During its theatrical release, Leonard Maltin called Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” (criticWIRE rating: B), which heads to DVD and Blu-Ray today, a “major disappointment.” He centers most of his critique on the film’s twist, saying “I felt as if I’d been led through a labyrinthine shaggy-dog story only to arrive at a meaningless punchline.” But not everyone agrees. Rob Nelson, who gave the film an A on criticWIRE, said on Moving Image Source, “‘Shutter Island’—unlike Scorsese’s ‘Cape Fear’—isn’t principally an exercise in cleverly telegraphed allusion or even in horror. Indeed, acting more Kubrickian than ever, the director (who also co-produced the film) uses the promise of horror—of another ‘Cape Fear,’ really—to subvert expectations as thoroughly as did ‘The Shining,’ wherein Kubrick offered nothing terribly supernatural besides the twin horrors of parenthood and writer’s block.”
Two other recent specialty releases come home today: the doc “Oceans” and Emily Abt’s 2009 Sundance entry “Toe to Toe.” Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud’s “Oceans” (criticWIRE rating: B-) heads underwater to document the life underneath the stuff that covers three quarters of the Earth. Abt’s “Toe to Toe” (criticWIRE rating: B+) was called by our own Steve Ramos as exemplary of the “New Obama Cinema.” Writing on the film, which follows an interracial high school friendship in Washington, DC, Ramos said, “Abt moves us with her storytelling, and as a welcome bonus, makes us think; quite an achievement for someone making their feature drama debut.”
In celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride month and the films’ twenty-fifth anniversary, First Run Features is releasing a box set of “Before Stonewall” and “After Stonewall,” which chart the LGBT political movement before and after featuring both films and extra scenes with people like Barney Frank and Allen Ginsburg. FilmBuff is celebrating LGBT pride with several VOD releases on iTunes: “The Times of Harvey Milk,” “Gay Sex in the 70s,” “Trembling Before G-d,” “Training Rules,” and “The Lost Coast.”
Canadian filmmaker Brett Leung’s HIV/AIDS documentary “House of Numbers,” which claims to work on rewriting the HIV/AIDS story, is currently available on cable VOD, Amazon VOD, and iTunes. Coming out of the catalogue this week are two box sets: TCM’s collection of the Chinese-American detective character often played by white actors, Charlie Chan, and Universal’s “Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection.” Also coming home is a DVD of a performance of Monty Python’s “Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy),” their oratorio based on “Life of Brian.” A collection of animated shorts, “Animation Express,” including the Oscar nominated “Madame Tutli-Putli” and the Genie Award winning “Sleeping Betty.” Also on DVD: the sixth and final season of “Nip/Tuck,” the Philippine punk film “Squatterpunk,” and the John Travolta/Jonathan Rhys-Meyers-starrer “From Paris with Love.” And the title of the week: “The 41 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall And Felt Superbad About It” comes out on DVD today.
Bryce J. Renninger, an indieWIRE contributor in the New York office, is also the shorts programmer for Newfest and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Media Studies at Rutgers University. He can be reached via Twitter.