This week in home releases, we have a Bret Easton Ellis adaptation (The Informers, which we present with an exclusive clip), a classy Criterion release (The Last Days of Disco), a complete set of a classic 1980s cartoon (Dungeons & Dragons: The Animated Series), some Stephen King horror that’s hitting high-def (Children of the Corn), and shirtless guys beating the stuffing out of each other (Fighting). In other words, there’s something for everyone this week. Keep reading for a guide your best DVD and Blu-Ray options this week.
Movies based on Bret Easton Ellis books are always tough sells in theaters. The author of American Psycho, Less Than Zero, and The Rules of Attraction is adept at creating slick stories of debutantes and libertines behaving very, very badly. The Informers, a seamy, cynical peek into sex and glamor during the 1980s, is no exception. But critics were rough on this one; maybe audiences prefer to keep their anti-heroes on television. Judge for yourself with this exclusive behind-the-scenes look with director Gregor Jordan.
Director Greg Mottola’s Adventureland didn’t generate the same kind of box office his previous movie Superbad did, but they did both land a Certified Fresh 88% Tomatometer. Both capture different sides of adulthood, though Adventureland takes a more autobiographical bent: the story of James’s (Jesse Eisenberg) summer job at a carnival is reportedly inspired by Mottola’s own experiences with a similar job.
Sometime in the past few years or so, someone in Hollywood decreed that all independent comedies had to meet a minimum level of “quirkiness,” but not all of them have succeeded the way 2001’s Little Miss Sunshine did. Luckily, Sunshine Cleaning manages to have more in common with Little Miss Sunshine than just part of its name and actor Alan Arkin; the story of two down-but-not-out sisters who begin a crime scene cleanup business is Certified Fresh. Pick it up this week and catch Amy Adams and Emily Blunt in a sweet and funny, if familiar, story about family.
On paper, Duplicity looked like a can’t-miss proposition. It’s a screwball espionage caper starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, supported by Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti and directed by Tony Gilroy, red-hot from the success of the Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton. And yet the film was something of a box-office disappointment and received mixed notices from the pundits. Still, they were generally positive, calling Duplicity a sophisticated, jaunty romp.
Hey kids! Do you enjoy seeing people get punched in the face? Well, have I got a DVD for you. It’s aptly titled Fighting, and it stars Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard as a hot young MMA prospect and his grizzled mentor, respectively. While the reviews for Fighting, at best, put the “mixed” in “mixed martial arts,” some critics praised the film for its energy and better-than-average performances, even if the whole is pretty formulaic. The DVD offers several deleted scenes; it’s also available in Blu-ray.
Carlos Cuaron’s Rudo y Cursi has sibling rivalry written all over it. Its two central characters are brothers who embark on separate careers in soccer, but what’s more, they’re played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, childhood pals in real life who were last seen on screen together in 2001’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, which Cuaron co-wrote with his brother, Alfonso. Despite its few sports movie clichés, Rudo y Cursi fell just short of Certified Fresh status at 72 percent and, buoyed by strong performances from Bernal and Luna, marked Carlos Cuaron as a potential rival to his more illustrious brother.
If the murderous teens of Gatlin, Nebraska weren’t scary enough for you in 1984, then maybe seeing them crucify grown-ups in high-definition now will do the trick. The 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn drops this week, packed full of regular goodies like audio commentary and production stills, as well as three brand new featurettes with the cast and crew. Make sure you put the adults to bed before you turn it on.
Whatever happened to Whit Stillman? In the early 1990s, he was carving out a nice little career with his offbeat comedies of manners; his films (which include Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco, out this week in a spiffy Criterion edition) paved the way for Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. Starring Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, and Stillman regular Chris Eigeman, The Last Days of Disco tells the story of a group of young Manhattanites who suffer through their dull office jobs before hitting a Studio 54-esque club at night. The DVD features a restored transfer of the film, commentary from Stillman, Sevingy, and Eigeman, deleted scenes are more.
Dungeons & Dragons is one of those rare 1980s cartoons that holds up well. The animation and voice work is standard for the era, but the art design is a notch above most and the general storyline (a group of teenagers are trapped in a violent fantasy world) can be surprisingly affecting. An ornately-packaged series set was released a few years ago but has since gone out of print. This new package has all 27 episodes minus any special features, reducing it to normal DVD pricing. This is not a great purchase for a more devoted fan, but perfect for luring in casual audience.
At long last: Stunt Rock! This 1978 midnight movie tells the gentle tale of Grant Page, an Australian stuntman who travels to Los Angeles for a TV series. Quickly, though, this premise gives way for Stunt Rock‘s true purpose: jamming as much prog rock, pyrotechnics, insane stunts, adrenaline, and car wreckage into 90 minutes as humanely possible.
Written by Alex Vo, Ryan Fujitani, and Tim Ryan.