On this day in movie world, those of us that only like to see movies in our living rooms will finally get to see “Babies,” Winterbottom’s controversial “The Killer Inside Me,” “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky,” Sundance genre standout “Frozen,” “War Don Don” on HBO, and “The Thin Red Line” in a Criterion Collection package.
Thomas Balmès’s “Babies” (criticWIRE rating: B-), a huge documentary hit for Focus Features, gets a DVD release this week. Our own Eric Kohn, says of the project, “The celebration of new life in “Babies,” a documentary about four newborns around the world, almost makes the project worthwhile—but not quite.” He continues, “Neither scientific nor conventionally ethnographic, “Babies” begins with an epic philosophical declaration in visual terms: Balmès displays the title in a high angle shot of crowded city streets, signaling the beginning of an all-inclusive origin story. At that point, the seemingly unending montage begins. Unsurprisingly, the babies do the sorts of things expected of them—meaning that they crawl, drool, feed, cry, sleep, and repeat the process until the credits roll.”
As we eagerly anticipate the release of Terrence Malick’s new film, the Criterion Collection gives us something to hold us over. The collection is releasing Malick’s 1998 war film “The Thin Red Line” today. The film adaptation of James Jones’s autobiographical novelization of his time at the WWII conflict at Guadalcanal. Movieline‘s Michael Atkinson notes that the disc includes interviews with the film’s cast, casting director, and editors that, contrary to rumors, “Malick never intended to make a straight-on war film, no matter what his huge original screenplay said.” The set also includes scenes with some of the film’s cut-out actors, which include Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortenson, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, Lukas Haas, and Mickey Rourke.
Critics were divided on Michael Winterbottom’s Jessica Alba and Casey Affleck-starrer, “The Killer Inside Me” (cirticWIRE rating: C+). Allison Willmore, for IFC, glows, “Michael Winterbottom’s “The Killer Inside Me” is a pedal-to-the-floor, broken-bottle-to-the-throat adaptation of a novel of the same name by Jim Thompson, the darkest and pulpiest dark pulp writer of them all.” On the other hand, The Nashville Scene‘s Jim Ridley notes, “the movie’s boring and its company starts to feel like torture. The closest Winterbottom gets to Thompson’s bilious humor is a cheery tune from Ford’s [(Affleck)] real-world comrade in psychosis, Western-swing woman killer Spade Cooley.”
On Jan Kounen’s “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (criticWIRE rating: B-), Kohn says, “The second movie released in a year’s time to involve fashion designer maven Coco Chanel, the brooding drama “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” delivers its goods on constant repeat. A fictionalization of the rumored liaison between Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) and the famed Russian composer (Mads Mikkelsen) in the 1920s, this spare, elegantly-made period piece creates a visually dazzling portrait of misguided passion.”
HBO has two new docs on its slate this week. Wednesday, HBO premieres “War Don Don,” the story of Issa Essay, who is being prosecuted for war crimes in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Next Monday, October 4, Nicolas Entel’s “Sins of My Father” premieres on the network. “Father” tells the story of the son of Pablo Escobar, the boss of the leading Colombian drug cartel.
Also on DVD this week are: Adam Green’s “Frozen” (criticWIRE rating: C+); Laura Poitras’s “The Oath” (profiled in last week’s column, when the film debuted on POV; criticWIRE rating: B+); Oscilloscope’s 50th anniversary release of Jules Dassin’s “The Law,” their first classic film release; Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman’s look at the music backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, “Soundtrack for a Revolution;” and the Hollywood hits “Iron Man 2” and “Get Him to the Greek.” On VOD, “Cemetery Junction,” from the UK “Office” duo of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant is available now.