‘Cloud Atlas’ as beautiful as it is incomprehensible
This week’s new DVD releases range from the odd to the odder.
• “Cloud Atlas,” Grade B: Events and actions in one time period have an effect on past and future eras. Tom Hanks stars. Not since “2001: A Space Odyssey” has a film come along that’s such a marvel of moviemaking and a frustrating test of comprehension as “Cloud Atlas.”
The latest work by Andy and Lana Wachowski, the minds behind “The Matrix,” re-imagines the art of moviemaking by creating a product that finds cohesion in confusion, distinction in disorder and symmetry in asymmetry. It takes an omnipotent look at how actions affect past and future generations as told through six stories set in diverse time periods covering a 500-year span.
Unlike the original book by David Mitchell that was generally linear in design, the Wachowski siblings, along with Tom Tykwer, have written a script that bounces forward and backward through time, never resting too long in one era.
It’s easy to admire the brilliant craftsmanship that went into making of the film. It takes a lot more concentration to fully appreciate the method in what appears to be six lifetimes of madness.
• “Dexter: Season Seven,” Grade B: The season starts with the aftermath of the grand reveal at the end of season six. The exposure of Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) killer secret takes the first-rate series in the wrong direction. This series has always thrived on Dexter being able to work in the shadows.
What saves it is the addition of Yvonne Strahovski as the mysterious Hannah. The awkward emotional games she plays with Dexter push the show to creepy new levels.
The Blu-ray Disc and DVD sets include all 12 episodes plus bonus material.
• “Liz & Dick,” Grade D: The stories that came out during the filming of this cable movie about the explosive relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were more interesting than the actual film. That’s what happens when you cast Lindsay Lohan.
The film looks at the turbulent relationship that made the pair the most notorious of the time. There are some interesting moments, but they get buried by the uneven acting and uninspired camera work.
Pick up a Taylor-Burton movie instead of wasting time on this weak effort.
Also new on DVD this week:
“Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection”: The series from The Jim Henson Co. features the always working Gobo, Red, Boober, Wembly, Mokey and Traveling Matt.
“A Glimpse Inside the Head of Charlie Swan III”: A successful graphic designer falls apart after his true love leaves him.
“Wordgirl vs. the Energy Monster”: Introduces new vocabulary words and reinforces their meanings.
“Top Gear 19”: The hosts take a road trip through Las Vegas.
“Frankie Go Boom”: Two battling brothers join forces to undo damage caused by video.
“Back to 1942”: Travelers during World War II face the harsh realities of the time.
“Mythbusters: Collection 9”: The team continues to tackle big myths.
“The Bletchley Circle”: Four ordinary women have the extraordinary ability to break codes.
“Texas Chainsaw”: Picks up where Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic left off.
“VR Troopers: Season 2, Volume 1”: Three teens must defend the world from a variety of monsters.
“Taz-Mania: Taz on the Loose Season 1, Part 1”: Animated adventures of the fast-moving Taz.
“Power Rangers Samurai: The Sixth Ranger Volume 4”: Antonio, the Gold Ranger, tries to prove he has the necessary skills to become a Samurai.
“Doctor Who: The Visitation Special Edition”: The Doctor (Peter Davison) arrives in England during the Great Plague.
“Team Umizoomi: Animal Heroes”: The team goes on four missions.
“Bill Moyers: Beyond Hate”: PBS documentary tackles big questions about hate.
“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Season Two”: Includes all 26 episodes plus sing-alongs and printable coloring sheets.
“Face 2 Face”: TV director Katherine Brooks makes an 11,000-mile trip to reconnect with the world.
“Escape”: A young woman battles her captors.