RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: War Horse and Being Elmo

Plus, a couple of imports, Cameron Crowe's latest, and Chinatown in HD.

There wasn't a whole lot going on in the world of home video this week, so we've got a shorter list today. If you scour the release lists, you'll find some TV shows, some direct-to-DVD stuff, and a couple of reissues (like Cleopatra), but it won't be long before you start running up against the yoga videos and Guys Gone Wild. So, with that out of the way, let's just move on. This week brings us one of last year's Best Picture nominees, a critically acclaimed documentary, a lukewarm drama from Cameron Crowe, and a Certified Fresh UK import. Then, to close out the set, we've got a Miyazaki Blu-ray import and an HD reissue of a bona fide classic. See below for the full list!

War Horse

77%

Moviegoers of a certain age may always remember Steven Spielberg for the indelible fingerprint he left on the 1980s, both as producer (Gremlins, the Back to the Future trilogy) and director (E.T., the Indiana Jones movies), and many say last year's War Horse recalls some of the best elements of that era. Based on the 1982 children's novel of the same name, which also inspired a stage production, War Horse follows the travails of a spirited horse named Joey during World War I as he is raised by a farmboy, sold off to a soldier, and marched into the middle of battle. Joey endures various hardships but endures through it all, inspiring those around him to greater things. Characterized by polished filmmaking, old-fashioned storytelling, and a certain trademark sentimentality, War Horse won many fans when it opened during the holiday season, earning a Certified Fresh 77% and six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Definitely worth a look for anyone hankering for a dash of Spielbergian magic.

We Bought a Zoo

66%

After the 2000s yielded the first Rotten scores of Cameron Crowe's (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) career, the writer-director released two films in 2011 to generally positive reviews: the rock doc Pearl Jam Twenty and the family drama We Bought a Zoo, which hits store shelves this week. We Bought a Zoo is based on the memoirs of Benjamin Mee, who, after the death of his wife, purchased a struggling zoo and moved his family onto the property in hopes of reopening the facility to the public. With Crowe behind the camera and working decidedly within his wheelhouse of character-driven drama, as well as a cast that included Matt Damon (as Mee), Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, and more, some thought Zoo might find itself in Oscar contention. Unfortunately, while critics found the performances noteworthy and the film overall pleasant, most also felt it was too predictable and overly sentimental, with sweet spots that weren't entirely earned. It's not the best we've seen from Cameron Crowe, but it might suffice for anyone looking for a safe, harmless little yarn.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

94%

If you've been with us for a few years now, you know that, without fail, many of the highest rated movies on RT every year are documentaries. That said, one of the true gems of 2011 that few moviegoers got to see was about a puppeteer and the wildly popular character he brought to life. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey is about as accurate as a title can be: director Constance Marks profiles one Kevin Clash, the man who grew up crafting his own puppets, dreamt of meeting Jim Henson, eventually landed a gig on Sesame Street, and reinvented a furry red muppet to become one of the most widely beloved of them all. Not surprisingly, critics found the film sweet and charming, not least because Clash himself is such an endearing character, and its upbeat narrative left most feeling a little inspired. At a Certified Fresh 92%, Being Elmo is a fascinating feel-good story about a man who followed his dreams without compromise and almost inadvertently created a cultural icon.

Tyrannosaur

83%

Another small, critically acclaimed film that flashed in and out of theaters quickly (it only earned $22k in US box office receipts) came to us from the UK, where audiences are more familiar with its first-time director (actor Paddy Considine, who also wrote the script) and star (Peter Mullan). Tyrannosaur follows the story of Joseph (Mullan), an unemployed alcoholic with crippling anger issues who decides to turn his life around after he accidentally kills his dog. As he develops a relationship with a local charity shop employee (Olivia Colman), he finds that her husband has violent tendencies of his own, and confrontation appears inevitable. Based on the same kind of environment Considine observed around him growing up in public housing, Tyrannosaur is brutal and unflinching, but critics found the performances outstanding and the story of redemption rewarding. It's Certified Fresh at 82%, for those of you looking for a bit of hard-hitting drama.

Chinatown - Blu-Ray

98%

Roman Polanski completed one last film on US soil before his legal troubles compelled him to flee to Europe, and that film was 1974's Chinatown, now regarded as one of the best noir mysteries -- and, indeed, one of the best films period -- ever to be made. In one of his most memorable roles, Jack Nicholson plays Jake Gittes, an LA private eye who is hired for a seemingly routine "matrimonial" surveillance job, only to be pulled into a vast conspiracy involving political corruption, incest, and murder, all set against the historically inspired 1930s backdrop of a local water rights conflict. Working from an Oscar-winning script by Robert Towne, Polanski's film benefitted from exceptional performances by Nicholson and co-star Faye Dunaway, earning a whopping eleven Academy Award nominations (alas, Towne's trophy was the only one it took home), and it's currently Certified Fresh at 100%. This week, Paramount releases its first Blu-ray of Chinatown, with special features collected from the previously released Centennial Collection and Special Collector's Edition DVDs. If you own either of those, there won't be much new to see here, but if you'd like to own the film in HD, now's your chance.

