Search This Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hereafter, and Others on DVD This Week

Weeks like this, for DVD releases, fascinate me. Three DVDs that match the spectrum of viewership - excellent, middling, and awful. The Fighter, Hereafter, and The Switch. The real question, however, is which is worth the twenty you'll have to shell out to pick one up. Or... the four or five you'll have to toss down to rent one from Blockbuster. Or get for free from Netflix. Or a buck at RedBox.  That in mind, the more important question, which is worth the time?

So, time and money in mind, let's take a look at each release.

In this corner, we have David O Russell's boxing autobiography The Fighter. I remember when the trailer hit the web, and people were immediately divided between love and hate for what Christian Bale's performance promised to be. It was an exercise in pure method gain (and weight loss?). Personally, and the Academy agreed, I found it to be intoxicating and brutal, with moments of hilarity that the actor hasn't had a chance to stretch in years. The performance is legend, and for my money, with the price of admission and certainly worth the time. For a full review, click here.

More after the cut --

There are moments in Russell's direction that seem to belie the original intent of the film. But, there isn't any denying that Russell has a strong and commanding voice at his helm. He's usually a comedic director, known for cerebral comedies like Three Kings and I Heart Huckabee's. And he imbues moments of comedy within the tragic stories of Dickey and Micky Ecklund that... well, it's hard to put a finger on. Some moments work, some moments are out of left field and sideline the drama that is important to what we're viewing. Still, worth watching for Bale's mesmerizing performance. It is an excellent film, even if parts of it seem out of place.

The special features on the DVD, from the film's Amazon page -

A feature commentary with the director, and a making of spot. The Blu-Ray/DVD Digital release has a few more that include deleted scenes and more features. But you're basically paying one price for a few extras and two copies of the movie. That's up to you. I wouldn't do it.

Also on DVD this week, Clint Eastwood's post-life experience multi-narrative Hereafter. His latest directorial effort. Matt Damon is a blue-collar ghost whisperer a la John Edwards (from Crossing Over With, not from the 2004/2008 presidential races), Cecile de France is a woman dealing with death in the wake of a natural disaster, and there is a little boy who is haunted by nearly everything around him. What promised to be a beautiful portrait of the balances between life and death became a sober melodrama without much weight behind it. The performances are universally excellent, and there are moments in Eastwood's direction that are heart breakingly beautiful. He is a visual poet. There isn't any denying that. But, sometimes it's just too damn much. I can only hope that J. Edgar pulls him out of this slump and delivers him back to the glory days of Mystic River.

The film itself is passable, and I know most people would recommend it only for the performances and the film's opening sequence - the 90's tsunami of the Indian Ocean. But, even that, though it earned the film a Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination, is flat and lifeless. I was seriously underwhelmed by this film. Matt Damon can do no wrong, but the film's he's in don't always work. I'm thrilled that Cecile de France got the acclaim she did, though. Look, also, for Bryce Dallas Howard and Richard Kind in wonderful, but admittedly small, performances.

The special features for the DVD, from the film's Amazon page -

Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster
Hereafter's Locations - Casting the Film's Silent Character

After the wake of the recent tsunami tragedy in Japan, the film has been pulled from theaters in that country until further notice.

Finally, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman star in a sperm donor switcheroo comedy called The Switch. There isn't much I can say about this except two things - Jason Bateman is better than he has any right to be, and the film around him is balls. The cast should have been better, and there isn't any reason for talent like Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson to not rise above the script. But, it's a stale embodiment of a novel idea - a sperm sample is made bum and out of the goodness of his heart, and sack, her best friend who loves her replaces it with his own sample. It's an idea that could have made a brilliant and scathing comedy.

I can't say that I'd recommend this to anyone. But, it would make for great background noise, and Bateman's performance is genuinely heartwarming and sharp. The special features are as unspectacular - deleted scenes, and a making of featurette called "The Switch Conceived".

Pick up a movie. It's been a long week. I'd say go for The Fighter, but Hereafter might strike a chord with you, too. The Switch is just... no.