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 only titles worth Buying this week aren’t even movies, they’re a TV show and a documentary, but there are a couple flicks worth a Rental including Dorian Gray, Seven Days, and The Square. And then there’s Squeal.
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!
Pitch: Remember An Inconvenient Truth? Now imagine it made with creativity, personality, and Pete Postlethwaite…
Why Buy? It’s 2055 and the humanity is on the way out. Postlethwaite is one of the few remaining survivors, and he lives in a tower (that he built with residuals from The Usual Suspects) where he sits and reviews news footage and interviews from the past (our present… freaky!) He’s trying to understand why mankind didn’t act sooner to fight global warming, the over-reliance on fossil fuels, and the general use/abuse of the environment. All of the segments are interesting at least, but the standout is a look at one man’s attempts to build a wind-farm in the UK. 80% of the population is behind the idea in general terms, but the “not in my back yard” syndrome rears its ugly head when a specific location is chosen. Worries about an obstructed view trump concerns about the future of the environment every time. The doc is alternately witty, sad, fascinating, depressing, and entertaining. Buy it, watch it, and share it.
Extra Features? Making of, featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews, short films, commentary, trailers
Pitch: Love it or hate it, it’s the denouement to the best TV show ever set on an island…
Why Buy? Lost was and still an immensely popular show, but there’s no denying that its final season (and final episode in particular) upset a lot of fans. It wasn’t quite the ending I had hoped for, and it has a few problems, but I’m content enough with its place in the whole of the series. If you haven’t watched the show I’d recommend giving it a shot (starting from season one obviously) now that all the hype is over and done with. Like any series, some episodes are weaker than others, but as a whole the series is a brilliant construct of questions and ideas, many of which are left to be dealt with by you the viewer, that rewards fans of quality TV.
Extra Features? New chapter, featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes, commentaries
Pitch: Who wouldn’t want Christopher Walken as their nutty, old, con-artist father…
Why Rent? Walken stars as a man trying to reconnect with his wayward adult son during a cross-country drive. Any movie is made more entertaining and watchable by Walken’s presence, and this is no exception. His character is a harmless conman trying to make things right who attempts to travel the country without spending more than $5 per day, and along the way gets to verbally spar with Peter Coyote and horizontally spar with Sharon Stone. The film is lightweight entertainment, neither a laugh-out-loud comedy nor an overly serious drama. So watch it for Walken and pretend for ninety minutes that this lovable old nutter is your own dad.
Extra Features? Interviews, trailer, photo gallery
Pitch: “Dorian Gray is the sexiest horror movie Masterpiece Theater never made.” Peter S Hall…
Why Rent? A young man discovers a taste for dirty sex and debauchery, but his increased obsession and focus on his appearance in a portrait leads him to make a deal with the dark unknown. Unfortunate events follow. As Mr Hall implies above, this is one sex and blood-filled romp through Victorian England. The movie looks good and features solid acting by all involved, and that prim and proper appearance is a strong contrast to the parade of naked flesh and perversion that follows. Oscar Wilde’s classic tale gets the raunchy update it deserves.
Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, making of, bloopers, photo gallery
Pitch: They’re coming to get you Barbie…
Why Rent? A hundred or so artists and animators were asked to pick a scene from George Romero’s classic film and recreate it in their chosen art form. These snippets were then edited together to form a complete version of the film. This is just a cool idea from concept to execution, and it’s worth a watch for fans of Romero’s film as well as folks who just enjoy unfettered creativity. The art styles include still drawings, paintings, cartoons, stop motion, Barbie dolls, and more. Some of it is fun, some is creepy, but it’s all creatively entertaining.
Extra Features? Commentaries, featurettes, additional and extended animations, horror comics, and the DVD itself is apparently a “functioning phenakistoscope”
Pitch: It’s Antiques Roadshow with attitude…
Why Rent? The Harrison family has been in the pawn shop business for three generations. If an item holds even the slightest monetary value odds are they’ve seen it come across their counter at least once. The entertainment value here is two-fold… the items and stories behind them are often fascinating, and the guys who run the pawn shop are the kinds of oddballs only a reality TV series could create. Honestly, this is the kind of show you catch while channel flipping and get sucked in for a few episodes. I wouldn’t normally suggest you actively Rent it, but my dad is a big fan so in honor of all the junk he has stored in his garage I’m recommending you check it out.
