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The Wolf Of Wall Street Blu-rayMartin Scorsese’s latest big screen endeavor is a lesson in excess, a depraved two-hour business film filled with drugs, more drugs and people behaving very selfishly with little remorse. The Wolf of Wall Street is about turning penny stocks into big profit, but at its heart, it’s about the lengths people will go to in order to feel on top of the world.
If there’s anything The Wolf of Wall Street has, it’s a frenetic energy that manifests itself in pace, tone and the actions of characters. As Jordan Belfort, Leonardo DiCaprio has enough go-go energy to keep up a steady routine of boozing, snorting drugs and knocking back pills. The young businessman wasn’t always on that trajectory. After landing in New York City in the eighties, the young stockbroker sees the money and excess surrounding him and decides he wants a piece of the pie. He enlists a loyal crew around him, including Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), a sleazy Long Island-type who happens to be married to his cousin.
The movie, in true Scorsese fashion, is a lengthy romp that hops through multiple jobs, multiple wives, and multiple houses. During this runtime, there are sequences that will amuse and sequences that should leave audiences feeling a little dirty, including a scene where our leads discuss an illegal deal while taping hundreds to a naked chick. It’s a morally bankrupt adventure story, but luckily it is never bankrupt creatively, and inhabiting its world for a little while is ultimately worth a watch.
You can order The Wolf Of Wall Street over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Unless you nab a copy of the Best Buy exclusive edition, the set doesn’t come with a ton of bonus features. Paramount Media Home Distribution’s set does come with a "Making of" segment called "The Wolf Pack". It takes a look at the backstory behind the picture, specifically how Leonard DiCaprio couldn’t get the story out of his head and how he knew Martin Scorsese was the only man who could possibly get the job done. It’s definitely worth a watch, though there’s nothing in there that’s groundbreaking enough that will alter your opinions on the film.
Delivery Man Blu-rayA couple of years ago, writer and director Ken Scott put together a charming and warm film about an irresponsible Canadian adult who finds out that he fathered more than 500 children. The movie, Starbuck, did well enough on the festival circuit that DreamWorks Pictures put some big stars behind an American version of the same film. The result is Delivery Man, an hour and 45-minute story about families and how decisions made in the past can impact a person’s future.
At the start of the story, professional meat deliverer David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is having a hell of a day, getting stuck with parking tickets and missing the opportunity to deliver his team’s uniforms for an important basketball game. Wozniak’s a loveable goof, but his child-like behavior makes it clear that his does not have any clear goals or sense of purpose. So, when he finds out he has fathered 533 children through a sperm bank goof, it’s not surprising but it’s also a bit stressful.
Vaughn has the right comedic sensibility to play a schlubby goof and an affable individual. He hasn’t quite figured out how to be a grown-up, but he’s also good at doing really, really nice things for those he cares about, which helps audiences to sympathize with his character. However, as a comedy, Delivery Man doesn’t always deliver. The movie is occasionally amusing, but it’s missing the laugh-out-loud moments that usually populate movies billed as comedies. It’s a laid-back adventure story with enough breezy laughs to keep audiences invested in a watch, but it may be more of a rental than anything else.
You can order Delivery Man over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature:
The best Delivery Man special feature is definitely "Vince Vaughn: Off The Cuff". The script, as a whole, was very tight and not really improv-friendly, which is what happens when you have a careful plot, but there were a few occasions in which Vaughn was allowed to go off. It happened during the laundry room scene. It happened during the grilling tofu scene, and it happened when he was talking about his band at the dinner table. It’s not as exhaustive or as funny as you might imagine, but it gives you a chance to see how impressed the other actors are by it.
Other Bonus Features:
Deleted Scene—"You’re Under Arrest"
Veep: The Complete Second Season DVDVeep’s early episodes started off with a bang but took a serious turn somewhere toward the end of its first season. That changing tone made it difficult to tell whether the show was going for comedy or dramedy. Luckily, that formula was tweaked a little bit for Season 2, resulting in a chunk of episodes which are steady on the laughs and manage to propel the narrative without ever getting too over-the-top with the drama.
