White Night Wedding (NR, 2008, IFC Films)
It’s only a rehearsal and not the actual wedding, but if Jon’s (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) performance as the groom — leaving his cell phone’s ringer on, taking a call during his vows, air-kissing his 18-years-his-junior bride (Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir as Anna) — is any indication, maybe it’s best to call the whole thing off. Actually, there are quite a few reasons to do that, and “White Night Wedding,” which originally appears to be yet another wacky wedding comedy in the making, isn’t afraid to dissect them frontward and backward as it strives instead to be something else completely. “Wedding” weaves together two separate chronological threads of Jon’s life, dropping enticing allusions about the past in the present track before jumping back in time to fill in the blanks those teases create. As it typically does in any film that’s as mindful of its characters as it is its plot, the trick works. But “Wedding” takes it to its own special level because, even when the story enters darkly serious territory, the film’s quirky, hilarious side never completely extinguishes. By the time we’re all caught up in the present, the sum of all that comedy, tragedy and familiarity makes the sweet moments that much sweeter and the wacky antics that much more genuinely funny. The payoff at the end, a combination of all the moods that preceded it, could scarcely be more fitting or more pleasant. In Icelandic with English subtitles, but vastly worth the read. No extras.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PG-13, 2009, Fox)
There are many words one could use to describe “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” But how does “serviceable” sound? Indeed, “Wolverine” takes us back to Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) pre-Wolverine days as an American supersoldier whose tour of duty spans centuries rather than mere years. It also, with varying degrees of thoroughness and competence, touches on the pasts of Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Blob (Kevin Durand), Kestrel (will.i.am), Silver Fox (Lynn Collins) and Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), each of whom had secondary roles or no role at all in the “X-Men” films. Arguments among the faithful continue to rage — particularly with regard to Deadpool’s treatment — as to how badly Fox botched what already was a pretty fleshed-out story in comic book form. But for the rest of us, “Wolverine” amounts to a film that often is pleasant to look at but rarely aspires to be anything a litany of other recent origins-centric comic book films haven’t already been. Jackman’s performance is as expected — this is his fourth rodeo as Wolverine, after all — and the rest of the film just kind of follows suit in adhering to the same old trappings. Fun? Sure. Memorable? Unless you’re irate about Deadpool and can’t unsee what you saw, not really.
Extras: Director commentary, producers commentary, deleted/alternate scenes, two behind-the-scenes features, anti-smoking PSA.
Trumbo (PG-13, 2007, Magnolia)
A gifted storyteller deserves nothing less than gifted storytelling for his life’s story, and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo — who wrote “Johnny Got His Gun,” “Spartacus” and “The Brave One,” but who also was blacklisted by Hollywood and thrown in prison during the embarrassing Communist witch hunt of the 1940s — had no shortage of stories to tell. Skeletally speaking, “Trumbo” tells Dalton’s story in chronological order and in straightforward fashion. But while the film does include interview footage with Trumbo (who died in 1976) himself, the vast majority of his firsthand words come channeled through readings by a slate of familiar actors (Paul Giamatti, Michael Douglas, Joan Allen, Liam Neeson and Donald Sutherland, among others). The readings, shot without backdrops and read as only an actor could, initially flirt hard with pretention. But when it becomes apparent how genuine they are, with real laugher, tears, anger or jubilant acts of latching on to Trumbo’s wit finding their way into the recitations, the concerns (mostly) melt away. And when those words come alive — be they from a letter to the phone company or as part of a speech, piece or loving note from imprisoned father to son — it’s established almost beyond debate that no other delivery would do this life as much justice in its allotted time as this one does.
Extras: Bonus readings, photo gallery.
