New Blu's On the Block - 7/12/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: July 12, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for July 12, 2011


Some good stuff this week, but as I’m the midst of a Harry Potter marathon getting ready for my viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II this evening I’m going to dispense with the intros and just get right down to it. In short, on to this week’s notable Blu-ray and DVD releases!



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

Rango is a movie that has grown on me by leaps and bounds since its March theatrical release. In my original review (read it here) I wrote, “The movie is an agreeable concoction of adult situations, family-friendly adventure and crackling dialogue that’s one heck of a lot of fun. For observant viewers who know the genre well and have a quick eye (and sometimes an even quicker ear) there is so much going on within the film one viewing almost doesn’t suffice, Verbinski and company creating a fun-filled desert-set charmer worthy of repeat showings.”


That statement proved to be awesomely true. I watched the film two more times before writing my recently posted Blu-ray Review, and over the weekend I looked at it one additional time just for good measure. Not only is this movie proving to be immensely easy to view multiple times, it is growing in resonance with each additional look I take. There are more layers to this thing than I originally noticed, young and old alike (although this is a more adult cartoon than just about any in recent memory) sure to find plenty to love about the film as they let it work its magic upon them. (Releases on Friday, July 15)



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

Mike Leigh’s Naked is widely considered by many to by the esteemed British writer and director’s best work. Personally, I lean more towards Secrets & Lies and Topsy-Turvy as my all-time favorites for the filmmaker, with Career Girls and Life is Sweet coming in right behind. But that doesn’t make this dark and twisted 1993 foray into the London underground any less of a masterpiece or deserving of every single ounce of its acclaim (including it Cannes Film Festival wins for director Leigh and actor David Thewlis). The film delivers knock-out punch after knock-out punch, going places and asking questions lesser filmmakers wouldn’t even consider let alone dine trying to ponder. Funny, tragic, traumatic and shockingly honest, this multilayered character-driven marvel is another masterpiece for a filmmaker whose entire career is littered with them. I’ll have a full review of Criterion’s stunning Blu-ray release up for everyone to take a look at soon.



The Lincoln Lawyer

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From my original March theatrical review (read it here): “The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t a perfect film, and by all rights it probably shouldn’t be. It’s a pulpy legal thriller full of all the usual dirt and grime, and where it’s headed isn’t a shocker. But thanks to its solid script, confident direction and pitch-perfect performances there’s so much pleasure to be had watching it the familiarity isn’t a problem. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and as far as my courtroom is concerned objections to the contrary don’t have even the faintest chance of being sustained.” For more on the film check out my interview with author Michael Connelly I conducted just before its release.


As for our high-def coverage of the title, Mitchell’s The Lincoln Lawyer Blu-ray Review just posted, in which he calls the film “solid entertainment”.



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

From my original March theatrical review (read it here): “If only the movie didn’t devolve so far into camp with such thunderously deliberate speed. From gothic dolls to a clownish old crone to a James Dean wannabe with bad teeth and a lizard-like tongue, many of the images that end up getting presented are beyond comical. The whole final sequence is a comedy of errors devoid of tension, leading up to a climactic kicker that’s as forgone as it is preposterous. Someday James Wan and Leigh Whannell might make a horror film I can get excited about, but until then Insidious is just another baleful reminder of wasted opportunities and potential unfulfilled.”



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

I do not believe this is the final time we will see a Blu-ray release of Terry Gilliam’s classic 1985 fantasy Brazil. Why? While Universal’s hi-def release is apparently fine, the version contained here is the original domestic theatrical cut and not the 142-minute ‘director’s cut’ found in Criterion’s astonishing three-disc 1999 DVD edition. Additionally, special features are relatively meager for a film of this long-lasting import and caliber, leading me to believe we have another Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas situation on our hands. Do I know anything for sure? No, I do not. Will I feel remotely sorry for anyone who buys this disc and then finds themselves forced to fork over additional dough if (dare I say when?) Criterion’s Blu-ray for the film is announced? Not a tiny bit.



Battle Beyond the Stars

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A silly, B-movie hodgepodge of Star Wars and Seven Samurai, this Roger Corman produced sci-fi adventure has more than stood the time. Here’s what I wrote about this wonderful Shout! Factory release in my just posted Blu-ray review of the title: “The movie is fun, F-U-N fun, and every time I watch it I can’t help but grin ear to ear in unabashed happiness. Battle Beyond the Stars is as entertaining today as it ever was back during its original release, and I for one know I’ll be returning to it sooner rather than later and I’m not embarrassed to admit that fact one little bit.”



Entourage: The Complete Seventh Season

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I’ve never gotten into this show for some reason, it just hasn’t captured my imagination. Still, I’m sure fans will be more than happy to get their hands on this latest season, the penultimate adventures of actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), his agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) and the many people surrounding him continuing even as the show slowly takes towards its final steps (Season Eight is reportedly its last).



Arthur (2011)

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From my original April theatrical review (read it here): “There is no reason for Arthur to exist. A remake of the Dudley Moore favorite from 1981 that won Academy Awards for costar John Gielgud and for Best Original Song, this new version doesn’t make an indelible enough of an impression for it to matter in any sort of discernable way. It is going through the motions, director Jason Winter (‘Modern Family’) and screenwriter Peter Baynham (Brüno, Borat) not adding anything in the way of significance to allow their comedy to stand out from the crowd.” Mitchell adds his two cents in his full Arthur Blu-ray Review. (Releases on Friday, July 15)



Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

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I’ve wanted to see this much talked about 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or Award winner for quite some time but unfortunately have missed out on every opportunity. Now with the film finally making its way to Blu-ray, hopefully I’ll get my chance. As Strand failed to send a review copy our way that opportunity to give it a look will sadly be later rather than sooner. Oh well. C’est la vie. That is, after all, what the Netflix queue is for, right?



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

Julian Schnabel’s Miral generated an awful lot of controversy before its theatrical release, much of it highly unwarranted. What was warranted was the incredibly mixed reaction to the picture, the Diving Bell and the Butterfly director’s handling of the story (based on the autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal) unfocused and muddled in the extreme. The story of a Palestinian girl coming of age smack in the middle of the Israeli-Arab conflict, the movie has trouble getting a grip on all its various themes and ideas presented throughout. Also not helping matters, while the supporting cast (led by Alexander Siddig, Hiam Abbass, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave) is excellent, Slumdog Millionaire starlet Freida Pinto is hopelessly miscast as the title character. She just doesn’t have the chops to make the character come to life or resonate, creating a glaring hole right in the center of the drama that’s almost impossible to get past.


At the same time, Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray presentation of this Weinstein Company release is beyond reproach. Picture and sound quality are astonishing, while Schnabel and producer Jon Kilik’s sensational audio commentary came very close to convincing me I’m being to harsh in my judgments towards their picture. It’s a great collection, and for those who are interested in the subject matter or who are fans of the filmmaker I doubt you’ll be terribly disappointed if you decide to pick this one up as a rental.



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Damages: The Complete Third Season

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Inspired by recent worldwide economic events, the acclaimed third season of the award-winning legal thriller stars two-time Emmy-winner Glenn Close as litigator Patty Hewes. Confronting the most challenging case of her illustrious career, Patty and trusted lieutenant Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan) meet their match against the manipulative Tobin family empire, matriarch Marilyn (Lily Tomlin), son Joe (Campbell Scott) and the clan's loyal attorney Leonard Winstone (Martin Short). When former protégée Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) is also pulled into the maelstrom, she discovers she hasn't escaped Patty Hewes after all. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com


Roy Earle just posted his Damages Season 3 DVD Review for you to check out!



[REC] 2

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From my original theatrical review posted in July of 2010 (read it here): “Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, [REC] 2 drops viewers inside a tense and suspenseful meat grinder with virtually no pretense and buildup whatsoever… [The] blatant cliffhanger is unfortunate, and while this return trip to [the filmmakers’] netherworld isn’t without its gloriously scary positives I’m not sure they’re quite enough to make the journey worthwhile.” You can read more about this release in my [REC] 2 DVD Review.



ER: Season 15 (The Final Season)

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Combining the extraordinary talents of best-selling author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television with Peabody, Humanitas, and Emmy-winning producer John Wells (The West Wing, Third Watch) and Emmy winner Christopher Chulack (Third Watch), the multiple Emmy Award-winning ER explores the inner workings of an urban teaching hospital and the critical issues faced by the dedicated physicians and staff of its overburdened emergency room. These medical professionals remain determined to save lives in a place where nothing is taken for granted and nothing is certain... nothing except that another desperate person will be rushed through the emergency room doors in the next moment in need of their help. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Frozen Kiss

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Based on true events, Shelley (Cameron Goodman) and Ryan (Jamie Martz) are two young lovers who get stranded during a raging blizzard as they make their way home from a party. With the authorities unable to locate them, they must fight for survival from both the elements and the mysterious figures who are trailing them. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



The Sweet Life

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Sensitive but unsuccessful New York magazine columnist Michael (James Lorinz, King of New York, Frankenhooker) looks on with hopeless envy as his self-confident, shallow brother Frankie catches all the women, makes all the money and never feels a pang of remorse at his amoral behavior. Enter Lila (Barbara Sicuranza), a tough, sexy bartender. Initially Frankie's got her, and Michael gets fixed up with her biker chick roommate (Joan Jett, of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts). Then, through a twist of fate, Michael finds himself vying with Frankie for Lila’s affections, and the results are both riotously funny and touching. Filmmakers Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli (writers of the cult hit The Substitute) have created a romantic comedy... for people who hate romantic comedies! (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Waking Madison

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After a failed suicide attempt, Madison Walker (Sarah Roemer) locks herself in her apartment with a video camera for thirty days to cure her Dissociative Identity Disorder. But instead of finding salvation, Madison is thrown into the purgatory of her mind, where she must face her tortured past in order to be free. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com) 



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