New Blu's On the Block - 12/20/2011


Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: Dec 20, 2011


Written by Sara Michelle Fetters





New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for December 20, 2011


Our last New Blu column before Christmas, and there are plenty of stocking stuffer ideas to be found in this weekís update, including what is in my opinion one of the five best motion pictures of 2011 (but more on that in a second). As for next week, thanks to said holiday the column might be running a little late. Iím just saying. A girl needs something of a break, after all.



Midnight in Paris

I am writing my 2011 recap tomorrow. As of this moment, Woody Allenís miraculous gem of an ensemble fantasy-comedy Midnight in Paris is coming in at number three on my top ten for the entire year. The best film the acclaimed Academy Award-winning writer/director has made in arguably three decades, this joyous celebration of living life for the now and embracing oneís strengths and attributes completely is as grand an achievement as anything Iíve come across in ages. I sat watching it in the movie theatre practically dumfounded as to just how magnificent this time-bending character study truly was, and now that itís available on Blu-ray I canít wait to watch it another half-dozen times to squeeze even more enjoyment out of Allenís accomplishment. Easily the weekís best release and the one movie Iíd urge people to purchase sight-unseen.




Hereís what I wrote about this one back in September (read my full review here): ďWarrior doesnít do anything newÖAt the same time, this tale of redemption, family and absolution is the real deal as far as entertainment value is concerned. The characters are honest and true, the fight sequences are brutal and raw, while the central themes being delivered in the denouement pack a major emotional wallop.  This film works, and while Iím not entirely sure where all this Oscar buzz for the flick is coming from that doesnít mean I think any less of the finished product or feel it should be anything other than a major box office hit.Ē Of course, the movie wasnít a box office hit (it was actually something of a dud), but that doesnít make director Gavin OíConnerís latest any less entertaining or worthwhile. Hereís hoping it finds the audience on Blu-ray and DVD that it sadly didnít garner during its brief theatrical release.



Margin Call

Talk about timely, J.C. Chandorís Margin Call is a punch to the gut that is as entertaining as it is devastatingly informative. Chronicling 24-pivital hours in the life of a New York investment firm, the filmís sterling cast (including Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons and an Oscar-worthy Kevin Spacey), the movie is a scathing indictment of the banking system and a story the 99-percent should embrace with open arms.




Dolphin Tale 3D

Dolphin Tale

I have this one sitting here. I still have not watched it. I had the opportunity to see it at a press screening at the end of last August. For whatever reason I did not make the time to attend, choosing other activities instead of heading to the theatre to give this heartwarming family drama a look. In other words, something is keeping me from watching this based-on-fact motion picture, and I donít have a particularly good reason as to what that might be. 




Wow. It just occurred to me how many releases I failed to see press screenings of and/or write about theatrically are coming out on Blu-ray this week. Itís actually kind of nuts. Whatís this have to do with Columbiana, you ask? Well, I missed it when it played in theatres, and as the promised Blu-ray review copy has never arrived that situation has failed to be remedied. By all indications, however, this Luc Besson-scripted thriller starring Zoe Saldana (whom I love) is not the second coming of La Femme Nikita (which is still brilliant, two decades after the fact), something that disappoints me far more completely than I care to admit.



Straw Dogs (2011)

Did the world actually need a remake of Sam Peckinpahís Straw Dogs? Writer and director Rod Lurie (The Contender) thought it did, but considering just how poorly this performed at the box office and the somewhat scathing reviews it got from critics Iím guessing not very many agreed with him. Still, the movie is hardly a disaster, and for those unfamiliar with the original thereís still a pretty darn visceral kick to the stomach to be found by watching this one thatís impossible to ignore.




Iíll say this Ė Sam Shepard was absolutely BORN to play an aging Butch Cassidy. The man just oozes the right amount of fury, indignation, regret, pathos and charisma, making every seen heís at the center of in the intriguing what-if Western Blackthorn relatively difficult to pull oneís eyes away from. The movie itself is a bit too slight to take completely seriously, but Shepardís performance is a dynamic tour-de-force that goes a long way towards making up for the majority of the pictureís shortcomings. Genre fans should do themselves a favor and give this raucous B-movie a look.




Glee: 3D Concert Movie

Glee: The Concert Movie

I have no comment here. I didnít even get around to reviewing the second season Blu-rays of the show, so it's safe to say my enthusiasm for everything ďGleeĒ has seriously waned. Fans, however, will probably find this release to be the greatest thing to hit their Christmas stockings since chocolate Santa Clauses. Iím just saying.



