Coming Feb. 12
"Skyfall" (PG-13, 143 minutes, MGM): To succeed, a James Bond movie must traffic in equal parts sophistication and pure preposterousness, a winking willingness not to take itself too seriously, but with peerless writing, acting and production values. All of those elements are on hand in "Skyfall," which at the outset finds Bond (Daniel Craig) in Istanbul, pursuing a bad guy through bazaars and over rooftops in a ludicrous motorcycle chase. But that episode will send Bond into something of an existential spiral, bringing him alongside Jason Bourne and other au courant secret agents as people who are fighting not just shadowy forces of mass destruction but also their own inner demons. Eventually, Bond's struggle will reach his relationship with M (Judi Dench), whose initial in"Skyfall" might as well stand for Martinet, Mistress of All She Surveys and, most of all, Mother. When Bond flies into action after a self-imposed hiatus, he's an Oedipal wreck, bleary-eyed, out of shape and visibly aging. (After 50 years and 22 films, he has earned those creases.) The not-so-sub-subtext of "Skyfall" is the ongoing dialogue between past and future, whether it's youth vs. age, computers vs. analog, or point-and-click terrorism vs. old-school geopolitics. Contains intense violent sequences, some sexuality, language and smoking. Extras: "Shooting Bond" four-part making-of documentary. Also, on Blu-ray: eight additional making-of segments; commentary with director Sam Mendes; commentary with producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and production designer Dennis Gassner; "Skyfall" premiere.
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"Robot & Frank" (PG-13, 89 minutes, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The gentle laughs produced by this clever, unexpectedly touching dramedy about the relationship between an aging former cat burglar (Frank Langella) and his robotic caregiver catch you a bit off guard. Robot is programmed to act as Frank's personal chef, housekeeper and professional nudge, making sure that his client eats right, stays active and keeps out of trouble. But he's not so good at that last part. Robot lacks is an ethical chip, making him an ideal companion for an ex-con. Soon the two are planning to burglarize the home of the wealthy techie who is overseeing the conversion of the town's library to digital. Their victim is the film's true villain, who's seen as desecrating one of the last repositories of real memories. Despite the plot, "Robot & Frank" isn't a heist film. Its theme is the impermanence of memory, and it's subtly articulated by director Jake Schreier, working from a smart script by Christopher D. Ford that grounds its futuristic conceit in the concerns of today. Despite a great twist ending, "Robot & Frank" isn't mind-bending, only heartstring-tugging. Contains some obscenity and lawbreaking. Extras: Commentary with Schreier and Ford, robot poster campaign gallery.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (PG-13, 103 minutes, Summit/Lionsgate): Based on the revered young adult novel, this somewhat disjointed but refreshingly earnest movie ultimately establishes itself as a charmer. The movie relies on the same narrative device as the novel, introducing us to our protagonist, an introspective Pittsburgh freshman named Charlie (played by Logan Lerman), via a series of letters written to an unknown recipient. We learn that Charlie, having recently lost his best friend to suicide, is entering high school with no acquaintances and no notable romantic history. When Charlie meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) -- seniors, stepsiblings and self-defined misfit toys -- he finds himself with two spirit guides. One could argue that director Stephen Chbosky adheres to his original work a bit too closely; there are moments in "Perks" when scenes flow rather abruptly from one to the next, as if the filmmaker is racing to squeeze the most crucial plot points into a 100-minute running time. Still, the empathy-generating performances by the charismatic young actors compensate for any missteps. Contains mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references and a fight, all involving teens. Extras: commentary with Chbosky, commentary with Chbosky and the cast, "Best Summer Ever" featurette, deleted scenes, dailies.
"The Sessions" (R, 95 minutes, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): It's a premise that launched 1,000 raunchy sex comedies: A guy somehow makes it to middle age without having had sex and embarks on a mission to lose his virginity. Thankfully, plenty of laughs ensue in "The Sessions," in which John Hawkes channels the late poet and author Mark O'Brien. A man of prickly, unsentimental humor, O'Brien suffered most of his life from the effects of a childhood bout with polio, which left him severely disabled and dependent (most of the time) on an iron lung. Sex, understandably enough, was difficult. "The Sessions" is based on two articles O'Brien wrote about enlisting the services of a surrogate sex partner, who as portrayed by Helen Hunt, opens up a world of self-acceptance and expression in O'Brien. Writer-director Ben Lewin, 65 and a polio survivor himself, keeps the film from succumbing to every conceivable trap, creating a movie that brims with spiky humor, indefatigable resolve and profound emotional truth. Contains strong sexuality, including graphic nudity and frank dialogue. Extras: Featurettes on Hawkes as O' Brien and Hunt as the sexual therapist, and a look at "The Women Who Loved Mark O' Brien." Also, on Blu-ray: deleted scenes, an interview with Lewin on his inspiration for making the film and a session with the cast.
Also: "The Man With the Iron Fists," "Bully," "Silent Hill: Revelation," "The Kid With a Bike" (Belgium), "Dangerous Liaisons" (China), "Babar: The Movie" (1989), "The Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collections: Musicals" (20-film set commemorating the studio's 90th anniversary), "Fairfield Road" (Hallmark Channel original film), "Girl Model," "The Origins of Oz" (Smithsonian Channel documentary), "Photographic Memory," "Black's Game" (Iceland), "Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars" (BBC), "The Thieves" (South Korea), "Undersea Edens" (Smithsonian Channel documentary), "The Red Hen and More Cooking Stories" (Scholastic Storybook Treasures) and "Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror" (1964, BBC).
Television series: "Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season" (includes featurettes and "Gossip Girl Prequel: It Had to Be You") and "Gossip Girl: The Complete Series" (2007-12, 29-disc set; both Warner releases include deleted scenes and gag reel), "Nurse Jackie: Season Four," "Weeds: Season Eight, The Final Season," "Matlock: The Eighth Season" (1993-94, six-disc set), "Storage Wars: Volume 4," "Bonanza: The Official Fifth Season" (1963-64), "Duck Dodgers: Dark Side of the Duck: Season 1," "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Butterfly Ball" and "Family Matters: The Complete Third Season (1991-82)."