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New releases: Denzel Washington, Robert Zemeckis team in 'Flight'

Also reviewed: 'Cabaret,' 'A Late Quartet' and 'Side by Side.'

February 02, 2013|By Noel Murray
  • Denzel Washington is Whip Whitaker in "Flight."
Denzel Washington is Whip Whitaker in "Flight." (Paramount Pictures )

Flight

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 5

"Flight" marks Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking after a decade-plus of making motion-capture animated features, and it proves that Zemeckis still has the strongest visual storytelling chops of any blockbuster director not named Steven Spielberg and still knows how to elicit great performances from movie stars. Denzel Washington is stunningly heartbreaking as an alcoholic airline pilot who saves nearly 100 people when his jet malfunctions, then has to deal with the public scrutiny over whether he's a hero or a heel. John Gatins' script is way too heavy-handed about its protagonist's arc of redemption, and Zemeckis follows suit with some groaner images and music cues. But "Flight" still pulls a viewer right in, thanks to Zemeckis' deftly moving camera and Washington's believable take on a man too used to fleeing his problems. The DVD and Blu-ray add extensive featurettes.

Cabaret

Warner Bros., $14.97; Blu-ray, $27.98

The Broadway musical achieved a new maturity in the late 1960s, as composers such as Stephen Sondheim and the team of John Kander and Fred Ebb emerged with a more ambitious, literate approach to show tunes. But it took Bob Fosse's Oscar-winning 1972 adaptation of Kander & Ebb's "Cabaret" — starring Liza Minnelli as a nightclub performer having romantic troubles in decadent pre-World War II Berlin — for the movie musical to catch up to what was happening on the stage. The new Blu-ray edition of the film (also available on DVD) features a fantastic-looking-and-sounding transfer of the film, but of almost as much interest are the documentaries included on the disc, some vintage and one new, all placing this movie in the context of what was happening to an entire art form at the time.

A Late Quartet

20th Century Fox, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 5

It's not every indie film that can boast a cast with Christopher Walken (playing a cellist stricken with Parkinson's disease), Catherine Keener and Philip Seymour Hoffman (the latter two playing a married couple unsure how they're going to keep their string ensemble intact without their most senior member). But it's also fair to say that without those actors, there wouldn't be much to "A Late Quartet," which writer-director Yaron Zilberman renders tastefully and intelligently but also rather sleepily. As a low-key relationship drama, it's dry and by-the-numbers, but it's worth watching just to see these stars sink their teeth into characters far more "normal" than their norm. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a brief featurette.

Side by Side

Docurama, $26.95; Blu-ray, $29.95

Chris Kenneally's documentary — made in conjunction with Keanu Reeves, who conducts the on-camera interviews — considers how new technologies have changed the ways movies and moviemakers work. "Side by Side" has a stellar lineup of experts with varying opinions, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and Christopher Nolan, who all debate whether digital images are ruining cinema or are just part of a natural evolution, like the switch from silent to sound, or black-and-white to color. "Side by Side" gets specific about the pros and cons but doesn't take firm sides. It's more interested in offering a comprehensive, fascinating document of a medium in transition. The DVD and Blu-ray include additional interviews.

And …

Alex Cross

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 5

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 5

Here Comes the Boom

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 5

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