New DVD Releases

This Week In DVDRemember rushing to your neighborhood Blockbuster every Tuesday to browse the New Release aisles? Remember Blockbuster? Well thanks to the magic of the interwebs you can now browse new titles from home! Each Tuesday, Rob Hunter takes a look at the week’s new DVDs and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which ones are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these aren’t mandates people… they’re just suggestions. But feel free to tell him how wrong he his in the comments section anyway.

Updated Every: Tuesday

discs drinking buddies

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Drinking Buddies Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are friends and co-workers at a beer brewery, and both are in relationships. She’s dating Chris (Ron Livingston), and he’s engaged to Jill (Anna Kendrick), but when the four get together for a weekend at Chris’ cabin some lines are crossed in the realm of love and fidelity. Ignore the marketing as it’s selling something (a romantic comedy) that this film is most definitely not. Director Joe Swanberg keeps the improv method used in his past “mumblecore” films, but it still manages to tell a cohesive and truly affecting story. A big reason for that is a cast of extremely talented actors with wicked good comedic timing in the lead roles. The four performers, along with a more assured Swanberg directing and editing, have crafted a story about heartbreak, temptation, and friendship. While they’re all fantastic, this is Wilde’s show, and she absolutely crushes it with a character that will leave you frustrated, aroused, entertained, and engaged in nearly equal measure. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, interviews, featurettes, commentary, trailer]

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discs streets of fire

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Streets of Fire (UK) Welcome to another time, another place, and a world where rock ‘n’ roll meets the American Western alongside an infusion of rockabilly gangsters and neon living. Pop icon Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) has been kidnapped by the leader of the Bombers, Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe). Her only hope is an ex-boyfriend turned mercenary, Tom Cody (Michael Paré). While wrapped in peculiar details, this oddball action/drama/musical is actually a pretty straightforward tale plot-wise, and it’s those details that make it stand apart. Well, the details, the cast, and the songs. The lead trio is joined by Rick Moranis, Bill Paxton, Amy Madigan, and other recognizable faces, and the songs are catchy as all hell. The UK’s Second Sight is releasing this Walter Hill cult classic to Blu-ray for the first time, and while I can’t personally vouch for the disc’s picture and sound, the label has a strong track record and the inclusion of a new, 80-minute documentary on the film is an incredibly intriguing extra. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary, press kit, music videos] *This is a region-B release and requires an all-region player to be played in the US.*

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discs the worlds end

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The World’s End Twenty years ago five friends attempted an epic pub crawl, but their effort fell apart before reaching the final bar, The World’s End. Now the group is reluctantly back together again to try and rewrite history, but the past is an ever-growing obstacle thanks in large part to how much remains unchanged in their old stomping grounds of New Haven. Things get worse though when they realize why exactly that is. Edgar Wright‘s final entry in his thematic Cornetto trilogy found a divisive reception from fans of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, but in many ways it’s the best of the three. It’s incredibly funny, highly energetic, and perfectly cast (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Pierce Brosnan, and Rosamund Pike to name a few), but it stands out for two other reasons too. First, the film’s structure and execution are incredibly deep and detailed to the point that multiple viewings continue to reveal new connections. Second, and most surprisingly, it has the best fight scene of any film this year. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, storyboard, trivia, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes]

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discs header i declare war

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. I Declare War A group of pre-teen boys (and one girl), some friends and some not, gather for a game of war in the back woods. Using sticks, a simple set of rules, and their endless imagination, the battle grows to include M-16s, grenades, bazookas, and more, but while all of those are allowed things soon take a dark turn. Jealousy and insecurity fuel one boy’s rage to the point where the war stops being a game. This Canadian import starts off like the perfect encapsulation of a day in the life of a twelve year old boy with its mix of physical activity and imagination-fueled violence. It becomes something more though as one of the boys begins to crack, and some of the kids enter a Lord of the Flies-like scenario built on fear and peer pressure. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, particularly with some of the child actors, but it never lets go of its sense of fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer]

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discs white house down

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. And for those of you still reading, how’d you like a chance to win a new Scream Factory Blu-ray of John Carpenter‘s Body Bags? Just leave us a comment below with the name of your favorite horror anthology and why you love it, and we’ll pick a winner on Friday 11/8. (U.S. addresses only!) White House Down John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol cop with aspirations towards the Secret Service, but while his application is rejected he gets a second shot when terrorists attack the White House with a nefarious goal in mind. Cale finds himself protecting the president (Jamie Foxx) while simultaneously trying to save his own daughter. All that and he still doesn’t get the job. Probably. You’ll have to watch. Director Roland Emmerich‘s film had the misfortune of following the near-identical Olympus Has Fallen into theaters, but while most folks will tell you you can only like one or the other I’m here to say I love them both. Olympus is the better action film, but while this one does just fine in that department its real strength is its energy and sheer entertainment value. The effects are shady, and I’m fairly certain there’s not a single scene in the film that was actually filmed outdoors, but Tatum and Foxx have fantastic chemistry that when combined with an absolutely ridiculous script will have you smiling […]

