This Week In DVD: Fatso, The Flowers of War and the Dueling Misfires of American Reunion and Margaret

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of solid releases this week including the first season of Adventure Time, Fatso, the latest seasons of The Glades and iCarly and more. Also out today? The obviously terrible American Reunion and the inexplicably lauded Margaret.

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

The Flowers of War

The Chinese city of Nanjing has been invaded and occupied by the Japanese, and one of the many traumatic stories unfolding in this crumbling urban jungle involves a group of prostitutes and another of schoolgirls who hole up together in a church for safety. They’re joined by an American (Christian Bale) pretending to be a priest to save his own skin who’s struggling to balance his self interests with the need to protect others. Director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) crafts some stunning battle scenes alongside a truly heartbreaking narrative. Seriously, my eyes may or may not have been leaking profusely at the final scenes. Check out my full review. [Extras: featurettes]

Adventure Time: The Complete First Season

Pitch: Makes an excellent replacement for caffeine in the morning…

Why Buy? A boy, his dog and twenty six episodes filled with some seriously effed up adventures. This Cartoon Network show returns with a new season this month, but it’s never not a good time to revisit the older eps. Finn and Jake are like an edgier Calvin and Hobbes without loving parents and instead constantly stuck in an imaginary landscape filled with ice wizards, princesses, combat and crazy as hell characters. The show is nuts but consistently hilarious in the choices it makes. [Extras: bonus cartoons, commentaries, featurettes, music videos]

Black Limousine

Pitch: David Arquette stars as–hello? Hello? Where’d everyone go…

Why Rent? Jack (David Arquette) was once an in-demand film composer, but after a car accident resulted in tragedy he’s fallen into depression, alcoholism and the apparently lowly job of a limousine driver. His inner demons eat at him as he tries to maintain a relationship with his ex-wife and daughter and jumpstart a new one with an odd starlet (Bijou Phillips). This isn’t a wholly successful film, but Arquette and several individual scenes stand out as worth watching. The end lacks some clarity and could have used another rewrite, but fans of Deputy Dewey will be suitably impressed. [Extras: none]


Pitch: What, no Dom DeLuise or Anne Bancroft commentary? Lame…

Why Rent? Rino (Nils Jørgen Kaalstad) is a fat, horny slob with incredibly (and understandably) low self esteem, but when a beautiful Swedish girl moves in he decides she’s someone worth changing over. Not to say he changes all that much, but thinking about it is a start right? This Norwegian movie is far from the sexy and fun time hinted at by the cover and is instead an occasionally humorous but usually disgusting and sobering look at someone who’s simply given up on trying. Curiously, the film’s poster appears to have been “borrowed” for the more recent, far funnier and slightly higher profiled Klown. [Extras: none]

Frontline: Money Power and Wall Street

Pitch: I’d watch Will Lyman narrate just about anything…

Why Rent? PBS’ long running investigative series examines the recent (and ongoing) financial crisis from its origin with the risky traders on Wall Street to the response from Barack Obama’s White House to the devastating effects felt around the world. This series as a whole should really be mandatory viewing for all Americans, but I’d settle with everyone watching this stunning, informative and frustratingly detailed four-parter. It’s essentially a far deeper and non-dramatized version of the excellent Margin Call, and if the revelations within don’t piss you off you’re probably profiting from them somehow. [Extras: none]

The Glades: The Complete Second Season

Pitch: It’s the fun, engaging and lightweight cop show you didn’t know you were looking for…

Why Rent? A Chicago detective (Matt Passmore) recently relocated to South Florida continues to catch exciting and entertaining cases while trying to hold onto the spirited and beautiful Nurse Callie (Kiele Sanchez). This A&E series is essentially on the same level as Castle or Hawaii Five-O in that it values casual entertainment over seriousness, and sometimes that’s all you really want or need from a show. Passmore is fantastic as the sarcastic but capable cop, and at 13 episodes total for the season it’s a show you can polish off in a week. [Extras: deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary, featurettes]

iCarly: The Complete Fourth Season

Pitch: Yes, I’ve confirmed they’re all legal now. Well, everyone except Gibby…

Why Rent? Carly and her best friends Sam and Freddie continue to have adventures in Seattle while running their highly successful podcast, and they’re joined by her brother Spencer and their often shirtless friend Gibby. This season sees plenty of laughs and smart gags like fans are used to, but it also suffers a bit in the first several episodes as the show deals with the unfortunate and unlikely coupling of nice guy Freddie and wickedly cruel Sam. Jerry Trainor continues to shine as the wacky older brother, but this season also sees Miranda Cosgrove killing it with her comedic timing. Great stuff, and still the best show on Nickelodeon. [Extras: five episodes of How to Rock]

American Reunion

Pitch: Per the sticker on the front cover, this is an “All-New Movie” so that’s something I guess…

Why Avoid? Jim the pie-porker and his friends reunite for their 13th high school reunion and discover what constituted teenage hi-jinx in 1999 is little more than creepy perversion now. None of the jokes work, the limited female nudity feels more pervy than sexy and Chris Klein never once says “Nash out!” And this shouldn’t really be a shock after Goon, but Seann William Scott comes closest to displaying any real emotion, and when Stifler is your best bet for heart you know you’re in trouble. Check out Robert Fure’s full (and inexplicably positive) review. Skip it and watch Sex Is Zero instead. [Extras: deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary, featurettes]


Pitch: Makes sense now why God was ignoring her calls…

Why Avoid? An abnormally obnoxious teenager (Anna Paquin) witnesses a bus accident in which she played a role and then struggles to deal with the situation in every possible way but the right way. Kenneth Lonergan’s epic and empty look at guilt and insignificance has grand ideas that suffer from poor editing, bad/over acting and a bevy of unlikeable and uninteresting  characters. A shorter cut would have edged its way into the rental section, but two and a half hours is just way too long to wait for the film’s single emotionally resonant moment. Great supporting cast though (aside from the tone deaf Jeannie Berlin). Check out Jack Giroux’s full (and inexplicably positive) review. Skip it and watch The Pledge instead. [Extras: none]

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

Being Flynn
Butterfly Swords
Cherry Bomb
Freak Dance

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What are you buying on DVD this week?

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

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