Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This Week on DVD: February 12th Edition

Is this not an incredibly attractive box set?

Forget about Warner Brothers and their dopey Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan re-releases, the Criterion Collection is where it's at this Valentine's Day as they release a highly anticipated set of four early, classic musicals by the master director Ernst Lubitsch as part of their Eclipse series. The titles include The Love Parade, The Smiling Lieutenant (which stars Claudette Colbert), One Hour with You and Monte Carlo. As Dave Kehr put it in a review published today, the set is "indispensable." It also has, in my opinion, the most attractive packaging of any Eclipse offering so far. I'm so getting it.

Before she lost her marbles, Joan Crawford was seriously hot.

Also in the classic movies department, Warners is dipping into the Joan Crawford vault (and why shouldn't they, when everyone else did?) with The Joan Crawford Collection: Volume 2. In terms of content — it features A Woman's Face, Flamingo Road, Sadie McKee, Strange Cargo and Torch Song — it's more interesting than the first Crawford collection, but I don't like this new Warner trend of putting the discs in a fold-out case and not making the films available individually. That one must also purchase Dragon Seed and Without Love to own Katharine Hepburn's Sylvia Scarlett is a criminal offense, and one that consumers should not tolerate.

More new releases:

Spencer Tracy: "This screenplay is giving me indigestion."

Has anyone else ever watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and found themselves hoping that Sidney Poitier or Katharine Houghton would get fed up with Spencer Tracy and yell, "How can you pass judgment on our relationship when you've been with a giant lez for the last thirty years?" I ask you these questions because, well, if I asked my Hepburn and Tracy myth-loving grandma, she'd pretend she didn't hear me and comment on the weather. (It's icy and overcast here today, if you were wondering.)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
wasn't all that great when it came out in '67 and it isn't all that great now, but people have been told it's a classic and they accept without question what studio marketing schmoes and the dashing Robert Osborne tell them. Being an enormous Hepburn fan, I guess I can live with that. It's when people revere Neil Simon schlock because they think they're supposed to that I draw the line. Anyway, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was out-of-print for a short while and now Columbia has brought it back, on its own with a new 40th Anniversary Edition and as part of the new Stanley Kramer collection.

Ben Affleck's directorial debut, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Gone Baby Gone, is worth checking out for its gritty depiction of Boston and a fantastic performance by Amy Ryan, a Best Supporting Actress nominee.

Jane Austen's life was not remotely like the pap that's presented in Becoming Jane, but since when does historical accuracy count for anything in the movies? If you like Anne Hathaway, chances are you'll like this movie. Of course, if you like Anne Hathaway, you're used to mediocrity.

Romance & Cigarettes, the John Turturro musical that stars James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon, easily wins the award for the most bizarre release of the week. It's also the release you most need to rent if you're sick of the same old cinema.

Photos like this don't require stupid captions.

I have mixed feelings about this Mark Wahlberg guy, who was perfect in The Departed but kind of seems like a dick. However, Joaquin Phoenix is cool and Eva Mendes is friggin' foxy, so We Own the Night is in my Netflix rental queue. It's about nightclubs, drugs, organized crime, brothers on opposite sides of the law (or are they?), blah, blah, blah. Did I mention that Eva Mendes is foxy?

HBO's Tell Me You Love Me is pretty queer behind the scenes, but what you actually see on the show is rather heterosexual. And kind of boring, though anything that provides work for Jane Alexander is all right with me.

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, released today by Lionsgate, poses a perfectly reasonable question, though I can't see the title without wanting to respond, "You didn't."

Amy Heckerling directed I Could Never Be Your Woman, which stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd. Never heard of it? That's because the Weinstein Company sent it straight to DVD. Heckerling going direct to DVD isn't going to raise any eyebrows post-Loser, but anyone who starred in The Fabulous Baker Boys and Batman Returns deserves a little more respect.

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