BLOGS

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What would Carl Spackler say?

Hyde Park on Hudson
Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt? In theory, the idea sounds like a bad joke. In practice, it actually turns out rather nicely. Frankly, Murray is the only reason to see this inert period piece and almost certainly the primary reason it was greenlit in the first place. Besides the central piece of stunt casting, Hyde Park on Hudson is thin gruel at best, built around an entirely uninteresting character (FDR's distant cousin, Daisy, played by Laura Linney, who becomes his summetime fling) and chronicling a fairly dramatic event (the president's 1939 meeting with the King and Queen of England just months before World War II would engulf Europe) with next to no dramatic weight. Director Roger Michell is clearly attempting to mimic The King's Speech's Oscar-winning blend of the personal and the political, but that film established clear emotional stakes that this one mostly dances around. Untethered to any meaningful reason for its existence, the movie floats away into the clouds, with only Murray remaining behind with his feet planted firmly on the ground.
Extras: A commentary track with Michell and his producer, Kevin Loader, deleted scenes and two making-of featurettes.
Click here to read our original review

Sexy Evil Genius
The first half-hour of TV director Shawn Piller's direct-to-DVD feature film debut feels a bit like Waiting for Godot as reimagined for the fan-fic crowd. Check it: you've got Buffy veterans Seth Green and Michelle Trachtenberg sitting alongside Lost's Harold Perrineau as they all await the arrival of their shared former lover, Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff. The amount of slash fiction that could be derived from this simple scenario boggles the mind, especially as each actor recounts his or her romantic history with the absent Sackhoff. But then Kara shows up with current beau Billy Baldwin -- of all people -- in tow and the movie becomes more of an extended piece of mostly unconvincing psychological one-upmanship, as she tries to manipulate each of her exes into helping her out of jam involving the murder of yet another discarded lover. At this point, the movie leaves Godot behind and becomes more like an extended homage to Sleuth, the one-set stage play that was previously made into two movies, both of which starred Michael Caine. It goes without saying that Genius is no Sleuth, though. If you're a fan of all or some of these actors from their genre TV days, it's initially fun to see them all assembled in the same place. But once that excitement wears off, there's not much here to hold your attention.
Extras: A commentary track with Piller, Green and Perrineau, plus a short documentary about the movie's author, Scott Lew, a movie buff and screenwriter who wrote the script while suffering from an advanced stage of ALS. His story is inspiring, even if the movie itself isn't.

Planet Ocean
If you've worn out your Planet Earth DVDs, this sea-themed nature documentary makes for a fine substitute in the "Look how gorgeous the Earth is when filmed in high-def" department. Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who previously made the eco-friendly, aerial-footage filled doc Home, Planet Ocean films the planet's largest bodies of water from both sea and air-level, while narrator Josh Duhamel describes their history and importance to all our lives. No disrespect to Mr. Fergie Ferg, but you should really just put the narration on mute and match the stunning visuals with the soundtrack of your choice (y'know... Chopin, Gershwin, Rihanna -- whatever floats your boat). After all, the images of crystal clear blue water lapping up on pristine beaches are a better argument in favor of keeping our oceans free of toxins than anything Duhamel has to say.
Extras: A three-part making of documentary with footage from the movie's shoots in Brazil and China.

Also on DVD:
A hit in its native South Korea, Woochi The Demon Slayer follows a time-traveling warrior who leaps into the future to fight goblins. The fact that the title vaguely rhymes with Buffy the Vampire Slayer is obviously (not) coincidental. Staying in cult movie territory, David Cronenberg's typically odd adaptation of the William Burroughs' book Naked Lunch arrives from Criterion in a new high-def edition that includes a commentary track with the Canadian director and his star, Peter Weller, a 1992 making-of documentary, an audio recording of Burroughs reading from his novel and galleries of photos and special effects artwork.

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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