The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, VOD) is the second stumble in the attempt to reboot the superhero series after Sam Raimi’s mostly marvelous original trilogy. This sequel to a remake, starring Andrew Garfield as a smart-aleck Peter Parker and the wise-cracking web-slinger and Emma Stone as the far more engaging Gwen Stacy, reaches for tragedy with a dramatic death lifted right out of the comic but buries any emotional engagement in the over-busy action and convoluted story. Jamie Foxx is the guest supervillain here, playing a sad-sack techno-nerd who gets transformed into the supercharged madman Electro, while Dane DeHaan gives us a more sinister and calculating Green Goblin. The brief appearance by Paul Giamatti is little more than a set-up for an upcoming spin-off but he’s still more fun than the main characters. Jeff Michael Vice’s review is here.
I didn’t get a review copy but the all the discs are set to include filmmaker commentary, four deleted scenes and a music video. The Blu-ray editions will also include additional deleted scenes and six featurettes.
Only Lovers Left Alive (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) is the richest film that Jim Jarmusch has made in some time. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are the eternal lovers Eve and Adam, vampire soulmates who have become disenchanted with a world that the zombie inhabitants (their word for humans) are blithely poisoning. They are sophisticates, sensualists, artists, beings who find their greatest pleasure in one another, and Jarmusch suggests that they have evolved to a kind of elemental form, pure beings who revere art and beauty and just happen to need to feed on human blood to survive. The problem is that human blood is also being poisoned, which makes the pure “good stuff” a kind of rare wine that is saved and shared sparingly.
Swinton and Hiddleston bring both a grace and ennui to the screen, suggesting centuries of experience by their very presence, yet the joy they give one another enlivens the mournful tone of their nocturnal existence. In contrast to their languorous sensibilities is Eve’s sister, a wild child played by Mia Wasikowska with an insatiable appetite and an instinct for chaos, while John Hurt is the dying elder, poisoned by the world around him. Read the reviews here.
Again, no review copy, but the discs should have a behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted and extended scenes.
A Brony Tale (Virgil, DVD, Digital VOD) offers a gentle entry into the very real “Brony” phenomenon: adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a group that is overwhelmingly male, heterosexual and unashamed of their love of a cartoon about pastel-colored talking horses designed for little girls. Our guide through this world is Canadian voice actress and singer Ashleigh Ball, who provides the voices of two little ponies in the current incarnation of the series, Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash. “The pervert alarm, for sure, went off in my head,” she says when she first learned about the subculture, and she takes a tour to investigate the phenomenon on her way to Bronycon 2012 in Manhattan, where she’s been invited as a guest of honor.
If you are expecting some kind of freak show, you’ll be in for a surprise. Director Brent Hodge is a friend of Ball and frames the film through her perspective and experience, which works because she’s a sincere, serious, likable young woman who finds that the Brony phenomenon is far more positive and affirming than surface appearances might suggest. The spokesmen for the Bronies (mostly men, which in this case is representative of the culture at large, though a few women are represented as well) make a fine case for themselves and celebrate the values of the series in their own lives. When we get to the Iraq vet and former artist who was lifted out of his depression and inspired to draw again because of his engagement with the series, you don’t feel like making fun of any of these fans anymore. A Brony Tale isn’t deep or probing but neither is it sarcastic or dismissive.
The DVD features director commentary, the featurette “The Many Voices of Ashleigh Ball” (which basically expands a sequence from the film where Ball performs the voices of her various cartoon gigs), a brief photo-shoot and an acoustic performance by Ball, whose band Hey Ocean! provides the film’s soundtrack.
Fading Gigolo (Millennium, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) is written and directed by John Turturro, who also plays the titular character, a bookstore clerk who takes an unexpected late-career turns, and co-stars Woody Allen (as his “manager”), Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. The Blu-ray and DVD both feature director commentary and deleted scenes.
John Sayles writes and directs Go For Sisters (Freestyle, DVD), starring LisaGay Hamilton, Edward James Olmos, Yolonda Ross, Mahershala Ali and Harold Perrineau.
