This week’s DVD picks range from the macabre to the musical.
• “Frankenweenie,” Grade B: The elements that are the genius of director Tim Burton are all there. As he did with “Edward Scissorhands,” Burton strips away some of the shine of suburbia to show the darker side that lurks below. There is his fascination with life and death that has popped up in his “Corpse Bride.” And there is Burton’s macabre interest in life after death, a driving theme of “Beetlejuice.”
It’s as if the original “Frankenweenie” is a microcosm of themes Burton’s examined in all of his other movies. As long as the film focuses on those elements, “Frankenweenie” is a thrills-and-chills ride brought to life through Burton’s quirky artistic style. Even in black and white, every scene is a splash of visual splendor.
• “Game Change,” Grade B: The cable film starts with the realization by the John McCain team they need to come up with their own game changer to have any hope of being able to defeat Barack Obama. Danny Strong, who wrote the screenplay, sees Sarah Palin as one of the great American political stories of our time – a rather raw politician pushed into a national forum with little known about her.
You might argue with the film’s politics, but the one thing that isn’t debatable is the performance by Julianne Moore as Palin. It’s Moore’s brilliant work that’s the true strength of the production.
• “Smash: Season One,” Grade B: The NBC series about staging a Broadway musical hits a few sour notes along the way but the overall production works as a character study about those who put art above everything else. The two main stars – Katharine McPhee and Broadway veteran Megan Hilty – are amazing to listen to and watch.
The second season begins in early February and this is a way to get caught up with the story.
Also new on DVD this week:
“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season Two”: Gil Gerard plays the astronaut who finds himself a future hero.
“Dallas: The Complete First Season”: This is the first season of the relaunched prime-time soap starring Larry Hagman.
“The Goode Family: The Complete Series”: Short-lived Mike Judge animated TV comedy.
“Anger Management: Season One”: New Charlie Sheen cable series.
“Enlightened: The Complete First Season”: Laura Dern stars in the cable series.
“Angelina Ballerina: Dance Around the World”: It’s an international dance party featuring hops, slides and bops.
“An Idiot Abroad: Season 2”: Karl Pilkington continues to complete tasks from his bucket list.
“George Lopez: It’s Not Me It’s You”: Comedy special starring George Lopez.
“The Hour 2”: BBC series about a passionate news trio.
“Barney: Let’s Go To The Moon”: Barney encourages Riff to always reach for the stars.
“Dredd”: Urban cops known as Judges keep peace in the future. Karl Urban stars.
“Hit & Run”: Former getaway driver leaves witness protection to help his girlfriend. Dax Shepard stars.
“House at the End of the Street”: A dream home becomes a nightmare. Jennifer Lawrence stars.
“Superboy: The Complete Second Season”: Syndicated TV series about the teen of steel.
“Archer: The Complete Season Three”: Cable animated spy series.
“Red Dwarf X”: The Dwarfers mining ship stumbles upon the mysteriously abandoned SS Trojan.
“Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers”: The untold story of a covert military mission concealed for nearly 70 years.
“Ghost Trap”: A young woman does community service in a haunted house.
“Compliance”: Story of just how far one might go to obey a figure of authority.
“The Inbetweeners Movie”: After high school graduation, four best friends jet off to an exotic Greek isle.
“Arts & The Mind”: Art is not a “luxury,” but central to the development of the human brain in youth.
“Midsomer Murders Set 21”: John Barnaby takes over as the new DCI after his cousin, Tom, retires.
“The Jazz Singer”: The first feature-length film with completely synchronized dialogue and musical sequences is on Blu-ray to mark the film’s 90th anniversary.
“Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden”: Recounts the behind-the-scenes decisions that brought the world’s most wanted man to justice.
“The Wise Kids”: Three teen friends contemplate life after graduation.
“The Assassins”: Director Linshan Zhao’s action-adventure film starring Chow Yun-Fat.
“Monsuno: Destiny”: DVD collection based on the animated Nickelodeon series.
“Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”: An underachiever hits the road with his bandmate.
“Samsara”: A look at the world of nature and mankind’s place in it.
“Sleep Tight”: A doorman has a dark secret.
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