DVD Picks: Jack Goes Boating, Stone, Punk: Attitude

January 27, 2011

DVD Picks – January 21, 2011
Raleigh News & Observer
Glenn McDonald

Pick of the Week
Jack Goes Boating

Comedy/romance; rated R for language, drug use and some sexual content; also available on Blu-ray

The Gist: Two working class New York City couples try to find honesty and intimacy in the cold, dark city winter.

The Lowdown: Directed by and starring veteran actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Jack Goes Boating” is based on a play and moves to the slower rhythms of the stage. As the painfully shy but good-hearted Jack, Hoffman gives another of his detailed character portraits. Jack works as a limo driver for his uncle’s business, but finds new inner resources when set up on a blind date with Connie (Amy Ryan), another damaged and withdrawn New Yorker. John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega play the film’s other featured couple, whose long partnership is threatened by secrets and betrayals.

Not a lot happens in “Jack Goes Boating,” and what does happen goes down verrry slowly. But if you can adjust to the film’s pacing, you’ll find a moving and funny story of the trials of love. “Jack” excels at evoking that kind of rich, exquisite sadness you can only really get at the movies. Have they invented a name for that feeling yet?

The Extras: Deleted scenes, theatrical trailer and two production featurettes concerning the adaptation form stage to screen.

The Bottom Line: A subdued but deeply felt love story with amazing performances from the four leads.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: Hoffman may be the least vain screen actor ever – Jack is chubby, schlubby, frequently shirtless and failing spectacularly in an effort to grow dreadlocks.

 

Stone

Psychological thriller; rated R for strong sexuality and violence, and pervasive language; also available on Blu-ray

The Gist: A troubled parole officer (Robert DeNiro) and his family get involved with a creepy prisoner (Edward Norton) and his manipulative wife (Milla Jovovich)

The Lowdown: Heavy, disturbing and just kind of depressing all over, “Stone” is a better-then-average psychological thriller, thanks to strong performances from everyone involved and an unforeseen theological thread that takes hold toward the end.

But, hoo-boy, this movie will make you feel bad. I understand that no one is perfect, but these characters are really, really not-perfect for an hour and a half. And I’m not even mentioning the family murder, the arson, the stabbing, the ruined children … oh, never mind.

The Extras: A short, run-of-the-mill making-of doc.

The Bottom Line: This is a movie designed to upset the viewer, and it does. But it also aims to make us think a little deeper, and it does that, too.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: The movie was shot on location in the economic ruins of metro Detroit.

Punk: Attitude

Documentary; unrated (strong language and some nudity)

The Gist: Respected music film maker and original scenester Don Letts (Big Audio Dynamite) assembles a history of punk rock from archival footage and discussions with the principal players.

The Lowdown: Rock scholarship geeks will appreciate the thoughtfulness and artistry on display throughout the film. As director, Letts brings a kind of casual authority to the proceedings – a former London DJ, he’s credited with bringing punk and reggae together. While the film moves chronologically, it departs regularly to examine the broader cultural context of what these guys accomplished.

Among the go-to sources interviewed throughout the movie – Tommy Ramone, Chrissie Hynde, Thurston Moore, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Paul Simonen and Mick Jones of the Clash, Legs McNeil, Siouxsie Sioux, and of course Henry Rollins, whose intenser-than-thou lectures seem to be in every rock doc of the past 30 years.

The Extras: Band bios, a punk rock “family tree” and a second disc with generous interview outtakes and a dozen additional featurettes on aspects of the topic.

The Bottom Line: A well-done, if oddly by-the-books, rock doc with some great footage from the archives.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: Depending on who you believe, punk rock started either with the Ramones, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry.

Also New This Week: Ryan Reynolds in the underground thriller “Buried,” handsome thieves Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, and Hayden Christensen in the heist film “Takers,” vehicular mayhem in “Death Race 2,” and TV-on-DVD collections from “Justified,” “Merlin,” “Waking the Dead” and – hey, Larry Hagman! – “Dallas.”

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