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FEATURE ARTICLE

New Blu's On the Block - April 24, 2012

 

Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: April 24, 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 24, 2012

An interesting week, but nothing big or gigantic or special that makes me want to run outside and urge people to buy it immediately. That said, the stuff that’s good is very, very, very good.

 

 

Pariah

One of my favorite films of 2011. Here’s what I wrote about it back in January (read full review here): “The first word I muttered under my breath after watching writer/director Dee Rees’ Pariah, an expansion of her award-winning short film of the same name, was, ‘Wow.’ As I sat in the darkened theatre letting the end credits crawl by I was thunderstruck by just how magnificent the film proved to be. This shouldn’t have happened, I kept thinking to myself, the central story too familiar, too cliché at this point. And yet there I was, flabbergasted to the point of awe, Rees achieving the unthinkable in many respects delivering a motion picture in many regards equal to many of the greats I’d seen throughout all of 2011.”

 

 

Camelot – 45th Anniversary DigiBook

Awesome picture and sound, this Blu-ray version of the 1967 Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical is a top-of-the-line affair all the way around. All the same, and being an Arthurian junkie from the time I could first read a book on my own, I’ve never quite understood how this cinematic adaptation has proven to be so enduring. Beautifully designed, Vanessa Redgrave (as Guinevere) has never looked more beautiful, but overall this movie is just too arch and flippant for my tastes. There’s something childish about this film, itself adapted from T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, and as such I’ve never been able to fully embrace it.

 

 

Contraband

Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.

 

 

The Innkeepers

From my original theatrical review (read it here): “For those willing to let the film’s modest charms work on them, West’s [The Innkeepers] can be a heck of a pulse-pounding ride. There are some great moments, especially during sequences when Claire finds herself alone inside the expansive New England hotel trying to record paranormal noises while at the same time doing her best, and mostly not succeeding, to keep her timidity and fear in check. Like House of the Devil, the director shows a flair for ambience and mood, a delectable air of gothic malevolence hovering over the proceedings even during the sillier sequences where the two Yankee Peddler clerks banter back and forth.”

 

 

A Hollis Frampton Odyssey – Criterion Collection

I know very little about Hollis Frampton or what makes him so special that the folks at the Criterion Collection decided to wrap his works into a Blu-ray box collection. But considering their track record, I’m incredibly curious to find out, close to curious enough I’m tempted to pick this set up sight-unseen as a review copy sadly never arrived.

 

 

The Organizer – Criterion Collection

This one, however, Criterion did provide me with a review copy and I’m happy to say I thought this Marcello Mastriionni drama was positively divine. Funny and moving and dramatic and emotional and, most of all, true, this turn-of-the-century story about Union organizing at a textile factory held me spellbound for almost its entire running time. Director Mario Monicelli’s feature is wonderful in every sense of the word, and out of all this week’s releases it is without a doubt the one I’d call the closest to perfection.

 

 

The Wicker Tree

I’ll say this for cult director Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Tree (inspired by his classic The Wicker Man but by no means a sequel to it), it’s certainly original and different as far as creepy religious horror thrillers are concerned. Traipsing through various genres at the drop of the hat, going in about 17 different directions at once, funny when you’d expect it to be tense and shocking when you expect it to be routine and routine when you expect it to be daring, Hardy’s effort walks a bizarre line that has to be seen to be believed. While fans of The Wicker Man (the original, not Nic Cage in a bear suit) won’t be surprised by the ultimate destination, getting there is certainly a kick, and anyone even minutely intrigued should pick this disc up as a rental right away.

 

 

Let the Bullets Fly

Heard awesome things about this and can’t wait to give it a look. Sadly, missed the press screening when it played Seattle theatrically and no review copy of the Blu-ray arrived in the mail. Guess I have to add it to the Netflix queue!

 

 

The Fields

This “based on actual events” thriller features a great performance by Academy Award-winner Cloris Leachman, some incredibly creepy cinematography, awesome sound design and a creaky climax that had me shaking my head in disappointment.  There’s not a lot more to say other than that genre fans who like intelligently layered slow-burning horror movies should definitely check this little independent release out; just don’t expect to be left close to satisfied by the blasé quality of the ending.

 

 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)

The Alex Guinness classic gets a Blu-ray makeover. If you own the already released DVD version also released by Acorn Media, stay away from this hi-def edition, as upgrades in picture and sound are negligible to say the least. Don’t already own it? Then go ahead and pick it up; this television version of the John le Carré classic is beyond perfect.

 

 

Poirot – Series 4

This is the season Poirot moved to feature-length episodes, this season featuring three entertaining ones that showcases the Belgian detective doing what he does best – solving murders and catching killers!

 

OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES

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·         Badge 373

·         Birdsong

·         Cinema Verite

·         Dark Tide

·         Girl on a Motorcycle

·         Hit!

