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New on DVD: 'The King's Speech'

Also, 'Gulliver's Travels,' 'Rabbit Hole' and 'Somewhere.'

April 17, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Colin Firth stars as stuttering King George VI in "The King's Speech."
Colin Firth stars as stuttering King George VI in "The King's… (Laurie Sparham / The Weinstein…)

The King's Speech

Weinstein/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Perhaps it's no surprise that this stately English period film took Oscar's big prize –- the motion picture academy notoriously swoons for troubled monarchs. But director Tom Hooper's movie really is impeccably made and well acted, led as it is by Colin Firth's award-winning performance as King George VI. The movie follows his efforts to overcome a debilitating stammer with the help of a progressive therapist (played by Geoffrey Rush); screenwriter David Seidler and Hooper miss some fascinating historical and sociological tidbits in their efforts to turn "The King's Speech" into a piece of pop psychology, but the result is powerfully moving. The DVD and Blu-ray add a Hooper commentary and featurettes about the real people who inspired the film.

Gulliver's Travels

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99/$49.99

This is a formulaic and often vulgar retelling of the Jonathan Swift classic, with Jack Black as the titular traveler. Recasting the hero as a middle-age slacker who needs to acquire some ambition, the movie uses Gulliver's wild adventures in the tiny land of Lilliput as a study of a man learning to be big — metaphorically as well as literally. Not a bad idea for a reinvention, but Black's shtick is tired and the movie is way too beholden to gross-out jokes. The DVD and Blu-ray include a rote set of featurettes and outtakes.

Rabbit Hole

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray. $39.99

Nicole Kidman gives one of the best performances of her career, playing a woman dealing with the death of her son by closing herself off to her family and her husband (Aaron Eckhart). Screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire adapted his play for director John Cameron Mitchell, and though the filmmakers exaggerate the emotional reserve a bit too much, the attention to the small details of loss is frequently devastating. Kidman manages the difficult trick of being simultaneously sympathetic and prickly. The DVD and Blu-ray include deleted scenes and a Mitchell/Lindsay-Abaire commentary track.

Somewhere

Focus, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

Some critics have targeted Sofia Coppola for making airless movies about minute emotions. Those folks are likely to be beside themselves with this painfully spare art film starring Stephen Dorff as a wastrel movie star who spends time with his preteen daughter (Elle Fanning) and loses his taste for decadence. Slow-paced and obvious, "Somewhere" so cautiously avoids sensationalism that it becomes numbing. The DVD and Blu-ray add only a making-of featurette.

And...

"The Ernie Kovacs Collection" (Shout! Factory, $69.97); "If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise" (HBO, $24.98); "Ip Man 2: Legend of The Grandmaster" (Well Go USA, $24.98/$29.98; Blu-ray, $26.98/$32.98); "The Way Back" (Image, $27.97; Blu-ray, $29.97).

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