RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The King's Speech and Rabbit Hole

Plus, more Certified Fresh gems, a martial arts flick, and Jack Black.

This week on home video, we've got quite a few great films to choose from. Four of the new releases are Certified Fresh, and this year's Best Picture Oscar winner is among them. The others are comprised of a hard-hitting drama that earned Nicole Kidman an Oscar nod of her own, an epic journey through the Siberian wilderness, and Sofia Coppola's latest melancholic tale of relationships. Then, we've got Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen's sequel to his recent martial arts hit and a Jack Black misfire based on a classic novel, as well as the week's new Criterion Collection releases. Check out what's new this week below.

The King's Speech

94%

Let's be honest here: Colin Firth was sort of a "that guy" for a long time, until he showed up opposite Renee Zellwegger in Bridget Jones's Diary. But there was always a certain charisma to his personality, and people witnessed his potential in full blossom when he starred as a troubled gay man on the verge of suicide in last year's A Single Man. Fast forward to November of the same year, and we have the culmination of more than two decades of acting in Firth's rousing Best Actor win for portraying King George VI. But let's not sell the movie short; The King's Speech was nominated for a whopping 12 Oscars, and it took home four of the five major awards, including Firth's award, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture. For those who have spent the better part of the last six months avoiding mass media, the story revolves around the newly crowned King George VI, who suffers from a speech impediment, and the deep friendship he develops with his Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush). Critics stamped their approval on the film in the form of a Certified Fresh 95% on the Tomatometer, and though some have complained about some of the historical inaccuracies in the film, it remains an entertaining, superbly acted, and stylishly produced film, and it arrives on home video this week.

Rabbit Hole

86%

Our second pick this week is another Certified Fresh film, one that earned its lead actress, Nicole Kidman, an Oscar nod back in February. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Rabbit Hole centers on grieving couple Becca and Howie Corbett (Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, respectively) who have just lost their only son in a tragic car accident. While Becca tries desperately to move on with life, confiding in her mother (Dianne Wiest) and connecting with the young man (Miles Teller) responsible for her son's death in an attempt to make sense of things, Howie instead chooses to dwell in the past, finding it difficult to cope and entertaining the temptation to find comfort in the arms of another woman. The film is certainly not a joyful romp, and it's often painful to watch, but critics praised Rabbit Hole's finely written script and standout performances to the tune of 87% on the Tomatometer. This is powerful, evocative drama, and those looking for a deep exploration of grief will find a lot to like here.

Gulliver's Travels

21%

Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels is a cleverly written satirical look at human nature, a classic piece of literature taught at the highest levels of education to this day. But when you've got Jack Black headlining a film adaptation of the work, you can be sure the term "loosely based" applies in spades. In this particular iteration, Black plays Lemuel Gulliver, an aspiring travel writer looking for his first big break who is sent to the Bermuda Triangle to draft an article debunking its myths. Naturally, Gulliver ends up shipwrecked on Liliput, whose inhabitants lock him up as a threat to their safety until he helps rescue both the Liliputian Princess Mary (Emily Blunt) and King (Billy Connolly). Jack Black is, well, Jack Black, and there's no one else quite like him, but critics overall had some problems with the movie's reliance on juvenile humor and special effects at the expense of the source material's brilliant commentary. If your fondness for classic lit isn't compromised by giant wedgies, pee jokes, and Liliputians utilized in a giant foosball table, then hey, this is right up your alley.

Somewhere

72%

Looking at the films that Sofia Coppola has directed over the years, one gets the sense that the auteur, whose work is infused with meditative ennui, could do with a trip to Disneyland or a girls' night out with her BFFs. But whatever deep seated melancholy Coppola may be tapping into, her films are largely well-received, and this is no different for her latest effort, Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Dorff plays Johnny Marco, a Hollywood star coasting through celebrity on a steady diet of pills and easy women, feeling precious little and socializing only occasionally. When his pre-teen daughter Cleo (Fanning) suddenly shows up on his doorstep to announce she'll be staying with him full-time, the two of them begin to bond, and Cleo lends meaning to Johnny's otherwise meaningless life. Somewhere is Coppola's third Certified Fresh film at 72%, and critics felt that while the movie touches on familiar territory for the director, it's nevertheless a seductively pensive meditation on the nature of celebrity and features charming performances from its two leads. Fans of Coppola and her storytelling style will undoubtedly enjoy it.

Kes - Criterion Collection

100%

One of the most celebrated of all British films, Kes is an achingly poignant and honest coming-of-age tale. Made at the tail end of the British "kitchen sink" era of cinematic realism, Ken Loach's first theatrical feature is the tale of a bullied, mischievous boy who finds solace by caring for a falcon. Loach's leftist sensibilities are evident here, and he's aided by remarkably naturalistic performances from nonprofessional actors. The result is a devastating portrait of blue-collar malaise. A swanky new Criterion disc features a new transfer of the film supervised by Loach, as well as several interviews with the director and Cathy Come Home, Loach's 1966 made-for-television docudrama.

