Friday, August 7, 2009

DVD Releases: August 4, 2009

It’s been a hectic week, so I got behind on this. Luckily, there were not many DVD releases this week, so I was able to get this one off by the end of the week. I missed both Obsessed and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh in theaters (but I rented them, so I should have reviews up next week) along with Race to Witch Mountain, which honestly, I still think I’m going to skip. But there were two great releases on DVD this week, as well as another film that may play better on DVD then it did when I saw it in the theaters a few months ago. There was nothing of note that I had seen in terms of older releases, so this week is short – just three.

Che ****
Now that both halves of Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant Che are on DVD, I feel safe to recommend it. Separately, both films are wonderful, but together they are so much better. The first film, The Argentine, tells Che’s story from the time he is drawn into the movement throughout the Cuban Revolution, culminating in his trip to the UN in the mid-1960s. This is the more standard biopic of the two films, cutting back and forth in time, and showing the high point of Che’s life. The second film, Guerilla, is much more narrowly focused, concentrating solely on Che’s failed attempt to duplicate the success of the Cuban revolution in Bolivia. The first film, shot in widescreen, shows Che surrounded by friends and wide open spaces. The second film has a much narrower aspect ratio, as the sides of the screen seem to be closing in on him, much like the Bolivian army. This film did not get the recognition it deserved when it was released late last year. It is a great one. For my original review please see:

Gommorah ****
Matteo Garone’s Gomorrah is one of the best modern mob movies ever made. It has the feel of an epic, as it cuts between five different stories set in Naples, where the Commora hold sway over just about everything. They run things much more like a business than a criminal enterprise, although when punishment needs to be dealt out, it is swift, violent and severe. Having just come back from Italy, where I spent a day in Naples, the movie has been swimming in my mind ever since. This is a great film, and it is a shame that the conservative Academy overlooked it for the Foreign Language Oscar last year. For my original review please see:

The Soloist ** ½
In my mind, Robert Downey Jr. can do no wrong. He is pretty much the only reason to see Joe Wright’s (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) true life drama about a reporter (Downey) who befriends an autistic musical genius (Jamie Foxx). Downey makes the overly sentimental and manipulative movie watchable – and at times even enjoyable. Foxx also does a fine job, but in a less difficult role. The movie is not terrible, but it should have, and could have, been better. For my original review please see:

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