THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
Director Darren Aronofsky kicked up quite a storm with his semi-revisionist take on the biblical tale of Noah and the Ark. Much to the chagrin of bible-thumpers, Aronofsky humanized Noah and his struggle to understand why he was chosen by his creator to undertake the great task of saving animal species before an apocalyptic flood destroyed the world (he also altered the biblical tale by introducing The Watchers, fallen angels turned to stone golems for helping humans expelled from the Garden of Eden and who now help Noah build his ark). At the other end of the creationism divide, it’s easy to acknowledge “Noah” as a literary work of art, but it’s harder to accept the weak acting (especially by Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife, Naameh, and Emma Watson as Ila, Shem’s wife) and at-times sluggish pace. Russell Crowe as Noah is just perfect as the stubborn and tenacious keeper of the world’s animals; his anger at his creator for not giving him guidance is palpable. Also along for the ride is Anthony Hopkins (in a by-now-typical role as a wise old man — here as Methuselah) and Ray Winstone as an evil descendent of Cain who wants to makeover the world in his own profane image. Metaphors abound in this watchable — if not totally enthralling — CGI spectacle. DVD and Blu-ray Extras include a trio of three short behind-the-scenes featurettes. From Paramount.
Also due this week is “The Other Woman,” a girlfriend revenge flick about a successful New York attorney (Cameron Diaz) who accidentally discovers that her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend is married and — worse yet — has another mistress; she teams with the wife (Leslie Mann) and other girlfriend (Kate Upton) to teach the three-timing man a lesson. It’s pretty slight and pretty silly. Disappointingly directed by Nick Cassavetes. From Fox.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS:
There’s a lot of oldies but goodies due this week:
First we head to the 1950s with “At War With the Army” (1950) the freshman outing for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. In typical Martin and Lewis style, Martin plays the ladies’ man with a crooner’s voice while Lewis brings on the laughter in the duo’s first starring roles on the silver screen. It’s a classic, song-and gag-filled comedy that has the due enlisting in the army. Co-stars Mike Kellin, Polly Bergen, Jimmie Dundee and Dick Stabile. From Film Chest Media … follow that up with a set of films by one of the most gorgeous actresses ever to grace the silver screen in the”Grace Kelly Collection,” a six-disc set with “Mogambo” (1953), “Dial M for Murder” (1954), “The Country Girl” (1954), “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” (1954), “High Society” (1956) and “To Catch a Thief” (1955). The set includes a collectible series of art cards, photos and memorabilia. $34.96 from Warner.
Moving on to the 1970s we have the “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Revisited Blu-ray” (1970), a four-hour Director’s Cut of the Oscar-winning documentary about the landmark music event that featured some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll performers in history. This latest release will contain the complete “40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition” plus brand new concert footage from Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Santana, The Who and more. There are new premiums — a reproduction of Woodstock Festival tickets and articles from Life Magazine and The New York Times — in addition to a re-issue of the Woodstock logo iron-on patch. From Warner.
Segueing to the 80s the Criterion Collection offers up a Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition of Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Big Chill” (1983). After the shocking suicide of their friend, a group of thirtysomethings reunite for his funeral and end up spending a weekend together, reminiscing about their shared pasts as children of the sixties and confronting the uncertainty of their lives as adults of the eighties. Poignant and warmly humorous in equal measure, this 1983 babyboomer milestone featuring memorable performances by an ensemble cast of Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly and JoBeth Williams. And with its playlist of hit songs from the sixties, “The Big Chill” all but invented the consummately curated soundtrack.
And, lastly, on to the 90s. CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount has released a giant box set of “Twin Peaks – The Entire Mystery,” a comprehensive 10-disc compendium that contains every episode from the complete television series (1990-91); both the U.S. and international versions of the series’ pilot; the North American Blu-ray debut of David Lynch’s follow-up feature “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”; and nearly 90 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes from the film. The set also features newly transferred Log Lady introductions for each episode; picture upgrades to many shots in the TV series; a new featurette with Lynch and the actors who portrayed the Palmer family that includes a mesmerizing return to the lives of their characters today; and hours of never-before-released material that dives into the fascinating story behind the celebrated pop culture classic. Along with the newly transferred version of “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” created from a 4K scan of the original negative, the box set boasts the long-awaited missing pieces from the original version of the film — nearly an hour-and-a-half of deleted/alternate scenes from -– often referred to as the “holy grail” of Twin Peaks fandom. This feature-length experience has been directed and edited by Lynch exclusively for this release. Capping off more than 30 deleted/alternate scenes is an epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliffhanger finale of the TV series. All with upgraded picture and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio under the personal supervision of Lynch. What more could you ask for?