New on Blu: DUE DATE, FISH TANK (Criterion), and more

GATW Staff

by: GATW Staff
February 22nd, 2011

Well, it's a new week, which means a brand new slate of new releases making their way to store shelves on Blu-ray.  And what a week of releases it truly is.

Whether you are looking for a star studded comedy, such as the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle DUE DATE, or an underrated and underseen gem of a film, that may have slipped under your radar (FISH TANK), this is one hell of a stacked week.  Toss in a re-release of one of today's most beloved filmmakers' second feature film, and one of the most talked about "bad" movies, and you have a week that is more than worth its weight in those tiny blue cases.

Check out our reviews of DUE DATE and FISH TANK after the break!

DUE DATE (Warner Bros.)
Written by J.C. De Leon

Hurrying home to see his pregnant wife and to be present for the birth of their first son, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) has encountered every traveler’s worst fear - he’s encountered “that guy”. That guy who asks too many questions, wears inappropriate clothing, shows up places drunk, carries a dog everywhere, and is oblivious the kind of seething hatred aimed at him everywhere he goes. The kind of guy that just makes you see red and want to spit on puppies. That guy is Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), aspiring actor and effeminate walking glaucoma (read: pothead) patient who is trying to say goodbye to his dead father, whose ashes he carries in a coffee can. Together, they will drive cross-country and try to get Peter home to his wife and son.

It’s a wild premise and, if you’ve seen the trailer, it’s non-stop from the get go. Zach Galifianakis fans will no doubt become fans of this movie, and Robert Downey Jr. fans will get a chance to see him a little more unlikeable than he has been in recent years. Great appearances in the film by Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx, and Michelle Monaghan round out a great cast and make for some hilarious moments.

As a Blu-ray disc, it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s got two deleted scenes, which are actually in the movie, but are merely longer takes. It’s got a compilation of all the action in the movie, and all of the questions that Ethan Tremblay asks Peter. There is a gag reel that is kind of funny, as those things tend to be, along with the complete scene from Two and a Half Men where Ethan Tremblay played a small role for one scene. Your enjoyment of this movie will be the deciding factor in the decision on whether or not to get this disc - that being said, Todd Phillips’ movies have a way of being pretty re-watchable, and there are usually new things that you can catch every time you watch one again.

FISH TANK: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]
Written by Josh Brunsting

FISH TANK, the newest film from RED ROAD director Andrea Arnold, is not only a new member of The Criterion Collection, but it’s one of the best films of the past five years, that hasn’t gotten its just due.  At least, not until now.

FISH TANK follows 15-year-old Mia, who begins to fall for the considerably older Connor. As soon as he takes a gander at her hips during a hip hop dance, and she has a chance to see him in all his glory while getting some tea, it becomes clear that their worlds will collide in some way or another. However, Connor also happens to be with her mother, making this story all the more conflicted. He moves into their flat, and so goes the film, which in all accounts is one of the most comedic, poignant, and, at moments, horrifying films I've seen in a long time.

Lead actress, Kate Jarvis, is far and away this film’s biggest star. She plays Mia, and mixes this sense of being a hard-ass with a stark sense of innocence that makes her all the more compelling, and all the more interesting to watch on screen. It's a boisterous performance at times, with her dropping the c-word like it's a bad habit. However, she also has this look of sweetness in her eyes during some scenes, that makes this a truly powerful and raw performance. She takes the strong and difficult dialogue and is able to put such strength into it, with a similar sense of sobriety, that it's a performance not to be missed.

Alongside her is Michael Fassbender, in a much different role than he may be known for stateside. Fassbender is able to take this easily hated character, particularly as the film slowly begins to unravel, and adds such depth and heart to him, that when everything begins to fall, you honestly still somehow have fondness for this man. It's a theme and concept that ultimately makes FISH TANK a heartfelt and powerful little film.

However, all of this would be for naught if there wasn't a steady hand behind the camera. As with her previous work, RED ROAD, Andrea Arnold creates not only a raw and unflinching story, but she paints that canvas with an equally raw frame. The film is full of intense emotions, many of which our characters would rather not have unleashed, however there are also many emotional moments that rely just on moments of silence and the actions of the characters to say what words truly can't. It's not a big budget thriller, it's just a raw look at this teen's life as she strives to find love, and a place in this world, all the while trying to bust out of this fish tank that she has found herself in. Arnold is able to not only make the story work for the most part, but also, the interesting skill she has is that she is able to, along with music, make a setting come alive. Most of the time in these kinds of films, the characters simply act in front of a background, however, with FISH TANK, this setting becomes its own character.

As far as special features go, this one is chock full of them. Spearheaded by a threesome of short films from director Andrea Arnold, the Criterion Collection has given us our first really solid glimpse at the haunting (if a tad off-putting) MILK, the fantastic DOG, and the Oscar winning WASP, all of which make this a more than worthwhile release.  Audition footage is featured here as well, which is simply shows us the dancing footage of actresses who were looking to take up the role of Mia, but ultimately lost out. There are also a few interesting interviews here with the likes of actors Kierston Wareing and Michael Fassbender. Hell, even the damn menus on this release are some of the best the Collection has to offer.

Enough with this rambling. Words cannot describe just how bloody good FISH TANK is, and cannot even begin to describe how much justice the film has been done by this release. Simply put, this is one of the five best films this writer has seen in the past two or three years. See it. Buy it. Love it.

Also available:

BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR (Blu-ray) (2008) (Severin)

MEMENTO (10th Anniversary Edition) (2000) (Lionsgate)

Weeds: Season Six (2010) (Lionsgate)

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