Welcome back to This Week In Discs!
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Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a used car salesman with money issues. He arranges to have his wife kidnapped in the hopes that her overbearing father will pay a ransom, she’ll be released, and everyone will come out a winner. Things don’t work out quite the way he planned though, and in addition to two madmen (Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare) holding his wife he’s also got a persistent cop (Frances McDormand) on his tail.
The Coen brothers’ sixth feature film was their first to reach a wide audience, and that’s due as much to its fantastic sense of humor as it is its tremendous cast. It tells an incredibly dark and violent tale, but it does so in such a marvelously sweet and humorous way. Macy gets most of the funny lines, but McDormand runs a close second with a performance filled with genuine congeniality. This is actually Fargo‘s fourth appearance on Blu-ray, and by all accounts it’s identical to the 2009 release. This one has better cover art, but the special features are all the same.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary with Roger Deakins, featurettes, trailer]
The years have not been kind to Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and friends (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner) since he was fired and his wife (Christina Applegate) was promoted, but the promise of a 24 hour news cycle just may be his ticket back to the limelight.
Adam McKay returns along with his cast and delivers another very funny comedy that values character over actual story. Sure there’s a plot to follow, but it’s really all about the laughs, and with a cast like this they’re pretty much guaranteed. Even the film’s most absurd moments, and things get ridiculous, work because of the ensuing hilarity. As is tradition with this gang you also get a lot of bang for your buck thanks to the Blu-ray including three versions of the film to enjoy.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes, auditions, trailers]
A gaggle of samurai are dispatched to the wind after their leader is killed, but the newly christened ronin set out for revenge with the help of a magical Caucasian named Kai (Keanu Reeves). This legendary tale comes to the screen as a big ol’ mess thanks to inconsistent writing, confused editing, and the complete mishandling of Rinku Kikuchi. There’s fun to be had here thanks to Reeves, the monsters, and some fun action moments, but it’s a fat mistake in general.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
George (Andy Garcia) is accompanying his son on a tour of Middleton college, and Edith (Vera Farmiga) is doing the same for her daughter. But guys? Guys? It’s the adults who actually learn a thing or two about themselves. Garcia and Farmiga are so good in everything they touch, but the material is so rarely up to their standards. This light-hearted tale is no exception, and not even brief appearances by Tom Skerritt and Peter Riegert can change that. Skip it and watch Road Trip instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, outtakes]
John Cusack, Robert De Niro, and a mysterious bag that under no circumstances should be opened. Writer/director David Grovic‘s debut is clearly inspired by the kinds of films mentioned above, but it feels more interested in duplicating a checklist than in creating its own unique world. Still, you can’t go too wrong with a movie that lets De Niro say a line like this: “One day I was watching an episode of Full House where Jesse goes bungee-jumping with Becky. Changed my whole life.”
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Blind Woman’s Curse (UK)
Meiko Kaji stars as the head of a local yakuza gang who accidentally blinds a woman while killing her brother. The cat that comes in to lap up the blood makes the situation even weirder, and soon the yakuza boss feels she’s been cursed. More killing and revenge follows alongside topless women, cannibalism, and a fairly weird hunchback. Teruo Ishii‘s film is a gleefully violent thriller paired with a sense of utter nonsense. The booklet that comes with Arrow’s release offers the best explanation and defense of the film possible, but it’s not quite enough to make the film a winner. Well worth a watch, but it’s no Lady Snowblood.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, trailer, booklet]
Kevin (Christopher Denham) takes head shots for a living, and in his downtime he feels a confused guilt over the drowning death of his little sister when they were kids. He tries dating, but things just never work out all that well. There’s a reason for that. Nate Taylor‘s film is an odd duck in the way it mixes drama and thriller-like aspects, but while it doesn’t entirely work the film remains compelling mostly due to Denham’s performance.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, trailer]
A hidden camera TV show featuring people having the shite scared out of them runs into trouble when their latest mark snaps under the pressure and starts axing everyone to death. This should surprise no one seeing as they’ve brought him to the abandoned and possibly haunted chemical factory where his father died years before. Smooth move folks. Plot aside, the execution is where this one falters repeatedly thanks to terrible writing that sees no one acting as if they actually wanted to live. Skip it and watch The Game instead.
[DVD extras: None]
Massimo tries to rob a jewelry store and winds up arrested instead, but it seems that just may be according to plan. This Italian cop thriller features some hard-edged, testosterone-filled performances and sequences, and while the story feels a bit obvious in today’s world it’s well-executed all the same. RaroVideo brings the film to Blu-ray for the first time, and their transfer is equally impressive.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introduction, booklet]
WWF Champion Rip Thomas (Hulk Hogan) is forced into a fight with Zeus (Tommy “Tiny” Lister) by sleazy corporate honchos. Joan Severance also walks around in her underwear. This late ’80s action/comedy(?) seems aimed at the kind of immature crowd that enjoys wrestling and words like “dookie.” Both the action and comedy are mediocre at best, but there’s a certain charm to the innocent sincerity on display.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Wrestling matches]
Shawn is a fake psychic who, along with his partner Gus, solve cases using real detective work. This lasted eight seasons USA, and while it’s difficult to see it going even one on a regular network the show has an undeniable charm to it thanks to a healthy sense of humor, some fun guest stars, and writing that keeps things several steps above basic cable’s usual forgettable “crime” shows.
[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, podcasts, music video, Psych: The Musical, behind the scenes, featurette]
Tom Sizemore directs a SEAL team assault on an African warlord in this film that is either a sequel to Seal Team Six or to Behind Enemy Lines. It doesn’t really matter which it is as the end result is the same. Weak script and plot take a back seat to some fairly solid action sequences. It does lose points for the CGI usage though.
[DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:
666: Kreepy Kerry
Birds of Paradise
Broadchurch: The Complete First Season
The Client List: The Complete Second Season
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts
George Gently: Season 6
Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5
Knights of Badassdom
The Little Rascals: Save the Day
The Pirate Fairy