New Blu's On the Block - 5/17/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: May 17, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for May 17, 2011


Forget the batch of recent theatrical releases making their way to Blu-ray, the reason today is such a great one is all thanks to the bevy of awesome catalog titles making their way to high definition for the very first time. Classics from Paul Newman, Henri-Georges Clouzot, John Wayne, Eddie Murphy, Sophie Loren and Marcello Mastroianni are making their debuts today, and pardon me if I get all hot, bothered and excited thinking about them.



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

Paul Newman. Jackie Gleason. George C. Scott. Piper Laurie. Director Robert Rossen’s The Hustler is a legendary study of obsession and cocky youthful ignorance that is rightly considered one of the greatest motion pictures of all-time. Filled with masterful performances, exquisite camerawork and crackling dialogue, this is one of those landmark pieces of cinematic history everyone who is anyone should make it a priority to see. Newman, nominated for Best Actor, would later win his only Academy Award for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money in 1986, marking the only time a performer would win an Oscar for recreating a role he was previously nominated for. I’ll have a full review of this disc up sometime in the next few days.


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

“Don't be diabolical. Don't spoil the film for your friends by telling them what happens. Thanks on their behalf.” So says the scrawl at the end of director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterful and enduring thriller Diabolique starring Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meurisse and Charles Vanel, and who am I to refuse such a request. Just know that this is one movie that continues to live up to the hype, and to miss your chance at seeing it would be a greater crime than almost any depicted within the film itself. Do yourself a favor and buy this Blu-ray immediately.



The Twilight Zone: Season 4

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Season four of Rod Serling’s groundbreaking anthology series makes its way to Blu-ray, and after waxing poetic about the first three sadly this one did not make its way to my doorstep for review. Pity, because some of my favorite episodes of the entire series, including two classics – “Mute” and “Death Ship” – written by the great Richard Matheson. Still, considering the level of quality on display as far as picture, sound and special features are concerned with the first three season Blu-ray releases I imagine this one will be spectacular as well, and it goes without saying that as soon as I can put the dollars away to do so I’ll be picking this up for my personal library with no hesitation whatsoever. 



Beverly Hills Cop (Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)

The Eddie Murphy classic makes its way to Blu-ray, and while results aren’t perfect they’re good enough they kept me happy. You can read my full Blu-ray review to find out more.





Marriage Italian Style (Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)

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

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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Three with legendary stars Sophie Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, all directed by the equally legendary Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief). The first is a dramatic comedy about a successful businessman who starts an affair with a 17-year-old that will entangle the both for numerous years leading to children, marriages, annulments and, ultimately, love. The second is a drama about a driven woman searching for her missing husband, potentially one of several thousand soldiers left behind on the battlefields of Russia during the latter stages of WWII. The third, the first for the trio, is arguably their most famous and is easily their most ambitious, the film telling three slightly interconnected stories about beautiful Italian women and the men they attract.


Personally, I can’t wait to see all of these, and considering Kino’s track record with bringing classic titles to Blu-ray I’m slightly tempted to pick all of them up sight unseen.



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

John Wayne classic celebrating its 50th anniversary is given the deluxe digibook Blu-ray treatment by the folks at Fox and results are extremely impressive. The story of a Texas Ranger and an on-the-lam card shark-slash-lothario forced to join forces to bring a band of ruthless cutthroats to justice, this movie is a rip-roaring old school adventure directed with flair and passion by the great Michael Curtiz (who, sadly, grew deathly ill by the close of shooting, his duties taken over by Wayne who incidentally refused any sort of screen credit for doing so). I’ll have a full review of the title up by the end of the week.



The Mechanic (2011) (Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)

From my January theatrical review (read it here): “This new take on The Mechanic goes through the motions and talks a pretty fair game but doesn’t have the guts, the impulse or the desire to mine the depths 1972 version does. It’s flash without the sizzle, an appetizer without the main course, and by the time it was finished setting itself up for the requisite sequel I was mentally already halfway out the door to forgetting about it completely.”



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

From my January theatrical review (read it here): “I’m not saying The Rite was ever going to be a movie I’d have felt comfortable about recommending. It’s too obvious and familiar, going through the exorcism thriller motions far too much for that to have happened. Yet for a while there I wasn’t going to blast it, either, and until the disastrous climax I’d have been perfectly fine giving it a lukewarm pass. But that simply cannot happen, the truth being thanks to its putrid penultimate third [director Mikael] Håfström’s latest is unintentionally laughable and as close to as pure a waste of time as anything this January has so far offered up.” Mitchell has just posted his Blu-ray review and you can read all about the film and disc details.



