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 robot chicken dc

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken crew set their sites on the world of DC Comics with this special episode, and the results are predictably quite funny. The usual voice talent culprits are along for the fun including show co-creator Seth Green and Breckin Meyer, and they’re joined by the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Megan Fox, Nathan Fillion and others. Aquaman is an easy and obvious target, but the episode finds some fresh angles on his well justified inferiority complex. If there’s a downside it’s that the show is done in conjunction with DC Comics meaning that they can’t be as mean as they may want to be, but there are still plenty of inappropriate actions and dialogue exchanges within. The episode itself is only 22 minutes long, but the Blu-ray is filled with special features to keep the funny coming for a couple extra hours. [Blu-ray extras: Outtakes, Q&A, commentary, featurette, making of, deleted animatics]

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discs wb 20 comedy

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Best of WB: 20 Film Collection – Comedy A Night at the Opera, Stage Door, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Long Long Trailer, The Great Race, Blazing Saddles, The In-Laws, Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Risky Business, The Goonies, Spies Like Us, Beetlejuice, Grumpy Old Men, Ace Venture: Pet Detective, Analyze This, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover Warner Bros. has been releasing various box sets to celebrate various anniversaries, genres and talents (including musicals, gangsters and Clint Eastwood), and as is often the case with collections there’s inevitably a mix of good and bad. Their comedy collection manages a coup of sorts though by featuring almost nothing but fantastically funny films. (Sorry Analyze This.) The discs are in sleeved pages along with brief info on each movie, and each of the films include whatever extras previous releases had. [DVD extras: Multiple extra features]

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discs hansel gretel get baked

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Hansel & Gretel Get Baked Gretel (Molly Quinn) and her boyfriend have a case of the munchies and decide to bake some treats, but knowing they’ll have to wait for the goodies to be done they decide he should head out for more weed. He decides to seek out the city’s newest strain, “Black Forest,” and goes straight to the source… a little old lady (Lara Flynn Boyle) with a green thumb and witchy tendencies. When he disappears it’s up to Gretel and her brother Hansel to get to the bottom of this nasty little fairy tale. Low expectations can never really hurt a movie (unless they cause you not to see it in the first place), but they still can’t be solely credited with my enjoyment of this horror comedy. Some of the jokes are predictably bad (cops at a donut shop!) but several more land successfully and earn real laughs. Even better, there’s actually some truly fun gore effects to be found here too. Bottom line, this isn’t destined to become your new favorite, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more entertaining Hansel & Gretel movie this year. Take that, Hawkeye. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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discs rectify header

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Rectify Daniel Holden (Aden Young) is released from prison after serving 19 years on death row for the rape and murder of a teenage girl, but his return home opens up a world of troubled complications for everyone involved. The small, Southern community is divided on the issue of his innocence as the DNA evidence seems at odds with his own confession, and those doubts are just some of the issues he now faces. Character actor Ray McKinnon moves behind the camera here as the show’s creator, and the result is easily one of the year’s finest and most affecting shows. The story shares some thematic similarities to the brilliant Boy A, but it quickly finds its own rhythms and strengths thanks to a smart ensemble filled with heartbreaking performances and characters. It’s not needed, but the show also features some suspense and mystery surrounding Daniel’s possible guilt. It’s a short season at only six episodes, but happily Sundance Channel has ordered an additional ten for season two. [DVD extras: Featurettes]

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discs house of cards1

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. House of Cards: The Complete First Season Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is as ambitious as they come, but his drive to succeed includes more than simply doing the best job for the American people that he can. Instead he uses every opportunity to manipulate those around him towards outcomes favorable to his career. His wife (Robin Wright) shares a similar trait in her dealings. Together and separately the pair use their influence to shape their world, and while many other people are swept into their narrative only one will meet a tragic fate. Netflix officially entered the TV production game with this 13 episode redo of the classic UK series, and the result is a solidly entertaining, wonderfully acted look at our political animals at work. It has far less bite than its UK predecessor, and least in its first season, but the drama remains engaging. Creators David Fincher and Beau Willimon kept the original’s framework (albeit transplanted in time and space to modern day Washington D.C.), but they wisely chose not to mirror the characters instead leaving viewers with new creations and plenty of surprises. It’s a less salacious but smarter Boss for those of you familiar with Kelsey Grammer’s Starz series, and while Spacey and Wright rule the roost it boasts a spectacular supporting cast in Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Corey Stoll and others. [DVD […]

