Welcome to the first installment of Watch This Now!, our weekly look at what's new on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD.
The Wachowski/Twyker joint/flop/masterpiece "Cloud Atlas" finally comes home along with a Criterion disc for the classic Western "3:10 to Yuma"; meanwhile, with "Liz & Dick," Lindsay Lohan continues to prove that people will pay her to be in things (even if it's just for the spectacle of the actress waiting out a scene so she can do something else with her time).
The Wachowski's collaboration with "Run Lola, Run" director Tom Twyker was one of the most divisive releases of 2012, earning Razzie nominations while hitting other critics' "Best of" lists for the year (our own Eddie Wright fell in the latter camp).
A sprawling epic about love and death across time and stories, the Wachowski siblings and Twkyer were able to assemble an Oscar-bait cast including Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Jum Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon for a parade of makeup effects and some not-great accents. It's a big movie in the way that "Speed Racer" was a big movie in as much as the Wachowskis wanted to take a large canvass and tell an even larger, stranger story with it than the genre would allow.
Its failure at the box office and with some critics doesn't seem to have materially hurt the "Matrix" filmmakers (or Twyker, really, who'll be fine)--they're out there working on their next, "Jupiter Ascending," and the duo seem emboldened by the opportunity to try (and fail) big. At the rate it's going, "Cloud Atlas" might develop the same impassioned fanbase that "Speed Racer" has built up since its disastrous release.
Warner Bros. loaded up the Blu-ray with a collection of docs about the making of "Cloud Atlas" as well as the broader vision of the film behind the three filmmakers responsible for it.
The 1957 classic starring Glenn Ford gets the HD upgrade courtesy of Criterion. If you've seen the James Mangold remake, you're more or less familiar with the outline of the story: small-hand rancher Dan Evans (Van Heflin) escorts charismatic outlaw Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) to the nearest outpost so the latter can make the titular train and reach his appointment with the court (and likely, the hangman). Unfortunately, Wade's gang isn't too keen on this, stalking the duo across the back country in order to save their boss' life.
Criterion's disc includes a new transfer of the 92-minute film as well as interviews with Glenn Ford's son as well as Elmore Leonard, who penned the story upon which "3:10 To Yuma" is based. The release also includes a booklet with an essay from film critic Kent Jones.
They'll keep making these things if you keep seeing them.
This is the one where a young woman (Alexandra Daddario) inherits a moldy old house down in Texas, only to discover that part of her inheritance happens to sport a mask made of people faces. It happens.
I'm all for Leatherface getting some love from a new generation of fans, but at this point, not even Michael Bay's production company has the time or interest in making more prequels/sequels to Tobe Hooper's horror classic. Lionsgate has no such problems, though, setting "Takers" director John Luessenhop loose on what will either be known as the first 3D "Chainsaw" movie or Trey Songz's first 3D movie.
I'm not interested in either case (no offense, Mr. Songz).
Speaking of killers who've overstayed their welcome, the penultimate season of "Dexter" is out on home video this week in advance of the summer premiere of the Miami serial killer's final year on Showtime.
After the events of this finale (which I won't spoil here), the character has turned a corner that's kind of hard for him to come back from. Ditto, poor Deb. Actually, poor Jennifer Carpenter, whose strong, self-assured character has spent the last two seasons being pulled through the wringer (and this is someone who dated and was nearly killed by her brother's slightly more psychotic sibling).
As for the title character, I suspect that the "Dexter" showrunners have run out of things to say about Mr. Morgan. They've stretched out the addiction metaphor to the point where it's transparent, and Michael C. Hall's character has kind of been trapped and treading water for the last few years following Rita's murder. Dexter's flattened-out emotional state was great to watch for the first few years as we got to see a conflicted killer come into contact with actual human emotions and challenges--lately, though, it's just been keeping him one tiny, increasingly implausible step away from capture by the Miami police department. The final season will either see the character dead, in prison, or on the run, but whatever the case, I'm putting my money on Deb not making it out alive.
"Beware Mr. Baker" (DVD): Interviews with the prickly and self-destructive musician who's living out his days in a South African compound. A great look back at rock history via one of its most deeply unpleasant figures.
"Liz & Dick" (DVD): This purportedly awful Lifetime original movie proved that Lindsay Lohan still hasn't quite reached bottom in terms of either career choices or willingness to absolutely not care about what she's being paid to do onscreen. This and Stephen Rodrick's NY Times piece about his time on set with Lohan during the filming of Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" feel like the perfect snapshots of the actress right now.
"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" (DVD, Blu-ray): Roman Coppola directs Charlie Sheen in this absurd sex and relationships comedy about a graphic designer's fantasies and anxieties about the opposite sex. If you get a chance, check out Coppola's "CQ" which wasn't bad in as much as it took place around the filming of a stand-in for "Barbarella."