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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves working as a documentary filmmaker who follows Asian girls around to document their love lives. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. So join us each week as he 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.

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 column for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!

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dvd-bestlaidplansBest Laid Plans

Pitch: Reese Witherspoon and Josh Brolin discover the true definition of the term ‘blood money’…

Why Buy? This is a reissue of a ten year-old movie, but it’s such a rarely-seen little gem that I’m giving it a shout out anyway. Witherspoon stars as one half of a down on their luck couple who devise a plan for a quick payoff. Brolin plays a friend of the couple’s, and as often happens when he gets mixed up with tainted money (see No Country For Old Men, The Goonies) things go horribly awry. Solid performances and smart twists combine for a very cool little flick you’ve probably never seen.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

dvd-paperheartPaper Heart

Pitch: An Asian girl who doesn’t believe in love tries to understand the white folks who do…

Why Buy? Charlene Yi is an oddly cute little comedian, and her search to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the concept of love is a fairly sweet and entertaining one. The documentary aspect eventually takes a back seat to the written comedy, but it doesn’t lessen the film’s generous heart. Add in Michael Cera playing himself and you have a sweet little film surprise worth sharing with your own loved one.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurettes

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dvd-betterofftedBetter Off Ted: Season One

Pitch: As a vegetarian, I can almost get behind the idea of ‘cow-less meat’. Almost…

Why Rent? This is the kind of show that rarely makes it to a second season, but that second season starts in one week so you need to catch up now!  Luckily there’s only thirteen episodes in season one, and they’re all pretty funny to boot. The show spoofs life in the corporate world of R&D, and if you haven’t seen it yet you have just seven days to get up to speed. The cast is strong and features a few recognizable faces, but more important than star-power is comedic power… and this show features a hefty number of funny jokes and visual gags.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

dvd-bloodequityBlood Equity

Pitch: What happens after an NFL player leaves the field for good and the brain injuries begin to appear…

Why Rent? I don’t follow football so I won’t pretend to care about the trials and tribulations endured by the players, but this is a fairly interesting doc regardless. It focuses on retired players from years ago who suffer from all kinds of brain-related injuries and receive little to no help from the league. Things are a bit better for modern-day players as they have their multi-million dollar salaries to fall back on, but these old-timers played for beans. Literal beans people!

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

dvd-christmastaleA Christmas Tale (Criterion)

Pitch: What’s the French word for ‘dysfunctional’…

Why Rent? Most Criterion releases are worth watching at least once, and some are worth owning. This recent French film falls into the former category. A family reunites for the Christmas holiday and in the best tradition of the genre there are fireworks almost instantly. Performances from Catherine Deneuve, Anne Consigny, and Jean-Paul Roussillon are fantastic, but (as usual) Mathieu Amalric steals every one of his scenes. He’s a callous, bitter, and lonely man who fits right in with what must be one of the cruelest cinematic families since The Godfather.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Documentary, featurette

dvd-jazzsingerThe Jazz Singer: 30th Anniversary Edition

Pitch: Neil Diamond rocks…

Why Rent? Diamond plays the son of a Jewish carpenter cantor who defies his father and struggles to become a wedding singer. The rest, as they say is pop history, as Diamond makes sweet love to your eardrums with classic after classic including America, Hello Again, and the ode to alcohol-fueled fornication, Love On the Rocks. Sure the acting is wooden and the script is transparent… but this is Neil Freakin Diamond people. The ladies love him and the guys want to be him.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary

dvd-battleforthesmithsonianNight at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Pitch: Watch history come alive! As portrayed by just about every comedic actor working today…

Why Rent? I loathed the first Night at the Museum film, and my expectations for this sequel were equally low. So color me surprised when I found myself actually laughing more than a few times while watching it… The story is still lacking and there’s way too much visual noise to really care about much of anything, but several of the actors involved bring the funny even in their limited scenes. Jonah Hill has a hilarious cameo as a security guard (be sure to check out the extended take and outtakes), Hank Azaria’s evil pharaoh gets laughs for both his accent and mannerisms, and Bill Hader makes General Custer just as humorous as he probably wasn’t in real life. The big draw names including Ben Stiller and Robin Williams aren’t as successful.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes, commentary

dvd-terminatorsalvationTerminator Salvation

Pitch: Duh duh, duh duh dunt. Duh duh, duh duh dunt. Da na naaa…

Why Rent? I stand by my initial assessment of this reboot (courtesy of McG) as being a missed opportunity, but a second viewing has eased the pain a little bit. Watching the director’s cut with it’s invisible differences and (too brief) side-boob shot of the delicious Moon Bloodgood may have helped ever so slightly, but mostly it was going into the film with much lower expectations than I did this past summer. Everything I (and Robert Fure) liked and hated about it (collected here) still pretty much holds true, but I feel less enraged by it. And regardless of all the film’s many faults, it still features a ton of action for your widescreen enjoyment.

Blu-ray?

Extra Features? None

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dvd-deadlineDeadline

Pitch: Does for haunted house films what Paranormal Activity did for historical dramas…

Why Avoid? I would say avoid this turd for the simple reason that Brittany Murphy stars… but last week I recommended you rent Megafault. That film at least had the guaranteed quality we’ve come to expect from The Asylum. And by ‘quality’ I of course mean sheer entertainment value stemming from the fact that they know they’re making something pretty terrible. This film about a stressed and frazzled woman trying to unravel the mystery unfolding on a videotape she finds in a haunted house is a bit too serious and lacks anything really interesting. Plus, you know, Brittany Murphy stars in it.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? None

dvd-deathwarriorDeath Warrior

Pitch: “Presented by TapOut” is a selling point? I’d be more interested if it were presented by the videogame “Tapper”…

Why Avoid? This is a fairly weak excuse for bringing together a handful of MMA stars in a movie about underground street fighting. It’s exactly what you’d expect from that synopsis too. If you’ve pretty much any action movie with that same general plot then you don’t need to see this.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurettes

dvd-littlereddevilLittle Red Devil

Pitch: A woman is raped by the devil. Then we jump ahead 25 years to a young street thug with daddy issues…

Why Avoid? I realize it’s just a marketing ploy, but I really hate when a direct to DVD title like this advertises itself as the “Unrated Edition.” There is no R-rated version so they should just advertise it as the “Only Edition.” Regardless, you don’t want to watch any edition of this cheap movie. Sure it’s always nice to see Dee Wallace on-screen, especially since her split with Stone Phillips, but she’s never really been an electrifying talent. And Daniel Baldwin fares even worse.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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