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discs its disaster

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. It’s a Disaster Four couples get together for their monthly brunch, but today’s gathering includes a few surprises. Tracy (Julia Stiles) has brought along a new boyfriend (David Cross), one of the couples is heading towards a separation, and a mysterious incident in the city has left them trapped in the house with little in the way of reliable information. A lack of certainty, loyalty and sanity quickly overcomes the group leading to even more trouble. Writer/director Todd Berger‘s ensemble comedy is easily the funniest disaster film in ages. Most of the cast are (fairly) fresh faces, but in addition to the two names above America Ferrera gets to show a decidedly different side of herself. It’s a simple film, essentially set in a single location, but sharp writing and a lively cast collectively imbued with fantastic comic timing make it a hilarious and energetic romp. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, behind the scenes, Comic Con panel, viral videos, trailer]

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discs lore

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Lore WWII has come to an end, and as the Allies work their way across Germany five orphaned children are forced out on a journey of their own. Raised by Hitler-loving parents, the kids, led by the teenage Hannalore (Saskia Rosendahl), find their beliefs a detriment as they struggle to survive an inhospitable landscape. Things grow even more complicated when a young Jewish man appears to come to their rescue. This beautifully scored and shot drama was Austria’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and it’s a winner on all counts (except for the actual Oscars of course where it failed to get nominated). Rosendahl does strong work as a teen coming of age under incredible circumstances. Director Cate Shortland‘s film tells a personal story, but it also offers insight into humanity as a whole. [Blu-ray extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette]

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discs murderer lives

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Murderer Lives at 21 (UK release) A murderer is stalking the streets of Paris, and his only calling card is a literal calling card bearing the name “Monsieur Durand.” The police are getting nowhere fast, but when a petty criminal offers evidence that the killer resides in a local boarding house a top detective goes in undercover to ferret the murderer out for arrest. Hilarity ensues. I’m not kidding about it being hilarious either. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot would go on to make Wages of Fear, Diabolique and others, but his debut film shows an assured hand with both the visual style and a fantastic tonal balance between the mystery and the laughs. The dialogue moves at a ’40s screwball comedy pace, and it’s loaded with wit, smarts and innuendo. Even more impressive is the film’s final shot… especially knowing it was shot during the Nazi occupation of France. [UK DVD extras: Interview]

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discs frontline

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Frontline: Raising Adam Lanza 2012′s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT is a tragedy that will hang in the public consciousness for years to come, and as is always the case with events like this the media and the public find themselves desperate for answers as to why and how it could have happened. PBS’ continually excellent program, Frontline, takes a look at the shooter and the sole constant in his life, his mother. The public perception of the shooter is limited to simple, catchy headlines, rumors and repeated claims of his interest in guns and videogames, but unlike the attention whores dominating the 24 hour news cycle, Frontline takes time to get to the truth of the matter. They touch upon his interests, but instead of laying blame they make a point of acknowledging that those same interests were shared by many other boys, too. The issue here is mental health and a mother in over her head, and while I’m not a fan of giving the killers additional publicity in the press (via their name) it’s worthwhile when paired with journalism done right. [DVD extras: None]

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disc 050713

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Telephone Book Alice is a young lady in the Big Apple whose libido is constantly on the lookout for the next arousing adventure, and she finds it when an obscene caller targets her for an erotic tongue-lashing. She becomes obsessed with finding the man behind the voice and sets out on a journey that brings her in contact with some truly eccentric characters and ultimately in touch with herself. This 1971 film was apparently thought lost for some time to the point that most people have probably never heard of it before. Vinegar Syndrome is still a very young label (this is only their seventh release), but they’ve more than proven their worth here by resurrecting it onto blu-ray. While described as an erotic cult classic I found the movie to actually be surprisingly funny too. Sarah Kennedy does her best “young Goldie Hawn” combining an adorable goofiness with a real sexiness, and the film as a whole is just the right kind of absurd. It’s a strange time-capsule back into the early seventies and manages to display a wit and intelligence unheard of in the softcore genre. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, trailers, still gallery]

