This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Steven Soderbergh's first all-out action film; Martin Scorsese's revealing portrait of George Harrison; a classic from the Golden Age; the latest from the director of "No Man's Land"; and Madonna's Oscar-nominated misfire "W.E."
For a director who claims to be nearing retirement, Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh shows no signs of slowing down. His action spy thriller "Haywire," starring MMA superstar Gina Carano (who Indiewire profiled) came out this spring and hits DVD/Blu-ray today; "Magic Mike," his all-star male stripper comedy is opening this summer; and he's set to shoot two films this year — the thriller "The Bitter Pill" starring Rooney Mara, and his long-in-the-works Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra"; — and last September saw him release his answer to the disaster movie, "Contagion."
"Haywire" finds Soderbergh mining a striking debut performance from Carano, a first-time actress with a mean left hook. In the thriller, Carano plays Mallory Kane, a freelance covert operative who gets double crossed and does everything in her power (namely, killing a bunch of men) to clear her name. Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender round out the cast.
"Pummeling forward from its first diner-set fight scene to a sweeping final showdown on the beach, 'Haywire' is a literal blast," wrote Eric Kohn in his review. We couldn't agree more. Watch this one with the speakers turned up and the lights dimmed low.
Go HERE for our interview with Soderbergh.
Extras: Included are two featurettes — one that shows the extensive traning Carano underwent to become an action heroine; and another on the men of "Haywire." Also included in the Blu-ray package is a digital copy of the film.
#2. "George Harrison: Living in the Material World"
Fans of The Beatles will not want to miss this one. Directed by Martin Scorsese, "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" is the definitive documentary on the enigmatic band member (its clocks in at a robust three-and-a-half hours). Featuring interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Phil Spector, George Martin, Neil Aspinall, Yoko Ono, Terry Gilliam and Tom Petty, "George Harrison" touches upon the important milestones of the legend's career, while giving surprising insight into the songwriter's spiritual beliefs.
Extras: True fans will want to seek out the deluxe edition of the release, which includes: 2 DVDs; a Blu-ray; a CD featuring some of Harrison's demos; and a 96 page book on his life. Special features on the DVD and Blu-ray include additional interviews with many of the film's subjects that didn't make the theatrical cut.
#3. "Bird of Paradise: Kino Classics Edition"
The 1932 black-and-white exotic romance "Bird of Paradise," gets a second life with a gorgeous restoration for DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Classics. The Golden Age classic, directed by King Vidor ("Duel in the Sun") and featuring a score by legendary composer Max Steiner ("King Kong," "Gone With the Wind."), centers on Johnny (Joel McCrea), an adventuous young sailor who falls in love with the daughter of an island chief following an accident at sea that leaves him stranded. Their bond is tested when Johnny's young love is put up for sacrifice by a neighboring island to appease the gods.
From Academy Award winner Danis Tanovic ("No Man's Land") comes this touching festival favorite about war and its consequences. Set in 1991, when the communists have fallen from power in Bosnia, "Cirkus Columbia" centers on Divko Buntic, a man who returns to his hometown after a 20-year exile in Germany, to rekindle his relationship to a son he's never met.
Extras: The film's theatrical trailer, along with trailers of other Strand Releasing titles.
The critics were right for the most part; Madonna's misguided "W.E." is a misfire for the Material Girl. But it's also an admirably ambitious one, and one's that undeniably looks great (there's a reason the film was nominated for Best Costume Design at this year's Academy Awards). In the romance, Andrea Riseborough gives a commanding turn as Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) gave up the throne. Abbie Cornish also makes a strong impression as Wally Winthrop, an unhappily married New Yorker who finds solace in the famous affair between the two, sixty years after the fact. For curiosity's sake alone, we advise you to give "W.E." a go.
Go HERE for our interview with Madonna.
Extras: Included is a featurette on the making of "W.E."