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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Flight and Some Excellent Documentaries

Plus, the latest Kevin James joint and Tyler Perry's failed attempt to pick up where Morgan Freeman left off.

by | February 5, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got Denzel Washington in an Oscar-nominated performance, Kevin James in the octagon, Tyler Perry squaring off against a serial killer, and a likable indie rom-com. Then we’ve got a quiet drama with some star pedigree and three documentaries with Tomatometer scores of 94% and up. See below for the full list!



Flight

78%

After 2000’s Cast Away, director Robert Zemeckis immersed himself in motion capture animation, achieving only mixed success. Last year, the man who brought us Marty Mcfly and Forrest Gump returned to live action with Flight, a story of heroism and addiction. Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot struggling with alcoholism whose quick thinking helps to save many lives in what could have been a tragic plane crash. As the media descend upon him, new details surface that lead to questions of Whip’s character, and a hearing is scheduled to determine the truth of the accident. Washington has garnered widespread praise — including an Oscar nod for Best Actor — for his work here, and the cast is rounded out by notable costars like Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood, and John Goodman. Critics say Flight is a thoughtful character study bolstered by strong performances, and it’s Certified Fresh at 78%.



Here Comes the Boom

38%

Heavyset men have been taking pratfalls on film since the earliest days of cinema, and despite consistently low Tomatometer scores, Kevin James proves the phenomenon continues to be a moneymaker. Here Comes the Boom finds the Happy Madison regular in the guise of Scott Voss, a high school biology teacher who tries his hand at mixed martial arts fighting in order to raise money for his school’s failing music program. Will he be able to earn enough to cover the $48,000 music budget before his brains are bashed to pulp? You probably don’t need to see the movie to figure that one out. For what it’s worth, critics say that James is likable as ever in the role, but also that Here Comes the Boom fails to deliver either sufficient laughs or a satisfying enough plot to make it entirely worthwhile.



Alex Cross

11%

Whether or not you realized it at the time, 1997’s Kiss the Girls and 2001’s Along Came a Spider, were adapted from a book franchise by James Patterson centered around a detective named Alex Cross. Morgan Freeman played the role in those two films, but in last year’s eponymous coming-out party for the character, Alex Cross, Tyler “Madea” Perry took up the mantle, and the result was far less impressive. Like the other tales, Alex Cross features its titular hero matching wits with a deadly serial killer (one who calls himself Picasso, played by LOST‘s Matthew Fox) in what amounts to sort of an “origin story,” predating the character’s eventual Washington, D.C. digs. As Cross zeroes in on Picasso, he discovers the killer may be involved in a larger conspiracy. Critics scored this one at 13%, calling the script tasteless and lazily written and Rob Cohen’s (XXX, The Fast and the Furious) direction confounding. It would appear that Perry’s attempt to broaden his appeal was largely a misfire, but don’t you fans worry: a home video release of Tyler Perry’s Madea Gets a Job: The Play is also available this week.



Celeste and Jesse Forever

70%

We’ve seen how well Rashida Jones can play comedy, particularly from her roles in The Office (US) and Parks and Recreation, but how well can she write it? Celeste and Jesse Forever might indicate she’s pretty good at that, too. Jones pairs with SNL alumnus Andy Samberg as Celeste and Jesse (natch), high school sweethearts who married early but, now in their early 30s, have drifted apart. Celeste is a successful, ambitious businesswoman, but Jesse is an unemployed artist, so Celeste initiates a divorce and Jesse agrees reluctantly. The problem is, they still get along great, and just when Celeste begins to second guess her decision, things get really complicated for Jesse. Critics say both Jones and Samberg are immensely likable, and Jones, who cowrote the film with Will McCormack (who also appears in a supporting role), seems to know what to do with a script. Though it’s not as incisive or clever as it probably thinks it is, Celeste and Jesse Forever still manages a few surprises and an earnest take on long-term relationships.



Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

94%

In the first of this week’s impressive documentaries, we have Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, a look at the legendary and influential fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar who became the head honcho at Vogue (if you’re thinking of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, that was supposed to be Anna Wintour, the current editor-in-chief). Born in Paris, Vreeland came from rather important stock — her mother was descended from George Washington’s brother, and was the cousin of Francis Scott Key — and enjoyed relationships with various high society folks. She operated a boutique in London and bought her clothes directly from Coco Chanel before moving back to the States permanently with her family and beginning her illustrious fashion writing career. The film captures Vreeland’s life vividly with appropriately stylish flair, and critics have marked it Certified Fresh at 95%. If you’re looking for an informative portrait of a charismatic subject, this is a good choice.



Paul Williams Still Alive

97%

Maybe you’re just in a biopic mood, and Diana Vreeland only whet your appetite. If so, you’re in luck, because there’s another one hitting shelves this week you might want to consider. Director Stephen Kessler chronicles his lifelong obsession with the singer-songwriter-actor, beginning with the adolescent days when he idolized Williams and leading up to an eventual meeting with the former star. To offer a bit of context, those of you who don’t recognize Williams’s name will surely be familiar with some of his work, whether it’s The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” or Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection,” both of which Williams wrote. Documenting his journey with fervent nostalgia, Kessler inadvertently creates a film that’s just as much about his passion as it is about Paul Williams himself, and critics found it revealing and engrossing, awarding it a 97% on the Tomatometer.



A Late Quartet

78%

Considering its rather impressive cast and largely favorable reviews, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t hear more about A Late Quartet. We don’t really have an answer for that, except to say that it opened in very limited release back in November and spent little effort on promotion. The film stars Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, and Catherine Keener as members of a string quartet preparing to celebrate their 25th year together. Walken’s Peter Mitchell, the cellist and leader of the ensemble, discovers he is in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, and while he quietly begins to plan for his future, the two violinists (Ivanir and Hoffman) revisit old resentments and quibble over who belongs in first chair. While some critics found the story a little heavy on the melodramatics, most were willing to dismiss them as a minor objection in an otherwise maturely acted film. Certified Fresh at 73%, A Late Quartet is mostly an insightful and emotionally satisfying drama.



Side by Side

92%

Got room for one more documentary? We trust you RT folk will find this one to be of particular interest, for Side by Side is one of those behind-the-scenes glimpses into movie history that helps us all to form a greater appreciation for the art. Plus, it’s “hosted” by Keanu Reeves (and very well, according to critics), and that’s always fun. The film offers a historical look at traditional celluloid filmmaking and describes how the advent of digital filmmaking has impacted the industry. While offering some smart, scientific information for the geek in all of us, the film also features interviews with a lot of big names, including George Lucas, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and many, many more, all offering their opinions and insights on the topic. Certified Fresh at 94%, Side by Side should be an informative and utterly fascinating watch for any movie buff.

Also available this week:

  • The Czech, Japanese, and Slovak CGI/stop-motion collaboration Na Pude (Toys in the Attic) (73%), featuring voice work from Forest Whitaker, Cary Elwes, and Joan Cusack.
  • French import Little White Lies (42%), starring Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin in a Big Chill-esque drama.
  • Deadfall (33%), a chilly neo-noir thriller starring Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Kris Kristofferson, and Sissy Spacek.
  • So Undercover (7%), a Miley Cyrus-led teen comedy about a girl hired by the FBI to go undercover at a sorority.
  • Keisuke Kinoshita’s 1958 drama The Ballad of Narayama (100%), is available in a new Criterion Collection edition.
  • Disney’s adaptation of Peter Pan (84%), is being released from the vault.

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