DVD Obscura: Loki as a Lover and Will Ferrell as a…Mexican?

DVD Obscura: Loki as a Lover and Will Ferrell as a…Mexican?

Jul 25, 2012

New: A Detention You’ll Want to Sit Through

It’s certainly good for an actor’s career to get cast as the villain in a mega-blockbuster like The Avengers, but if you’d like to see another, non-Loki side of Tom Hiddleston, check out one of 2012’s best films so far, The Deep Blue Sea (Music Box Films Home Entertainment; available July 24). In Terence Davies’ adaptation of the play by Terence Rattigan, Rachel Weisz gives a searing performance as a discontented housewife in post-WWII London who leaves her kind, older husband for a steamy affair with the passionate but unreliable Freddie (Hiddleston), who’s desperately clinging to his glory days as an RAF pilot.

If you’ve only seen Hiddleston wearing big brass horns and threatening superheroes, his charisma here will come as a real revelation. And if there’s any justice in the world, Weisz’s powerhouse work here will be remembered when they start handing out awards at the end of the year.

A movie you very likely missed in theaters is the hilariously off-the-rails sci-fi-slasher-farce-satire-time-travel-horror flick Detention (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; available July 31), starring Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games). I’m trying to summarize the plot here, but suffice it to say that the title of the featurette on the DVD — “Cheat Mode: The Unbelievably Mind-Melting Making of Detention” — is no hyperbole. This is the kind of unhinged and crammed-with-ideas movie that garners a cult following; become an early adopter.

When I first saw the TV spots for Casa de Mi Padre (Lionsgate; now available), a telenovela parody starring Will Ferrell speaking Spanish, I thought it was a hilarious idea for an Adult Swim show. I thought the same thing after seeing the actual movie, which has some hilarious bits but can’t quite sustain the joke for 84 minutes. But hey, with the DVD deleted scenes, this movie is now even longer. ¡Ay!

If you’re the sort of person who spends far too much of the workday watching Internet videos of adorable animals, you may find yourself unable to resist the Japanese import Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog (Music Box Films Home Entertainment; now available), about a golden Lab puppy who gets trained as a guide dog for the blind. So much cuteness!

On the opposite end of the spectrum is The Whisperer in Darkness (Microcinema; available July 31), a stylish H.P. Lovecraft adaptation that calls to mind the vintage horror of the 1930s. If you can actually pronounce “Cthulhu,” this should absolutely be on your list, and even non-hardcore Lovecraftians may find themselves in its thrall.

Also new this month: The controversial Margaret (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; now available), available in its full Director’s Cut for the first time; Paul Verhoeven veterans Carice van Houten and Rutger Hauer team up in the period apartheid drama Black Butterflies (New Video; now available); Gérard Depardieu plays an illiterate oaf who begins a Tuesdays with Morrie–ish friendship with an older lady in My Afternoons with Marguerite (New Video/Cohen Media Group; now available); Ben Foster stars in Here (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment; now available), a festival favorite about a road-trip romance in Armenia; Marilyn in Manhattan (Virgil Digital; available July 31), about the screen icon’s life in New York; and the hit documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Magnolia Home Entertainment; available July 24), about the world’s greatest purveyor of yummy raw fish.


Classic: Cows, Spies, Gangsters and Runners

While the Blu-ray debut of Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (Warner Home Video; now available) doesn’t offer any extras that didn’t turn up on previous editions, this is one of those movies that any collector needs to have in his or her library. It’s a smart and gut-punching coming-of-age story that heralded the director as one of his generation’s leading storytellers.

An artist’s life from beginning to end is the subject of And Everything Is Going Fine (The Criterion Collection; now available), Steven Soderbergh’s poignant exploration of monologuist Spalding Gray — and since Gray talked about himself so much onstage and on film, it’s his voice, edited together, that tells the tale. Criterion has also released the previous Gray-Soderbergh collaboration Gray’s Anatomy, and both DVDs feature early Gray monologues not previously made available on home video.

Where would Olympic coverage be without Vangelis’ iconic theme music from Chariots of Fire (Warner Home Video; now available)? And if you find yourself hankering for the source material, here’s a brand new Blu-ray of the underdog movie that beat Reds and Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Best Picture Oscar. (The King’s Speech was neither the first nor, I’m sure, the last time that Academy voters swooned for tweedy British inspirational dramas.) This handsome, bookshelf-ready edition features four documentaries, interviews and commentary with director Hugh Hudson, and more.

The less successful Disney animated features sometimes slip through the cracks, but that doesn’t mean they’re not thoroughly entertaining movies. Take, for example, Home on the Range (Disney Blu-ray; now available), about some cows and their pals who fight back against some greedy outlaws who are out to take over their dairy farm. It’s goofy, and I probably couldn’t hum one of the songs with a six-shooter pointed at my head, but it’s still lots of fun.

Acclaimed animators the Brothers Quay made their live-action debut with the dark and delirious Institute Benjamenta (Zeitgeist Films; available July 24), starring Mark Rylance and Alice Krige, and fans of dark visionary filmmakers in general will want to give this hauntingly beautiful film, now remastered and restored, a whirl.

And from the on-demand files, three wonderfully odd choices: The grimily homophobic Windows (MGM Limited Edition Collection; now available), which does for lesbians what Cruising did for gay men; My Wife’s Best Friend (Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives; now available), in which Anne Baxter goes full-tilt passive-aggressive when her husband MacDonald Carey admits he’s been unfaithful with the title character; and Boris and Natasha: The Movie (MGM Limited Edition Collection; now available), an attempt to turn Rocky and Bullwinkle’s bumbling nemeses into live-action spies (played by Dave Thomas and Sally Kellerman).


TV: Engage My Grits

Oh, speaking of Martin Scorsese, you do remember that it was his early '70s comedy-drama Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (which won an Oscar for Ellen Burstyn) that inspired the long-running sitcom Alice, right? With Alice: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video; now available), Linda Lavin stepped into Burstyn’s waitressing shoes for one of the decade’s most charming TV comedies. This collection features the rarely seen pilot in which Alfred Lutter reprises his role from the Scorsese movie as Alice’s son.

Light years away from a diner in Phoenix were the new voyages of the Starship Enterprise, and fans are no doubt thrilled to finally get Star Trek: The Next Generation — Season One (Paramount Home Video; available July 24) on Blu-ray in this new collection that features scads of new material as well as digital touch-ups on both audio and video. Somewhat more low-budget intergalactic adventures can be found in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXIV box (Shout Factory; available July 31), which features made-for-Japanese-TV imports Fugitive Alien and Star Force: Fugitive Alien II alongside the Russian epic The Sword and the Dragon and Mexican wrestler saga Samson vs. the Vampire Women.

And if you never thought Frasier Crane could be a badass, you’ve clearly missed Kelsey Grammer’s intense performance as a ruthless mayor of Chicago in the acclaimed cable series Boss: Season One (Lionsgate; available July 24). Fun fact: Gus Van Sant directed the series pilot.  

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