The Way Back

75%

Our last Certified Fresh pick this week is another well-received, based-on-true-events story, inspired by a memoir written by Sławomir Rawicz, a polish POW who allegedly escaped from a Siberian gulag. Starring an impressive cast that includes Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, Mark Strong, and Saoirse Ronan, the film follows roughly the same plot, as seven inmates together break free from the gulag in the midst of a blizzard and make way towards Mongolia. The ensuing story depicts the group's struggle for survival as they battle not only the harsh wilderness that surrounds them on their journey, but also the sense of impending doom that threatens to swallow them whole and destroy their morale. Directed by Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), the film impressed critics, who felt that its sweeping ambition, strong performances, and grand visual spectacle deserved a Certified Fresh 75% on the Tomatometer, even if the film wasn't as emotionally involving as it could have been. A good choice for those who enjoy epic journeys in distant lands and themes of man vs. nature, and it's available this week.

Sweetie - Criterion Collection

93%

After a successful career making TV movies, Jane Campion burst onto the international cinema scene with Sweetie in 1989. The auteur who would go on to make such arthouse hits as The Piano and Bright Star displayed stylistic panache and an observant eye in this portrait of a dysfunctional family that is often blind to its own internal problems. Sisters Kay and Sweetie are polar opposites in many ways ? the former is a mousy factory worker, the latter a wild child with unrealistic showbiz aspirations. This quirky character study is both sweet and sour ? and offers proof of Campion's nascent skill. The new director-approved Criterion disc offers a commentary track from Campion, some of her early shorts, interviews, and behind-the scenes images.

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster

92%

In recent years, as old kung fu favorites Jackie Chan and Jet Li have started to wind down their careers a bit, Donnie Yen has stepped into the spotlight as a true force to be reckoned with. There are a few of us here in the RT office who are big martial arts fans, and we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of Yen's Ip Man, released Stateside in 2010 in all its speed-punching, face-flattening glory. Just a few months later, Yen reprised his role as the titular master of Wing Chun in Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, but few saw it, and this week it arrives on home video. The sequel focuses on Ip Man's struggle to teach Wing Chun in the face of corrupt Hong Kong martial artists and an oppressive British colonial regime, culminating in visceral fight sequences between Yen and Jackie Chan contemporary Sammo Hung, as well as an East vs. West duel in a boxing ring. Now, these themes are fairly common in Hong Kong martial arts flicks, but Yen has proven himself to be capable of standing with the best in the business, and by most accounts, the action in Ip Man 2 goes a long way towards making up for any dramatic inadequacies the film may have. Fans of Donnie Yen, or high octane martial arts films in general, should get a proper kick out of this one.

Comments

Dave J

Dave J

At least slightly more than half of this weeks release is worth getting or watching! Their is at least two releases I wouldn't touch at all- not saying that they're not good by the way!

Apr 18 - 04:49 PM

Brian B.

Brian Barreto

I'm going to get "The King's Speech" on Blu-Ray next week, not this week because I'm nearly broke after paying for "Portal 2" and "Mortal Kombat".
Anyways, I thought "The King's Speech" was a fantastic film, but I don't think it deserved to win 'Best Picture'. In all honestly, it was one of the weakest 'Best Picture' nominees this year, alongisde "The Kids Are All Right" and "Winter's Bone".
I would've been more satisfied with "The Social Network" winning 'Best Picture', seeing as it was my 2nd favorite movie of 2010, just behind "Inception", and since the Academy is prejudiced against all films that are written or directed by the mastermind who is Christopher Nolan, such as "Memento", "The Dark Knight", and "Inception".

I think this is David Fincher's year. I feel that he will deliver a homerun on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and the Academy might finally give him the Oscar for 'Best Director'. I'm hoping something similar happens next year when Nolan concludes his brilliant Bat-trilogy with "The Dark Knight Rises".

Apr 18 - 05:45 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

The 2 best films last yr were Black Swan and The Kings Speech, so Ill have to disagree with you, but I think Nolan should have won Best Director and he wasnt even nominated... If there was a more impressive feat of direction in the last few yrs, I dont know what it would be...

Apr 18 - 06:29 PM

ZenFan

Dylan Hair

I agree with you on that, Black Swan was my favorite with King's Speech a close second. Both are fantastic. And yes Nolan should have had a directing nod by now.

Apr 18 - 07:09 PM

Alan Smithee

Alan Smithee

The King's Speech looks to me like a decent quality film that will be forgotten in due time. Granted I have yet to see it so I could be wrong. On the other hand the Social Network will almost undoubtably go down as a classic. I thought it was the perfect choice for the Academy. Inception was too high concept for them so that was obviously just a nod. 127 Hours & Black Swan were both incredible films and had more artistic credibility than you can shake a stick at; however, their subject matter makes them appealing to only a niche market. True Grit was also very good, although possibly too close to the win of No Country, which was a superior film. Honestly the picking of ten Best Pictures and only five Best Directors is absurd since they almost always coincide with one another. As for Fincher's next project, I would much rather see him take on something else besides an unnecessary Americanized version of TGwtDT. Same way I felt (still do) about Nolan's Insomnia.

