Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD And Streaming: Zero Dark Thirty – An Unexpected Journey

It’s a big week for DVD releases as a bunch of the holiday season heavy hitters are now available for your home viewing pleasure.  Today sees the release of both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as well as Zero Dark Thirty, and in a few days both Les Misérables and This Is 40 come out as well. But wait, there’s more:  We’ve also got movies starring Lizzy Caplan, Luke Wilson, Parker Posey, and Haley Joel Osment.  We’ve got bachelorettes and shadow people, and also legless whale trainers and kickboxers. We’ve even got rust and bone.  All that and some cartoon lesbians as well!

The DVDs:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Zero Dark Thirty
Les Misérables
This Is 40
Straight A’s
Price Check
Sassy Pants
Rust And Bone
The Girl
The Other Son
Shadow People
Adventures In Appletown
23 Minutes To Sunrise
Strange Frame

Streaming: check out your choices here.

I know you’re intrigued by the legless whale trainer, so continue reading to find out which movie has her. You might as well; you’re already going to in search of those cartoon lesbians.  On the other hand, if you insist that you only see movies with real, live, two-legged straight women, you can always just click the link for the streaming picks, but to be honest, most of the DVDs have straight, legged (and straight-legged) women in them as well, so it would still be your loss.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

In Vince’s ‘C-‘ review of this movie, he threatens to write a thousand words describing just his experience traveling from the box office to the concession stand.  He doesn’t actually do it, but the very threat makes his point.  This adaptation does not need to be (approximately and eventually) nine hours long.  I know a lot of die-hard Lord of The Rings fans really dug this movie, but I’m guessing if you’ve waited for DVD, that ain’t you.  This movie takes FOREVER to even just get out of the hobbit’s f*cking house.  I honestly think it took about 45 minutes for them to start washing the dishes, which gets its own epic 12-minute sequence, which is separate from the epic 12-minute sequence of the 13 dwarves singing by Bilbo’s fireplace.  (At least I think there were 13, for all the obnoxious detail and never-ending minutiae, I never really felt like the dwarves were identified as individual characters.) The point is, this movie was made for the folks who’ve read and re-read the books.  Casual fans should tread carefully and strap themselves in for a film that –by design- lacks a true ending.  The highlight of the film for me was the loud exclamation of confusion and frustration the old lady two seats down from me burst out with when the credits finally rolled. Apparently, she didn’t know about the whole one book/three movies thing.  On a home video note, there seems to be some hope/speculation among the enthusiasts as to whether or not there will be extended cuts of these films released at a later date.  To be fair, that is what they did with the original trilogy.  Personally, I’m skeptical; what more could they possibly add?  Another song?  Another montage of people walking?  I can’t imagine they’ve left any of that on the cutting room floor, and as for logical character development or coherent action sequences, I’m guessing those weren’t ever even filmed in the first place.

Zero Dark Thirty

This flick was once considered the front-runner for 2012’s Best Picture Oscar, but a good bit of controversy surrounding the film’s assertion of being an accurate account of real-life events, combined with its depiction and possibly implied endorsement of torture ended up scaring the Academy voters off and into the welcoming arms of Argo, a much lighter ‘true’ story about Americans forcing their way into a hostile Middle East environment with the sole purpose of taking people out.  (But not, you know, taking people out.) If you’d like to learn more about the various controversies surrounding the film, you could do a lot worse than reading Vince’s ‘B-‘ review.  For myself, I don’t have much to add other than I was a little nervous going in that I would be bored waiting for the climactic compound-storming sequence, but instead I found the whole movie engaging.  That’s probably because I get off watching fiery redheads shrieking at dudes in business suits, but there you go. If you want another perspective, The Dove Foundation reviewed this flick, but unfortunately, it did not meet their elite standards of quality, and they awarded the film 0 Doves. Their Dove Worldview analysis is a beautiful combination of condemning the film’s harsher elements, while criticizing it for not getting to them sooner:

The plot drags on as a CIA operative plods through evidence and intelligence to locate the elusive leader of Al Queda. It’s not until the final 30 minutes that we get to see some action as the Seal team enters the compound and searches for Bin Laden. There is a great deal of violence in this segment that is simply not family entertainment, nor is the excessive language used by almost everyone in the film including the Defense Secretary himself. Due to the extreme content, we cannot approve this movie for a family audience.

