“It was the ’70s,” one of the subjects of Project Nim jokes about her personal life, and that mantra becomes a jokey theme of the events of the film. “Let’s raise a baby chimpanzee as a human baby,” because, after all, “It was the ’70s.” It might have seemed a noble experiment to observe the nature vs. nurture debate, teaching little (then big) Nim Chimpsky sign language and allowing him to live with a family, but James Marsh’s documentary is all about hindsight being 20/20. The cruel irony of the whole project is how those noble intentions of treating a chimpanzee as a human are so quickly dismissed (not to mention the chimp itself) when the people behind the study realize the obvious: A chimpanzee is not a human being. Available on DVD.
Anonymous imagines that William Shakespeare was a fraud–a tool to hide the identity of the aristocratic Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), who actually wrote the plays of Shakespeare (including penning A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was but a lad). It is, of course, a fallacious, condescending theory with a foundation that falls apart with any minimal effort. Aside from that, the movie is a well-researched bit of historical speculation. The rub is that Edward’s story is a tedious one, and we keep hoping that it is indeed inaccurate. The real popular version of Shakespeare’s life is at least an interesting one. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
The penultimate entry in the Twilight “saga” leaves us still wondering exactly what the point of this whole thing might be. Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) tie the knot while werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is still pining for her. The climax, a horrifying birthing scene, is solid, and, honestly, this entry resolves everything of any importance. What more could there be? “I already know how this is going to end,” Jacob tells Bella at one point, and we wish he would let us in on the details so that we can finally get on with our lives. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray on Saturday, February 11.
The most shocking part of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is how quaint it is. Here’s series that has prided itself on seeing the everyday world dissolve into insanity as its heroes (John Cho and Kal Penn) do whatever it takes to get high. Set in New York City at Christmastime, this entry is just ordinary and inoffensive. Sure, some taboos arise (A baby graduating from a contact high to a full-on dose of cocaine, for example), but the last thing this duo needs is a feeling of routine. That’s the only thing this entry has to offer. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, and Blu-ray 3D.