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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DVD & Blu-rays Hitting Shelves Today

Written by Kirk Baird, film critic and Detroit Film Critics Society member

The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep won her third Best Actress Oscar (out of 17 nominations) for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Streep’s towering performance is dead-on; it’s not so much an impersonation as it is a well-researched and nuanced interpretation of the steadfast conservative British Prime Minister, both on the job and in her less steely moments at home.

Some may quibble with director Phyllida Lloyd’s narrative structure: building a film around a present-day Thatcher whose dementia conjures imagined conversations with her dead husband (Jim Broadbent, who steps out of Streep’s considerable shadow), while casually rummaging through milestones in her life to share via flashback. Conventional filmmaking flaws be damned; this is Streep’s movie all the way. And the greatest actress of her generation delivers with a magnificent turn.

Not to Miss Documentaries
German filmmaker Werner Herzog released two great documentaries in 2011: Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Into the AbyssThe latter, which releases today, is the better of the two. It's a politically balanced examination of capital punishment, focusing on two convicted murderers—one serving a life sentence, the other a death-row inmate only days before his execution—and the lives they affected.

Inspiration for Hugo
It’s wonderful to see tributes to pioneering filmmaker Georges Melies—first with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and now with the limited edition Blu-ray of A Trip to the Moon Restored. You could make a movie about how Melies’ short film A Trip to the Moon, the first science-fiction movie, was painstakingly restored beginning in 1999 from a lost, hand-colored print discovered nearly two decades ago. And in fact, the filmmakers did just that, including a documentary detailing the restoration process, The Extraordinary Voyage, in this two-disc Blu-ray set.

Celebrate 1970s TV
Season 3 of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery offered some of the best frights on TV and provided work for a young director named Steven Spielberg. Another new release, Logan’s Run: The Complete Series, takes the premise of the Michael York-Jenny Agutter 1976 film of 23rd Century fugitives from a doomed and dystopian city and (pun intended) runs with it.

Also, to get you primed for Dark Shadows’ big-screen treatment in May, the cult TV soap opera of the same name is being released in several DVD packages, including 25 collections as well as several best-of sets.

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