New on DVD and Blu-ray: ‘Mission: Impossible’ and More!
New to watch this week on DVD and Blu-ray, there's Tom Cruise style action, sex, corruption in a classic film and a little something lighter (and available on Netflix Instant).
In the making-of material on the great-looking, packed Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy edition of ‘Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol,’ director Brad Bird explains how star Tom Cruise and producer J.J. Abrams (‘Lost,’ ‘Super 8’) asked him “What kind of spy movie would you like to make ..?” Based on evidence here, the answer was ‘A really great one,’ full of old-school trickery and new-school technology. Cruise leads a team (including Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner) on an off-the-books last-ditch plan to stop a really good European actor, uh, armageddon expert (Michael Nyqvist) intent on doing the job right. There’s globetrotting and stunts atop the world’s tallest building all fueled by Cruise’s bulletproof charisma, but the real co-star is Bird, making his live-action directing debut after “Ratatouille’ and ‘The Incredibles.’ All the extras -- deservingly deleted scenes, sparkling making-of stuff -- are impressive, and the image and sound are screen-pushing and speaker-rattling. The state-of-the-art and, equally, state-of-the-business big studio action film of last year.
Sure, Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor Oscar for ‘The Artist’ last year, but a lot of people think that’s only because Michael Fassbender, in this hard-to-take, harder-to-shake indie, wasn’t in the nominee list. Fassbender, working again with director Steve McQueen after their previous collaboration ‘Hunger,’ plays Brandon, a well-off New Yorker with a good job, a complicated family and a raging addiction to sex. It’s a naked portrayal -- emotionally, and, in some parts, literally -- of a man who has everything except a reason to stop. When wayward sister Sissy (an amazing Carey Mulligan) comes to stay, though, Brandon’s life and past have to both be dealt with. Rated NC-17 -- and deservedly so -- it’s a hard, scary look at need and despair. The extras are great, but the best thing about the film at home may be the look of New York at night, plus the chance to really think about a film and see a performance worthy of some thought.
For something a little lighter -- although, really, what wouldn’t be? -- one of the best stealth romance films of the past 20 years comes to Netflix Watch Instant this week, ‘The Cutting Edge.’ Starring Moira Kelly as a figure-skater in need of a partner for the Olympics and a few lessons in lettin’ go and D. B. Sweeney as a coulda-been NHL player sidelined by injury looking for redemption and a-somethin’ to believe in, well, you can see where this is going. And at the same time, it’s a great example of a light romance, with a script by Tony Gilroy (who would later go on to be Oscar-nominated for Michael Clayton and who also got Jason Bourne on the big screen). Funny and pushed hummingly along by an underdog sports-flick plot and the great chemistry between Kelly and Sweeney, the end result is amazingly entertaining whether you're discovering it for the first time or enjoying it for the twelfth.
Released a few weeks ago but still worthy of note, Paramount’s Blu-Ray of ‘Chinatown’ is easy to appreciate, a nicely-made disc of a movie that’s both important and incredibly entertaining. The plot is Jack Nicholson as an L.A. detective hired to stir up a city bigwig tripping over the truth enough to arrive at something bigger, and worse, than mere murder. With a classic screenplay by Robert Towne -- who provides commentary here alongside David Fincher -- and direction by the now-exiled Roman Polanski, it’s a ‘70s movie set in the ‘30s that’s both a celebration of retro pulp and a product of -- and commentary on -- its time.