New Blu's On the Block - January 10, 2012


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: Jan 10, 2012


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters



New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for January 10, 2012

This week offers up a movie that easily could have been in my Top Ten for 2011 (it ended up eleventh, but just as easily could have ended up a lot higher had my mood been different during the writing of the column), the first season of an HBO series about Prohibition that knocks the viewer’s socks off, the latest effort from idiosyncratic French legend Jean-Luc Goddard, Vera Farmiga’s excellent directorial debut and a little 2000 gem about working class boy who’d rather take ballet classes than learn how to box. Other than that, there’s not a ton to talk about, although in honor of their centennial anniversary celebration Universal is re-releasing a number of titles at relatively bargain prices including Babe, Field of Dreams, Do the Right Thing and Apollo 13 (click title to purchase from Amazon).




From my theatrical review (read it here): “The feeling of authenticity that oozes through Moneyball is undeniable…I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and as emotionally interior and as dialogue driven as much of it the whole thing ends up being as thrilling as a big budget action blockbuster and as compelling as your typical star-powered Hollywood melodrama.” I loved this film, have watched it a good three or four times since initially reviewing it back in September and part of me is still kicking my own rear for leaving it out of my 2011 Top Ten. Mitchell calls Moneyball the best baseball movie he’s ever seen in his just posted DVD Review, and while I’m not sure I’d go that far it’s definitely up there along with some of the greatest the sports-theme genre has ever had step up to the plate.



Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season

Executive producer Martin Scorsese’s excellent HBO series about Prohibition gets a Blu-ray release, and for fans this news couldn’t be any more outstanding. Set in the criminal underworld of Atlantic City during the 1920’s, the movie is a deft reinvention of the pulp gangster procedural, anchored by a central performance by Steve Buscemi ranking as one of the best of his entire career (which is saying something, if you think about it). Check it out today.



Killer Elite (2011)

Ugh. This movie is fairly close to a disaster. Here’s what I wrote about it last September (read my full review here): “There’s no originality here, nothing to distinguish it from the crowd, [director Gary] McKendry delivering a series of scenes so half-baked their practically inedible. If not for [Clive] Owen’s driven fanaticism and [Jason] Statham unquestionable athletic prowess there’d be virtually nothing to talk about, and in all honesty I’m not even sure that’s enough to warrant giving this film even a partial pass. Killer Elite is a massive waste of talent and time, and if there’s been a more frustratingly disappointing thriller released this year I sure as heck haven’t seen it.”



What’s Your Number

From my original theatrical review (read it here): “What’s Your Number is surprisingly likeable and frequently endearing…All that same, there’s some agonizing creakiness here that can get more than a little tiresome. On top of that, the last 10 or 15 minutes are so rudimentary and cliché they’re downright tiresome.” In other words, the movie is a gigantic mixed bag of a romantic comedy, but one that for fans of the genre I’m still more than happy to recommend as a rental.



Higher Ground

From my original theatrical review (read it here): “Much of [Higher Ground] is beautifully realized, the film split into distinctive chapters culminating in a final piece of spiritual awakening that is as empowering as it is life-affirming. [Director and star Vera] Farmiga does a grand job of allowing God to exist but at the same time embracing the idea that Free Will is not something to be left in the hands of a collective of others so consumed by their devotion they forget to enjoy the wonders of the world, including their own families, which surround them.”



Billy Elliot

Stephen Daldry’s 2000 directorial debut Billy Eliott is every bit as delightful today as it was back at the turn of the millennium. While this underdog tale of a young boy trying to break free from the wants and desires of his struggling working class parents (they want him to become a boxer, he wants to dance) is hardly original, there is a realistic grittiness to the milieu that’s beyond authentic. For the few who haven’t seen it, this is one Rocky-like charmer well worth seeking out.



There Be Dragons

Whatever happened to Roland Joffé, the director of the stunning The Killing Fields and mostly wonderful The Mission? Seems like he hasn’t made a thing of note in almost three decades, stumbling from project to project in a way that makes one contemplate that fact that those aforementioned titles were nothing more than happy accidents and/or flukes. What’s this have to do with his latest based-on-fact melodrama There Be Dragons? It’s another in a long string of misfires for the former Academy Award nominee, and the fact it took me three tries before I was able to finish watching the darn things speaks volumes as far as I’m concerned. Mitchell will have a full review up of the Blu-ray for everyone to read soon.



Film Socialisme

A 2010 effort from French auteur Jean-Luc Goddard that’s billed as a “symphony in three movements,” the finished film is as polarizing and as vexing as anyone even remotely familiar with the filmmaker would expect it to be. Definitely worthy of a look, but anyone looking for me to try and explain what’s ultimately going on here prepare to be disappointed as your guess after watching it is every bit as good as mine.




I don’t have a lot to say about this one. I was sent a screener to take a look at it before it was released theatrically and in all honesty I could never bring myself to finish the darn thing. It bored the socks off of me. Worse than that, the first 40 minutes proved oftentimes to be borderline unwatchable. That said, as I did not finish it I do not feel like I can offer up an opinion one way or the other, and with that being so I think I’ll just leave things there and call it a day.



Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption

Wait? They made a third one? The second was that popular on Blu-ray? Who knew? I certainly didn’t, and as such I have nothing to say about this straight-to-DVD release; nothing at all.



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·         Fever Pitch (Read Sara’s Theatrical Review)

·         The Hellstrom Chronicle

·         John Tucker Must Die (Read Sara’s Theatrical Review)

·         Just Married

·         Just My Luck (Read Sara’s Theatrical Review)

·         Looney Tunes Showcase – Volume One

·         Never Been Kissed

·         Primeval: Volume 3, The Complete Series 4 and 5

·         Saints and Sinners

·         The Summer of Massacre






A mesmerizing new masterwork from the director of the critically-acclaimed The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Aurora is a murder mystery turned on its head where the mystery s not the culprit, but the motive. Inside a non-descript apartment kitchen, a man and a woman discuss the inconsistencies in Little Red Riding Hood, their voices hushed, mindful of waking the little girl sleeping in the next room. Behind a line of abandoned trailers, on the outskirts of Bucharest, the same man waits for something or someone to arrive. At a metallurgical factory, he collects two hand-made firing pins secretly prepared by a coworker. The man s name is Viorel. He is 42 years old, divorced, a father of two young girls, and today he will carry out a plan that will bring order to his world. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Diary of a Single Mom

In the center of a storm is Ocean (Monica Calhoun), a 27-year old highly-motivated mother who manages a neighborhood apartment building and all of the problems that come along with it. Managing the building is a dream come true for Ocean. Not only has she secured a job with a title, but also managed to escape her family’s problems and the closet-sized bedroom she and her two children used to share in her mother’s house. Now, Ocean is juggling a new job, a new home furnished with only cardboard boxes, a niece who hates everything, her own two children and the needs of all the other tenants. Diary of a Single Mom illuminates the challenges and triumphs of three women struggling to create lives that not only sustain them and their families, but also inspire others toward more action and compassion in their own lives. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



An Idiot Abroad

In this hilarious series Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, co-creators of The Office and Extras, send their friend Karl Pilkington (The Ricky Gervais Show) around the world...against his will! Karl thinks he’s visiting the "Seven Wonders" but along the way the “Little Englander” must endure camel rides, jungle treks, tribal customs and local oddballs while dining on toads and testicles... and searching for a clean bathroom. How does a man who prefers vacationing via camper cope with being an idiot abroad? (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Imitation of Life – Two-Movie Special Edition

Imitation of Life, one of the most beloved and respected stories of all time, is now available in a new two-movie special edition! Based on the 1933 best-selling novel, this emotionally charged drama chronicles the lives of two widows and their troubled daughters as they struggle to find true happiness in a world plagued by racism. The Imitation of Life Two-Movie Special Edition includes both versions of the film: the original 1934 Best Picture nominee starring Claudette Colbert and the 1959 masterpiece starring Lana Turner. With storylines tackling racism, romance, family, success and tragedy, Imitation of Life is a powerful story that still resonates with audiences today. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Saving Private Perez

Julian Perez, Mexico's most powerful man, must embark on a mission given to him by the only authority he respects...his mother. Joined by a colorful band of unlikely heroes, Julian must risk his life to fulfill his mother's wish and rescue his brother from the war-ridden prison of the most treacherous land in the world, Iraq. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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·         Pacific Blue – The Complete Series



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