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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

by Ethan Alter February 26, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We talk about PTA's The Master once more, with feeling.The Master
It may have gone statueless at the Oscars, but it sure feels like we'll still be talking about Paul Thomas Anderson's epically intimate character study long after actual winners like Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook have faded from memory. Topping my list of 2012's very best movies, The Master features a stunning star turn by comeback kid Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell, a returning World War II vet whose struggle to readjust to life in '50s-era America leads him to fall in with the cult of The Cause, an invented religion dreamed up by author, philosopher and purebred huckster, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman, expertly playing the restrained superego to Phoenix's raging id). Although the pre-release hype focused largely on Dodd's resemblance to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, The Master is ultimately less an expose of a false faith than a provocative meditation about what it means to be a true believer in a cause that requires you to sublimate your own identity to that of... well, a master. All due respect to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, but you won't see a better battle of wills than the one waged between Hoffman and Phoenix. (Amy Adams is also terrific as Dodd's new, much younger wife, who holds more power over the Cause than he -- or she -- lets on.) Behind the camera, Anderson continues to demonstrate an exceptional command of technique and craft, not to mention an utterly unique approach to pacing and narrative; each time I watch the film, I discover a fresh angle or idea that he's built into the text. In my original review of The Master, I suggested that it's not quite the movie that Anderson's previous film -- the stunning There Will Be Blood -- is. Upon further reflection, not only is this film Blood's equal -- it may even be better.
Extras: Anderson's selection of bonus feature are, appropriately, as cryptic and unexpected as the feature. First up is a 20-minute reel of elliptically edited deleted scenes and outtakes scored to Jonny Greenwood's terrific instrumental arrangements. Warning: if you're expecting these omitted sequences to answer or explain any of the movie's mysteries, keep dreaming. There's also a short montage of behind-the-scenes footage and a rarely screened hour-long John Ford-directed documentary, Let There Be Light, which depicts the physical and psychological scars afflicting real World War II veterans after their tours of duty ended.
Click here to read our original review

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (Extended Edition)
After five movies, dozens of magazine spreads and gazillions of dollars at the box office, The Twilight Saga is officially pop culture history and immediately exploitable for all manner of "Complete Series" special edition DVD box sets. Summit gets the ball rolling on that score early, marrying the DVD premiere of the final film, Breaking Dawn, Part 2 with a newly released extended edition of its predecessor, Breaking Dawn, Part 1, which adds a whopping eight extra minutes of footage onto the installment that finds Bella joining Team Edward permanently through marriage, a sex-fueled honeymoon (since, now that they're hitched, sexytime is A-OK) and, finally, a baby. All that exposition pays off in the far more redonkulous (and therefore, far more enjoyable) Breaking Dawn, Part 2, where those pesky Volturi assemble to destroy the spawn of Edward and the newly vamped Bella, climaxing in an insane battle royal where absolutely everyone you know and love hate dies in spectacularly bloody fashion. (For us, that counts as a happy ending... unfortunately, the movie turns out to have other ideas.) Getting to this point may have been slow-going, but Breaking Dawn, Part 2 embodies everything we loathe and love about the franchise; it's poorly-written, indifferently-acted drivel, but at its best, it's so batshit crazy that you can't look away.
Extras: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 comes with a seven-part documentary plus an additional featurette, a commentary track with director Bill Condon and a music video for the Green Day tune, "The Forgotten." The Part 1 limited edition retains the same Condon commentary track that was on the previous release. Both discs are missing the one bonus feature they really ought to have: the two-part Breaking Dawn installments of the magnificent How Did This Get Made? podcast.
(Note: These DVDs will be available on Saturday, March 2)
Click here to read our original review of Breaking Dawn, Part 1
Click here to read our original review of Breaking Dawn, Part 1
Click here to see our advice to the Twilight cast
Click here to see what we'll miss about the Twilight franchise

Holy Motors
Chicken With Plums
Sex and Lucia: Unrated Director's Cut
Rapturously received by critics, Leos Carax's deliriously inventive headtrip Holy Motors didn't find much of an audience during its theatrical release last fall. But one-of-a-kind movies like this often enjoy a long afterlife on DVD, where its cult of admirers will only grow over time. Second only to Joaquin Phoenix, Denis Lavant delivered 2012's finest leading man performance as a professional chameleon, who travels around Paris by stretch limo from scenario to scenario morphing his face and even his body to play whatever role the situation requires. Don't get hung up too much on the logic (or lack thereof) of the movie -- just sit back and enjoy its rush of bizarre imagery and deliberately wild tonal shifts. A follow-up to their deservedly acclaimed animated feature, Persepolis (based on the graphic novel of the same name), Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud give live-action filmmaking a try, albeit while retaining a distinctly comic book sensibility -- not so much in terms of its content (there are no capes and tights anywhere in the frame), but certainly in its painterly visual style. The story concerns a depressed violinist (Mathieu Amalric) who proclaims his own death following the destruction of his favorite instrument and spends his final few days escaping into an elaborate fantasy world. The imagery is beautiful, even if the story is a bit thin. Rounding out this week's foreign releases, the 2001 Spanish art house hit, Sex and Lucia -- the movie that introduced international audiences to the considerable charms of Paz Vega -- is newly available in an unrated director's cut via digital download. It's the sexiest, twistiest Pedro Almodóvar movie that Almodóvar never made.
Extras: Holy Motors includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with co-star Kylie Minogue (yes... that Kylie Minogue), while Chicken with Plums includes a commentary track with the director and footage from a Tribeca Film Festival Q&A.

Also on DVD:
Former teen good girls Danielle Panabaker and Nicole LaLiberte play natural born killers in the indie bloodbath Girls Against Boys. Don't let the fact that it just lost the Best Documentary Oscar to the far inferior Searching for Sugar Man put you off How to Survive a Plague, a remarkable account of the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York. Madrid 1987 unfolds over one scorching summer day in Spain's capital city, when a veteran journalist and a young wanna-be reporter end up locked in the same bathroom together while world-changing events occur outside the window. Finally, The Hudsucker Proxy has long been something of the red-headed stepchild amongst the Coen Brothers' filmography, but perhaps its Blu-ray premier will allow for a re-evaluation of this problematic, but occasionally inspired homage to Golden Age screwball comedies. As forgotten Coen picture go, it's certainly better than The Man Who Wasn't There...

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

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