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discs bounty killer

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Bounty Killer The future! Corporations grew too powerful and went to war with each other with the real victims being the rest of society. A council was organized to issue bounties on the heads of CEOs responsible for the apocalypse, and Drifter (Matthew Marsden) and Mary Death (Christian Pitre) are two of the best bounty killers to answer the call. Throw in an army of Juggalo-like Gypsies, Gary Busey, and the female Terminator from Rise of the Machines (Kristanna Loken), and the two bounty killers are forced into a surprising fight for their own lives. This low budget, post-apocalyptic action/comedy packs more fun, creativity, and clear love for movies into its ninety minute run-time than far too many big Hollywood productions manage these days. Sure there’s overly excessive CGI abuse (some of the blood/explosions), but there’s also a lot of bloody practical effects, cleavage, and impressive action sequences. Even better, the damn thing is surprisingly funny too. Director Henry Saine and his co-writers deserve a shot at the big leagues. (But not before we get a sequel please.) [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, trailer]

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discs abominable dr phibes

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Vincent Price Collection Six of Vincent Price‘s horror pictures for AIP are collected here in HD including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit & the Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, Witchfinder General, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Scream Factory hits another one out of the park with this fantastically produced and packaged collection of films featuring Price in all his glory. All but the final film bear some connection to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, a couple of them being very tenuous connections at best, and three were directed by Roger Corman. The movies run the gamut from good (Palace) to great (Masque) to WTF (Phibes), and they all look better than they ever have thanks to new HD restorations and a bevy of extras. Price was always an interesting and underrated actor, and this set offers a glimpse at a fun and fascinating variety of performances. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introductions, commentaries, interviews, trailers, featurettes]

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discs see you tomorrow everybody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. See You Tomorrow Everyone (UK) Satoru Watarai (Gaku Hamada) graduates from primary school with only one certainty. He plans on never leaving the “projects” where he lives. The gated community of apartment complexes also features stores, restaurants, recreation areas and more, and Satoru sees no reason to leave. As the years pass by he watches as his friends move away, he loses the love of his life, and he begins to question his physical inability to set foot outside the projects. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura is no stranger to ridiculously good cinema, and anyone who’s seen Fish Story, Golden Slumber, or A Boy & His Samurai knows that he mixes entertainment and emotion in wonderfully rare ways. His latest lacks a fantastical element or song-related hook, and instead focuses on the presumably stunted life of one man affected by a singular traumatic moment. The first half plays like a loosely melancholy comedy before a shift sets in to up the emotional stakes dramatically, and the result is an incredibly affecting look at the intersection of fate and the life we make of our own will. [Region 2 DVD extras: Introduction, interview, trailer]

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disc much ado about nothing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Much Ado About Nothing Leonato’s (Clark Gregg) home is visited by fellow dignitary Don Pedro and his two immediate officers, Benedick (Alexis Desinof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). The latter falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero, while the former has a friction-filled and antagonistic past with the man’s niece Beatrice (Amy Acker). It’s not all foreplay and country matters, though, as Don Pedro’s manipulative brother, Don John (Sean Maher), is intent on disrupting political relations by destroying relationships. Let the romantic hijinx begin! William Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy comes to life yet again, and it’s the best screen incarnation yet. Joss Whedon can be hit or miss at times, but when he’s on the result can be pretty damn incredible. His first foray into the Bard’s realm falls into that category as Whedon retains the original dialogue while adding visual wit of his own. Add to that some perfectly nuanced performances and an attractive score, and you have a film that will leave you smiling for days. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, music video, commentaries]

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discs 100 bloody acres

Welcome back! This week the pitches come straight from the actual marketing for each release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of them sound just as ridiculous as the ones I make up every week. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. 100 Bloody Acres When the going gets tough the tough get grinding, and in the Morgan Brothers’ case what they’re grinding are human bodies. They’re not murderers per se as they rely almost exclusively on accident victims, but what else are small business owners to do when they discover that humans are the secret ingredient that makes their fertilizer more popular than ever? When Reg (Damon Herriman) passes three twenty-somethings on a back road and offers to give them a lift the trio learn the lengths he and his brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson) will go to secure the necessary ingredients to satisfy their customers. Writers/directors/probably brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes deliver an incredibly fun and bloody romp for their feature debut that manages to shake up character conventions in regard to the protagonist/antagonist distinctions. As familiar as the setup feels it’s actually Reg and Lindsay who become the most interesting characters here as the trio of potential victims drown in their own bickering. It’s a damn funny film, but that doesn’t mean they shy away from the red stuff. Just the opposite in fact leading to a bloody good time for all. (Except the folks who get ground up into fertilizer of course.) [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind […]

