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FEATURE ARTICLE

New Blu's On the Block - March 5, 2013

 

Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: March 5, 2013

 

Written by Sara Michelle Fetters

 

Editor-in-Chief
www.moviefreak.com

New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for March 5, 2013

Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning WWII Holocaust drama Schindler’s List is celebrating its twentieth anniversary, and as such Universal is finally releasing it to Blu-ray. Other highlights for the week include Disney’s supremely entertaining animated marvel set within the world of video games, Michael Crichton’s way ahead of its time technology run amok at a Wild West theme part thriller, a supremely moving and emotionally cathartic French import that I’m still slightly shocked got snubbed in regards to a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination and a remake of militaristic 1980’s cult favorite that made my list of 2012’s worst motion pictures. Read on for more.

 

 

Schindler’s List – 20th Anniversary Edition

Steven Spielberg’s masterful and moving epic finally comes to Blu-ray, and while not my choice as the director’s best film it’s without a doubt his most important. More than that, though, it’s an entertaining and moving epic delivered with a deft and honest hand, rarely restoring to cheap theatrics or maudlin melodrama to hammer its points home (with two exceptions, one of which – a young girl strolling through the streets wearing a red coat – works brilliantly while the other – a final monologue by Oskar Schindler (marvelously portrayed by Liam Neeson) expressing his regrets he didn’t do more – not quite as well. Be that as it may, the movie is stunning, plain and simple, and should be added to a collector’s hi-def library without delay.

 

 

 

Wreck-It Ralph 3D

Wreck-It Ralph

From my theatrical review (read it here): “Wreck-It Ralph is more fun than anything I could have hoped for. Right off that bat the movie is a total delight, immersing me right into the center of its inspired video game world with a remarkably confident ease. The screenplay by newcomer Jennifer Lee and veteran Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids) is an invigorating story of resilience and friendship fitting perfectly within the Disney canon, and personally I can’t wait to see the film again.” For more on this release, check out our recently posted Blu-ray Review.

 

 

Westworld

Michael Crichton was way ahead of his time with this tale of technology run amok at a theme park with three distinct worlds (one for the Wild West, one in a medieval castle and the other in ancient Rome), setting the stage in some ways for both James Cameron’s The Terminator as well as his own Jurassic Park (made into a movie two full decades after this one was original released). Marvelously entertaining, Crichton’s opus is continually entertaining, building to a tensely terrific final act impossible to resist.

 

 

The Intouchables

From my theatrical review (read it here): “Based on a true story, The Intouchables is a wonderful melodrama that manages to walk a fine line between syrupy sentimentality and honest emotionalism that held me spellbound start to finish. Surprisingly funny, never beating me over the head with the importance of its themes are the majesty of its human scope, the movie ended up being a profound saga of friendship I utterly adored.”

 

 

Red Dawn (2012)

From my theatrical review (read it here): “There is no reason for Red Dawn to exist. A remake of the cult 1984 favorite directed by John Milius and starring the then unknown Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey, as well as veteran character actors Harry Dean Stanton, Powers Boothe and Ben Johnson, this new version doesn’t have an original idea and hasn’t the first clue as to what it wants to be doing. Directed by relative newcomer Dan Bradley (who ran the second unit on Quantum of Solace) and scripted by Carl Ellsworth (Disturbia) and Jeremy Passmore (Special), the movie is an unfocused mess right from the start, sitting through it a colossal slog I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to suffer through.”

 

 

Playing for Keeps

From my theatrical review (read it here): “[Playing for Keeps] misses the net by a wide margin, going over the goal post sailing into the crowd into the crowd in the process. This is one instance where a talented cast and a strong director are let down by a screenplay they can’t begin to deal with or come close to overcoming its inherent shortcoming. The movie earns a red card for wasting its oodles of potential, and it’s easy to see why distributor FilmDistrict is releasing it into theatres with little fanfare and almost nonexistent backing.”

