New on DVD: Javier Bardem Still Super Scary in NCFOM

The Darjeeling LimitedFox, $29.99With the exception of his debut—Bottle Rocket, still his most human film—all of Wes Anderson's movies have received the Criterion Collection treatment: fancy and full-blown, the show-off's how-to turned celebratory autopsy. Not so this shrug of a self-parody, in which Anderson takes the set-in-a-house Royal Tenenbaums and set-on-a-ship Life Aquatic and sets it on an Indian train downbound for familiar familial smash-ups and make-ups, starring a heavily bandaged Owen Wilson (playing suicidal, err...) and his big-screen bros Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, who also co-wrote (and who proves that Anderson, not Noah Baumbach, deserves the blame for the lifeless Life). The only bonuses: the too-long short Hotel Chevalier (infamous for naked-ish Natalie Portman) and a randomly assembled making-of featurette that's more a production-design piece, perfect for a filmmaker who fetishizes details. Not that Darjeeling deserves much more. ROBERT WILONSKYInto the WildParamount, $29.98Sean Penn waited a good decade before adapting Jon Krakauer's book about Chris McCandless, who graduated college in 1990 then disappeared into the American unknown, re-emerging as Alexander Supertramp before his final tragic farewell in the Alaskan wilderness in '92. Penn's patience is evident in every finely wrought frame of this masterwork. Sadly, the film was overlooked at Oscar time in every category in which it should have been a contender—from Emile Hirsch's turn as McCandless, the restless lost soul seeking peace and salvation in the ether, to Penn's languid direction and vivid writing, to Eddie Vedder's songs, each as vital as the tale itself. Hal Holbrook, too, is a revelation; he's at the pinnacle of an estimable career. The extras are scant, though: two making-ofs masquerading as docs; where are the commentary tracks, at least? ROBERT WILONSKYNo Country for Old MenMiramax, $29.99"A horror comedy chase" is how a grinning Tommy Lee Jones describes No Country for Old Men in the making-of—meanwhile, his fellow actors add to the list such adjectives as "a very primitive ride," "a rabbit chase through Texas," and "a very powerful story about violence." Or, in short, "a Coen brothers film," says Kelly Macdonald, nailing it. Even if the movie, about a hunt for some drug loot, ain't as perfect as it should've been (the final chatty scenes with Jones' sheriff are so deep-think, they threaten to drown what's come before), it's still a stunning distillation of the Coens' oeuvre. It's Blood Simple made by grown-ups, the jokes rich and resonant and the violence potent and disquieting. And Josh Brolin, as savvy hick Llewelyn Moss, really deserved an Oscar nod. ROBERT WILONSKYSleuthSony, $26.96Brisk and clever for a while, Sleuth then becomes boring as hell, a giant chunk of chit (and chat) as Michael Caine and Jude Law do their Tom-and-Jerry routine. It's a needless remake of a film once starring Caine in the Law role, as the hunk come to claim a rich man's missus. Here it's as cold as its setting, a dimly lit, labyrinthine manse in which Caine's wealthy author gulps his scotch and spouts his droll witticisms. It feels more like a drama-school exercise than a work of art—and thrills are all but absent, as the men swap roles and allegiances like throwaway disguises. The commentary tracks are infinitely more interesting than the film; the actors really dig talking about the process—fitting, really, as the film is nothing but process without payoff. ROBERT WILONSKYSouth Park: ImaginationlandParamount, $19.99It's sorta miraculous that Trey Parker and Matt Stone still have things to say, but they try to say too much in these three connected episodes, released here as a mini-movie. Using a plot about terrorists attacking our collective imagination (and including a subplot about Cartman trying to make Kyle suck his balls), the guys satirize Michael Bay, Homeland Security, ThunderCats, hippies, kiddie lit, televised beheadings, Al Gore, and pantheistic solipsism. With all the big ideas and cartoon bloodbaths, there's almost no room for the humor—and these aren't exactly the funniest episodes of the series. There's also a commentary track full of plain talk from Parker and Stone on Hollywood, Mel Gibson, and story structure, as well as two earlier episodes that introduced critters from Imaginationland. JORDAN HARPEROTHER RELEASESDavid Lynch's underrated 1997 Lost Highway, with the now-notorious Robert Blake in a creepy supporting role, is finally on disc. Frank Darabont's adaptation of an old Stephen King story, The Mist, could've used more gore and more monsters. Seen at SIFF last year, the Franco-Romanian suspense flick Them cleverly restricts our field of vision, and that of a doomed couple, not unlike The Blair Witch Project. A J-horror favorite from SIFF 2000, The Black House (based on a manga), has been remade by the Koreans as Black House; sadly the original remains unavailable on Region 1 DVD. Three old titles are out from the Taviana brothers: The Night of Shooting Stars, Kaos, and Fiorile. From the TV vaults: John From Cincinnati only lasted one season on HBO, but The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder includes '70s celebs from John Lennon to Tom Wolfe. There's more bad news from Brazil in the heightened (ahem) documentary Manda Bala. Despite stars Mark Ruffalo, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jennifer Connelly, Reservation Road got no traction with viewers. Nor did the Iraq War tutorial Lions for Lambs, despite Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise. P2 turns parking into terror—like we don't experience that every day? Though none made the Oscars, there's a nice collection of European talent in The World According to Shorts collection. With a Bette Davis retrospective beginning this week at the Grand Illusion (see the Wire), Fox is simultaneously pushing a five-disc collection including the priceless All About Eve. Bonnie and Clyde has also been dusted off, with features added but no Warren Beatty commentary. Huge as a novel, The Kite Runner couldn't jump the culture barrier in theaters. The week's big release is There Will Be Blood, considered by many critics to be the best film of 2007.dvd@seattleweekly.com

 
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