Once again, here’s the cream of the new DVD crop coming on Tuesday. As always, you can check out a list of LiC recommended DVDs going back to 2009 here. Don’t forget that  Netflix availability tracks behind retail release dates in many cases.

November 16, 2010:

  • The Kids Are All Right (**** 1/2). A teenager (Josh Hutcherson) and his sister (Mia Wasikowska) set out to find the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) to their two lesbian parents (Julianne Moore, Annette Bening). Though the family at the center of its story is non-traditional, the emotions, drama and abundant humor Lisa Cholodenko’s film evokes are universal and refreshingly genuine. Wrapped around the idea that it takes more than genetic material to make a family, the natural and easy story never feels like it’s straining to hit the next narrative beat. Instead it just motors along in the wake of some terrific acting all around, especially on the part of Bening who delivers her second great performance of the year following the underseen Mother and Child. The marketing for The Kids Are All Right unfortunately makes it look like another tepid Sundance softball, but it’s much sharper. There’s a precious artificiality to the characters’ L.A. lifestyle, but you quickly forget that and the whole thing just works. One of the most likably entertaining movies of 2010.
    (Opened: 7/9/10) Trailer
    DVD Blu-ray Rent

Other DVDs of interest coming November 16:

  • The Complete Metropolis. At last, the most complete version (147 minutes) of Fritz Lang’s sci-fi classic has been restored and is now available to watch at home. Featuring the the original 1927 score by Gottfried Huppertz. Extras include “Voyage to Metropolis,” a 50-minute documentary on the making and restoration of the film; an interview with Paula Felix-Didier, curator of the Museo del Cine, Buenos Aires, where the missing footage was discovered; and the 2010 re-release trailer.  DVD, Blu-ray
  • Modern Times (The Criterion Collection). Charlie Chaplin’s classic gets the Criterion treatment. DVD, Blu-ray
  • The Night of the Hunter (Criterion Collection). And so does Charles Laughton’s terrific thriller starring Robert Mitchum, Shelly Winters and Lillian Gish. DVD, Blu-ray

Recently Announced:

Last Tuesday’s notable releases:

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (**** 1/2). Based on Brian Lee O’Malley’s series of graphic novels, this is the story of an awkward 20-something (Michael Cera, natch) who meets the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) only to find that, to win her, he has to defeat her 7 evil exes. Edgar Wright’s adaptation, which mixes music, videogames and manga, is easily one of the most purely entertaining movies of the summer of 2010. It’s too bad that hardly anyone saw it, but perhaps it was always destined to be a cult movie. Some older critics were bewildered by the film’s formal playfulness (not much more exaggerated than say Fight Club) and women didn’t seem to identify with it as strongly as boys who grew up playing certain kinds of videogames. Love it or hate it, Scott Pilgrim is fully committed to the unique tune it is marching to and it doesn’t try too hard to be inclusive of people who might not get it. The film says “take it or leave it” and I’m happy to be a taker. For what it’s worth, I have a suspicion there will be a Lebowski-sized cult around this movie in 5 years or so. (Opened: 8/13/10) Trailer DVD Blu-ray Rent
  • Antichrist (****). I wish now that I knew less about Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist before seeing it. The crybabies at Cannes were quick to shout about every horrific detail of the film and I think ultimately this neutered it of some of the power it could’ve had. I’d love to go back and have the experience of letting this film sneak up on me. Anyway, as you’d expect, the shrillest commentary coming out of Cannes (it’s a “major career embarrassment” and it’s an “art-film fart“) was widely off the mark. It’s a disturbing and questionable film to be sure, but it’s also challenging, beautiful and never less than interesting. Seen in light of Von Trier’s claim that he made the film to draw himself out of a deep depression, it takes on a seriousness that contradicts the squirmy-giggly responses from many critics. Even the infamous “chaos reigns” moment of the film doesn’t seem all that silly in context…until it actually begins raining a few beats later. Maybe Von Trier is pulling our legs and maybe he isn’t. Either way, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are terrific as a husband and wife who retreat to a cabin in the woods to cope with their grief over the loss of their child. Dafoe is a therapist and he breaks the cardinal rule of treating family members with tragic consequences. Dense with symbolism and obsessed with conflicted ideas about man vs. woman and Man vs. Nature, it’s difficult to pinpoint where Von Trier stands in this. Many cry “misogyny,” but I think that’s overly simplistic. Antichrist is more a working through of issues than it is a clearly expressed conclusion. It goes places few artists working in the mainstream medium of film are willing to go. It’s not a pleasant journey and I’m not sure I want to take it again anytime soon, but it’s tempting. Recommended with strong reservations. (Opened: 10/23/09) Trailer DVD Blu-ray Rent

Other DVDs of interest from November 9:

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XIX [Limited Edition] Includes episodes #107 Robot Monster, #423 Bride of the Monster, #818 The Devil Doll and #911 Devil Fish plus some extra limited edition knickknacks and gewgaws. DVD
  • Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (*****) [Deluxe Edition 3-DVD Numbered Box Set] I reviewed the 1974 concert film here and a decent single-disc DVD and Blu-ray have already been released, but here’s a swell looking-limited edition box set that includes the concert film, the excellent documentary Stones in Exile which tells the story of the recording of the classic album Exile on Main St. from which the concert draws, and a third DVD that includes “rare and never before seen footage” from the band’s 1972 appearance on the Dick Cavett Show, interviews, and footage from the Australian leg of the Exile on Main St. tour. Also, more limited edition knickknacks and gewgaws. For whatever reason, there isn’t a Blu-ray version of this box. DVD

8 Responses to “New on DVD: The Kids Are All Right”

  1. Wow, there’s quite a bounty of films I’ve been wanting to see suddenly available. Nice.

  2. Yes, JB, Hollywood will now begin routinely pummeling your pocketbook with all manner of amazing disc releases for the next 5 weeks.

  3. The Kids seems like the kind of flick that’ll do well with people sitting on their couches. I saw the Metropolis TCM premiere and recommend it for those who haven’t seen it. And it’s too bad Charles Laughton never lived to see his one and only directorial effort so appreciated.

    I really like the fact that recent releases are so available through things like Netflix, On Demand, home DVD, etc. — just had an early morning image of a room full of nursing home residents transfixed by Antichrist all made possible by the naivete of the facility’s unsuspecting social director.

  4. It’s a bounty of DVD goodness.

  5. Enjoyed The Town more than Machete, but that’s just me.

    About The Kids Are All Right, I found what Bening’s character said about him starting a family to be true. I thought, “yeah, she kind of neglects her wife a bit, but she’s got a point.” LOL

    Do you know if there’s any worthy features on the DVD?

  6. I’m not sure screening a film titled “Antichrist” for any audience would imply naivete.

  7. “I’m not sure screening a film titled “Antichrist” for any audience would imply naivete.”

    You leave me speechless, Joel.

  8. By the way, I really like the art on the Metropolis (natch) and Criterion DVD covers up there. I don’t think I ever saw that Modern Times image before. Really striking. And something about the way Robert Mitchum’s holding the girl there just gave me the creeps all over again.

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