 

 

Lay the Favorite

From my theatrical review (read it here): “I haven’t read Raymer’s book but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Additionally, based on the bones of the narrative depicted here (DeVincentis apparently spruced things up and fictionalized much of this quite a little bit) I get the feeling there are the seeds of a pretty great motion picture hidden somewhere within the story. Sadly, Lay the Favorite just isn’t it. As good as some of the individual moments are and for as hard as Hall, Willis and the others try I just couldn’t buy what was going on, the final product a bad bet I’d hesitate to gamble a cent on no matter what the odds the bookmaker attempted to give me.” For more on this release, check out our recently posted Blu-ray Review.

 

 

The Nativity Story

From my theatrical review (read it here): “As a Sunday School teaching tool The Nativity Story might have its heartwarming merits, but as an actual engrossing cinematic achievement this thing is about as enthralling as watching paint dry. There is nothing here at all that would ever make you believe you’re watching a film made by the woman behind Thirteen or The Lords of Dogtown or was written by Mike Rich, the screenwriter of The Rookie and Finding Forrester. This is the most literal Bible adaptation to come out of a major studio I think I have ever seen, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing making it play like a monotonous sermon certainly is.”

 

 

 

Murdoch Mysteries – Season Two

Murdoch Mysteries – Season Five

The second and the fifth seasons of the popular Canadian series involving Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) solving a variety of crimes in 1890’s-era Toronto come to Blu-ray from Acorn Media, and fans will certainly not be disappointed. Extremely entertaining, this series just seems to get better and better as it goes along.

 

OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES

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·         College: Ultimate Edition

·         Cowgirls N’Angels

·         The Great Spy Chase

·         Interview with a Hitman

·         The Marine 3: Homefront

·         Muay Thai Warrior

·         Revelation Road

·         Waiting for Lightning

 

 

NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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The Bay

From my theatrical review (read it here): “Inspired by real events yet entirely fictional as far as the meat and potatoes of the actual narrative itself is concerned, director Barry Levinson’s (Rain Man, Wag the Dog) ecologically themed found-footage horror effort The Bay is as unsettling as it is thought-provoking. Uneven, yes, and some of it does unfortunately ring a little hollow, but overall this is the kind of sickenly suspenseful yarn that got under my skin, keeping me shivering long after I left the theatre even if some of the interior nuts and bolts holding the film together left something to be desired.”

 

 

Gun Hill Road

Fine, delicately moving drama about a father, Enrique (Esai Morales), returning home after three years in prison to discover that his teenage son Michael (Harmony Santana) is intent on transition into his teenage daughter, the fact of which is a blow the former gang leader can hardly stand. There are some rough patches, especially in regards to Enrique’s actions, but the movie is so well acted (especially by actress Santana, who is borderline remarkable) and the central story regarding Michael’s transition is so authentically depicted it’s easy to forgive the drama’s rough patches. High worthwhile, this is an independent gem worthy of discovery.

 

 

Collaborator

Robert Longfellow (Martin Donovan) is a famous playwright who can’t seem to catch a break. Retreating to his childhood home, he crosses paths with his former neighbor, Gus (David Morse), a right-wing ex-con who is Robert s polar opposite in every possible way. At a drunken reunion gone terribly wrong, Gus holds Robert hostage at gunpoint, leading to a shattering climax as status, celebrity and the imminent threat of violence converge. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

A Dark Truth

In the jungles of Ecuador, blood taints the waters. A multinational conglomerate's unholy alliance with a bloodthirsty military regime has resulted in a massacre. Only the rebel Francisco Franco (Forest Whitaker, Repo Men) and his determined wife Mia (Eva Longoria, TV's Desperate Housewives) can prove the truth. To settle a personal debt, former CIA agent Jack Begosian (Andy Garcia, Ocean's 13) takes on the freelance assignment to rescue Francisco and risks everything in a brutal battle to expose the cover-up. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Heleno

Gifted with incredible athletic talent, Brazilian-born Heleno de Freitas conquered the soccer world in the 1940s. As his fame and fortune grew to new heights, his passion for a decadent life of women and nightclubs threatened his career. Featuring an Awards-caliber performance by Rodrigo Santoro (300, What to Expect When You're Expecting), Heleno depicts the thrilling life of the world's first sports superstar. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Hit & Miss

