Welcome back to This Week In Discs! Hope you have some time cleared on your schedule this week…
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Hae-won leaves the big city on a forced vacation and heads to her childhood home on a remote island, but the years have not been kind to the place or her once best friend, Kim Bok-nam (Seo Yeong-hie). She’s little more than an abused workhorse for an ungrateful husband and community of seven, and understandable fears that her daughter may suffer the same fate lead her to beg Hae-won for help. The dangers of isolation, abuse and irresponsibility come home to roost in this darkly menacing and eventually bloody dramatic thriller from South Korea. Part social commentary, part violent and bloody as hell revenge thriller, this was one of my favorites from Fantastic Fest 2010. The extras are sparse, but I highly recommend the making-of doc after watching the movie if only to see Seo smiling along with the other actors in between takes. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Behind the scenes, trailer]
The Great Mouse Detective
Pitch: Someone should really look into Walt Disney’s obsession with rodents…
Why Buy? A toymaker has been kidnapped by the rascally Professor Ratigan, and only the brilliant Basil of Baker Street and his mousy sidekick Dawson can save him. And they’re all rodents! This Disney film is a low profile classic, but it has all the elements that make it a keeper. Beautiful hand drawn animation, an exciting storyline and characters that make it easy to grow attached to them all come together for a truly fun family film that combines our love of Sherlock Holmes and furry creatures into one wonderful adventure. [Extras: Featurette, making of, sing-a-long]
Shut Up and Play the Hits
Pitch: Just about every other band could learn a thing or two from these guys…
Why Buy? LCD Soundsystem wasn’t around a long time and from 2002 to 2011 they only released a handful of albums, but they left a pretty noticeable mark on the music scene. Founder/lead singer James Murphy disbanded the group in 2011 while they still mattered, and their very last concert, also their biggest, has been captured in this exhilarating and affecting doc. Even those unfamiliar with the band’s music will find themselves engaged and entertained as the film moves between addictive songs/performances from that final show and Chuck Klosterman interviewing Murphy the day before the concert. Oscilloscope typically fantastic packaging holds three discs featuring the movie as well as the complete, sold-out concert from Madison Square Garden. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Extended interview, outtakes, featurette, trailer, complete 3.5 hour farewell concert]
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Anniversary Edition
Pitch: It’s time to phone home, again again…
Why Buy? Catalog releases can be a tough nut to crack, but Universal has proven over the course of 2012 and their 100th Anniversary Celebration that they can and will put out great Blu-ray editions of long-beloved films. Not long ago, there was Jaws, and now we get E.T. With a pristine transfer from the original 35mm elements, this film has never looked quite as good as it does on Blu-ray. There are also several new featurettes that go even further into the world created by Steven Spielberg and a look at John Williams’ Shrine Auditorium concert celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary. Overall, it’s a delightful return to one of the most beloved little sci-fi films of a generation. [Extras: Featurettes, Digital Copy, BD-Live, Deleted Scenes] - Neil Miller
The Wild Geese (UK)
Pitch: It’s like The Expendables but better acted and almost as silly…
Why Buy? A deposed African leader is presumed dead after a coup, but when he’s discovered alive some British elites put together a rescue mission led my a trio of ex-soldiers and mercenaries. Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Roger Moore headline this fun, back-loaded action adventure that sees the team go up against incredible odds only to be double crossed and left for dead by the bastards back in England. It’s a goofy movie to be sure, but it’s one I used to watch with my dad on lazy Saturday afternoons so it carries a charm beyond its own achievements. If the pedigree is too high with this one Arrow Video has been kind enough to include an additional movie starring lower rent leads like Klaus Kinski, Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine. [Extras: Commentary, world premier footage, trailer, Code Name Wild Geese feature film]
Dial M for Murder 3D
Pitch: It’s Hitchcock, now with more D’s…
Why Buy? It’s not just the lenticular case featuring the ever-stunning Grace Kelly that makes Dial M for Murder 3D worth a purchase, it’s the fact that it represents a part of the history of 3D filmmaking we sometimes choose to forget: even Alfred Hitchcock was tempted by the new-fangled tech. And like Scorsese after him, Hitch did some wonderful things with the third dimension, using it to enhance suspense and bring his stylish vision to life. She’s married, but she loves another man. Her husband tries to call in a hit on his unloving wife, but it’s never that easy, is it? What is easy is adding this to your Blu-ray collection — call it a nice little test of your 3D system. [Extras: Documentary, original trailer] - Neil Miller
Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut
Pitch: Feed me, Seymour!
