One of the best films of 2011, a pair of Brian De Palma cult favorites, the first adventure of Professor X and Magento and a controversial classic from the great Sam Peckinpah lead the way today, everything else nothing more than a semi-interesting afterthought when compared to this particular quartet. Take a look at the list and youíll see what I mean.
One of the best films Iíve seen this year (read my Theatrical Review). One of the best hi-def releases Iíve had the pleasure to view in 2011 (read my Blu-ray Review). Other than that, I donít have a lot more to say other than to recommend a purchase right this very second.
Dressed to Kill
Never been much of a Scarface fan, that I have to admit, but even I have to tip my cap to director Brian De Palma at least a little bit for his crazed bravado in bringing it to the screen. This 1983 cult favorite has withstood the test of time and become something of an absolute must for the true cinephile to have watched at least once in their lifetime, and even though Universal didnít send over a review copy of the new Blu-ray even I, a non-fan, almost feel duty bound to pick it up and add it to my own personal library.
As for Dressed to Kill, this is one of De Palmaís most masterful efforts in almost every way. Yes, some of it is offensive, I canít help but admit that, but overall this fascinating psychological horror show gets so thoroughly under my skin just thinking about it now is sending chills straight up my spine. MGM and Fox have done a superior job with the Blu-ray, the movie has never looked or sounded better, and for my money as much of an homage (i.e. rip-off) of Psycho as much of it is this is still one of my favorite filmís in the directorís cannon and one Iím absolutely giddy about owning in high-definition. A full review is forthcoming.
With a remake hitting theatres later this month, MGM and Fox give director Sam Peckinpahís still controversial 1971 classic a Blu-ray release. While this is the notorious (and altogether superior) directorís cut of the film, sadly none of the special features that helped make Criterionís out-of-print DVD release such a vital part of any cineasteís library are not included here. This is a stripped down, barebones release, the film itself the star of the show. Granted, when said film is this good, bells and whistles arenít even remotely required. Expect a full review from Mitchell soon.
X-Men: First Class
Loved this film, even though the prequel nature of it did make for something of an anticlimactic letdown as far as the climax was concerned, and for a while there I assumed it was going to be my favorite superhero effort of summer 2011 until Captain America: The First Avenger came down the pike. As I stated in my original June theatrical review (read it here), ďSurprise, surprise, but X-Men: First Class is the first sequel (or in this case prequel) of the summer that actually, doesnít just meet expectations, but surpasses them. While the first half is notably superior to the second, thanks to some ingenious casting decisions, four great performances, two awesome cameos and a script thatís as intelligent and as thought-provoking as it is compelling and inspired, this movie rocks.Ē (Releases on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011)
Everything Must Go
I missed this when it played in theatres but was expecting a review copy of the Blu-ray in order to alleviate that oversight on my part but sadly one has yet to arrive. Be that as it may, by all accounts this is supposedly one of the best, most thought-provoking and emotionally honest motion pictures star Will Ferrell has ever been a part of, which probably explains why his fans stayed away in droves when it opened back at the start of the summer. Still, I canít wait to give it a look, and if that review copy doesnít arrive then Iíll just have to put it at the top of my Netflix queue instead.
Fringe: The Complete Third Season
Only notable because of its passionate and driven fan base, otherwise I couldnít care less about it at all.
The Office: Season Seven
Only notable because this is the final season for star Steven Carell, otherwise I couldnít care less about it at all.
A Horrible Way to Die
Boy oh boy did I really want to like this movie. A low budget independent horror effort that made something of a name for itself on the festival circuit earlier this year, the movie features a semi-ingenious script by director Adam Wingard I was really quite taken with. The movie is never quite what it appears, constantly kept me on my toes, leading to a wonderfully unsettling and surprisingly emotional climax that took my ever-so slightly by surprise. But Wingard makes a fatal mistake in regards to the photographing of the picture, the shaky, omnipresent handheld close-ups giving me a throbbing headache and driving my borderline insane. The film never comes close to reaching its potential because of this, and by the time it was over all I wanted were a handful of aspirin and a cold compress for my forehead. A full review of the Blu-ray is forthcoming.
I listed Paul Greengrassí stunning 2006 effort as my tenth favorite motion picture of the first decade of the 21st century (2000-2009), and looking back on my list nothing has changed. This is a remarkable, absolutely devastating piece of cinematic excellence, the director fashioning a dynamic docudrama that is so compelling itís difficult to put into words just how magnificent the final product actually is. As I stated in my original theatrical review (read it here), ďIt is about time a movie had the courage and conviction to make me think, to make me cry and ponder and cheer and shout and get angry about something all over again. It is time an artist told, without taking political sides, letting the aura of the truth of a situation speak for itself, stories that assess both who we are as individuals and as a society.Ē Five years later, United 93 is still the only movie I can recall that has had the guts and the temerity to look at the events of September 11, 2001 and do just that. As we approach the tenth anniversary, this is one thing I find incredibly difficult to believe.
