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DVDs, Numbers and Other Disasters

POSTED:

Yes, it's DVD Tuesday. And only two stand out:

PICK OF THE WEEK

No contest, it's The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson's lyrical comedy about three Manhattan brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman) on a healing journey through India by train. The movie limped at the box office, so take the trip on DVD. The transfer to disc is beautifully done. And a major bonus is Hotel Chevalier, a thirteen-minute short that shows Schwartzman's character shacked up in Paris with his girlfriend, played by a harsh, never-hotter Natalie Portman (see photo). The short wasn't shown with the movie during its theatrical run. Big mistake. Watch it now and let it get inside your head.

VICE PICK IF YOU HAVE AN OSCAR HANGOVER

The Last Emperor, which won the Best Picture Academy Award twenty years ago, has looked like crap on DVD ever since.

Now, thanks to Criterion's four-disc set with a restored, high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, Bernardo Bertolucci's China epic will knock your eyes out and keep you riveted.

WORST OF THE WEEK

Beowulf is out in a Unrated Director's Cut, but it's not in 3-D, which is what made it an event at the multiplex. Director Robert Zemeckis uses a motion-capture process to turn live actors into digital humans and goose the eighth-century epic poem into twenty-first-century life. What roared in three dimensions quiets down to a whisper in two.

30 Days of Night wouldn't work even if 3-D glasses came with the DVD package. It's Josh Hartnett as a sheriff in Alaska trying to keep vampires from running amok during a month of darkness. Sixty days of night couldn't hide that Hartnett makes wood look lively.

DISASTER REPORT

The weekend's box-office put Vantage Point at the top of the heap with $23 millon, proving that a huge marketing budget and a good trailer can sell shit like nobody's business. That other slice of overhyped excrement, Jumper, came in at No. 3 with $13 million. I take some comfort in the fact that Witless Protection with Larry the Cable Guy couldn't crack the Top 10. And feel hope that There Will Blood did make it in at No. 10 and that the newly crowned Oscar winner No Country for Old Men is up nearly twenty percent at the ticket booth with $64 million in the till after 16 weeks in release.

For beancounters, Sunday's Oscar telecast was catastrophic. Not because lousy movies won, quite the contrary, the panic comes from the numbers. The Academy's 80th birthday show drew the lowest ratings EVER for an Oscarcast. Only 32 million people watched. Only 32 million!! Those are American Idol numbers. No matter. It's way short of the record 55.2 million who tuned in the year of Titanic. Instead of getting congrats for showing some taste, the Academy is getting razzed for not being the People's Choice awards. The implication is that the Academy should now dumb down and nominate only box-office hits to win ratings. According to the money figures, the five nominees would have been:

1 Spider-Man 3 instead of No Country for Old Men

2 Shrek the Third instead of There Will Be Blood

3.Transformers instead of Juno

4.Pirates of the Caribbean 3 instead of Atonement

5.Harry Potter 5 instead of Michael Clayton

Let that sink in, why don't you? As I say after almost every ratings report, kill me now!

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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