DVD reviews: 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower,' 'Skyfall' and 'Bully'
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012, PG-13, 102 min., $19.98). The best movie made in Pittsburgh and released into theaters in 2012 had nothing to do with a guy named Batman and a town called Gotham. It was a coming-of-age dramedy about an introverted high school freshman finding his way. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” flew largely under the radar in box office receipts, but it should find fanfare on home video. The film is adapted from a 1999 novel of the same name from Pittsburgh native Stephen Chbosky. Coincidentally, Chbosky also penned the screenplay and handled directing. The movie has many good qualities, but its best might be genuineness. The story feels very real, and the material is handled well in a sharp screenplay from Chbosky and solid performances from Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson. Not to mention, there's plenty of Pittsburgh. It follows the beginning of Charlie's (Lerman) time in high school. He's quiet and a bit of a bookworm, but his toughest hurdle is depression. School gets off to a lonely start, but he eventually finds the company of the flamboyant Patrick (Miller) and the beautiful Sam (Watson). The two seniors take Charlie under their wing, getting the youngster to come out of his shell. It's an experience Charlie won't forget. Extras are decent, and the same on Blu-ray and standard DVD. Deleted scenes and commentary with members of the cast and the crew kick things off. A nice making-of featurette is also in the mix. 3.5 Stars.
“Skyfall” (2012, PG-13, 143 min., $29.98). Daniel Craig steps into the James Bond character for the third time in “Skyfall,” one of the better pictures of the long-running franchise. Directed by Sam Mendes, “Skyfall” is a definite improvement over “Quantum of Solace” and right up there with “Casino Royale,” Craig's prior Bond roles. This one finds its stride behind fantastic performances from Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem and a strong plot that mixes in impressive action sequences with intelligent character development. The film opens with Bond chasing down a thug who's stolen a hard drive containing the identities of spies working around the world. The British spy almost dies in the chase, and is even thought to have passed on by MI6. However, he returns to his boss M (Dench), in an attempt to track down the hard drive. Clues point Bond to a terrorist named Silva (Bardem), a former British spy who has an ax to grind with M. Silva wants to destroy her reputation and kill her, but Bond is standing in his way. It leads to an epic showdown that could change the face of espionage in Europe. Commentary with Mendes and other members of the crew is exclusive to Blu-ray, along with a look at the film's premiere. A featurette exploring information on the shooting of the film is available on Blu-ray and DVD. 3 Stars.
“Bully” (2012, PG-13, 99 min., $24.98). One of the most important movies of the year is filmmaker Lee Hirsch's “Bully.” The documentary brings viewers inside the problem of bullying in our schools, introducing us to a handful of great kids who have suffered at the hands of others for no reason. Even worse, the schools don't seem equipped, mentally or physically, to handle a problem that stems from hatred and intolerance. Hirsch's flick follows five kids and their families over the course of a school year. Included are two sets of families who have lost children to suicide because of bullying. Another family awaits the release of a teen girl, who was sent to a juvenile facility after she brought a gun to school to protect her from bullies. Hirsch breaks down each story, giving the viewer a clear picture of the goings on in each situation. Perhaps the most vivid is the story of Alex, a teen who is physically assaulted on the bus each day by bullies. Hirsch is able to film Alex's troubles on the bus, and it's a terrible sight. It might sound like a cliche, but “Bully” really is a must-see movie for everyone. Hirsch not only presents this rampant problem, but he also tries to bring people together to solve it. Blu-ray and standard DVD sets offer a lot in the way of special features, including additional interviews, PSAs, deleted scenes and some helpful educational information. 3.5 Stars.
“The Kid with a Bike” (2011, PG-13, 87 min., $29.95). One of the more celebrated foreign films of last year, this picture from the Dardenne brothers follows a young boy who refuses to stay out of his father's life, despite the fact that he's been rejected and is living in a group home. He'll need some help to move on from the experience.
“Robot & Frank” (2012, PG-13, 89 min., $30.99). Frank Langella has the lead role in this film from director Jake Schreier about a retired thief who receives a robot from his son to help him with chores around the house. It's not long before the two are teaming up to resurrect Frank's heist career. Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler also star.
“The Man with the Iron Fists” (2012, R, 95 min., $29.98). The RZA made his name as the leader of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan, and then, he crossed over into acting. Now, he's directing, and “The Man with the Iron Fists,” an action pic about a collection of warriors after a gold treasure, is his feature-length debut.
“28 Hotel Rooms” (2012, NR, 82 min., $29.99). Matt Ross directs this steamy drama about a man and a woman, both already attached to other partners, hooking up on a business trip. When their attraction boils over, the one-night stand turns into something much more. Chris Messina and Marin Ireland play lead roles.
“Silent Hill: Revelation” (2012, R, 95 min., $34.98). Originally adapted from a video game, this horror film is the sequel to 2006's “Silent Hill.” The picture, written and directed by Michael J. Bassett, tells the tale of a young woman dragged into an alternate reality to find her father, who's disappeared from their home.
“A Late Quartet” (2012, R, 105 min., $22.98). An impressive cast, including Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener and Philip Seymour Hoffman, leads this film about a string quartet undergoing some changes after one of its senior members leaves. The power struggle to fill his place will be epic.
“The Thieves” (2012, NR, 135 min., $24.98). A heist film imported from South Korea, director Choi Dong-hun's picture puts together a strong team of thieves looking at their biggest job yet. They're tasked with stealing a million-dollar diamond from an impenetrable safe inside a well-guarded casino. Who will walk away with the diamond?
“Dangerous Liaisons” (2012, NR, 111 min., $24.98). Passion and drama are at the center of this Chinese picture about a group of relationships set in and around Shanghai. The film, of course, re-imagines the classic 18th century novel by Choderlos de Laclos. It's a novel that's been brought to the silver screen before.
“Mimesis” (2012, R, 95 min., $22.98). Directed by Douglas Schulze, “Mimesis” puts horror fans inside the nightmare, as seven fans of the genre are invited to a special “horror fan” party at a secluded farm. Soon, the seven strangers find themselves inside a situation much like the horror classic “Night of the Living Dead.”
“Jedi Junkies” (2010, NR, 75 min., $19.95). The Force is with everybody featured in this tribute to “Star Wars” super fans. Directed by Mark Edlitz, the fascinating documentary covers every aspect of fandom, from those who dress up as characters from the film to those who build tributes to it in their house.
TV ON DVD
“Weeds: Season Eight” (Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Nealon, three discs, 13 episodes, $39.97)
“Nurse Jackie: Season Four” (Edie Falco and Peter Facinelli, three discs, 10 episodes, $39.97)
“Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season” (Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, three discs, 10 episodes, $39.98)
“Bonanza: The Official Fifth Season, Vol. One” (Lorne Greene and Michael Landon, five discs, 18 episodes, $46.99)
“Bonanza: The Official Fifth Season, Vol. Two” (Pernell Roberts and Dan Blocker, four discs, 16 episodes, $46.99)
“Matlock: The Eighth Season” (Andy Griffith and Warren Frost, six discs, 20 episodes, $54.99)
“Storage Wars: Volume 4” (reality series, two discs, 16 episodes, $19.98)