The Caine Mutiny
One of Humphrey Bogartís greatest performances, hands-down, and a legendary film in almost every respect that matters, this classic comes to Blu-ray and even though Sony didnít send over a review copy Iím so gosh darn fond of it Iím tempted to spend the money on an upgrade. Complex and intelligent, this is a film that sticks with you long after it ends, the look on Bogartís face as he crumples on the witness stands and realizes what has happened one of the most emotionally devastating signature moments in this iconic actorís entire career.
The Scream Trilogy: Five Film Set
With Scream 4 hitting DVD and Blu-ray next month, it only seems appropriate that Lionsgate would double-dip the original trilogy again even though all of these hit Blu-ray just a handful of months ago. The kicker, of course, is that this box set comes with the two fantastic documentaries Still Screaming and Scream: The Inside Story, meaning that diehard fans are going to feel compelled to pick this new release up even though a part of them knows better. On the upside, at only $19.99 on Amazon at the moment the pain of being forced to buy these again so soon isnít nearly as bad as it potentially could have been. Thatís not a lot, I know, but at least itís something.
Children of the Corn (1984)
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
A quartet of popular horror cult classics, one from director Wes Craven, two with Pinhead and one based on an extremely popular Stephen King story and that spawned a seemingly never-ending series of subpar straight-to-video sequels. Of the bunch, Hellraiser is arguably the most enduring (although I personally prefer the sequel) while Cravenís The Hills Have Eyes is easily the most unnerving. As for Children of the Corn, I donít have a lot to say, I never particularly cared for it and havenít seen it since Middle School.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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∑ 40 Days and 40 Nights
∑ Clash of Empires
∑ The Entitled
∑ Genevieve (1953)
∑ Last Night
∑ Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur
Brazil (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a contract killer, willing to take any job if the price is right. Flint (Scott Adkins) left the assassin game when a ruthless drug dealerís brutal attack left his wife in a coma. When a contract is put out on the cold-blooded drug dealer, both Brazil and Flint want him dead Ė one for the money, the other for revenge. With crooked Interpol agents and vicious members of the criminal underworld hot on their trail, these two assassins reluctantly join forces to quickly take out their target before they themselves are terminated. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Community: The Complete Second Season
Welcome back for a wild new year at Greendale Community College, as the study group faces their toughest tests yetÖ Why would bachelor-for-life Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) pop the big question to Britta (Gillian Jacobs)? What incites innocent Annie (Alison Brie) to chloroform a janitor? Hey, Pierce (Chevy Chase)! Is your mom really still alive in a lava lamp? Will Abed (Danny Pudi) miss his Pulp Fiction birthday for a chance to give Jeff his own version of My Dinner With Andre? What makes Troy (Donald Glover) boldly go for LeVar Burton? Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is expecting Ė but whoís the daddy? Is it her ex-hubby (guest star Malcolm-Jamal Warner)? Or ex-Spanish teacher, Senior Chang (Ken Jeong)? Finally, is that really Betty White rapping with Troy and Abed? All these answers (and much more) are found in the hilarious, guest star-filled sophomore season of the breakthrough comedy hit. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Midsomer Murders: Set 18
The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in these contemporary British television mysteries. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars John Nettles (Bergerac) as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protťgť, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
No Ordinary Family: The Complete First Season
The Powells are about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. After 16 years of marriage, Jim (Michael Chiklis) feels disconnected from his workaholic wife, Stephanie (Julie Benz), and two teenage children, Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and JJ (Jimmy Bennett). To encourage family bonding time, Jim decides the family will join Stephanie on her business trip to South America. When their plane crashes into the Amazon River, they barely enjoy a moment to celebrate their survival before returning to the grind of everyday life. But they will soon realize that their lives have been forever changed. Each member of the family starts to show signs of new, unique and distinct super powers. Will their newfound abilities finally bring them together or push them further apart? (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Parks & Recreation: Season 3
Dedicated government employee Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live) and her fellow colleagues return for big laughs from the small town of Pawnee Indiana in the hilarious third season of Parks and Recreation. Their funny antics continue as they ramp up for their most important civic project yet: The Harvest Festival. As Leslie plans prepares and publicizes her co-workers take on other challenges such as a crippling flu the statewide softball tournament and the sad demise of a local icon: a miniature house named Liíl Sebastian. Created by Greg Daniels (The Office, The Simpsons) and Michael Schur (The Office, Saturday Night Live) and featuring phenomenal guest stars such as Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), Parks and Recreation is being hailed as ďThe smartest comedy on TV.Ē (Entertainment Weekly) (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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∑ Airwolf: The Movie
∑ A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song
∑ Criminal Minds: The Sixth Season
∑ Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
∑ Two and a Half Men: The Complete Eighth Season
∑ Madsoís War
∑ Police Story: Season 1