Itís Election Day! Have you voted? You know you really, should, right? Just making sure. Itís important. With that out of the way, on to todayís new Blu-ray and DVD releases!
RashŰmon Ė Criterion Collection
Akira Kurosawaís 1950 masterpiece gets a Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion, and how anyone who claims to be a lover of classic cinema hasnít already preordered it is way beyond me. The simple fact is that this twisty, sensationally acted, magnificently photographed psychological thriller of memory and interpretation is one of the most influential motion pictures of all time. Itís as big a classic as there is, and anyone who hasnít seen it owes it to themselves to remedy that fact as quickly as humanly possible.
Another classic, this one overseen by the great Billy Wilder, this nasty, brutally funny darkly comic noir features incredible cinematography, a juicy script and a performance from Gloria Swanson ranking as one of the finest ever put to celluloid. This movie is a masterpiece, and Paramountís hi-def upgrade is close to perfect. Check out my recently posted Blu-ray Review to learn more.
The Amazing Spider-Man 3D
The Amazing Spider-Man
From my theatrical review (read it here): ďThere is potential, tons of it, the problem is none of it is delivered on as all the dramatics come to a head. Spider-Man and The Lizard battle, Gwen gets put in the middle of it and all of New York finds itself in danger. But for the life of me I could never quite figure out why anything that was happening was taking place. The villainís motivations are weird at best, nonsensical at worst, and the way he goes about implementing his plan feels like something that would have been concocted by Snidely Whiplash in his quest to capture Penelope Pitstop.Ē (Title releases Friday, Nov 9)
Arthur Christmas 3D
From my theatrical review (read it here): ďLeave it to the folks at Aardman, the minds behind all those wonderful ďWallace & GromitĒ adventures and Chicken Run, to take the tired Christmas-themed subgenre of family films and find a way to breathe some invigorating life into it. Their Arthur Christmas is easily one the yearís most invigorating surprises, and I almost canít believe just how much start to finish I found myself enjoying it. Original and inspired, this joyful animated frolic is seriously entertaining, audiences of all ages sure to eat up its heartwarming Yule-tied message of family, resilience and togetherness thatís as touching as it is wonderful.Ē For more on this release, check out my 3D Blu-ray Review.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Prep & Landing / Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice
More holiday goodness these two releases courtesy of the folks over at Walt Disney. The Muppet Christmas Carol is celebrating its 20th anniversary (the fact of which has me more than a bit mystified; canít believe Iím now that old) and is making its Blu-ray debut. The dual Prep & Landing animated specials are available together in one package for the very first time, both so utterly delightful itís easy to imagine each becoming something of a Christmas perennial. Both releases are outstanding, and for families picking them up as stocking stuffers is as easy a decision as any theyíre likely to make this holiday season.
Guys and Dolls
In a Tuesday filled with catalog titles of note making their Blu-ray debuts, this star-studded adaptation of Frank Loesserís timeless Broadway musical Guys and Dolls might be the one coming in most under the radar. Pity, because this musical, featuring Frank Sinatra and, proving once again he truly was one of Hollywoodís most gifted, well-rounded and downright fearless actors, Marlon Brando, holds up spectacularly well, and itís hard to imagine anyone watching it for the first time not loving all 150 minutes of it.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Did John Hughes ever make a better film that Planes, Trains and Automobiles? One that has held up over the years so amazingly well or grown in popularity so exponentially? Did he ever handle a pair of actors more incredibly attuned one to the other than Steve Martin and John Candy? You can make cases for The Breakfast Club and Ferris Buellerís Day Off (goodness knows I certainly have on many occasions), sure, but there is something about this Thanksgiving themed road trip buddy comedy farce that is as timeless as it is heartwarming, emotional as it is hysterical, and as such itís arrival on Blu-ray is an early holiday gift I imagine many will be extremely excited about cracking the plastic on and watching again as if it were their very first viewing. For more on this release, check out my recently posted Blu-ray Review.
Dark Star - Thermostellar Edition
Two from director John Carpenter. Dark Star is his wild and unhinged (if not entirely successful) 1974 debut. Worth seeing, especially for fans of the filmmaker, but hardly a title Iíd tell anyone they need to add to their Blu-ray libraries.
They Live, however, is a movie that feels more important and vital than ever, and the fact it is coming out on Election Day isnít lost on me. While far from Carpenterís best film, this prescient 1988 sci-fi thriller cum satire might in many ways be his most important, cleanly and expertly speaking to themes and ideas we are in many ways sadly living through here in the present. Funny, exciting, filled with meaty ideas and showcasing indelible moments and images that have stuck with me for 20-plus years, They Live is an unappreciated gem from the director deserving of being rediscovered by todayís audiences (but bring your own bubble gum - you might need it).
Bette Midler. Barbara Hershey. An Academy Award-winning song that entered the cultural zeitgeist (and, by all accounts, is still there). What more needs to be said?
