DVD reviews: 'Looper,' 'The Words' and 'Cosmopolis'
“Looper” (2012, R, 119 min., $30.99). The next great group of directors is emerging, with names like Duncan Jones, Ben Affleck and Jason Reitman delivering memorable work. Another name that should be included is Rian Johnson, who, with “Looper,” is responsible for one of the best pictures of 2012. It is an ambitious work from Johnson, who wrote and directed this wholly original science-fiction classic. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, the movie takes viewers into the future, where, when the mob wants to get rid of a problem, it sends the target back in time, and a looper cleans it up. The looper is a hired gun, and gets paid handsomely. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is considered one of the better loopers until he fumbles an important job. The miscue puts Joe in trouble with his ruthless boss (Jeff Daniels) and the target (Willis) from his last job. To set things right for his future, Joe has a lot of work in front of him. Johnson gets strong performances from his lead actors, who work well in this thriller that provides some cool action sequences and unpredictable plot twists. The best buy for consumers is the Blu-ray package. It has an additional featurette and a ton of extra deleted scenes. However, commentary with Johnson, Gordon-Levitt and Blunt and some decent featurettes are available on standard DVD and Blu-ray. 3.5 Stars.
“Cosmopolis” (2012, R, 109 min., $24.98). David Cronenberg's latest flick delivers what viewers have come to expect from the top-notch director. “Cosmopolis” is a masterful picture that offers originality and intelligent filmmaking in telling the story of a powerful man finding the very depths of his life on a simple road trip across New York City in a maxed-out stretch limo. Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is a financial superstar with more money than he could ever need. Deciding to get his hair cut across town, Packer encounters a unique collection of visitors, a series of riots and a funeral, as he bets back and forth with the future of his company. As Packer's trip moves into the night, the billionaire assets manager holds tight to a dark path of self-destruction. The very surprise of “Cosmopolis” is the performance of Pattinson, who has been written off as one of those “Twilight” actors. Pattinson is tremendous here, and the Brit deserves some credit in turning in one of the better performances of 2012. It also helps that he's supported by Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand and Samantha Morton. Extras are decent, and include director commentary and a making-of featurette. Interviews with select members of the cast and crew also are available, but, unfortunately, exclusive to Blu-ray packages. 3 Stars.
“The Words” (2012, PG-13, 97 min., $30.99). Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal teamed to make “The Words,” a forgettable melodrama that serves as the duo's directorial debut. The picture has some potential, with its talented cast — Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid star — and a story that might have been interesting. Unfortunately, it meddles along the outskirts of a decent plot, never really diving into the meat of the story. So, it's impossible to make an investment. The picture's set up as a framed narrative, and it even goes three stories deep a few times. It opens up with well-regarded author Clay Hammond (Quaid) reading a portion of his book to fans. Clay takes the group inside his book, which deals with a struggling writer named Rory Jansen (Cooper). On a trip to Paris, Rory buys an old travel bag at a boutique. Going through the bag at home, Rory finds an incredible manuscript, and he decides to make it his own, passing it along to his boss at the publishing house where he works. The company publishes the book, and Rory becomes an overnight sensation with a huge secret. It's only a matter of time before Rory is exposed and Clay has an ending to his book. Despite the quality of the film, there are some good extras, especially on Blu-ray. Featurettes on a few of the characters and production are worth a look. 2 Stars.
“War of the Dead” (2011, NR, 89 min., $19.98). Another day, another movie about zombies. This one's set in 1941 against the backdrop of World War II. An elite American unit finds itself in trouble when it comes up against a Nazi army of the undead. Andrew Tiernan and Mark Wingett star.
“Red Hook Summer” (2012, R, 121 min., $27.97). Filmmaker Spike Lee's latest picture flew largely under the radar, as he returned to New York City for this coming-of-age story about a young boy from middle-class Atlanta who comes to stay with his grandfather for the summer in the tough Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.
“Resident Evil: Retribution” (2012, R, 96 min., $30.99). The franchise that just won't die returns for its fifth installment, as Milla Jovovich returns to her role as Alice, a force that sets out to destroy Umbrella, a corporation that's turning humans into flesh-eating zombies. Michelle Rodriguez and Kevin Durand also star.
“Our Beloved Month of August” (2008, NR, 147 min., $29.95). In this film festival favorite, director Miguel Gomes' film, set in Portugal, follows the strange relationship between a father, his daughter and nephew, members of a traveling pop band.
“The Trouble with Bliss” (2011, PG-13, 97 min., $14.98). An impressive cast — Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu and Peter Fonda included — stars in this feature film about a New York City man who's struggling to find something positive in life. At 35, he lives with his father and has no prospects for finding a better life.
TV ON DVD
“Justified: The Complete Third Season” (Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, three discs, 13 episodes, $55.99)
“Being Human: The Complete Second Season” (Kristen Hager and Jay Baruchel, four discs, 13 episodes, $39.98)
“Tosh.0: Cardigans and Casual Jackets” (variety show, two discs, 15 episodes, $19.54)
“Tosh.0: Deep V's” (variety show, two discs, 16 episodes, $19.99)