THE Academy Award films are coming. Another couple of this year’s leading Oscar nominees are released on DVD and for digital download this week, with Lincoln, Flight and Amour to follow later this month.
DVD Letterbox won’t review this week’s Django Unchained (MA15+, UniversalSony, 159min, $39.95) and Silver Linings Playbook (M, Roadshow, 176min, $39.95) because many of you saw them in cinemas and, well, I thought they were two of last year’s weaker Oscar best picture nominees.
The former, Quentin Tarantino’s homage to slavery exploitation films, was entertaining enough when you weren’t repulsed by it. Ultimately it all felt rather pointless. And Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell’s paean to family dysfunction, is diverting but not cinematic.
At least Tarantino works to a cinema screen. The only thing cinematic about Russell’s film is it squeezes a strong performance from Robert De Niro — which of itself is cinematic only if we’re talking cinema of the 1980s.
Consequently, Silver Linings Playbook is perfect DVD fodder. It will please you, yet you won’t be annoyed about having missed it on the big screen.
The DVD release that may suck you in as a mindless entertainment fix this week is Stolen. I was drawn to it because it stars Nicolas Cage — cue public stoning.
While watching the animated feature The Croods with the kids a few weeks back, the lead character’s voice was chewing away at me. It was familiar, like the voice of a star of a 90s sitcom who was once huge but now rarely seen. Then it became clear that it was Cage, and that summed up what his career has become: not top of mind.
The man can act; he mostly chooses not to do so. In the past decade he has been prolific and lazy, knocking out at least three films a year while sleepwalking through most of them.
He begins well enough in Stolen (M, Roadshow, 96min, $39.95), yet another of his heist movies, with a restrained character, by his standards. Surprising, really, given the often bombastic Simon West ( Con Air, Lara Croft) directs.
The heist film transforms quickly into a revenge chase film, as so many middling movies have done since Taken became such a huge hit. Cage’s Will turns from the hunted to the hunter as his daughter is kidnapped. And that’s it, pretty much. West assembled some good performers, led by Danny Huston, Malin Akerman and an over-acting Josh Lucas, and shot the film in New Orleans (great tax credits for movies but no plot relevance).
Yet beyond a couple of car chases and limp fights that could have been choreographed by Steven Seagal, Stolen is limp, notable only for a portrayal of an Aussie tourist with 90 seconds of dialogue ripped from a Dad and Dave movie. Best let Stolen go through to the keeper, mate.
(G) Disney (77min, $39.95)
(MA15+) UniversalSony (370min, $39.95)
(M) ABC (233min, $19.95)