Monday, June 01, 2009


June is a little spotty from week to week when it comes to quality titles finding their way to Blu-Ray. The second though is certainly a strong start though. Romantic charmer, HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, the fourth season of WEEDS and Spike Lee’s 2006 hit, INSIDE MAN all make their BD debuts. I am more intrigued by these though …

There is no question in my mind. This film was far too harshly criticized upon its release late last year. The reunion of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as crumbling couple, Frank and April Wheeler, under the direction of AMERICAN BEAUTY director and Winslet’s husband, Sam Mendes was highly anticipated for all of these reasons. The subject matter though was too bitter for audiences to appreciate, including myself. Too much yelling perhaps. I decided to give it a second chance in theatres though and quickly saw the beauty behind the Wheeler’s marriage. It isn’t perfect but what marriage is? It is one of the most memorable film experiences of 2008 and I cannot wait to welcome the Wheeler’s into my home. It comes with …

- Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound
- Commentary with Mendes and screenwriter, Justin Haythe
- “Lives of Quiet Desperation” (making of)
- Deleted scenes

There is a reason why this Mike Nichols classic is still taught in classes forty years after its initial release. Sure, it was far ahead of its time and contains some of the most memorable moments in film history but for me, it just feels alive. Nichols won the Oscar for his direction (the film itself lost in every single other category it was nominated for). His eye can be felt in every focus decision; his hands felt in each movement of the camera. Nichols is constantly thinking about how to push this story visually but never unaware of the incredible performances he pulled from a strapping, young Dustin Hoffman the title character and a radiant Anne Bancroft as the infamous, Mrs. Robinson. My only concern is that the film has been rushed onto BD. Details on the features are scarce and I’ve actually read that there may actually be none. In the meantime, this is all I know …

- 2-Disc set, including DVD copy
- HD Master Audio

This was another title that saw only modest returns in cinemas. The story itself is not the problem. In fact, the story itself is quite compelling and surprisingly original considering it is a WWII story. The Bielski brothers flee their homes after their parents are killed by Nazi supporters and find shelter in the forest. They run into about a thousand other fleeing Jews and stake their ground by setting up camp in the forest and fighting back against all who try to get at them. The trouble is that director, Edward Zwick (BLOOD DIAMOND) sensationalizes their bravery. He seems almost too proud to be telling this story of Jews fighting back; it is as though he knows the whole while that people will be surprised by what they are seeing. Still, by the time the film concludes, the story is left to speak for itself and, like I said before, it is a beautiful, story. Maybe Zwick’s commentary track will humble the whole experience. Also …

- “Defiance: Return to the Forest”

(don’t ask me what that is supposed to be)

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