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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves defusing bombs. 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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The Hurt Locker

Pitch: Who knew a bomb squad in Iraq surrounded by constant danger could be so exciting…

Why Buy? This is the first of two releases this week that we’ve covered, talked about, and praised endlessly here on FSR. It’s a modern-day war film devoid of any political commentary. Instead, Kathryn Bigelow focuses her camera on a few men in a bomb disposal unit and basically bathes the screen in tension and sweat. Beautifully shot, well acted, and incredibly suspenseful… easily on of the year’s best movies.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

In the Loop

Pitch: The leaders of the free world want war. Their assistants not so much…

Why Buy? Do you like to laugh? Do you enjoy biting, foul-mouthed, and incisive insults? Do you prefer your political commentary laced with profanities? Then this is the movie for you… I’d probably put it neck and neck with The Hangover for funniest movie of 2009.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurette

Moon

Pitch: A solitary lunar worker nearing the end of his contract discovers something strange on the dark side of the moon…

Why Buy? I already recommended this as a Buy a couple months back when the region-free UK release came out, and not surprisingly I’m saying the same thing now. This is smart science fiction with a brilliant performance by Sam Rockwell, and it’s an amazing debut from director Duncan Jones.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season

Pitch: It’s the Simpsons…

Why Buy? At this point, twenty seasons in, you should probably know whether or not you like The Simpsons. I agree they’ve lost some of their luster and zing over the past several years, but I think they’ve still got enough bite and humor to make the show worthwhile. So buy it! Or don’t.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurette

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Amreeka

Pitch: A single mother leaves the Middle East conflict behind for the joys of middle America…

Why Rent? Few things are more enjoyable than watching a little film you’ve never heard of and being pleasantly surprised with how good it is. Cherien Dabis’ debut finds both the heart and humor in the modern-day immigrant experience. She never gets preachy or condescending to either the newcomers or their new home, and we end up with a movie that doesn’t quite go where we expect it to.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes

The Appeared

Pitch: Two siblings take a road trip with ghosts…

Why Rent? This is an odd little Spanish thriller that seems at times to throw everything from the horror genre into the mix. There are ghosts, menacing cars, bloody murders, mysterious reflections… but it’s also well acted and intriguing enough to keep you watching to the very end. And that end makes it all worthwhile too with a beautifully done and very cool final scene.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurette

The Brothers Bloom

Pitch: The narrator from Magnolia also narrates this tale of sibling con-men…

Why Rent? I loved director Rian Johnson’s first film Brick, but his sophomore follow-up is a mess. The story never quite gels and the characters never reach the level of likability, but luckily there’s just enough charm and style to make it a movie worth watching. The actors are all fine in this story about two life-long con-artists who reach the end of the line when one of them decides he wants out of the game, but Johnson never quite gets the balance between goofy comedy and serious drama right. An interesting film, but not really a good one.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes

Departures

Pitch: This flick won a little award called the Oscar last year. Maybe you’ve heard of it…

Why Rent? A cellist who knows nothing but music is forced to find another job and ends up working as a Nokanshi. Now instead of making music he’s preparing dead bodies for burial. Kind of the same thing, right? While I don’t agree that this Japanese movie was the best foreign film of 2008, I do think it’s a sweet little film about life, death, and the journey between the two. It also speaks to familial expectations in some interesting and lightly comic ways.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurette

Goliath

Pitch: A man. A cat. A motorized tree-trimmer…

Why Rent? You’d think I like this little indie flick solely for the scene introducing me to www.nastynastyasian.com, but you’d be wrong. (And for the record, the site appears to exactly as it’s presented in the movie. An odd piece of viral marketing maybe…) Instead, it’s the simplicity inherent in the story about a lonely man who loses his cat. Hi search for his feline friend is mixed with snippets from his life including divorce proceedings, coffee creamer abuse, and some odd condom usage. It’s not an exciting movie by any stretch, but it’s an oddly interesting one.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes

Nun of That

Pitch: “A blast for you and a blasphemy…”

Why Rent? This recommendation comes with the caveat that if you don’t like low-budget grindhouse flicks then you should just keep moving along. Because this is low-budget, and it is grindhouse inspired. But it’s also a self-aware comedy made by folks who have a true feel and love for the material. Bloody violence and lesbian nuns are the new chocolate and peanut butter! That said, this really should have been a lot sleazier than it is.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurettes

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Big Fan

Pitch: A socially retarded football fan gets beat up by his favorite player and then pressured as to what to do about it…

Why Avoid? I’m tempted to put this under the Rent header instead of the Avoid one simply because Patton Oswalt does a good job with the dramatic role and he deserves the recognition. But that aside… the character is an unlikable idiot. There’s no character arc of any kind here. I find it hard to believe anyone could relate to this guy (aside from our own Neil Miller who really liked this terrible movie for some reason) or this movie. Having a stupid prick who you’re unable to identify or sympathize with as your lead character is a bad idea people.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Outtakes, featurette

Fame

Pitch: Fame! We’re gonna live for two weeks before fading into dollar theaters…

Why Avoid? A big old meh is what I give this remake of the well-known eighties flick that spawned a TV series and a host of imitators. The film follows several students at a NYC school for the artistically inclined including primarily singers, dancers, and actors, and shows the failures and triumphs they all encounter. And it’s just as generic as that synopsis makes it sound. Whether there are too many characters or they’re just poorly written none of them ever truly touch you or make you care about their struggles.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurettes

Halloween 2

Pitch: An undead serial killer with mommy issues continues his reign of terror…

Why Avoid? I was willing to give Rob Zombie a chance, again, to make a worthwhile movie. But then he had both the police and the ambulance attendants put a “dead” Michael Myers in the ambulance without removing his goddamn mask. And then he has Laurie fall into a giant bin of unexplained dead bodies at the hospital. And then he fills the movie with actors who can’t act (Brad Dourif aside). And there’s the ridiculous and unforgivable dream sequences…

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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