Howl's Moving Castle - Blu-Ray

87%

For all you Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli fanatics out there in the US, here's a little heads-up: the Blu-ray disc for the film officially goes on sale in the States tomorrow, but it appears to be the same one already available in a few other countries, selling as an import. That is, the cover design mirrors those of the Japanese, German, and Hong Kong versions, there is little information readily available on what extras it will contain, and its price point is a hefty-even-for-Blu-ray $60. We can't imagine this will do well with anyone but the most diehard fans, but for the uninitiated: Howl's Moving Castle is anime legend Hayao Miyazaki's (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) heartfelt adaptation of British author Diana Wynne Jones's novel of the same name, in which a plucky 18-year-old named Sophie befriends Howl, an eccentric young wizard who lives in a (you guessed it!) moving castle. When a witch's curse transforms Sophie into an old woman, she hides out in Howl's castle and attempts to reverse its effects. If you haven't already gotten your hands on one of the international Blu-rays of the film, it'll be available this week.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Chinatown"! Howl's Moving Castle"! Unfortunately, these releases don't offer anything I don't already have. I've heard great things about both "Tyranosaur" and "Being Elmo" so I'll definitely have to give those a look, and hell, I might as well watch "We Bought a Zoo", even though it just looks so bourgie.

Apr 2 - 05:46 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Being Elmo was excellent, I've heard of Tyrannosaur but no nothing about it other than it is not in fact about a Dinosaur.

Apr 2 - 07:17 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I thought it was about a drunken abusive Barney...

Apr 3 - 09:22 AM

Mosley Carolyn

Mosley Carolyn


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Apr 7 - 06:16 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I got to see "Being Elmo" over the weekend, and it was much better than I thought. Elmo has never been much of a favorite of mine, maybe because he was a newer Muppet than the ones I grew up with, but it was interesting that he was literally thrown into Clash's lap. Also interesting is that Clash happens to agree with me - GROVER is the most awesome Muppet of all time! (Bobcat Goldthwait also said this on his new comedy special, admitting that he basically ripped off his act from watching Grover as a kid) What is evident throughout the film is that particular magic that Jim Henson conjured for a generation. It makes his loss that much more tragic, as the Muppets have not had that same special sweetness that they had under his leadership. To contrast with the new Muppet film, the original "Muppet Movie" tagline read, "More Entertaining Than Humanly Possible". Henson was wise enough to use Muppets to give kids a sense of empowerment against the Grown Up (Human) World. I haven't seen a lot of children's entertainment in the last 20 years that can do this as effectively as Henson did it.

Apr 9 - 08:16 AM

Corr

Alexander Sciury

I'll rent War Horse, but besides that theirs nothing else for me.

Apr 2 - 05:50 PM

Sean D.

Sean D

I will have to see "War Horse," and "Being Elmo" I have been meaning to check out for sometime.

Apr 2 - 06:14 PM

Cinema-Maniac

Caesar Mendez

Chinatown, Howl's Moving Castle, Being Elmo, and Tyrannosaur are worth buying. War Horse doesn't look very good to me and We Bought A Zoo doesn't look like my kind of movie.

Apr 2 - 06:30 PM

Mr. Dufresne

Chip McNair

I'm definitely buying War Horse. I'm in the minority, but so far it's been my favorite movie of 2011. I was just so blown away by the journey and feel of that movie.

Apr 2 - 07:06 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Being Elmo was excellent, I've heard of Tyrannosaur but no nothing about it other than it is not in fact about a Dinosaur.

Apr 2 - 07:17 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I thought it was about a drunken abusive Barney...

Apr 3 - 09:22 AM

Mosley Carolyn

Mosley Carolyn


my best friend's mom makes $86 hourly working online. She has been unemployed for nine months but last month her paycheck was $16953 just working online for a few hours. Read more on this site http://lazycash9.com

Apr 7 - 06:16 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

War Horse loses me the second I see Albert. I remember reading the book thinking, wow what a brave young boy. This loyalty and friendship sure is moving. The preview however appears to be full of Grown Men. A Grown Man chasing after a horse into war just seems really weird. Like if a Grown Man shot old yeller in the face the message would be shot along with it.

Apr 2 - 07:20 PM

HERESSSSSSJOHNNY

HERESSSSSS JOHNNY

Didn't like War Horse at all. Chinatown for me.

