New Blu's On the Block Blu-ray and DVD Releases for Feb 15, 2011
It’s a big week for catalog titles making their way to Blu-ray, but other than that there isn’t a heck of a lot to talk about. Season three of “The Twilight Zone” makes its hi-def debut, as does Tony Scott’s latest thriller that re-teams him once again with favorite star Denzel Washington. Woody Allen’s London-based frolic is also here.
Two of the best films about journalism and the news media a person could ever hope to see. The former is the definitive document chronicling the uncovering of the biggest Presidential scandal of the twentieth century, the latter is a razor-sharp vivisection of television that saw so clearly into the future it almost seems tame when viewed through today’s eyes. Both are making their Blu-ray debuts, both do their respective filmmakers (Alan J. Pakula for President’s Men, Sidney Lumet for Network) proud. Most importantly, both are significant achievements in American cinema that should be watched, discussed, debated and most of all enjoyed for generations to come.
You can read my Blu-ray review of All the President’s Menhere and of Networkhere. To be perfectly honest, I can save you a little bit of trouble if you so desire as the bottom line on both of these classic titles is to buy them and to add them to your personal libraries immediately.
A trio of Oscar-nominated (in the case of both Moonstruck and Rain Man Oscar-WINNING)classics from the MGM vaults making their high-definition debuts courtesy of our friends at 20thCentury Fox. The most notable member of the trio is easily director Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, the landmark and controversial sexual epic starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider the one many I know can’t wait to get a look at. As for the other two, it will be interesting to see how well Barry Levinson’s Rain Man and Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck have held up these past couple of decades. I’m excited about seeing all of them myself, and hopefully we’ll have full reviews of all three releases for everyone to take a look at sometime over the next week or so.
Tony Scott’s runaway train spectacle Unstoppable is a heck of a lot of fun. Thin, silly and not even slightly plausible (I could care less that they taglines claim it’s been “inspired by a true story,” this film is nothing short of hogwash), nonetheless there is a ton of enjoyment to be found watching this lean, mean and totally insane rollercoaster thrill ride. In my original review (read it here) I stated that the film was a “guilty pleasure, plain and simple” while also adding that “if someone asked if I’d head out to see it again I’d answer in the affirmative without much in the way of hesitation.” We’ll have a full review of the Blu-ray up for you to take a look at soon.
Season three of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” might just be the very best of the entire series. Notable and highly memorable episodes include It’s a Good Life, Once Upon a Time with Buster Keaton, Cliff Robertson in The Dummy and To Serve Man featuring a kicker of an ending almost all other episodes of the series have been judged against over the succeeding decades. Like seasons one and two, Image Entertainment’s treatment of “The Twilight Zone” on Blu-ray is without par making it an absolute must to own for fans of the still vital and classic television series. You can read my full review of this title by going here.
An amazing and insightful documentary from director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) about the U.S. public education system that follows five students living in different cities as they (and their parents) try to navigate the system in order to get the education that is promised to them. The five stories presented here are at times heart-breaking but also inspiring, and parts of the documentary are quite infuriating in regards to how the public education is in the mess that it is in right now. According to Amazon, every DVD and Blu-ray copy of the film includes “a $25 gift card good towards funding any local classroom project listed with the DonorsChoose.org.” Special Features include four additional stories and several interesting featurettes. Please make sure to have a look at this documentary as it is quite the eye-opener for those of us who don’t deal with the public education system like parents do.
Woody Allen’s latest effort, his first filmed and set in London, boasts an amazing cast and a rather listless screenplay. It’s basically about marital infidelity and personal irresponsibility, but sadly by the time it’s over you quickly realize little of interest or weight has taken place. There are some very good performances, most notably by Naomi Watts, Lucy Punch and Gemma Jones, but in the end the whole thing unintentionally lives up to its Shakespeare quotations and signifies nothing. You can read my full review of the Blu-ray here.
