I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

by Ethan Alter July 9, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Best Spring Break ever...

Spring Breakers
Spring Break has been over for four months now and the bikini-clad, alcoholic beverage-pounding teenagers have long since gone home, but Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers remains one of 2013's finest provocations and all-around best movies. A formally daring satire about youth culture that fuses MTV imagery with a Terrence Malick-style dreamlike structure, Spring Breakers is ostensibly about four college girls who head down to Florida to celebrate Spring Break in style and wind up becoming the criminal accomplices of small-time gangsta Alien (James Franco, absolutely electrifying in his weirdest -- not to mention his best -- performance to date). But really, the movie is a wild sensory trip experience that critiques spring break excess and the media that encourages it in the guise of imitating it. The smartly subversive use of Britney Spears songs alone (not to mention Alien playing at Scarface) speaks to how completely Korine has warped pop culture to suit his own artistic ends. To paraphrase Alien, Spring Breakers forever.
Extras: A three-part making-of documentary, deleted scenes and outtakes, a commentary track with Korine (though sadly, not with Franco or Franco-as-Alien) and an additional featurette about the music heard in the film.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see our picks for the worst cinematic beach trips

Given that it stars two of the most likable comic actors around -- Tina Fey and Paul Rudd -- it's hard not to root for Admission to be something special and equally hard to not feel disappointed when it winds up being so profoundly ordinary. Starring in yet another movie that she didn't also write (and maybe that's part of the problem), Fey plays a college admissions officer at Princeton who puts her professional and personal life on the line when she strikes up a romance with handsome high-school principal (Rudd) and tries to grease the wheels to get the kids he claims is her son (Nat Wolff) into her school. Where Mean Girls and 30 Rock found fresh and funny ways to approach conventional scenarios, Admissions takes a somewhat unconventional setting and set of characters and proceeds to present them in the most bland and predictable manner possible. Rudd and Fey do what they can to strike sparks, but they are stymied by the plodding script and Paul Weitz's too-restrained direction. If she keeps making films like this and Date Night, we'll be forced to rescind Fey's admission to the Saturday Night Live movie Hall of Fame.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to read our Q&A with director Paul Weitz
Click here to see who we'd admit to the SNL Movie Hall of Fame

The Host
Proof that Twilight fans really do have taste (sometimes), this adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's lone non-vampire book cratered at the box office during its ultra-brief spring release. A kooky spin on the traditional post-apocalyptic scenario, The Host takes place in a world that's been conquered by an alien race who have... brought peace to the planet? What's so bad about that? Well, you see, it's at the expense of our individuality! These alien spores infect human bodies and take control of our minds, erasing our free will and rendering us all peaceful automatons. All of us, that is, except for a splinter cell of humanity who have created an underground society in the middle of the desert that resembles a Mormon commune. Into this subterranean world comes Wanda (Saoirse Ronan, acting her heart out), who used to be called Melanie until an alien took control of her body. But Melanie's mind fights back, carrying on long and hilariously awkward conversations with Wanda as the movie progresses. And since this is a Stephenie Meyer story, do I even need to mention there are two hunky guys that squabble over her? The Host is risible, yes... but it's also much more (unintentional) fun than practically any Twilight movie.
Extras: A commentary track with Meyer and director Andrew Niccol, a making-of featurette and deleted scenes.
Click here to read our original review

Dead Man Down
Another little-seen spring release, the modestly entertaining crime drama Dead Man Down marks the American directorial debut of Niels Arden Oplev, who helmed the original Danish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. His Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace, is along for the ride, playing a disfigured young woman who attempts to manipulate a mob enforcer (Colin Farrell) into killing the man who caused her injuries. Turns out that Farrell's got his own revenge game going on, having infiltrated the organization led by the gangster (Terrence Howard) who killed his family years ago. The script, by Fringe staff writer J.H. Wyman, is pulpy to the extreme, but Farrell and Rapace play the material with conviction and no small amount of sexual heat. Is it required viewing? Absolutely not, but if you happen to stumble upon it on cable or Netflix, it's a decent way to spend two hours.
Extras: Three behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Click here to read our original review

Also on DVD:
Tyler Perry warns against the sin of adultery and gives Kim Kardashian a "legitimate" acting role in his Lifetime-ready movie Tyler Perry's Temptation. Brittany Snow attends a very unique (and very deadly) dinner party in the thriller, Would You Rather. Ever think to yourself, "Gee, I wish Christian Slater and Christopher Walken would make a movie together"? Well, you're in luck -- The Power of Few now exists. You're welcome. Before he made crap like The Host, Andrew Niccol once wrote and directed great movies like Gattaca out today in a Blu-ray release. Finally, Warner Archive unleashes a trio of vintage '80s and '90s comedies, starting with Ron Howard's Gung Ho, with Michael Keaton turning Japanese in order to revitalize his hometown's auto plant. Better still is Back to the Beach, the zany send-up of '50s beach party movie starring genre icons Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (R.I.P.) and... Pee-Wee Herman! Saving the best for last, the much-maligned Kids in the Hall feature Brain Candy transports viewers back to the distant year of 1996, when Canadian comedy troupes could land their own Hollywood films and Dave Foley was skinny and charming, as opposed to puffy and kinda depressing.

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