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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 3, 2012

by Zach Oat January 3, 2012 1:10 pm
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hey you -- cover your mouth!

Contagion
After being booted off of Moneyball, Steven Soderbergh took his talents to this terrific viral thriller instead, which boasts the same A-list ensemble of a vintage '70s disaster picture but with none of the camp value. Following a business trip to Hong Kong, Gwyneth Paltrow becomes Patient Zero in a worldwide outbreak of a lethal airborne virus that causes mass panic at home and abroad. Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle play some of the scientists combating the disease on the frontlines, while Jude Law makes mischief as a conspiracy theorist blogger and Matt Damon manages to keep his good looks as the one man in America that's apparently immune. Smartly written, well-acted and briskly paced, Contagion is the rare studio film these days that you actually wish were longer.
Extras: Three featurettes about real-life viruses and the men and women that combat them.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
One of the few bright spots in an overall terrible year for American horror movies, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark marked the promising directorial debut of comics illustrator Troy Nixey and the return of Guillermo Del Toro from his prolonged stint in New Zealand, where he was originally set to helm the upcoming Hobbit films before departing the project. Although Del Toro didn't direct Dark, his influence is felt throughout this haunted house tale, from the movie's youthful female protagonist to its moody visuals and emphasis on suspense over gory scares. While it's not a fright fest for the ages, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is the kind of elegantly made horror movie that's made too rarely these days.
Extras: A three-part behind-the-scenes documentary and a gallery of conceptual art sketched by Nixey and Del Toro.

I Don't Know How She Does It
Sarah Jessica Parker attempted to atone for the mortal sin that was Sex and the City 2 by headlining this adaptation of Allison Pearson's best-selling novel about an overworked mother and businesswoman that's one step away from a nervous breakdown by trying to have it all. Unfortunately, I Don't Know How She Does It turns out to be more unpleasant and borderline offensive than Carrie & Co.'s trip to the Middle East, embracing the very fantasy it starts out trying to stick a pin in. Audiences clearly smelled a lemon because the movie sank like a stone at the box office. And this time, Parker doesn't have the Sex franchise to fall back on. Maybe it's time for a big-screen Square Pegs reunion instead?
Extras: Just one -- a conversation with the novel's author, which would only be worth watching if Parker showed up to apologize for ruining her book.

Also on DVD:
The unlikely duo of Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle generate some great comic chemistry in The Guard, a well-reviewed Irish buddy comedy that became a modest art-house hit last fall. As if you need another reason to check out the Jaws rip-off Shark Night, it offers the deeply satisfying sight of Katharine McPhee getting munched on by an army of angry sharks. Chris Evans tries to prove that he's more than just a set of massive biceps with the indie drama Puncture and does a credible job as a lawyer that's addicted to 1) seeing justice done and 2) cocaine. Unfortunately, the movie itself is kind of a snooze. Finally, re-experience the turn of the millennium again with two late 20th century/early 21st century romantic comedies making their Blu-ray debuts: John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale find each other again after years of missed connections in Serendipity, while Freddie Prinze Jr. pulls a Henry Higgins on Rachel Leigh Cook in She's All That, the movie that swept the 1999 Teen Choice Awards. We can't wait for the Blu-ray versions of Boys and Girls and Wing Commander to complete our high-def Freddie Prinze Jr. collection.

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