Breaking Bad – The Complete Fourth Season
From Mitchell’s glowing Blu-ray review (read it here): “[Breaking Bad] is still one of the best shows currently being broadcast. It’s still one of the best shows ever to be broadcast. It’s still an exceptional piece of work. It’s still consistently smart and surprising…It’s still an amazing combination of character study, drama, suspense, and jet-black humor. I’m still in awe of how it manages to do what it does so well. And I’m still kicking myself for waiting so long to start watching it.”
The Color of Money
Martin Scorsese’s criminally underrated 1986 sequel to The Hustler is close to an adrenaline-laced masterpiece of emotional mayhem. Newman, who should have won an Academy Award the first time around for playing ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson, finally took home the statue here, and while a case could be made it was more a career Oscar than anything else, that shouldn’t deter one from missing out on one of the truly great performance of this legendary actor’s career. Tom Cruise holds his own as the hotshot protégé who catches this once great pool shark’s eye, while Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio steals scene after scene as the crafty ingénue who intimately understands where both men are coming from and sees the long con ahead of them arguable better then they both do. A great film, worthy of Scorsese, worthy of Newman, and definitely worthy of finding new fans on Blu-ray.
John Carter 3D
My pick as the year’s most criminally underrated motion picture, here’s what I wrote about this $200-million science fiction spectacle back in March (read my full review here): “A century in the making, Disney’s John Carter is a superlative cinematic fantasy that’s without question the single most entertaining thing I’ve had the pleasure to see in 2012 so far. Based on the stories by Tarzan impresario Edgar Rice Burroughs, Princess of Mars providing the basis for this initial adaptation, directed by Pixar giant Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall•E) and with screenplay by Stanton, Mark Andrews (“Star Wars: Clone Wars”) and Wonder Boys author Michael Chabon, this is a literate, highly intelligent and pleasingly multilayered epic that had me wanting to leap from my theatre seat and cheer.” So I’ve seen some films I’ve found more ‘entertaining’ since watching this one, but few that have roused my senses and made me feel the same exuberant joy, that’s for sure. A failure at the box office, here’s hoping this wonderful adaptation finally finds an appreciative audience now that it’s available for home viewing.
From my February theatrical review (read it here): “Safe House is almost a good movie. While David Guggenheim’s intricate plot is hardly unfamiliar, while the twists occurring during its climax are hardly unforeseen, the narrative itself is pleasingly intelligent and character based making what happens far more intriguing than it would have been otherwise. It’s a fun, free-wheeling international adventure filled with strong moments and even stronger performances, the film’s 115 minute running time flying by in what feels like an instant.”
Act of Valor
From my February theatrical review (read it here): “Good intention or interesting ideas do not necessarily make for a well-made, let alone even moderately entertaining, motion picture. Such is the case with Act of Valor, a terrorism themed action movie starring real-life Navy SEALs in all of the principal roles. Using actual declassified missions as a jumping off point, the movie purports to show what it is really like out there in the murky messy waters of international terror. What it actually ends up being is a second-rate action flick straight out of the 1980’s Golam-Globus playbook a la Chuck Norris ‘classics’ Missing in Action or Invasion U.S.A.” Mitchell will have a full review of the Blu-ray live shortly.
“We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. We all live in a yellow sub…”
First off, for its Blu-ray debut Paramount did not release this 1953 John Wayne classic in 3D version, and personally I am thankful because that was seriously the last thing I needed in regards to this particular rip-roaring Western. With that out of the way, Duke fans rejoice because everything else about this release is top of the line all the way around. Reasonably priced, featuring sensational video and audio and packed with interesting special features, this is a catalog release to celebrate the arrival of (and you wouldn’t have to walk out of a desert covered in dust to realize it).