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

Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet and Aly Michalka face-off against “Gossip Girl” starlet Leighton Meester in this somewhat surprising early year box office success that’s one part Single White Female, one part Apartment Zero and one part pure Hollywood superficial Cheese-Whiz. It didn’t screen for critics when it was released theatrically, so I’m only guessing as far as that description goes, but considering the trailer spills out everything I can’t be all that far off. Mitchell will have a full review of the Blu-ray up soon; just don’t hold your breath that it’s going to be anything close to a positive one.



The Other Woman (Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)

Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow star in writer/director Don Roos’ (The Opposite of Sex, Bounce) latest, the barely released drama The Other Woman. Reviews were hardly good at the time of its limited theatrical release, Una LaMarche of the New York Observer being about the kindest stating that the movie “has brief moments of levity and charm” before quickly summing up her reactions by adding, “mostly it’s depressing.” Still, I’m curious, and as we didn’t get a review copy I’m going to throw it into the Netflix queue in order to check the film out for myself.



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

Criterion’s stunning Blu-ray treatment of the Japanese New Wave classic by director Masahiro Shinoda is one to cherish, this giddy and exuberant yakuza thriller a real find I’m truly happy to have had the good fortune to discover. Certainly a case of style over substance, this beautifully photographed and features a bizarrely awesome soundtrack composed by Toru Takemitsu (Ran) is a total stunner that had me hypnotized from start to finish. I’ll have a full review of this title up for everything to take a look at shortly.



Vanishing on 7th Street

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From my original February theatrical review (read it here): “Be that as it may, on the whole Vanishing on 7th Street never comes close to living up to its massive potential… While the final image is haunting, the climax itself doesn’t viscerally impact and is instead rather forgone. Anderson knows what he’s doing, and he seems like the best director for the job, but the script just never comes together in a satisfying way the film’s potential vanishing nearly as rapidly as its fictional citizens of Detroit do in the opening few minutes.” You can read my Blu-ray review now.



Daydream Nation

From Mitchell’s recent Blu-ray review: “Daydream Nation is a pointless mess, a pretentious jumble of borrowed ideas and go-nowhere storylines. After a couple festival dates, a perfunctory theatrical run, and [star Kat] Dennings’s attempt to garner attention for the movie via topless cell-phone pics (for which she has my eternal gratitude), the movie now comes to home video, where it will undoubtedly give rise to a small cult of people who’ll champion it as smart and fresh. You should definitely ignore those people.”










ESPN Films: 30 for 30 Limited Edition Collector’s Set

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ESPN Films 30 for 30 Gift Set Collection, Volume 2

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The “30 for 30” film series from ESPN has, I have to admit, been kind of amazing. These hour, hour-and-a-half documentary features from a variety of talented filmmakers have delved into the very heart of the sporting world in a away that has been consistently thought-provoking and exciting. Volume two of this collection includes some of the best features in the entire series, including The Birth of Big Air directed by Jeff Tremaine and produced by Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville, Ron Shelton’s fascinating Jordan Rides the Bus and Marion Jones: Press Pause directed by John Singleton.


The Limited Edition Collector’s Set includes all of the films in one package as well as over five hours of bonus features.



Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Intriguing and delightful documentary that screened at the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival focusing on Japan’s enduring fascination with bugs. A film that makes you squirm early on, but as things progress that icky feeling slowly disappears and an appreciation for all things creepy and crawly slowly takes hold.



Circles of Deceit

Hugely entertaining crime series from 1993 and 1995 starring Dennis Waterman as a former special-forces operative who continues to do jobs on a case by case basis for the British Government, taking on tasks regular law enforcement officials can’t handle. These four episodes include guest rolls for talented character actors like Derek Jacobi, John Hannah, Claire Higgins and Peter Vaughn, all 394 minutes of this electric enterprise worthy of multiple viewings.



Feathered Serpent: The Complete Series

Whoa, Nelly, but is this hoot of a BBC series from the 1970’s a heck of a lot of fun. Starring on-time Doctor Who Patrick Troughton, this freewheeling lark of a fantastical mystery concerns a wickedly devilish Aztec priest with designs on toppling a peace-loving emperor and unleashing Hell on Earth. This 12 episode frolic is full of all the lunatic whimsy a person could want (including silly, bottom-of-the-barrel special effects that must be seen to be believed) and is so entertaining in an unabashedly B-movie way it’s almost too good to be true. For fans of this sort of thing, this is one two-DVD set that simply cannot be missed.



