This week, we begin with a dream:
Rated R, 105 minutes.
Available Tuesday on DVD and
Blu-ray and in streaming formats.
The filmmaking team behind Little Miss Sunshine, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, directed this charming and witty romantic-comedy-fantasy written by Zoe Kazan.
In addition to her clever script, Kazan turns in an energetic performance as the titular character. The film has surprisingly much to say about various subjects, such as neglect, free will and, of course, dream fulfillment.
Paul Dano plays Calvin, a novelist struggling with writer’s block since his breakout book a decade earlier. He dreams about a woman and later commits her to paper, giving her the name Ruby Sparks. She appears from nowhere, equipped with a personality and a history.
Calvin must then verify Ruby’s existence to others, including his brother (Chris Messina), their New Age mother (Annette Bening) and her exuberant boyfriend (Antonio Banderas). Eventually, Ruby begins to dominate Calvin’s life, becoming real enough to be moody and to have all the annoying little quirks that can destroy a relationship. So, Calvin repeatedly tries to balance the traits of his flesh-and-blood fantasy.
Faris and Dayton allow for no self-conscious mugging or special-effects computer wizardry, relying instead on their story for effect. And, for the most part, that works fine.
The DVD includes a four-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, three minutes on the off-screen relationship of Kazan and Dano, and four minutes to warn you to “Be Careful What You Wish For.” The Blu-ray version also offers several additional supplements, so check labels.
Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (****1/2) Warner Home Video celebrates the 30th anniversary of perhaps the most influential film of the last 30 years. Following Blade Runner’s June 1982 release, many films from all genres took cues from director Ridley Scott’s stylish, dystopic vision of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.
Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a blade runner, hired to hunt down and kill escaped human replicants, until he meets beautiful Rachael (Sean Young). It’s a science-fiction love story with style, edge and attitude, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.
The film arrives in several versions and packages, with varying supplements (check labels) and running times. The comprehensive gift set includes the Final Cut on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as four other versions: 1992 Director’s Cut, domestic and international theatrical versions, and the workprint, only available once before.
Also included are more than 10 hours of bonus materials, including production photos taken from more than a thousand archival images, a 72-page booklet featuring new artwork, a lenticular collectible card, and even a “spinner” car replica.
Included in the various editions are deleted and alternate scenes and a massive three-and-a-half-hour “making of” documentary. Plus: other substantial featurettes on the graphic design, the novel compared to the film, the wardrobe, novelist Dick, screen tests and much more.
Rosemary’s Baby (****) Almost as influential as Blade Runner was Roman Polanski’s 1968 chilling urban twist on Faust.
Using suggestion, innuendo and a creeping sense of terror, Polanski plucked Method actor John Cassavetes to play a New York actor who makes a deal with the never-seen devil in exchange for career advancement. A constantly distraught Mia Farrow was never better as his wife, unknowingly pregnant with Satan’s spawn. Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon play the meddlesome neighbors, two ancient eccentrics who do their best to aid the devilish scheme.
Not rated, 136 minutes. The Criterion Collection’s new Blu-ray edition has been digitally restored with oversight from Polanski. It contains a 28-page booklet with an essay by Ed Park. Supplements include a new 11-minute “making of” featurette with interviews with Farrow, Polanski and producer Robert Evans. Plus: a 20-minute audio interview with source novelist Ira Levin, and a 71-minute documentary on Polanski’s musical collaborator Krzysztof Komeda.
The Campaign (**1/2) Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star as two candidates running for Congress in this entertaining yet silly comedy that plays to their strengths.
Cam Brady (Ferrell) is the four-time incumbent without a challenger in his safe North Carolina district when two wealthy brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) throw their money behind Marty Huggins (Zach G.), a nerdy family man unfamiliar with hard-core campaigning tactics.
The film takes what could be authentic campaign tricks and weaves several telling sequences around them. The more outrageous some of the sequences become, the more they become scary as well as funny.
Rated R. Theatrical version: 85 minutes. Extended cut: 96 minutes. The DVD also contains nine deleted scenes, a four-minute gag reel and the five-minute “Line-o-rama,” consisting mostly of Ferrell and Galifianakis running their lines repeatedly.
Americano (**) This odd psychological drama starts off compellingly but then bogs down enough to thwart any effect it might have achieved earlier. Mathieu Demy directs and stars in what is essentially a quest for roots.
Demy plays Martin, who learns of his mother’s death and then travels to Los Angeles from France to settle her estate and disburse her belongings. From there, he becomes inexplicably involved in Tijuana, Mexico, with Lola (Salma Hayek), a stripper at a sleazy bar, the Americano.
She may or may not have been a friend with Martin’s mother. Regardless, he becomes fixated with Lola, becoming a nuisance and virtually a stalker in trying to unravel the relationship. Alas, his efforts never amount to much.
Not rated, 106 minutes. The DVD also contains a nine-minute interview with Demy, the son of directors Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy.
Secret of the Wings Disney’s popular character Tinker Bell returns in this feature film filled with colorful CGI animation. Tinker joins her friends Rosetta, Silvermist, Vidia, Fawn, Iridessa and newcomer fairy Periwinkle. These warm-season fairies let their curiosity overwhelm them as they venture into the forbidding Winter Woods. With voices by Anjelica Huston, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone, Megan Hilty and others.
Rated G, 75 minutes. The DVD comes in all formats and various combo packs. Plus: music videos, various games and a bonus adventure.
Disasters Reconstructed: A History of Architectural Disasters Cable channel History has assembled various programs onto six discs focusing on some of the world’s best-known disasters, with the infamous Hindenburg explosion receiving extra scrutiny in three separate specials. The wreck of the Titanic also undergoes scrutiny, as does the nation’s infrastructure, as an inspector tours the country to establish what needs repairing (a lot).
Not rated, about 16 hours.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Copper: Season One, House of Dark Shadows, Safety Not Guaranteed.