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This Week in Home Video: “Night Moves” and the Universal Monsters Collection

This Week in Home Video: "Night Moves" and the Universal Monsters Collection

The highlight of this week’s classic releases is only coming to DVD, but it’s a doozy: Universal Classic Monsters: The Complete 30-Film Collection gathers every film from the 1931-1956 classic Universal Horror series, from the evocative and moving “Bride of Frankenstein” to the “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” not to mention deep cuts like “Dracula’s Daughter” and “The Invisible Agent.” Those only looking for films from one monster can also pick up reissues of the Legacy Collections of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and more individually.

Those who just want the essentials in hi-definition can grab “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “Bride of Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man,” “The Mummy” and “The Invisible Man” though oddly not “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”) on Blu-Ray. Bonus: Universal is also releasing a Blu-Ray of their 1979 remake of “Dracula,” starring Frank Langella as a particularly debonair vampire count and Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing. Doubly of interest: that version is directed by none other than “Saturday Night Fever’s” John Badham. Slightly less high profile classic releases this week include more monsters and horror: the Blu-Ray release of the Drew Barrymore-starring Stephen King adaptation “Firestarter,” Wes Craven’s subtextually rich but textually dull “The People Under the Stairs,” and a pair of Godzilla Blu releases, one real good (“Destroy All Monsters”), one real bad (“Godzilla vs. Megalon”). 

On the new release front, the essential pick is Kelly Reichardt’s “Night Moves,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard as a trio of radical environmentalists dealing with the fall out of their decision to blow up a dam. That’s hitting Blu-Ray and DVD, as are the Ralph Steadman documentary “For No Good Reason,” the Kevin Costner behind-the-scenes football movie “Draft Day,” and David Wain’s “They Came Together,” a parody of romantic-comedies that’s too broadly pitched and not half as funny as his cult hit “Wet Hot American Summer,” but does feature a committed cast (headlined by Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd) and one instant-classic bit featuring Rudd at a bar (“…tell me about it”).  At any rate, they’re probably all better bets than  “Moms’ Night Out” or “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.”

More from the Criticwire Network:

“Draft Day”
Criticwire Average: B

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club

Insider narratives have to balance credibly arcane patter with the needs of the audience; ideally, part of the jargon serves as verbal music, enticing the viewer to want to figure out what the hell the characters are talking about. “Draft Day’s” script, however, is plagued by over-explanation, with characters continually stating things they should already know. Throughout, the movie repeats the same dialogue setup, with a character asking whether another character is familiar with some football fact or anecdote, hearing a variation on “yes,” and then telling it anyway. Read more.

“For No Good Reason”
Criticwire Average: C+

Stephen Whitty, NJ.com

At its best, the film shows us Steadman at work, an intricate, literally multi-layered process. Often he’ll start with an aimless splash of ink – and then look for an image within that Rorschach blot. Other times he’ll rub away splashes of paint to reveal other colors beneath, or manipulate Polaroid portraits into surreal visions. Less fascinating, though, are the glimpses here of Steadman’s friends and working colleagues. Scenes of William S. Burroughs add nothing (beyond the amazement that someone thought taking him target shooting was a good idea); Thompson comes off as little more than an angry drunk. It’s all as random, and unrevealing, as home movies. Read more.

“Night Moves”
Criticwire Average: B

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

It’s an explosive moment in more ways than one. In the wake of the action, the emphasis shifts from the characters’ drive to their increasingly paranoid mindsets. As the situation grows more complicated and their mutual trust begins to fray, “Night Moves” shifts into a taut look at the boundaries of extremism rather than its motivating principles. Read more.

“They Came Together”
Criticwire Average: B

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

That’s primarily the sort of humor you get throughout—low blows raised to the level of gut-busting art. Try not to guffaw at Christopher Meloni, one of many guest stars, shitting himself in a skintight superhero costume, or Rudd getting uncomfortably intimate with his suprisingly bootylicious bubbe. Wain is a great gag man but an indifferent storyteller: Even at their most scattershot, films like “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” work as straight narratives. Here, though, everyone involved seems above the rom-com conventions they’re satirizing, so anxious to get to each punch line that they let the connective tissue languish. You howl often but quickly forget why. Read more.

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