Apr 2 - 07:32 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

Wow, not one bad movie's released.
I mean even We Bought a Zoo was so-so. I guess War Horse gets -5 points for being overrated.

Apr 2 - 07:58 PM

manofthemovie16

Garrett Rankin

Going to rent 'War Horse' and 'Being Elmo' (may buy War Horse with Tintin soon) and buy Chinatown Blu-Ray ASAP! Who is going to do the same?

Apr 2 - 08:15 PM

Richard H.

Richard Han

I may buy War Horse. I found it quite epic.

Apr 2 - 09:52 PM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

War Horse wasn't so much sentimental as downright schmaltzy. It also had weird priorities at times, expecting us to care more about the horse than the millions of human beings dying in WW1. Still, beautifully filmed with some good performances.

Also, this is a great euphemism: "before his legal troubles compelled him to flee to Europe..." Yes, he was so "compelled" to flee his jail sentence for raping a 13 year old girl, it was so *unfair.* There's no way he could've stayed and paid his debt to society or anything.

Apr 3 - 12:36 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Anyone ever bother to actually read an interview of the '13 year old girl' given in the last decade? He paid his debt to the victim, so what does society have to do with it?

Apr 3 - 12:56 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Yes, you're right, our legal system is all about personal justice for the victim and not imposing standards of law and order. If you are wealthy and talented enough, you should totally be allowed to run away to another country, continue to make movies and receive awards, live a wealthy lifestyle, and then wait until your victim finally forgives you.

This is justice.

Apr 3 - 02:31 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Seriously, are you really arguing that people should be allowed to duck the law for drugging and raping a minor just because she forgives him decades later? Or is only if they're talented enough?

Apr 3 - 02:32 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Also, I might be more tempted to consider him in the right if he actually showed any remorse for what he did, rather than accusing the prosecutor and judge of being jealous because they weren't getting hot teenage sex (by means of Quaaludes).

Apr 3 - 02:36 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'm more amused how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have a hard time travelling outside of the U.S. because of all those international laws they violated. I guess hiding under the immunity of America is equally as cowardly as Polanski hiding under immunity of the Swiss. I guess the Swiss just have a bigger problem with criminals who start an illegal war that kill nearly a million people than they do with sexual perverts.

The reason why I assume you haven't read any intervews with the girl is because she paints a far more sympathetic situation that the black/white morality you paint. It may surprise you that this girl was not unfamiliar with qualuudes (and other drugs) nor was she a virgin at the time she met Polanski who was photographing her for a European fashion magazine. You may, no doubt, be surprised with the number of European fashion magazines that included nudes of underage girls. I'm not condoning it, but you have to take that cultural difference into account. You should also realize that the girl's mother didn't have a problem with either Polanski's photography nor drugs - she helped to publish a small 'zine for heads, and may have been motivated to press charges because Polanski failed to convince Jack Nicholson to do an interview with that paper. And it wasn't rape because she didn't want to have sex with him, but rather because she wasn't prepared for how he liked it. For example, no one is condemning Kobe Bryant anymore for doing the exact same thing in Colorado a few years ago. But the fact is still that Polanski undoubtedly went too far that night, and I have quite a bit of his personal statements that indicate profound remorse.

Love the sinner hate the sin. Stings, don't it? William S. Burroughs shot his wife in the head. John Lennon beat his wives. Nabokov's "Lolita" is more autobiographical than you might think. Sometimes talent has a lot to do with appreciating a person's art who is morally compromised in their daily decisions. It's not forgiveness (although that can be a helpful thing), it's a realization that genius hides a darkness, and people of great talent are usually people with great flaws.

Apr 3 - 08:07 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

I'm sorry anyone else here a donky?

Apr 3 - 09:28 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Anyone ever bother to actually read an interview of the '13 year old girl' given in the last decade? He paid his debt to the victim, so what does society have to do with it?

Apr 3 - 12:56 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Yes, you're right, our legal system is all about personal justice for the victim and not imposing standards of law and order. If you are wealthy and talented enough, you should totally be allowed to run away to another country, continue to make movies and receive awards, live a wealthy lifestyle, and then wait until your victim finally forgives you.

This is justice.

Apr 3 - 02:31 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Seriously, are you really arguing that people should be allowed to duck the law for drugging and raping a minor just because she forgives him decades later? Or is only if they're talented enough?

Apr 3 - 02:32 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Also, I might be more tempted to consider him in the right if he actually showed any remorse for what he did, rather than accusing the prosecutor and judge of being jealous because they weren't getting hot teenage sex (by means of Quaaludes).

