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This Week in Home Video: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Safe,’ ‘Frank’ and More

This Week in Home Video: 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Safe,' 'Frank' and More

The year’s highest-grossing not-terrible film (sorry not sorry, “Transformers”) comes to DVD and Blu-Ray this week. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe entries even though it relies on the same kind of dull MacGuffin (an all-powerful orb) as the other Marvel movies, largely due to the chemistry of the cast and James Gunn’s irreverent, oddball touches in the margins. By contrast, the Michael-Fassbender-wears-a-papier-mache-head rock comedy “Frank” has a few too many self-consciously goofy touches in the early going, but the film has a cumulative power as it acknowledges that Fassbender’s “eccentricity” is actually mental illness and his tortured artist persona is actually hindering him. Other new releases include John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary,” featuring strong work from Brendan Gleeson, and “I Origins,” Mike Cahill’s follow-up to his sci-fi drama “Another Earth.”

There’s a boatload of worthwhile classic releases hitting DVD and Blu-Ray this week as well. The best of the bunch is Criterion’s release of “Safe,” Todd Haynes’ harrowing film about a woman whose body starts rejecting its environment, featuring a bravely blank performance from Julianne Moore. Also of note: Criterion’s rerelease Terry Gilliam’s terrific “Time Bandits,” a dark fantasy that suggests that evil is less responsible for bad deeds than whatever omnipotent force made it possible. They’re also rereleasing Liliana Cavini’s “The Night Porter,” about a sadomasochistic relationship between an SS officer and a concentration camp survivor during and after the Holocaust. Its virtues are better sung by those who don’t think it’s empty provocation (not this writer). 

Twilight Time, meanwhile, is releasing Stanley Kramer’s strong adaptation of “Inherit the Wind” and a pair of Barbara Streisand films: “Funny Lady,” the sequel to the film that won Streisand her Best Actress Oscar (“Funny Girl”), and “Yentl,” Streisand’s first and best directorial effort. Kino has a couple of deeply flawed but not uninteresting revisionist westerns from 1976 in Robert Altman’s “Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson” and Arthur Penn’s “The Missouri Breaks,” the latter of which features one of Marlon Brando’s most fascinatingly weird performances. Finally, Warner Bros. is rereleasing Joe Dante’s delightfully wicked horror-comedy “Gremlins” again just in time for “Christmas.” Anyone who doesn’t already have it in some form might want to pick up this version.

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

Criticwire Average: B+

Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com

Gleeson’s performance is magnificent; sharp, compassionate, bemused, never not intellectually active. McDonagh’s dialogue is similarly never not sharp, and only occasionally lost to an actor’s Irish accent. As the picture progresses, Father James’ parishioners morph from a group of perverse individuals to one of intransigently spiteful lunatics. McDonagh takes considerable risks, in this day and age, crafting what’s essentially an absurdist allegory. Read more.

Criticwire Average: B

A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club

For a while, “Frank” seems like a one-joke movie, its humor derived solely from the tension between a meek careerist and the reclusive eccentrics barely tolerating his existence…Yet, as the group decamps to a reclusive woodland cabin to record an album, viewers may start feeling Jon’s pain—the fatigue of being bombarded constantly with offbeat “realness.” Read more.

“Guardians of the Galaxy”
Criticwire Average: B+

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

Gunn efficiently turns his pop culture subject into a giddy playing field. Just like when “Iron Man” runs his mouth, the heavy focus on style allows these silly narratives to gather as much of their value from an ebullient tone as they do from their costly production budgets. Read more.

“I Origins”
Criticwire Average: B

Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

It’s also a remarkably confident film technically. Cinema has had a love affair with the eye for a century now and Cahill and cinematographer Markus Förderer take the timeless image of the eye and give it emotional resonance in the way they use it, balancing the film’s two equally important halves. Read more.

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