One of last year’s most divisive Oscar contenders hits Blu-Ray this week. Critics debated whether “Foxcatcher” was involving or too remote and whether Steve Carell’s Oscar-nominated role was effectively creepy or too mannered, but it’s still a major showcase for director Bennett Miller’s precise, icy style, and both Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum do fantastic work in it. The Terrence Malick-produced young Abe Lincoln drama “The Better Angels” is also available this week, along with Barry Levinson and Al Pacino’s “The Humbling,” Atom Egoyan’s ludicrous thriller “The Captive,” and “The Last of Robin Hood,” starring Kevin Kline as an aging Errol Flynn.
Classic releases this week are headlined by a pair of great MGM musicals. Vincente Minnelli’s glorious “The Band Wagon” sees the director at the height of his expressionistic powers, especially in a film noir musical tribute near the end. It’s also easily the best vehicle for Fred Astaire’s talents since he and Ginger Rogers parted ways. Joining “The Band Wagon” is the film adaptation of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate,” a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Aside from timeless Porter songs like “Too Darn Hot” and “Why Can’t You Behave,” the film is also being presented in 3D (as it was on its initial release), which ought to make the dancing during “From This Moment On” (featuring a young Bob Fosse) all the more exhilarating. The two are also available in Warner Bros. Musicals Collection box set with “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Calamity Jane” for less than the price of both discs combined
Guy Lodge, HitFix
To dismiss “The Better Angels” for its obviously derivative qualities, however, is to throw an awful lot of baby out with the sun-dappled bathwater. To start with, if the entire enterprise were nothing more than a Malick tribute act, it’d still be a pretty good one: Edwards and cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd have an eye for liquid, land-attuned composition that can’t be copied or faked. Shots convey perspective and psychology, not mere pictorial pleasure; there’s no vacant prettiness here. Read more.
Mike D’Angelo, The Dissolve
Peter Labuza, The Film Stage
Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
On the sliding scale of low expectations associated with the “I (may or may not have) slept with a famous person” biopic genre, “Robin Hood” is more smoothly professional and tolerable than the lowly likes of “My Week With Marilyn” or the JFK-adultery-soap opera “An American Affair.” Read more.