The Oscar heavyweights continue to land on DVD this week as two of the best performances of 2008 by men not named Sean Penn become available for home viewing.
Frank Langella brings his stage portrayal of Nixon to the screen in Ron Howard's tense and gripping 'Frost/Nixon,' while Mickey Rourke gets bruised and battered in the comeback role of the year in 'The Wrestler.'
Also new: The surprisingly good hip-hop biopic 'Notorious.' Get the full scoop on this week's DVD and Blu-ray releases, plus our recommendations from weeks' past.
What It's About: The true story of David Frost (Michael Sheen), a British TV personality who ponied up a cool $600,000 for the exclusive first interview with disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) ... and somehow got his money worth.
What We Say: It takes some serious directorial skill to condense 12 days of interviews into two hours of tense and gripping entertainment, but that's exactly what Ron Howard does in crafting this exciting battle of wits. It also helps that Langella's humanizing portrayal of Tricky Dick is phenomenal.
Award Tour: For as acclaimed as the play-turned-movie is, 'Nixon' didn't fare so well among Oscar voters, going 0-for-5. Still, though, it beat out Oliver Stone's 1995 'Nixon' starring Anthony Hopkins (four nominations, no wins).
Special Features? The DVD offers a making-of doc, footage from the actual interviews and a feature on additional recordings of the ex-prez (perfect for the Nixon completist).
Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Read Ron Howard Q&A | 50 Best Movies of 2008
What It's About: Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a former pro wrestling sensation, is a shell of his former self. He now lives in a trailer park, wrestles for pennies at local New Jersey holes where using a staple gun (yes, a staple gun) in the ring is perfectly acceptable, and obsesses over a friendly neighborhood stripper (Marisa Tomei).
It's Kind of Like: The anti-'Hogan Knows Best'
What We Say: Darren Aronofsky's superb indie made the most noise for Rourke's triumphant comeback as a gentle giant, but the film itself was one of the year's best: It's a powerful, brutal and grueling yet still inspiring human drama.
Award Tour: Many believe Rourke, who won Best Actor honors at the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Indie Spirit Awards (not to mention from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association), was robbed when he lost to Sean Penn at the Oscars. Agreed. But look at the upside: Now the guy's a red-hot commodity starring in 'Iron Man 2.'
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What It's About: Just twelve years after his death comes this biopic about legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard), aka Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, Frank White and Christopher Wallace; also appearing are Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and Derek Luke as P. Diddy (aka the man with too many aka's to list).
It's Kind of Like: '8 Mile' in Brooklyn
What We Say: The fact that Woolard raps over B.I.G. instrumentals is distracting (and we're not as wowed as we should be) but otherwise the actor delivers a strong, confident performance, and the fresh, stylish 'Notorious' builds up to a surprisingly potent peak.
Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Read Jamal Woolard Q&A
Other New Releases This Week:
'Into the Blue 2'