Another week, another Best Picture Oscar nominee arrives on DVD just in time to sway Academy voters. Last Tuesday, it was Martin Scorsese's masterful crime drama The Departed; today, it's Babel, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's sprawling multilingual, multicultural, multi-everything meditation on the simultaneous interconnectedness and disconnectedness that plagues intercultural relationships. Wow, that was a mouthful. On the less heavy end we have a flick in which Hollywood spoofs itself (always good times) and another in which Scarlett Johansson shows off the twins (also always good times). So let's get to it: Here are my top DVD picks for the week.
Be warned: This most assuredly is not a light romantic comedy to watch on a Friday night as you prepare a romantic dinner at home with your significant other. But it is a must-see for its unflinching depiction of the devastating ramifications of miscommunication on both the personal and global levels. And it showcases phenomenal performances by a graying Brad Pitt, an ailing Cate Blanchett and a Full-Monty-flaunting Rinko Kikuchi.
Rent, buy or get more on Babel | Download the movie
Fun Fact: Originally slated for one of the leading roles in a certain Martin Scorsese drama, Brad Pitt departed The Departed so that he could appear in Babel. Crafty guy that he is, Pitt retains a producer credit on The Departed, so he'll be happy if either flick wins Best Picture.
Christopher Nolan's slick thriller didn't get the love it deserved when it hit theaters this fall, thanks in part to that other 2006 magician mystery The Illusionist -- and also in part to Scarlett Johansson/Hugh Jackman overload. While Scarlett in a cleavage-sculpting bodice doesn't sound bad to me, apparently not everyone is of the same opinion. Regardless, The Prestige's strengths lie (primarily) elsewhere. Like the two dueling turn-of-the-century magicians whose tale it tells, The Prestige pulls one hell of a trick on the audience. On the surface, it appears to be the simple tale of two egomaniacs trying to one-up each other, but in reality it's a subtle meditation on the existence of God. If you didn't catch that the first time, go back and take a gander at the film's opening sequence in which Michael Caine asks, "Are you watching closely?" Apparently, you weren't.
Rent, buy or get more on The Prestige
Best remedy for post-Babel depression: The hilarious awards spoof, For Your Consideration
Best new release starring the Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing
Unnecessary sequel of the week: Open Water 2: Adrift
Other new releases (Feb. 20)
Gandhi: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
A Man for All Seasons: Special Edition
Man of the Year
The Wandering Swordsman