DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

New Releases: August 16, 2011

Add Comment 19 August 2011 by Christian Toto
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biglebowskibluray.pngJeff Bridges may finally have an Oscar to call his own, but for many movie audiences he‘ll always be best known as The Dude.

The Big Lebowski makes its Blu-ray debut this week in a smart book-style package complete with bonus footage sure to be dissected at the next Lebowski Fest.

Bridges plays Jeffrey Lebowski, or the Dude to his friends, a stoner/slacker mistaken for a millionaire by two very dumb thugs. They rough him up and desecrate his rug, setting off a series of events that drag the Dude's combustible bowling partner (John Goodman) into the fray. It's a fever dream only the Coen brothers could concoct, but for all its delirium it can't measure up to the duo's best gonzo comedy, Raising Arizona. Goodman's riotous turn is aging beautifully, but it's Bridges who holds this heaping helping of nonsense together. He's the Zen-like center of this comic storm, his beard perpetually stained by the Caucasian (White Russian) in his hand.

And those classic "Lebowski" lines remain razor-tipped, from Goodman insisting, "I don't roll on shabbos," to Bridges warning someone, "hey, careful man, there's a beverage here."

A musty "making of" feature reveals how Bridges "duded" up for each scene. He rubbed his knuckles over his eyes to mimic the redness associated with smoking pot. A fresher mini-doc"The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later"lets the cast share memories of the cult hit.

"Critics didn't know what to make of it," says co-star Steve Buscemi of the initial media reaction to the film. John Turturro knows the feeling.

"It's taken me many years to ‘get' the film," Turturro confesses, adding he still gets all kinds of sex mail from both men and women for his sexually charged way of polishing his bowling ball in the film.

* * *

The latest screen incarnation of Jane Eyre cranks up the gothic trappings of the classic costume drama.

Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) stars as Jane, a woman with a tortured past who finds solace working as a governess. Her benefactor, the mysterious Rochester (Michael Fassbender), finds young Jane beguiling. They may live in very distinct social strata, but it's the way Jane holds her head high that enchants him. But even if they can bridge the cultural divide between them a dark secret may still shatter their potential love.

Wasikowska's Jane Eyre is no pushover. She melts whenever Fassbender's character draws near, but it takes some doing to shake her steely resolve. The talented young thesps give the timeless tale a freshness the story sorely needs.

Judi Dench provides stellar support as a fellow Rochester employee, a woman who wants to shield Jane from the pain she fears she cannott avoid.

The Blu-ray presentation features deleted scenes, a commentary track featuring director Cary Fukunaga, a segment breaking down the film's haunting score and "A Look Inside Jane Eyre."

The latter, a brief peek behind the film's creation, is more flash than substance but does let Wasikowska share why her character endures through a number of screen retellings.

"Jane is timeless ... you get the sense if she were to live in our society today, she would just thrive. She's so tough and strong," the actress says.

"The Mysterious Light of Jane Eyre" segment is even skimpier, content wise, letting cast and crew dissect what separates Charlotte Bronte's classic story from other period pieces.

* * *

Today‘s rom-coms are cursed with contrived situations and spark-free pairings.

For a while Something Borrowed appears to defy the genre's low expecations. But the more the plot zooms into focus, the more Borrowed becomes yet another lackluster romance.

Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Rachel, a lawyer whose outrageous galpal Darcy (Kate Hudson) is about to marry a man Rachel adored for years. Turns out Dex (Colin Egglesfield) also once held a torch for Rachel, and when the two admit their feelings weeks before the wedding an illicit affair ensues. Is this true love, or simply a way for Rachel to break her best friend's heart?

Something Borrowed may be a paint by numbers affair, but the first half glides by on the power of its simple, yet potent plot. John Krasinski supplies the "com" part of the equation as the only clear-thinking character around.

Then, the romantic subplots start to bubble over, and it becomes clear Something Borrowed hasn't the faintest idea how real people might react in this situation.

Hudson turns on the charm as the self-absorbed Darcy, but the screenplay neglects to share why Rachel would spend five minutes in her company, let alone choose her as a life-long friend.

The Blu-ray extras include a perfunctory gag reel, and "Something ... Old?" a refreshing look at aging from the film‘s cast. Rachel's 30th birthday party kicks off the film, and Goodwin shares why turning the big 3-0 in real life meant saying goodbye to youthful dreams, no matter how silly they may be.

"It's too late for me to go to space camp," Goodwin admits.

Jeff Bridges may finally have an Oscar to call his own, but for many movie audiences he‘ll always be best known as The Dude.

The Big Lebowski makes its Blu-ray debut this week in a smart book-style package complete with bonus footage sure to be dissected at the next Lebowski Fest.

Bridges plays Jeffrey Lebowski, or the Dude to his friends, a stoner/slacker mistaken for a millionaire by two very dumb thugs. They rough him up and desecrate his rug, setting off a series of events that drag the Dude's combustible bowling partner (John Goodman) into the fray. It's a fever dream only the Coen brothers could concoct, but for all its delirium it can't measure up to the duo's best gonzo comedy, Raising Arizona. Goodman's riotous turn is aging beautifully, but it's Bridges who holds this heaping helping of nonsense together. He's the Zen-like center of this comic storm, his beard perpetually stained by the Caucasian (White Russian) in his hand.

And those classic "Lebowski" lines remain razor-tipped, from Goodman insisting, "I don't roll on shabbos," to Bridges warning someone, "hey, careful man, there's a beverage here."

A musty "making of" feature reveals how Bridges "duded" up for each scene. He rubbed his knuckles over his eyes to mimic the redness associated with smoking pot. A fresher mini-doc"The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later"lets the cast share memories of the cult hit.

"Critics didn't know what to make of it," says co-star Steve Buscemi of the initial media reaction to the film. John Turturro knows the feeling.

"It's taken me many years to ‘get' the film," Turturro confesses, adding he still gets all kinds of sex mail from both men and women for his sexually charged way of polishing his bowling ball in the film.

 

Tags: Jane Eyre, Something Borrowed, The Big Lebowski
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