New on DVD & Blu-ray: August 19-25

Posted on August 18, 2014
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Ho-hum. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” continues the rebooting of the Spider-Man saga, with Andrew Garfield again reprising his role as “Spidey” and Emma Stone co-starring as Parker/Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy. But there’s something missing here; there’s just not enough oomph, even with formidable special-effects villains Electro (Jamie Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and The Rhino photo for (Paul Giamatti), and despite an emphasis on the back story and the disappearance of Parker’s parents. It’s all pretty predictable and, at times — especially in the scenes between Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy — boring. There’s no sense of humor, no spaciousness here, no surprises; it’s all too formulaic. Spidey is stuck in a claustrophobic web of his own making. And, boy, do we miss the sexy Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson. Co-stars Sally Field, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Colm Feore, Chris Cooper, Marton Csokas, Chris Zylka and Frank Deal. Extras include deleted scenes, filmmaker commentary, Alicia Keys’ “It’s On Again” music video and a six-part behind-the-scenes documentary “The Wages of Heroism: Making The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” From Sony.

Unlike “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a film that takes many, many chances, with an original, off-beat story line, unusual casting, a literate, intelligent script, and a great underground music soundtrack — all put together by writer-director Jim Jarmusch. The story revolves around two fragile and sensitive vampires, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Both are cultured intellectuals, mature and charmingly ultra-cool with an all-embracing passion for music, literature, art, science and each other. Their centuries-long existence, however, is threatened by the arrival of Eve’s carefree little sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), who hasn’t yet learned to tame her wilder instincts. Its a poetic love story set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, with a fair measure of black humor and sensual photography thrown in for good measure. Co-stars Anton Yelchin, John Hurt and Jeffrey Wright. Extras include “Traveling at Night With Jim Jarmusch,” deleted and extended scenes and a Yasmine Hamdan “Hal” music video. From Sony.


The Criterion Collection has on hand this week two sexy Spanish-language films available in dual format DVD/Blu-ray packages. First off is “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1990 — Spain), Pedro Almodovar’s colorful and controversial tribute to the pleasures and perils of movie-making, sex, love and the Stockholm syndrome. It’s a rambunctious dark comedy starring Antonio Banderas as an unbalanced but alluring former mental patient and Victoria Abril as the B-movie and porn star he photo for Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!takes prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him. A highly unconventional romance that came on the spike heels of Almodovar’s international sensation “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” this is a splashy, sexy central work in Almodovar’s career, radiantly shot by the director’s great cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine and with an appropriately Hitchcockian score by the great Ennio Morricone. The bathtub scene with Victoria Abril is alone worth the price of admission. (The film, originally rated X but released without a rating by Miramax, was instrumental in heralding the creation of the NC-17 rating). In a new 2K digital restoration, supervised by Almodovar and executive producer Agusti­n Almodovar, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001 — Mexico) is the smash road comedy from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron. Gael Garci­a Bernal and Diego Luna shot to international stardom as a pair of horny Mexico City teenagers from different classes who, after their girlfriends jet off to Italy for the summer, are bewitched by a gorgeous older Spanish woman (Maribel Verdu) they meet at a wedding. When she agrees to accompany them on a trip to a faraway beach, the three form an increasingly intense and sensual alliance that ultimately strips them both physically and emotionally bare. It’s a rare movie that combines raunchy subject matter and emotional warmth. In a new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki and approved by Cuaron, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.


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