Blu-ray Today: Jan Svankmajer, Ben Stiller and a Bunch of Other Nuts


Jan Svankmajer’s Alice As curiously literal as it is to Lewis Carroll’s text, this stop-motion feature by Czech surrealist animator Svankmajer is as far out in its visuals. Alice goes back and forth from doll to human without much explanation, the Mad Hatter’s made of metal, and the White Rabbit is a taxidermy nightmare with real fangs and googly eyes. It ought to be one of the most amazing things ever, but Svankmajer is determined to constantly point out the artifice – mostly by non-stop closeups of his lead’s mouth as she follows every line of dialogue with “…said Alice,” “…said the March Hare,” etc. As a result, one is inherently distanced from the substance, and while the style is unique and fun, it does get extremely repetitive eventually.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Ben Stiller’s latest movie about what a cool guy he really is once you get past his exterior takes the title of a James Thurber short story in vain. Having very little to do with a tale that was all about escaping into the imagination, Stiller’s take sees Walter as an ex junior skateboarding champion, now a meek employee of Life magazine who embarks on a search for a daredevil photographer (Sean Penn) in order to procure a missing negative. Beautiful cinematography mixes with non-stop product placement to make a final film that, ironically enough, probably can’t measure up to the daydream version you’d create in your own head.

Angry Birds Toons, Season 1, Volume 2 – I love the game, but I confess I’ve never had the desire to see cartoon adventures about characters who are basically suicide bombers defending their unborn fetuses.

Mallrats This doubleheader of theatrical and extended cut has already been out on DVD a while, so there really isn’t anything new here, but if you don’t own it yet, you should – I remember my amazement first seeing it in 1995, and finally hearing dialogue onscreen that sounded like the way me and my friends talked. Panned at the time – save a few favorable notices for then-newcomer Jason Lee – it has aged better, and still contains Ben Affleck’s best role to date, as a dumbass fratboy who secretly loves New Kids on the Block and likes to do it in a very uncomfortable place, like the back of a Volkswagen. Features a Stan Lee cameo before everyone else had one, as well as one of the very first mentions onscreen of Wolverine.

Berserk: Golden Age Arc III – The Advent No idea what this is, but it looks like it might be something cool. Fill me in, commenters.

Ripper Street: Season 2 – What do you do when your show about the aftermath of Jack the Ripper’s killings gets renewed? Well, you have to make it about the aftermath of the aftermath, which is a bit more challenging, and actually led to its cancellation on the BBC, to be revived by Amazon Prime, who will now be faced with figuring out the after-after-aftermath.

The Nut Job They say “nuts” a lot. Because it’s about squirrels. That’s funny.

And those are my Blu-ray pics this week (could not decide if Touch of Evil really fit our style; decided not, but you should watch it anyway). What are yours?