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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves competing against the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company with his own paper company called Disemboweled Trees Inc. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs.  So join us each week as he takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs.

Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD.  And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week In Blu-ray column for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!

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dvd-bedknobsandbroomsticksBedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition

Pitch: A sexy (relatively speaking) Angela Lansbury shows how she polishes bedknobs and broomsticks.

Why Buy? Alternate WWII history, Walt Disney style… Sure, this is no Mary Poppins, but it’s still a good example of Disney’s golden age skills at mixing live action, animation, and music. Lots and lots of music… but that’s okay. Pop it in if you have little ones running around, and they’ll soon be mesmerized by the colors, dance numbers, and magical shenanigans.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurettes

dvd-homicidecriterionHomicide (Criterion)

Pitch: Two Jews walk into a grocery store. One gets shot dead. The other controls all of the world’s banks.

Why Buy? Bobby Gold (Fat Tony) is a Jewish detective assigned to a seemingly simple murder case that will question and envelope his friends and his heritage… This isn’t my favorite David Mamet-directed film (that would be House of Games), but it’s still a great one. A simple detective story grows beyond the genre to become something bigger and more powerful.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, gag reel, featurette

dvd-theofficeseason5The Office: Season Five

Pitch: Five seasons in and Dunder-Mifflin is still the only office I’d ever want to hire me.

Why Buy? Surely you’ve seen The Office by now, but if you haven’t then you should probably start with the first season. Work your way up through all five and you’ll see one of the most consistently funny comedies in years.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, commentaries, gag reel, featurettes

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dvd-battleofthewarriorsBattle of the Warriors

Pitch: Have fun storming the castle!

Why Rent? A historical epic of Chinese warfare follows efforts to assault a well defended fortress… Originally titled Battle of Wits, but the Weinsteins apparently thought it needed more oomph. The original is actually more accurate though as the battles, well done as they are, take a backseat to the planning and strategy. Plus, megastar Andy Lau is in it!

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurette

dvd-fringeseasononeFringe: The Complete First Season

Pitch: The real Pacey Witter wouldn’t be so hesitant to get involved in mysteries and intrigue…

Why Rent? A sharp increase in mysterious and paranormal activity around the world doesn’t bode well for society, so an FBI agent teams up with a deranged scientist and his disgruntled son to stop it… I’m not entirely sold on this show as a whole, and I don’t find the main story arc all that engaging, but in a world without the X-Files it’s a fairly decent substitute.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes

dvd-harpersislandHarper’s Island: The DVD Edition

Pitch: Snap, crackle, pop, cancelled…

Why Rent? Friends descend on Harper’s Island for a wedding, but soon they all start lining up for their funerals… I didn’t catch this show when it aired on TV earlier this year, but apparently no one else did either. Robert Fure called it “something fresh” and he doesn’t just hand out compliments willy-nilly you know. It’s a pretty nifty thirteen-episode arc with some solid acting, writing, and kills. And no, I don’t know why this is called ‘The DVD Edition’ instead of simply ‘The Complete Series.’

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

dvd-thehumanconditioncriterionThe Human Condition (Criterion)

Pitch: Who’s up for (almost) ten hours of black & white post-war Japanese cinema?

Why Rent? Post-war Japan seen through the life of one man… I’d be lying if I said I watched this in one sitting (or two or three even). It’s a challenging and rewarding anti-war movie (well, three movies actually), but it’s length precludes me from suggesting it as a buy. Will you really want to watch it again anytime soon? Probably not, but I do recommend fans of epic and intimate character dramas give it a chance. Just be sure to set aside a few days…

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurettes

dvd-importantthingsseasononeImportant Things With Demetri Martin: Season One

Pitch: From Comedy Central to Ang Lee in one easy step.

Why Rent? Like most comedians, Martin’s bits aren’t all winners, but enough of them are to make his TV show worth watching. He mixes sketch comedy with stand-up and props, and each episode features at least a few good laughs.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes

dvd-parksandrecreationseasononeParks and Recreation: Season One

Pitch: From the people who brought you The Office! Comes a show not quite as good!

Why Rent? Amy Poehler may be the star name here, but the rest of the cast is what makes the show as good as it is (Paul Schneider and Aubrey Plaza in particular). The first season is only six episodes long, so checking it out won’t require much of a time investment on your part either.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes

dvd-sleepdealerSleep Dealer

Pitch: Best Mexican science fiction movie ever made. (It’s the only one… right?)

Why Rent? You don’t see a lot of low-budget science fiction movies for a reason. Most folks think sci-fi means effects, action, and grand set-pieces, but it’s really about the ideas. Smart writing can make up for lack of budget every time (Pi is probably the most obvious example). Sleep Dealer‘s strength is its social backbone and the story that grows out of it. It’s in Spanish, and the effects aren’t all that great, but the story and the implications are as interesting and entertaining as most bigger movies playing theaters today.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurette

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dvd-crank2Crank 2: High Voltage

Pitch: Chev Chelios is the Energizer Bunny sans personality and charm.

Why Avoid? I know this movie (as well as the first one) has it’s defenders, but it just doesn’t do it for me. The best thing Neveldine and Taylor have done remains Pathology which they wrote but (not coincidentally) was directed by someone else… The Crank films are just too stupid and unnecessarily kinetic for their own good. And yes, I hated Shoot ‘Em Up too.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, bloopers

dvd-hellhousebookofsamielHell House: The Book of Samiel

Pitch: Demons, tarot cards, and stupid teens oh my!

Why Avoid? Seriously, skip this mediocre movie, and go watch The Legend of Hell House instead. Roddy McDowall rules and the movie’s actually got some good scares, solid writing, and a strong ending.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurette

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DVD's I Bought This Week

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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