This week’s most prominent new release on Blu-Ray is Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” which saw Rock doing some soul-searching playing a comic actor who no longer wants to be funny (mission not accomplished). It’s also a solid romantic-comedy, with Rock giving Rosario Dawson her best role in some time (even if the film’s handle on how journalism works is a bit sketchy). It’s joined by the arthouse hit “Song of the Sea,” Irish animator Tomm Moore’s lovely follow-up to “The Secret of Kells.” Less worthwhile: Ridley Scott’s much-lambasted Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and last year’s remake of “Annie,” which all but totally cancels out the sincerity required to pull off the show by drowning it in smarmy self-awareness and desperate, flailing comic performances, with Cameron Diaz and Bobby Cannavale as the worst offenders.
It’s a bit quiet on the classic front, but Mill Creek Entertainment has a Blu-Ray of Orson Welles’ Brechtian noir “The Lady from Shanghai,” a must-see even as a studio-butchered cut (Welles’ dodgy Irish accent is all him, though). Kino Lorber has a release of Joan Micklin Silver’s drama “Hester Street,” which earned Carol Kane an Oscar-nomination for Best Actress, while Shout! Factory has a new Blu-Ray of “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.” Criterion’s new releases, meanwhile, include Francois Truffaut’s underrated “The Soft Skin” and Robert Montgomery’s “Ride the Pink Horse.”
Dwight Brown, The Huffington Post
Gluck’s direction is pretty kinetic. Scenes move along at a quick pace, and he seems to have a visual gimmick for each sequence. That said, there is nothing spectacular about his guidance; he lacks style, and the footage looks more fitting for the Family Channel and not what you’d expect from a major theatrical release. Read more.
As a whole, Scott’s version of this ancient tale feels oddly toothless — neither religious or secular viewers will find much substance beyond the basics of the spectacle in play. By contrast, Darren Aronofsky’s wildly uneven “Noah” looks like a visionary masterpiece — or at least an innovative attempt to shake up the familiar ingredients in play. By dialing down the imaginative potential of the story, Scott makes his narrative as appealing as a didactic Sunday school lecture. Read more.
Noel Murray, The Dissolve
Some of mythology in “Song Of The Sea” gets too wonky, and though the movie is packed with colorful characters, the actual story is a little straight and narrow. But just as the tales of Mac Lir and Macha serve as a parallel to Ben’s father and grandmother, so “Song Of The Sea” is both a fantasy and a reminiscence. Read more.
Sam Fragoso, Film School Rejects
Thankfully, our society longs for a great many things, one of those being Rock’s tireless persona. And that’s really the beautiful irony of “Top Five” – a film in which its protagonist insists he can no longer be funny that proceeds to make us laugh for 100 minutes. But at the heart of the film is a desperate plea for respect and consideration. Read more.