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This Week in Home Video: ‘The Immigrant,’ ‘A Most Violent Year’

This Week in Home Video: 'The Immigrant,' 'A Most Violent Year'

It’s a slow week for new
DVD and Blu-Ray releases, but there are a few gems here and there. First and
foremost is the Blu-Ray release of James Gray’s “The Immigrant,” one of last
year’s best films, in the director’s cut that, Gray told Hammer to Nail’s Michael Tully, was responsible for the film getting a lackluster theatrical release and long-delayed home video release. (Harvey Weinstein doesn’t like directors who don’t take notes.) A gorgeous melodrama that recalls the best of Roberto Rossellini
and Francis Ford Coppola, the film features a career-best performance from
Marion Cotillard as an immigrant woman coerced into prostitution; Cotillard
displays deep shame, resilience and pride all at once, preventing her character
from ever falling into rote victim territory, and her co-stars Joaquin Phoenix
(as her pathetic, lovesick pimp) and Jeremy Renner (as his scoundrel cousin)
are equally strong.

Also on Blu this week is
J.C. Chandor’s Lumet-esque crime drama “A Most Violent Year,” which features a
terrific slow-burning performance from Oscar Isaac that’s earned comparisons to
early Al Pacino. Ryan Reynolds stars in “The Voices,” a nutzoid black comedy
about a serial killer convinced by his pets to murdr. Either is a better bet
than “Home Sweet Hell,” in which Katharine Heigl and Patrick Wilson try to turn
in a darkly comic portrayal of marriage but end up in ugly, misogynistic
territory. 

On the classic front,
Universal has a release of both the 1934 and 1959 versions of “Imitation of
Life” on one disc; the latter is one of Douglas Sirk’s finest melodramas.
Universal also has new discs of the sci-fi classics “Silent Running” and
“Journey to the Far Side of the Sun.” Shout Factory has Blus of both Jim
McBride’s underrated, Richard Gere-starring 1983 remake of “Breathless” and the
Robert Mitchum-smuggling-moonshine thriller “Thunder Road,” while their sister
label Scream Factory has a release of Tobe Hooper’s “Invaders from Mars.”
Warner Bros. has a pair of Burt Reynolds movies (“Hooper” and “Sharky’s
Machine”) and three rock-and-roll
centric comedies (“Empire Records,” “Detroit Rock City” and Cameron Crowe’s
“Singles”). Finally, Anchor Bay is releasing a Blu-Ray of “For the Boys,” a
sentimental WWII-set drama about USO performers that earned Bette Midler one of
the most baffling Best Actress nominations in Oscar history (her co-nominees:
winner Jodie Foster for “The Silence of the Lambs,” Geena Davis and Susan
Sarandon in “Thelma & Louise,” and Laura Dern in “Rambling Rose”). 

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

“The Immigrant”

Criticwire Average: B+

Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

Gray does many small
things to bring the era to life – the burlesque routines and magic shows alone
are a marvel of period fetishism – and “The Immigrant” does more than enough to
justify its title, which suggests that Ewa’s story is one of many tales of woe
a first-generation American might tell. But what really sets “The Immigrant”
apart is how urgent it feels. Read more. 

“A Most Violent Year”

Criticwire Average: A-

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Chandor brings this
intrigue to a marvelously slow boil, turning up the heat on Abel a degree at a
time until his principles are in a puddle at his feet. There are a couple of
exciting set pieces, including a superb chase sequence in which Abel pursues
one of the hijackers along some train tracks, but “A Most Violent Year” is
primarily interested in detailing the ways in which moral gray areas inevitably
shade into true darkness. Read more. 

“The Voices”

Criticwire Average: B+ 

Matt Prigge, Metro

“The Voices” is almost
consistently a bright colored, sarcastic and pitch-black comedy that gets a lot
of yuks from a surly cat with a Scottish accent. But there’s a sadness to it –
a melancholy in the way its characters try to eke on in discouraging surroundings
that offer little life and fun. Read
more.

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