This Week in DVDIt’s the last DVD release week of November, and judging by the stellar releases out today it’s fair to say Christmas has come early. There are several titles, big and small, deserving of a purchase or at least a rent, and they’re pretty widespread genre-wise too. Some of the week’s offerings include Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Our Idiot Brother, Friends with Benefits, 30 Minutes or Less and more.

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

Another Earth

The unfortunately named Rhoda (Brit Marling) is a bright high-school graduate with a limitless future, but on the night a new planet is discovered in the night sky above she celebrates a bit too hard and smashes her car into a family of three. A few years later, Rhoda is released from prison and makes an attempt at an apology to the man (William Mapother) she injured and whose wife and child she killed. Communication with the new planet has also revealed that it is a mirror image of our own as far as geography and population, but that different choices there may have given way to different events. Marling co-wrote this intriguing and often mesmerizing sc-fi/drama with director Mike Cahill, and while the logic and explanation behind the science fiction aspects are woefully lacking the drama, character work and “what if?” scenarios are excellent. As she does in the somewhat superior Sound of My Voice Marling brings an ethereal and fragile presence to the role that makes this tale of loneliness, guilt and hopeful redemption all the more powerful. [The DVD in the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is devoid of extras, but the Blu features deleted scenes, a music video and featurettes.]

Kidnapped

Pitch: Much like what Congress’ Super Committee underwent the original title of this movie is Secuestrados. A mixing of the two probably would have resulted in agreements on some severe cuts…

Why Buy? A family sits down for a contentious meal at the dinner table, but their time together is interrupted when a trio of villains invades their home and takes them hostage. The intruders are after money and a good time, but the following hour will be anything but entertaining. For the family and bad guys I mean. Viewers who love nail-biting suspense, smart cat and mouse play, and creative film-making will find much to enjoy. Just don’t get me started on the ridiculously shitty final minute. Check out my full review here. [The DVD includes a featurette and trailers.]

Our Idiot Brother

Pitch: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As a straight man who enjoys a good laugh I would not kick Paul Rudd out of bed…

Why Buy? Ned (Paul Rudd) is a nice guy who also happens to be a bit of a goof. He’s too trusting, too irresponsible and too… Ned. His sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer) are better adjusted on the outside, but they’re also a bit too consumed with their own troubles to notice and enjoy the world around them. This is easily the second best ensemble cast of the year (after Horrible Bosses), and every single actor nails it. Rudd especially carries the film with a character that could easily have slipped into an annoying and blundering caricature, and his bantering with Adam Scott are comedic gold. Seriously, someone give them a buddy cop movie already. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here. [The DVD includes commentary, deleted scenes and a featurette.]

Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Pitch: They’ll make you laugh, but not before making you squeal like a piggy…

Why Buy? A group of sex-crazed college kids runs afoul of a pair of hillbillies, and soon the clean-cut young people are dropping like flies. Sounds like a thousand other movies, but the catch here is that Tucker and Dale, the aforementioned hillbillies, are simply trying to help the kids who keep dying through misfortune, accident and misunderstanding. Eli Craig’s film is a funny and subversive take on well worn genre conventions. I lean more towards a Rental, but the fact that the movie sat on a shelf for two years before being dumped to DVD has earned it a bump into the Buy category. Check out Landon Palmer’s full review here. [The DVD includes commentary, outtakes, featurettes and a trailer.]

Vampires

Pitch: “The truth is Elizabeth can’t stop herself from eating children. As for me, when they’re older, I can’t stop myself from making love to them…”

Why Buy? This pseudo documentary crosses This Is Spinal Tap with Man Bites Dog as a film crew explores the lives of a family of Belgian vampires who deal with their situation in different ways. Dinner table etiquette, teen drama, vampire rules and more all come into play as we see how vampires live and die (and live again). This isn’t only the best vampire related movie of the year… it’s the best damn vampire movie in ages. It’s funny as hell, occasionally frightening and sharp as a bloody fang. Check out my full review here. [The DVD includes deleted scenes and a trailer.]

The Wave

Pitch: True story about a young girl who goes surfing and has her arm bitten off by fascism…

Why Buy? Modern day Germany is not a place that’s forgotten about Hitler and his doings, but for many of the country’s youth that’s because they’ve never really understood it in the first place. A high school teacher assigned the task of exploring autocracy with his students sets in motion an experiment in totalitarianism to show them the effects and power of unity and obedience, but the project quickly grows out of control as the teenagers begin taking their new-found power too seriously. The film is suspenseful and dramatic without ever tipping into the unbelievable or melodramatic, and it’s a powerful look at a dark time in history that could very easily happen again if good people do nothing and allow it. It’s message can even be downgraded to apply to gangs, cliques and bullies in general, and it should probably be shown in schools for that very reason. [The DVD includes featurettes and a trailer.]

