February 18, 2013
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'Skyfall' lands on DVD, Blu-ray
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


Daniel Craig in 'Skyfall'. (Supplied)

007 is money in the bank. Big, big, money. Skyfall broke the billion-dollar box-office threshold with $1.1 billion in worldwide ticket sales. That makes it the highest-grossing Bond movie ever, by a significant enough margin to account for inflation. This week's DVD, Blu-ray and digital download release will add hundreds of millions more to the coffers.

It is relevant that Skyfall, number 23 in the "official" series, is also the most sophisticated, the most emotionally complex, the most politically relevant, the darkest and the best-made Bond movie ever. The craft level is impressive, generating the movie's five Oscar nominations. Among them are citations for cinematography, score, sound and the best song nom for Adele's haunting rendition of the title song, co-written with producer Paul Epworth.

All this was accomplished while maintaining the old-school attributes that make James Bond who he really is: A horndog bachelor action hero who serves Queen & Country while breaking all the rules of the spy game.

But wither thou goest? What is James Bond's future? Even with Daniel Craig willing to continue in the role as the most manly 007 since Sean Connery? Skyfall killed off a major franchise character, introduced a new Q and a new Moneypenny, shifted the ground under 007's macho swagger and even made the 44-year-old Craig's Bond willing to admit he is getting old (or at least older).

Skyfall director Same Mendes says on the new Skyfall combo pack Blu-ray -- which was released this week with a 59-minute making-of documentary on board -- that he admired Craig's 007 because he played "a real man in a real situation again." Mendes is obviously referring to Sean Connery as the first and last "real man" to play novelist Ian Fleming's iconic character before Craig.

The impact of Craig's Bond movies, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, also inspired Mendes to make one of his own. "It reminded me of the way I felt when I watched the Sean Connery movies. It struck me that it's still possible to make a big, fabulous, glamourous, escapist movie and, at the same time, say something about the world that we're living in."


I would argue that the Daniel Craig era has all the escapist stuff that Connery's era did -- but with far more to say about the state of the world. With the exception of Goldfinger -- a superior James Bond classic from the early years -- most of Connery's Bond pictures were surreal or just silly when it came to social commentary. Even with its ironic and sarcastic bursts of humour, Skyfall is deadly serious about terrorism and the politics of government, security and the spy game.

It also explores human frailty, specifically involving our hero, James Bond. This brings us back to the future again. I do not believe 007 can afford to be so vulnerable again in number 24. While there are fresh starts at the end of Skyfall in terms of the key characters who populate Bond's world, 007 himself cannot afford to follow the "old man" storyline. He needs to be reinvigorated. He needs his swagger back.

THE SESSIONS

Helen Hunt scored an Oscar nom as best supporting actress for this daring and well-received drama about a sexual surrogate and her new client. He just happens to be a disabled man in an iron lung -- and he wants to lose his virginity. Hunt is fearless. So is co-star John Hawkes. On this week's Blu-ray, you get to hear about the true story behind Ben Lewin's tender film.

SKYFALL

Sam Mendes shook up the James Bond franchise, absolutely for the better. The film generated such a billion-dollar boxoffice buzz that the studio moved the home entertainment release up a month to ride the wave. The combo pack of DVD, Blu-ray and digital copy debuted this week with excellent extras, including a 59-minute doc on how Skyfall created seismic shifts in the 50-year-old 007 franchise. Plus the film looks superb in high definition.

CABARET

Bob Fosse's sassy 1972 sensation had not been remastered in two decades. This new 40th Anniversary Blu-ray, presented in a one-disc book edition, beautifully updates his classic musical, enhancing both picture and sound. Plus we get great insights in the extensive documentary material, much of it new. Liza Minnelli talks candidly and a doc illustrates how Cabaret revolutionized musicals through its caustic portrayal of the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany.

A STAR IS BORN

Spearheaded by producer-actress-singer Barbra Streisand, Frank Pierson's 1976 movie was the third iteration of A Star Is Born, after versions in 1937 and 1954. This is the worst one, by far, but is now a cultish entertainment as Streisand is awkwardly paired with Kris Kristofferson as a rocker. This new Blu-ray, a one-disc book edition, presents a remaster of the movie. Streisand is prominent in the extras, including a commentary and a giggly bit to go with her hilarious wardrobe tests.

 

 




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