Winner of the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Thirst was largely overlooked at the time of its American theatrical release, even amid the biggest vampire craze in recent memory. That's a shame, because Chan-wook Park's latest, about a deeply devoted Roman Catholic priest (Kang-ho Song, of The Host) who turns into a reluctant Nosferatu after an ill-fated transfusion leaves him hungry for blood, is one of the year's most chilling fantasies – gory, funny and thoroughly entertaining.
Park (Oldboy) has an undeniable talent for transforming brutality into art. Even as his characters rip each other limb from limb, wantonly indulging in the most outlandish atrocities, there is an almost lyrical beauty in his choreography. Yet his appetite for violence is also problematic: As the body count escalates, Thirst threatens to sink beneath the weight of its own sadistic excesses. Park rights the ship with an ending that's surprisingly poignant – his movie has soul, even if his bloodthirsty hero doesn't.
EXTRAS: Available only in DVD format, Thirst features no bonus materials. Could a fully loaded special edition be far behind? Stay tuned.
If J. J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III) aimed to boldly go where no man has gone before with Star Trek, his long-anticipated franchise reboot that traces Capt. James T. Kirk’s roots back to his undisciplined youth, give him partial credit. While there’s no denying his contribution to the cult phenomenon dreamed up by Gene Roddenberry is cleverly executed, this latest mission sometimes feels more like a winking homage than a new beginning.
Perhaps that was inevitable. After 79 episodes and six motion pictures spent with the crew of the original Starship Enterprise, expecting a full-scale reinvention of the brand would be slightly unreasonable, and Abrams delivers where it counts: Star Trek is fast, flashy and suspenseful, even when its outcome seems a foregone conclusion.
EXTRAS:Star Trek is available in single- and double-disc sets on DVD, and a special three-disc package on Blu-ray. While the single-disc DVD offers insightful commentary (from Abrams, producer Damon Lindelof and screenwriters Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman) and a richly detailed making-of featurette, the real prize is only available on the pricier editions: deleted scenes featuring the birth of Spock.
The term “genius” has been applied liberally to Sacha Baron Cohen, the gonzo impressionist whose Borat (2006) skillfully skewered racism, anti-Semitism and America’s over-developed sense of pride. Yet Brüno lowers the bar considerably. As social satire, it is boorish and scattershot; as farce, it is obvious and inconsistent.
Once again, Baron Cohen fires at a range of worthy targets, and his aim is somewhat true. Brüno, the flamboyantly fey Austrian fashion reporter he introduced in a series of short sketches on Britain’s Comedy Central, ridicules runway models, homophobes, shallow celebrities and fame-hungry parents who view their children as meal tickets. But too many of Baron Cohen’s pranks seem tired and cynical.
Mocking a fashion model who laments the difficulties of walking the runway? It’s been done, most memorably in Ben Stiller’s Zoolander. Brüno's visit to a counselor who converts gays to the hetero lifestyle wanders into territory already covered by Bill Maher in last year’s Religulous. In the movie’s most honest, unscripted moment, Harrison Ford tells Brüno to buzz off, only in more profane terms. It’s wish fulfillment – not just for Brüno’s unsuspecting victims, but also for much of the audience.
EXTRAS: Baron Cohen serves up a generous helping of bonus materials, including a brutally honest full-length commentary track, alternate scenes featuring disgraced baseball icon Pete Rose and 35 minutes of deleted scenes, including Brüno's now-famous encounter with LaToya Jackson, which was cut from the theatrical release in the wake of her brother's death. Highly recommended.
If Lynn Shelton’s clever, dialogue-rich comedy seems intent on upping the ante presented by this spring’s I Love You, Man, that’s no accident. The movie, about a pair of straight friends – Ben (Mark Duplass), married and seemingly domesticated, and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), a laid-back bohemian type – who decide it would be the pinnacle of high-concept art (or something like that) to make their own gay porn flick, isn’t really about the sex so much as the bond that unites two men laughably unsuited to taking their relationship to the next level.
EXTRAS here are pretty standard – a short but revealing behind-the-scenes documentary, two lively commentary tracks and a handful of outtakes that were rightly excised from the final cut.