30 Minutes or Less

Pitch: Remember the Domino’s Dance that delivery drivers had to do if they were late with your pizza? Was that just an urban legend? I don’t know, but either way Jesse Eisenberg does not do one here…

Why Rent? Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a down on his luck pizza delivery guy (redundant I know) who’s kidnapped, strapped with a bomb and forced to rob a bank or be evaporated. With the help of his friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) he tries to outwit the kidnappers (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), avoid exploding and woo Chet’s sister at the same time. Director Ruben Fleischer reunites with his Zombieland lead for a movie that is a little bit funnier and only slightly less madcap. Plus, Fred Freaking Ward! Check out Cole Abaius’ full review here. [The DVD includes a featurette.]

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Pitch: “There seems to have existed a visual convention extending all the way beyond Baywatch.” Werner Herzog referring to an ancient figurine of a large bellied and large breasted woman…

Why Rent? Fifteen years ago a cave was discovered in the hills of France that changed everything we knew about cave paintings made by ancient peoples. The Chauvet Cave has since become a hot bed of research and study, and by hotbed I mean only a very select group of visitors are allowed in for a peek. The world famous Curious George narrator, Werner Herzog, was one of those lucky few, and with a small crew he looks into and beyond the cave’s history and meaning. The film captures much of the cave’s beauty and awe, and Herzog’s narration is occasionally a thing of beauty, but there’s not really enough here to justify the running time. It would have made a fantastic 45-minute short, but as it stands it’s a mildly interesting feature. [The DVD includes a short film and a trailer.]

Guilty of Romance (UK)

Pitch: No one is what they appear to be on the outside. Especially women apparently…

Why Rent? Izumi (Megumi Kagurazaka) leads a fairly sheltered life as the docile housewife to a famed romance novelist whose books are far more lively than his personality at home. An attempt at finding herself through a part-time job leads to a gig in porn, and soon she’s discovering more than she could have expected about herself inside and out. Running alongside her story is a murder investigation into a crime scene featuring body parts sewn together with mannequin pieces. Director Sion Sono mines some similar territory to his last film, Cold Fish, in this story that melds true crime with sexual exploration, and in the process he’s crafted a movie that alternates between beauty and real ugliness. [The DVD includes commentary and an interview.] **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD which requires either a region-free player or the willingness to watch on your PC.**

Friends With Benefits

Pitch: Friends don’t let friends watch unfunny movies with lead actors who can’t act…

Why Avoid? Two sexy young people (Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake) who’ve recently been dumped by funnier actors (Andy Samberg and Emma Stone) decide they’re no longer interested in serious relationships and instead want one that’s focused on sex only. But if Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher have taught us anything it’s that such a thing is patently absurd. (Although it does work in real life if you choose your partner well enough.) This is a lesser version of No Strings Attached, which if you’ve seen that movie you know that is faint praise indeed. Timberlake is not a good actor, period, and he lessens every scene he’s in to the point where it’s more annoying than entertaining. Although at least he didn’t woose out and use a butt-double like Kunis. Check out Adam Charles’ full review here. Skip it and watch Fired Up! instead. [The DVD includes commentary, deleted scenes and outtakes.]

The Future

Pitch: Your future should not involve wasting time with this annoyance…

Why Avoid? A couple of hipsters rescue and adopt a cat, but it needs to spend a month at the vet’s before they can bring it home. They realize that in thirty days they’ll be forced to become responsible adults so they decide to take these four weeks to truly explore their last days of freedom. I haven’t seen writer/director/star Miranda July’s previous film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, but I hear it’s pretty fantastic. Of course, some people say the same thing about this movie. Skip it and watch Back to the Future instead. [The DVD includes commentary, a featurette, a deleted scene and a trailer.]

Needle

Pitch: What’s in the box? What’s in the box?!? Something stupid and occasionally gory…

Why Avoid? A college kid whose father died a few years prior receives the last part of his dad’s estate in the form of an elaborately constructed box. The his friends start dying in gory and violent ways. The script does a fine job of misdirection when it comes to the killer’s identity, but that doesn’t really matter when the characters and remainder of the script are uninteresting and illogical. The deaths do feature the occasional nice bit of gore though. Skip it and watch Hellraiser instead. [The DVD includes a featurette and a trailer.]

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

The Art of Getting By
Chillerama
One Day
The Smurfs

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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