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New releases: 'The Iron Lady,' 'A Trip to the Moon'

April 08, 2012|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."
Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." (Alex Bailey / The Weinstein…)

The Iron Lady/Albert Nobbs

Available on VOD April 10

Oscar veterans Meryl Streep and Glenn Close squared off in the lead actress category this year, both nominated for roles that saw them radically altering their appearances and voices. Streep won the statuette for "The Iron Lady," a biography of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that skips through decades of the stateswoman's life in breezy flashbacks. Given how controversial Thatcher's administration was — and how much the conservative-liberal divide continues to be a major story around the world — "The Iron Lady" is something of a missed opportunity by director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan, as they take more of a Wikipedia approach to their subject than one that's relevant to today's headlines. But Streep commands the screen as always, holding down the center of a too-scattered narrative. There's more about Thatcher and Streep on the DVD and Blu-ray, available Tuesday, which contain five featurettes.

Close is less convincing in "Albert Nobbs," a late 19th century drama in which the actress plays a woman passing as a manservant in an upscale Irish hotel. The premise is unique, and there are some strong scenes between Close's Albert and another woman-posing-as-a-man, played by Janet McTeer (also delivering an Oscar-nominated performance). But Close looks so odd as Albert that it's hard to believe that any of her fellow servants haven't figured her out, and she plays the character as such a timid blank that none of her hopes or dreams really resonate. Albert's aspirations toward normality are touching, but they're also frustratingly abstract. "Albert Nobbs" comes to DVD and Blu-ray on May 15.

Sleeping Beauty

IFC/MPI, $24.98

Australian writer-director Julia Leigh's debut feature "Sleeping Beauty" stars Emily Browning as a goalless slacker who takes a job at an agency that supplies wealthy old men with women who'll willingly down knockout drugs and let the clients have their way — short of violence or sexual intercourse. Leigh clearly means this story as a metaphor for how womankind is confined by masculine desire, which may explain why her heroine lacks much definition (since she's supposed to be an "everywoman"). But Leigh's premise is so strong that it largely survives her efforts to turn "Sleeping Beauty" into a heavy-handed think piece. There's an evocative Euro-smut quality to the film's lavish mansions and mysterious underground societies, and a strange fascination to the repeated scenes of withered perverts indulging their fantasies while Browning snoozes.

A Trip to the Moon

Flicker Alley, Blu-ray, $39.95

Recently restored from the lone remaining hand-colored print, the new edition of Georges Méliès' 1902 sci-fi classic "A Trip to the Moon" — prominently featured in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" — includes a soundtrack by the French pop band Air, who mix lush orchestration, stormy electronica and murmuring voices to lend some of Méliès' scenes more drama. But it's the filmmaker's pointy-hatted astronauts and mushroom-festooned lunar caverns that are still the stars of this show. Méliès had a showman's flair as he experimented with special effects like a kid with a new camcorder. The new DVD and Blu-ray of "A Trip to the Moon" include a documentary about Méliès and alternate audio tracks (for those not so fond of the Air score).


Charlotte Rampling: The Look

Lorber, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life

MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Logan's Run: The Complete Series

Warner Bros., $39.98

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