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discs 043013

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Vampire Lovers A small town in the English countryside falls prey to the sensual whims of a vampiric lady, but her bosomy reign of terror approaches its end when a group of men set out for vengeance. Hammer Films’ adaptation of the literary classic “Carmilla” combines the old-school atmospheric horror they’re known for with some truly erotic happenings to great effect. Peter Cushing and Ingrid Pitt bring their own individual strengths in front of the camera while director Roy Ward Baker guides the film with his typically assured eye. It’s a slight story, but the film’s Blu-ray debut by way of Scream Factory looks better than it ever has. [Blu-ray extras: Featurette, commentary, interview]

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discs central park

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Central Park Five The term “crime of the century” is an overused one, and one of the more infamous examples of its application came in 1989 when a white, female jogger in NYC’s Central Park was sexually assaulted and left for dead. The culprits were identified as five black teens who were tried and convicted both in the courtroom and the court of public opinion. The boys were sentenced and served out their time, but they were relieved and the world were surprised in 2002 when the real culprit confessed. PBS golden boy Ken Burns co-directs this sad, shocking and infuriating doc that explores the case from the perspective of both the boys and the truth. Over eager police and prosecutors combined with a racially divided public led to a terrible miscarriage of justice. The film acknowledges that the blame lay equally with the authorities, the press and at times, the boys’ parents too. The NYC of more than twenty years ago seems almost unrecognizable to the city of today, but the facts speak for themselves. If only there had been someone to listen back in 1989. [DVD extras: Featurettes]

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discs going by

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Going by the Book When a new police chief arrives in the rural town of Sam-po, he decides his fastest way back to the city is to impress the locals and his higher-ups with something flashy and result-oriented. The town has seen a rash of bank robberies so he sets up a simulation involving his officers and the bank… one cop will play the role of robber, and the others will respond and arrest him. Unfortunately for him and his plans though he picks traffic cop Jung Do-man (Jung Jae-young) as the robber and orders him to do his best. And Jung’s best is apparently better than anything the police can throw at him. I like to think I’m pretty up on my Korean cinema, but this fantastic 2007 film has escaped my attention until now (so thanks to 5 Points Pictures for giving it a US release). This is a very funny movie with both situational comedy and some darker laughs including the best rape-related gag since Eric the Viking. Jung’s robbery turns into a standoff with police and manages all the ridiculousness of Dog Day Afternoon with only a fraction of the sweat and drama. You’d think that would lessen the suspense, but it doesn’t. The film also gets kudos as being the rare Korean movie to run under two hours. See it! [DVD extras: Making […]

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discs woochi demon slayer

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Woochi: The Demon Slayer Woochi is a wannabe wizard whose antics reveal him to be an egotistical, womanizing ass, but while he plays at being an all powerful magician his over confidence leads to a fight he can’t win. Evil creatures and competing wizards defeat him, frame him for murder and trap him in a picture, but he’s reluctantly released 500 years later when the creatures show up in modern day Seoul. He’s the city’s best hope, but he’s also pretty busy ogling the short-skirted women of today’s Korea.. This Korean blockbuster is a fun mix of martial arts action and laughs, and that’s exactly what should be expected from the writer/director of The Thieves and Tazza: The High Rollers. It runs a little long and some of the creature CGI leaves much to be desired, but it’s still a damn entertaining flick. The second half in particular is lots of fun. Shout! Factory has loaded the Blu with special features too. [Blu-ray extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurettes]

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discs john dies

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. John Dies at the End David and John are college dropouts with no direction in their lives, but thanks to some very special soy sauce (that isn’t really soy sauce) they’re also the only ones standing between our world and the monstrous denizens of another dimension. You don’t need to know any more plot synopsis than that. (Especially since you already know how it ends…) The only bad thing about this release is the cover art. Director Don Coscarelli has always had a comedic side, but it’s only over his last few films that he’s really brought it to the forefront of his work. His latest finds the sweet spot that manages to be both very funny and incredibly creative on the horror side. Seriously, there is some crazy stuff here. Rush out and buy this one so Coscarelli can get moving on adapting David Wong’s sequel, “This Book Is Full Of Spiders.” Granted, he’ll probably have to change the title. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, making of, featurettes]