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discs prince of darkness carpenter

Welcome back to a slightly revamped version of This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Prince of Darkness Members of a college physics class take on an extra credit project after a local priest (Donald Pleasance) hips them to the presence of a strange, glowing container in the basement of an abandoned church. The students make some extraordinary discoveries including the fact that the goo inside may actually be a physical representation of Satan! Or something. John Carpenter‘s last great film was 1994’s In the Mouth of Madness, but seven years earlier he delivered this equally fun horror flick pitting several semi-familiar faces (including a Simon brother!) against a possessed mob of homeless people. One by one the grad students fall victim to the devil’s whims, and Carpenter embraces the silliness of it all while still managing to deliver some thrills including one of his best endings ever. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray offers a beautiful new transfer, and while the extras are slim it’s still a must own for genre fans. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews]

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discs day of the dead

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Day of the Dead The zombie apocalypse continues to ravage the Earth, and one of the last pockets of survivors makes their home in an abandoned missile silo. The group is divided unevenly between civilians and soldiers, but as the days pass and the undead keep coming, the tension among the living rises to dangerous levels. George Romero‘s Dead films currently number six, and while his most recent three are mostly forgettable, the original trilogy remains a classic both collectively and individually. And this is where I admit that I find Day to be the best of the bunch. Tom Savini‘s effects are the most gorily effective of the series, and while it lacks the previous films’ allegory and metaphor, it manages a self-contained story complete with good guys, bad guys, and entertaining set pieces. And hell, even John Harrison‘s score is fantastic. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray gives the film the treatment it deserves complete with original artwork, a new HD transfer, and a load of extras including a documentary almost as long as the movie itself. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary, commentaries, featurettes, galleries, trailer]

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discs death force and vampire hookers

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Drive-In Collection: Death Force / Vampire Hookers In Death Force, Doug Russell (James Iglehart) is a soldier on the way home to his wife and infant son, but when he runs afoul of two supposed friends he’s left for dead in the middle of the ocean. Luckily he washes up on an island beach where he’s found, nursed back to health, and trained in the way of the samurai by two Japanese soldiers unaware that their war (WWII) ended years prior. Vampire Hookers doesn’t really need a synopsis, does it? Vinegar Syndrome’s latest double feature of obscure drive-in favorites is one of the good ones thanks mostly to the first feature. At its core it’s a revenge flick, but the story touches and fight choreography make it a surprisingly good time. In its uncut incarnation, aka Vengeance Is Mine!, it does for decapitations and gut slashings what Olympus Has Fallen did for head shots. Better, the numerous fight scenes are actually pretty great. And best? The ending! Vampire Hookers meanwhile comes from the same director (Cirio H. Santiago) but is a completely different beast tone-wise. It’s a comedy through and through, complete with physical gags, bats on strings, and a very vampy John Carradine. The seven minute-long (but relatively tame) sex scene stands out though. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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discs stories we tell

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Stories We Tell Sarah Polley, best known for her work both in front of and behind the camera for feature films, turns her eye onto her own family in documentary form as she explores a part of their history from varying perspectives. Through interviews and home videos she goes back in time to explore her parents lives, her own childhood, and a secret they all think they know. What starts as a focus on a mystery becomes something more as stories, recollections, and memories differ from person to person. In a year filled with fantastic and powerful documentaries, Polley’s film remains the warmest and most wondrous thanks both to the content and the film’s structure. She’s on this journey with us, equally unsure of her own motivations and delighted by the results. It’s a personal story, even her family members wonder why anyone else would care, yet it speaks to a universal truth about how we share our stories and make them our own. Each person has their own tale as well as a piece of everyone else’s, and it’s amazing to see them play out onscreen. Plus, the stinger here puts Marvel films to shame. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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discs le tableau

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Painting A painting of a far away kingdom reveals glimpses of people, but unseen is a caste system separating the perfect Alldunns from their lessers, the incomplete Halfies and the ghostly Sketchies. The Alldunns look down on the others treating them as less than second class citizens, but a cross-caste romance threatens to upset the status quo. Three of them, one from each group, are forced on the run where they discover and pass through the edge of the painting. Only to find themselves in the painter’s shack among several other discarded creations. International animation doesn’t get a lot of play here in the States, but thanks to the GKids label a few gems have been making their way into our Blu-ray players. Their latest is a French film cut from the same cloth as Pleasantville in its aversion to subtlety and fantastic mix of beauty and entertainment. The parable tackles racism, xenophobia, and more including the existential quest for meaning and a creator. And the final line and shot are simply masterful. If it weren’t for the fact that it was actually released in 2011 it would easily be the best animated film of the year this year. [Blu-ray extras: Trailer, making of, slide show]

