Dvd let­ter­box

This week

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

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)

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