This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Russell Crowe in a scene from "Noah." (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Niko Tavernise)(Photo: Niko Tavernise, AP)
It gives me great pleasure to announce that some truly intriguing titles populate this week’s home-video release schedule, the kind of entertainments that make columns like this a real pleasure to write. When it comes to the latest movies on the list this week, however, the intrigue factor leaves a little something to be desired.
"Noah." It may not be sacrilegious, but Darren Aronofsky’s take on the biblical epic about the man who built the ark is most likely not what you may recall from Sunday school. Deep oddness is on display here, from giant rock monsters to the threat of infanticide, and although the boat looks awesome and a surly Russell Crowe acquits himself well (Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson also star), the movie drags until the skies open more than an hour in. Aronofsky may have sought to remake a stodgy genre here, but he has not succeeded. But don’t take my word for it; the movie garnered consistently positive critical reviews. Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content. 138 min.
"The Other Woman." If, like me, you’re willing to sit through most anything starring Cameron Diaz, this otherwise thoroughly lame female revenge comedy might be to your liking. Be aware, however, that it’s Leslie Mann, playing the consummate ditz, who steals the show, such as it is. Also on board is Kate Upton, the supermodel whose Amazonian physique and kewpie-doll voice leave behind a disconcerting impression. And Diaz looks like she’s having fun as usual. While I found the experience of watching the movie passably enjoyable, I was also watching it for free. Rated PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, sexual references and language. 109 min.
"Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Revisited Blu-ray." Normally, a four-hour director’s cut is just wretched excess, but when it comes to music documentaries, it’s hard to beat this Oscar-winning landmark from 1970. The concert footage is beyond generous, but director Michael Wadleigh interspersed scores of interviews and other found moments with the music, resulting in the definitive look at this seminal event. I’ve seen scores of doc films over the years, but this one remains my favorite, a picture I consider required viewing every few years. If you care about popular music at all and have never seen the movie, you owe it to yourself. Two discs, 224 min.
"The Big Chill." It’s become all too easy to ridicule this movie, a very big deal when it was released in 1983, as a showcase for whining yuppies. It is that, but the drama, about a group of college of friends from the 1960s reuniting for a friend’s funeral in South Carolina nearly 20 years later, features great acting across the board from Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum, Meg Tilly and especially William Hurt. It’s still a very watchable film, given the Criterion Collection treatment for this Blu-ray release, which features a cast reunion from last year so we can see how old everyone has gotten. Three discs, 105 min.
Generally known for its good timing, the PBS series "Frontline" recently examined the widening surveillance powers of the National Security Agency in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations. Released this week on DVD (180 min.), the program also examines the troubling ties between America’s surveillance infrastructure and Silicon Valley. It’s an eye-opener. … All these years later, it’s easy to forget how David Lynch’s intensely promising 1990-91 television series "Twin Peaks" ultimately dissolved into a morass of incomprehensibility. Clearly, Lynch lost his way with the story. But for its first several episodes, the mystery was like nothing else on TV. "Twin Peaks – The Entire Mystery" box sets features 10 Blu-ray discs, 1,036 min.
Here are this week’s most popular DVD rentals, as compiled by Rotten Tomatoes – "The LEGO Movie," "RoboCop," "Noah," "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "Transcendence," "300: Rise of an Empire," "Rio 2," "Lone Survivor," "Non-Stop" and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."
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