Do you remember the days when movies wouldn’t come to home video until six months to a year after they finished their theatrical runs? Lately, the release windows have shrunken so much that even major, high-profile Oscar nominees hit Blu-ray barely eight weeks after their theatrical opening weekends. Is that a good or bad thing? For someone like me who rarely gets out to the theater anymore, I suppose it’s very nice indeed.
The biggest release this week is, ironically, the one with the smallest lead character. ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ is of course the first of Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequels. I’m not sure which was more controversial: Jackson’s decision to adapt the slenderest of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books into a bloated trilogy of three-hour epics, or his decision to shoot the movies in the 48 frames-per-second format, which a significant number of viewers felt made this first one look very cheap and ugly. For better or worse, Blu-ray doesn’t support 48 fps, so whichever version you buy (2D or 3D) will play back at the standard 24 fps rate that has worked just fine for movies for over a hundred years.
True story: Back when I was in college, a theater major who lived on my dormitory floor played the ‘Les Misérables‘ cast soundtrack album over and over and over and over again for months on end. Consequently, I have never had any desire to see that musical, or the new movie based on it. Ever. And I never will. Hearing Russell Crowe growl out some verses in the trailer only reinforced that decision for me.
At one point, Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘ (or “That Osama bin Laden Movie,” as most people I know in real life call it) seemed to be a lock for the Best Picture Oscar. Then the awards’ momentum swung another direction. Ultimately, it walked away with just one trophy for Sound Editing. I’m sure that Bigelow can console herself with the Oscar she already has for ‘The Hurt Locker‘ and the fact that, unlike that film, this one actually made some money.
In the French film ‘Rust and Bone‘, Marion Cotillard plays a double-amputee whale trainer who has sex with a kick-boxer. Despite that rather bizarre plot description, the movie is actually supposed to be pretty good. I guess you can make a quality drama out of just about any subject if you put your mind to it.
Judd Apatow describes ‘This Is 40‘ as a “sort-of sequel” to his hit comedy ‘Knocked Up‘, but audiences either weren’t buying it or just weren’t interested anymore. The movie was a box office disappointment when it opened in December (after having been pushed back from an earlier scheduled release last summer). The 134-minute running time may have had something to do with that. Apatow really needs a good editor willing to stand up to him and curb some of his indulgences.
In the raunchy comedy ‘Bachelorette‘, Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan play a group of bridesmaids who get a little crazy before their friend’s wedding. If there were such a thing as truth in advertising, the tag line for the movie should have been: “Because you liked ‘Bridesmaids’, here’s another movie exactly like ‘Bridesmaids’. Please give us your money. We really need to eat.”
The best catalog titles this week come from specialty labels. The Criterion Collection gives us new high-def editions of Terrence Malick’s debut film ‘Badlands‘ and the Powell/Pressburger masterpiece ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp‘. Meanwhile, Flicker Alley offers up the hugely-influential 1922 documentary ‘Nanook of the North‘, paired with a 1934 Danish drama called ‘The Wedding of Palo’ that’s also centered around the Inuit people.
Both of the Criterions are going on my to-buy list, and I will certainly rent ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. As for ‘The Hobbit’, I’ll probably wait for the inevitable extended cut that we all know is coming. What will get your money this week?