RT on DVD

RT on DVD: Cram For The Oscars With Michael Clayton, In The Valley of Elah, And More Out This Week

Plus the latest from Ang Lee, Noah Baumbach, Brian de Palma, Gavin Hood, and Ridley Scott.

by | February 18, 2008 | Comments

Ready those Oscar ballots! With the Academy Awards around the corner, it’s time to start catching up on what you missed in theaters. Snap up this week’s offerings for award-nominated performances (George Clooney and Co. in Michael Clayton, Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah) and a handful more notable titles of 2007 (American Gangster, Lust, Caution, Margot at the Wedding, Redacted).


Michael Clayton

Tomatometer: 90%

There are seven reasons to pick up Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton on DVD this week: Academy Awards nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Directing, Score, Screenplay, and Best Picture. The taut corporate thriller, about a legal “fixer” (George Clooney) who uncovers sinister goings-on in a case he’s working, is marked by excellent contributions all around. With the exception of deleted scenes and a commentary by director Gilroy and his brother/editor John Gilroy, the bonus menu is sparse, but the real value in picking Michael Clayton up on DVD is the film itself — and the chance to watch two of the best supporting performances in recent memory (by Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton, both Oscar-nominated).

 

American Gangster

Tomatometer: 79%

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe face off in Ridley Scott’s tale of real-life Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas (Washington) and detective Richie Roberts (Crowe), from a Steven Zaillian script. Critics praised the pic for capturing a gritty sense of place and time — New York City’s seedy underbelly, circa 1970 — and for dazzling performances from its two leading men. Rapper Jay-Z, after an early screening, penned an entire album of songs inspired by the film. And while conspicuously omitted from Oscar honors, American Gangster made numerous Top Ten lists last year. In turn, Universal Studios is releasing the film in not one, but two substantial releases: a 2-disc Unrated edition with 18 additional minutes of footage, and a 3-disc version containing a 32-page collector’s production booklet, music videos by Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah, and a digital copy of the film.

 

In the Valley of Elah

Tomatometer: 71%

Tommy Lee Jones has twice before been nominated for an Oscar (earning the honor in 1992 for JFK and winning 1994’s award for The Fugitive), but his latest nomination, for his role as the father of a missing soldier in In the Valley of Elah, is his first as a leading man. Elah is written and directed by Paul Haggis and, like Haggis’ Oscar-winning Crash, unapologetically tackles the ground of social commentary: namely, the adverse psychological toll the Iraq war is exacting on soldiers and their loved ones. Two bonus featurettes add texture with a peek at the film’s production and interviews with filmmakers, actors, and the real-life parents of the man whose story inspired the film.


 

Lust, Caution


Tomatometer: 69%

Ang Lee’s WWII thriller is, as expected, a lush and steamy affair. In 1942 Shanghai, wealthy housewife Mrs. Mak (Tang Wei) partakes in gossip and mah-jongg with other well-to-do ladies while seducing a married man; but Mak is not what she seems — her identity and the affair are staged, part of an elaborate plan by radical students to assassinate a traitorous official. Sexy, NC-17 love scenes mark Lee’s erotic follow-up to Brokeback Mountain in this powerful, beautiful, and tragic love story.

Margot at the Wedding


Tomatometer: 53%

Noah Baumbach caught Hollywood’s attention with 2005’s semi-autobiographical The Squid and the Whale (after making an acclaimed debut ten years earlier with Kicking & Screaming and co-scripting Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), so the heat was on to see if his next film, Margot at the Wedding, would measure up. The verdict? Mixed. Critics note Baumbach’s spot-on, incisive observations of well-heeled East Coasters, but found his characters — including Nicole Kidman and Baumbach’s wife Jennifer Jason Leigh as frictional sisters — overwhelmingly unlikeable.

Rendition


Tomatometer: 47%

Culling its title from the controversial CIA practice of transporting detainees to areas of borderline-torturous interrogation facilities, Rendition is a muddled, if well-intention, entry into the current subgenre of politically-relevant think pieces. Director Gavin Hood, coming off of his Oscar win for the South African drama Tsotsi, submits a rather disappointing Hollywood debut. Rendition stars Reese Witherspoon as a pregnant American woman struggling to learn why her Egyptian-born husband has disappeared, and her off-screen S.O. Jake Gyllenhaal as a conflicted government suit who is witness to the acts of torture.

Redacted


Tomatometer: 45%

Arguably the most divisive of 2007’s Iraq-themed films, Brian de Palma’s Redacted is not only an anti-war missive but is also an experiment in mixed media filmmaking — double the chance to alienate movie goers simply looking to be entertained, but a thought-provoking experience for those up for a challenge. De Palma uses a variety of faux-documentary formats to paint a picture of U.S.-occupied Iraq (soldiers’ home videos, European documentary crews, local news reports) and the precarious balance of clashing cultures and violence that threatens to explode with deadly consequences.

‘Til next week, happy renting!



Tag Cloud

Spring TV Amazon Oscars thriller Dark Horse Comics American Society of Cinematographers TCA APB Bravo science fiction cooking IFC Country social media composers Superheroe TV disaster Watching Series Teen YA comiccon Rocky television Mudbound crime drama NBC Mystery Sneak Peek SundanceTV Showtime cinemax Comic Book jamie lee curtis Christmas Epix hist DC streaming service Video Games Drama Hulu ABC Marathons dramedy Photos TCA 2017 TruTV Ovation mutant BBC X-Men talk show Film Festival Extras singing competition YouTube Red Mindy Kaling TNT true crime crime thriller Best and Worst theme song IFC Films Universal History LGBTQ TCM Lucasfilm strong female leads USA Network OWN ratings Emmys Sundance Now 24 frames The Witch Musical El Rey medical drama festivals Ghostbusters Paramount Reality Competition 45 MSNBC Box Office adventure cats New York Comic Con TIFF Pirates Winter TV Walt Disney Pictures USA Biopics PBS Cosplay Animation Toys comic Fall TV Crackle HBO Polls and Games Rocketman Musicals Song of Ice and Fire ABC Family Superheroes miniseries space diversity sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt unscripted DGA Music GIFs political drama Certified Fresh Shondaland what to watch TV Land Character Guide CBS 2015 Stephen King Rock FOX BBC America 2016 Writers Guild of America RT History boxoffice Valentine's Day justice league golden globes dceu MCU 007 Trivia Tumblr facebook Mary Tyler Moore E! witnail TLC discovery San Diego Comic-Con Nickelodeon SDCC Nat Geo Disney Channel Cannes Thanksgiving Winners First Look 2018 zombies Britbox zero dark thirty Mary poppins Horror Schedule Action politics aliens Summer Vudu DirecTV Masterpiece 2017 Interview Logo Starz 21st Century Fox Kids & Family zombie Elton John Year in Review Acorn TV Martial Arts Calendar Pixar Cartoon Network Red Carpet Amazon Prime Awards Tour The CW Shudder WGN sports GLAAD Columbia Pictures Infographic Spike harry potter vampires crossover award winner Quiz Creative Arts Emmys Nominations TBS anime 20th Century Fox Brie Larson docudrama Freeform Syfy Holidays psychological thriller mockumentary Heroines Lifetime PaleyFest Star Wars biography CBS All Access based on movie cults DC Universe President elevated horror period drama Set visit Awards Sony Pictures Adult Swim Netflix travel war finale A&E Anna Paquin serial killer natural history CW Seed Disney SXSW doctor who cops AMC casting Countdown Premiere Dates Grammys Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Trailer Mary Poppins Returns Lionsgate richard e. Grant Super Bowl Podcast sequel robots anthology Marvel Sci-Fi FXX National Geographic Trophy Talk Election spider-man psycho Comedy Central See It Skip It transformers Comedy Pop blaxploitation Rom-Com Sundance Pet Sematary Women's History Month ESPN Reality NYCC Apple streaming DC Comics CNN Ellie Kemper binge VH1 nature historical drama RT21 YouTube Premium CMT GoT Spectrum Originals crime BET technology teaser Comics on TV Star Trek police drama Fox News Esquire MTV The Arrangement E3 supernatural Food Network FX dragons Tomatazos green book Opinion Western dc ITV Tarantino romance spy thriller Captain marvel 2019 Paramount Network Black Mirror VICE Fantasy adaptation Warner Bros.