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discs floating city

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Floating City Bo Wah Chuen (Aaron Kwok) is a successful businessman in modern day Hong Kong, but his journey to the top is a trip through the city’s shifting history. Born with blue eyes and abandoned by his mother, Bo grows up with a strong work ethic and a desire to achieve more than his social status would allow. He eventually joins one of the biggest British companies in the colony and sets about making a name for himself while never forgetting the value of family and the concept of giving back. Director Yim Ho‘s film starts a bit slow as Bo’s early days as a child are explored, but once he grows into a young man (and Kwok appears on-screen) the film comes into focus as essentially the modern history of Hong Kong itself told on the intimate scale of one man’s life and family. We see the struggle of Chinese citizens dealing with their conquerors, but we also follow them out of British rule in 1997 to the destination city they inhabit now. There’s emotion and heart to be found here as family becomes the driving force, both on the personal level as well as the larger one, and it’s a valuable message complete with some gorgeous photography as well. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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discs header what maisie knew

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. What Maisie Knew Maisie (Onata Aprile) is stuck in an all too familiar place as her parents, Susanna (Julianne Moore) and Beale (Steve Coogan), fight their way through a bitter divorce and custody battle. She’s shuttled between the two, often left in the care of her mom’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard) or dad’s girlfriend (Joanna Vanderham), but when she does get time with her parents it’s too frequently as a prop or tool in their ongoing fight. The future does not look bright from Maisie’s knee-high perspective. There’s a beautiful simplicity in Scott McGehee and David Siegel‘s fifth feature that sneaks in unobtrusively between the bouts of yelling, laughter, small victories and near-constant disappointment, and the result is a movie that compels you to watch and root for the little girl at the center of a terrible situation well outside her control. Viewers are privy only to what Maisie knows, we never see what happens behind closed doors or in lawyers’ offices, and while this forced perspective could have easily turned into a gimmick, it instead feels perfectly natural and necessary here. Acting is fantastic across the board, with newcomer Aprile being a true standout, and you really shouldn’t let the fact that Rex Reed is quoted on both the front and back of the Blu/DVD turn you away from this amazing little movie. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary]

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discs strike back2

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Strike Back: The Complete Second Season Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) weren’t always best of friends, and while they still argue on occasion they’ve also learned that they can trust each other when the bullets start flying. Their latest adventure finds the duo along with their new commander (Rhona Mitra) running and gunning their way across Africa in search of stolen nuclear triggers. Technically the series’ third season, this is Cinemax’s second as the producing entity, and they continue to show why no one even talks about that initial UK season any more. They also continue to show that a TV show can actually best many a lesser action movie in nearly every aspect. The acting and cast here are solid, the cinematography is theater-worthy, and the action sequences are impossibly great for a television series. They also impress with their awareness of both weaponry and tactics that add to the feeling of legitimacy. Hell, Cinemax even ensures the show maintains their high (or low?) standards when it comes to T&A. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries]

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discs last will

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh Leon (Aaron Poole) has returned to his estranged mother’s (Vanessa Redgrave) home for the first time in years, but it’s her death that brought him back. Charged with going through her belongings before selling off the property he discovers that before she passed away his mother had developed an odd fascination with angels. The discoveries continue as strange events begin happening that lead him to believe his mother may be trying to communicate with him from beyond. Haunted house movies, both the good ones and the bad, usually share little more than a desire to entertain and scare, but the rare ones try to do a little more than that and make audiences feel or think as well. Writer/director Rodrigo Gudiño‘s debut feature belongs in that latter category as its creepy and atmospheric tale is accompanied by an examination of love, grief, and faith lost and found. There are scares here, but they’re subtle and disarming instead of loud and jump-worthy. If you enjoyed The Conjuring and you don’t have A.D.D. be sure to give this one a chance. [DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, short film]

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discs graceland

Welcome back to a slightly revamped version of This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Graceland Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes) is chauffeur to Manuel Chango (Menggie Cobarrubias), a salaciously corrupt politician in the Philippines who expects obedience and loyalty regardless of his actions. The two men have daughters the same age, and one day while Marlon drives the girls to school they’re stopped in an attempt to kidnap the politician’s daughter. Things go terribly awry, and the confused kidnappers take Marlon’s daughter instead having mistaken her for Chango’s child. Now Marlon’s only hope is for the politician to pay the ransom in the belief that his daughter is in peril, but maintaining the lie may lead to an even bigger tragedy. Writer/director Ron Morales‘ fast-moving and vicious little film is a fantastically economical thriller that wastes no time diving into a sleazy world where children are little more than a commodity and money beats morals nearly every time. It’s a dark and nasty world indeed, but one of the joys of the film is seeing Marlon act as well as we can expect given the situation. He never frustrates or annoys even as his self dug grave gets deeper and deeper. Read my full review here. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, booklet]

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