Video Verdict: ‘A Single Man,’ ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’

Colin Firth plays a man haunted by his dead lover in the drama “A Single Man.”

This week’s home video releases are anchored by a police thriller starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke and an intimate drama that earned Colin Firth an Oscar nomination for best actor.

 

 

A Single Man
4 stars (out of four)
Rated R for some disturbing images and nudity/sexual content
Sony
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Somebody should make a movie about Tom Ford because it could be just as extraordinary as “A Single Man,” the film that marks his feature film writing and directing debut.

What’s so unusual about Ford? For starters, he was a world-renowned fashion designer long before he turned Christopher Isherwood’s novel into a movie starring Colin Firth. And, despite his inexperience, “A Single Man” is as self assured and inspiring as any movie released to theaters in 2009.

Set in 1962, the picture offers an intimate look at one day in the life of aging English professor George Falconer (Firth). Although sharp and polished on the outside, George is silently struggling with the death of his longtime partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). Ford delivers the film from George’s viewpoint, allowing his camera to caress the people George interacts with, often holding shots longer than seems comfortable. This conscious choice helps viewers worm their way inside George’s troubled mind and empathize with the character in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Firth is extraordinary in the title role, and he earned a deserved best actor Oscar nomination for his outing. Also turning in fine performances are Goode, always shown in flashback; Julianne Moore, playing George’s closest friend; and Nicholas Hoult, portraying one of George’s students.

Here’s hoping Ford has a long and fruitful career as a filmmaker. If “A Single Man” is any indication, film lovers have a lot to look forward to.

DVD and Blu-ray extras include a making-of featurette and an audio commentary by Ford.

 

 

Brooklyn’s Finest
3 stars
Rated R for bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content and pervasive language
Anchor Bay
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Shooter”) isn’t the most consistent director in Hollywood, but he has a nice touch with gritty action films, and his talent is on full display with “Brooklyn’s Finest.”

The movie focuses on the lives of three troubled Brooklyn, New York, cops and recalls “Training Day” in both tone and subject matter. One policeman, Eddie (Richard Gere), is just days from retirement, and all he wants is to lay low until he can start collecting his pension. Another, Tango (Don Cheadle), has been undercover too long and finds himself compromised when asked to bring a friend (Wesley Snipes) down. Even more distressed is Sal (Ethan Hawke), a one-time good guy who has been pocketing drug money in hopes of building a better life for his ailing wife and small children.

Fuqua follows each officer through the 132-minute film, bringing them toward a common destination, and the performances are great throughout. Gere has gotten better with age, and he’s wonderful as a burned out police officer who wishes he was a better man. Likewise, Cheadle and Hawke are outstanding as lawmen whose inner demons keep them from walking the straight and narrow.

“Brooklyn’s Finest” would have been better if Fuqua had trimmed the film by 15 or 20 minutes, but the sluggish pacing isn’t a fatal flaw. Fuqua gets the mood right, and the excellent cast makes the most of Michael C. Martin’s solid screenplay.

DVD and Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes, several featurettes related to the film and an audio commentary by Fuqua.

 

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”: Film adaptation of journalist and author Stieg Larsson’s bestselling crime novel. The movie, by Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, focuses on a journalist (Michael Nyqvist) and computer hacker (Noomi Rapace) hired to solve a decades-old murder. Presented in Swedish with English subtitles.

“Dragnet 1968” – Season 2: This police drama remake ran from 1967 to 1970, propelled in part by the success of the original TV series, which aired from 1951 to 1959. In the 28 episodes presented here, Sergeant Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and his partner, Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan), patrol the streets of Los Angeles with a mission to serve and protect.

“Have Gun-Will Travel” – The Fourth Season, Volume 2: This 1950s and ’60s Western stars Richard Boone as Paladin, a gentleman gunslinger who uses force only when necessary. The three-disc set includes the second 19 episodes of season four.

“Gamera VS. Barugon”: This 1966 Japanese monster film features Gamera, a giant sea turtle, battling a massive, lizard-like creature. The movie is the second entry in the long-lived Gamera franchise. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

“The Game” – The Third Season: Television sports dramedy exploring the on- and off-field lives of several football players and their wives and girlfriends. Tia Mowry Hardrict, Pooch Hall, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Hosea Chanchez, Brittany Daniel and Coby Bell star.

“Jimmy Hollywood”: The 1994 comedy starring Joe Pesci and Christian Slater makes its Blu-ray debut. Pesci stars as a struggling actor who, along with his sidekick William (Slater), devises a plan to make it big by forming a vigilante group that videotapes criminals and sends the tapes to the police.

“Ladybugs”: Another 1990s comedy makes its Blu-ray debut. This one stars Rodney Dangerfield as Chester, a salesman who volunteers to coach a girls’ soccer team sponsored by his employer. When he realizes that the inept team could end up hurting his career, Chester secretly recruits a boy.

 

 

Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com.

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