “inmates break out of jail” show than a conspiracy thriller. Now that the final season has aired, complete (or start!) your Wentworth Miller DVD collection with the season that wrapped it all up by bowing to fan sentiment, for better or worse, revealing that Dr. Sarah Tancredi is still alive (surprise!), Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows may not really be brothers, and that which every man, woman, and operative in the series is after is nothing more than a little black book. And did we mention that Michael’s evil mother shows up? (For you completists, the show officially wraps up in July with the TV movie Prison Break: The Final Break.)
Next: Get Silent and Venomous with Luke Perry!
If you’re asking yourself, “Is it bad movie of the week time?” then you’ve hit the nail on the head! Slithering onto shelves this week is Silent Venom, a direct-to-DVD B-movie that could otherwise be called “Snakes on a Submarine.” As if that wasn’t enough to pique our interest, the creature feature stars Krista Allen (star of Baywatch Hawaii and eight Emmanuelle movies), Tom Berenger, and — be still, your beating hearts — former 90210 hunk Luke Perry. But what’s it about, you ask? A bunch of radioactive snakes break loose on a submarine and… well, the details aren’t really important. Enjoy!
Until next week, happy renting!