The Beautiful Person (La Bell Personne)

The ever-inventive French director Christophe Honore (Love Songs, Dans Paris, Ma Mere) once again shows his versatility in this tale of adolescent lust and longing. Beautiful 16-year-old Junie (Lea Seydoux, Mysteries of Lisbon, Inglourious Basterds), attends a new school only to find herself in love with her charming Italian teacher (Louis Garrel, Love Songs, The Dreamers) while also pursued by a fellow student (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet). The attractions of the mysterious Junie are the centerpiece of this modern adaptation of Mademoiselle de Chartres’ classic novel The Princess of Cleves. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Broken Hill

Born and raised on an Australian sheep ranch, Tommy (Luke Arnold) dreams of becoming a great musician. Everything changes, though, when his antics to impress his beautiful classmate Kat (Alexa Vega) backfire and land them both in trouble. But after auditioning for an elite music academy, Tommy is given the second chance he needs to win Kat’s affection, his father’s approval and the opportunity of a lifetime. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Covert Affairs: Season One

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Meet Annie Walker (Piper Perabo Coyote Ugly): smart stunning and the CIA’s newest field operative in one of their most secretive branches. Suddenly summoned by headquarters for active duty one month before training is over she’s quickly thrown into a shadowy world full of cons killers and international crime rings. What she doesn’t know is there’s something—or someone—from her past that her bosses want badly enough to put her in harm’s way. She just has to survive long enough to find out why. From the producer of the Bourne films comes the action-packed first season of the smash-hit espionage series with co-stars Christopher Gorham (“Ugly Betty”) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (“Heroes”) and guest stars Peter Gallagher (“The O.C.”), Eriq La Salle (“ER”), Lauren Holly (“NCIS”), Liane Balaban (Last Chance Harvey) and Anna Chlumsky (My Girl). Critics are praising it as, “the best new drama series of the season” (Francine Brokaw, suite101.com). (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



The Orgasm Diaries

Manchester is a novice photographer, Noon, a shy taxidermist. Over a sweltering summer, Manchester documents their affair, creating wonderfully charged, erotic images. In their makeshift home, they are absorbed by their passion for one another and their creative adventures. Then Manchester gets discovered by a wealthy pornographer and his photography is launched on the art world. As the private becomes public, can their intimate, carnal relationship survive? The Orgasm Diaries is a bold new step in the honest depiction of sex on screen, and stars two young and fearless actors, Liam Browne (Lotus Eaters) and former circus ringmistress Nancy Trotter Landry in her memorable film debut. Director Ashley Horner himself says The Orgasm Diaries is a film of extremes. Extreme language, explicit sexuality and ultimately life-affirming joy. A true love story. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Red, White & Blue

Erica (Amanda Fuller) drifts through the bars of Austin going from one sexual partner to another, never connecting emotionally. That changes when she meets Nate (Noah Taylor, Shine, Almost Famous), a discharged Iraqi vet who is more interested in being Erica's friend than her latest conquest. A strong bond of friendship develops between them, but Erica's background intrudes in the form of Franki (Marc Senter), a wannabe rock star whose sudden presence sets the stage for a shocking conclusion. With Red, White & Blue, director Simon Rumley ( The Living and the Dead ) crafts a formidable “trip through the darkest corners of the American psyche” (Anton Bitel, Little White Lies). (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Royal Pains: Season Two

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Spend your summer with Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) where the tides are high bank account balances are higher and the patients are just high maintenance. Because of his strong convictions and straight-shooting style the “concierge doctor’s” practice is growing, and with the return of his estranged father (special guest star Henry Winkler) so is his family. With puzzling cases involving a faithful cop with an STD a winemaker with a troubled palate and a reality show where all the contestants are stricken ill Hank needs his own innovative talents and the support of his fast-talking brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) more than ever. Featuring all 18 episodes from the acclaimed second season and special guest stars that include Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24”), Erinn Hayes (“Parenthood”), Peter Jacobson (“House M.D.”), Michael Rapaport (True Romance) and Bill Bellamy (The Brothers), “Royal Pains” is the smart and original comedy that Entertainment Weekly hails as “whimsical fun.” (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

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

From acclaimed writer Andrew Davies comes the lush series based on Winifred Holtby’s most acclaimed novel. When Sarah Burton returns to her hometown as headmistress she is full of ambition, determined to create a great school and to inspire her girls to take all they can from life. But in the aftermath of the First World War, the country is in depression and ideals are hard won. Lydia Holly, the scholarship girl from the shacks, is the most brilliant student Sarah has ever taught, but when her mother's health fails, her education must be sacrificed - there is nobody else to care for the children. Robert Carne of Maythorpe Hall stands for everything Sarah despises: his family has farmed the South Riding for generations, their position uncontested. Yet Sarah cannot help being drawn to this proud, haunted and almost ruined man. South Riding is a rich, panoramic novel, bringing vividly to life a rural community on the brink of change. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)






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