New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:36AM
NEW THIS WEEK
PG-13 for mature thematic content involving sexuality
Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep, Steve Carell
An intelligent and occasionally painful adult drama with a not-entirely-compatible overlay of comic trappings, “Hope Springs” is a somewhat odd emotional hybrid that doesn’t entirely live up to its promise. Yet the promise is rich enough, and comes close enough to being fulfilled, for it to qualify as one of the most thoughtful and provocative films of the year. Dour, grumbling hubby Arnold (Jones) would probably be content to ride out his all-but-dead 31-year marriage to his grave but desperately lonely, under-appreciated wife Kay (Streep). She has a different plan: to drag Arnold, grousing all the way, into a week of intensive couples therapy. The best thing about this is the way Jones and Streep and Carell (playing it entirely straight as their therapist) work their way through the often-excruciating therapeutic process. If there’s a problem here, it comes from the fairly clear suggestion by Jones that Arnold has some sort of deep-seated problem that needs to be addressed — though the script never suggests what that may be. Instead, we’re asked to accept a facile and somewhat vague moment of truth leading to an emotional resolution that isn’t honestly earned. Jones and Streep make the whole thing work, though, for the most part, and the whole thing feels worthwhile, if only because of the rare reminder it offers, that even when it comes to love, it’s not over ‘til it’s over. Special features include commentary with director David Frankel, a gag reel, featurettes, and alternate takes.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
The final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s billion-dollar “Batman” trilogy has all the spectacle a $250-million budget can buy. Unfortunately, though, a soul-weary superhero (Bale) and an equally impassive and phlegmatic super-villain (Hardy) keep the bat-drama from clicking until the final act, which concludes the film and the series on a fairly satisfying note. Above all, it’s clear now that Heath Ledger’s flamboyant turn as The Joker had much to do with the success of “The Dark Knight” as an entertainment. You can destroy stuff as much as you like in a movie like this, blow up bridges, football stadiums, even threaten to set off an atomic bomb, but if the hero doesn’t get excited about it, or the villain, or somebody, why should we?
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality
Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Gina Montana
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Caméra d’Or at Cannes, this debut feature by young New Orleans writer/director Benh Zeitlin is every bit as baffling as it is visually dazzling, but if you have an appetite for adventurous fare, don’t miss it. A sort of free-floating, stream-of-consciousness rumination on life by its five-year-old motherless heroine Hushpuppy (Wallis, a truly fierce and fascinating presence), “Beasts of the Southern Wild” kind of, sort of tells the story of her crazy, terminally ill, perpetually drunken father (Henry) and their down and out neighbors in a rag-tag squatter’s community on the seaward side of a levee — and what happens to them after a hurricane destroys their homes and kills off their food supply.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN
A childless couple (Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton) are mystified, but delighted, when a young boy sprouts from their garden after an evening of intense wishing. Even when they discover the kid has leaves on his legs. Peter Hedges (“About a Boy,” “Dan in Real Life”) co-wrote and directed the fantasy. Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language. Extras include deleted scenes, commentary and a music video by Glen Hansard.
Pixar’s 2003 animated classic about a clownfish (Albert Brooks) in search of his captured son, makes its Blu-ray debut with three- and five-disc special-edition packaging. Extras include an HD Aquarium, filmmakers’ roundtable discussion, a lesson in flashbacks, an HD art review, outtakes, deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
This three-disc set features five episodes of the PBS series, featuring the facts about a Fender Stratocaster that may have been used by Bob Dylan at the ’65 Newport Folk Festival, autographs supposedly signed by The Beatles during their 1964 US tour, and a Woolworth sign that may have been an onlooker during the 1960 Winston-Salem lunch counter sit-ins and more.
MEN IN BLACK 3
PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content
Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement
Despite production problems including working the script out as they went along, basically, this sequel, 10 years later, touches all the sci-fi action-comedy bases in a sufficiently entertaining manner to satisfy fans. Smith and Jones return as bickering feds charged with keeping unruly alien visitors in line, including recent lunar prison escapee Boris the Animal (Clement, barely recognizable under Rick Baker’s creature effects), who plans to jump back to the ’60s and kill young K (nicely played by Brolin), who previously prevented Boris’s relatives from invading — thus re-setting history. The best thing about it, though? Smith’s wise-guy reaction to ’60s scenes like Andy Warhol’s Factory — and old-school racism. Extras include numerous featurettes including “The Evolution of Cool,” four scene progressions, five progression reels, a gag reel, commentary with director Frankel, and an alternate-takes gallery.