This week’s new releases on DVD and Blu-Ray includes an Academy Award winning performance, an outstanding feature from Denmark, and a classic John Wayne western that finally gets the home release it deserves.
To purchase any of the DVDs listed click on the poster.
Lincoln is a handsomely mounted film of great moments. The exchanges between James Spader and John Hawkes both grip and entertain; Jackie Earle Haley effectively conveys the frustration of the South in one short scene, and Tommy Lee Jones makes Thaddeus Stevens so interesting as an important historical figure that I wanted to know more, but the film belongs to Daniel Day Lewis. His Lincoln has to be as close to the real thing than anything we have previously witnessed on the screen. With his imposing and towering presence, his upper register delivery and the slight twinkle in the eye as he relates yet another anecdote, this is the Lincoln you’ll always remember. This may not be the film that many will expect or even want, but they’ll never forget Daniel Day Lewis.
Brad Pitt, whose entrance is accompanied on the soundtrack by Johnny Cash’s haunting When The Man Comes Around, is a hitman hired by the mob to not only find the guys who committed a certain crime against them but to restore order to the local criminal economy. It becomes obvious fairly quickly that the director is trying for something different. He wants the film to be about something. Continually running parallels with the nation’s economic crisis while observing the potential collapse of the local gangland’s economy is an interesting idea, but it becomes so heavy-handed in its repeated execution that interest fades just as quickly. “America is not a country,” Pitt’s character declares. “It’s a business.” Plus, the film doesn’t help itself by making its moments of violence so incredibly painful and over indulgent.
From the opening credits in the historical drama from Denmark, A Royal Affair, we learn that during the 18th century at the time of the court of the Danish King Christian Vll of Denmark, royalty ruled the land with oppression. Soon we’ll see how that oppression worked and how the country would temporarily change for the better until circumstances changed everything back to the Middle Ages while the rest of Europe blossomed. A Royal Affair has an opulent look throughout. True to its Scandinavian roots, the emotions of this splendid looking costume drama are kept at arms’ length, but its story of behind-the-scenes political shenanigans, of greed and of murderous intrigue is so fascinating the film springs to life on the presentation of facts alone. I was hooked. This film is presented in Danish with English subtitles.
McClintock! is a 1963 comedy western with John Wayne and it’s a ton of fun. The film was released at just the right time, having followed Wayne in The Alamo, a production that at the time was not that well received by either critics or the public. Filmed in the Old Tucson studios in Arizona, McClintock! teamed Wayne with not only Maureen O’Hara but a host of Wayne regulars, including Chill Wills, Hank Worden, and Strother Martin, not to mention Wayne’s son, Patrick. Over the years, the film has suffered in its home video releases, but this Blu-Ray release has the film in its correct screen ratio and looks terrific with the sharp clarity of hi-def. A must for collectors.
Look for more new releases next week.