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

Franco Nero is Space Jesus in THE VISITOR

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Visitor John Huston and Jesus Christ (Franco Nero) are in a never-ending war with Satan, and their latest battleground is Atlanta, GA, where the soul of a child holds the key to saving the universe. Probably. Lance Henriksen, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, and Sam Peckinpah join in the fun as Huston struggles to stop the girl’s descent into evil and tendency towards causing bodily harm. It’s hardly news to say that this thirty four year old movie is a mental fingerbang that bends genres and somehow teases both brilliance and stupidity, but I’m saying it anyway. Both highly derivative and wholly original, the film cherry picks elements from The Omen, The Fury, Phantasm, and more, and then swirls them together in a psychedelic mélange of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and pure nuttiness as it tells the story of good and evil battling over a young girl’s potty-mouthed soul. Drafthouse Films brings this gem to HD for the first time, and while the extras are unfortunately scarce the film alone is enough to warrant a purchase. Read my full review. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailer, booklet]

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Jared Leto in Mr Nobody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Mr. Nobody Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is 118 years old and on his death bed. He’s the last human doomed to die in a world where mankind has achieved a level of immortality and no longer faces an expiration date. Before he passes on, Nemo gives an interview to share the story of his life, but the tale he tales is an impossible one featuring multiple outcomes and events that simply couldn’t all be true. Or could they? This gorgeously shot and endlessly fascinating film is actually from 2009 and only now getting a release here in the U.S. for reasons unknown. It’s far from a traditional film, but if you like science fiction that explores humanity in surprising ways then you owe it to yourself to seek this one out. Leto does some incredible work here as a man shifting in and out of multiple threads of his own life, moving between different loves and events, and the supporting cast (Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh-dan Pham) is equally strong. This Blu also includes both the R-rated cut and the extended international cut that runs an additional 16 minutes. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette, trailer]

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discs got3

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season The naval assault against the Lannisters has failed, and that little prick Joffrey remains atop the throne. Elsewhere, Daenerys is gathering an army to join her and her trio of dragons, Robb Stark is working to mend fences and create allies, and the White Walkers are continuing their ridiculously slow journey towards civilization. I’ve never read the novels, and I can’t imagine doing so without photos so I can recognize who’s who in the enormous list of characters, but this is some wonderfully dense and entertaining television. Season three continues to follow numerous story threads and characters, and while some are more engaging than others there’s not a single dud among them. The production value remains high resulting not only in strong performances but also in brilliant production design and cinematography. And if you haven’t watched the ninth episode of this season yet… oh my. Enjoy. Beyond the actual quality of the series, HBO proves once again that they care about the packaging and special features more than any other network. The Blu-ray case, complete with slipcase, is once again a gorgeous and highly practical creation. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries, deleted scenes]

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header discs all is lost

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. All Is Lost Robert Redford stars as a man sailing solo who encounters trouble out at sea. He awakens to the impact of his sailboat colliding with a derelict shipping container and quickly sets about trying to fix the damage before catastrophe occurs. His experience grows increasingly precarious, and soon he’s fighting against nature and circumstance for his very life. Writer/director J.C. Chandor‘s follow-up to the excellent Wall Street drama Margin Call is even more engaging, but it accomplishes the feat through an opposite degree of dialogue. While that film was filled with fast-talk and lots of it, Redford’s character is the only one onscreen here leaving him no one to talk to but himself. (Sure, that didn’t stop Sandra Bullock from being a lonely chatterbox in Gravity, but this is a smarter movie.) The drama and suspense build naturally here as we work alongside the sailor in his efforts, and the script treats viewers as intelligent enough to follow along without needing every detail spelled out. This is a beautiful film about strength, resiliency, and the will to survive. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

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discs cutie and the boxer

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Cutie and the Boxer Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko have been together for 45 years, but it hasn’t been the easiest of roads. He was a 41 year old art sensation in NYC when the 19-year-old art student met and fell in love with him, and while the time since has seen them struggle and live the life of starving artists, he has always remained at the top of the relationship. This doc looks at the couple, their love and art, and the sacrifices that are sometimes necessary in pursuit of your dreams. Zachary Heinzerling‘s intimate documentary began life focused on Ushio’s life and art, but somewhere along the line, Noriko’s story, both of her art and of her love for her husband, took over the narrative. The result is not only a fascinating look at two artists’ lives but also an incredibly honest exploration of the cost of love, creativity, and persistence. Ushio is a real character, but Noriko is a real person. I’m now in love with a 64-year-old Japanese woman. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

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RUSH

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Rush Formula 1 racing reached its most exciting and dangerous time in the ’60s and ’70s, and for a time the sport’s biggest stars were James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The two men approached racing from completely different perspectives, with one in it for the fun and celebrity while the other appreciated its meticulous nature and the allure of being the actual best. Ron Howard hasn’t made a compelling film in well over a decade, and the last one that fully entertained was 1996’s Ransom. So yes, I’m more than a little surprised that his period piece about a sport that means nothing to me is a film that enthralls from the first scene and never lets up its grip. The acting and details are strong throughout, with Brühl in particular delivering the dramatic goods, but the racing drama is equally exciting. It’s a damn fine film, and it shows that Howard isn’t out of the picture just yet. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]