In this six-part British drama, Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe winner Chloe Sevigny (American Horror Story, Big Love) portrays Mia, a coldly efficient contract killer with a secret: she is a pre-operative transgender woman. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Off White Lies

After years of living apart from her dad, Libby, an introverted yet sharp-witted teenager, is sent to live with him is Israel. Her arrival coincides with the outbreak of the second Lebanon war. Libby quickly discovers that her dad, Shaul, is an infantile eccentric, and that he is 'in-between apartments' (in other words, homeless). Shaul comes up with a creative plan to put a roof over their heads - they pose as refugees from the bombarded northern region of Israel, and are taken in by a well-off family in Jerusalem. Finally in a 'normal' household, Shaul and Libby begin to build their father-daughter relationship, but their false identities can't last forever, especially as Libby unleashes teenage fury at the lies permeating her life; those she must tell now, and those she's been fed since childhood. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Seven Year Hitch

Jennifer (Natalie Hall) and Kevin (Darin Brooks) have been inseparable since becoming best friends at age six. So when Jennifer graduates from college and begins building a career in charity, she thinks it's only right to let drop-out Kevin live in her newly purchased house until he gets back on his feet. Seven years later, Jennifer is continuing up the career ladder while Kevin is still golf caddying and waiting for his big break. Jennifer is happy to let Kevin march to his own beat, but her new boyfriend, arrogant corporate manipulator Bryce (Ryan Doom), wants her to kick Kevin to the curb. Oblivious to his cheating ways, Jennifer is ecstatic when Bryce asks her to marry him after only six months of dating, secretly using her angelic reputation to gain favor with his boss Mrs. Von Hoffman (Frances Fisher). Kevin catches Bryce cheating and is determined to spare Jennifer an unhappily ever after experience. With a little help from his brother who is in law school, and support from his meddling neighbor Mr. Henderson (George Wendt), Kevin finds out he is legally married to Jennifer in a common law marriage after living together for exactly seven years. Now it's up to Kevin to prove he is Jennifer's equal - forever. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

Precocious yet vulnerable teenager James (extraordinary newcomer Toby Regbo) has a deep appreciation for the world, but no idea how to live in it.  Finding no help from his divorced parents (Marcia Gay Harden and Peter Gallagher), nor his twenty-year-old memoir-writing sister (Deborah Ann Woll), James decides to reject the assumptions that govern the adult world, starting with his potential college career. Grappling with his future, his sexuality, and his screwed up family, James embarks on a search for wisdom through nontraditional means, aided by the eccentricities of his grandmother (Ellen Burstyn), and flings with his therapist (Lucy Liu). Based on the bestselling novel by Peter Cameron, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is a funny and heartfelt coming of age story about the often strange experiences that help define a life. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Thorne

In this acclaimed adaptation of Mark Billingham's first two novels David Morrissey of The Walking Dead stars as Detective Inspector Tom Thorne the brilliant but haunted investigator for whom nothing is ever by the book. In ‘Sleepyhead’ Thorne's only key to a catching a serial killer is a survivor unable to move or communicate. In ‘Scaredy Cat’ Thorne hunts a psychopath who may have formed a depraved partnership. Through it all he will clash with colleagues take shocking risks and battle the personal demons that could destroy his world forever. Natascha McElhone (Californication) Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones, The Wire) Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) and Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) co-star in the dramas The Huffington Post calls a “chilling and tense crime thriller miniseries!” (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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

 

·         Dalziel 7 Pascoe: Season 7

·         Duck Dynasty: Season 2, Volume 1

 

 

NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS

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

 

  

    

 

·         Dragon (2011) (April 16, 2013)

·         The Great Gatsby (1974) (April 23, 2013)

·         Jack Reacher (May 7, 2013)

·         A Glimpse Inside the Mind Of Charles Swan III (May 14, 2013)

·         Texas Chainsaw (May 14, 2013)

·         The Last Stand (May 21, 2013)

·         The Mad Max Trilogy (June 4, 2013)

·         Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (June 4, 2013)

·         Enter the Dragon – 40th Anniversary Edition (June 11, 2013)

 

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