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FEATURE ARTICLE

New Blu's On the Block - April 17, 2012

 

Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: April 17, 2012

 

Written by Sara Michelle Fetters

 

Editor-in-Chief
www.moviefreak.com

New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for April 17, 2012

Tom Cruise proving the fourth time is a charm, Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan baring it all (figuratively and literally) in performances that probably should have garnered the both of the Academy Award nominations, an Abbot and Costello classic getting a 100th anniversary makeover from Universal, the second season of an HBO series that continues to break new ground and a pair of international classics from the Criterion Collection, that’s what has me excited about this week’s Blu-ray releases. Other than that, well, there’s stuff to talk about; just not of it to make the doing so worthwhile.

 

 

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

In my opinion, this is easily the best of star Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible adventures. As I wrote back in December of last year (read full review here): “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is, in a word, awesome…This is edge-of-your-seat stuff, [director Brad] Bird orchestrating it all as if he’d been doing this thing for decades. He shows a remarkable acumen for this type of genre filmmaking, mixing old school retro James Bond style with twenty-first century theatrics to produce something that feels exhilarating and fresh.”

 

 

Shame

I didn’t love director and co-writer Steve McQueen’s Shame as much as I most did, but I’m right with the majority in thinking lead Michael Fassbender (without question) and co-star Carey Mulligan (almost nearly without question) should have been nominated for Oscars for their fiercely fearless performances. As I wrote in my theatrical review (read it here): “The movie is incredibly well made, impeccably acted and never boring. It shocks, it has moments have playfulness, heck, it’s even kind of funny every now and then. But enjoyable? Never. It is a movie intent on staying true to its characters, to its concepts and to its ideas, and as much as I respect McQueen for being able to do just that, and while that makes the movie exceedingly easy to recommend, that doesn’t mean I’m inclined to watch it again anytime soon.”

 

 

Buck Privates – Universal 100th Anniversary Collection

Don’t know a lot about Bud Abbot and Lou Costello. I’ve seen the “Who’s on First” short numerous times and found it hysterical each and every viewing, but their movies? Admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of those (even their creature-feature mash-ups where they got to meet the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy). All the same, I’m looking forward to getting a look at Buck Privates, by all accounts their most popular motion picture and the only truly significant title in their oeuvre. While reports on Universal’s handling of the restoration and the transfer are mixed (when are they not?) I’m still excited to see this one for myself, because as of right now I haven’t looked at a single one of the studio’s 100th anniversary releases and not come away hugely impressed.

 

 

Treme: The Complete Second Season

Reading Mitchell’s just-posted Blu-ray Review, it’s clear he’s about on the same page as nearly every other reviewer has been in regards to this series. The short version? It’s pretty darn solid, bordering on something magnificent if subsequent seasons continue to build as eloquently as this second does upon the first. As he states in his review, “Given both the nature of the story being told and the way in which it’s being told, it’s still too early to determine if Treme is a great series; that won’t be revealed until the credits roll on the final episode. But one thing is already clear: it’s a very good series.”

 

 

 

¡Alambrista! – Criterion Collection

Late Spring – Criterion Collection

Two from the Criterion Collection. The biggest of the two is easily legendary Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s 1949 classic Late Spring, the film an emotionally explosive melodrama of quiet and restraint showcasing the filmmaker’s distinctive style brilliantly. As for ¡Alambrista!, it’s hard to know exactly what to say about it other than to note director Robert M. Young’s saga of an illegal Mexican immigrant crossing into the U.S. is arguably just as timely today as it ever was back during its initial 1977 theatrical release. Both releases are highly recommended.

 

 

The Divide

Bleak. Unforgiving. Uncompromising. Disturbing. Emotionally scarred. Disgusting. Unforgiveable. An absolute must-see. Those are just some of the second-by-second reactions I had to director Xavier Gens’ The Divide. Certainly showcasing a talent and a stoic point-of-view missing from his heinous video game adaptation Hitman, the movie makes The Road look like a walk through the streets of Candyland in comparison to the shockingly desolate vision he puts on display here. Not for the faint of heart, far from perfect and certainly not for every taste, the movie is exceedingly well acted across the board, especially by one-time James Cameron regular Michael Biehn, and features a series of sights and sounds that will haunt my nightmares for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Murdoch Mysteries: Season 1

The initial investigations of seasoned Toronto detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), the devout Catholic using his distinctive techniques – Sherlock Holmes is one of his heroes – to solve a series of bizarre and complicated crimes in the mostly Protestant city circa 1895. Acorn Media, which already brought Season 3 of the series to Blu-ray last year and has plans to release Season 4 domestically next month, goes backwards to bring this first season to Hi-Def, and for fans of the show a purchase is relatively elementary. For everyone else, while the show takes some time to get its footing, about halfway through these first 13 episodes Murdoch and his crackerjack team are at full stride, meaning those partial to these sorts of mysteries are almost certain to enjoy all of the devious comings and goings happening here.

