Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Friday, April 22nd:
In “The Way Back,” Acclaimed Australian director Peter Weir chronicles the epic, true story of POWs who escaped from one of Stalin’s remote gulags in Siberia and trudged 4,000 miles through the Great Wall of China, across the Gobi Desert and through the Himalayas to Mongolia; it’s a spectacular slog.
In contrast, Sofia Coppola’s oblique “Somewhere” goes nowhere, following a burnt-out, decadent movie star (Stephen Dorff) coping with his 11 year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) at the fabled Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, it’s a minimalist, melancholy rumination on adult responsibility.
Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” has been updated into a silly, slapstick contemporary parody starring Jack Black was a shy wannabe writer on a travel assignment that takes him into the Bermuda triangle, where a storm sweeps him through an inter-dimensional portal into Lilliput.
Commemorating Earth Day with nature films: “Into the Cold: A Journey of the Soul” follows adventurers Sebastian Copeland and Keith Heger through intensive physical training as they embark on a harrowing expedition to the North Pole, showcasing its awe-inspiring beauty. Narrated by Donald Sutherland, “The Last Continent” features biologist Jean Lemire with his team of scientists aboard the schooner Sedna IV in Antarctica, accompanied by “Antarctic Mission: The Complete Series.”
Timed for Easter, Christopher C. Odom’s “23rd Psalm” revolves around an evolving, empathetic African-American police detective who unconsciously channels his intuition to transcend his shortcomings and unravel the enigmatic murder of a transformed prostitute.”
Interesting documentaries: Spike Lee’s “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” revisits New Orleans five years after Katrina to see how The Big Easy is recovering and reinventing itself. And “Behind the Burly Q” is Leslie Zemeckis’s gaudy, bawdy Burlesque retrospective.
PICK OF THE WEEK: Sweeping this year’s Academy Awards, “The King’s Speech,” is an engrossing, fact-based historical drama starring Oscar-winner Colin Firth as Albert, Duke of York, who suffered from paralyzing stuttering, and Geoffrey Rush as the impertinent, unorthodox speech therapist who helped him overcome this complex disorder in order to lead Britain into World War II as King George VI.