RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Unstoppable Barrels onto Home Video

Plus, the latest from Woody Allen, visually striking anime, and some reissues.

This week, we are faced once again with a limited selection of worthy choices on home video. Of the four new releases, only one received a wide theatrical run; at least it was a well-reviewed movie. Outside of those four, which also include a Japanese animated film, a documentary, and the latest Woody Allen feature, we have just three others to mention, all with varying degrees of "classic" written all over them. One features a standout Robert Downey Jr. performance, one is a famously controversial Marlon Brando vehicle, and one is a bona fide award-winner from Sidney Lumet. So have a look and see if there's anything worth picking up!

Unstoppable

86%

One supposes an action film about a runaway train could have depth and nuance -- but if it did it probably couldn't keep all those swish pans and quick edits, and Tony Scott's not to do that. It hardly matters. Between Chris Pine's hot-headed husband and Denzel Washington's long-suffering senior conductor, there are as many sparks in the cabin as there are coming off the tracks. Blu-Ray promises to make those sparks come clear and loud with Dolby Surround sound and a digital transfer. Extras include a script development feature, an "anatomy of a scene," director commentary, "Hanging off the Rails" about the stunts, and "The Fastest Track," a making-of featurette.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

46%

Woody Allen continues to churn out movies like there's no tomorrow, but in the past ten years or so, his directorial efforts have been mostly hit-or-miss; only three of his eleven films since 2000 have been rated Fresh, and unfortunately, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is not one of them. Despite featuring an all-star cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, and Freida Pinto, Tall Dark Stranger struck most critics as formulaic, a paint-by-numbers effort by Allen that fails to break any new ground for the auteur. For what it's worth, the cast does what it can with the script, but the interweaving storylines about one family's romantic adventures largely left critics feeling like Allen had run out of ideas. Still, for those who are looking for a trademark Woody Allen film, this might do the trick, even if these sorts of situations have been better explored in many of his earlier works.

Waiting for Superman

89%

Sending your kids to school is a watershed moment for any parent, but the fear of your kid not making friends or suffering under a Dickensian kindergarten teacher can't match the stress of choosing a school in our socio-economic climate. Budgets take their toll on libraries, teachers are trapped in a corner to get supplies, monies are sent to one neighborhood over another ? the public school/private school divide seems impossible to straddle. Not that Davis Guggenheim's doc fixes the matter (it's a doc, not public policy) but it's the biggest primer to hit theaters, and since it's from the guy that made An Inconvenient Truth (and It Might Get Loud, but who's counting) we're likely to think his doc is sovereign. Do your research, parents, but revel and relax with this high quality rendering of the doc of the summer. Extras include an interview with the director, a "making of" for the title track by John Legend (that also features commentary by Guggenheim and producer Leslie Chilcott), and featurettes about the changes that have happened in public education since the making of the film.

Summer Wars

76%

Unless you're specifically into Japanese animation, you may not have known about this small release produced by Madhouse Inc. last year. Founded in 1972, Madhouse is the company that, once upon a time, brought us cult favorite Ninja Scroll, and more recently, the works of the late Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika). Directed by Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), Summer Wars centers around a high school-aged math genius who is falsely accused of hacking into a virtual reality computer world called Oz, which he helps moderate part-time. As the real culprit, Oz's artificial intelligence program called "Love Machine," continues to hack into other systems outside of Oz, Kenji and his friends must stop it from spreading real-world harm. As with many recent animated films coming out of Japan, Summer Wars is packed with fantastic visuals, particularly during the Oz-centric sequences, but it's also plagued by storytelling that is sometimes clunky and difficult to follow. However, most critics who saw it felt it was a rewarding experience, and if you're into anime, chances are you'll find it appropriately engaging.

Network - Blu-Ray

91%

Sidney Lumet's satirical look at the world of television is, by now, well-known and oft-quoted ("I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"), so there's not much we could say about the Oscar-winning film that hasn't already been said. With that in mind, we'd simply like to point you to the Blu-Ray re-release of the film and, if you haven't seen it before, to encourage you to give a look at some top-notch performances (Peter Finch won the Best Actor Oscar, Faye Dunaway won Best Actress, and Beatrice Straight won Best Supporting Actress) and a first rate script (Paddy Chayefsky won the Oscar for his screenplay). For those unfamiliar with the story, it revolves around the ratings-driven exploits at the fictional UBS network, whose Evening News anchorman, Howard Beale (Finch), becomes something of a celebrity mouthpiece when news of his imminent firing leads him to rant on-air and to threaten committing suicide during his last broadcast. Needless to say, the film was a critical darling, even during its initial 1976 release, and now that much of the story seems eerily prophetic, Network feels that much more relevant to contemporary times. At a Certified Fresh 90% on the Tomatometer, this is one of those classics that's worth a rewatch ? even more so in high definition.

Last Tango in Paris - Blu-Ray

81%

Bernardo Bertolucci's steamy art film garnered much international controversy upon its initial release, with its overt sexual themes offending the delicate sensibilities of moviegoers around the world. Government crackdowns and censorship ensued, outraged crowds appeared at screenings to boo those attending the film, and legendary critic Pauline Kael's positive review of the film became the most famous and arguably the most influential of her career. Last Tango in Paris was a cultural phenomenon, simultaneously redefining the scope of and reinforcing the power of cinema. This week, the film, which stars Marlon Brando as a depressed hotel owner and recent widower who engages in an anonymous affair with a Parisian woman, gets the hi-def treatment, as it arrives for the first time on Blu-Ray. Brando's mesmerizing performance and the film's poignant albeit sexually charged themes earned it an 81% on the Tomatometer, so it's worth watching for more than just Brando's hi-def buttocks. Side note: Maria Schneider, who plays opposite Brando as Jeanne, died of cancer just a week and a half ago (2/3/2011) at the age of 58.