Mamoru Hosada’s Japanese anime import made a lot of waves internationally, winning multiple awards around the globe and to some pundits was believed to have an outside shot at an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. This didn’t happen, of course, but that doesn’t minimize the film’s picturesque and emotional qualities one single bit. Imaginative and heartfelt, the movie is an unusual combination of fantasy and coming of age reality that ends up connecting in somewhat surprising ways. Far from perfect, the Hosada’s effort is still hugely enjoyable, becoming far more character and plot-driven as it goes along then I suspected it would early in the picture.
I quite enjoyed Hoodwinked when I first saw it all the way back in January of 2006 (read my full review here). I found it to be fresh, funny and imaginative, this “Dragnet” meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales adventure one that kept me happily entertained first scene to last. The thing is, I haven’t thought about it all since that first viewing. Nothing has drawn me back to it, nothing has made me eager to take a glance at it for a second time, and now with a long-delayed sequel finally about to hit theatres later this year the fact I have no wish at all to see the original again probably speaks volumes.
I have this pre-WWII appeasement thriller sitting here on my coffee table. It’s actually been there for a couple of weeks. While I’ve heard some good things about this British import, and while the cast (including Christopher Lee, David Tennant, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, Jeremy Northam, Eddie Redmayne, Jenny Agutter, Juno Temple and the ravishing Romola Garai as the story’s heroine), there is something about this one that has kept me from slipping it into the Blu-ray player. This will change very soon and I’m planning on finally giving the picture a look tonight and I’ll have a review of the disc up by the end of the week. Promise.
Taking on the biggest challenge of his career, undercover cop Tommy Murphy (James Nesbitt, Cold Feet, Match Point) poses as a hit man to bring down a London crime boss and cop killer. He goes deeper underground than ever, faking an assassination, putting his life at risk, and sabotaging a complex, costly police operation in pursuit of a bigger prize. The story builds through all six episodes, each darker than the last, as Murphy walks the line between deception and detection. A man with a tragic past, he has already lost friends, lovers, even his own daughter. Now he’s in danger of losing himself. In Series 3 of this hit British crime drama, "Nesbitt is a law unto himself" (The Guardian, U.K.) in the role created especially for him by novelist Colin Bateman (Divorcing Jack). Guest stars include Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, Hunger), Mark Womack (Judge John Deed), Owen Teale (Ballykissangel), and Michael Feast (Touching Evil). (Product description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Esteemed Emmy and Peabody-winning journalist Bill Moyers in a pair of multi-DVD box sets that originally aired on PBS and released by the folks over at Acorn Media, there isn’t a lot to say about either of these titles except to say that no matter what a person’s political persuasion everyone would be fairly well served by giving these a look. We’re expecting review copies of both to arrive any day now, and Mitchell will hopefully have full reviews for all of you to take a look at soon.
Extremely uninteresting thriller about an artist nicknamed Phoenix (Judy Marte) who finds herself in the middle of a drug war. The movie is a gigantic muddled mess, and although Marte is fairly good in it the rest of the cast (including “Rescue Me” star Manny Perez and “Oz” regular Michael Rivera) isn’t close to being up to snuff. Horribly plotted by writer/director Ricardo Sean Thompson, the movie is cacophony of missed opportunities hindered by inept staging continuity gaffes galore. Made in 2009, it’s easy to see why this one has taken so long to finally make its way to DVD.
Relatively well-received documentary about the famous Naked Lunch author featuring never before seen footage of the man himself as well as interviews with many of his closest friends and collogues. I actually have this DVD sitting here but just haven’t had the opportunity to give it a look as of yet. Hopefully I’ll be able to have a full review of the title up for you all to take a look at by the end of the week.
Phileas Fogg wages his entire fortune that he can travel around the entire globe in eighty days. But on the day he departs for his fantastic journey, the Bank of London is robbed, and he becomes the prime suspect. Pursued by Detective Fix, Fogg must race against time to win the bet, save a princess and prove his innocence. Based on the classic novel by Jules Verne. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Eric Idle, Peter Ustinov, Christopher Lee, Jack Klugman, Robert Wagner, Roddy McDowell and Jill St. John. (Product description reprinted from Amazon.com)