New Blu's On the Block - 7/5/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: July 5, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for July 5, 2011


Not a lot to talk about today as the Fourth of July holiday has kept distributors from piling on the titles. There are some interesting catalog releases, while Takashi Miike’s latest is one of the better films I’ve had the pleasure to watch this year. Other than that, there’s not a lot to say. Take a look at the releases themselves and you’ll see what I mean.



Das Boot 

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Wolfgang Peterson’s immortal WWII classic in both its extended Director’s Cut and original theatrical release forms (but not the television miniseries version, so don’t be disappointed) comes to Blu-ray and I couldn’t be more excited to give it a look. Claustrophobic as all get out, bristling with tension and superbly acted by its entire cast, this is without a doubt the In the Line of Fire and Outbreak director’s only legitimate classic, and no matter which version of the film you prefer there is no doubt in regards to its epic magnificence. Without question the only must-buy Blu-ray release of the entire week.



13 Assassins

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Director Takashi Miike’s (Audition) superb samurai thriller 13 Assassins puts just about every other action film out there at the moment to shame. Think the final 45 minutes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon are extraordinary (they are admittedly impressive), wait until you get a load of what Miike unleashes here. The story of a group of samurai secretly entrusted with assassinating a brutal and sadistic feudal lord in an attempt to keep him from joining Japan’s leadership and potentially ascending to the throne, the last act of this film is a gigantic siege as 13 warriors transform a quiet village into a crucible of death and destruction. It all builds to a climactic showdown that harkens back to classic Kurosawa, the movie pushing me so far to the edge of my seat I couldn’t have been anymore impressed. Without a doubt, one of the better films I have seen in 2011.



Of Gods and Men

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The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Xavier Beauvois’s fantastic Of Gods and Men is loosely based on the devastating and inspirational true story of a group of Cistercian monks of Tibéhirine in Alegeria who kidnapped in 1996 by Islamic fundamentalists. An astonishing treatise on faith, friendship and forgiveness, this delicately balanced story weaves through its narrative with a simplistic grace and an almost overwhelming beauty. Haunting, moving and emotional, this is one drama that intelligent viewers can’t afford to miss. I’ll have a full review of Sony Classics’ sensational Blu-ray up for people to read within the next day or so.



The Sacrifice

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Russian director Andrey Tarkovskiy’s (Solaris) 1986 classic The Sacrifice makes it Blu-ray debut thanks to the folks at Kino. Shot by the legendary Sven Nykvist (Through a Glass Darkly, Black Moon), the movie is a moving and intimate about a journalist, actor and philosopher named Alexander (Erland Josephson) who engages his young son in a series of conversations about the lack of spirituality in modern society. Uncompromising, tough yet surprisingly tender, sweet and introspective, this movie engages and surprises on multiple levels, and as I’ve not seen it in ages I’m highly curious to give this new hi-def presentation a look.



Hobo with a Shotgun

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From my original May theatrical review (read it here): “[Rutger Hauer is] actually giving a performance, doing his best to make the Hobo as well-rounded a character as possible in order to make him more worthy of the audience’s affections as well as their eventual cheers… But that’s where my praise for Hobo with a Shotgun comes to an end. [Director Jason] Eisener can do gore as good as anyone out there today, and I love the fact that by and large he eschews showy CGI for more practical effects making the carnage appear all the more gruesome. Yet as laudable as all that is his debut effort has all the charm of a dentist pulling out teeth with a rusty pair of pliers, and only those who would find experiencing that sort of thing enjoyable should take the time to give this one a look.”



Gettysburg / Gods and Generals (Limited Collector's Edition)

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From my original Blu-ray review of Gettysburg (read it here): “Gettysburg is sprawling, overblown, melodramatic and leisurely paced. It is also filled with astonishing performances, incredible moments and delivers a thought-provoking history lesson Civil War buffs won’t want to miss.”


From my original Blu-ray review of Gods and Generals (read it here): “While the performances, the packaging and the Blu-ray presentation itself are all extraordinary, Gods and Generals, even in a new 280-minute “Director’s Cut,” remains something of a distant disappointment. Civil War buffs should give it a look, and as meticulously researched as it is there is some educational value to showing it to students, but as an entertaining motion picture this one sadly falls short.”


This Limited Collector’s Edion box set comes with both Blu-ray releases and also includes a small selection of new extras, memorabilia and a 32-page excerpt from TIME Magazine’s forthcoming book, TIME The Civil War: An Illustrated History.




The Cutting Edge

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Honeymoon in Vegas

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Three comedy favorites making their Blu-ray debuts from the folks at MGM and Fox Home Entertainment, all notable for different reasons with the Academy Award-nominated Four Weddings and a Funeral being the obvious standout. At the same time, The Cutting Edge has always been something a of a guilty pleasure around my neck of the woods, and I’m curious to give it a look, while any movie featuring a cavalcade of skydiving Elvis impersonators and features Nicolas Cage at his manic good-natured over the top best is A-okay in my book. All are reasonably priced, and hopefully we’ll have full reviews of each for everyone to take a look at soon.




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Ferocious Planet

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Syfy Channel spectacular about a group of scientists, soldiers and politicians accidentally transported to a parallel dimension after an experiment goes horrifically wrong, the movie is the usual hodgepodge of killer creatures, second rate CGI effects and copious amounts of gore. Sadly, it isn’t very much fun, and while lead actors Joe Flanigan and Catherine Walker do their best, even at a brisk 88-minutes this one had a lot of trouble maintaining my interest all the way to the end.



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

Based on actual events, writer and director Olivier Masset-Depasse’ Illegal tells the story about a Russian teacher named Tania (Anne Coesens) living in Belgium illegally with her 14-year-old son Ivan (Alexandre Gontcharov). After she is detained by the police and threatened with deportation, the determined mother must find a way to stop this from happening while also find her son who has gone into hiding. A searing, emotionally-charged story to be sure, the movie never quite connects as deeply as it should, Masset-Depasse sadly keeping me at arm’s length for much of the picture. At the same time, Coesens’ extraordinary central performance makes practically all my qualms about the picture virtually moot, her dynamic and mesmerizing turn one of the very best I’ve seen all year. A mixed bag, yes, but a film still not without its merits, deserving of being seen if only to witness Coesens’ indisputable magnificence.



Strangers Online

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From my theatrical review posted just a few short weeks ago (read it here): “Strangers Online is a bad movie that’s only redeeming feature is that it is so darn funny every time it tries to be suspenseful, erotic or scary. While I’ve tried to keep the majority of its secrets a surprise, the reality is most viewers are going to figure them out within the first 30 minutes (even the supposedly shocking climactic one).”



The Anniversary at Shallow Creek

When Sam and Paige decide to escape the stress of medical school for a romantic getaway in the mountains outside L.A., their four best friends end up tagging along and turning it into a weekend of partying. Little does the group know that their beautiful lodge has a dark history: exactly one year before, the house was the scene of a grisly double murder - and the killer was never caught. Now, as night falls and the group drinks beer by the bonfire, a predator hides in the darkness, watching them all through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. In an instant, the friend's night of partying turns into a bloody fight for survival.


The Anniversary at Shallow Creek is a slick homage to horror classics and a clever update on the genre that never leads where the audience suspects. As the kill count rises, the remaining friends find themselves to be pawns in a horrifying game - one that promises to test their survival skills and the strength of their relationships. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Bloodlust Zombies

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Like typical 9-to-5 cubicle dwellers, the workers at Zlantoff Industries are just counting down the minutes and seconds by the end of the day. And just like any office, mishaps are bound to happen: spilt coffee, jammed fax machines ... mutant viral outbreaks. When a chemical spill in the lab on an otherwise uneventful weekday puts the office on emergency lockdown, the staff unwittingly becomes the first test subjects for an experimental, biological weapon and if the mutant virus doesn t spur cannibalistic murder, the passive aggressive office banter will. Featuring adult film superstar Alexis Texas in a breakout role, Bloodlust Zombies is a rollercoaster ride of sex, gore and action. Part office satire, part apocalyptic nightmare, director Dan Lantz s feature length debut keeps the laughs and heads rolling. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



The Cape: The Complete Series

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He’s righteous. He’s heroic. He’s The Cape. Vince Faraday (David Lyons, E.R.) is an honest cop on a corrupt police force. But when he’s framed for murder and presumed dead he finds that he must go into hiding leaving behind his wife Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, Life on Mars) and son Trip (Ryan Wynott, Flash Forward). Determined to battle the criminals who now control his hometown Vince takes the law into his own hands and becomes The Cape—his son’s favorite comic book superhero. Featuring an incredible supporting cast including James Frain (The Tudors), Keith David (Death at a Funeral), Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Dorian Missick (The Manchurian Candidate), Martin Klebba (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Vinnie Jones (Snatch) it’s the action-packed series that has critics raving “The Cape is cloaked in awesome.” (OK! Magazine) (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Eureka: Season 4.0

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Everything you thought you knew about the small town of Eureka is about to change. Sheriff Carter (Colin Ferguson) and the resident geniuses are accustomed to the strange occurrences that make their town unlike any other. But when five of them are shunted back in time to Eureka's Founder’s Day their return trip delivers them to a present-day Eureka that’s anything but familiar. With new jobs new residents and new romances in store it's definitely not business as usual in this small town where the big secrets just got even bigger. Same town. Big changes. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



The Making of the President

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In the 1960s, writer Theodore H. White changed journalism forever by putting the campaign for the White House under a microscope. The first of his bestselling series on presidential elections, The Making of the President - 1960, earned a Pulitzer Prize and became a TV documentary that won four Emmys, including program of the year. This collection brings together three television adaptations of White’s influential books for a full, in-depth account of presidential politics during the tumultuous 1960, 1964 and 1968 elections.


Produced by Oscar nominee David L. Wolper (Roots), these programs feature White’s insightful scripts and rare film footage that reveal the winners and losers in unguarded, behind-the-scenes moments. All the backroom deals, convention-floor drama, and campaign strategy come alive again in three historic races: Kennedy-Nixon, Johnson-Goldwater, and Humphrey-Nixon-Wallace. From preprimary jockeying to the final vote tally, these spellbinding narratives dissect the inner workings of our democracy and trace the path to power. Journalist and author Theodore H. White served as China bureau chief for TIME and as correspondent and editor for The New Republic, The Reporter and Colliers. He won numerous writing awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and two Emmys. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Southland: The Complete Second Season (Uncensored)

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A raw and authentic look into the Los Angeles crime scene; Season Two of Southland goes even further inside the lives of cops; criminals; victims and their families. Hardened LAPD veteran John Cooper is partnered with rookie officer Ben Sherman - an on-the-job training that only reinforces the reality that being out on the field is nothing like his preparation at the Academy. Detective Lydia Adams must balance her hardened professional life with a more nurturing one at home. Detective "Sal" Salinger oversees the activities of fellow gang detectives; Nate Moretta and Sammy Bryant. While Chickie Brown works to become the first female member of SWAT. Together; they try to maintain order on the streets of Los Angeles - and within themselves. At the dramatic conclusion of season one; Lydia's partner is shot. As he struggles to survive; Lydia must reluctantly find a new partner. And new challenges; personal and professional; await the law-men and law-women of Southland in Season Two. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)




Erik (Andrew Pleavin), warrior of Draeganoth, is sent by his dying king to retrieve Prince Malachi (Luke Goss), heir to the throne, who's been on an extended tour of the continent for years. Accompanied by Erik's brother, Jason (Ed Speleers), they return home, only to find the king dead and the kingdom desolate. A mysterious stranger appears with a book naming Witchcraft as the cause with clues as to how to defeat the evil ones. The stranger leads the new king and his men on a journey to find the Witches' hiding place, beginning a voyage packed with battle, betrayal, witchcraft and revelation. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)






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