New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for August 16, 2011
If youíre a Kubrick fan, this week is the bomb. If youíre a Dude fanatic, than this week is a strike right down the center. If youíre a Stallone fan who even adores his lesser titles from the 1980ís and Ď90s then, well, Iím not sure what to say other than keep an eye on your credit card balance. Everyone else? Thereís probably a release this week to tickly your fancy as well. What that might be, however, is entirely up to you.
Criterion doesnít just bring us Stanley Kubrickís 1956 classic The Killing. No, that would be too easy. In one of the Blu-ray coups of all Blu-ray coups they also bring us his 1955 chestnut Killerís Kiss as well, both films contained in on spectacular hi-def release ranking as one of the best 2011 has had to offer. Featuring spectacular video, remarkable audio and special features Ė most notably one revolving around the great Sterling Hayden Ė to die for, I canít wax poetic enough about this disc. Just buy it right this very second. Donít wait for a review of the Blu-ray from Mitchell or of the DVD by me, just click the link above and go to Amazon and grab it for your collection immediately.
The Big Lebowski
The Dude still imbibes, but he also makes his Blu-ray debut, the Coen Brothersí 1998 cult favorite finally getting a hi-def presentation. While I like this movie quite a bit, Iíll be honest and not say Iím part of its ardent and passionate group of followers. All the same, for those that are, Iím sure youíre going to want to give this disc a look. Heck, youíve probably already pre-ordered the darn thing.
A Roman Polanski curiosity from 1966 starring Donald Pleasance thatís as awesome as it is head-scratching. The movie has tons in common with other of the directorís works (most notably Knife in the Water and Death and the Maiden), and when you consider how heís long been fascinated with interpersonal relationships and how the evolve in relatively confined spaces itís easy to see why he was drawn to this Fallís Carnage as well. As for this movie, the less I say here the better as Iíll be posting a full Blu-ray review in the next day or so. Just know that this is one fascinating, surreal and passionately nihilistic motion picture (and I mean all that in a good way), and for fans of the director itís a canít-miss achievement given a flawless presentation by the folks at the Criterion Collection.
Jane Eyre (2011)
From my original March theatrical review (read it here): ď[Director Cary Joji] Fukunagaís Jane Eyre is the one that has come the closest to becoming the cinematic version Iíve always imagined possible. It is mysterious, yet luminous, sinister, yet seductive. It is a movie that has delved into the nooks and crannies of the authorís brain unlike any other before it that I have seen, and for that reason alone I do call it a triumph and a motion picture most definitely worth the time to experience for oneís self.Ē
Robert Redfords docudrama about the woman, Mary Suratt, put on trial for conspiring in the murder of President Abraham Lincoln is a frustrating mixed bag. While Robin Wright Penn is marvelous as Suratt, and while the supporting cast includes veteran character actors such as James McAvoy, Kevin Kline, Danny Huston and Tom Wilkinson, overall the movie is a strange, uninviting bore that plods along somewhat aimlessly. While the story it is telling is interesting, the delivery is so detached and perfunctory itís hard to work up much in the way of enthusiasm while watching it. Definitely of interest for those with an affinity for American history, and as a potential jumping off point for debate and discussion in a High School social studies class the film certainly has merit. But overall this is a lukewarm effort that left me cold, and by the time it was over I kind of wondered why everyone involved even bothered in the first place.
Dexter: The Fifth Season
Everyoneís favorite crime-fighting serial killer returns for his fifth go-around, and fans couldnít be more enthusiastic. Julia Stiles and Peter Weller are the big acting additions this season, while the central storyline features Dexter trying to maintain (whatís left) of his sanity as his personal and family lives both fall apart simultaneously. Enjoy.
On the positive side of things, Priest is a major step up for director Scott Charles Stewart and star Paul Bettany after the nearly unwatchable misfire that was Legion. On the negative side of the equation, Priest was still one of the lesser efforts I took the time to view this summer, proving to be so lackluster I didnít even bother writing a review. The movie is a quasi-serious combination of Shane, The Searchers, Judge Dredd, Blade Runner and Mad Max, never delivering on its promise but never becoming so beyond terrible it could become an unintentional camp classic of some sort. Instead it just sort of sits there, going through the motions, playing with its various genre influences with all the energy and passion of a root canal. Fans of this sort of thing might be moderately entertained, Stewart does deliver a couple of decent action sequences, but overall the movie is a forgettable bore Iím thankful I wonít have to think about ever again.
Speaking of movies I wish I never had to think about ever againÖ Hereís what I wrote about this painfully unappetizing misfire back in May (read my full theatrical review here): ďSomething Borrowed is as close to an unmitigated disaster as you can possibly getÖ [This] is one of the more infuriating and insulting romantic dramas Iíve had the pleasure to sit through in recent memoryÖ I hated my time in the theatre, wanted for much of the running time to be anywhere else. This is another supposedly female-friendly motion picture that secretly hates women, making both of its main two characters as unappealing as possible seemingly every step of the way.Ē
Meet Monica Velour
Kim Cattrall is very good as the title character in this otherwise uninspiring and not all that funny comedy-drama about an aging porn star befriending a young fan. Thankfully, sheís so good she actually makes watching the thing close to worthwhile, forcing me to reevaluate her as an actress and reconsider previous roles Iíd otherwise not have given a second thought to. Pity the movie doesnít know what to do with itself and wastes the talents of Keith David and Brian Dennehy in the process. If you can catch it on cable or if it becomes available on Netflix instant play by all means give it a look, but other than that I donít have a heck of a lot more to say.
