This Week In DVD: December 6th

This Week in DVDWelcome back to This Week in DVD… the international edition! Well not really, but half of this week’s twelve titles covered are from foreign lands. Not only that, but they’re the best of this week’s releases too. Today’s releases include the extended and very timely cut of the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, the underwhelming Cowboys & Aliens, the final season of Big Love, three Italian films of varying quality, the year’s most disappointing sequel and more.

As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.

Body Puzzle

Someone is killing Italians and removing singular parts of their anatomy, and those pieces are winding up in Joanna Pacula’s house. Surprisingly, she’s none too thrilled at this turn of events, and with the help of a determined detective they work to discover the killer’s identity and motive. Lamberto Bava’s early nineties giallo isn’t well known, and having finally seen it I can’t understand why. The kills and set-pieces are stylishly done, the script is fairly sharp, and the movie as a whole is good fun. It’s actually become my favorite of Bava the younger’s films. RaroVideo’s new DVD also features a strong and vibrant transfer and a booklet featuring an essay on the film. [DVD includes no extra features.]

Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition

Pitch: Bigger, longer and girthier for your viewing pleasure…

Why Buy? A decades-old mystery haunts an old man so he hires a disgraced journalist to find the answers who in turn hires a sexually abused, sociopathic computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. Sparks, blood, and Ikea furniture fly. Stieg Larsson’s European Emmy-winning Millennium Trilogy comes to DVD in its original full length form for the first time, and while it isn’t necessarily better it’s definitely longer. Two hours of additional footage has been restored throughout the three parts mostly to incidental side stories that help enhance the world if not the main narrative. Fans of the books and films will want to check it out, but if you don’t already like the films this new cut won’t change that. [DVD includes a documentary and interviews.]

Point Blank

Pitch: The manliest male nurse since Greg Focker…

Why Rent? Samuel is busy at home with a very pregnant wife and equally busy at work as he prepares for career advancement, but when some bad guys kidnap his lady and force him to free a man in police custody he discovers it was all prelude to a nonstop 24 hours. This French thriller from the director of Anything for Her is fast-paced, suspenseful and features more than a few stellar action sequences. Some of the characters get a short shrift due to the pacing, but the film still finds time to show the heart and love between Samuel and his wife. It makes his motivation and our attention that much stronger. [DVD includes a ‘making of’ feature, a photo gallery, and a trailer.]

Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season

Pitch: “Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same…” Oscar Wilde

Why Rent? Newly elected Utah Senator Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) has just announced he practices polygamy, and many of his constituents are none too pleased. This public drama bleeds into his home life and can’t help but affect his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin) as well. This final season of HBO’s equally fascinating and frustrating show wraps up their story with big questions and fewer answers, but it also returns to the show’s strength which is its odd but endearing family unit. The complete series is also releasing today (review coming soon), and fans of fantastic character and drama should consider adding it to their Christmas list. [DVD includes featurettes.]

Come Have Coffee With Us

Pitch: Love, Italian style…

Why Rent? An old man dies and leaves his estate to his three daughters, but when a tax inspector hoping to find a wealthy wife sets his sights on them the manipulation and sexual shenanigans begin. The women are all somewhat unattractive virgins and the man’s attention throws them off at first, but it’s not long before they become the sex-addicted aggressors in this comedy of gender and manners. This is far from a screwball comedy or farce as most of the laughs are of the far more subtle variety, but watching the women take charge off their sexual identities is a light and charming diversion. [DVD includes an interview.]

Cowboys & Aliens

Pitch: Daniel Craig! Harrison Ford! Sam Rockwell! Olivia Wilde! Paul Dano! All wasted…

Why Rent? A man (Daniel Craig) awakens in the desert with no memories and a very weird bracelet. He makes his way into town and soon finds himself at odds with a vicious land baron (Harrison Ford) and a gaggle of invading aliens. Wait, what? Director Jon Favreau’s adaptation of the comic series really should have been a bigger and better film than this. The story mashes up two typically fun and engaging genres but somehow winds up with an incredibly generic popcorn picture. Performances and effects are fine, but there’s little to no charm or energy to be found. Still, the cast and mildly entertaining action make it worth a watch for fans of blockbusters that could have been. [DVD includes featurettes.]

