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Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

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Discs Section: Pick of the Week

BLUE RUIN bluBlue Ruin

Dwight (Macon Blair) is a bit of a loner. He lives in his car, parked on the side of a road near a Delaware beach, and spends his days scrounging for food, collecting cans and reading. A gentle wake-up knock on his car window precedes a disturbing piece of news. The man who killed Dwight’s parents is being released from prison. Single-minded but far from focused, Dwight fills the gas tank, pops the car battery into place and makes a beeline straight into hell.

The setup here is economical, and the rest of the film follows suit, but rather than be a negative that simplicity actually elevates the film above its bigger budgeted, higher profile cousins. A Hollywood version of this tale would complicate things with unnecessary subplots, excessive exposition and time spent highlighting just how bad the bad guy and his henchmen really are. Here we stick with Dwight throughout, and the result is one of the most intimate and affecting revenge films in years. My full review.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, deleted scenes, camera test]

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GINGER SNAPS bluGinger Snaps

Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) are inseparable sisters who experience life and the world at each other’s side. Their shared interests in dark clothes and death-inspired photography mark them as weirdos, but they stand strong against the crowd because they stand together. But something is happening to Ginger. Her body is shaping into that of a woman, and the boys are noticing. Soon, her attention begins to drift away from Brigitte towards more carnal desires as biological changes course through her. Oh, and Ginger’s also been bitten by a werewolf.

Werewolf films have been used as metaphors and cross-genre staples for decades now, but this little (but deservedly beloved) Canadian shocker applies the animalistic change to a girl becoming a woman. Her first period, the lunar cycle, the new body hair… it’s all tied together with lycanthropy, but far from tis being an exercise in allegory the film is actually a solid horror thriller complete with gory deaths, strong female characters and some healthy laughs. 

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, panel discussion, commentaries, deleted scenes, auditions, featurette, trailer]

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All Cheerleaders Die

Members of a cheerleading squad killed in a car crash return through the power of witchcraft to seek and wreak vengeance on the football players responsible. A strong start quickly crumbles beneath a script that never quite decides what kind of story it wants to tell. Comedy, drama and horror try to exist side by side, but they repeatedly fail to mesh. Still, there are some fun moments and promise to be found here. My full review.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is an angry man. When it’s not subwoofers getting his goat it’s car alarms, ATM service fees and fat people. When it’s not 99-cent stores it’s hamsters, ass-crack fashion and God. Henry’s goat gets got a lot. Unfortunately for viewers, the source of his rage isn’t sufficiently explored, the path to his recovery isn’t sufficiently tread and his end destination isn’t sufficiently satisfying. He sure is angry though. My full review.

[DVD extras: Featurette, gag reel]

Antboy

A young boy, small for his age and bullied because of it, develops superpowers after being bitten by a modified ant. He uses them to become a pint-sized superhero. This Danish film isn’t designed to compete against the likes of the Marvel Universe, but it’s a delightful little kids movie that entertains while displaying strong moral fiber. My full review.

[DVD extras: None]

Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez is a rare, real-life hero — to some people at least — who fought for the working class (including immigrants) on farms across America. People recognize his name, but the details of his story aren’t as commonly known. This biopic starring Michael Peña as Chavez is pretty much all about the positive message and avoids the nitty gritty, but it’s still an eye-opener as to the struggles of workers and the evils of businesses.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

Heaven Is for Real

Colton Burpo is a young boy who has a near-death experience during which he believes he visited heaven. His father (Greg Kinnear) comes to believe the same and struggles to get the word out about his beloved Burpo. The film is based on a bestselling book, and odds are you already know if it’s for you. The movie does ask a lot from viewers in how you approach the situation, but it cares very little for those who come with anything less than an already agreeable mind. But gee whiz that little kid is a cutie!

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary from God]

Made in America

When you think American music what’s the first name that comes to mind? That’s right. Ron Howard and Jay Z. Now that obvious connection comes to life for the pleasure (?) of your eyes and ears with a doc focused on a music festival featuring talents as widespread as The Hives, Pearl Jam, Kanye West and whatever the hell a Santigold is. There’s an attempt at inspiration and pride here, but it doesn’t really come through all that clearly. Instead the film is best suited simply for the folks who appreciate the featured artists.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Sabotage

Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is head of an elite DEA assault unit, but the team comes under fire when a bust goes sideways and drugs disappear. Soon the members are being picked off one by one leaving Breacher and his dwindling co-workers in a race to find the culprit. David Ayer’s latest is uncharacteristically bad in its lack of authenticity and drama, but fans of gore, violence and ridiculous characters/dialogue will find much to enjoy here. My full review.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, alternate endings]

Shogun

John Blackthorne (Richard Chamberlain) is a 17th century sailor shipwrecked off the coast of Japan and taken in by the locals. He begins to form an appreciation of the culture (and women) of this foreign land and soon finds himself caught up in the violent drama of warlords, samurai and the all-powerful leader that is Shogun. James Clavell’s bestselling novel became one of the biggest and most-watched miniseries in television history — back when television miniseries were a notable thing — and while it feels its age it also feels epic in the way so few films do.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes, commentary]

The Suspect

A defector from the North lives and works in Seoul like anyone else, but he’s a harboring a secret agenda destined to leave a trail of bodies across the city. This is a fairly generic Korean action thriller in many ways, and genre fans can certainly do far better, but it will do in a pinch for folks looking for forgettable Asian ass-kickery. My full review.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Transcendence

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a premiere scientist in the field of artificial intelligence, but his latest project threatens to do more to hurt mankind than to help. Cinematographer extraordinaire Wally Pfister’s directorial debut looks good anyway. The script though singlehandedly sinks the entire film from a premise that is never properly sold to fallout and third act shenanigans that simply fail to achieve anything resembling entertainment or intelligence. My full review.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, trailer]

Discs Section: Also

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:

American Girl: Isabelle
Appleseed Alpha
Blood Lake
Detour
Dom Hemingway
The Essential Jacques Demy (Criterion)
GMO OMG
The Human Race
Insomnia (Criterion)
Justin and the Knights of Valor
The Legend of Billy Jean
Make Your Move
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Returned
Sabata
The Scalphunters
Sector 4
Wahlburgers: The Complete First Season
The Wind Will Carry Us
Witness for the Prosecution


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