DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD
“Silver Linings Playbook”: The most interesting and unusual wide-release film of 2012, one that netted a Best Actress Oscar for Jennifer Lawrence (and should have secured a best Supporting Actor nod for Robert DeNiro … and it certainly was a better picture than “Argo,” which was too by-the-book for our tastes). Coming off the successful mainstream award-winning “The Fighter,” director David O. Russell took somewhat of a risk by creating a story line that revolved around characters with a variety of emotional issues. At the heart of the film is bipolar ex-teacher Pat (Bradley Cooper), just out of a mental institution, who’s trying to reunite with his estranged wife; instead, he gets involved with a recovering sex addict, Tiffany (Lawrence), whose husband was killed in an accident, and has to deal with his OCD father (De Niro), who’s totally obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something for her in return: dance with her in an upcoming ballroom contest. An unexpected bond begins to form between them as they practice their dance steps and get ready for the ballroom contest, culminating in silver linings in both of their lives.
“Not Fade Away” is an evocative tribute to 1960s rock music, with a great soundtrack supervised by music guru Steven Van Zandt. When the Rolling Stones appeared on television in 1964, three best high-school friends from the suburbs of New Jersey decided to form a rock band to try and make it big. The pals begin to see the world through the intoxicating prism of rock-and-roll, playing at parties, trying to get a record deal, chasing after girls, and smoking a lot of dope. It’s a delightful coming-of-age story that probably played out a thousand times in cities around the country in the wake of the British music invasion and the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s. Nothing much really happens here — the film is kind of a character study of kids from a time that, as they say, changed the world forever. It may not be gritty enough for Millennials but it will strike a reverberant chord amongst Baby Boomers. The cast is composed of young talent — John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Dominique McElligott, Brahm Vaccarella — augmented by the likes of Brad Garrett and James Gandolfini. Well worth a viewing.
“Funny Girl” (1968): After conquering the music world in 1963 with her first album and after dominating Broadway in 1964 with the musical “Funny Girl,” Barbra Streisand made the transition to the big screen in William Wyler’s 1968 adaptation of the Bob Merrill-Jule Styne stage production, making an incredible splash and paving the way for an illustrious career that has come to encompass all aspects of the entertainment world, as an actress, singer, director, writer, composer, producer, designer, activist and philanthropist. Here she stars as Fannie Brice — a singer and comedienne who moved from the Jewish slums of New York’s Lower East Side in the early part of the 20th century to forge a career on stage with the Ziegfeld Follies, on record with such hits as “My Man” and “Second Hand Rose,” on radio as Baby Snooks, and briefly in the movies in the 30s and 40s. Streisand more than amply filled Brice’s shoes, portraying the “ugly-duckling’s” life as she rose from obscurity to become a popular Amercian entertainment fixture; the film takes Brice all the way to the height of her career, including her marriage to and divorce from her first husband, Nick Arnstein (Omar Shariff). And, of course, Streisand — who won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress — belts out “People,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “My Man.” Sony’s Blu-ray transfer — just in time for the DVD release of Streisand’s “The Guilt Trip” — includes two vintage featurettes: “Barbra in Movieland” and “This Is Streisand.”
Another Blu-ray tie-in of sorts this week is the release of Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 “Strictly Ballroom,” a kind of “Dirty Dancing” meets “Shall We Dance” about a young dancer (Paul Mercurio) who decides to shake up the staid world of Australian ballroom dancing with new routines, co-starring Gia Carides as his new partner and with great supporting roles by Tara Morice, Bill Hunter and Pat Thomson. Extras include “Strictly Ballroom: From Stage to Screen” featurette, “Samba to Slow Fox Dance” featurette, a deleted scene, a design gallery with narration, and commentary with director Luhrmann, production designer Catherine Martin and choreographer John “Cha Cha” O’Connell. Jut in time for the theatrical release of Luhrmann’s rendition (May 10) of “The Great Gatsby.” From Lionsgate.