The Blu-ray community is positively obsessed with the technical specs of every high-def release, but that doesn’t mean you should only invest in movies that make the most of that technology. While there are some titles this week that look and sound great because of it, there are a few others that still belong in your collection – even if they don’t exactly benefit from the enhanced audio and video that Blu-ray delivers.
With each passing year, the Academy Awards become easier and easier to predict. There are so many awards given out by different organizations before the big night that by the time it finally arrives, the race has already been won. This year was a little different – Sean Penn stole the Best Actor prize when the Academy decided to make a political statement following the passing of Proposition 8, even if that meant denying comeback kid and frontrunner Mickey Rourke from completing the collection – but that shouldn’t take anything away from Rourke’s touching performance as an aging professional wrestler. Though the movie is pretty simple in terms of story and filmmaking (especially considering Darren Aronofsky is the one behind the camera), “The Wrestler” is a must-have for anyone searching for a good American drama. The included bonus features aren’t particularly enticing (the lack of a commentary is the biggest offense), but for a movie as gritty as this, it sure looks good in HD.
Another film that’s dependent almost entirely on the strength of its performances, “Frost/Nixon” was one of the 2008’s best movies, but you wouldn’t know it from the little attention it did receive during awards season. Ron Howard is the kind of director who isn’t as talented as the material he’s working with, but he sure knows how to pick a good story. Based on the Tony Award-winning play of the same name (which was in turn based on David Frost’s famous series of interviews with then former president Richard Nixon), “Frost/Nixon” blazes through its tension-filled 122-minute runtime so fast that you almost forget to breathe. Constructed like a boxing match where the opponents take jabs at each other with words instead of punches, Peter Morgan’s script is filled with the kind of dialogue-heavy scenes that you’d expect to find in a stage play, but wouldn’t expect to work as well on film. Remarkably, it does, but without Frank Langella and Martin Sheen in the lead roles, “Frost/Nixon” wouldn’t be quite as captivating. Add to that some pretty cool extras, and you’re looking at one of the unlikeliest films to prosper on Blu-ray.
Hands down one of my favorite films of 2005, Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” not only pioneered the green screen movement, but also proved that not all comic movies had to follow PG-13 guidelines. While we all wait for the rumored sequels (hopefully which will be shot back-to-back), Miramax has finally released the original film on Blu-ray with sharper video and sound, and a few exclusive extras that make it well worth the upgrade. The Kill ‘Em All “interactive” game is fun the first time around, but the real highlight is the all-new, picture-in-picture Cine-Explore feature that incorporates the movie, behind-the-scenes footage, original art and an audio commentary with directors Rodriguez and Frank Miller into the ultimate viewing experience. This is what Blu-ray was made for and is a crowning example as to why the format is the future of home video.
Also Out This Week: