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FEATURE ARTICLE

New Blu's On the Block - February 14, 2012

 

Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: Feb 14, 2012

 

Written by Sara Michelle Fetters

 

Editor-in-Chief
www.moviefreak.com

New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for February 14, 2012

For some reason I had it in my head this Valentineís Day was a quiet one for Blu-ray/DVD releases, but then I looked at the list below and releases it was exactly the opposite. Nothing big, mind you, but a lot that is of definitely interest, not the least of which is Universalís latest entry in their 100th Anniversary Blu-ray collection and their second outright hi-def triumph after To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

 

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Lewis Milestoneís epic 1930 stunner has been considered the definitive motion picture in regards to cinematic depictions of WWI for over eight decades. It deserves that status. This movie is a knock-out, pure and simple, and following it from start to finish is an overwhelmingly emotional experience difficult for any viewer to forget. As for Universalís handling of this title for Blu-ray, I personally feel their work here is revelatory, almost Criterion-level in most respects. While there has been some digital manipulation, considering the age of the print and the damage it has incurred over the decades the fact this presentation looks as stunning as it does speaks volumes. For my money, this is an early contender for best Blu-ray of 2012.

 

 

Take Shelter

I missed Take Shelter when it was released theatrically, and now that Iíve finally watched Sonyís superlative Blu-ray presentation Iím kicking myself for that oversight. Superbly acted by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain (who should have gotten her Best Supporting Actress nom for this, not The Help), writer/director Jeff Nicholís stunningly original familial drama is a mesmerizing affair first frame to last. Does it entirely make sense? What is actually going on in its final, haunting images? Is finding meaning in the literal happening even important? Iím not entirely sure. What I do know is that, love it or hate it, this is a motion picture deserving of being seen and debated; hereís hoping now that it is available on Blu-ray and DVD people will do just that.

 

 

The Rum Diary

Another film I missed the theatrical press screening for, sadly this time around Sony didnít send out a review copy to any of us here at MovieFeak so itís doubtful weíll be expressing any sort of opinion in regards to its qualities (or lack thereof) anytime soon. Still, Iím admittedly curious, Johnny Depp heading back once again into Hunter S. Thompson territory easily worth getting at least somewhat excited about.

 

 

Tiny Furniture

Comparisons of writer/director/star Lena Dunhamís Tiny Furniture to Woody Allenís works (especially his early ones) are unavoidable, but even so that doesnít make her accomplishments as a filmmaker any less laudable. She shows a gift for human comedy, understanding the emotional interiors of her characters in a way that feels fresher and more original than it actually is. A winning, if somewhat slight, work, this is a movie almost impossible to dislike or in some way relate to, and as such itís fairly close to essential viewing for the inner twenty-something lurking within us all.

 

 

Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume 4

Hereís some of what Mitchell had to write about this release in his Blu-ray Review: ďDid you miss them [Bevis and Butt-Head]  as much as I did? Of course you didÖ[Mike Judge] is back, overseeing a new season of Beavis and Butt-Head, bringing the terminally stupid duo into the reality-TV age. Aside from the fact the boys donít spend most of their time watching music videos, not a whole lot has changed. Thatís a good thing.Ē

 

 

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

A superior sequel, co-writer and director Josť Padilha returns to the slums of Rio de Janeiro with electrifying results. The ongoing struggles of former Captain, now Lt. Colonel Nascimento (Wagner Moura) are once again documented in every pulverizing, bone-crunching detail, everything building to a conclusion thatís on one hand rousing and on the other bitterly tragic both at the same time. Sensational, fans of the 2007 original owe it to themselves to give this second bullet-riddled saga of Brazilian corruption a look.

 

 

Three Outlaw Samurai

Iíve never seen this Hideo Gosha underground samurai classic, but am definitely looking forward to a viewing as soon as Criterionís Blu-ray arrives (itís supposed to get here soon). Expect a full review not too soon after the package finally gets here.

 

 

The Dead (2010)

I for one thought the whole zombie genre was, if youíll excuse the pun, dead at this point, and other than AMCís ďThe Walking DeadĒ I couldnít see a way for filmmakers to inject much in the way of, um, well, life, into it. I was wrong. Brothers Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford have done exactly that, and while their existential survivalist effort The Dead doesnít exactly break a ton of new ground watching it is an exhilarating horror experience all the same. Sort of a combination of Fulciís Zombie and Weirís Picnic at Hanging Rock, this African set adventure is a terror-ridden piece of visual poetry, building to the type of quiet, emotionally devastating climax I never could have anticipated. For genre fans, this is as close to canít-miss as it gets.

 

 

Dr. Seussí The Lorax: Deluxe Edition (1972)

About a month before Universalís big budget CGI feature-length remake hits the multiplex, Warner Bros. brings the original 1972 television adaptation of Dr. Seussí The Lorax to Blu-ray and results are extraordinary. While a tad dated, it must be admitted, this fresh, moving and poignant 25-minute effort as a model of storytelling simplicity, reveling in Seussí trademark gift for prose gymnastics delivering a story thatís perfect for viewers of any age.

 

 

Nude Nuns with Big Guns

The title says it all, doesnít it? Sadly, this B-grade exploitation flick never quite rises to the occasion, the darn thing paced so slowly I actually fell asleep trying to watch it the first time around. There are some great moments, to be sure, and the blood-soaked finale is suitably disgusting in all the ways that count, but overall this didnít do a lot for me, and in or out of her habit this is one nun whose sins are hardly as irreligious or as ungodly as they could be.

 

 

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence

I actually made an attempt to see this sequel (even considering how much I despised the first film), but sadly IFC and I never were able to work out some technical difficulties keeping me from going to their secure portal and watch it online. Even though those issues have since been resolved, I have no intention of now making the time to view this one. Seriously, it just doesnít interest me, and I have to question the sanity of those out there trying to claim writer/director Tom Six is some sort of cinematic horror genius.

 

OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES

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         All Things Fall Apart

         Boeing, Boeing

         Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow and The Wardrobe

         The Geisha Boy

         Hawaii Five-O: The First Season

         The Interrupters

         The Littlest Angel

         Mozartís Sister

         Ocean Heaven

         Pal Joey Ė Twilight Time

         The Perfect Weapon

         Robin of Sherwood: Set 2

         Rock-a-Bye Baby

 

 

DVD RELEASES

 

 

Woody Allen: A Documentary

Iconic writer, director, actor, comedian and musician Woody Allen allows his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. With this unprecedented access, Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Weide follows the notoriously private film legend over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography. Beginning with Allenís childhood, Woody Allen: A Documentary chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allenís career, from his work as a TV scribe, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Director Weide covers Allenís earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper and Love and Death; frequent Oscar favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the recent success Midnight in Paris.

 

Features interviews with: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest and Owen Wilson; writing collaborators Marshall Brickman, Mickey Rose and Doug McGrath; cinematographers Gordon Willis and Vilmos Zsigmond; Allen s sister Letty Aronson; longtime manager Jack Rollins; casting director Juliet Taylor; pals Dick Cavett and Martin Scorsese; and others. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Debt (2007)

The original Israeli thriller that inspired John Maddenís 2011 remake with Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington, this 2007 effort is an engaging and rip-roaring ride building to a gut-wrenching climax that knocked me senseless. Definitely worth checking out whether youíre a fan of the English language version or not.

 

 

American Teacher

As the debate over America's public schools rages on, the one thing everyone agrees on is the need for great teachers. Yet while research has shown that teachers are the most important in-school factor in a child's success, America's educators are so underpaid that almost two-thirds must work a second job in order to make a living. Chronicling the stories of four teachers in different areas of the country, American Teacher reveals the frustrating realities of today's teachers, the difficulty of attracting talented new educators, and why so many of our best teachers leave the profession altogether. Can we re-value teaching and turn it into a prestigious, financially attractive and desirable profession? With almost half of American teachers leaving the field in the next ten years, now is the time to find out. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Devilís Rock

Two Kiwi commandos are assigned to the Channel Islands to blow up a giant gun at a beach head fortress. But once inside the foreboding structure they hear unearthly screams and investigate the dark tunnel system to discover the cause. There they find the head of Hitler's occult Gestapo squadron who has been experimenting with incantations from an ancient tome to allow a succubus to cross over from Hell. It's all part of a master plan to win the war on the eve of D-Day. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Shades

Maeve (Dervla Kirwan, Ballykissangel) and Mark (Stephen Tompkinson, Wild at Heart) meet in London under unusual circumstances: both are recently deceased. Maeve was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and Mark died during a routine surgery while his wife was giving birth to their son. The two mismatched souls find themselves still in this world, thrown together in a weird and wonderful afterlife. This touching and gently humorous British drama explores what it means to have a chance to helpóor hinderóthose left behind. Maeveís lover wasnít just cheating on his wife; he was also cheating on Maeve. Mark was happily married, but he left his wife and children penniless. In this afterlife, the dead canít talk to those they knew when alive, but they can speak freely with strangers. Will Maeve and Mark be able to right past wrongs and repair relationships? What will they learn about each other, and themselves? (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon!)

 

         How to Die in Oregon

         Mama I Want to Sing

         Pianomania

         Wainy Days

 

 

NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

   

     

 

         The Skin I Live In (March 6, 2012)

         My Week with Marilyn (March 13, 2012)

         Carnage (March 20, 2012)

         Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) (March 20, 2012)

         Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (March 27, 2012)

         A Dangerous Method (March 27, 2012)

         In the Land of Blood and Honey (March 27, 2012)

         The Iron Lady (April 10, 2012)

         Buck Privates Ė Universal 100th Anniversary Collectorís Series (April 17, 2012)

         The Divide (April 17, 2012)

         Pillow Talk Ė Universal 100th Anniversary Collectorís Series (May 1, 2012)

 

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