This Week in DVDWelcome to our weekly look at this week’s DVD releases of the week! Did I mention that this is a weekly column? It’s true. The titles coming to DVD this week run the gamut from documentaries to horror, and the only common thread is that they’re releases you probably haven’t heard of before. That is, with one fairly big exception. Harry Potter, one of the biggest franchises in cinema history, is coming to an end with a two part finale. Part one was a commercial and critical success, and part two promises to be even bigger when it hits screens later this year. It will be a sad day indeed for folks who enjoy watching teenage boys playing with their wands.

Editor’s Note: Click on any of the titles or cover art below to find out more about the release at Amazon.com.

A Summer In Genoa

A car crash takes the life of a young mother but spares her two daughters, and five months later the girls and their father (Colin Firth) head to Italy to escape their grief for a year abroad. Michael Winterbottom’s film is a raw and unavoidably sad look at guilt, loss, and the difficulty of moving on after the death of someone you love. Firth puts his eternally sad eyes to good use, but the real emotion here comes from the two daughters struggling to deal with events in their own ways. It’s a beautiful film imbued with love, sadness, and the constant feeling of dread that there’s one more death to come on the horizon.

Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows: Part I

Pitch: You won’t believe how they kill off Ron Weasley…

Why Buy? The final book in JK Rowling’s bestselling series hits the screen in two parts, and it comes out of the gate swinging with all kinds of awesome. The action is moved almost entirely away from Hogwarts, and the drama is increased exponentially. Fantastically choreographed action, strong scenes highlighting the relationship between Harry and Hermione, and lots and lots of camping build to an exciting end that promises a spectacular finale this year.

Antarctic Mission: The Complete Series

Pitch: Some Canadians went to the Antarctic and all we got was this beautiful documentary…

Why Rent? This is a companion to The Last Continent, but where that doc focuses on the crew and the challenges they faced this one is actually more interested in the continent and its inhabitants. The wildlife both on land and in the sea are presented with stunning images and a look at the fascinating scientific work being done to understand and assist in the survival of these animals and their home.

The Last Continent

Pitch: You’ll never cheer so loudly for nipple suckling as you will here…

Why Rent? And this is a companion to the Antarctic Mission series above, but as already stated this one focuses on the crew of the Sedna IV and their difficult mission of living a year in the Antarctic. Weather, food loss, and personality clashes all try to crash the party, but the crew battles their way through it all to capture some amazing imagery.

Let’s Talk About Sex

Pitch: Who’s up for some sex with teenagers? Maybe I should rephrase that…

Why Rent? Teenagers and sex go together like chocolate and peanut butter. And it gets even better when you lather up a teen with chocolate and peanut butter… but let’s focus on the DVD and not my late twenties shall we? This documentary looks at the reality that is the fornicating lifestyle of young adults. Sex education is a focus here with the differing views on what should and shouldn’t be shared with these grown up kids under the guise of education about sex, disease, pregnancy, and the myriad of other consequences of diddling. Most interesting here is the comparison between US teens and their European counterparts.

Marwencol

Pitch: I had a GI Joe figure once who caught Chlamydia from my sister’s Hanoi Hilton Barbie. It was worth the trip to the doll hospital…

Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but the concept behind this documentary sounds fascinating. A man was beaten severely and left in a coma, but when he emerges from it his fractured mind tries to fill the gaps with his imagination. He creates an entire town of miniatures populated with action figures, Barbie dolls, and other playthings. It’s therapy through art, and it sounds like an incredibly fascinating journey.

White Material (Criterion)

Pitch: Yes, the ‘white material’ in question is honky-related…

Why Rent? Isabelle Huppert stars as a French woman in an unnamed African country that has grown tired of its white overlords. Her convictions and refusal to heed the warnings lead to tragic consequences for her family. Director Claire Denis’ film is beautiful and raises some intriguing questions, but it can also be extremely frustrating at times. Still, it’s a film worth watching. My full review is here.

Mandrake

Pitch: The most disturbing vegetable since head lettuce…

Why Avoid? An adventurer leads a group of victims into the jungle to retrieve a very special dagger that will probably lead to their doom. First, are there still adventurers? I thought that job description went the way of the dodo. I kid, but the real issues here are numerous and they start with simple acting, terrible CGI, and a complete lack of tension, gore, and excitement.

Muay Thai Fighter

Pitch: It’s Rocky meets Goodfellas meets some terribly amateurish straight to DVD melodrama…

Why Avoid? Three friends grow up on the shores of Thailand with dreams of making it big in the local MMA, but things don’t go as planned when the local mob gets involved in their lives and the sport. Despite marketing that make this two hour movie seem like a fighting flick the focus here is actually more on the drama of friendships, betrayal, and the world of the organized crime. The story is fairly well done, but the acting, dialogue, and fighting meant to support it are all fairly weak. Not to mention incredibly melodramatic.

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

  • Black Heaven
  • Country Strong
  • Farewell
  • The Inheritance

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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