Why Buy? Rick Moranis stars in Frank Oz’s 1986 adaptation of a short story about a guy florist who comes into contact with a singing, carnivorous plant from outer space. It’s the cult classic that was once a short story, then a film, then an off-Broadway play. And all the while, there was a 20-minute alternate ending never released. Well, guess what — Frank Oz’s true vision comes home on Blu-ray. Not that it makes the movie any more enjoyable — it’s already good fun — but it’s there for those who are curious. This one also gets the benefit of book-like packaging and 36-pages of color photos from the production. A nice little bit of fan service to celebrate the 26th anniversary of Steve Martin’s most ridiculous hair-do to date. [Extras: Commentary, Alternate Ending, Featurettes] - Neil Miller
Bones: The Complete Seventh Season
Pitch: The Other Deschanel Sister…
Why Rent? Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is a by the book forensic genius who solves murders with the help of FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and some other less relevant people. This FOX series is essentially CSI’s younger, hipper sibling as it keeps things cool and light with storylines and characters that never take themselves too serious. That attitude helps make it a fun, casual show that’s easy to slip into and out of again without feeling like you’ve missed all that much. The seventh season is only 13 episodes long which is also a plus. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Deleted scenes, commentaries, featurettes, gag reel]
A Cat in Paris
Why Rent? Dino the cat leads a double life as a standard domestic feline and an actual cat burglar. The former half of his life is spent as a beloved pet to young Zoë, but his nights find him leaping across the Parisian skyline with a stealthy thief named Nico. The only kink is this pussy’s plan is Zoë’s mother, the police detective. Can Dino keep up his dangerous extracurricular activities without the police catching wind of his exploits? This Academy Award nominated slice of French animation features dreamy visuals and a delightful grace as it tells a simple story of friendship and adventure. The discs offer both French language with English subs and an English dub starring Matthew Modine, Marcia Gay Harden and Anjelica Huston. [Extras: Video flipbook, short film]
The Giant Mechanical Man
Pitch: If he only had a job…
Why Rent? Tim (Chris Messina) spends his days on stilts, painted silver and standing on city street corners, while Janice’s (Jenna Fischer) inability to hold a temp job has left her evicted and forced to live with her far more successful sister. Neither of them have found their niche in life, but it gets a little bit easier when they find each other. Topher Grace, Malin Akerman and Bob Odenkirk also appear in a supporting roles. The actors here are what really make the film worth watching as the film itself, while fine, is just okay. It’s harmless, but events never deviate from the path we’re expecting. Writer/director Lee Kirk has made a capable enough debut, but hopefully he goes for more with his follow-up. [Extras: Interview]
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: The Complete Season 7
Pitch: See the season that finally pushed Rhea Perlman too far…
Why Rent? Paddy’s Pub is home to very little aside from the wonderfully self-centered adventures of Dennis, Deandra, Charlie, Mac and Frank (Danny DeVito), and season seven of this FX comedy keeps the inappropriate laughs coming. The season opens with prostitute love and ends with a high school reunion from hell, but in between those two low points we’re treated to kiddie pageants, an apocalyptic storm, Frank’s brother and a fat Mac. The show’s humor is an acquired taste to be sure, and it may not be the kind of thing you can watch several episodes of in a row, but there’s no denying how cruelly funny it is. Also available on DVD. [Extras; Featurette, blooper reel, commentaries]
