New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for August 30, 2011
Still dealing with major computer issues, but thatís not going to stop me from making sure you all get the lowdown on this weekís major Blu-ray and DVD releases. A lot of television, a healthy dose of Coen brother madness and some Criterion goodies lead the way but there are plenty more gems to potentially take a look at, including the 2011 Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Coen Brothers Collection
The Coen Brothers Collections includes Blu-ray releases of four of Joel and Ethanís most well-regarded classics: their cherished noir Blood Simple, the Oscar-winning Fargo, the devastating mob melodrama Millerís Crossing and the rollicking baby-stealing comedy Raising Arizona. The latter three are making their way to Blu-ray for the very first time and are available separately as well, Mitchell writing up a review of Blood Simple for everyone to read as we speak.
The Complete Jean Vigo
Three amazing releases from the kind folks at the Criterion Collection, Iím not entirely sure which one is the most essential to add to a cinephileís personal hi-def library. Of the three, I easily enjoyed Lindsay Andersonís iconic If.... the most, but both The Complete Jean Vigo and Jean Cocteauís remarkable Orpheus are pretty darn extraordinary in their own right as well. Reviews of all are forthcoming.
In a Better World
Director Susanne Bierís exceptional In a Better World deservedly won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. The type of movie where the less you know going in the better, this explosive and moving drama of friendship, hatred, revenge and forgiveness is a beautifully realized stunner that left me breathless after I first gave it a look earlier this year. An extraordinary achievement, this is easily one of the best films getting a release this week, which is saying something when you consider the quality of many of the pictures Iíve already listed above.
The Twilight Zone: Season 5
So, Season Five of The Twilight Zone is arguably the weakest of the lot, many of the episodes sort of going through the motions and repeating themes and ideas from the previous four seasons. That said, two of my all-time favorite episodes can be found here, one of which involves William Shatner on a plane and the other revolving around Telly Savalas and a talking doll. Even if youíre not a fan, Iím quite positive you know what happens, both episodes so quintessentially classic they make this season an absolute must to own virtually by themselves. Iíll have a full review live by the end of the week.
Good Will Hunting
The film that won stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck well-deserved Academy Awards for the Original Screenplay. The film that won actor Robin Williams a not-so-well-deserved Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (although, admittedly, he is very, very good and was worthy of the nomination). Other than that, thereís not a lot to say, but that wonít stop me from whipping up a full review of this beautiful Blu-ray edition of Good Will Hunting all the same, anyhow.
Madeaís Big Happy Family
Another Tyler Perry comedy that I have not seen because it wasnít screened for critics back in April when it was original released. Another Tyler Perry comedy I will not waste my time searching out or adding to the Netflix queue because, seriously, why should I bother? Itís not like Iíve ever liked any of his previous efforts, and I seriously doubt thatís going to change this time out. For fans, however, hereís another title to add to you collections. I hope you enjoy.
From my original theatrical review posted back in April (read it here): ďOkay, so it isnít like Disneyís Prom was made for me. While I remember my own High School Prom (just because Iím in my 30ís doesnít mean Iím suddenly senile) pretty vividly, I canít say watching a film made for those on the road to experiencing it for themselves in a few more years is exactly my cup of tea. This thing is aimed squarely at the 11 to 15-year-old set, and it isnít like writer Katie Wech and director Joe Nussbaum (Sydney White) aim any higher than necessary.Ē
House M.D.: Season Seven
Nikita: The Complete First Season
Sons of Anarchy: Season Three
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Second Season
Itís a cavalcade of television hitting Blu-ray, and sorry to say I havenít spent a lot of time with any of the four of them having never gotten into House M.D., not really being all that interested in The Vampire Diaries and never finding the right moment to take a look at either Nikita or Sons of Anarchy. But all are quite popular, and Iím sure look just great in high-definition, and even though I havenít personally had a look at hem I have a sneaky suspicion that fans will be adding them to their libraries no matter what I had to think about the entire lot, anyhow.
The Perfect Host
I so wish I liked this movie more than I did, because former Frasier darling David Hyde Pierce is really quite exceptional in it. What he does inside this insidious, snarky little comedic thriller is quite remarkable, changing shades and leaping between emotional extremes at the drop of the hat. I was mesmerized by his performance, couldnít get enough of it, and had the script been a bit better thought out and a little more nuanced I think weíd be talking about an underground gem of the first degree. Iíll say more in my full Blu-ray review of the title, a review I hope to have posted within the next day or so.