Chaplin - 15th Anniversary Blu-Ray

57%

Time has done little to diminish the genius of Charlie Chaplin. Four decades after his death, his films are as funny and touching as ever, and his Little Tramp character ? with the signature bowler hat, moustache, spinning cane, and duck walk -- is as iconic today as in his 1920s heyday. That said, he remains an elusive figure, and Sir Richard Attenborough's 1992 biopic Chaplin added little light to the man's genius ? much less his scandalous affairs and leftist politics. It wasn't for a lack of trying ? Robert Downey Jr. received an Oscar nomination for his eerie impersonation of the Little Tramp, and its period décor is exquisite. But critics found the film lacking in depth, as it attempted to pack in the details of Chaplin's life without illuminating them, or getting into the head of its subject. Still, it's more entertaining than a Wikipedia entry, and Downey is magnificent. The 15th anniversary Blu-ray release features several documentaries on the making of the film and Chaplin himself, but the juiciest special feature is a short home movie featuring Chaplin and his wife (and Modern Times co-star) Paulette Goddard.

Written by Ryan Fujitani, Sara Vizcarrondo, and Tim Ryan.

Comments

hdbngr63

Ryan Oliver

"Unstoppable" was way better than I had expected. Solid, old-school-feeling action flick.

Feb 14 - 05:35 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

I agree. I thought the trailer looked awful, and was sort of coerced into seeing it, but I actually quite enjoyed it, it was a pleasant surprise.

Feb 15 - 08:23 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Want to rent Unstoppable and Superman. Other than that, nothing special this week.

Feb 14 - 05:45 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

I'll get unstoppable and superman. Might get summer wars Chaplin too. I'm glad 127 hours comes out in two weeks since it never opened in my area.

Feb 14 - 05:57 PM

The Dude

Gene Arnold

Might rent Unstoppable but that's it man. Hey did any of you see the new Spider-Man pic? I think it's pretty awesome man, and I like the title, 'The Amazing Spider-Man. It pretty cool man.

Feb 14 - 06:39 PM

anDy

Andreas Babs

The red on his arms really tied the costume together.

Feb 14 - 07:11 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

The yellow eyes make me wanna stomp the shit out of him with a large shoe.

Feb 15 - 03:46 PM

The Dude

Gene Arnold

Hey, calm that down man. If you don't like, that's your opinion man. No violence man.

Feb 15 - 06:55 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

Agreed on Spider-man, I'm loving both the costume and the title

Feb 15 - 08:24 PM

anDy

Andreas Babs

F*ck f*ckity f*ck f*ck f*ck. I JUST bought Network on dvd a few weeks ago, mainly because it was so damn hard to find and order it for some reason (no idea why). This would have been great news earlier this year. =[ lol

Some good movies coming out! Mainly Waiting For Superman. Finally going to be released!
And how is Chaplin so low on the tomato meter? I expected a minimum of 75, really. Not a near rotten score. Ah well.

Feb 14 - 07:11 PM

anDy

Andreas Babs

The red on his arms really tied the costume together.

Feb 14 - 07:11 PM

CoreyG

Corey Gallagher

Finally seeing The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, have to check out Summer Wars as well, the trailer a while got me excited.

Feb 15 - 01:30 AM

Artfully Bedragged

Andre Bordarampe

Definitely buying Unstoppable and Network. The last Doctor Who Christmas Special also came out today, so I'm certainly getting that one, too.

Feb 15 - 10:52 AM

Cory

Cory B

Picked up Unstoppable today, pretty solid flick from Scott/Washington/Pine. Other than that, nothing.

Feb 15 - 01:01 PM

Ken W.

Ken Wolfson

Unstoppable definitely. Superman possibly

Feb 15 - 01:06 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"Unstoppable" and "Summer Wars"! Didn't care too much about "Last Tango In Paris" again for once is enough- a man can only take so much seeing a naked overweight guy getting it on with an unattractive Perisian girl!

Feb 15 - 02:47 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

The yellow eyes make me wanna stomp the shit out of him with a large shoe.

Feb 15 - 03:46 PM

The Dude

Gene Arnold

Hey, calm that down man. If you don't like, that's your opinion man. No violence man.

Feb 15 - 06:55 PM

The Dude

Gene Arnold

Hey, calm that down man. If you don't like, that's your opinion man. No violence man.

Feb 15 - 06:55 PM

doomzdavo

Doomz Davo

Unstoppable, Pelham 123, Money Train, and Throw Momma From A Train for me.

Feb 15 - 07:35 PM

fullmetal_medji

John Reese

Definitely going to rent Unstoppable. I thought it was one of the best action films of last year. Might rent Tall Dark Stranger since it never arrived in my city.

Feb 15 - 08:05 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

I agree. I thought the trailer looked awful, and was sort of coerced into seeing it, but I actually quite enjoyed it, it was a pleasant surprise.

Feb 15 - 08:23 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

Agreed on Spider-man, I'm loving both the costume and the title

Feb 15 - 08:24 PM

movieBETO

alberto salazar

Unstoppable for me might rent superman, thats it for me

Feb 15 - 10:52 PM

That Random Albino Kid

Dominic Dold

I will probably check out unstoppable cuz I missed it in theaters and I've heard good things about it. Besides that, nothing else for me.

Feb 16 - 02:41 PM

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