Dove’s content warnings are, as always, insightful: “LANGUAGE: F-40+, S-5, A-1, D-1, B-1, BS-4, GD-1.  VIOLENCE: Violent interrogation techniques shown including a man’s pants being pulled down to humiliate him; hotel shooting with point blank murders; hotel/restaurant bombing with explosions and fires; bloody footage of people who survived bombings or shootings with blood; bloody gun fight and assassinations at point blank range; several shots of pools of blood on and under bodies.  DRUGS: Cigarette Smoking; minor drinking in a few scenes.  NUDITY: Man is seen from behind with an exposed rear a couple of times.”  I find it fascinating that with all the torture depicted in the film, the reviewer only gets particular about the dude’s pants getting pulled down. It’s as if the sight of a dude’s ass is somehow more upsetting than seeing a fully-clothed man get water-boarded.  I  also like to think that the reviewer stopped counting  after 40 ‘f*cks’ because that’s one more than the number of lashes Jesus received during his torture, and as all Christians know, every time you swear, you’re whipping the Savior.  At least the Romans didn’t pull his pants down while they did it.

Les Misérables

It’s finally out you guys! It’s been 12 years, but today finally –FINALLY- sees the release of the French TV miniseries adaptation of the famous novel.  We here in America can now own the classic (and classy) version of this tale that stars Gerard Depardieu as Jean Valjean and John Malkovich as Javert.  Even better, they’ve edited the unnecessarily long 6-hour original version into a much more palatable 3 hours (are you listeing, Peter Jackson?) and dubbed the whole thing into English so we don’t have to read subtitles! Just a heads up, though, some shameless opportunists are trying to piggyback on this release by releasing a different version of Les Mis this coming Friday; it’s got singing and sh*t and I’m pretty sure it’s at least partly responsible for a recent resurgence in Smash Mouth awareness.  Don’t be fooled by this obvious attempt to confuse the consumer.

This Is 40

Speaking of movies that think they are too good for a Tuesday release, this Judd Apatow comedy also hits DVD this coming Friday.  Unlike Les Misérables, however, this film wasn’t nearly as popular with critics and audiences, and therefore hardly justifies the marketing hubris that is the Friday DVD release.  Normally I refuse to feature movies that fore-go the Tuesday release schedule, but I’m making an allowance about this film because I feel like it got short shrift over the holidays.   I know plenty of people who wanted to see this, and even intended to, but simply didn’t get around to it.  For me, it was go see this one on a cold Saturday in December or go see Django Unchained instead.  Obviously, I chose Django.  Just so, in Vince’s  Best Films of 2012 article, he mentions that he felt bad for having not seen This Is 40 yet, but that he planned to and would provide a review within a few weeks.  Well it’s now March and I don’t believe he’s written a review, and I’m assuming that’s because he has too much integrity to write a review for a movie he hasn’t seen.  Or he forgot to.  He’s funny that way.  Anyhow, between Les Misérables  for the idiots who think it’s somehow impressive for actors to sing live and in a single take (despite the fact that stage performers do entire shows live every single day and twice on matinee days) and Django Unchained for those of us who like violence and the somewhat socially acceptable use of the N-word, This Is 40 kind of got forgotten at the Christmas-time box office, and I figured a good number of people might want to catch it now that it’s on DVD. Or will be on DVD.  On Friday.  Instead of today, Tuesday, the industry-standard day of the week for DVD releases.    Because everybody will rush out special on Friday just to get a movie featuring a scene of Paul Rudd looking at his own assh*le.  Actually, I think I follow the thinking now.  Rudd’s assh*le is probably pretty amazing to look at.