Silver Screen by Theda Kleinhans Reichman
The Academy Awards for 2012 are now cinematic history. “Argo” received the Oscar for Best Picture and “Life of Pi” received the golden statuette for best direction along with numerous technical awards. Last week “Argo” was reviewed, so this week let’s take a look at some more Oscar winners and contenders available on Blu-ray and DVD.
“Searching for Sugar Man,” this year’s Best Documentary Feature, tells the celebrated true story of musician Rodriguez who is considered “the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was.” Rodriguez was discovered in a Detroit bar in the late 1960s by two celebrated producers who were struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics. They recorded an album which was expected to secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation, but in contrast, the album bombed and Rodriguez disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide.
Nonetheless, a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and over the next two decades his music became a phenomenon and an anthem for the people. The film follows two South African fans setting out to discover what really happened to their hero, leading them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez. Special additional features include commentary with the director and musician Rodriguez, “The Making of Sugar Man” and more. From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13.
This year’s Best Animated Film, “Brave,” has been out on Blu-ray and DVD for several months. The beautifully rendered film takes an original and thrilling journey back in time to the ancient, magical Highlands of Scotland and follows the story of a headstrong young girl named Merida, determined to create her own path in life and in the process she discovers the true meaning of bravery. The Blu-ray disc is loaded with all sorts of bonus features like “Angus” about Merida’s trusted companion, a mighty Clydesdale, “Wee Gaffes,” a video montage of bloopers and a look at director Mark Andrews’ love of Scotland, sword fighting and music. The feature “Bears” describes in detail how the art and design behind the bears in “Brave” was created and there are two animated shorts as well, “La Luna” and “The Legend of Mordu.” These animated shorts are also on the DVD along with Director Commentary. “Aye,” this is a “bonnie” film that will please young girls and boys as well as their parents. Rated G.
Disney’s “Frankenweenie,” a film by Tim Burton, was one of my personal favorites, a horror tale told with heart and humor. It’s the story of a boy and his dog. When Frankenweenie is run over by a car his young master, Victor, a science wiz, figures out how to bring the dog back to life. When his secret science project is discovered by fellow students all sorts of strange things occur in this quiet small town. There are references to all sorts of other past horror films like “Godzilla,” “Frankenstein” and others. Great fun for kids and grown-ups, but too intense for younger viewers. The DVD includes an all new “Frankenweenie” short and more. Rated PG for thematic elements and some scary images and action.
And last, but not least, “Wreck it Ralph” debuts on DVD on Mar. 5. This is the hilarious journey of a video game character setting out to prove to everyone that he is a true hero with a big heart. As Ralph explores exciting new worlds, he teams up with some new friends including a feisty little misfit named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). Ralph is voiced by John C. Reilly. Rated PG for some mild action violence. There are many extra features including “Paperman” which won the Academy Award for Best Cartoon Short this year.