Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: Ben Affleck's Argo, C. Robert Cargill's Sinister and More
Argo stars Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman; Ben Affleck directs.
Even though Argo, which already won a couple of Golden Globes - best drama and best director - is being released on DVD/Blu-ray this week, it's still in a few local theaters so you still have a chance to see it on the big screen before the Oscars where it's up for a few more awards. Ben Affleck, who also directs and co-produces, stars in the thriller. After militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostage. Six Americans, however, managed to reach the Canadian Ambassador's home. Affleck is CIA operative Tony Mendez who's sent to smuggle the group out of the country. His plan? To have the Americans pose as filmmakers in Iran scouting for movie locations.
Affleck and company take reasonable liberties with the story, adding a couple of car chases and fudging the timeline so keep in mind this isn't a History Channel documentary. Extras on the DVD/Blu-ray releases include commentary from the filmmakers, featurettes about the making of Argo and eye witness accounts of the actual mission.
One thing about writer C. Robert Cargill, once he gets hold of a good idea he works it for all its worth. Take Deputy So-and-So, a character that appears in Cargill's recent film Sinister and again in Cargill's soon-to-be-released debut novel, Dreams and Shadows. In Sinister, out now on DVD and Blu-ray, Ethan Hawke stars as true crime writer Ellison Oswald who is desperate to have a best-seller, so desperate in fact that he moves his family into a home that was the scene of a mass murder so he can get a better feel for the story. Of course, strange things start to happen almost immediately (including his finding a box full of home movies that show a series of murders). The one person he turns to? Deputy So-and-So. (He's a starstruck local cop who offers to help Oswald, becoming another of the many law enforcement officials mentioned in the author acknowledgements at the beginning of crime books.) In Cargill's Dreams and Shadows, there's Deputy So-and-So again in the acknowledgements. (Cargill will be in town later this month reading from Dreams at Murder by the Book.)
While Sinister lacks the over the top creep factor common to lots of other horror flicks, it does have a nice slow burn and several unexpected plot twists. Extras on the DVD we saw include deleted scenes with audio commentary with Derrickson, a True Crime Authors featurette and theatrical trailer.
Douglas Fairbanks stars in Raoul Walsh's 1924 silent film The Thief of Bagdad, being released this week by Cohen Media Group. Two 35mm negatives were used to create new prints of Fairbanks' fantasy film, an adaptation of A Thousand and One Nights complete with a magic-carpet ride, magic ropes, a smoke breathing dragon, a flying horse, and a love affair between a beautiful princess and a daring thief. Carl Davis conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in performing a score that is a mix of Davis' compositions with Rimsky-Korsakov's Orientalia. Bonus features on the release include audio commentary by Jeffrey Vance, a well-known Fairbanks biographer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.