Coolest extra: Commentary with director Danny Boyle (DVD); “Search & Rescue,” a featurette recounting the events that led to the real Aron Ralston’s rescue (Blu-ray)
Complex says: Honestly, what’s the big deal about the now-infamous “he cuts off his own arm” scene in 127 Hours, anyway? Yes, it’s pretty hardcore, but the film’s lone gore shot lasts mere minutes, and it’s not all that bad when compared to some of the sicker genre films coming out of Europe. Those people who focus on James Franco (starring as real-life survivor Aron Ralston) and his severed limb completely miss the point; with or without that moment, 127 Hours is still one of 2010’s more powerful experiences. Franco might’ve looked like a stoned cadaver on stage at the Oscars this past Sunday, but here, in acclaimed filmmaker Danny Boyle’s (28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire) harrowing drama, the prolific actor owns the camera. Raw when it counts and charming when least expected, his portrayal of Ralston has the gusto necessary to justify watching him stuck between a canyon wall and a boulder for over an hour. To the viewer’s benefit, Boyle makes sure that the film is more than just that, though; the Academy Award-winning Englishman’s typically kinetic style of filmmaking (quick cuts, split-screens) keeps the pace heightened even in the quietest moments. So by the time dude’s arms gets the old choppity- chop, Boyle already has you on tension’s edge and quite emotionally distraught. So, really, the knifework is actually a payoff in ways, not an unwatchable freakout.
Buy it now: 127 Hours
Love And Other Drugs
Coolest extra: “An Actor’s Discussion: Relationship between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway” (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: This might go against some kind of guy code, but fudge it: We’d rather see Jake Gyllenhaal make a dozen romantic comedies like Love And Other Drugs than continue to emerge as an action hero. It’s material like this deservedly R-rated dramedy (co-starring Anne Hathaway) that shows the guy’s charisma and likability. The same goes for disturbing serial killer movies (Zodiac), but nobody gets stabbed to death in this case. Directed by the versatile Edward Zwick (Glory, Blood Diamond), Love And Other Drugs is a solid romance about a pharmaceutical salesman (Gyllenhaal) who falls for a woman who has Parkinson’s disease (Hathaway) in between their steamy bedroom rendezvous. And by “steamy” we mean that Hathaway and her wonderful fun-bags are on full display. No wonder we dig her rom-com more than all of Jennifer Aniston’s put together—the Friends alum never lets her twins breathe on camera. Love And Other Drugs isn’t without its hiccups, however; near the end, the tone messily shifts away from breezy cool to heartache serious. Fortunately, the delightfulness that precedes the solemnity happily keeps this date night suggestion in the winner’s circle.
Buy it now: Love And Other Drugs
Coolest extra: Alternate ending (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: One can’t blame Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for wanting to get his tough-guy swag back. Since 2007’s kiddy flick The Game Plan, the former WWE bruiser has picked roles with rugrats, not the longtime fans of his action hero side, in mind. And that’d be fine, if only the movies he chose weren’t doomed to suck from their initial trailer debuts (seriously, Rock…The Tooth Fairy?). Sadly, it seems that years in children’s film hell have tainted his ability to select quality projects. Faster, his R-rated tale of banal vengeance, is, at best, regrettably adequate. Johnson plays an ex-con determined to make bloody work of the goons who killed his brother. It’s basically a steroid-infused update of one of those old Charles Bronson pics, plus the bodacious Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) and Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter (always a good thing) but minus any of the charming ’70s grit and seedy atmosphere. There is an upside to Faster’s existence, though: Shooting it prevented The Rock from mixing genre signals and signing onto the action-packed The Tooth Fairy vs. Easter Bunny. Don’t tell us that’s not likely.
Buy it now: Faster
Coolest extra: “The Burlesque Lounge: Alternate Full Musical Performances” featurette (DVD); “Setting the Stage: Production Design & Performers” featurette (Blu-ray)
Complex says: It’s no mystery that, fully aware of the chuckles such an admission of guilt may cause, we like Glee around these parts. One of the things about Fox’s song-and-dance hit that’s easy to admire is its strong writing, sharp humor, and genuinely interesting characters—three elements that are non-existent in the flashy yet dire musical Burlesque. The plot alone is derivative: Christina Aguilera stars as an Iowa girl who dreams of making it big on stage and relocates to Los Angeles, where she learns how to be a star from a retired dancer (Cher). On her way to the movie’s inevitable big performance finish, Xtina and her co-stars sashay through agonizing dialogue (“If I'm not 20 times better than ‘boobs for brains’ over there, you don't have to pay me.”) and predictable character arcs. The only way Burlesque would be recommendable is if Glee’s Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) showed up and leveled some of her trademark disses at everyone on set—writer-director Steve Antin and the producers included. Hell, let’s throw in the key grip too, while we’re at it.
Buy it now: Burlesque
The Cable Guy (15th Anniversary Edition; Blu-ray)
Coolest extra: Commentary with Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow, and Jim Carrey
Complex says: It might seem odd to grant the distinctive if not unspectacular The Cable Guy an anniversary honor, but scratch beneath the surface a tad and the film’s merits come to light. For one, this very dark comedy is the only film directed by Ben Stiller that doesn’t also star Stiller in a prominent role (he shows up in “blink and you’ll miss them” cameos throughout as murderous twins). In addition, The Cable Guy was one of Judd Apatow’s first gigs as a producer, an early test run of sorts that, of course, led to future Apatow productions like Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy and Superbad. And lastly, this was star Jim Carrey’s first attempt at playing something other than a moronic buffoon. As the mentally disturbed cable supplier, Carrey speaks with a lisp and terrorizes co-star Matthew Broderick’s life in a performance that’s certifiably strange. Fifteen years after the movie first left Ace Ventura fans dumbfounded, it’s still not all that hilarious, with only a limited number of quotable lines (“The password is…nipple.”). Yet, The Cable Guy remains a daring and unconventionally intriguing film, an uncommon risk taken by a superstar in his prime. And, for that reason alone, it’s worth checking out, whether again or for the first time.
Buy it now: The Cable Guy (15th Anniversary Edition)