Apr 19 - 03:18 AM

ap sirius

karl anderson

some great comments for such a busy director such as yourself...and Im a little puzzled by the TGWTDT remake as well...

Apr 19 - 02:07 PM

Skyler H.

skyler harrington

Ditto on Mortal Kombat, though I passed on P2. I just went with the Kollector's edition (I hate fight sticks). I'll buy King's Speech next week, but the others are probably rentals. I work at a video store, so I can check them all out without having wasted $$ on the terrible ones.

Apr 19 - 10:33 AM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Getting King's Speech first thing in the morning. I'll rent Somewhere somewhere down the road.

Apr 18 - 06:06 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

King's Speech + The Way Back for me. Rabbit Hole was pretty good but not something I ever want to watch again and IP Man 2 has been out for years.

Gulliver's Travels can crawl into a ditch and bleed out slowly.

Apr 18 - 06:13 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

The 2 best films last yr were Black Swan and The Kings Speech, so Ill have to disagree with you, but I think Nolan should have won Best Director and he wasnt even nominated... If there was a more impressive feat of direction in the last few yrs, I dont know what it would be...

Apr 18 - 06:29 PM

ZenFan

Dylan Hair

I agree with you on that, Black Swan was my favorite with King's Speech a close second. Both are fantastic. And yes Nolan should have had a directing nod by now.

Apr 18 - 07:09 PM

The Dude

Gene Arnold

I'll probably rent The King's Speech, because I don't love it enough to buy it on blu-ray. It's a good movie, but a little overrated. I'll also rent Rabbit Hole too. Guliver's Travels just looks like a 'F*ck You' movie

Apr 18 - 06:47 PM

ZenFan

Dylan Hair

The King's Speech, wholly deserving of all Oscars, fantastic film, Rabbit Hole was excellent, but not exactly a "happy" film, but impeccably made and acted, Somewhere was wildly underrated, Stephen Dorff should have gotten an Oscar nomination, he was terrific as was the delightful Elle Fanning, 3 SUPERB films. I'll check out The Way Back, it flopped so never got to see it, and Gulliver's may as well go straight into that dollar bin at Big Lots for all I care, no thanks.

Apr 18 - 07:08 PM

ZenFan

Dylan Hair

I agree with you on that, Black Swan was my favorite with King's Speech a close second. Both are fantastic. And yes Nolan should have had a directing nod by now.

Apr 18 - 07:09 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

I really liked IP MAN. . . so I'll be getting IP MAN 2.

I saw King's Speech in theaters. . .real version, not the newly released pg-13 version. I liked it, but I didn't think it was the best film of the year. I liked SOCIAL NETWORK, FAIR GAME, CONVICTION, and BLACK SWAN better. . .

Apr 18 - 07:41 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Also liked WINTER'S BONE and INCEPTION better. . .

Apr 19 - 11:14 AM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

I gotta go with the King's Speech. The R rated version looked better than that horrid PG-13 re-edit.

Apr 18 - 08:18 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

I don't know about looked, but it sure as hell sounded better.

Apr 19 - 06:31 PM

Alan Smithee

Alan Smithee

The King's Speech looks to me like a decent quality film that will be forgotten in due time. Granted I have yet to see it so I could be wrong. On the other hand the Social Network will almost undoubtably go down as a classic. I thought it was the perfect choice for the Academy. Inception was too high concept for them so that was obviously just a nod. 127 Hours & Black Swan were both incredible films and had more artistic credibility than you can shake a stick at; however, their subject matter makes them appealing to only a niche market. True Grit was also very good, although possibly too close to the win of No Country, which was a superior film. Honestly the picking of ten Best Pictures and only five Best Directors is absurd since they almost always coincide with one another. As for Fincher's next project, I would much rather see him take on something else besides an unnecessary Americanized version of TGwtDT. Same way I felt (still do) about Nolan's Insomnia.

Apr 19 - 03:18 AM

ap sirius

karl anderson

some great comments for such a busy director such as yourself...and Im a little puzzled by the TGWTDT remake as well...

Apr 19 - 02:07 PM

Skyler H.

skyler harrington

Ditto on Mortal Kombat, though I passed on P2. I just went with the Kollector's edition (I hate fight sticks). I'll buy King's Speech next week, but the others are probably rentals. I work at a video store, so I can check them all out without having wasted $$ on the terrible ones.

Apr 19 - 10:33 AM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Also liked WINTER'S BONE and INCEPTION better. . .

Apr 19 - 11:14 AM

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