Pick of the Week
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
There’s absolutely no question about which DVD to highlight this week. Of all the movies from last year, this is the one that blew me away the most. I raved about it then, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Filmmaker Cristian Munjiu has managed to make a minimalist thriller about illegal abortions that will likely remain one of the best films of its or any other year. It’s harsh, it’s heart-rending, it’s sympathetic, it’s unrelenting, and I promise you, whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice (and it’s not a particularly political film anyway), you won’t be able to watch it and remain unchanged by it. Whether you choose to rent it or buy it may depend on how much you want to study Munjiu’s ability to make a film in which there’s so little action so riveting; but please, do one or the other.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Of course, this is the big blockbuster release of the week. I enjoyed the film, but then I’m a sucker for anything Indiana Jones. Certainly it’s nowhere near as good as the original trilogy (except maybe Temple of Doom – I really hate that one), but Spielberg and Ford have enough tricks up their sleeve to keep it entertaining. For the most part. Okay, really, the chase scene through the jungle was the best. The aliens? And the atomic-bomb-proof-refrigerator? Not so much. But I digress. If you want to complete your Indy collection, buy it. If you just want a fun, escapist couple of hours, rent it. If you don’t like Indy, it’s got nothing else on offer, so don’t bother. (Also available in a box set with the original trilogy, in a single-disc edition, and on Blu-ray)
Classics and New Editions
Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection
Another set of Hitchcock rereleases this week, this time from his British and Selznick years. This box set includes: The Lodger (said to be the first time made a cameo in his films), Sabotage (an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent; not to be confused with Hitchcock’s The Secret Agent, which is not), Young and Innocent (a solid entry into his British canon), Rebecca (his first Hollywood film), Lifeboat (Tallulah Bankhead and others, yes, stranded in a lifeboat), Spellbound (psychiatrist Ingrid Bergman, patient Gregory Peck, and dream sequence by Salvador Dali), Notorious (not only one of Hitch’s best, but one of the best spy films ever made), The Paradine Case (again Gregory Peck, in one of only about five post-Hollywood Hitchcock films I haven’t seen). Only Rebecca, Spellbound, and Notorious are available individually (and are the clear winners in the set), but I’d put in a plug for Sabotage and Young and Innocent as well (which are available individually from previous releases, just not in Premiere Editions).
The New World: Extended Cut
Now, Terrence Malick’s The New World is one of those films I expected to find dull and silly; instead, I found it one of the most beautiful pieces of visual poetry ever put on film, and it now resides very close to the top of my Best Of 2006 list. That said, I’m not sure it needs to be any longer, and this release will add some 30 minutes to the original 135 minute running time. It seemed pretty perfect to me in the theatrical cut, which always makes me wary of potentially indulgent director’s cuts. Still, I do highly recommend the film overall, and now you have extra viewing options.
TV on DVD
The Unit Season 3
Nothing I’m hugely excited about this week, but I just started watching The Unit this season and quite enjoying it. (I started watching it the first season it was on, but the time slot ended up conflicting with something else within a few weeks and I dropped it.) It’s about half covert ops army stuff, following Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick, and Scott Foley (and now Nicole Steinwedell) around on missions, and half army wives as this year, their wives get new identities and covers to stay safe from threats against the soldiers’ families. I might go back at some point and watch the earlier seasons. But it wasn’t hard to jump into in the middle, so I might not.