From my original theatrical review of Wrecked posted back in April (read it here): ďAs debuts go, the one director Michael Greenspan and screenwriter Christopher Dodd make here is pretty darn impressive. All the pieces of this puzzle are in place, the filmmakers connecting them one to the other with cocksure confidence. Filmed almost entirely in sequence, the pair construct an intricate mouse trap of tension and emotion that played on my basest fears and anxieties with surprising ease, and even if I had it all pretty much figured out that didnít make getting to the end any less of a thrilling joyride.Ē
Sergei Eistenstein's first film deals with a widespread labor strike in a rural factory and is, without doubt, one of the most astonishing debuts in film history. His introduction of dialectical montage--which included then-innovative shock cuts to such violent images as a raised club, a bloody face, and a bull's throat being cut--both disturbed and galvanized contemporary audiences. Combined with the expressionistic compositional style Eisenstein had absorbed from French and German films, it established its director as a new force in world cinema. Commissioned by the government to commemorate the first, failed Bolshevik revolution, the film covers a 1912 strike at a metalworks factory whose workers have been bullied and humiliated by the plant management. When a fired worker commits suicide, the workers organize a peaceful strike. But the plant bosses make use of agents provocateurs and eventually bring in the czar's troops, who crack down on the strikers with maximum brutality. Aside from his editing innovations, Eisenstein pioneered the concept of the collective group as a character, influenced by the example of the newly formed Soviet Union, as well as the Constructivist art of the period. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
I saw this 1980's Texas-set Breakfast Club meets Dazaed and Confused comedy-drama back during the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival, and remember liking it for the most part. Problem is, when it got a general release earlier this year I could hardly remember a thing about it, an issue even reading the rather extensive production notes couldn't fix. Definitely a thing to keep in mind, because as nice a time as I had viewing it the fact it isn't even partially memorable is most definitely something of an issue.
BKO: Bangkok Knockout
Iím not about to proclaim the Thai import BKO: Bangkok Knockout is any sort of masterpiece because it isnít be one heck of a long shot, but I will say that its seemingly never-ending series of fisticuffs and massive martial arts battles are pretty darn spectacular. A lot of this stuff is positively eye-popping, and the fact the directors (one of whom is Panna Rittikra of Ong-Bak fame) donít engage in a lot of unnecessary visual razzle-dazzle and keep the focus directly on the expertly choreographed action is rather wonderful. The script is nonsensical and the only thing that truly matters is that the martial arts is stellar, so the fact the narrative is a clichť-ridden mess and the acting relatively anemic didnít affect my enjoyment of the film itself near as much as it probably should have. Mitchell will have a full review of the Blu-ray online shortly.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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∑ The 5th Quarter
∑ Children of the Corn: Genesis
∑ Deadgirl (Read Jon Bjorling's DVD Review)
∑ Final Destination 2 (Read Sara's Theatrical Review)
∑ Final Destination 3 (Read Sara's Theatrical Review)
∑ Forks Over Knives
∑ Latter Days
∑ The Nightmare Before Christmas (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)
∑ Top Gun (25th Anniversary Edition)
∑ Wonders of the Universe
Doc Martin: The Movies
Before the series became something of a BBC sensation, Martin Clunes starred in two Doc Martin movies, both of which planted the seeds for what Dr. Martin Bamford would eventually become. Both are quite entertaining, but it is the second film, Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie that I truly enjoyed, Clunes shading his self-centered, multifaceted physician so beautifully I couldnít help but be impressed. For fans of the series, these are must-watch pieces of entertainment, and while Acorn Mediaís presentation of both are devoid of any bells and whistles that doesnít make either any less fun to watch.
Murphyís Law: The Complete Collection
Hereís what I have to say about Murphyís Law: Wow. Seriously, thereís not a lot more to add, this somewhat remarkable 23-episodes series galvanizing and absorbing bits of who-done-it undercover police madness that took me by surprise. James Nesbitt (Match Point) is sensational in the lead roll as Detective Tommy Murphy, the Northern Ireland lawman haunted by the brutal slaying of his daughter fleeing to London to escape his demons only to have them follow him to his new home. Where this show goes, the dark places it dares to tread, all border on the masterful, and I canít tell you how much I loved taking a look at a crime procedural melodrama that kept me guessing and didnít follow a path beaten down with tired and overused clichťs.
