New on DVD Today: WUTHERING HEIGHTS and GANGSTER SQUAD

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Wuthering_Heights

A recent adaptation from director Andrea Arnold of Emily Bronte’s famed novel Wuthering Heights hits DVD today. The film stars Kaya Scodelario (Skins) and newcomer James Howson. Grab it at the links below or at your local retailer

Wuthering Heights DVD | BluRay

The good news about the third feature from Fish Tank‘s Andrea Arnold: she puts her unique stamp on Emily Brontë’s brooding classic. The less-than-good news: it marks her least satisfying film to date. She starts by turning Heathcliff (Solomon Glave) into an escaped slave who materializes on Yorkshire’s moors without a back story. Devout farmer Earnshaw takes him in “because it’s the Christian thing to do.” Life at Wuthering Heights isn’t easy, but the teenager finds a saving grace in Earnshaw’s daughter, Catherine (Shannon Beer). After Earnshaw’s death, however, Catherine’s brother, Hindley, takes over the household and sends Heathcliff off to sleep with the livestock. Then Cathy accepts a proposal from the respectable young man who nursed her back to health after an injury. Heathcliff leaves town only to return a few years later (now played by James Howson) with money in his pocket–and no explanation as to how it got there–but his efforts to win back Cathy (Kaya Scodelario) face several roadblocks, even as their mutual attraction remains strong. Instead of a swoon-worthy story, however, Arnold emphasizes brutality over all other concerns. Heathcliff and Cathy have a sado-masochistic relationship, and they’re immune to the feelings of anyone but themselves, making it hard to care what happens to either one of them. The actors give it their all, but animal lovers should be advised that our single-minded antihero has a propensity for strangling small creatures to death that is hard to forgive, no matter how terrible his childhood. –Kathleen C. Fennessy [Amazon]

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Gangster Squad, starring Ryan Goslin, Sean Penn, Emma Stone and more is available today as well.


Gangster Squad DVD | BluRay

The turf explored in Gangster Squad may not be entirely accurate to historical truth, but it sure looks like the world of the movie mobster: the basics are instantly recognizable if you’ve seen L.A. Confidential and The Untouchables. Take a post-World War II Los Angeles, plunge it in noir, drop a ruthless gangster into the mix, and let loose an extralegal squad of cops to break the mob’s rule. The crime kingpin in question is Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), and his LAPD adversaries include a detective so square his fedora appears permanently affixed to his skull (Josh Brolin) and a ladies’ man (Ryan Gosling) whose dalliance with Cohen’s escort (Emma Stone) might not be the best idea for a smooth relationship. Their squad includes stalwart character actors such as Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, and an especially droll Robert Patrick. With all this talent on display, the movie must surely have some bang in its Tommy gun–but alas, director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) has opted for a peculiarly lighthearted, bantering tone for much of the action, which sits oddly with the gun massacres and dismemberments on display. He’s also got Sean Penn in full Actor mode, snorting and stamping and wearing his prosthetic nose like a badge of pride. All of which might make for a juicy piece of entertainment, if the film didn’t keep tripping over its own clichés and periodically losing its momentum. (Gangster Squad was bumped from its original 2012 opening date after the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater; a shootout scene set in a movie theater was cut and re-shot in a different location for the film’s eventual January 2013 release.) –Robert Horton [Amazon]