Hoosiers – 25th Anniversary Edition
A bit of Sara trivia: I saw Hoosiers three times when it came out in 1986. When it was released to VHS some time later, I managed to secure a copy and proceeded to watch it at least once a month until my sophomore year in college. That’s over a decade of watching Hoosiers religiously, and in the end I think I’ve seen this Gene Hackman/Dennis Hoppper/Barbara Hershey basketball classic more than I’ve seen Star Wars, more than I’ve seen Casablanca, more than I’ve seen just about any other motion picture. Guess that means I’m recommending it a purchase, huh?
A Perfect World
The catalog onslaught continues with what I believe to be the single most underrated title in the Clint Eastwood directorial canon and the movie that features the best performance of Kevin Costner’s entire career. Deceptively simple (Costner is an escaped convict who inadvertently kidnaps a child and cruises cross-country heading for the border, Eastwood is the U.S. Marshal assigned to apprehend him), the movie subtly tranforms into a multilayered character study about right, wrong and the dividing lines that would fracture and snap within the country at large over the next few decades (including, probably unintentionally, into the here and now). Close to a masterpiece, this a forgotten gem worthy of rediscovery.
Sea of Love
Scent of a Woman
Speaking of gems worthy of rediscovery, Sea of Love with Al Pacino could easily fall into that category as well. Harold Becker’s seemingly simple thriller of sex, murder and intrigue doesn’t do a lot that’s different, doesn’t try to break the mold, but does everything else so gosh darn well none of that comes close to mattering. On top of that, the film features a Pacino performance that’s nearly as good as any the actor has ever delivered, and when paired with the smolderingly seductive Ellen Barkin to say the sparks fly between them is both a cliché and an understatement.
As for Scent of a Woman, I like the movie and do believe it gets the job done. But seriously, this is the performance that finally won Pacino his Academy Award? This is the one we’re supposed to believe is heads and shoulders above the rest? You’ve got to be kidding me. Hoo-yah, indeed.
Machine Gun Preacher
From my theatrical review (read it here): “No matter what your opinion of [Sam] Childers or his Angels of East Africa rescue organization (and, I must admit, I held no opinion of him either way before watching this film) [Marc] Forster’s epic melodrama isn’t going to affect it one way or the other. [Machine Gun Preacher] revels in cliché, adores the maudlin and is so steeped in saccharine and sentiment there were times I felt like I was drowning in treacle while trying to watch it. It is an overblown, histrionic, cluttered and a nowhere near well enough developed mess, the erstwhile humanitarian a one-note caricature I knew little more about at the end than I did at the beginning.”
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
From my February theatrical review (read it here): “[Journey 2: The Mysterious Island] is nothing more than an excuse to keep visual effects artists gainfully employed, the screenplay nothing more than a series of Big Event Moments filled to the brim with computer generated images giving the whole thing a video game sheen that’s pretty, if not altogether appealing. It all gets quickly tiresome, and other than a pretty solid sequence of the shipwrecked castaways (which also include a shockingly awful Luis Guzmán and a surprisingly beguiling Vanessa Hudgens) traversing over a field of gigantic lizard eggs there wasn’t a lot that held my attention.” Mitchell liked the movie even less than I did; check out his just posted Blu-ray Review and you’ll see what I mean.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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· Act of Vengeance
· ARN The Knight Templar - The Complete Series
· Bad Ass
· Erin Brockovich – Universal 100th Anniversary
· Falling Skies: The Complete First Season
· Flame Over India
· Hit So Hard
· Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition
· Seven Days in Utopia
· Smokey and the Bandit – Universal 100th Anniversary
· U.S. Marshals
· Workaholics – Seasons 1 & 2
· The Yankles
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season
From Mitchell’s just posted DVD review (read it here): “It’s possible longtime viewers will cut the show more slack, ignoring the flaws out of an overall love. I’m guilty of doing the same for shows I enjoy (Scrubs being a good example). But its missteps aren’t killers; [Curb Your Enthusiasm] is still a damned funny show.”
The Queen of Hearts (2009)
Very French love story concerning a thirty-something woman (co-writer and director Valérie Donzelli) who finds her life devolving into shambles after a particularly painful breakup. Nothing new or unexpected, just a solid drama told with flair, passion and style. Enjoyable for what it is movie nonetheless doesn’t come close to breaking the mold, not that there is anything wrong with that. Recommended.
