This Week in DVDLast week saw a bump in the road for our DVD column as festivals got in the way of DVD watching, but this week we’re back on track with a vengeance! Or something equally dramatic sounding.

But sadly, our triumphant return is greeted by a week with no DVD releases worth buying. There are a few worth adding to the ol’ Netflix queue or heading down to your local Redbox for though, including the latest Roger Corman double feature from Shout! Factory, the sequel to Alien you never knew existed, an indie comedy about a promiscuous Asian woman, and more.

How Do You Know

A young woman (Reese Witherspoon) finds herself in a romantic triangle with a sports star (Owen Wilson) and a businessman (Paul Rudd) on the brink of ruin. James L. Brooks’s latest film tanked at the box office this past winter, and while some folks pointed at the title’s lack of punctuation as the cause others pointed at the ridiculous budget of $100m+. In reality it simply didn’t connect with audiences, and while that’s too bad it still leaves the opportunity for people to discover it on DVD/Blu-ray. The three leads are all on top of their game here and give strong and fun performances built from Brooks’s witty and warm script. It’s no Broadcast News, but it does feature more laughs and romance than most rom-coms manage these days.

No DVD purchases this week!

But if you simply have to buy something you can do far worse than the new 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition of the still excellent Stand By Me.

Alien 2 On Earth

Pitch: If you thought HR Giger’s alien creations were terrifying just wait until you see these breathing rocks…

Why Rent? This unofficial Italian sequel (?) to Ridley Scott’s Alien sees a space mission return to Earth with something else on board! I think. It’s difficult to say as we see stock footage of a space capsule landing and then jump to some folks spelunking. There’s also no alien per se as the creatures here are a mix of pet rocks and flying worms. The gore is fun, and any movie that shows a kid with her face ripped off is aces in my book, but there just isn’t enough of the wet stuff to make this a keeper. If you’re still not sold on a rental, maybe the original trailer will do the trick.

Jackson County Jail/Caged Heat (Roger Corman’s Cult Classics)

Pitch: Looks like we’ll have to keep waiting for that women in prison flick starring Tommy Lee Jones as the warden…

Why Rent? Shout! Factory’s never-ending wave of Roger Corman titles continues with this double feature of Southern hospitality and women in prison hi-jinx. First up is an early Tommy Lee Jones romp that sees him paired with a beautiful gal from the big city who gets abused by some small town coppers before the two of take off on a wild, car-wreckin chase. Next is Jonathan Demme’s contribution to the chicks behind bars genre. Neither film is a classic, but their both worth a watch for Corman fans.

The People I’ve Slept With

Pitch: Robert Fure has a similar film about his own sexual exploits. Of course, it’s a short film…

Why Rent? A young Asian woman isn’t shy about her love of sex, but when she discovers she’s pregnant her quest to find the father becomes all-consuming. Karin Anna Cheung is funny, sexy, and sweet as the woman whose life has just taken an abrupt left turn, and Wilson Cruz is great fun as her best friend. Sweet, sexy, and funny actually describes the movie as well, and it deserves credit not only for casting an Asian lead but also for not forcing her to apologize or back down from her interests.

The Perfume Of the Lady In Black

Pitch: Eau de morte…

Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, and in fact it’s a title I’d never heard of before seeing the DVD announcement. I’m intrigued though as those who have seen it consider it a minor classic of Italian horror. A woman experiences a mental breakdown of sorts as memories from her childhood begin to resurface as tactile visions, and soon she begins to wonder if the strange events are real or all in her head. It’s apparently giallo meets paranoia thriller, Argento meets Polanski, and I for one look forward to checking it out soon.

The Tourist

Pitch: Imagine Johnny Depp wearing a fanny pack…

Why Rent? A case of mistaken identity brings an American schoolteacher (Johnny Depp) into a romantic adventure with a human bobblehead (Angelina Jolie). As I said in my full review, this tourist is on “little more than a beautiful but bland trip to Mediocreville.” It’s also skirting the borderline between Rent and Avoid in more than just physical placement on this page. The movie is a major disappointment for the talent involved, but Depp gives an interesting and loose performance and the scenery is often quite breathtaking. If neither of those are reasons enough to check it out then I’d definitely recommend you skip it all together.

Vanquisher

Pitch: Who knew the dirty little secret of the war on terror is that the US government is framing the Muslims? This sword-wielding, ponytail-swinging hottie does, that’s who…

Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but I’m a sucker for sexy Asian ladies who kick ass. This Thai action movie follows an elite task force working in cahoots with the CIA… until the evil Americans double-cross them in an effort to make Muslim terrorists look like the bad guys! I say effort, but really, I have to assume the Muslim extremists do all the heavy lifting. The action here consists of gunplay, swordplay, and sweat-glistened cleavageplay, but judging by the trailer these pros risk being outweighed by bad CGI and worse acting.

Dark Fields

Pitch: This is why you don’t live in a town called Perseverance…

Why Avoid? Three generations in a small town succumb to sacrifice in an effort to end a deadly drought. A couple cool effects aside this is a chore to sit through. It uses Shirley Jackson’s classic tale as a jumping off point, but then meanders its way through three connected narratives with the speed of a dead possum. There’s no urgency to be found and very little fresh added to Jackson’s original “lottery” concept aside from an angry Native American or two.

Skyline

Pitch: If these aliens are so smart why are they looking for brains in Los Angeles…

Why Avoid? Aliens invade Los Angeles! Again! This quickie invasion pic from the Brothers Strause is a tech demo reel and nothing more. The characters are unlikable and act/speak stupidly, the plot is small in size yet still left unfinished by the time the credits roll, and the best parts of the admittedly cool effects were in the multiple trailers. By the time the District 9 inspired ending arrives you’ll wish the movie had either ended thirty minutes prior or that it would take an extra half hour to continue with the first and only interesting plot development in the entire film. But it does neither, and instead ends at the first sign of something interesting.

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:

Adventures Of a Teenage Dragonslayer
Anywhere USA
Devolved
Firebreather
Meskada
Yogi Bear

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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