New Blu's On the Block - 10/18/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: Oct 18, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for October 18, 2011


There’s lots to like about this week, and there’s plenty more that is bound to be massively popular, almost all of it (save one notable DVD release from Criterion) Blu-ray related.




Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides - Limited 3D Edition

A billion dollars cannot by scoffed at, and considering this fourth entry in Disney’s epic high seas adventure series crossed that worldwide box office threshold I guess that means this is the movie I am forced to lead with. As I stated in  my original theatrical review this past May (read it here): “[There] is no reason for this sequel to exist, and much of it can’t help but feel like it is running in step repeating moments from the previous epics while not going out of its way to attempt to deliver anything new…Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides goes through motions, hits all its marks and certainly has plenty of merits to extol the virtue of, and yet for my part I can’t muster up the energy to care. This is as been there-done that as big Hollywood tentpole sequels get, and for all this movie gets right the passion I feel for it sits perilously close to nothing and, to my way of thinking at least, that’s just wrong.”



The Guns of the Navarone

Here’s what I wrote about this 1961 WWII adventure classic with Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and David Niven back in 2007 when I reviewed the Collector’s Edition DVD (read that review here): “[In] spite of everything you have probably heard, The Guns of Navarone is not the stupendous and timeless piece of classic entertainment you have been led to believe. This war time action adventure is a seriously bumpy ride, ponderously long and extremely uneven before finally making its way to a thrilling climax full of rousing excitement and hard-hitting WWII drama…The assault on the impregnable German fortress holding the guns is wonderful, [director J. Lee] Thompson finally constructing action sequences worthy of the MacLean name and appropriate for the strong group of legendary actors (Peck, Niven and especially Quinn) assembled to bring it to life.” All reports are that this new Blu-ray presentation is stunning. Sadly, a review copy didn’t make its way to our doorstep, and even at a bargain price over at Amazon I’m just not sure I like the movie enough to fork over the cash for an upgrade.



The Crow

It’s impossible to watch Alex Proyas’ 1994 gothic comic book sensation The Crow and not wonder a few what-if’s. Is this movie responsible for the comic onslaught we’ve been put through these past 17 or so years? Would Proyas been given the opportunity to make Dark City or handed the reigns to the big budget Will Smith actioner I, Robot had this not met with cult success? Did actor Brandon Lee have greatness within him or was his gutsy, viscerally raw performance here nothing more than a fluke? And, maybe the most important question of all, would this film even have made a blip on radar – culturally, critically, cinematically – had its star not met with such a tragically horrific accident? While the answers are mostly up to you to figure out for yourselves, Mitchell will have a review of this Blu-ray release up for everyone to read soon so on that front we’ll be able to add at least a tiny bit of insight.



Bad Teacher

Here’s what I wrote about this ribald comedy back in June (read my review here): “Bad Teacher never rises to the level of say, Bad Santa, Caddyshack, or The Jerk to be considered amongst the best of ‘Bad Taste’ comedies. But it is more American Pie than American Wedding (a good thing), and I do have to say I enjoyed watching it far more than I thought I would.”




Terrifying. That’s the word to describe this stunning Blu-ray release from the folks over at Criterion. Terrifying. From the director of Onibaba, Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko is an ethereal ghost story that got under my skin and at times made me want to turn on all the lights in my apartment and hide underneath the covers. At the same time, this is a touching, fearlessly emotional fable about life, death and honor that held me spellbound all the way through. A stunning motion picture, this is one eerie thriller that’s perfect for a Halloween viewing.



Page One: Inside the New York Times

Here’s what I wrote about this documentary back in June (read my full review here): “I wanted more from Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times; that is without question. At the same time, as a journalism junkie and a total news nut I still found this look at the inner workings of the paper to be beyond engaging. Coupled with the recent release of Bill Cunningham New York the paper is getting a showcase this year that is wonderful to the extreme, and here’s hoping viewers with even a passing interest in the fate of the iconic newspapers like this one take the time to give both films a look.”



Red State

Kevin’s Smith’s latest was never screened for critics and was mostly released independently by the filmmaker himself, so not a lot of people outside of the festival circuit (it debuted at Sundance) had a chance to see it. A fundamentalist horror show about teens looking for sex caught in an extremist religious house of horrors, I admit to being slightly intrigued to see what the director of Clerks and Dogma has come up with. Granted, no review copies were forthcoming, so I’ll just have to break down and rent the darn thing like everyone else.



Cape Fear (1991)

Martin Scorsese’s remake of the Gregory Peck/Robert Mitchum classic (both of whom appear here) starring Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange is notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its astonishing middle section (where the sadistic, chilling seduction of an Oscar-nominated Juliette Lewis is still one of the freakiest I’ve ever seen). It’s the Freddy Kreuger-esque climax that’s a bit of problem, the whole thing devolving into a series of horror clichés that were a bit annoying 20 years ago and haven’t gotten any better over the succeeding two decades. Yet this is still a movie to see, especially for fans of the director, and I for one can’t wait to get a look at it in hi-def.