John Carpenterís The Ward
Iím still a little ticked that a review copy of this never showed up, as Iím such a Carpenter nut Iíd probably have given this far more in the way of slack than other critics have found themselves able to do. Additionally, a large portion of the film was shot in my hometown of Spokane, WA (and, if you can believe it, in the building my mother actually works) increasing my interest level exponentially. Oh well. Cíest la vie. Guess Iíll have to add it to the Netflix queue and give it a look sometime in the future when I have a couple of hours to spare.
Okay, Iíll admit it, I love Demolition Man. Itís a cheese-a-riffic early Ď90s classic that I canít get enough of, Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone going at it with a manic glee that always seems to make me smile. On top of that, itís got the best Taco Bell gag in all of cinematic history, a gag that scarily enough is starting to feel eerily prescient. Of the rest of these releases, the only true disaster is 1994ís The Specialist, and the less we say about that one the better. As for 1986ís Cobra (not good, but not without itís so-bad-they-re-awesome moments) and 1995ís Assassins (filmed in Seattle, and actually in a way where the city looks more or less like the one I actually live in) I donít have a ton to say. If you like them, youíll want to buy them; if you donít, youíre probably wondering why Iím even bothering mentioning them in the first place.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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∑ Agent 8 3/4
∑ Armed and Dangerous
∑ The Bang Bang Club
∑ Breaking Glass
∑ Campbell's Kingdom
∑ David Holzman's Diary: Special Edition
∑ Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
∑ Muppets from Space
∑ The Muppets Take Manhattan
∑ Outcasts: Season One
∑ The Tenant (2011)
∑ Thatís What I Am
∑ Two Can Play that Game
Very cute, if slightly overlong, Academy Award Best Animated Short nominee The Gruffalo gets a stand alone DVD release and with a price point so low itís hard for me not to recommend that families with young children should pick it up. The story of a mouse who makes up stories about a gigantic mythical beast known as ĎThe Gruffaloí to keep predators at bay only to learn that some tall tales can come back to bite you in the butt, this charming short is difficult to dislike. Lovingly animated, featuring an all-star voice cast including Helena Bonham Carter, James Corden, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Robbie Coltrane, this a charming effort sure to keep young and old alike blissfully entertained.
Queen to Play
Charming French import with Kevin Kline and Sandrine Bonnaire telling the story of a shy chambermaid brought out of her shell by an American expatriate who teacher her the dynamics of chess. Sublime, moving and very, very witty, this utterly divine romantic drama mixes smarts, sophistication and comedy together in a way that is universally enchanting, and even for those who donít know a single thing about the game of chess this is one of those euphoric, almost angelic, winners that speaks right to the very soul of all who take the time to watch it.
The Best and the Brightest
The Best and the Brightest follows a fresh-faced couple, Jeff (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother) and Samantha (Bonnie Somerville, The Ugly Truth), and the lengths they must go to in order to get their daughter into a New York City private kindergarten. An oddball consultant, Sue Lemon (Amy Sedaris, Strangers with Candy), gets them an interview, but it s based on a lie: that Jeff is a renowned poet, instead of the humdrum computer programmer he is in real life. Keeping this ridiculous lie aloft proves more and more difficult, as Jeff is forced to play the role of a raunchy sexting poet for the entire school board. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
He is called 'The Wolf', a spike-jawed serial killer responsible for the 'Red Riding Hood' murders of 15 young girls. Arrested by Detectives Elliott Carbon (John Rhys-Davies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Johnny Morgan (writer/director Andrew Cymek), he has been declared criminally insane and sentenced to the sanitarium of Dr. Parker (William B. Davis of 'The X-Files). But now a massive power failure at the maximum-security facility has unlocked the cell doors and trapped Parker, Johnny and the hospital staff inside. Tonight, the inmates -- psychopaths, cannibals and The Wolf himself -- are running the asylum...and they are all hungry for vengeance. Mercedes McNab (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hatchet), Brigitte Kingsley (Dark Rising) and WWE superstars Jason ĎChristianí Reso and Andrew ĎTestí Martin co-star in this grisly shocker that serves up horror Medium Raw. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
A carefree summer vacation turns into an inescapable terror trap for a group of young students who buy a vintage instant camera from a mysterious local shop owner (Armand Assante, Soulís Midnight), only to discover that every photo taken with the camera leads to the subjectís death--in grisly ways linked to the picture itself. Unless they can unravel the bloody mystery before their dwindling group is wiped out completely by this supernatural, unstoppable force, the kids will be posing for their final snap-shot! (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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∑ Batman: Brave & The Bold - Season Two Part One
∑ The Grace Card
∑ Horatio Hornblower: Further Adventures
∑ Paranormal State: Season 5
∑ Spin City: Season Five
∑ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Season 9
∑ Thomas Hardy Collection
∑ Vanity Fair (1999)