For all its indie cred, adult language, and exposed body parts, Darren Aronofsky's film follows a well-trod path through sports movie cliches. Still, it's anchored by Mickey Rourke's empathetic, "I've been there and I know that" performance as a world-weary wrestler, and Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood provide needed counterbalance as a wary stripper and unforgiving daughter, respectively. Also on Blu-ray. Rent it.
Peter Morgan's adaptation of his own stage play supplies all the "based on truth" dramatic hay that's needed, while Michael Sheen and Frank Langella sparkle in the title roles. Ron Howard's movie feels very much like a television production; as an actors' showcase, it's fine for what it is, without illuminating deeper truths. Also on Blu-ray. Rent it.
I've watched and watched without being converted into the worshipful fold, but for Battlestar Galactica fans already suffering from withdrawal, you can get your fix with this prequel starring Eric Stolz and Esai Morales. I'm sure it's the best thing ever made, and that you will play it over and over again. Buy it.
Wolverine and the X-Men: Heroes Return Trilogy
First three episodes of the animated TV series. "With great tragedy in their past and their future, Wolverine must lead Xavier's disillusioned heroes against the forces of fate and destiny. Only together can the X-Men steer the course of history away from catastrophe and save us all." Doesn't that sound cool, kids? Rent it.
Also out: Into the Blue 2: The Reef (featuring bikinis and beefcake).
After the jump: Indies on DVD, more Blu-ray picks, and Collector's Corner.
A Jihad for Love
Parvez Sharma's documentary about gay Muslims garnered critical praise on the festival circuit and during its theatrical run, with reviewers commenting on the "impressive" bravery of the interview subjects (Dennis Harvey, Variety) and the way that "dignity and despair are woven tightly together" (Jeremy Kay, The Guardian).
How About You
Hayley Atwell stars as a young woman left in charge of a residential home filled with old people over the Christmas holidays. The cast is impressive: Vanessa Redgrave, Joss Ackland, Brenda Fricker and Imelda Staunton. "Put a cork in your inner cynic, and just enjoy this one" (Walter Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle).
Audience of One
Michael Jacobs' doc follows the leader of a small church in San Francisco who is convinced that God wants him to make a science fiction film to help spread the word of the Lord. Our own Jeffrey M. Anderson wrote: "Jacobs has made a fascinating documentary -- unblinking but not inhuman, sympathetic but never afraid to ask questions."
As an experiment in translating comic book imagery to the big screen, the colloboration between Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller is fascinating. Its episodic structure lends itself especially well to home viewing.
The Blu-ray includes most, but not all, of the extras previously available on the special edition DVD. That means audio commentaries with Rodriguez and Miller, with Rodriguez alone (with Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Willis stopping by), extensive "making of" featurettes, Rodriguez's "15 Minute Flick School," behind the scenes footage from the Tarantino-directed segment, and even a breakfast taco instructional cooking video. (?!) The "recut" edition of the film breaks up the individual segments into their own separate stories, along with additional footage.
New and exclusive to the Blu-ray edition is a feature called "Cine-Explore," in which "images bounce between the movie, green screen, storyboards and occasionally panels them all out altogether, highlighting the storyboard that matches up with the scene that is playing with others prepped to follow," as described at Rope of Silicon. All in all it sounds like a very cool package.
The Wages of Fear
Henri-Georges Clouzot's gut-wrenching drama stars Yves Montand as a truck driver on a suicide mission transporting explosives through treachorous conditions in Central America. Gary W. Tooze of DVD Beaver says: "Wages of Fear in high-definition looks magnificent to me in motion - despite the light scratches that are retained - the higher resolution captures more of the essence of the film."
Two out of three ain't bad.
Also out: The Arrival (featuring Charlie Sheen and an alien).
Hellraiser Boxed Set
Includes "the 20th Anniversary Editions of both Hellraiser and Hellraiser II, plus the Blu-ray release of Hellraiser." DVD Active has the details on the extras and bigger pictures of the box set.
The Last Picture Show / Nickelodeon
The DVD of the long under-appreciated Nickelodeon includes "a black-and-white edition of a film originally released in color," restoring the original vision of director Peter Bogdanovich. Dave Kehr in the New York Times explains. It's included in a two-pack with Bogdanovich's classic take on Larry McMurtry's 1950s tale of a small Texas town -- and its citizens -- in decline.