Batman: Year One

I’m not the one to ask about this release, sorry, but Mitchell has just posted his Blu-ray review for you to read.



The Last Circus

Have a clown phobia? Then you’ll probably want to stay as far away as possible from the ingenious import The Last Circus as this crazy little thriller plays upon those fears like you wouldn’t believe. It’s sinister. It’s devilish. It’s fiendishly funny. Best of all, it’s insidiously entertaining, this battle royale between clowns Happy and Sad a fun-filled blood-curdling epic of divine craziness genre and midnight fanatics won’t want to miss.



Monte Carlo (2011)

From my July theatrical review (read it here): “I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was just fine with the mistaken identity tween girl fantasy coming of age drama Monte Carlo. It doesn’t rewrite the rule book, doesn’t do a darn thing that is unexpected, muddles up some of its storylines a time or two and is not nearly as well paced as it could be. But it is also light, frothy, enchantingly acted by its principals, offers up some delightful moments and had me smiling the majority of the way through. While far from perfect, it does get the job done, and in a summer already overloaded with pooping penguins, bummer third graders and a hyper-violent toy commercial it’s nice to have a piece of live-action family fare that doesn’t belittle its audience, talk down to them or mercilessly pummel them over the head.”



A Better Life

I wanted to see Chris Weitz’s (About a Boy) latest ever since I first heard about it, which is why it killed me when I wasn’t able to make the press screening before it played here in Seattle theatrically. Sadly, it was in and out of theatres so fast I didn’t get a chance to see it there, either, and now that Summit didn’t send us a copy of the Blu-ray to review it feels like I’m guaranteed to forever miss this one. So now I am adding it to the Netflix queue in hopes that I won’t cancel my account before it arrives, but with that company driving me up a wall of late (Quickster? Really? How did that EVER seem like a good idea?) it’s not set in stone that’s going to happen.



V: The Complete Second Season

I lost interest in this show pretty quick, but it did develop a pretty significant following so this Blu-ray release can’t be dismissed entirely.  For more, read Mitchell's Blu-ray review of the set.




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·         Attack on Leningrad

·         Baarìa

·         Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

·         The Clowns (1970)

·         Darkness Falls (Read Sara’s Original Theatrical Review)

·         Freerunner

·         The Goonies

·         The Harimaya Bridge

·         Hellraiser: Revelations

·         The Hollywood Knights

·         The Howling Reborn

·         In a Glass Cage

·         The Robber

·         Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Complete Season Three

·         Tomcats

·         Under Suspicion

·         Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Read Sara’s DigiBook Blu-ray Review)






Eclipse Series 29: Aki Kaurismäki’s Leningrad Cowboys

The week’s must-have DVD release, I can’t put it any simpler terms. Here’s more detailed information thanks to a Criterion press release:


“In the late eighties and early nineties, Aki Kaurismäki (The Match Factory Girl), the master of the deadpan, fashioned a waggish fish-out-of-water tale about a U.S. tour by “the worst rock-and-roll band in the world.” Leningrad Cowboys Go America’s posse of fur-coated, outrageously pompadoured hipsters struck such a chord with international audiences that the fictional band became a genuine attraction, touring the world. Later, Kaurismäki created a sequel, Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses, and filmed a gigantic stadium show the band put on in Helsinki for the rollicking documentary Total Balalaika Show. With this Eclipse series, we present these crackpot musical and comic odysseys, along with five Leningrad Cowboys music videos directed by Kaurismäki.”



The Rise & Fall of Margaret Thatcher

In lieu of Meryl Streep’s performance in The Iron Lady stealing all the air out of the room, BBC America brings its three part series The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher to DVD. Having only watched part one – Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley – so far, I can’t speak for the quality the program as a whole. That said, this first one is pretty outstanding, and I can’t wait to dig into the next two chapters as soon as time allows.



Tibet in Song

Wonderful documentary about Tibet’s rich musical history and how it has been impacted by the Chinese invasion and their “Box Music,” i.e. radio. Fascinating and impactful, many of the subjects, as well as the director himself, were briefly imprisoned for attempting to bring this story to the screen.



Shock Doctrine

From acclaimed filmmakers Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, The Killer Inside Me) and Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo), and based on Naomi Klein's provocative bestselling book of the same name, The Shock Doctrine is a gripping and incisive deconstruction of how radical free market policies have come to dominate the world. Using shock therapy as a metaphor, the film investigates Klein s central idea of disaster capitalism. When countries are jolted by catastrophic events such as war or natural disasters, they are often subjected to totally un-regulated free market remedies that benefit corporations at public expense. The film traces the doctrine s beginnings from the theories of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School economists, through its implementation over the past 40 years in Pinochet s Chile, Yeltsin's Russia, Thatcher's Britain, and the American Neo-Con directed invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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·         Robotech: The Complete Original Series

·         Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption



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