Join us each week as Rob Hunter 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. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below.
The big news this week is the long overdue US release of the incredibly entertaining Korean western, The Good the Bad the Weird. Aside from that it’s a pretty ‘meh’ week with Temple Grandin, Skellig: The Owl Man, Cemetery Junction, Cougar Town, and more.
See all of this week’s relevant DVD releases after the jump…
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 for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
The Good the Bad the Weird
Pitch: Who knew the best western of the past five years would come from South Korea…
Why Buy? Three men are after a treasure map and the fortune it promises, but villains, vagabonds, and the Korean army are after it too. Kim Ji-woon’s epic adventure is pure pop entertainment from beginning to end. It’s a funny, action-packed, and smile-inducing success. Most films are content to feature one memorable set-piece, but this flick contains at least three… from the ass kicking opening train robbery to a shanty-own shootout above and below the rooftops to an all-out 100-person strong chase across the open plain, this movie rocks.
Extra Features? Interviews, featurettes
Dexter: The Fourth Season
Pitch: Karma is a bitch…
Why Buy? Dexter’s serial killing ways continue as he walks the fine line between murderer and family man. John Lithgow guest stars this season as a man who shares Dexter’s passion for killing, but unlike our antihero he does so without a strict set of ethics and morals. That’s how you know he’s the bad guy. This last season is easily the best since the first as it presents not only a strong and formidable foe for Dexter but also a truly dramatic and emotional arc. Fantastic show and still one of the best things on TV.
Extra Features? Photo gallery
Black Narcissus (Criterion)
Pitch: Remember when women could literally be driven mad over sex? Yeah, me neither…
Why Rent? A handful of nuns are chosen to take possession of a cliff-side Himalayan fortress as their new nunnery, but the isolation, location, and presence of a testosterone-filled man on a Shetland pony have unforeseen circumstances. This sixty-three year old movie got a pop cultural boost recently when its trailer was mashed with the audio from the one for Inception. It’s a fitting mix as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film is just as beautiful and affecting at times. It’s not quite a Buy as the disconnect towards women is a bit too absurd for my taste, but there’s still much to admire here including fantastic visuals, powerful performances, and some truly stunning matte work.
Extra Features? Commentary, video introduction, featurettes, trailer, booklet
Pitch: Not a fan of Ricky Gervais? No worries, he has less than ten minutes of screen-time here…
Why Rent? Three friends in small town England circa early 70’s learn important truths about life, family, and muff. Freddie is determined to get a good job and make something of himself, Bruce has anger issues stemming from a broken home, and Snork is the comic relief. Writer/directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant tone down the comedy a bit and focus instead on engaging characters and light drama. There are still some laughs, but for the most part this is a solid look at turning points and crossroads everyone faces at one time or another. It was undeservedly buried in its US release, but it’s definitely worth a watch on DVD.
Extra Features? Commentaries, deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes
Cougar Town: The Complete First Season
Pitch: If 40 is the new 20 does that make 20 creepy and off limits? Please say no…
Why Rent? A recently divorced woman starting a new life with her teenage son decides to dip her toe back into the social scene with hilarious results. Okay, it’s not actually hilarious, but there are a few chuckles to be found. Few enough actually that I almost moved this to the Avoid section, but Kevin Carr nudged it back across the line with a reminder that Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) is one of the creators.
Extra Features? Bloopers, deleted scenes, featurettes
Dead Man Running
Pitch: Has anyone ever partaken of a loan shark’s services without running into trouble down the road? Now that’s a movie I want to see…
Why Rent? An ex-gangster trying to go straight gets pulled back in when a debt collector comes collecting. His mum has been taken hostage and he has twenty-four hours to pull together enough scratch to cover his dues. Yes yes, it’s another humorous British crime caper… but this time with 50 Cent! In at least two scenes! (That’s a good thing.) Tamer Hassan and Danny Dyer are the two leads here as they run all over London trying different ways to raise the money, and while things never really feel all that serious or Guy Ritchie-like there’s still enough here for fans of the genre to enjoy.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: And the Emmy for Never Going Full Retard goes to…
Why Rent? HBO’s string of biopics continues with this dramatic but enjoyable look at the life of an autistic woman who went on to become a brilliant mind in the world of livestock handling. Claire Danes works towards (and earns) an Emmy with her title performance of a woman who sees the world far different from most of us. Director Mick Jackson wisely chooses to show us a glimpse into Temple’s world instead of simply letting us see her anguished and/or focuses face. We see numbers and schematics drawn out across the screen as Temple works things out in her head, and it keeps the viewer’s attention alongside Danes’s solid acting and an equally strong supporting cast.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurette
Pitch: Catch a tiger by its tail, then put a bullet in the back of its head before it rips out your spine and feeds on your entrails…
Why Avoid? A sexy young woman and her autistic brother are trapped in a house. With a very hungry tiger. During a hurricane. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Sadly, aside from one surprisingly well done scene with her trapped in a laundry chute, the movie is a bore. Several of the tiger scenes involve obvious effects shots, the body count is insanely low (as in ONE), and our heroine never once takes a shower. Shameful. Meat Loaf and Garrett Dillahunt co-star alongside Briana Evigan. Skip this and go find a copy of Savage Harvest with Tom Skerritt instead. That gory classic is how you make a man-eating tiger flick.
Extra Features? Video introduction, featurette
Skellig: The Owl Man
Pitch: Owl Man and Honey Bunny probably wouldn’t have made for a lasting relationship…
Why Avoid? A young boy moves into a new home with his father and pregnant mother and discovers a bug-eating crazy man (Tim Roth) living in the shed. Oh, and the nutter has wings. I like Roth and love Kelly MacDonald (who plays the mother), but this is a dull movie. The family’s newborn falls ill, and the only hope seems to be the magic inside Skellig. What? I don’t know. And I cared even less.
Extra Features? None
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen it and review material was unavailable:
The Assassin Next Door
The City Of Your Final Destination
Friday Night Lights: The Fourth Season
L’ Enfance Nue (Criterion)
The Last Song
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
Cougar Town: Complete First Season
Dead Man Running
Skellig: The Owl Man
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?