Dear God No!
Bikers, Boobs, Blood & Bigfoot! A vicious gang of murdering and raping bikers, The Impalers, invade a home after a bloody shoot out at a strip club. Humiliation, rape, and murder follow, but there is something in the basement and in the woods…Sasquatch! This shot on film politically incorrect exploitation throw back to the 70s is a fun grab bag of biker film, home invasion flick, Bigfoot monster movie, stag loops, and even some Nazisploitation. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Declaration of War
New couple Romeo (Jérémie Elkaïm) and Juliette (Valérie Donzelli) must face the ultimate test when they discover that their newborn son has a brain tumor. Gathering their friends and family together, they confront this ordeal together as a form of warfare. Through tenacity and dedication, Romeo and Juliette begin to surprise even themselves in their ability to not only fight for the life of their child but also for each other. Drawing on their own real-life experiences in caring for their ill child, writer/director/star Donzelli and co-writer/co-star Elka infuse this unconventional telling of their story with unexpected verve using a host of cinematic techniques, music, and heartbreaking performances. The result is an exuberant and deeply moving experience that dazzles with vitality. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
In a social context deteriorated by a countrywide economic crisis, the life of several people will be turned upside down after they meet Cecile, a character who, in the footsteps of ‘The Visitor’ in Teorama by Pier Paolo Pasolini, symbolizes desire. In confused times, it seems as though heightened feelings can lead man to express his urge to live by an unbridled sexual life and a passionate carnal love. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Ptown Diaries is a fascinating, essential new documentary that chronicles the amazing history of a small Massachusetts town, and its evolution from Pilgrim's Landing and the roots of modering American drama to modern-day Carnival Week and Spiritus Pizza, delving seamlessly into the town's progression as the first artist's colony in the in the US, from the arrival of Eugene O'Neil to the grown breaking work of Tennessee Williams. Embracing Provincetown's eccentric and rich heritage with deft insight, Ptown Diaries weaves the stories of the New England Yankees, Portuguese fishermen, bohemian artists and everything in between into a single mesmerizing history of the magnificent landscape known as 'Lands End.' (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Taking a trip into the isolated wilderness of Oregon to scatter her father's ashes, Mara meets a kindly older gentleman, Jon, who offers to give her a ride after she discovers her car has been towed by the local sheriff. She begrudgingly accepts, only to be later abducted by him and subjected to various methods of emotional and physical torture. Risking everything to escape this hell, she won't stop running until she finds safety. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
In Tomboy, filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s (Water Lilies) second feature, a family with two daughters, 10-year-old Laure and 6-year-old Jeanne, moves to a new suburban neighborhood during the summer holidays. With her Jean Seberg haircut and tomboy ways, Laure is immediately mistaken for a boy by the local kids, and decides to pass herself off as Mikael, a boy different enough to catch the attention of leader of the pack Lisa, who becomes smitten. At home with her parents and girlie younger sister, she is Laure; hanging out with her new pals and girlfriend, she is Mikael. Finding resourceful ways to hide her true self, Laure takes advantage of her new identity, as if the end of the summer would never reveal her unsettling secret. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon!)
· Burn Notice: The Complete Fifth Season
· Doc Martin: Series 5
· Fairly Legal: Season One
· In Plain Sight: Season Four
· Necessary Roughness: Season One
· New Tricks: Season 7
· Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Second Season
· White Collar: Season Three
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
· Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (July 17, 2012)
· Detention (July 31, 2012)
· Good Will Hunting – 15th Anniversary Edition (Aug 21, 2012)
· Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein – Universal 100th Anniversary (Sept 4, 2012)
· Airport – Universal 100th Anniversary (Sept 4, 2012)
· Harvey – Universal 100th Anniversary (Sept 4, 2012)
· Sixteen Candles – Universal 100th Anniversary (Sept 4, 2012)
· E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial – Universal 100th Anniversary (Oct, 2012)