New Blu's On the Block - 10/25/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: Oct 25, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for October 25, 2011


Something for everyone again this week, this final Tuesday in October unleashing a flurry of quality Blu-rays for people to mull over including the year’s best superhero adventure, an Italian zombie masterpiece, a Frances Ford Coppola stunner, some Steven Spielberg dinosaur madness, some more West Virginia inbred mutant terror, Disney’s latest foray into A.A. Milne territory, London-based tenement B-movie interstellar monster awesomeness, a Norwegian frolic featuring a seriously deranged Santa Claus and a trio of classics from the good folks at the Criterion Collection. Read on to know more.



The Conversation

For many, Frances Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II is the filmmaker’s single greatest achievement. While that film is a classic, and is a flick that should be one anyone’s list of all-time masterpieces, for my part I find 1974’s The Conversation to be the director’s singular triumph. Gene Hackman has never been better, starring as surveillance expert Harry Caul, while the feeling of all-consuming dread and paranoia that permeates this thing is so undeniably palpable its leaves me in cold shivers every time I watch it. Much like their handling of Apocalypse Now, Lionsgate’s handling of this landmark classic is stellar, and I’ll hopefully have a full review up for you all to take a look at shortly.



Jurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy Collection

I’ve never been as bullish on Jurassic Park as so many others seem to be, and while the film is undeniably entertaining and that initial T-Rex attack sequence is brilliantly chilling for the most part this Steven Spielberg directed box office sensation has always been of the good-not-great variety as far as I am concerned.


But it has aged well, something that cannot be said for its immediate sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.. While there are some truly awesome moments in this film, the latter 30-40 minutes are mind-numbing in their mediocrity, transforming what could have been a second chapter that was better than its predecessor (the assault on the RV’s by a seriously ticked-off pair of Tyrannosaurs is something else, as is the sequence in the tall grass featuring a roving band of Raptors) instead becomes nothing more than a forgettable time-passer.


As for Jurassic Park 3? I have  a soft spot in my heart for that one. Big, loud and unabashedly dumb, this B-movie frolic is like an old Universal monster movie of yore, like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and all its similar ilk. Not great, but I really like watching it; what that says about me I haven’t the first clue.




Captian America: The First Avenger - Limited 3D Edition

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger is without a doubt my favorite superhero flick of the year and the best movie Marvel has manufactured yet in lead up to next Summer’s The Avengers. As I wrote back in July (read my full review here), “[Director Joe Johnston has] managed to craft a retro 1940’s style WWII potboiler yet one still colored with the pyrotechnic razzle-dazzle of this still young century. He’s captured an ethos and a style few modern filmmakers have been able to rekindle (Steven Spielberg being the obvious example with Raiders of the Lost Ark), and he’s done so in a way that’s so appealing it would take a hardened heart made out of stone to admit to not being moved by even a single solitary second of it.”



Dazed and Confused

Richard Linklater’s 1993 classic Dazed and Confused is virtually impossible not to love. Set on the last day of class at a Texas High School in 1976, the movie is a showcase for a flurry of soon-to-be-stars like Ben Aflleck, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey and Renée Zellweger and features a series of seriously hysterical vignettes that tickle my funny bone each and every time I see the film. While not the director’s greatest achievement (that would be Before Sunset), it’s still an amazing bit of a pop entertainment that’s every bit as invigorating – and entertaining – today as it was almost two decades prior during its original release.



Attack the Block

From my original theatrical review posted back in July (read it here): “Attack the Block is the best popcorn flick of the entire summer, and I mean that as one heck of a gigantic compliment. Popular BBC television personality Joe Cornish makes the jump to the big screen as both writer and director of this hugely entertaining B-movie genre hodgepodge, crafting a fitfully funny and a breathlessly exciting homage to Assault on Precinct 13, Gremlins, Rio Bravo, Night of the Creeps, Escape from New York and just about everything else in-between. It is smart, quickly paced and imaginatively inspired, and by the time it was over all I wanted to do was watch the darn thing again.” For more on the movie, check out my Interview with writer/director Joe Cornish and actor John Boyega.



Winnie the Pooh

From my July theatrical review (read it here): “Winnie the Pooh is a miraculous, utterly endearing marvel I was so happy to be given the opportunity to see, and one my darkest days I can foresee a time not so far in the future when the Blu-ray of this will instantly cheer me up much in the same manor Milne’s original book and Disney’s initial animated adaptation both do now.” Having recently watched Disney’s stunning new Blu-ray of the film, I’m happy to state I was not in error when I wrote that sentence just a scant three months prior; a full review is forthcoming.



Zombie (1979)

Lucio Fulci’s landmark gore marvel  Zombie comes to Blu-ray in a spiffy new two-disc special edition courtesy of Blue Underground and genre fanatics couldn’t be any more excited. All you need to know about this one is that a zombie battles a shark and that the film features a signature moment between a splinter of wood and a woman’s eyeball that the easily squeamish should probably avoid at all costs. A classic, make no bones about it, and a title I’m adding to my Christmas wish list right this very second.



Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Criterion’s second release of the week is a 1932 classic about a shipwrecked everyman who finds himself stranded on an isolated island with a scientist going by the name of Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) who has been experimenting on turning beasts into men and the vice-versa. Arguably the best cinematic version of H.G. Welles landmark novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, this chilling black and white thriller is perfect Halloween fodder and a release fans of classic horror cinema are going to be doing cartwheels over.



Identification of a Woman

Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1982 effort Identification of a Woman is a movie I’ve heard tons about but have sadly never seen. As Criterion did not send me this Blu-ray for review, your guess is as good as mine when I’ll finally get the opportunity. I will watch it at some point, though. It’s Antonioni. He’s a master. It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t get around to giving it a look.



Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

From my original theatrical review posted last December (read it here): “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a total hoot. Never taking itself too seriously yet also remembering to give its characters a bit of love, care and three-dimensional refinement, this little subversive gothic fantasy is a holiday sensation I never saw coming. A spooky yet lovable lark full of demons, ghouls, foul language, pickaxes, dynamite and gingerbread, screenwriter and director Jalmari Helander’s highly original Finnish import is a delectably divine, if also suitably devilish, treat. This is a movie that had me giggling and gasping aloud, its sights and sounds full of an inspiration and a wit I adored. This movie really grew on me the second time around, I have to say. I think I liked it even more on Blu-ray than I did in the theatre.



Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings

What is there to say about this one, really? If you liked the other two straight-to-DVD sequels, it almost goes without saying you’ll like this one as well as it is a major step up from Wrong Turn 3. At the same time, this prequel is still nothing more than tongue-in-cheek grotesque nastiness, an excuse to throw as much blood and gore at the screen as humanly possible, and that’s most definitely not going to be everyone’s particular cup of tea. But writer and director Declan O’Brien seems to know what he’s doing and there’s plenty of fun (gruesome and disgusting fun, but fun nonetheless) to be had here, while the human fondue sequence has to be seen to be believed.



Tom & Jerry: The Golden Collection Volume One

Stunning, and I’m not even a fan of Tom and Jerry, this collection of the cat and mouse animated theatrical shorts (1940-1948) is as wonderful as any an aficionado of the duo ever could have hoped for. Warner Bros. has done an amazing job restoring these 37 cartoons, and I have to say I had a pretty fantastic time watching each and every one of them. I’ll have a full review of this two-disc set up for everyone to read soon.



A Little Help

From my scathing theatrical review posted back in July (read it here): “[Writer/director Michael J.] Weithorn has delivered a cinematic sitcom that’s worse than any of the lesser episodes of any one of his popular television programs, and by the time the movie was over part of me was surprised I’d actually at through the whole darn thing. A Little Help is bad, there’s little else to say other than that, and the fact I’m being forced to talk about this train wreck of a loathsome farce at all has me more than a wee bit perturbed.”



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·         City of Life and Death

·         Destroy All Monsters

·         Faces in the Crowd

·         Father of Invention

·         The House by the Cemetery

·         Robot Chicken: Season Five

·         A Serbian Film





Judas Kiss

Did I want to like this one, let me tell you. Sadly, however, this mostly Seattle-filmed sci-fi “Twilight Zone” allegory piece never quite came together in a way that satisfies. The story of a failed filmmaker who finds himself in some weirdly alternative reality situation when he heads back to his old High School to judge a competition, the movie is a jumble of missed opportunities and never fully realized good ideas. Still, it’s beautifully photographed by David Berry, and Charlie David’s performance as the central protagonist is at times eccentrically inspired.



The People vs. George Lucas

Borderline awesome documentary chronicling Star Wars fan insanity and said fan’s affinity for creator George Lucas has transformed into the ultimate love-hate dysfunctional relationship. Filled with interviews, colorful recreations and moments of unparalleled geek culture goodness, this movie made me respect the fan boy, at least a tiny little bit, something I couldn’t say before watching it.




Smiley’s People

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)

Two classic television adaptations of the John e Carré novels starring the great Alec Guinness, there really isn’t a lot to say here other than both of these miniseries are outright treasures. Seriously, watch them right away, they’re beyond sensational both holding up remarkably well and in many ways haven’t aged a single bit.




In April of 2010, Spanish police reported the discovery of 37 hours of recorded evidence that shed new light on a gruesome murder investigation. The found footage documents a family of five spending their holidays at their summerhouse, where brother-and sister Cristian and July Quintanilla pass the time investigating a terrifying local urban legend. As their investigation intensifies, strange occurrences in and around the house escalate rapidly, before culminating in unspeakable atrocities.  (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection

Laurel & Hardy were one of the most critically acclaimed comedy teams of early American cinema. Their films produced by Hal Roach during the 20s and 30s defined their legacy, and are now available for the first time in a one comprehensive 10-DISC COLLECTION! This set contains films from Hal Roach library such as The Music Box (Academy Award® Best Short Subject), Brats, Hog Wild, Chickens Come Home, Sons of the Desert and Way out West to name a few. A special bonus disc features entertaining never before seen interviews from Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis and Tim Conway, insightful commentaries, additional films and original trailers. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Pearl Jam Twenty

In honor of Pearl Jam s twentieth anniversary, Academy Award-winning director and music journalist Cameron Crowe created a definitive portrait of the seminal band carved from over 1,200 hours of rarely and never-before-seen footage, plus 24 hours of recently shot concert and interview footage. Pearl Jam Twenty chronicles the years leading up to the band s formation, the chaos that ensued soon after their rise to megastardom, their step back from center stage, and the creation of a trusted circle that would surround them giving way to a work culture that would sustain them. Told in big themes and bold colors with blistering sound, the film is carved from over 1,200 hours of rarely seen and never before seen footage spanning the band s career. Pearl Jam Twenty is the definitive portrait of Pearl Jam: part concert film, part intimate insider-hang, part testimonial to the power of music and uncompromising artists. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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·         Bill Moyers: On Our Own Terms

·         Luther: Season 2

·         Marvel The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Volume Three

·         Marvel The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Volume Four

·         Mothman

·         Roger Corman's Cult Classic's Lethal Ladies Collection (Firecracker, TNT Jackson, Too Hot To Handle)



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