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discs natalie portman

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Beautiful Girls Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) has returned home for his high school reunion at a very confused time in his life. His long time girlfriend (Annabeth Gish) joins him on the trip as he visits with friends, strikes up a purely platonic relationship with a 15-year-old neighbor girl (Natalie Portman) and decides if he’s ready to settle down and get married. The late Ted Demme has a few fine films to his name including The Ref and Blow, but this sweet, honest and funny movie remains his high point. Portman’s perfect encapsulation of the untouchable teen is fantastic in every regard, but to be fair her storyline is only a small part of the whole. Willie’s friends (Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, Max Perlich, Michael Rapaport, Rosie O’Donnell and more) run the gamut of emotional stages as some are satisfied with their lives and others are not, but all of them feel authentic. The story threads fold together so effortlessly, the performances feel so real and the Blu-ray debut is long overdue. Also, Natalie Portman. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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discs big picture

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Big Picture Paul (Romain Duris) is a successful lawyer with a wife and two beautiful kids, but something is amiss in his marriage. He envies his neighbor Greg’s casual freedoms, but when he discovers his wife has been loving Greg in some far more physical ways, a conversation between the two men leads to an incident that sends Paul running for his life. This French thriller is based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy, and as they did with Harlan Coben’s Tell No One, the result is a far more literate thriller than we would probably get from Hollywood. Duris is a fantastic actor, and he invests Paul with passion and emotional intensity as his mistake leads to a life he’s always wanted but was afraid to attempt. The supporting performances are equally solid including a brief turn by Catherine Deneuve. [Blu-ray extras: Trailer]

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discs this must be the place

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! Sure it’s a few days late, but it’s still technically the same week… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. This Must Be the Place Cheyenne (Sean Penn) was a rock star many years ago, but these days he lives a quiet life in a big house with a wife (Frances McDormand), two dogs and an empty swimming pool. He’s a bit slow in his mobility and speech, and his appearance is still modeled on The Cure’s Robert Smith. When his father falls ill Cheyenne heads to NYC to reconcile with the old man, but instead he finds himself on a quest for revenge against a Nazi. Obviously. Paolo Sorrentino‘s film is more than a little odd. Between Penn’s performance and the script’s insistence on couching a traditional narrative in strange, character-filled trappings it’s guaranteed to turn off many viewers, and I really wouldn’t blame them walking away. But I found the story’s take on the need for (and power of) forgiveness a compelling reason to watch, and Penn’s performance may have taken a bit to grow on me but it eventually added to the film’s charm. It’s damn funny at times and lands an emotionally satisfying ending too, but be warned… most of you will apparently hate it. It’s the new I Melt With You in that regard. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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discs intouchables

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Intouchables Philippe (François Cluzet) is a wealthy quadriplegic in need of a full-time caretaker. The list of applicants is long, but it’s a lower class Senegalese immigrant named Driss (Omar Sy) who gets the job because Phillipe wants someone who won’t look at him with pity. The relationship is bumpy at first, but the pair become fast friends through mutual respect and a shared sense of humor. Writer/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano based their film on a true story, and while the subject of Philippe’s reality could very easily have made for a sappy melodrama, they wisely avoided that route. Instead the movie finds real humor and compassion in the developing friendship and the effect it has on these two lives. The script is surprisingly funny and never maudlin, and both leads show spectacular chemistry and personality. [DVD extras: None]

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discs simple life

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. A Simple Life Roger (Andy Lau) is a movie producer who returns home to find that the woman (Deanie Ip) who worked as his family’s maid since he was a child has suffered a stroke. He decides to set aside his affairs and focus on helping her, but as he struggles to manage the role of caregiver she finds it difficult to be the one being cared for. Lau is an international star known more for action films and rom-coms, but he does a fantastic job with the drama here. The real draw though is Ip who manages to deliver a character earns our respect, makes us laugh and breaks our hearts in equal measure. It’s an incredibly sweet film about finding the best in each other and ourselves, and it wisely avoids melodrama in exchange for more time spent developing characters and warm exchanges. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
A

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