DVD Picks 11.07.10

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Winter’s Bone (2010)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

The Sound of Music (1965)

The latest DVD picks include two of the year’s best films: one for family audiences and one for adventurous mature viewers with strong nerves.

First, the no-brainer: The latest feather in Pixar’s cap, Toy Story 3 comes in two-disc and three-disc Blu-ray/DVD editions. Bringing to a satisfying conclusion the saga that started 15 years ago with Pixar’s first feature film — the first feature-length computer-animated film in history — Toy Story 3 takes Woody, Buzz and their toy-box friends to the end of Andy’s childhood … and beyond.

An inspired opening sequence somehow honors both of its predecessors, revisiting Woody’s glory days in a new cinematic idiom. In the first two films, Woody was behind the curve, but in this finale he stays ahead of it, the cowboy hero that Andy always knew he was.

Extras include a pair of commentaries; “Day & Night,” a surreal, slightly risqué short; a sneak peek at Pixar’s next sequel, Cars 2; and a number of featurettes and games. Most of the extras are for Blu-ray; even if you don’t have Blu-ray yet, pick up the Blu-ray/DVD set.

The week’s other top pick couldn’t be more different, but it’s an even more extraordinary film. Winter’s Bone, directed by Debra Gopnik (who also co-adapted the novel), takes us to a Missouri Ozarks backwoods so harsh and unforgiving it takes one’s breath away, where we find a heroine who couldn’t exist anywhere else.

Seventeen-year-old Ree (flawless Jennifer Lawrence) is a de facto orphan saddled with crushing responsibility: two younger siblings, an addled mother and a bail-jumping father who has left his family with no place to live — unless his daughter can find him, dead or alive.

It’s a white-knuckle thriller in which loyalties and motivations are more twisted than anything in Salt or Knight and Day, and knocking on a neighbor’s door can be gutsier than anything Angelina or Tom did. It’s bleak, slow and doesn’t spell everything out, which is how these people live — but it ratchets up the tension to terrific heights, with climactic twists that come home like a shotgun blast.

Dark as Ree’s world is, there are rays of light — above all Ree herself. Standout sequences include an encounter with a sympathetic military recruiter whose compassionate professionalism is a breath of fresh air. An extraordinary tale of an America unknown to most of us, Winter’s Bone is at times hard to watch, but harder to forget.

Bonus Pick & Pass: PICK: The Sound of Music 45th anniversary three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo. PASS: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Blu-ray/DVD combo.


Content advisory: Toy Story 3: Some scary scenes and menace; occasional bathroom humor and mild innuendo. Fine family viewing. Winter’s Bone: Pervasive menace and a sequence of horrifying violence (mostly offscreen); a gruesome sequence involving human remains; pervasive drug references and depictions of drug use; profane and obscene language. Mature viewing; discretion advised.

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy