Let your imagination run wild this week with two divergent releases: Director Terry Gilliam's 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,' a fantastical tale about an old-fashioned medicine show in modern London in which the battle between good and evil is carried to new heights (the film stars Heath Ledger, in his last role, with friends Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law filling in for him in crucial parts of the story); and 'It's Complicated,' a middle-class, middle-aged comedy about a divorced couple who end up having an illicit affair. For more down-to-earth outings, check out Universal's 'The Barbara Stanwyck Collection.' 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'
What It's About: Director Terry Gilliam drills a hole into his brain and comes up with a surrealistic tale about an anachronistic horse-drawn traveling medicine show in 21st century London. Here, in Doctor Parnassus' Imaginarium, visitors can enter an alternate universe and temporarily exist in a world of their own imagination. Unfortunately for Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), he made a bad deal with the devil (Tom Waits) -- immortality in exchange for the soul of his daughter when she turns 16 -- and to stave him off the good doctor makes another bet -- whoever seduces five souls wins his daughter.
It's Kinda Like: 'The Time Bandits,' 'Brazil' and '12 Monkeys' inside your brain
What We Say: Gilliam -- who cut his teeth with Monty Python -- comes up with a phantasmagoria of ideas and visions that's hard to get a grip on. We found ourselves hitting the "rewind' button to try to understand what we had just seen, but gave up and tried to let the film wash over us -- which in the end may be the only (il)logical choice. Like love, this film is at times hard to fathom, but you shouldn't shy away from it. Keep in mind also that this was Heath Ledger's last film -- he died during production -- and friends Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell filled in for the actor as his alternate-dimension versions in the Imaginarium scenes. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
What It's About: Upper middle-class comedy about a woman (Meryl Streep) with three grown kids, a thriving Santa Barbara bakery, an amicable relationship with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) -- who's now married to a much younger woman -- and a new suitor waiting in the wings (Steve Martin). But 10 years after their separation, the divorced couple find themselves out of town for their son's college graduation and things start to get complicated: they end up having an affair.
It's Kinda Like: 'When Harry Met Sally ...' for boomers
What We Say: Though predictable and almost TV sitcommy, this romantic-comedy harkens back to the glory days of classic Hollywood screwball comedies -- it manages to keep you involved and get your mind off the doom and gloom of the nightly newscasts for two hours in a darkened room. Streep and Baldwin are at the top of their form and it shows in their chemistry together. Through some popcorn into the microwave and enjoy. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
'The Barbara Stanwyck Collection (Universal Backlot Series)'
'What's the Deal? To many, Barbara Stanwyck is known as the matriarch of TV's 'The Big Valley' or the femme fatale of 'Double Indemnity,' but the actress' 80-film career spanned comedies, weepies, melodramas, Westerns and noir films: Stanwyck could handle anything sent her way and make it her own. Universal has put together a three-disc set featuring six previously unreleased-to-DVD films: 'Internes Can't Take Money' (1937), a Dr. Kildare melodrama; 'The Great Man's Lady' (1942); a William Wellman Western, 'The Bride Wore Boots' (1946); 'The Lady Gambles' (1949), and two excellent Douglas Sirk outings, 'All I Desire' (1953) and 'There's Always Tomorrow' (1956), which reunites her with 'Indemnity's' Fred MacMurray.
Noteworthy Special Features: This is a bare-bones collection with only trailers for some of the titles.
Is It Collection Worthy? Definitely. If you're a film buff or Stanwyck lover, this should be added to your DVD shelf. The only gripe: Universal's transfer of 'There's Always Tomorrow' is in full-frame rather than the film's original widescreen format.
On Blu-ray this week:
'Elizabeth: The Golden Age'
'The Jackal' (1997)
'Out of Africa 25th Anniversary Edition'
Other New April 27 DVD Releases:
'District 13: Ultimatum'
'Five Minutes of Heaven'
'The Fugitive Kind'
'Ride With the Devil'
Check out other new April 27 DVD releases at OnVideo.