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This Week in Home Video: ‘A Most Wanted Man,’ ‘Man of the West’

This Week in Home Video: 'A Most Wanted Man,' 'Man of the West'

Viewers who haven’t caught up with one of the last performances of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman have a chance this week with the DVD and Blu-Ray release of “A Most Wanted Man.” Based on the novel by John le Carre, the film also features careful, precise direction by Anton Corbijn and strong supporting performances by Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams, but Hoffman’s quiet, controlled work as a mysterious yet humane German espionage agent is yet another reminder that Hoffman was one of the finest actors of his time.

Other new releases on DVD this week include “The Dog,” a documentary about the man whose life inspired “Dog Day Afternoon;” “Maleficent,” the Angelina Jolie vehicle that can’t quite match its revisionist ambitions; the mind-bender “The One I Love,” starring Elisabeth Moss and Jay Duplass as a struggling married couple; the not-bad Dwayne Johnson vehicle “Hercules;” the road-trip through Iceland movie “Land Ho!” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” in which Peter Jackson continues to drain any goodwill left over by turning into George Lucas.

Classic releases this week are highlighted by the Kino Studio Classics release of Anthony Mann’s “Man of the West,” one of the director’s finest westerns. Star Gary Cooper can’t quite match James Stewart’s fury as a Mann lead, but there’s something inherently powerful in watching the symbol of American stoicism thrown into bleaker context, essentially “A History of Violence Goes West.” Another big release this week is William Peter Blatty’s underrated “The Ninth Configuration,” a film that volleys back and forth between farce and philosophy, dark comedy and outright horror.

Finally, Universal is releasing a boatload of films in limited edition steelbook designs, all featuring nifty illustrated covers. No need to rush out if you already have them, but if you don’t, the new releases include “Psycho,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Blues Brothers,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” Scarface,” The Big Lebowski” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

“The Dog”
Criticwire Average: B+

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Wisely, the documentary (several years in the shaping) doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time on the failed robbery, instead moving on to Wojtowicz’s seedy second act, in which he tried to extend his 15 minutes of fame. Read more.

Criticwire Average: C+

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club

Unsurprisingly, Johnson makes for a perfect movie-star Hercules, and the film gets a lot of mileage by playing his charismatic-but-modest take on the character off of the strong, predominantly British cast. (Peter Mullan and Joseph Fiennes pop up in smaller roles.) Equally unsurprising is that fact that Brett Ratner’s direction of the action scenes—though more spatially coherent than the Hollywood norm—rarely rises above the merely serviceable. Read more.

“Land Ho!”
Criticwire Average: B

Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune

The talk in “Land Ho!,” which was beautifully photographed by Andrew Reed, ranges from ’90s movie trivia to larger matters of hopes and dreams waylaid en route to the present. But the present, as Mitch asserts, is full of wonder and possibility. Read more.

“A Most Wanted Man”
Criticwire Average: B+

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

Corbijn, who has complemented his photography career with two other patient and visually advanced dramas, last smuggled this slow-burn approach to suspense with “The American.” But whereas that movie coaxed George Clooney away from his suave demeanor to play a frumpy killer consumed by inner turmoil, “A Most Wanted Man” allows Hoffman to go out with not only one of his best performances, but one that epitomizes his strengths. Read more.

“The One I Love”
Criticwire Average: B+

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Freaky occurrences in fantastic tales are almost always best left mysterious—there’s little to be gained by explaining exactly how people swap bodies, or get transformed from a child into an adult, or whatever the magic may be. It just happens. For a long time, The One I Love looks like it’s sticking to that approach. Toward the end, however, what’s going on in the guest cottage suddenly becomes a lot more specific. Read more.

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