Blu Tuesday: The Informant!, The Damned United and The Vampire’s Assistant

There haven’t been many great Blu-ray titles released recently (at least, not enough worth discussing anyway), and while today’s selection is just as lackluster as those in past weeks, it’s been so long since my last post that I’ve finally decided to write one anyway After all, while many of these week’s releases likely won’t end up in your library, there’s a good chance you’ll want to catch them at least once before making up your mind.

“The Informant!” (Warner Bros.)

I’ve never been a very big fan of Steven Soderbergh’s work, so I was bit surprised at how much I enjoyed his latest effort. Though it didn’t get the attention it deserved during its theatrical release, “The Informant!” is the kind of whimsical dark comedy that Joel and Ethan Coen have been making for years. Granted, the lead character isn’t quite as memorable as anyone in their rogue’s gallery, but Matt Damon still delivers one of the best performances of his career as a schlubby biochemist who turns informant on the agricultural megacorp he works for. The supporting cast isn’t as strong as you’d hope, but between Damon’s hilarious turn as the real-life snitch, the whip-smart script from Scott Z. Burns, and the memorable score by veteran composer Marvin Hamlisch, there’s more than enough to love about this movie. Warner Bros. hasn’t included much in the way of special features, but the director commentary is definitely worth a listen, and the deleted scenes are fairly amusing.

“The Damned United” (Sony)

It may have only received a limited theatrical run in U.S., but for those looking for a solid drama with yet another great performance from Michael Sheen at the center, look no further than “The Damned United.” Based on the novel by David Peace about real-life football manager David Clough, the film follows Clough’s (Sheen) rise to the top of the English First Division with provincial side Derby County, only to see it all fade away due to a jealously-fueled rivalry with Leeds United manager Don Revie (an underused Colm Meaney). Though fans of the sport will likely enjoy “The Damned United” for the history lesson, football is merely the background setting to what is ultimately a very character-driven story. The actor-writer team of Sheen and Peter Morgan can seemingly do no wrong, because while it might be their first movie not to focus on politics (at least, not in the traditional sense, anyway), “The Damned United” is every bit as good.

“Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” (Universal)

Yet another movie based on a series of young adult novels, “The Vampire’s Assistant” is certainly no “Harry Potter,” and from a purely vampire-themed angle, no “Twilight” either. Though the story, about a teenager (Chris Massoglia) who becomes indebted to a mysterious vampire (John C. Reilly) after he saves his friend’s life, is actually rife with potential for a continuing franchise (especially when you factor in the cast that makes up the titular Cirque Du Freak), the movie is hampered by a remarkably bad performance from its young star. I’m not exactly sure what director Paul Weitz saw in the kid, because he’s so dull and unappealing that he sucks the life out of nearly every scene. Reilly at least makes the movie watchable, and Willem Dafoe has good fun in his brief role as a fellow vampire, but unless they plan on recasting the lead, this is one book-based franchise without much of a future.

Also Out This Week:

“Sorority Row” (Sony)
“The Box” (Warner Bros.)
“Nurse Jackie: Season One” (Lionsgate)
“Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” (Warner Bros.)

  

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