RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Insidious, Rango, and The Lincoln Lawyer

Plus, a meditative ghost story from Thailand, a Terry Gilliam classic, and a Buster Keaton collection.

by | July 12, 2011 | Comments

Last week in home video, we only had a handful of releases to talk about, but the good thing was that they were all pretty solid. This week, there’s far more to choose from, but thankfully, there also isn’t much of a drop in quality. To start things off, we’ve got the big ones, like the Gore Verbinski-Johnny Depp animated film, the haunted house thriller from the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity, and a surprisingly solid turn from Matthew McConaughey in a courtroom drama. Then, we’ve got the only Rotten film on this week’s list, a Russell Brand-powered remake, and a Thai film that turned a lot of heads at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. We finish up the week’s selection with a classic Terry Gilliam film and a nice collection of films by the legendary Buster Keaton.

Insidious

66%

Good horror flicks have been hard to come by in recent years, but there are two low-budget flicks that managed to achieve phenomenal success: 2004’s Saw and 2007’s Paranormal Activity. Earlier this year, the makers of those films decided to work together to bring to the screen a different take on the traditional haunted house story. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play Josh and Renai Lambert, a young couple who moves into a new home with their young son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). As Dalton begins suspecting that the house is haunted, he suddenly falls into a coma for several months, and as Josh and Renai struggle to figure out what’s happening, dark secrets are revealed. Critics thought Insidious, at 67% on the Tomatometer, was better than your average fright flick, even if it did have some problems ending on a strong note, so if you’re looking for a decent scare, this could do the trick.

Rango

88%

At this point, it’s probably safe to say that, on a worldwide scale, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the best known work of not only its star, Johnny Depp, but also its director, Gore Verbinski. Back in March, the duo teamed up once again on what would be the first fully CGI-animated film for both of them: Rango. Depp voices the title character, a domesticated chameleon who finds himself in the middle of a Nevada desert town populated by unfamiliar animals when his terrarium falls off a truck. Doing his best to fit in, Rango becomes embroiled in a nefarious plot to control the town’s water supply, which he attempts to foil with his new friends. The film performed well critically and reasonably well financially, with most saying that the animation is beautifully top notch, and Johnny Depp’s colorful vocal performance seals the deal. Some feel it appeals more to adults than kids, what with its somewhat obscure references to things like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” and Depp’s own character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but that’s okay, because sometimes, you know, we adults like cartoons, too.

The Lincoln Lawyer

83%

RT had a chance to speak with Ryan Phillippe, co-star of The Lincoln Lawyer, before the film opened, and one thing he mentioned was that people were going to be surprised by Matthew McConaughey’s performance. Though it would have been easy to dismiss Phillippe’s words as PR fluff, the reviews for the film bore out his prediction, and The Lincoln Lawyer went Certified Fresh at 83%. Based on the novel of the same name by prolific crime story writer Michael Connelly, the film centers on a maverick attorney named Mickey Haller (McConaughey) who decides to defend a wealthy Beverly Hills playboy who’s been accused of rape and murder. As Mickey continues to investigate the evidence, things aren’t quite what they seem, and he must utilize all of his tricks to keep his head above water. Now, critics were quick to say that there are some plot implausibilities, and the courtroom drama feels familiar, but it’s all done so well that the film is ultimately a fun ride, and true to Phillippe’s words, McConaughey is perfectly solid.

Arthur (2011)

26%

Now, onto the second movie releasing this week about a privileged playboy. Those who are old enough will remember the original Arthur from 1981, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli, but otherwise, chances are you may not have even realized the 2011 film starring Russell Brand was a remake. Unfortunately, while some of us wondered why, of all movies, one might choose to redo Arthur, the critics basically came out and said, “They really shouldn’t have.” The story essentially remains the same: Arthur Bach (Brand) is an alcoholic heir to a billion-dollar fortune, which he can only inherit if he agrees to marry an obnoxious socialite (Jennifer Garner). When Arthur meets a tour guide named Naomi (Greta Gerwig), he falls in love and, with encouragement from his nanny (Helen Mirren), considers a common life with Naomi. Critics found this modern update to be grating, stating that the natural charm Brand exhibits in supporting roles turns against him when he’s the star of the show. But more so than that, most felt that, with so little new to offer, the 2011 Arthur was completely unnecessary. You may take your chances if you’re a fan of the stars, but at 27% on the Tomatometer, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

89%

Though he isn’t a household name in much of the western world, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival, where his films have been received rather well. This is particularly true of his latest effort, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010. For those who haven’t seen (or heard of) the film, it’s a bit difficult to explain; the story revolves around the titular Uncle Boonmee who, on his deathbed, is visited by the apparition of his late wife and by his long lost son, who appears in “non-human” form. Together, the three of them travel through a jungle and arrive at a mysterious cave, where Boonmee’s first life began. It’s safe to say that, at a Certified Fresh 89% on the Tomatometer, critics found lots to like about Uncle Boonmee, particularly its thoughtful and meditative take on the ghost story, but with its languorous pace and surreal elements, this arthouse winner might not be for everyone.

Brazil – Blu-ray

98%

Terry Gilliam is an imaginative, if not entirely disciplined, director with a ton of ideas in his head and only so many ways to translate those ideas to the big screen. Sometimes, though, his wild imagery comes together in just such a way that they are in perfect service to the story being told, and by most accounts, 1985’s Brazil is the best example of this. Set in a dystopian, Orwellian future simultaneously reminiscent of eras past, Brazil follows paper-pusher Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) as he attempts to rectify a clerical error that resulted in an innocent man’s death, then is pursued by the government as a potential terrorist threat. Along the way, Sam meets Jill (Kim Greist), the girl of his dreams (literally), and the real terrorist (Robert De Niro) the government was looking for in the first place. Packed with remarkable visuals, dry humor, biting commentary on the nature of bureaucracy, and outstanding performances from an impressive cast (which includes Jim Broadbent, Michael Palin, Ian Holm, and Bob Hoskins), Brazil is a modern classic, as evidenced by its Certified Fresh 98% on the Tomatometer. It’s available on Blu-ray for the first time this week, but fans should note: this is the Universal Studios release, which is 10 minutes shorter than Gilliam’s approved cut that was available from the Criterion Collection, and it comes with no bonus features. For that, we’ll simply have to wait until Criterion obtains the license again.

Buster Keaton – Short Films Collection: 1920-1923 (3-Disc Ultimate Edition) Blu-ray

Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, known for his wild, death-defying stunts, has said that his primary influence was Buster Keaton. For anyone who has yet to see any of Keaton’s work, that might be hard to conceptualize, but a new collection of 19 of Keaton’s short films should change all of that. The man was a master of physical comedy, and watching his work from the early 1920s can be a mindblowing experience ? and we’re not exaggerating here. Mastered in HD from 35mm prints, these shorts offer a comprehensive look at some of Keaton’s earliest screen work, when he was pretty much allowed to create as he saw fit — never a bad thing in the case of someone like him. The three-disc set also comes with a wealth of bonus features, including outtakes (yes, even back in the ’20s, they saved bloopers), a collection of other Keaton-esque short films from the era, digitally enhanced versions of some of the films, and visual essays to accompany 14 of the 19 total shorts. This is a great pickup for anyone who’s a fan, or anyone looking for an introduction to Buster Keaton’s work.

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