This year, Vice President Selena Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her band of less-than-merry staff are dealing with higher stakes in the office. Meyer is working to gain a more important role in the White House, with her ultimate to-do list including running for the presidency in a term or two. Unlike last year, we don’t need to deal with the occasional real downer of a plotline. While Selina’s busy scheming, members of her staff, including the seemingly loyal Amy (Anna Chlumsky) and the opportunist Dan (Reid Scott), are trying to work their own ways up the corporate latter and,of course, dealing with all of the random fires Selena forces them to put out.
During Season 2, those hysterical fires involve missing trash, lowlife ex-husbands, pig roasts, government shutdowns, new-fangled analytics programs and the horny spouse of a prime minister. Every single episode, the drama hits the fan sooner or later, but fortunately for everyone, that drama is far more often of the superficial or weird variety. Even when characters scream about sexual 9/11s, there’s always a health dose of absurdity to keep the action from descending too far into melodrama.
You an order Veep over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature:
The deleted scenes on Veep are great, but that probably shouldn’t come as a big shock to you. The deleted scenes on comedy shows, specifically ones that allow the actors a little bit of wiggle room are very often uproarious. Sometimes, they’re just as funny as what makes it to the screen, but they wind up getting cut for pacing reasons. They’re conveniently broken up by episode, and it’s pretty clear where most of them fit in the action. My favorite probably involves Jonah excitedly talking about doing a history of rap Karaoke medley. Eminem is apparently the panty-dropper, in case you were wondering.
Other Bonus Features:
4 Audio Commentaries
The Best of Bogart Collection Blu-rayWarner Bros. Home Entertainment is quite fond of putting together "Best of" sets. In the last year, the veteran movie studio released a slew of genre DVD sets highlighting some of the best movies from the Warner Bros. canon. While those sets were jam-packed with different films, they weren’t the most visually appealing or user friendly the studio ever put together. This is why reviewing the studio’s The Best of Bogart Collection has been such a breath of fresh air.
Tucked away in classy black and white packaging with a sturdy outer shell, The Best of Bogart collection only boast four films, but the good news is those films are among the most famous in the actor’s 75-entry filmography. So, while the set is not for any diehard fans, it is a nice foray into the actor’s body of work. The four films available are Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen. Each movie comes on its own disc, alongside mini movie posters, printed on thick cardstock and beautifully tinted with color.
Bogart is a bit of an acquired taste for many younger movie fans, specifically because of the rhythms he speaks at, but for those who are able to cross that bridge, his catalog is brimming with brilliant moments and memorable films, these four at the top of the list. All are classics in their own ways, and all are still regularly consumed, which is a huge testament to their power and endearing popularity, given they were filmed sixty or seventy years ago or so.
You can order The Best Of Bogart over at Amazon.
The Maltese Falcon Commentary by Bogart biographer Eric Lax
MF "The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird"
MF "Breakdowns of 1941: Studio Blooper Reel"
MF "Makeup Tests"
MF "Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart Warner Night at the Movies 1941 Short Subjects
MF Audio-Only Bonus
C Introduction by Lauren Bacall
C "Great Performances: Bacall On Bogart"
C "Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You’ve Never Heard Of"
C "You Must Remember This: A Tribute To Casablanca"
C "As Time Goes By: The Children Remember"
C Outtakes The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Commentary by Eric Lax
TTOTSM "John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick"
TTOTSM "Discovery Treasure: Story Of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
TTOTSM "8 Ball Bunny"
TTOTSM "4/18/1949 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast"
The African Queen "Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen"
Little House On The Prairie: Season 1- Deluxe Remastered Edition Blu-rayAs the year progresses, the quality of home entertainment releases continues to get better each week. This week, we have several new seasons of TV, including the likeable Showtime dramedy Californication and the second season of the sci fi procedural Continuum. However, the crème de la crème of this week’s releases is clearly the remastered edition Blu-ray of the very first season of Little House on the Prairie. The sound and picture are both pretty great for the brand new set, but the real gems are the episodes, which are apparently presented uncut for the first time since the original TV broadcast, including the original pilot movie. I’m not familiar enough with the series to note the nuances between the cut and uncut episodes, but couple that announcement with original screen tests and a touching documentary for fans of the series.
You can check out some more of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, sets are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Other March 25 Releases
Walking With Dinosuars
Californication: The Sixth Season
King of Comedy: 30th Anniversary
Continuum: Season 2
Welcome to the Jungle
Key & Peele: Seasons 1 & 2