An extremely euphemistic re-titling of its source material (Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies), Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things depicts the mad social whirl of the British aristocracy between the World Wars in vivid, lurid color. Starring Emily Mortimer, Jim Broadbent and Stephen Campbell Moore, with cameos by everyone from Dan Ackroyd to Richard E. Grant, Things sucessfully upends the conventions of the "It was all fun and games until Hitler came along" period-film subgenre, by allowing the dissolution of superficiality to seem like a legitimate, lamentable tragedy in and of itself. As A.O. Scott wrote in his review for the New York Times,
Mr. Fry's headlong style helps rescue the movie from the deadly trap of antiquarianism. After all, the world onscreen, with its mean-spirited, celebrity-driven media and its easy adoption of cynicism as a style, is not so unfamiliar, a point Mr. Fry makes without pushing it too far. He hardly needs to. The arrival of war is especially well handled, with none of the usual dark forebodings and gathering shadows. One day, as if out of nowhere, a catastrophe arrives. ''How extraordinary,'' someone says.
And the film looks gorgeous - here's hoping the extraordinary design of the thing holds up on your wanky little TV.
Other recent theatrical releases out on DVD today:
The Notebook - with Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Ryan Gosling and Gena Rowlands, and directed by Rowland's son Nick Cassavetes.
Robot Stories (also check out director Greg Pak's indieWIRE blog)
Amazon is also listing Before Sunset as a new release for today, which is strange because I rented it about a month ago. The one that came out "today" looks, specs-wise, exactly the same as that version.