Fresh off of yet another Academy Award win, Meryl Streep's latest acclaimed performance will be on display this week with the Blu-ray release of "The Iron Lady," a biopic of former English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Another title seeking adult audiences will be Werner Herzog's latest documentary "Into the Abyss," an uncompromising look at the life of an inmate on death row. Film buffs can also turn to Blu-ray versions of Georges Méliès' classic silent film "A Trip to the Moon" or "A Streetcar Named Desire," the acclaimed drama featuring a famous performance from a young Marlon Brando.
When Meryl Streep signed on to play Margaret Thatcher for "The Iron Lady," the Best Actress nomination that followed was as predictable as the award gets, and Streep ended up with her 17th overall Oscar nomination. But even though a nomination was no surprise, it was somewhat of a shock that she actually won, beating out favorite Viola Davis ("The Help") and giving Streep her first Oscar win since her performance in "Sophie's Choice" nearly 30 years ago.
Despite mixed critical reviews and less than stellar box office numbers, Streep was still lauded for her complex portrayal of Thatcher, who was the longest tenured English Prime Minister of the 20th century. Though "The Iron Lady" probably won't have widespread appeal this week as it hits the home market, there should be enough of an adult audience willing to give it a shot in an unimpressive week of new releases.
Those looking for something a little more serious this week might end up with "Into the Abyss," another grim and poetic documentary from master German director Werner Herzog. Though Herzog made a name for himself with surreal features like "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo" decades ago, he continues to crank out critically acclaimed documentaries that examine difficult subjects.
Following up existentialist documentaries "Encounters at the End of the World" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," Herzog's "Into the Abyss" follows the life of an inmate heading down the home stretch of death row. Not for everyone, "Into the Abyss" should be a nice change of pace for those looking for a more thought-provoking and dark movie experience as it reaches DVD and Blu-ray this week.
While "The Iron Lady" and "Into the Abyss" scoop up a portion of the adult demographic, others might give action-thriller "The Darkest Hour" a shot this week despite a very weak box office run back in December and January. Starring Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild"), "The Darkest Hour" tells the improbable survival story of a small group looking to stave off extermination by a mysterious alien race. After getting shredded by critics, "The Darkest Hour" managed a meager opening of less than $3 million despite hitting more than 2,000 theaters around Christmas time, making it one of the worst openings of the winter.
Aiming at a much different demographic this week will be a couple of classics, including Elia Kazan's "A Streetcar Named Desire" and George Méliès' influential silent film "A Trip to the Moon." Based on a Tennessee Williams play, "Streetcar" features a memorable role from Marlon Brando, whose explosive performance as Stanley Kowalski has been quoted in everything from "Seinfeld" to "The Sopranos." Also including an Oscar-winning performance from Vivien Leigh, "Streetcar" was one of the most acclaimed films of the 1950s and remains one of Brando's most famous roles.
Going all the way back to 1902, director Georges Méliès' "A Trip to the Moon" was nothing short of a landmark in early special effects that would pave the way for generations of filmmakers. Méliès' life was recently one of the focal points of Martin Scorsese's recent film "Hugo," which told the true story of Méliès as he went from filmmaking superstar to forgotten artist. Though many of Méliès' films didn't survive, "A Trip to the Moon" remains intact and is a great fit on Blu-ray for those interested in some of the early classics.
Next week, the release schedule will pick up with the launching of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," the highly successful action flick that rejuvenated what seemed to be a dying franchise. Art house favorite "Shame," starring Michael Fassbender, will also hit DVD and Blu-ray and nature lovers might turn to "Frozen Planet," the latest acclaimed TV series from the makers of "Planet Earth."
by RTT Staff Writer
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