The League: The Complete Season Three
Pitch: This and Madden on the PS3 represent the sum total of my basketball knowledge…
Why Rent? Fantasy sports leagues get the intelligently comedic treatment in FX’s very funny show about friends who get together for some friendly competition and discover laughs along the way. The cast alone almost ensures hilarity with names like Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel and more among the regular members and folks like Jeff Goldblum, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman showing up as guests. The great thing about the writing is that even non-sports folks like myself can find a lot to love and laugh along with here. Also available on Blu-ray. [Extras: Extended episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, gag reel]
Pitch: Featuring deleted scenes that reveal how Prometheus and A Good Year take place in the same universe…
Why Rent? A team of scientists, crew members and bored rich folk head into space following a map made up of five stars in the hopes of discovering the secrets behind mankind’s origin, but will they like what they find? Or will what they find rip off their heads and shit down their necks? Ridley Scott’s epic return to science fiction is a mess of the beautiful, bold and ridiculously inept. Major questions go unanswered, and in spite of the cover’s promise they continue to go unanswered on the Blu-ray/DVD release too. Worse than having ideas teased for a planned sequel are the numerous examples of poor scripting and idiotic behavior. I like the movie, and it’s worth a buy for me, but I can’t in good conscience recommend the same for anyone else. [Extras: Commentaries, featurette, deleted/alternate scenes]
Pitch: The Rat Pack goes West! Well, one rat anyway…
Why Rent? Joe Baker (Dean Martin) has plans that require some flagrant disregarding of the law, but that’s not enough to stop him so he sets out robbing stagecoaches in search of a woman to trade for a Gatling gun. Should be pretty easy, but Brian Keith and his Union regiment are the closest thing to the law this western flatland has and soon their on Baker’s trail alongside several others. Martin and Keith both show off their comedic chops in this funny hybrid of western and comedy, and while it never comes close to the laughs of Blazing Saddles or the narrative work of Silverado it’s still loaded with charm.
Truth or Die
Pitch: Always choose truth. You can always lie…
Why Rent? A group of friends head out to a remote estate in the English countryside at the invite of a nerdy nobody a year after they humiliated him at a party. Why go you ask? Free drinks, obviously. Once they arrive though they realize the party planner has murder on his mind. It’s always a wonderful surprise when a movie that looks like a generic dud turns out to feature a few cool and competent elements, and this is one such example. Conventions are twisted a bit in regard to the story and the list of who lives and who dies, and it all makes for a somewhat unpredictable and nasty little thriller. [Extras: Making of]
Who Dares Wins (UK)
Pitch: Terrorists have destroyed all of the articles in the English language…
Why Rent? When a radical group of anti-nuke revolutionaries steps up their game Britain’s famed SAS is forced to send an agent into their ranks undercover. Captain Peter Skellen (Lewis Collins) is their man, but not long after he infiltrates the organization they discover his secret and take guests at the American Embassy hostage. It’s up to the SAS to teach these misguided lefties a lesson in civility. This early 80s British action flick starts a bit slow, but it builds to a pretty strong third act highlighting the skills required by anti-terrorism forces worldwide. Edward Woodward, Judy Davis and Richard Widmark help make it worth a watch. [Extras: Commentary, featurette, trailers, The Commander feature film]
Strangers on a Train
Pitch: Lets play throw my family member from the train… You go first.
