Editor’s Notes: Nasty Baby, Queen of Earth, and Pan are out on their respective formats December 22nd.
Nasty Baby (Sony Home Entertainment) is about two people trying to have a baby together even though they are not a couple. Polly (Kristen Wiig) is single and Freddy (Sebastian Silva) lives with his boyfriend, Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) in a walk-up on a quiet Brooklyn block. Polly and Freddy are best friends and Freddy, an artist, is fascinated by the idea of creating a replica of himself. When they learn that Freddy’s sperm count may be too low, Polly asks Mo if he would serve as donor. Though Mo is a more private person than Freddy, he just might be open to persuasion.
Written and directed by Sebastian Silva, Nasty Baby places center stage the “new normal” family. The characters are living a Brooklyn version of the good life. They enjoy their work, pleasant friends, good food, and leisure activities. Racism, homophobia, and money occasionally arise, but the central trio and their friends fall back on irony and political correctness to defuse any threats to their happiness.
The film’s humor derives from the awkwardness that occurs when unspoken boundaries are crossed. There are several surprises along the way, with awkward misunderstandings becoming horrifying as gentle comedy is overshadowed by satirical observation.
Extras on the DVD release include commentary with Sebastian Silva, Kristen Wiig and Tunde Adebimpe; behind-the-scenes featurette; and photo gallery.
Queen of Earth
Queen of Earth (IFC Films), an independent film from writer/director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up, Philip), is a character study of Catherine (Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men), who has entered a very dark period in her life. Her father, a famous artist, recently died, and she has just been dumped by her boyfriend, James. Looking to recuperate and move forward, Catherine heads out to lake house of her best friend, Virginia (Katherine Waterston), for some much needed rest and relaxation. But she can’t find peace and is overcome with memories of time spent in the same house with James a year earlier. In addition, she finds little solace from Virginia, who is spending more and more time with a local love interest. Before long, the relationship between the two women begins to deteriorate, sending Catherine into a downward spiral of delusion and madness.
Director Perry ably creates atmosphere and provides Ms. Moss with a showcase role. As a study of the fragility of an individual’s mental state, it succeeds in showing how a once-confident woman with responsibility and a positive self-image can be reduced by unforeseen circumstances to a resentful, bitter paranoiac. The scenes between Moss and Waterston are especially effective, as we see how friends know how to hurt each other with well chosen, biting words.
Bonus extras on the DVD release include commentary with writer/director/producer Alex Ross Perry and star Elisabeth Moss, behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, and theatrical trailer.
Pan (Warner Home Video) attempts to be an origins story, explaining how Peter Pan came to live in Neverland. Resetting the time period of J. M. Barrie’s original, it begins in 1930s London as a young mother (Amanda Seyfried) abandons her baby boy on the steps of an orphanage. Twelve years later, London is suffering under the Blitz. The boy, Peter (Levi Miller), has remained in the orphanage, which is ruled by a cruel nun (Kathy Burke).
But Peter is the chosen one of a long-told prophecy. One night, he is abducted into the airborne pirate ship of Neverland meanie Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), who wants more child slave labor to mine fairy dust, or Pixum. The oppressed children work in a setting that makes Oliver Twist’s workhouse look like a Seven Flags theme park. Peter learns to embrace his destiny as he meets and befriends Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), firefly Tinker Bell, and James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), a fellow enslaved orphan who escapes with Peter, becoming his cranky sidekick.
Young Mr. Miller turns in an impressive performance as the centerpiece of this big-budget picture. His Peter is idealistic and expressive, and he hits just the right balance in his performance, never coming off as a professional child actor. He’s believable, which is more that can be said of Jackman and Hedlund, who are over-the-top awful. They’re not helped much by the weird script and Joe Wright’s direction.
Any attempt to create an origins story of a children’s classic needs to be close, if not equal, in caliber to the original. This film is a bloated misfire. It is often impressive visually, with lots of CGI enhancements, but these are like laying a bed of roses over a landfill and can’t make up for a lackluster screenplay with peculiar touches, such as the use of anachronistic musical numbers by Nirvana and the Ramones. There are also several scenes that might be too frightening for very young children. Though under two hours, the movie feels like four.
Bonus features on the 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack include director’s commentary, and the featurettes “Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan,” “The Boy Who Would Be Pan,” “The Scoundrels of Neverland,” and “Wondrous Realms.” To watch the 3D version, a 3D HDTV, compatible 3D glasses, Blu-ray 3D player, and high-speed HDMI cable are required. Standard Blu-ray, DVD and digital HD versions are also included in the Combo Pack.