The good news is that Roadkill, the story of a group of American tourists traveling in Ireland under the cloud of a dreadful curse when they accidentally run over an old gypsy woman in their RV, is much better than the usual Syfy Channel monster movie. There are some pretty tense bits, the acting is better than usual and the special effects are relatively above par. The bad news is that somewhere along the way the screenplay starts hating both its characters and its audience, making it impossible to root for anyone and a downright annoying experience to sit through start to finish. The last half hour is an outright mess, and by the time it was over I wanted to throw something at my television in total disgust.
Love you some Brenda Blethyn? Than do yourself a favor and take a look at the two-time Academy Award-nomineeís work in the wonderfully entertaining Vera, a four-episode 355 minute frolic set in the Northumberland countryside and concerning the driven, profane and often times downright mean DCI Vera Stanhope. The mysteries themselves are nothing all that amazing, I had three of the four figured out well before the denouement, but the show is so well cast and Blethyn is just so damn awesome in the roll the fact this procedural didnít do a heck of a lot that was new or different didnít bother me a lick. This is seriously great entertainment anchored by a performance from its star tailor made to her talents, and as I watched them all twice I think you can guess Iím giving this DVD set a relatively strong recommendation.
From my theatrical review posted last May (read it here): ďUnflinching, unrelenting and at times downright unbearable, director and co-writer Jon Hewittís X is a gritty thriller that heads straight into the nighttime Australian underbelly and refuses to blink. Not much happens that isnít expected, but getting there is accomplished with such simplistic flair itís hard not to become completely immersed in Holly and Shayís descent into madness.Ē
90210: The Third Season
The third season of 90210 welcomes the West Beverly kids to their senior year of high school. Itís the time of college acceptances and loversí rejections, the time of prom dates and promises betrayed, the time of spring break, break-ups and make ups Ė but as is always the case in Beverly Hills, it all happens in a world of sun and fun, palm trees and warm sea breezes, success and excess. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Detroit 1-8-7: The Complete First Season
What does it take to be a detective in one of Americaís toughest cities? Follow one homicide unit as Detriotís finest reveal the crisis and revelation, heartbreak and heroism that characterize these inner city cops in Season 1 of Detroit 1-8-7. Headed by Lieutenant Maureen Mason, a strong-willed single mom struggling to balance home and work, the team is made up of quite the firing squad. Thereís the damaged but driven Detective Louis Fitch (Michael Imperioli) along with his new partner, Detective Damon Washington. Detective Ariana Sanchez is the sexy and beautiful rising star in the department who teams up with narcotics undercover cop John Stone. Last but not least, Sergeant Jesse Longford is the 30-year veteran who forms an amusing match of experience and enthusiasm with his partner, Detective Vikram Mahajan, a fully Americanized son of Indian immigrants. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front is the remarkable story of the group's rise and fall told through the transformation and radicalization of one of its members, Daniel McGowan. Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry (Street Fight, Racing Dreams) weaves a chronicle of McGowan facing life in prison with a dramatic investigation of the events that led to his involvement with the ELF, creating a film that is equal parts coming-of-age tale and cops-and-robbers thriller. Using never-before-seen archival footage and intimate interviews with cell members and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them If a Tree Falls asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Parenthood: Season 2
The most entertaining family on television is back. From Executive Producers Ron Howard Brian Grazer and Jason Katims comes the second season of the critically acclaimed hit series Parenthood. The entire all-star ensemble cast returns including Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) and Craig T Nelson (Coach) for 22 episodes that take you even deeper into the lives of all three generations of the colorful Braverman clan. Refreshingly original and genuinely funny Parenthood turns the trials tribulations and triumphs of family life into smart heartwarming experiences you can treasure again and again. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Running Wilde: Season One
From the Emmy Award-winning team behind the critically acclaimed FOX series Arrested Development comes Running Wilde, a romantic comedy series starring Will Arnett as Steven Wilde, a filthy-rich, immature playboy trying desperately to win (or buy) the heart of his childhood sweetheart, Emmy Kadubic (Keri Russell), the Łber-liberal humanitarian who got away. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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∑ Cougar Town: The Complete Second Season
∑ Desperate Housewives: The Complete Seventh Season
∑ The Devilís Teardrop
∑ iCarly: The Complete 3rd Season
∑ Meet the Browns: Season One
∑ POLICE, adjective
∑ Red Faction: Origins