The Help

Pitch: You missed a little something…

Why Rent? Kathryn Stockett’s NYT bestseller about a secret writing project between Black servants in the 1960s South comes to the screen in this unexpected box-office hit. A young white woman (Emma Stone) organizes a group of women (including Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) to tell the stories of their daily experiences working in the homes of racists, bigots and the indifferent. The movie was a success, but it also came with plenty of criticism from people who accused it of being another example of Blacks needing white heroes. Arguments are valid on both sides, but all that really matters is the film is mildly entertaining enough to warrant a watch. [DVD includes deleted scenes and music video.]

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII

Pitch: “I don’t care…”

Why Rent? Shout! Factory continues their release schedule of MST3K titles with the 22nd volume of the classic series once again collecting four films for our viewing pleasure. This time we get The Brute Man, Mighty Jack, The Violent Years and perhaps the most often requested episode, Time of the Apes. Those last two are the best of the set and find much to laugh at and with in the tales of girl gangs and monkeys gone wild. As usual Shout! Factory also includes four collectible mini posters in this box set as well. For fans of laughter and bad movies only. [DVD includes introductions, interviews and a couple short docs.]

Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising

Pitch: Michael Bay could have taken some pointers…

Why Rent? Megatron and the Decepticons are up to their old tricks, and only Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots can save Earth once again. This feature length animated film starts with a robot execution and continues with some fairly epic action and adventure that should entertain young and old fans alike. The CGI-style animation is smooth and fluid, the writing is solid enough for a kids show, and it never bores. (Only one of those things is true about the Michael Bay movies.) The animation style is also a vast improvement over the blocky, “classic” style from the Beast Wars cartoons of the nineties. [DVD includes featurettes.]

Astral City: A Spiritual Journey

Pitch: New Age mumbo jumbo knows no language barriers…

Why Avoid? A doctor and family man (with little time for his family) dies and awakens in purgatory. After a long time wandering the dirty and violent nightworld he’s brought to a shiny city that serves as a way station leading to acceptance and reincarnation back to Earth. This is the most expensive film in Brazilian history, and that is not a fact they should be proud of in the slightest. The film is based on a book that was “channeled” to its author from beyond or some such goofiness, and it’s core message is simply that you must be a better person to earn the gifts of god. That and your family stays with you through every reincarnation cycle… how terrifying. Skip it and watch Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life instead. [DVD includes a ‘making of’ and a trailer.]

The Hangover Part II

Pitch: Bigger is rarely better…

Why Avoid? The trio of idiots from The Hangover find themselves in a similar situation during the days leading up to Stu’s wedding to a cute Asian girl (Jamie Chung) who never in a million years would have given him the time of day. I say similar but I meant identical. This mean-spirited and unfunny sequel rehashes just about everything from the far superior original from the drug-induced memory wipe to the faux-masturbation of a human prop (a baby in the first film, an old Thai man here). There’s literally a single laugh to be found here with the rest of the film consisting of obvious bits and cruel gags meant to be humorous but failing miserably. Zack Galifianakis’ role is the biggest disappointment going from a bumbling but endearing fool to a whiny asshole. Skip it and watch The Hangover instead. [DVD includes a gag reel.]

Murder Obsession

Pitch: “After you were sent away she developed an interest in black magic, and it was by this means, coupled with my psychic powers that she was able to induce you to return here…”

Why Avoid? An actor with issues takes his girlfriend and coworkers to meet his mom at their mansion in the woods, but soon people are dying and weirdness ensues. All the usual giallo tropes are here including bloody murders, black-gloved killers and elaborate motivations, but it’s also messy as hell. None of it makes sense, and it’s not helped by special effects that make the ones used in Abbott & Costello’s series of horror comedies look like Stan Winston creations. Seriously, the bats and large spider are laughable. On the bright side there’s also copious amounts of nudity, so I guess it depends on your particular interests. [DVD includes an interview.]

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

The Debt
Design for Living (Criterion)
Don’t Open til Christmas
Jesus Christ: Serial Rapist
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Triple Tap
Worst in Show

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Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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