Why Rent? Alfred Hitchcock’s tale of a chance meeting between two otherwise upstanding gentlemen, both of whom seem intent on tossing each-other’s companion off of the train. It’s a tight, twisted little mystery that is often seen as minor Hitchcock. But lets be honest with ourselves, friends, there really is no such thing as minor Hitchcock. On Blu-ray, Strangers looks good but feels like the odd-man out with the big Hitchcock Masterpiece Blu-ray set looming on the horizon. The extras are solid, making for, at the very least, a good rent. [Extras: Documentary, commentary, featurettes] - Neil Miller
Rock of Ages
Pitch: In which Tom Cruise strokes his monkey…
Why Avoid? When our own Adam Charles thought it appropriate to deliver unto this movie a D- grade in his theatrical review, I was in a minor state of disbelief. I enjoy rock music. I’ve been told that the “Rock of Ages” stage show is entertaining. Heck, even Tom Cruise with a monkey might be mildly entertaining on its own. Sadly, none of these things led to Adam Shankman’s movie being anything more than bearable. And bearable, even with an energetic soundtrack, just doesn’t make the cut. You can keep your long-haired Alec Baldwin and your preppy Catherine Zeta-Jones, and I’ll hold onto my sanity for one moment longer. [Extras: Several featurettes, deleted scenes]
Skip it and watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show or just about any other musical instead. - Neil Miller
Pitch: Stephen Moyer’s agent needs to get him more money from HBO…
Why Avoid? The Vineyard family are in need of a much needed vacation so the four of them pack up and head into the New Jersey wilderness for some inexplicable reason. Their camping trip is cut short though by Richard’s (Stephen Moyer) descent into madness and the arrival of the flesh-eating Jersey Devil. The odds are that Darren Lynn Bousman’s insistence on making movies will eventually result in something worth watching, but this isn’t that day. Failed suspense, questionable acting and an inept script result in a horror film that never terrifies or interests. [Extras: Commentary, deleted scene] Skip it and watch the “Jersey Devil” episode from the first season of The X-Files instead.
Pitch: The Transporter gonna be pissed…
Why Avoid? Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as a courier willing to take anything anywhere for a fee, but when some rough and tumble types led by Til Schweiger force him to deliver a briefcase to a killer he finds himself fighting for the lives of those he loves. Here’s the problem. The movie opens with a scene atop a roller coaster featuring some stunningly bad green-screen/CGI work, and the film never recovers. Less than top notch effects are a necessary evil sometimes in lower budgeted fare, but opening with it immediately starts the movie six feet under on the critical front and that’s a mighty big hole to climb out of afterwards. Morgan and Josie Ho make an effort, but them plus some fairly tame action just isn’t enough. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Behind the scenes, deleted scenes, trailer] Skip it and watch The Hitcher instead.
Why Avoid? A young, wealthy alcoholic (Lukas Haas) spends his days and nights drinking, bitching and talking women into bed, but can he be tamed by the one woman who says no to him? You won’t care. This self absorbed drama from writer/director Adam Sherman wants viewers to care about Zach’s predicament even if only enough to keep watching, but the repetitive nature of the story makes even that task incredibly difficult. There are a couple laughs to be had courtesy of Jake Busey, but Haas and the titular woman (Madeline Zima) are painful for all the wrong reasons. To be fair, our own Kate Erbland called it “lovely and engaging, a sexy and charming love story” so maybe I’m way off base here. (Odds are she was method reviewing though and totally drunk off her ass.) Skip it and watch When a Man Loves a Woman instead.
My Ex (UK)
Pitch: My zzz…
Why Avoid? Ken is a young Thai heartthrob who finds it difficult to settle down with so much willing lady flesh within reach on a daily basis, but after dumping the sensitive Bow and the grudge-holding Meen he moves onto an actress named Ploy. The fun, sexy times come to an end though when the new couple finds themselves harassed by a possible stalker and a probable ghost. The film almost works as a straight ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ thriller, but too frequently it dips into Asian horror tropes involving (attempted) jump scares and long, black hair that annoys instead of frightens. Skip it and watch Closer instead.
Pitch: And quoth the raven, “Omar’s coming yo…”
Why Avoid? People are dying on the streets of Baltimore, murdered at the hands of a madman who patterns his crimes on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Desperate for leads, the police enlist the aid of the author himself (John Cusack) in a race against time to stop the killings before the murderer runs out of material. Although that would probably stop the killings too I guess. Cusack makes an effort here at times, but it’s far from a charismatic portrayal. Also sad is seeing director James McTeigue continue to prove that V for Vendetta was a fluke. [Extras: Deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, commentary] Skip it and watch From Hell instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
Bloody Bloody Bible Camp
Holliston: The Complete First Season
Werewolf: The Beast Among Us