RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Dictator, A Separation, and Some Disney Classics

Plus, a Jack Black-Richard Linklater winner, a nature film, a critical misfire, and more.

by | August 21, 2012 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got one big comedy and a bunch of smaller films that critically fared much better (with the exception of one, which probably should have been better). Then we’ve got a notable Blu-ray reissue and a few movies from the Disney vault. See below for the full list!

The Dictator


Sacha Baron Cohen teamed up with director Larry Charles for the third time in The Dictator, a silly, satirical look at oppressive third-world governments and the pair’s first non-mockumentary film. Cohen plays General Aladeen, the all around evil dictator of a fictional North African country, who loses his position in a political coup and struggles to have his dictatorship restored. Oh, and he also falls in love and changes his ways… a little. Critics found The Dictator uneven overall, but gave it some credit for its provocative themes and some genuinely funny moments. At 58%, it’s not the funniest movie of the year, but you could do a lot worse.



Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) isn’t really a director whose name will get folks into theater seats, and Jack Black tends to draw larger audiences when he’s fully switched on. As a result, few people went out to see what might be one of the best films either of them have done in recent memory. Black plays the titular funeral director in Bernie, a based-on-true-events dark comedy about a well-liked Texas man (Black) who befriends and begins a relationship with a bitter, unpleasant widow (Shirley MacLaine) that lasts until the woman goes missing. Critics found the film unexpectedly amusing and gently told, with Black’s performance stealing the show; as a result, Bernie earned an impressive Certified Fresh 91% on the Tomatometer.



All of Disneynature’s theatrical releases thus far have fared relatively well with the critics, and the trend continues with Chimpanzee. Chimpanzee follows a baby chimp named Oscar who is orphaned and seems fated for death until an unlikely male leader, Freddy, begins to care for him. Based on footage taken by the same people who produced the stunning Planet Earth documentary series, Chimpanzee is beautifully filmed with a similar attention to detail, providing a rare and intimate look at primate families. Certified Fresh at 74%, the film is fascinating and educational, even if it anthropomorphizes its subjects a little too overtly.

A Separation


It won a slew of awards, made tons of critical Top Ten lists, and earned a Certified Fresh 99% on the Tomatometer, but A Separation was not a huge box office hit. This week, however, you’ll get your chance to see the powerful Iranian drama about a married couple’s struggles to keep things together when the presence of the husband’s father, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, takes a toll on the relationship. Well-acted, expertly written, complex, and insightful, A Separation not only earned an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay (rare for foreign films) but actually took home the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.



Let’s continue with another small, independent film that critics loved but audiences barely knew existed: writer/director Andrew Haigh’s Weekend. Tom Cullen plays Russell, a man living in Nottingham who picks up an artist named Glen (Chris New) for what begins as a one-night stand and becomes a profound weekend-long examination of love, sex, and contemporary gay living for the both of them. Cullen and New, both newcomers, earned accolades for their naturalistic performances, and Haigh found praise for his honest writing and his ability to make the story just as relevant for a wider audience. At a Certified Fresh 94% on the Tomatometer, Weekend is a uniquely observed romance worth watching.



Dustin Lance Black’s breakout film was 2008’s Milk, for which he earned a ton of recognition and won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and he followed that up with the screenplay for Clint Eastwood’s high profile biopic J. Edgar. Unfortunately, Black’s first narrative directorial effort since 2000, Virginia, largely failed to generate much praise. Starring Ed Harris, Emma Roberts, Harrison Gilbertson, and Jennifer Connelly in the title role, Virginia is a dramedy about a single mother who gets involved with the married local sheriff and soon discovers her small town is full of secrets. Critics found Virginia an erratic misfire with tonal issues and a disjointed plot, leading to a dismal 4% Tomatometer that betrays the film’s pedigree.

Good Will Hunting – 15th Anniversary Blu-Ray


In the fifteen years that have transpired since Good Will Hunting was released, Matt Damon has become a major A-list movie star and Ben Affleck has embarked upon a rather promising directorial career. But without their Oscar-winning script about a working class kid who reluctantly enters therapy in order to avoid jail time and study mathematics, it’s possible neither would be where they are now. This week, Miramax and Lionsgate are releasing a 15th Anniversary Blu-ray of Good Will Hunting, which contains many of the special features contained in other releases but also includes two new extras: an hourlong retrospective look at the film with Damon, Affleck, director Gus Van Sant, and Robin Williams; and a shorter video with Damon reflecting on the making of the movie.

The Rescuers, The Aristocats, and Pocahontas – Blu-Ray


Every few years, the good people over at Disney see fit to release the Blu-ray versions of their most beloved animated classics, and this week, we get a whopping three of them. The Aristocats (1970, 68%), The Rescuers (1977, 85%), and Pocahontas (1996, 57%) are all getting the high definition treatment this week, but wait — there’s more! The 35th Anniversary Edition of The Rescuers is also available in a 3-disc combo pack with the sequel The Rescuers Down Under, and Pocahontas is likewise available in a combo pack with its own sequel, Pocahontas II. Granted, these aren’t the studio’s most iconic stories, but you’ll certainly find a fair share of people who have fond memories of all three, so if you know of any Disney enthusiasts, these could be great pickups.

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