DVD Corner: “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”

By Christopher Smith,
Posted Jan. 30, 2009, at 8:10 p.m.

“The Bourne Trilogy” Blu-ray: A tense, satisfying collection of thrillers that began in 2002 with “The Bourne Identity,” continued in 2004 with “The Bourne Supremacy” and in 2007 with “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Each is a travelogue of espionage that takes audiences around the globe as the amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) seeks his true identity while taking down thugs and government agents along the way. Adapted from Robert Ludlum’s best-sellers, the movies shrewdly pull in the reins on the author’s iron-horse prose and update the gadgetry without sacrificing the hysterical mood. As Bourne, Damon is just right — he’s confident and brooding, all inward confliction assailed by an outside world trying to undo him. Solid supporting turns by Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, Brian Cox, Clive Owen and David Strathairn lift the franchise. Grade: B+

“Clerks II” Blu-ray: A sharp return to raunchy form that picks up 12 years after its infamous predecessor became an underground hit. Raunch only works if there is an undercurrent of substance to lift the bottom feeding, which “Clerks II” does well. It’s a movie that has no problem plunging into the messy depths of bestiality while also, somehow, generating a groundswell of affection for the characters understandably dumbstruck by the lot of it. Features the return of Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes and director Kevin Smith. Rosario Dawson is winning in a romantic subplot. Rated R. Grade: B+

“MI-5: Volume 6”: From the BBC, a series that follows Britain’s version of the FBI and CIA. Often, the show is superb, filled with the sort of harrowing drama you’d expect from an organization organized to police the world while also keeping Britain safe. Meanwhile, at least when it comes to those agents of Section B, personal relationships also must be handled, usually with delicacy and deceit. Rupert Penry-Jones is the standout as Adam Carter, the widowed agent who leads his staff into and out of danger, not always with success. It’s a smart, beautifully written and acted series that shows no signs of fatigue in this, its sixth season. Grade: A-

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” DVD, Blu-ray: Tells a familiar tale and tells it well. The story focuses on the affections that spark between Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings), two shy teens from New Jersey who have a similar love for music and a quick, understated wit that suggests a fine pairing might be at hand during one chaotic night in Manhattan. Some will argue that the movie is too slight to be significant and that its characters don’t possess enough depth to be interesting, but they’re missing the point. The movie is a slice-of-life vignette designed to offer a glimpse into something deeper. We enter into it on the verge of one memorable evening, we observe what transpires, then we leave the characters on the cusp of change in what you sense will be a more profound story that will play offscreen. Echoes of Scorsese’s “After Hours” are obvious, but the movie has a sweetness and relevancy all its own. It’s a movie that understands its characters and their generation, refuses to condescend to either, and so it just goes along with both, following Nick, Norah and company through the highs and lows of one of those eventful evenings you somehow get through, and tend to remember with fondness long after it has passed. Rated PG-13. Grade: B+

“Zodiac: Director’s Cut” Blu-ray: From David Fincher, a meticulous, nearly three-hour drama about the quest to bring down the famed serial killer Zodiac, who wreaked havoc in Northern California in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The effort to capture him was formidable, but since the killer was never caught, there’s the sense going into the film that perhaps Fincher might pull an Oliver Stone and close the books with his own theories. He doesn’t. As such, there is no payoff in the telling, no fresh ideas, and the movie’s ending, as a result, is unsatisfying. Some of the acting follows suit. As San Francisco Chronicle political cartoonist Robert Graysmith, Jake Gyllenhaal is especially flat; you can feel his fatigue, which becomes ours. Fairing better are Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards, though Dermot Mulroney and Chloe Sevigny are wasted in slim supporting roles. The film’s memorable performance comes from Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery, the Chronicle reporter who covered the case. Sheathed in mischief, Downey gives his scenes a bounce they otherwise would have lacked. Rated R. Grade: C

Also on DVD and Blu-ray disc:

Other recommended titles this week include several from the BBC, such as the ingenious detective series (with a magician’s twist) “Jonathan Creek: Season Three,” the darker third season of the excellent crime show “Waking the Dead,” as well as the very funny “Little Britain: Complete Series,” its funnier BBC America counterpart “Little Britain USA,” and the comedy series “Saxondale: Complete Seasons 1 and 2,” starring Steve Coogan from “Hamlet 2.” For science fiction with a British twist, try the recent edition from the Doctor Who series, “Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday.” For BBC purists, recommended titles include Timothy Spall in the latest version of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” the five films collected in “The Henry James Collection,” as well as Gemma Arterton, Eddie Redmayne and Mans Matheson in “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” which finds new heat within Thomas Hardy’s much-adapted novel. Those who dig Ian McShane from the HBO series “Deadwood” should look to his early work in “Lovejoy: Complete Season Four,” which finds McShane armed with a decidedly less enthusiastic abuse of the vocabulary. Here, the actor is a roguish antiques dealer who sleuths on the sly. As well-written as the show is, it coasts mostly on McShane’s charm. On this side of the pond, it’s a decidedly different sensibility altogether, particularly with the release of “Dallas: Tenth Season,” which proves once again that where there’s oil, there’s drama. Here, the usual doses of death, destruction, barbed tongues, backbiting and lawsuits are the mainstay, but focus also is given to the explanation of how a freshly showered Bobby (Patrick Duffy) returned from the dead at the end of the infamous ninth season.

WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and archive of movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Mondays, Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/01/30/living/dvd-corner-nick-and-norahrsquos-infinite-playlist/ printed on April 20, 2014