 

OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES

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·         7 Below

·         The Asphyx

·         Frozen Planet: The Complete Series

·         Halloween: Resurrection (Read Sara's Blu-ray Review)

·         High Road to China

·         IMAX: Born to be Wild (Read Mitchell’s Blu-ray Review)

·         In Too Deep (Read Mitchell’s Blu-ray Review)

·         Operation Condor 2: The Armour of God (Read Mitchell’s Blu-ray Review)

·         Up from Slavery

 

 

NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection (Candy Stripe Nurses, Private Duty Nurses, Night Call Nurses, Young Nurses)

All right, you already know whether or not if this two-disc release of all four of the Roger Corman produced ‘Nurses’ movies appeals to you. There’s very little for me to say on the subject, virtually nothing at all. Even so, I will admit to watching each and every one of these, um, ‘features,’ and I can say without a shadow of a doubt even though they didn’t personally appeal to me I still sat through each beginning to end. The bonus features are excellent,and it’s semi-hard to believe the likes of Jonathan Kaplan (The Accused, Love Field) and George Armitage (Grosse Pointe Blank, Miami Blues) were responsible for some of these. I’d say for fans only, but even if you’re only slightly curious it’s hard not to recommend giving at least one of these idiotic all-over-the-map erotic misadventures a look.

 

 

Farmaggedon

Americans' right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities until they were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies. Filmmaker Kristin Canty's quest to find healthy food for her four children turned into an educational journey to discover why access to these foods was being threatened. What she found were policies that favor agribusiness and factory farms over small family-operated farms selling fresh foods to their communities. This film highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals' rights to access food of their choice and farmers' rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Flaw

People all over the world are still struggling with the aftermath of the greatest financial crisis since the Wall Street Crash of 1929. We all know what the effects have been but what exactly were the causes? The Flaw ranges widely across the history of American capitalism in the twentieth century, its rigor laced with sardonic humor and peopled with a cast of characters that spans Nobel-prize winning economists and distressed home owners to the New York Times financial correspondent on the brink of foreclosure and the Wall Street banker who feels the pain encoded in his spreadsheets. The film argues that the roots of the crisis lie in the changing relationship between the rich and the rest in American society. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Hell’s Labyrinth

After being kidnapped, Kate Walker wakes to find herself trapped in a small chamber. She realizes she's not the only prisoner, as nineteen others share the same fate. Hunted by demonic creatures, the group must band together if they are to escape the hellish labyrinth and survive the onslaught. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Last Rites of Joe May

Dennis Farina gives a tour-de-force performance as aging small-time criminal Joe May. Having lost everything he owns during an extended stay in the hospital, May struggles to come to terms with a life spent sacrificing for a glamorous future that, much like the rest of the Chicago underworld, has passed him by. But in his last days in the life, Joe is presented with one last shot at greatness. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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·         American Dad! Volume 7

·         Bill Moyers: Capitol Crimes

·         Bob’s Burgers: The Complete 1st Season

 

 

NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

   
     

 

·         Castle in the Sky (May 22, 2012)

·         The Secret World of Arrietty (May22, 2012)

·         Whisper of the Heart (May 22, 2012)

·         The Woman in Black (May 22, 2012)

·         Safe House (June 5, 2012)

·         Too Big to Fail (June 12, 2012)

·         Cat Run (June 19, 2012)

·         Seeking Justice (June 19, 2012)

·         Wilfred – Season 1 (June 19, 2012)

·         Born on the Fourth of July – Anniversary Collection (July 3, 2012)

·         Doomsday Prophecy (July 17, 2012)

·         Full Metal Jacket – 25th Anniversary DigiBook (Aug. 7, 2012)

·         Jaws – Anniversary Collection (Aug. 14, 2012)

 

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