Rumba (NR, 2008, Koch Lorber)
Fiona (Fiona Gordon) and Dom (Dominique Abel) have at least four things in common: They’re teachers, they’re lovers, they’re weird, and they have a burning (and talent-laden) passion for Latin dance. But that passion takes a devastating blow following a car accident that permanently damages both in separate ways. Tragic, no? Yeah, it probably should be. But “Rumba” kicks off with a series of visual, nearly dialogue-free gags that showed rather than told us just how off-kilter Fiona and Dom were at full capacity, and the car accident merely opens new doors for a new slew of more of the same. Ultimately, it amounts to the best Mr. Bean movie Rowan Atkinson never made. It’s silly beyond logical reason, but it’s amusing and clever enough to make one feel silly for ever worrying about logical reason in the first place. It also, for those who value the little things in comedy as much as the big, blaring things, accomplishes far more in the way of character development than a cursory look at the film’s broader gags would imply. Dance fanatics, however, be warned: Despite the title, the “Dance Extravaganza!” quote on the cover and the pictures of Fiona and Dom dancing on both sides of the box, “Rumba” is more a portrait of love and social deficiency taken to cartoonish extremes than it is of the art of dance. In French with English subtitles, though the dialogue is so sparse that subtitlephobes can watch without too much trouble.
Extras: Deleted scenes, outtakes.
Camille (PG-13, 2007)
Camille (Sienna Miller) and Silas (James Franco) are, in spite of Silas’ bursting reluctance, newlyweds. Or actually, following a bad motorcycle-and-sidecar accident on the highway, maybe they merely were rather than are newlyweds. Or perhaps they never were newlyweds in the first place. Or perhaps your guess is as good as any, because “Camille” sure isn’t going to ever spell it out for you. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing: The film’s flirtations with complete absurdity notwithstanding, it’s a lean, almost classically-disciplined love story about a hopelessly romantic girl and a coal-hearted guy who nonetheless falls for her and violates the laws of land and possibly nature to try and make her happy (or shut her up). Whether that’s enough, though, will hinge greatly on your tolerance for a film’s ability to tell its story at any cost. That, explicitly, is what “Camille” does, weaving a one-of-a-kind distortion of reality that’s confusing at first and downright contradictory as the minutes tick by. The mess of rule violations at the end allows different people to take different things away from the film, but it’s just as likely to make some throw their hands in the air and wonder what the heck that was they just watched. David Carradine and Scott Glenn also star. No extras.
Deadgirl: Unrated Director’s Cut (NR, 2008, Dark Sky Films)
“Deadgirl” perfectly encapsulates the conundrum of praising a horror film for carving new avenues into the land of the depraved and deranged. The plot — two high school friends (Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan) find a seemingly immortal (and inarguably naked) dead girl (Jenny Spain) in an abandoned hospital — is potentially vile, and what happens next more than fulfills that potential. The two friends are kind of creepy even before the story gets going, and even the character who backs into the protagonist’s role is pretty disturbing when a crazy thing called conscience enters the field of play. Between these and other ingredients that pop up later, there’s nothing much at all about “Deadgirl” that bears liking … except for the film itself, which is supremely gifted at playing out this disturbing confluence events much like selfish high school boys ruled by id probably would. Naturally, and essentially, it’s equally able to convey a full complement of consequences for those impulses before balling the whole mess together for a conclusion that’s as spectacular and revolting as one would hope and/or fear.
Extras: Cast/crew commentary, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes feature, make-up gallery.
Worth a Mention: Yet more TV on DVD
— “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 4” (NR, 2008, Fox): Includes 13 episodes, plus a life performance of “The Nightman Cometh!,” one behind-the-scenes feature and bloopers.
— “Primeval, Vol. 2 (Series 3)” (NR, 2009, BBC): 10 episodes, plus commentary and two behind-the-scenes features.
— “Grey’s Anatomy: Complete Fifth Season” (NR, 2008, ABC): 23 episodes (one extended), plus deleted scenes, 100th episode feature, outtakes and a behind-the-scenes feature.
— “Private Practice: The Complete Second Season” (NR, 2008, ABC): 22 episodes (two extended), plus deleted scenes, bloopers and two behind-the-scenes features.
— “Bonanza: The Official First Season: Volume 1” and “Bonanza: The Official First Season: Volume 2” (NR, 1959-60, CBS): 16 episodes per volume, plus different archival interviews, photo galleries and original promotional material for each set.
— “Sanctuary: The Complete First Season” (NR, 2007, E1/Syfy): 13 episodes, plus commentary on every episode, original Webisodes, three behind-the-scenes features, bloopers, photo gallery and a sneak peak at season two.
— “Fear Itself: The Complete First Season: Collector’s Edition” (NR, 2008, Lions Gate): 13 episodes, plus director interviews for each episode and nifty headstone packaging for the collector’s edition. (It bears mentioning, though: There isn’t actually a regular edition.)