New DVD and Blu-Ray releases this week for either purchase or rental include a potential Academy Award winner, a genuinely creepy horror, and a classic tale retold.
Argo is based on true events, meaning that despite the reality of what we’re watching, certain moments are either elaborated or simply added for dramatic effect. It doesn’t matter. The essence of the rescue mission is here, and even though we know the outcome, the film still manages to keep you on the edge of your seat biting your nails right up until that final fade out. It’s not designed as a crowd-pleaser in the traditional cinematic sense, but you’ll still leave the theatre with a sense of pride, relief, and most of all, satisfaction, and that’s something I haven’t felt from a film for some time. From the casting, the performances, the sharp dialog which is often surprisingly funny, and the final fifteen minutes, director Ben Affleck has crafted something special: Argo works on all fronts. Available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.
Sinister is appropriately darkly lit throughout. The exterior shots tend to be cloudy and all interior shots appear to rely mostly on light streaming from a window into the room. This relentlessly dark locale adds to the heaviness of the film’s overall setting, and take my word for it, Sinister is one unrelentingly bleak horror film. The film scares, no doubt about it, and if your yardstick to measuring whether a horror film works is by how effectively it frightens you, then Sinister succeeds, but there’s a point halfway through the film where you have to ask the question: Is being this continuously, mercilessly tense really entertainment? Available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.
In his last film, an audacious new presentation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, director Joe Wright stages most of his scenes inside a decaying, old theatre with just the occasional moment or two expanded to exterior shots. The film begins in an old gas lit theatre, letting us know that what we are about to see will truly be a performance. The curtains open. The show begins. Making Anna Karenina so visually pleasing and using the theatre as a means of telling its story is an interesting approach, and there are undeniable times of sheer, imaginative beauty – on Blu-Ray the images are startling – but the end result is a passionless exercise in moviemaking where style wins over substance and you’re left uninvolved wishing Wright had concentrated more on story-telling and less on visual flourishes. Available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.
Look for more new releases next week.