Catch .44

I have watched Catch .44. I sat down at my computer to write a theatrical review of Catch .44 but nothing of substance was achieved by my doing so. The magnetic Nikki Reed, the Academy Award-winning Forest Whitaker, the creepy Brad Dourif and the beautiful Malin Akerman all star in Catch .44 and I have nothing to say about any of them. So does Bruce Willis, showing up in Catch .44 for nothing more than a glorified cameo even though his billing leads one to believe his roll is far larger than it actually is, and have nothing to say about him, either. In other words, I have nothing to say about Catch .44, nothing at all, which come to think about it probably says a lot more about Catch .44 than any full review I could potentially write ever could.




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         A Farewell to Arms

         Futurama: Volume 6

         Nothing Sacred

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Burke & Hare

Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Isla Fisher (amongst numerous others) star in director John  Landisí coal-black horror-comedy hybrid about a pair of down on their luck con men who discover the selling of the recently deceased to feuding medical college scientists is a great way to make a buck. Problem is, An American Werewolf in London this film is not, and although the stars themselves are game the filmís shifts in tone and threadbare narrative undo their efforts far too frequently. A disappointment, but not really a total loss, and Iím sure genre fans interested in this sort of thing will be happy to give it a look even if they wonít be completely satisfied by the finished product itself.



Into the Lionís Den

Better than average (but just barely) gay suspense-melodrama about three best friends on a road trip taking them from Los Angeles to New York, Into the Lionís Den gets by mainly thanks to the conviction of its three central performances by Jesse Archer, Ronnie Kroell and Kristen-Alexzander Griffith. The plot is way too contrived and predictable, and the direction by Dan Lanz is hardly noteworthy, but the actors really give their all as far as this slightly syrupy thriller is concerned, and I have to admit watching it beginning to end was hardly a chore.



One Tree Hill: The Complete Eighth Season

Is there any show on television I find more of an embarrassingly guilty pleasure than this one? Probably not, but suffice it to say I watched all 22 episodes of this collection over the past week and found myself tearing up far more than I should arguably admit. More, this season is a serious step up from the last one, and while this is still the biggest unabashed primetime soap opera around there was something about the storylines followed through these episodes that kept me captivated for almost every single darn one of them.



Juliaís Eyes

From producer Guillermo del Toro (Panís Labyrinth, The Orphanage) comes a tale of dread and terror from the darkest corners of reality. Julia, a woman suffering from a degenerative sight disease, finds her twin sister Sara hanged in the basement of her house. Everything points to suicide, but Julia is compelled to investigate what she intuitively feels is a murder case. Determined to retrace her sister s final steps, she is drawn into a maze of hidden threats and spiraling dread - a dark world that seems to hide a mysterious, malevolent presence. As Julia begins to uncover clues to the truth of her sister s death, those close to her begin to disappear. Her sight gone and confined to her sister s house, Julia soon finds herself trapped in a nightmare from which she cannot awake. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)



Stay Cool

Henry McCarthy, the 30-something author of a popular 80s-themed novel, returns to his suburban hometown to deliver the commencement speech at his former high school. Despite his success as an author, Henry s return home has sparked all of the youthful dreams, desires and particularly disappointments he's never quite gotten over, specifically his unrequited affection for the girl who is now the local pharmacist: the elusive Scarlet Smith (Winona Ryder). Between run-ins with the outcast friends he left behind Big Girl (Sean Astin) and Wino (Josh Holloway), the school principal (Chevy  Chase) and a seductive senior, Shasta O Neil (Hilary Duff), Henry is sent spinning through a time warp that incites all the old emotions and challenges of the world he grew up in. Henry can only hope to Stay Cool and make it, once again, to graduation day. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)




Based on the bittersweet story of food writer Nigel Slater's childhood, and set to the songs of Dusty Springfield, Toast is a delicious love letter to the tastes and smells that a young boy associates with his journey into adulthood. Nigel's Mother was always a poor cook, and her addiction to all things canned isn't helping. Nigel, on the other hand, laps up cookbooks as if they were porn, and spends all his free time gazing longingly at the delights offered at Percy Salt's grocery shop. Nigel's Dad worries there is something "wrong" with his son and the two find it difficult to connect, so Nigel finds friendship and a father figure in Josh, the gardener. (Partial description reprinted from Amazon.com)



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