Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

View From The Couch 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Midnight Cowboy, Pride & Prejudice, Traffic

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005). The fourth installment in the J.K. Rowling screen franchise clearly isn't afraid of the dark. There's a reason that this is the first movie in the series to earn a PG-13 rating, as director Mike Newell, the first British director attached to this veddy British series, and scripter Steve Kloves, forced to whittle down Rowling's enormous book, steadfastly refuse to coddle the youngest audience members, "family film" status be damned. The series' greatest strength -- namely, the dead-on portrayals by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry, Ron and Hermione -- never fails to deliver (these kids are wonderful together), and even an overstuffed plot doesn't slow down the proceedings as much as convey that there's much at stake in Harry's increasingly sinister world. As with the two-disc DVD sets of the previous episodes, this one comes packed with all manner of supplemental material: 10 minutes of deleted scenes, cast interviews, making-of featurettes, a look at He Who Must Not Be Named (aka, Voldemort, played by a suitably slimy Ralph Fiennes), and interactive games.

Movie: ***

Extras: ***1/2

MGM/UA & Sony - JON VOIGHT AND DUSTIN HOFFMAN IN MIDNIGHT COWBOY
  • Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy
  • MGM/UA & Sony

MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969). It only takes a movie like Midnight Cowboy to point out the limitations of a rating system: How can a measly four stars convey the magnificence of this acknowledged classic, which would likely make my short list of the 10 greatest films ever made? Midnight Cowboy became the first and only X-rated film to win the Best Picture Academy Award. Over time, the rating was softened to an R, but don't let that fool you: This is just as raw and uncompromising an experience when viewed today. Jon Voight (never better) plays Joe Buck, a Texas hustler who heads to the Big Apple with the intent of becoming a wealthy stub. Instead, he finds himself barely getting by on the mean city streets, with only a greasy derelict named Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) to keep him company. Hoffman's knockout performance is one for the history books, and the film itself scores on several levels -- as a 1960s time capsule piece (dig that psychedelic party), as a still-topical examination of spirit-crippling poverty, as an experimental work and as a study of two lost souls adrift in a concrete jungle. Added bonus: the best ad-lib in cinema history ("I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!"). Extras in this two-disc DVD set include audio commentary by producer Jerome Hellman, two short documentaries on the making of the film, a featurette on the movie's Oscar-winning director John Schlesinger, and seven postcards.

Movie: ****

Extras: ***

Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice - FOCUS FEATURES
  • Focus Features
  • Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice

PRIDE & PREJUDICE (2005). In adapting Jane Austen's literary staple, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Deborah Moggach have done an exemplary job of making us care all over again about the plight of the Bennet sisters, whose busybody mom (Brenda Blethyn) sets about finding them suitable husbands against the backdrop of 19th century England. The oldest daughter Jane (Rosamund Pike) immediately lands a suitor, but the independent Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) finds herself embroiled in a grudge match with the brooding Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). Romanticists who fell hard for Colin Firth's Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries may or may not warm to MacFadyen (who's fine in the role), but there's no quibbling over Knightley's intuitive, note-perfect work as Elizabeth (she earned one of the film's four recent Oscar nominations). Kudos, also, to Roman Osin's endlessly inventive camerawork, the sort not usually found in period pieces of this nature. DVD extras include audio commentary by Wright, behind-the-scenes shorts and a discussion of Jane Austen.

Movie: ***

Extras: **1/2

TRAFFIC (2000). Loosely based on a British miniseries, Traffic is a multi-faceted, multi-character drama that explores the drug trade with ample reserves of pessimism but also with a few flashes of guarded hope. The most interesting plot thread centers on a Mexican border patrolman (Benicio Del Toro) who must fight the drug cartels with his hands tied by corrupt government and military officials; other storylines involve the US's new anti-drug czar (Michael Douglas), a pampered housewife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) forced to become a drug dealer and two honest DEA agents (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman). Employing a technical style that accentuates the harshness of the subject matter, director Steven Soderbergh and scripter Stephen Gaghan take a clear-eyed look at this country's War On Drugs and understand that it's both a tragedy and a farce. But rather than wallow in cynical self-satisfaction, they pay tribute to the hard-working warriors on the front line while cautiously suggesting that open lines of communication might be the first step in gaining a foothold against the problem. Soderbergh, Gaghan, Del Toro and editor Stephen Mirrione all won Oscars; the film's only loss was in the Best Picture category, where it absurdly fell to Gladiator. Extras on this reissue of the two-disc Criterion edition include three separate audio commentary tracks (including one by Soderbergh and Gaghan), 25 deleted scenes and editing demonstrations.

Movie: ***1/2

Extras: ***

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

Recent Comments

  • Re: Suburbicon: Awful, By George

    • P.S. Trump is the best. I dont care if he does hate women, blacks and…

    • on October 30, 2017
  • Re: Quest showcases a powerful journey

    • Hilarious. I know a John Baker here in Charlotte and this is definitely him. Yeah,…

    • on October 29, 2017
  • Re: Suburbicon: Awful, By George

    • How is Trump a White Supremacist?? Just because you comies constantly lie about it daily…

    • on October 29, 2017
  • More »

© 2017 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation