New Blu's On the Block - 7/19/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: July 19, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for July 19, 2011


Some will want to talk about Limitless, a somewhat surprise minor box office hit from earlier this year starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. But as I didnít personally care for that one at all the fact itís making its Blu-ray debut in an Ďextended cutí and featuring an Ďexclusive alternate endingí doesnít do that much for me and I donít feel bad about that fact one little bit.


For me, the real news this week are the catalog titles hitting Blu-ray for the first time. Two great ones from Criterion, another from Miramax courtesy of Lionsgate, a third from Sony; all of these have me far more enthused than any of the more recent efforts. Other than that thereís not a ton to talk about, the majority of the titles doing a good enough job of that for themselves.



Beauty and the Beast (1946)

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Jean Cocteauís marvelous adaptation of Mme Leprince de Beaumontís classic fairy tale is one for the ages. It is, without a doubt, the weekís most dynamic and impressive release, Criterion going all out in their delivering of this title to Blu-ray. Thereís plenty more to say, but you can read it all in my recently posted Blu-ray Review, as the only thing really worth knowing about this one is that I think anyone even slightly interested in great film should pick this up for their collections right this very second.



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

Jean-Pierre Jeunetís (City of Lost Children, Delicatessen) visually inventive and emotionally intoxicating Amťlie is without question a borderline masterpiece. It is my second favorite of the directorís works (A Very Long Engagement being the first), and it is a movie that seems to grow on me more and more every time I watch it. Lionsgateís Blu-ray presentation of this ambitious, musically alive production is simply divine, the movie never looking or sounding as scrumptiously endearing as it does here. Iíll have a full review up in the next day or so, but until then just know that, along with Beauty and the Beast, this is another must-buy pick for the home library as far as I am concerned.



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

From my original theatrical review first posted last March (read it here): ďThe new thriller Limitless is one of those movies youíre perfectly okay with at first but as things progress, and little things like logic and intelligence come to be in increasingly short supply, the viewer becomes incrementally annoyed until any goodwill that might have been generated early on evaporates completely into nothing more than a pool of angry discontent. Directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones), with a script by Leslie Dixon (Hairspray, Freaky Friday) and based on the book The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, this is about as big a missed opportunity as anything Iíve seen so far this year.Ē


So, I do have the Blu-ray for this one sitting here, and my intent is to give it a second chance as so many others seemed to enjoy it a heck of a lot more than I did. At the same time, Iím not holding out much hope for a change in opinion, my gigantic problems with the second half probably not going to dissipate anytime soon. I guess weíll all just have to wait and see until after I slip it into the player and write up a full review later this week.



Boyz ĎN the Hood

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Itís hard to believe John Singletonís unflinching, wholly mesmerizing 1991 debut Boyz ĎN the Hood is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. I remember when it came out how it knocked me sideways and had me sitting in the theatre awestruck. Looking back, itís hard to believe the director had something like this in him, and while the film earned every single one of its Academy Award nominations the fact Singleton would go on to helm stuff like Poetic Justice, Rosewood, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Four Brothers doesnít help make me feel entirely good about my continued love for it. Still, Boyz ĎN the Hood is a remarkable piece of work, a borderline masterpiece, and no matter how forgettable the majority of the filmmakerís pictures have been since this oneís release nothing changes that fact one little bit.



The Music Room

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From my recently posted Blu-ray Review: ďSatyajit Rayís sensational The Music Room is the perfect introduction to a timeless artist who is rightly considered a cinematic artist by darn near everyone. It is a heartrending and poignant fable of change and of those incapable of embracing it, the majority of its themes and its ideas as poignant and as prescient now as they ever were back in 1958.


[The film] is a beautiful, highly somber dramaÖWhile Criterionís Blu-ray isnít quite perfect, it is still pretty wonderful, and as such would make a wonderful addition to any cinephileís hi-def library.Ē



Take Me Home Tonight

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I missed Take Me Home Tonight back when it was released to theatres. Now that itís on Blu-ray, Iíve finally gotten the opportunity to give this retro 1980ís comedy a look, and save for a couple of nice moments and the likeability of a few of the cast members this R-rated night of debauchery and romance didnít do a heck of a lot for me. Most of it is highly unfunny, and if not for the inherent deadpan strengths of Topher Grace, the easygoing charm of Teresa Palmer and the refined chaos of Anna Faris thereís little here of note. The movie sits there, going on forever and features an obnoxiously horrific supporting performance by Dan Fogler ranking as one of the worst of the year. On the plus side, the music is great, so I guess thatís something. Iíll have a full review of the Blu-ray in the next couple of days or so.



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

Any film that reunites legendary French talents Catherine Deneuve and Gťrard Depardieu is fine by me. Add in the fact that Potiche is directed by the great FranÁois Ozon (8 Women, Swimming Pool) Iím fine and then some. So why havenít I seen this movie yet? In all honesty, Iím not entirely sure, but the fact Iíve already inserted it at the very top of my Netflix queue means thatís one problem Iím going to be taking care of relatively soon.




The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Bridget Jonesís Diary

Chocolat (2000)

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Iíve already written full Blu-ray reviews for two of these, and you can find my thoughts in regards to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by going here and my ones in regards to Bridget Jonesís Diary by clicking here. Needless to say, I was impressed with both of these discs from Lionsgate, the studio delivering handsome hi-def presentation that left me satisfied.


As for Chocolat, I was never a big fan of this Johnny Depp/Juliette Binoche/Judi Dench whimsical romantic drama from director Lasse HallstrŲm (My Life as a Dog). It isnít that I dislike the film, there are moments I find quite enchanting, I just never thought it added up to quite as much as it could have, and as such Iím having trouble rustling up the energy to give a fresh look. I will, I promise, Iím just not positive said new look will happen anytime all that soon.



