Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.)
Release Date: Dec 25, 2011
Director: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Zoe Caldwell, Paul Klementowicz, John Goodman. Full cast + crew
Verdict: Rent Me
Available On: Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray, DVD
Special Features: Making Of, Finding Oscar, Ten Year's Later, Max Von Sydow: Dialogues with the Renter (directed by Von Sydow's own son)
Additional Thoughts: If you've feared that Stephen Daldry's film about an eleven-year-old boy's somewhat wondrous attempt to keep his father's, who died on 9/11, spirit alive by adventuring around New York on a wild goose chase is nothing but Oscar bait, well, the movie's exactly as you'd expect. Having said that, Extremely Loud isn't entirely without merit. Yes, it has all the quirk and melodrama you'd expect, but it's a surprisingly endearing story once you get past the overt sugar coating of it all. Plus, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock both give remarkable performances for their limited screen time.
A Dangerous Method (Sony)
Release Date: Nov 23, 2011
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Vincent Cassel, Sarah Gadon. Full cast + crew
Verdict: Forget Me
Available On: Blu-ray, DVD
Special Features: Audio commentary with Cronenberg, The Making of (8 minutes), AFI's Harold Lloyd Master Seminar with David Cronenberg (31 minutes), Trailers
Additional Thoughts: As a huge fan of David Cronenberg's work, I was severely underwhelmed by A Dangerous Method. Sure, it deals with many of the psychosexual themes that run through the director's work, and it's got a fascinating trio of real-world figures at its center, but it's just dry, boring storytelling. It'd be great for a book or even the stage, but there's nothing cinematic about this material or Cronenberg's direction of it. If you are a die hard fan of his work, it's certainly worth watching, but it'll just be a footnote in his otherwise impressive career.
Other New Releases
High-Profile Catalog Releases
Casablanca (Warner Bros.)
Release Date: Nov 26, 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid,Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt. Full cast + crew
Verdict: Buy Me
Available On: 70th Anniversary Collector's Edition Blu-ray
Special Features: A veritable truckload of them. Two audio commentaries (one with Roger Ebert, another with film historian Rudy Behlmer), a 51-minute assembly of vintage newsreels and similar clips that would have played with the film in 1940, an 83-minute documentary on Bogart hosted by Lauren Bacall, Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of (37 minutes), Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic (35 minutes of famous filmmakers like Spielberg cherishing the film and its influence), You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (A five-hour doc narrated by Clint Eastwood about the history of the studio), The Brothers Warner (94 minutes, a doc that focuses entirely on Hollywood's most famous siblings), Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul (60 minutes).
All told, these goodies add up to a whopping 13 hours of extra content, about half focusing on Casablanca and half on the Warner Bros. studio legacy. And those are just the digital bits. On the physical side of thing, Warner Bros. has packaged this set with a 62-page hardbook of behind-the-scenes photos and production notes, four drink coasters in their own box, and a 21"x15" French poster for the film.
Additional Thoughts: In addition to all of the above, this Casablanca Blu-ray set features an entirely new transfer sourced from a 4K scan. While most casual film goers may not notice the difference in this new restoration over the previous Blu-ray issue of the film, enthusiasts will no doubt cherish the faithful preservation and presentation of the film's gorgeous black and white photography, grain and all. Unfortunately all of the special features are in standard definition, but there's just so many of them both on and off the disc, that you'll no doubt feel you've gotten your money's worth upgrading to this set that truly does celebrate one of the most enduring classic films around.