·         The Jayhawkers

·         Justine

·         Killer Nun

·         The Red House

·         Shogun Assassin – 5-Film Collector’s Edition

·         Some Days are Better than Others

·         Titanic (2012)

·         Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show

·         Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection

 

 

NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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Eclipse Series 32: Pearls of the Czech New Wave (Pearls of the Deep, Daisies, A Report on the Party and Guests, Return of the Prodigal Son, Capricious Summer, The Joke) (Criterion Collection)

Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors - including eventual Oscar winners Milos Forman and J n Kad r - began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. A defining work was the 1966 omnibus film Pearls of the Deep, which introduced five of the movement's greatest voices: Vra Chytilov , Jaromil Jire, Ji¡ Menzel, Jan Nmec, and Evald Schorm. This series presents that title, along with five other crucial works that followed close on its heels, one from each of those filmmakers... some dazzlingly experimental, some arrestingly realistic, all singular expressions from a remarkable time and place. Pearls of the Deep - A manifesto of sorts for the Czech New Wave, this five-part anthology shows off the breadth of expression offered by the movement's versatile directors. All based on stories by the legendary writer Bohumil Hrabal, the shorts range from surreally chilling to caustically observant to casually romantic, but all have a cutting, wily view of the world. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Night Wolf

Young woman returns to her secluded home in the U.K. reuniting with her beloved father and her estranged siblings, only to find that as night falls she and the rest of her loved ones are under assault from a mysterious blood-thirsty wolf-like creature. As genre efforts go, this one has some nice moments, but overall the script runs out of gas and goes nowhere interesting building to a forgone conclusion anyone with even an ounce of intellectual acumen will have seen coming a mile away. For fans of this sort of thing only.

 

 

Return

Overly familiar drama of a soldier just returned from service in the Middle East made worthwhile thanks to a stunning central performance by Linda Cardellini. She’s amazing in this thing, and even if the movie treads familiar ground the emotional breadth of her work as the main character blew me away.

 

 

Albatross

17-year-old Emelia (Jessica Brown Findlay), who believes she is following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by pursuing a writing career, takes a job at a B&B owned by former writer Jonathan Fischer (Sebastian Koch, Black Book) and run by his wife Joa (Julia Ormond, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Sensing emerging talent in Emelia, Jonathan begins to tutor her, leading to a relationship that soon develops into a secret affair. Meanwhile, bookish daughter Beth Fischer (Felicity Jones, Like Crazy) finds an unlikely friend in the free-spirited Emelia and begins to reveal to her the details of the Fischer family's troubled past. Now unless she can extricate herself from her relationship with Jonathan, Emelia just might destroy what solidarity the family has left. A tender and poignant comedy, Albatross shows how the most unusual of circumstances can teach us to stand on our own two feet. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Stony Island

Directed by Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian ), Stony Island, set during the 1970's in Chicago's South Side, is the story of a group of young, aspiring musicians trying to make it in the world of jazz. Richie, Kevin, and Harold team up with Percy Price, a local saxophone legend, who helps them book their first gig at a famous venue known for featuring the likes of BB King. Everything is working out perfectly until Percy unexpectedly drops dead, his life insurance expires, and his next of kin turns out to be a New Orleans piano man with a penchant for violence and a bone to pick. Scrambling to salvage its chance for success, the band comes up with a risky plan give to Percy the funeral he deserves while delivering the musical performance of a lifetime. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Time that Remains

Covering the years from 1948 to the present day, writer/director Elia Suleiman's The Time That Remains is a humorous, heartbreaking film that explores life among the Israeli Arab community, shot largely in homes and places in which Suleiman's family once lived. Inspired by his father's diaries, letters his mother sent to family members who had fled the Israeli occupation, and the director's own recollections, the film recounts the saga of the filmmaker's family in subtly hilarious vignettes. An intimate and semi-biographical portrait of Palestinians living as a minority in their own homeland, The Time That Remains is an elegantly stylized chronicle of life's often touching absurdities. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Young Goethe in Love

Germany 1772 the young and tumultuous Johann Goethe (Alexander Fehling) aspires to be a poet; but after failing his law exams, he is sent by his father (Henry Huebchen) to a sleepy provincial court to mend his ways. Unsure of his talent and eager to prove himself, Goethe soon wins the praise and friendship of his superior Kestner (Moritz Bleibtreu). But then Lotte (Miriam Stein) enters his life and nothing is the same as before. However, the young lovers are unaware that her father has already promised Lotte s hand to another man. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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

 

·         Marvel Anime: Iron Man - Complete Series

·         Marvel Anime: X-Men - Complete Series

 

 

NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

   

     

 

·         Bringing Down the House(May 15, 2012)

·         Chronicle(May 15, 2012)

·         Father of the Bride / Father of the Bride Part II(May 15, 2012)

·         Road Trip – Best Buy Exclusive  (May 15, 2012)

·         Cocktail (June 5, 2012)

·         The Color of Money (June 5, 2012)

·         Ransom (June 5, 2012)

·         Sixteen Candles – Universal 100th Anniversary (June 5, 2012)

·         In Darkness (June 12, 2012)

·         Big Miracle (June 19, 2012)

·         The FP (June 19, 2012)

·         Wanderlust (June 19, 2012)

·         Bullhead (June 26, 2012)

·         Home on the Range (July 3, 2012)

·         The Horse Whisperer (July 3, 2012)

·         Phenomenon (July 3, 2012)

·         Step Up (July 3, 2012)

·         Treasure Planet (July 3, 2012)

·         Under the Tuscan Sun (July 3, 2012)

·         Chariots of Fire (July 10, 2012)

·         The Flowers of War (July 10, 2012)

·         Down By Law – Criterion Collection (July 17, 2012)

·         The Last Days of Disco – Criterion Collection (July 24, 2012)

·         Life (July 24, 2012)

·         Metropolitan – Criterion Collection (July 24, 2012)

·         Le Havre – Criterion Collection (July 31, 2012)

·         The Incredible Mr. Limpet (Aug 7, 2012)

 

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