Apr 3 - 02:36 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'm more amused how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have a hard time travelling outside of the U.S. because of all those international laws they violated. I guess hiding under the immunity of America is equally as cowardly as Polanski hiding under immunity of the Swiss. I guess the Swiss just have a bigger problem with criminals who start an illegal war that kill nearly a million people than they do with sexual perverts.

The reason why I assume you haven't read any intervews with the girl is because she paints a far more sympathetic situation that the black/white morality you paint. It may surprise you that this girl was not unfamiliar with qualuudes (and other drugs) nor was she a virgin at the time she met Polanski who was photographing her for a European fashion magazine. You may, no doubt, be surprised with the number of European fashion magazines that included nudes of underage girls. I'm not condoning it, but you have to take that cultural difference into account. You should also realize that the girl's mother didn't have a problem with either Polanski's photography nor drugs - she helped to publish a small 'zine for heads, and may have been motivated to press charges because Polanski failed to convince Jack Nicholson to do an interview with that paper. And it wasn't rape because she didn't want to have sex with him, but rather because she wasn't prepared for how he liked it. For example, no one is condemning Kobe Bryant anymore for doing the exact same thing in Colorado a few years ago. But the fact is still that Polanski undoubtedly went too far that night, and I have quite a bit of his personal statements that indicate profound remorse.

Love the sinner hate the sin. Stings, don't it? William S. Burroughs shot his wife in the head. John Lennon beat his wives. Nabokov's "Lolita" is more autobiographical than you might think. Sometimes talent has a lot to do with appreciating a person's art who is morally compromised in their daily decisions. It's not forgiveness (although that can be a helpful thing), it's a realization that genius hides a darkness, and people of great talent are usually people with great flaws.

Apr 3 - 08:07 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

I'm sorry anyone else here a donky?

Apr 3 - 09:28 PM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Yes, you're right, our legal system is all about personal justice for the victim and not imposing standards of law and order. If you are wealthy and talented enough, you should totally be allowed to run away to another country, continue to make movies and receive awards, live a wealthy lifestyle, and then wait until your victim finally forgives you.

This is justice.

Apr 3 - 02:31 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Seriously, are you really arguing that people should be allowed to duck the law for drugging and raping a minor just because she forgives him decades later? Or is only if they're talented enough?

Apr 3 - 02:32 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Also, I might be more tempted to consider him in the right if he actually showed any remorse for what he did, rather than accusing the prosecutor and judge of being jealous because they weren't getting hot teenage sex (by means of Quaaludes).

Apr 3 - 02:36 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'm more amused how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have a hard time travelling outside of the U.S. because of all those international laws they violated. I guess hiding under the immunity of America is equally as cowardly as Polanski hiding under immunity of the Swiss. I guess the Swiss just have a bigger problem with criminals who start an illegal war that kill nearly a million people than they do with sexual perverts.

The reason why I assume you haven't read any intervews with the girl is because she paints a far more sympathetic situation that the black/white morality you paint. It may surprise you that this girl was not unfamiliar with qualuudes (and other drugs) nor was she a virgin at the time she met Polanski who was photographing her for a European fashion magazine. You may, no doubt, be surprised with the number of European fashion magazines that included nudes of underage girls. I'm not condoning it, but you have to take that cultural difference into account. You should also realize that the girl's mother didn't have a problem with either Polanski's photography nor drugs - she helped to publish a small 'zine for heads, and may have been motivated to press charges because Polanski failed to convince Jack Nicholson to do an interview with that paper. And it wasn't rape because she didn't want to have sex with him, but rather because she wasn't prepared for how he liked it. For example, no one is condemning Kobe Bryant anymore for doing the exact same thing in Colorado a few years ago. But the fact is still that Polanski undoubtedly went too far that night, and I have quite a bit of his personal statements that indicate profound remorse.

Love the sinner hate the sin. Stings, don't it? William S. Burroughs shot his wife in the head. John Lennon beat his wives. Nabokov's "Lolita" is more autobiographical than you might think. Sometimes talent has a lot to do with appreciating a person's art who is morally compromised in their daily decisions. It's not forgiveness (although that can be a helpful thing), it's a realization that genius hides a darkness, and people of great talent are usually people with great flaws.

Apr 3 - 08:07 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Seriously, are you really arguing that people should be allowed to duck the law for drugging and raping a minor just because she forgives him decades later? Or is only if they're talented enough?

Apr 3 - 02:32 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Also, I might be more tempted to consider him in the right if he actually showed any remorse for what he did, rather than accusing the prosecutor and judge of being jealous because they weren't getting hot teenage sex (by means of Quaaludes).

Apr 3 - 02:36 AM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Might rent We Bought A Zoo and Tyrannosaur, but that's it this week. Saw War Horse in theaters, but it doesn't warrant an immediate purchase in my book.

Apr 3 - 03:31 AM

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