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Tom Hanks

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Captain Phillips Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) knows his job captaining freighters through dangerous waters is a risky endeavor, but the pay is well worth the very slight possibility of pirates. At least it was before pirates board and take control of the ship. From that point on Phillips finds himself struggling to keep himself and the crew alive. Director Paul Greengrass‘ latest film is based on a true story, but even if you know the outcome it remains a suspenseful and exciting adventure. Acting is strong across the board (and on-board), but the highlight is Hanks delivering the most authentic and affecting five minutes of the past several years. You’ll know it when you see it, and your eyes will wet themselves. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of]

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discs header short term 12

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Short Term 12 Grace (Brie Larson) works at a home for troubled teens, but while she’s fantastic at her job, her empathy for the kids sees her bringing home their pains far too often. Her boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.) works there too and hopes the two of them can grow as a couple, but he knows her past has led to too much of her heart being cordoned off for the kids. Their situation grows even more untenable when a new girl arrives at the facility. Writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton‘s film is a small wonder. It’s essentially a character piece, a glimpse into the life and love of one woman and the people around her, but it’s crafted and performed so effortlessly that it feels like emotionally rich time spent laughing and crying with friends. There’s a slight misstep in the third act where the film loses sight of its characters in deference to a more conventional narrative, but it’s a minor trespass. Check out Allison’s full review here. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, behind the scenes, featurettes, original short film]

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discs the act of killing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Act of Killing Indonesia, like many countries, has a dark and bloody past filled with brutal death squads and mass killings. The difference is that unlike those others the people of Indonesia continue to celebrate the murderers, and many of those killers still walk the streets as heroes of a cruel and sadistic history. This documentary puts us in the killers’ midst as they tell their story using the medium they love so much, film. Joshua Oppenheimer‘s film is an absolute marvel both in what it sets out to do and in what it accomplishes. The “characters” here are madmen in charge of their own fates and world, and the view they have of their shared history is more disturbing than any horror film. The only thing more terrifying than hearing them talk about what they’ve done and how they feel about it now is watching their efforts to recreate it all in front of the camera. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and director’s cuts, interview, commentary with Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog, featurette, deleted scenes, trailers, booklet]

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discs header himalaya

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Himalaya A remote Nepalese village suffers a loss when their leader dies on a trek, but as the time approaches for another salt delivery two men struggle for the top position. Tinle is old but has led before, while Karma is younger, brasher, and insistent that the gods play no role in their lives. They both head out on competing treks, but only one can take control of the community. This French film from the late ’90s is a gorgeously-photographed look at a people and a region seldom scene in today’s world. “Today” is a tricky word though in regard to this film in that the movie could take place in 1999 or 1919 or anytime in between. Far from old-fashioned, it shows rivals battling for respect alongside the clash between new and old beliefs, and it reaches some wise conclusions. And again, it’s beautiful to look at too. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, trailer]

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discs more than honey

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. More Than Honey We’ve all heard the stories. Bees are disappearing, en masse, all around the world, and no one seems to know why. The theories are endless and include everything from global warming, pollution, pesticides, mites, and more. This doc from director Markus Imhoof looks at the issue strictly from the angle of humans whose livelihoods depend on the bees’ honey. As is the expected norm with nature documentaries, this one features some gorgeous photography of the bees in action both in the air and in their honeycomb homes. It’s also fairly informative, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit more information when it comes to the various beekeepers’ behaviors. Why, for example, in a documentary about the mystery of disappearing movies does one old Swede decapitate his queen bee with his thumbnail? Still, exploring the domestication of bees is an engaging path to the filmmaker’s theory as to why they’re all flying away with little more than a “So long and thanks for all the fish!” [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview with director, deleted scenes, making of, image gallery]

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discs toad road

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Toad Road James (James Davidson) is a slacker, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning he sits around all day doing nothing. Instead, he sits around all day smoking, popping, and snorting anything he and his friends can get their hands on, but that starts to change when he meets the new girl, Sara (Sara Anne Jones). She’s new to the drug scene, he introduces her, and she gets hooked just as he wants out. He agrees to one last trip with her. Shrooms in hand, the two head out to the legendary Toad Road to investigate rumors of the seven gates of hell. It goes according to plan until he wakes up to discover she’s disappeared. Writer/director Jason Banker’s debut feature is low budget, raw, messy, unsure of itself, and yet oddly mesmerizing. The “horror” element introduced via the title feels almost like an afterthought added to make the film more marketable, but the core of the film works as a frequently intense and often painful look at the obvious and not so obvious struggles that come with drug addiction. The doomed love story adds to the film’s tragic allure, but the real life fate of Miss Jones sadly cements it. [DVD extras: Commentary with writer/director Jason Banker and friends, deleted scenes, featurettes, booklet]

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discs death house

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Silent Night, Bloody Night Jeffrey Butler has arrived in the small town his family called home to check out the house he’s inherited, but someone else has gotten there first! That someone is Butler’s lawyer, who’s arrived to finalize a deal and maybe squeeze in some infidelity with his sexy squeeze in an upstairs bedroom, but his coitus is interrupted by the discovery that someone else has gotten there first! That someone has an ax. This low budget slasher premiered in the early ’70s, and while CodeRed apparently released a restored version as a double feature a couple months ago this new DVD from Film Chest is my first glimpse of the movie. It suffers from low budget woes, some serious ones at times, but if you can get past them you’ll find a fresh little tale that offers some genuinely creepy scenes alongside an interesting script. Again, it’s cheap as hell, but there’s a lot to love here for horror fans. [DVD extras: None]

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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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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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