‘Monuments Men,’ ‘About Last Night’ among new DVD and Blu-ray titles

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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(From left) Dimitri Leonidas, John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bob Balaban star in The Monuments Men. (Claudette Barius/Columbia Pictures)

Just ahead of Memorial Day, Sony is releasing a different kind of wartime tale, the George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men.

The Monuments Men ($30.99 DVD, $40.99 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo) starred Clooney, who also co-wrote the script, as the leader of a fictionalized version of the real-life teams of art experts who during the waning days of World War II tried to save major works from destruction in battle or by the retreating German army.

The film tries to be a thoughtful examination of the importance of culture — much the way Clooney has often looked at cultural issues in his directing projects — but lacked much passion. It often seemed as detached as Clooney’s performances can be, even when the story itself called for intensity.

But Clooney seemed to be making an old-school movie, something that would have comfortably fit alongside military adventures in the ’60s. It has the expected mismatched team (including John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardin) and the soaring soundtrack of earlier films. But it is still handicapped by tone, some obvious plot turns and an occasionally sluggish pace.

Extras are two making-of pieces on DVD, then more on the Blu-ray, with the latter including deleted scenes.

Also from Sony on Tuesday is About Last Night ($30.99 DVD. $35.99 Blu-ray/digital combo), which has a curious history. In the beginning was David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago. That was the basis of the 1986 difficult-relationships movie About Last Night …, which starred Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Jim Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins. Close to 30 years later came the new movie, based on the play and the earlier film, but now starring Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.

Even so, film critic Owen Gleiberman felt that the new movie “comes closer to Mamet’s rancorous vision of dueling hormones than the ’80s screen version did.” And Hart is about as hot a star as the movies have right now.

The DVD includes one featurette. The Blu-ray adds three more.

As I said here not long ago about Hill Street Blues, some vintage TV shows hold up well. Unfortunately, some do not, as is evident with the DVD releases of L.A. Law, with the second season arriving Tuesday (Shout!Factory, 20 episodes, $29.93). While I loved the show when it originally aired, at least for the first few seasons, revisiting it I found something creaky, more than a little self-righteous and inconsistently acted. And the season-two set includes no extras.

Fans of the late Cory Monteith can see his last big-screen performance in McCanick (Well Go USA, $24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray). The crime tale has Monteith playing a criminal recently out of jail — and being pursued by a brutal detective (David Morse). Extras include behind-the-scenes footage and deleted and extended scenes.

Down video road: Lone Survivor, the hit about Navy SEALs on a horrible mission, will be on digital Tuesday and on DVD and Blu-ray on June 3. 300: Rise of an Empire hits DVD, Blu-ray and digital on June 24.

The original The Nutty Professor, with Jerry Lewis, will have a 50th-anniversary release on June 3.

The package includes the movie on Blu-ray and DVD along with DVD versions of Lewis’ Cinderfella and The Errand Boy and a CD of prank phone calls Lewis made.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3582.

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