Manakamana (Cinema Guild, Blu-ray, DVD), the latest non-fiction rumination to come from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, observes the pilgrims who ride the cable car to the Manakamana Temple in Nepal.
The horror: The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) is a supernatural thriller starring Jared Harris and Sacrament (Magnet, Blu-ray, DVD) is Ti West’s latest, about a religious cult in the Jim Jones mold, starring Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg.
Foreign affairs: Grisgris (Film Movement, DVD) is a drama from Chad and The Auction (Film Movement, DVD) a French-language drama from Canada. Both discs include bonus short films.
The Zero Theorem (Cable VOD), Terry Gilliam’s new dystopian science fiction comedy with Christoph Waltz as a neurotic computer genius trying to find the meaning of life, is opening on Cable VOD before it comes to theaters.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney, Digital 3D, Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere), to date one of the best of Marvel’s superhero movies, is available for digital purchase weeks before disc release.
Kim Ki-duk’s controversial Moebius (Cable VOD) just opened in New York after a long film festival life. It’s now available to see at home via pay-per-view. In Korean with English subtitles.
And as long as we’re in the South Korean cinema mode: The Korean Film Archive has just added 15 classics of Korean cinema to their YouTube channel, all of which you can view for free. You can read more on the films and the project at Modern Korean Cinema, and go to the YouTube channel (which now has nearly 100 titles) here. Click the Close Caption function to get English subtitles.
On Friday, August 22, the documentary To Be Takei (Cable VOD), a profile of the Star Trek actor who became an unexpected new media star and gay rights icon, and the comedy Are You Here (Cable VOD) with Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, and Zach Galifianakis arrive on pay-per-view the same they open in theaters.
Also available: The Trip to Italy (Cable VOD, Thursday, Aug 21) with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (it’s currently in theaters) and Draft Day (Lionsgate, Digital HD, Cable VOD) with Kevin Costner, two weeks before disc.
Plus, arriving same day as disc: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Only Lovers Left Alive, Fading Gigolo and The Quiet Ones. See above for details.
Silent Mountain (eOne, DVD)
Home is Where the Heart Is (ARC, DVD)
Live Nude Girls (Screen Media, DVD, Digital, VOD)
A Good Man (Lionsgate, DVD)
Absolute Killers (Crystal Sky, DVD)
Varsity Blood (RLJ / Image, DVD)
Jarhead 2: Field of Fire (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD)
Scooby-Doo! Franken Creepy (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
Ace Wonder (Vertical, DVD)
Toy Story of Terror (Disney, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere)
Rosemary’s Baby (2014) (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD)
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season (HBO, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Good Wife: The Fifth Season (Paramount, DVD)
Revolution: The Complete Second Season (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Third Season (ABC, Blu-ray, DVD)
Parenthood: Season 5 (Universal, DVD)
Parks and Recreation: Season Six (Universal, DVD)
The Mindy Project: Season Two (Universal, DVD)
NCIS: The Eleventh Season (Paramount, DVD)
NCIS: Los Angeles – The Fifth Season (Paramount, DVD)
Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season (Shout Factory, DVD)
Hey Arnold!: The Complete Series (Shout Factory, DVD)
A Haunting: Season 6 (Shout Factory, DVD)
37 Days (BBC, DVD)
14 War Stories (BBC, DVD)
Royal Cousins at War (BBC, DVD)
Churchill’s First World War (BBC, DVD)
Secrets of the Dead: The Mona Lisa Mystery (PBS, DVD)
Y Tu Mama Tambien (Criterion, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, DVD)
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Criterion, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, DVD)
The Mack Sennett Collection (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray)
Chaplin’s Mutual Comedies 1916-1917 (Flicker Alley, DVD)
Like Water For Chocolate (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, Digital HD)
The Girl in a Swing (Scorpion / Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Flintstones (1994) (Universal, Blu-ray)
Leviathan (Scream Factory, Blu-ray)
Magnificent Doll (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
That’s My Man (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
Sorceress (Scorpion / Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 2 (Shout Factory, DVD)