Cloud Atlas - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving,Jim Sturgess. Full cast + crew
People often complain about the Academy robbing their favorite films of wins or nominations. Most of the time this is just a way of showing off that they really did love a movie so much more than everybody else, including the supposed authorities on what is and isn't award worthy. Having said that... there are many, many more people who love Cloud Atlas with a greater passion than I, and yet even I have to admit that this beautiful film was robbed at the Oscars.
Nothing for score or makeup or wardrobe -- and that's okay, those tend to be fluffy awards anyway. But how the hell Cloud Atlas didn't even get a nod for Best Editing is beyond me. This is a marvelous, awe-inspiring piece of storytelling that weaves together centuries and a multitude of unique, rich characters with absolute expertise. It's the kind of movie that feels effortless no matter how dense the material actually is or how much time it spans. It's a wonder to behold and a shame it didn't get more recognition, either from a body like the Academy or from the masses at the box office.
Special Features: 55 minutes of making-of material spread across seven different featurettes, which combined cover every aspect of production you're bound to be interested in.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III - Lionsgate - Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Roman Coppola
Cast: Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Patricia Arquette, Aubrey Plaza. Full cast + crew
In case the indulgently long title didn't give it away, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a highly specific movie made for a highly specific audience: mainly those who like the weirdness and whimsy of movies like Being John Malkovich, The Hudsucker Proxy and Wrong. Each tap into a sort of detached surrealism that finds their characters reaching epiphanies only after going through ridiculous experiences, and here that character is played by Charlie Sheen, a graphic artist in the '70s who has a bit of a breakdown after a breakup with the girl of his dreams. It's got a good cast, a commendable sense of humor, and a real love for artists and all their eccentricities.
Special Features: Commentary with Roman Coppola; "A Glimpse Behind the Glimpse" (25 minutes), a broad making-of; "A Glimpse into the Mind of Charles White III" (12 minutes), a look at one of the graphic artists who inspired the movie, the man who helped put together one of the coolest posters for Star Wars.
Other Notable New Releases
Texas Chainsaw is one of the strangest franchise restarts ever made. It's the seventh film in the franchise, but it's the only one that takes place immediately after the ending of Tobe Hooper's original film and sort of pretends like all those other movies don't exist. And that would be okay if the rest of the movie found a way to make sense within its own timeline, but it doesn't. It's a messy movie where script and reshoots collide in dumb ways (the ages and time period don't really match up), but if you like dumb horror movies, it's tolerable. As far as the TCM canon goes, diehards will probably hate it, but it's an enjoyable kind of silly -- the kind of movie where the main gal's vanishing clothing is worked into the story and where the bad guy is everywhere. In a way, it's nice that it's got some old-school slasher sensibilities. It's only when they're smashed with new-school, studio-mandated notes that things take a turn for the worse. Texas Chainsaw is a bad movie, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun watching it.
If you're in the mood for more horror this week, check out Escape, a Norwegian thriller set during medieval times about a family that is attacked by a band of killers. It's from Roar Uthaug, the director of the cool Norwegian slasher Cold Prey, so hopefully it's at least as good as that. The rest of the week is an odd mix of movies, but if you like picking through the smaller stuff, you may find some gems. Frankie Go Boom is a raucous indie comedy featuring Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd and Lizzy Caplan; Tomorrow You're Gone is a revenge-based thriller starring Stephen Dorff, Michelle Monaghan and Willem Dafoe; Back to 1942 is a Chinese drama about the true story of the drought and famine that struck a region in China during WWII.