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

From my recent Blu-ray Review of the title: ďIn the world of video game to feature film adaptations, Tekken is better than Street Fighter, less imaginative than Silent Hill and not as entertaining as the first Resident Evil. It beats Mortal Kombat in regards to fight choreography and action scenes but takes itself too seriously to be as cheesily entertaining. Itís an overly-familiar time waster that goes through all the familiar motions doing nothing new and offering up everything thatís old, the final product hardly awful but not altogether memorable, either.Ē



Doctor Who: Series Six, Part One

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The Doctor is back in, actor Matt Smith taking over the role as televisionís favorite Time Lord in BBC long-running fan favorite. This first portion of Series Six finds The Doctor heading to the 1960ís, battling an alien invasion and boarding a pirate ship. Fans will certainly want to pick this one up, although be warned that while Part Two of this set is due in November so is a special collectorís set that includes the entire Series Six as a whole.




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The Elephant DVD with Eric Herman

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Looking for 90 minutes of material guaranteed to keep the kids busy and out of your hair? Then why not pick up The Elephant DVD with Eric Herman, filled with animated musical tidbits the little ones will want to watch over and over again without ever growing tired of. The YouTube smash ďThe Elephant SongĒ is of course included, as are nine other inventive shorts perfect for family viewing. Itís a nifty set, and while I donít envy the parents that have to watch it 600-billion times because their kids are screaming, ďAgain! Again!Ē my one viewing brought a gigantic smile to my face Iím not even slightly embarrassed about.



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

Iíve never seen Otto Premingerís (Anatomy of Murder, Laura) 1968 effort Skidoo, and from what Iíve been led to believe this mob comedy about kidnapping and murder is easily one of the acclaimed directorís lesser efforts. Still, with a cast featuring Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, Groucho Marx, Mickey Rooney, Cesar Romero and George Raft Iím decidedly curious, maybe enough of one to drop the title in the Netflix queue in order to give it a look.



Small Town Murder Songs

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Strong thriller with Peter Stormare and Martha Plimpton I had the good fortune to get a look at during this past summerís Seattle International Film Festival. The main mystery involves a well respected small town police officer hiding a dark secret, a secret that might be uncovered thanks to a recent murder upsetting the tiny Ontario Mennonite community. Stormare is wonderful in this, while writer/director Ed Gass-Donnelly does a superb job of keeping things grounded even if the Coen-esque noir aspects of the central narrative are a bit overly familiar.



Bill Moyers: God and Politics

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In this powerful series, Bill Moyers takes on the two subjects we are all told to avoid in polite company: politics and religion. The veteran journalist explores the role of Christianity in the American political arena by interviewing those whose work puts them squarely at the intersection of the religious and political worlds, from the Christian right in Washington, D.C. to evangelical missions in Central America. Filmed during the Reagan era and still strikingly relevant, the series shows how personal faith is translated into public action, how organized religion influences the political process, and how church continues to impact state in America. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Con Artist

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Con Artist is a stylishly dark docu-comedy excavating Americaís craving for fame and fortune via one of its most outrageous addicts. Once a legitimate art star in the 1980s New York scene, millionaire business artist Mark Kostabi hires others to conceive and create paintings which he openly signs and sells as his own. Over the course of this highly energetic character study, Con Artist focuses on Kostabiís current attempts to regain prominence and find happiness through fame, which he openly equates with love. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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

Miss G (Eva Green, Casino Royale) is seemingly a force of nature, a glamorous presence beloved and idolized by her blossoming charges at an all-girls British boarding school. Her students heap adoration upon her, a love that Miss G basks in and returns until the arrival of Fiamma, a wild and self-confident transfer student from Spain. Fiamma s new role as teacher s pet ignites the jealousy of former class queen Di (Juno Temple) and triggers an obsession in Miss G that quickly spirals out of control. A sterling cast leads this dark coming-of-age thriller, the debut feature of Jordan (daughter of Ridley) Scott. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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

A creature of ancient legend manifests, bound to protect the ecological balance of the land and killing anyone that threatens it. This elusive guardian is initially both feared and celebrated by the locals, but when a deadly curse affects them all, they must unite and recapture the monster wolf s spirit or face their ultimate doom. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune

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As our country continues to embroil itself in foreign wars, Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune is a timely and relevant tribute to an unlikely American hero. Over the course of a meteoric music career that spanned two turbulent decades, Phil Ochs sought the bright lights of fame and social justice in equal measure - a contradiction that eventually tore him apart. From youthful idealism to rage to pessimism, the arch of Ochs' life paralleled that of the times, and the anger, satire and righteous indignation that drove his music also drove him to dark despair. In this brilliantly constructed film, interview and performance footage of Ochs is illuminated by the ruminations of Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Sean Penn, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitchens and others. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Reggie Perrin Ė Set 1

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After ten years as a marketing executive for Groomtech Industries, Reggie Perrin is dangerously alienated and frustrated. His boss doesnít understand him, and his wife pays too little attention to notice. Reggie is left to find his own distractions wherever he can--on his daily commute, in the office, or at home in the suburbs. More often than not, his flights of fancy land him in hot water. But somehow Reggie always manages to extricate himself before disaster hits, preserving the respectable veneer of a successful city businessmanÖ for the moment, at least.


This update of the classic British comedy was cowritten by the original series creator, David Nobbs (The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin), and Simon Nye, the writer behind Men Behaving Badly. Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) stars as the often bewildered, sometimes infuriating, but always fascinating Reggie Perrin. Fay Ripley (Cold Feet) costars as Nicola, his long-suffering wife. Includes the complete Series 1 and 2. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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