Extra Features? Additional footage
Pitch: What’s scarier than The Ring? How about your daughter being kidnapped with murderous intent…
Why Rent? A lawyer’s daughter is kidnapped as a way to force her hand at an upcoming trial, and the woman must balance the case as well as the race to find her child before it’s too late. Parts of the movie seem extremely incredulous, but you’ll quickly forget those concerns as the story speeds up and the suspense ramps up. Plus, and this is the crucial reason the movie demands a viewing… Yunjin Kim plays the lawyer. She’s been one half of the best couple on ABC’s Lost for several years now, and she also starred in the kick-ass Korean action flick, Shiri. If for some reason Kim doesn’t quite push your buttons the movie is still a pretty solid thriller that should keep you entertained for ninety minutes.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Going down down under is just asking for trouble, especially when the lady in question has an unpredictably violent Australian husband…
Why Rent? Ray and Carla are stuck in unfulfilled marriages, not with each other, but with spouses oblivious to the affair the two of them are having. When Carla tells Ray she has access to a lot of cash the two plan an impromptu getaway from the drudgery of their daily grind. And then people die. This gem is a slice of modern noir that marks a resurgence in Australian cinema, and while it’s not quite as accomplished as the recent Animal Kingdom (in theaters now, go see it!) it’s still a solid little thriller that should make Blood Simple and Malice fans happy.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurettes, music video, short film, trailer
Pitch: Brittany Murphy’s boyfriend skips out on her. Not much of a mystery there…
Why Avoid? A woman brings her boyfriend to the hospital for routine surgery, but he soon disappears and no one else remembers seeing him. Is she crazy? Or is it something more sinister? Murphy is joined by Dean Cain, Mimi Rogers, Tim ‘Trancers’ Thomerson, and Peter Bogdanovich, but none of their combined mediocrity can save this movie. The story is fairly basic in both its ambition and execution, but what drags this down from ‘watchable on a lazy afternoon’ to an Avoid recommendation is Murphy’s unfortunate performance. She was a promising actress once upon a time but her final years saw an emaciation of talent as well as body. She’s jittery, inconsistent, and unconvincing, and as the heart of the film she fails completely. Skip this and go rent Clueless or Cherry Falls instead.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: It’s like a nudity-free version of The Informers. So why bother…
Why Avoid? Lizzy Caplan trades in her True Blood and Party Down cache for a sad tale about a young teen who develops a crush on the wrong girl and gets mixed up with her bad crowd. Things don’t end well, but to be fair they also don’t start well. None of these characters are believable, from the geeky lead obsessed with Caplan to her and her drug-addled friends, and the melodrama that follows is equally inane. You won’t care about any of them even as the movie tries really, really hard to ensure that you do. Don’t be suckered in by Caplan’s bikini-clad body on the cover. Skip it and go rent the Aussie film Beautiful instead.
Extra Features? Commentary, behind the scenes, photo gallery
Pitch: It won’t take long before you’re wishing Ned Beatty would show up and get his ass raped already…
Why Avoid? A van full of ignorant pricks gets captured and caged by two human/pig hybrids. May be hard to believe but the movie is actually far shittier than even the DVD cover suggest. The humans spend the entire time bitching at each other and refusing to fight back. And one of the pigtards is a midget. Seriously. But these fools run from him and get taken down repeatedly. Sure he’s an overall-wearing, pig-faced midget with a penchant for painting his face in clown makeup, but he’s still just a midget. That stupidity combined with sparse and poorly done gore, terrible acting, and a laughable screenplay make this movie less appealing than ass-sex with Ned Beatty. Skip it and go rent Wrong Turn and Babe instead.
Extra Features? Trailer
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen it and review material was unavailable:
The Back-Up Plan
The Bad Mother’s Handbook
I Think We’re Alone Now
Ninjas vs Zombies
Survival Of the Dead
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
$5 A Day
Addicted To Her Love
Lost: The Final Season
Pawn Stars: Season Two
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?