Your Sisterís Sister
From my theatrical review (read it here): ď[Writer] and director Lynn Sheltonís Your Sisterís Sister very seldom goes for the obvious gag or the familiar melodramatic emotion. Instead, the wily filmmaker behind 2009ís exceedingly entertaining Humpday keeps things grounded in an emotional reality that feels oddly honest and true, and while the situation might be a tiny extreme the way one person connects to the other is anything but.Ē
Fire with Fire
Wow. Not sure what to say about this one. Basically a direct-to-DVD release, this thriller boasts an all-star cast and solid production values, but also offers up an incredibly laughable script that gets more insanely ludicrous and idiotic as it goes along. Vincent D'Onofrio hams it up nicely as the white supremacist villain but otherwise thatís all there is to talk about on the acting front, Bruce Willis looking bored and disinterested while Josh Duhamel makes for one of the more lackadaisical and wane action heroes of recent memory. Seriously, donít even add this one to your Netflix queue, because even on a so-bad-itís-good level Fire with Fire comes up sadly lacking on all fronts.
OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES
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∑ The Bonfire of the Vanities
∑ Call the Midwife: Season One
∑ The Client
∑ Die Nibelungen
∑ Entourage: The Complete Series
∑ Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special
∑ Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
∑ Maximum Conviction
∑ The Pact
∑ Rags & Riches Collection: The Films of Mary Pickford
∑ Sweet Home Alabama
∑ Von Ryanís Express
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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Engaging coming of age story out of Italy that tackles questions of religion, faith, sexuality and friendship with striking honesty, the Italian import Corpo Celeste is small scale stunner deserving of being seen by as wide an audience as possible. Young Yle Vianello dominates the picture in a way that feels fresh and natural, her awakening as she canít help but notice her priestís hypocrisy as she prepares for her own Confirmation touchingly remarkable. A gem.
Surprisingly engaging Swedish romantic comedy/drama that shouldnít be anywhere as entertaining as it is, writer/director Alexandra-Therese Keining presenting your typical tale of a young woman, Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez), on the verge of marriage who thanks to a single kiss starts questioning her love for her fiancť as well as her own sexuality. Even though it follows rather familiar terrain, Keining manages to craft a script filled with wit, insight and humor that kept me continually interested to see what was going to happen next. Coupled with strong performances from leads Keining and Liv MjŲnes, the resulting movie is an engaging frolic difficult to dislike.
Iíve got this DVD sitting here, and considering how much I enjoyed the first two efforts itís a little surprising I havenít plopped this one in the player and given it a look as of yet. I will, though, soon I imagine, and as soon as I do expect a full review to arrive shortly after itís over.
Even the Rain
Idealistic filmmaker Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal, The Motorcycle Diaries) and his cynical producer Costa (Luis Tosar, The Limits of Control) arrive in Bolivia to make a revisionist film about Christopher Columbusí conquest of the Americas. But as filming commences, the local citizens begin to riot in protest against a multi-national corporation that is taking control of their water supply. With the film shoot in jeopardy, both men find their convictions shaken. Inspired by the real-life Water Wars in Bolivia in the year 2000, Even the Rain explores the lasting effects of Spanish imperialism, still resonating some 500 years later in the continued struggle of indigenous people against oppression and exploitation. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Twelve-year-old Koichi lives with his mother and retired grandparents in the southern region Japan. His younger brother Ryunosuke lives with their father in the northern region of Japan. The brothers have been separated by their parentsí divorce, and Koichi's only wish is for his family to be reunited. When he learns that a new bullet train line will soon open linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment these new trains first pass each other at top speed. With help from the adults around him, Koichi sets out on a journey with a group of friends, each hoping to witness a miracle. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Trishna (Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire) lives with her family in a village in Rajasthan, India's largest state. As the eldest daughter, she works in a nearby resort to help pay the bills. Jay (Riz Ahmed, Four Lions) is the wealthy son of a property developer. When he takes up managing a resort at his father's request, he meets Trishna at a dance and their fates cross. Jay finds every opportunity to win Trishna's affection and she accepts his efforts with shy curiosity. But when the two move to Mumbai and become a couple, Jay's deep family bond threatens the young lovers' bliss. Based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Ubervilles, master filmmaker Michael Winterbottom's (A Mighty Heart, The Trip) latest film is a powerful look at the tension between ancient privilege and modern equality, between codes of urban and rural life, and ultimately a hymn to both the glory and the tragedy that comes with beauty in all its forms. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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∑ Law & Order: The Eleventh Year
∑ Vera: Set 2
∑ Wolf Lake: The Complete Series
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
∑ The Adventures of Mark Twain (Dec 4, 2012)
∑ eXistenZ (Dec 4, 2012)
∑ Les Miserables (1998) (Dec 11, 2012)
∑ 10 Years (Dec 18, 2012)
∑ Resident Evil: Retribution (Dec 21, 2012)
∑ The Words (Dec 24, 2012)
∑ Hit & Run (Jan 8, 2013)
∑ House at the End of the Street (Jan 8, 2013)
∑ Indiscreet (Jan 22, 2013)
∑ The Quiet Man (Jan 22, 2013)
∑ The Cold Light of Day (Jan 29, 2013)
∑ That Obscure Object of Desire (Jan 29, 2013)