Blu Tuesday: Game of Thrones and Afternoon Delight

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season”

WHAT: The power struggle across Westeros continues as Lord Tywin takes over as Hand of the King following his victory at Blackwater Bay, leaving Tyrion suddenly powerless and forcing Stannis back to Dragonstone to lick his wounds. Meanwhile, Robb Stark’s campaign against the Lannisters gets fiercer, Daenerys builds her army from afar, Arya earns new allies in her quest for revenge and Jon Snow goes undercover with the wildlings. And that’s just the first few episodes…

WHY: Creators David Benioff and D.B Weiss have stated numerous times that they set Season Three as the unofficial benchmark as to whether or not the show would be a success, and it’s easy to see why, because it showcases the full complexity and richness of the universe that they inherited from George R.R. Martin. The third season expands its scope even further than the previous year, with several new characters quickly making their mark, and old ones (like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jamie Lannister, one of the season’s MVPs) continuing to evolve within that moral gray area where “Game of Thrones” thrives. It also featured some of the most shocking story developments to date, perhaps none more so than Episode 9’s infamous Red Wedding, which made Ned Stark’s beheading look like child’s play in comparison and was without a doubt one of the biggest television events of last year. (So much so that HBO is spoiling it in their commercials for the Blu-ray/DVD release.) The audience reaction to that episode is very telling of the show’s pop cultural footprint, and when the writing and acting is this good, it’s no surprise why its popularity continues to grow.

EXTRAS: As usual, there’s plenty to dig into here, including 12 audio commentaries with the cast and crew, an in-depth look at the making of “The Rains of Castamere,” a Season Two recap, featurettes on the show’s new characters, politics of marriage and wildlings, five deleted/extended scenes and the customary interactive guides.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“Afternoon Delight”

WHAT: Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is a thirty-something stay-at-home who’s become bored with her daily routine, lackluster sex life and failed career. Looking to spice things up, Rachel takes her husband (Josh Radnor) to a strip club one night and meets erotic dancer McKenna (Juno Temple), who she becomes obsessed with saving, only to cause more harm than good.

WHY: “Afternoon Delight” feels like a spiritual companion piece to Judd Apatow’s “This Is 40,” only not quite as dreadful to watch. Much like that movie, Jill Soloway’s directorial debut examines a middle-aged woman trying to break the soul-crushing routine that she’s become far too comfortable living. It’s something that most people dread happening at one point in their life, but it’s hard to feel bad for characters that already have so much going for them. And therein lies the problem with “Afternoon Delight.” Though its intentions are admirable, the film asks you to pity a woman who doesn’t really have the right to complain nearly as much as she does. Kathryn Hahn turns in a solid performance as the woman in question, and Juno Temple shines as the sex worker she takes in to her home, but while the movie gets off to a strong start as the two ladies form their friendship, the latter half is so ugly in its attempt to create conflict between them that it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

EXTRAS: There’s an audio commentary with writer/director Jill Soloway and actress Kathryn Hahn, a behind-the-scenes featurette and some deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

  

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Game of Thrones 3.03: Walk of Punishment

SPOILER WARNING: Whether you’ve read all five books or only watch the series this post is for you. I have read the books (multiple times) but I will not go beyond the scope of the TV series (save a wink or a nod every now and then that only my fellow readers will catch on to). All events that have occurred in the TV show up to and including yesterday’s episode are fair game.  You’ve been warned.

Note: With the biggest cast in television it can be hard to keep all the names and faces straight. Thus the first mention of each character contains a link to a picture of them which will open in a new tab.

ep3jaime

You’re nothing without your daddy and your daddy ain’t here. 

We’ve been joking for a while now that Jaime and Brienne’s road-trip buddy comedy would bring them closer together. These two polar opposites would begin to think maybe they’re not so different, underneath it all. But how? Their final scene in last week’s episode seemed to offer the simplest possible answer to that question: introduce a common enemy, force them to work together.They were captured by Locke, one of Roose Bolton’s loyal soldiers.

Wait a minute, you say, Jaime and Brienne aren’t banding together to escape their captivity. Far from it. They remain as boorish and brusque in their interactions as ever. Jaime tries to use his father’s influence to win Locke over, telling him to look at things rationally: the North doesn’t have the manpower or the gold to win the war, switch to the winning side and Tywin Lannister will reward you with lands, gold, women, and perhaps some golden women. Locke’s not hearing any of it though, and his response is the closest thing this episode has to a unifying theme: “You’re nothing without your daddy and your daddy ain’t here.” And then? Boom goes the dynamite! I mean, off comes the hand! I spoke last week about the feeling of wholeness that was clear in Jaime’s eyes and body language as soon as he got Brienne’s sword in his hands (almost like I knew something like this was coming). “He moves about and casually swings the sword like it’s a part of his arm. It’s been ages since he held a sword, meaning it’s been ages since he felt whole.” And now he’s lost the appendage that allows him this feeling permanently. Jaime may be nothing without his daddy, but he’s even less without his sword hand.

Alright, you’re saying, but what does any of that have to do with Jaime and Brienne banding together in the long-term? Well, Jaime got his punishment despite his fancy words. Brienne did not, and while her daddy rescuing her would surely sound like a good idea, it is not Selwyn Tarth who saves her but Jaime’s fancy words. He convinces Locke that his cause would be better served if Brienne’s honor remains “unbesmirched,” because Brienne is from Tarth, which they call the “Sapphire Isle.” He assures him that returning Brienne safely will net Locke her weight in sapphires. He does all this before he makes his play, before it fails, he’s still working under the assumption that just saying the name Tywin Lannister will get him what he wants. That means Jaime tried to save Brienne for no other reason than—dare I say it—compassion. Could it be? Character development! Hurrah! Next week, Jaime will be the one in pain, the one unable to defend himself. Will Brienne leap to his aide? Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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