This week on Blu-ray/DVD: The film that finally netted Gary Oldman an Oscar nomination; a 1993 documentary that’s more timely than ever; a terrifying outdoor thriller; the more brutal cousin to “The Hunger Games;” and David Fincher’s latest.
#1. Critic’s Pick: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (Blu-ray/DVD)
“Let the Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson made one hell of a smooth transition to English-language filmmaking with “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” In addition to generating solid indie box-office business, sterling critical acclaim and new respect for the color brown, it received three Academy Award nominations, including a first-ever for its star, Gary Oldman.
Based on John le Carre’s bestselling psychological thriller, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” stars Oldman as George Smiley, an espionage veteran who comes out of semi-retirement to help uncover a Soviet mole in MI6’s ranks.
“Oldman’s solemn, fixed expression registers a tremendous degree of complexity, especially in light of his character’s trained ability to remain withdrawn,” wrote Eric Kohn in his review. “There’s a real person beneath his scheming visage, but the trick of the movie is that even the camera can’t quite push beneath it. He’s a brilliant walking enigma.”
Go HERE for our report of Oldman’s talk at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Extras: Alfredson and Oldman offer their insights on the production and style of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” in an informative audio commentary. Also includes 57 minutes of interviews with cast, crew and author John Le Carre, a “First Look” featurette and a few deleted scenes.
#2. “The War Room” (Blu-ray/DVD)
With the presidential election not that far ahead, there’s never been a better time to revisit “The War Room,” Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s seminal documentary on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. The film looks like new thanks to a fantastic high-digital transfer courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
Go HERE for our recent interview with the filmmakers.
Extras: Criterion can always be counted on to offer great supplements to their discs. Included: The 2008 documentary “Return to the War Room,” which reflects on how the 1992 Clinton war room affected later campaigns; behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film; an interview with strategist Stanley Greenberg; and a panel discussion featuring James Carville, Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, journalist Ron Brownstein and Clinton himself.
#3. “Battle Royale” (Blu-ray/DVD)
Before you see “The Hunger Games” this weekend, check out the Japanese, family-unfriendly film that bears a striking resemblance to the sure-to-be blockbuster. Set in the near future, where unemployment and juvenile crime have soared, “Battle Royale” imagines a world where 9th graders are forced to kill each other on a remote island in an effort to keep youth under a tight grip. Unlike in “The Hunger Games,” each death in “Battle Royale” is brutally depicted. The beloved cult shocker is getting a Blu-ray/DVD re-release, timed to “The Hunger Games” hitting theaters this Friday.
Extras: Included is a making-of featurette; a press conference with the cast and crew before the original film’s release; audition and rehearsal footage; special effects tests; trailers; TV spots; and more.
#4. “A Lonely Place to Die” (Blu-ray/DVD)
Melissa George (“Alias”) gives a stellar turn in this first-rate outdoors suspense yarn about a group of good-looking of mountaineers facing off against cold-blooded killers. The story centers on five pals on vacation in the Scottish Highlands. When they come across a young schoolgirl trapped beneath the ground, a pair of gun-toting kidnappers come out of the woodwork to wreak havoc.
“At its best, Julian Gilbey’s enjoyably fast-paced excursion harkens back to the character-driven American action vehicles of the late ’80s and early ’90s, including ‘Cliffhanger’ and ‘Die Hard,’ wrote Kohn in his review. “At times, it even outdoes those movies with the skillful execution of its speediest moments.”
Extras: The disc contains a 70-minute making-of documentary; an audio commentary by director Julian Gilbey and writer Will Gilbey; and a featurette about the challenges of shooting in the Highlands.
#5. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (Blu-ray/DVD)
Academy Award-nominee Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”) gives one hell of a breakout turn in David Fincher’s acclaimed adaptation of the Swedish bestseller. The film wasn’t the runaway success at the domestic box-office that Sony Pictures had probably hoped for, but don’t let that stop you from catching the ambitious opus from the comfort of your own home. Fincher and Mara pull no punches in this scorcher.
“It isn’t just a thriller or an action flick; it feels resonant, full of implications that you talk about afterwards,” Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman told Indiewire in our Critical Consensus of the film.
Extras: Not only does the disc contain Fincher’s entertaining and informative commentary, but featurettes also tap all aspects of the production from Mara’s casting to adapting the novel, to dressing Daniel Craig’s character to shooting in Sweden. And that’s only the beginning. You can seriously spend hours with this thing. And to top it off, there’s an Ultraviolet Digital Copy.
[Devin Fuller contributed to this article.]