This Week in Home Video: The Master, Wreck-It-Ralph, Murdoch Mysteries and Red Dawn
This Week in Home Video previews all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and on-demand titles hitting the street this week, plus lost gems, crazed Cancon, outrageous cult titles and the best places to rent or buy movies in Toronto.
THIS WEEK'S TOP PICK
The Master (eOne Films)
Paul Thomas Anderson's dreamy period piece confounded a lot of people, possibly because it was at its core a two-hander chamber drama instead of the full blown Scientology shakedown many expected. Shot using a mixture of 35mm and 65mm film-stock then unleashed on eye popping 70mm prints the very year that analogue film "died," The Master might well go down in history as the cherished format's last deep breath.
Correctly selected as 2012's film of the year by those boffins at the Toronto Film Critics Association and then roundly ignored by most mainstream award shows (although given a plum shout-out by Ben Affleck at the Golden Globes), The Master nonetheless demands repeat viewings, and is just as compelling on the small screen as it was on the large (but don't miss any opportunity to see the 70mm presentation, ideally on a double bill with its spiritual companion The Shining (1980).
Extras include "Let There Be Light" (1946), a fascinating Government industrial film on emotionally scarred and depressed soldiers passing through a psychiatric hospital after the Second World War. Some of the psych ward dialogue in The Master is actually lifted verbatim from "Let There Be Light," similar to what Anderson did with several John Holmes movies for Boogie Nights - call it cine sampling; "Back Beyond", featuring many of the deleted scenes hinted at in the early previews; and "Man Is Not An Animal," composed of out-takes.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Wreck-It-Ralph (Walt Disney)
Strangely more Pixar-y than the actual 2012 Pixar movie (the disappointing Bear heavy Brave), Wreck-It-Ralph is a lovingly crafted Valentine to old-school video games, gamers, gaming and contemporary role fulfillment anxiety. For those who are lucky enough to own a 3-D TV, the Ultimate Collector's Edition features probably the best use of the format since Hugo. Best bonus feature: original commercials for Fix-It-Felix, Jr., Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush.
Red Dawn (2012) (Alliance)
Totally unnecessary remake of the 1980's jingoistic Cold war brat pack classic, rendered even more useless by changing the enemy from the Chinese Red Army to North Korea in post-production via CGI. Thank goodness Chris Hemsworth had a great year with Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers because this stinker (which sat on the bankrupt shelf of MGM for almost 2 years) did him no favours.
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 5 (Acorn)
Unfairly stigmatized as something that old people watch in nursing homes, Murdoch is actually a dapper Doctor Who meets Sherlock Holmes by way of CSI set in an alt universe Victorian-era steam punk Toronto. Where are the toys and technical manuals and T-shirts and fan clubs? Now in its sixth(!) season on television, Murdoch finally gets a half decent home video release on Blu-ray, courtesy of an American company. Seems like we can't even harness our own cult TV shows, but at least your gran will be happy.
Westworld (Warner Bros.)
James Cameron gets a lot of stick for ripping off old episodes of The Outer Limits in his breakthrough movie The Terminator, but it's actually the cold as clay robot menace played here by Yul Brenner who should get full "inspired by" credit. Long forgotten, this great bit of 1973 B-movie mayhem finally gets a lavish Blu-ray edition featuring a bonus episode of the TV show that followed, and a vintage old-school Hollywood behind the scenes newsreel. Also stars Josh Brolin's dad and was written and directed by the late Michael Crichton, who basically reworked the story years later as Jurassic Park.
Duck Dynasty: Season 2, Volume 1 (A&E)
Rednecksploitation continues to ensnare the small screen, with shows such as Duck Dynasty, Bayou Billionaires, Here Comes Honey Boo and Buck Wild. Believe it or not, Duck Dynasty's home network A&E used to air Puccini operas, BBC Shakespeare adaptations and World War II documentaries.
Schindler's List: 20th Anniversary Edition (Universal)
Steven Spielberg really has a split personality when it comes to filmmaker: one side makes popcorn flicks like Indiana Jones, War of the Worlds and Tin-Tin, and the other makes serious films like The Colour Purple, Amistad and Munich. Schindler's List is no doubt the apex of the former, and two decades on it still has power to freeze the blood, capturing a most horrible moment in history with humanity he has yet to better (sorry, Lincoln).
- Sansho The Bailiff (Criterion Collection)
- Argo (Warner Bros.)
- Prison: Collector's Edition (Scream Factory)
- The Nest (Scream Factory)
- The Monster Squad (Olive)
- Game of Thrones: The Complete 2nd Season (HBO)
- Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (Universal)
- Skyfall (Sony)
- Bully (Alliance)
- The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour (Anchor Bay)
TORONTO VIDEO STORE OF THE WEEK
Bay Street Video's Dwayne Aylward shares some overlooked 2012 titles now on DVD.
Holy Motors - While this wildly audacious France/Germany co-production may leave you a tad bewildered, it will also keep you mesmerized from start to finish.
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present - An inside look at performance artist Abramovic's career retrospective at MoMA, this terrific documentary moved me more than any scripted film from last year.
Compliance - Ever read a news story so crazy that it couldn't possibly be true? This unsettling little gem expertly tells one of those stories and it's guaranteed to leave you stunned.
The Imposter - In a year chock full of standout docs, this was one of the best. It tells the amazing tale of a man who posed as a missing child returned to his parents after years apart.
Killer Joe - Still think Matthew McConaughey is nothing more than a six-pack with a sexy smile? Check out his terrifying performance in this crazy and very dark comedy from William Friedkin.
Looper - Thanks to a little prosthetic help, an unrecognizable Joseph Gordon Levitt becomes a younger version of Bruce Willis in this twisty and satisfying time-travelling thriller.
Safety Not Guaranteed - A modest but sweet little film, and one with a terrific central premise: a man places an ad looking for a partner to go back in time with.
Laurence Anyways - 23-year-old Quebecois auteur Xavier Dolan made huge waves with his first two features and the ripples have continued with his third. He is easily Canada's brightest hope.
Your Sister's Sister - An indie, "mumblecore" take on the love triangle film, it features smart, realistic dialogue and wonderful performances from all three leads.
The Queen of Versailles - Yes, another documentary. A ridiculous, but extremely entertaining look at one of the richest couples in the States. When things unexpectedly take a downturn, things get even more fun!
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The kind folks at eOne Films have provided us with two copies of The Master on Blu-ray to give away, along with two copies of "The Cause Footpath" promotional news magazine. To enter, simply add a comment to this post with a brief description of who your "Master" is (feel free to be creative, as we're not looking for one answer). Please leave a valid email address in the comments field so that we can contact the winners.
Fine print: You must be a Toronto-area resident to win. Only one comment and answer per person. If you include multiple answers or post multiple comments you will be disqualified.