Join us each week as Rob Hunter 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.
And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week once again sees a healthy number of releases worth buying and renting and only a few that should be avoided like a leprous Jehovah’s Witness. The much talked about but little seen Scott Pilgrim vs the World hits shelves today alongside Criterion’s release of Antichrist, Grown Ups, Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, and a few TV shows including the first season of the BBC’s excellent Sherlock.
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 for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Pitch: It’s raining chaos! Hallelujah, it’s raining chaos…
Why Buy? A distraught couple heads out to a cabin in the woods to fornicate, mutilate, and role play as Dr. Doolittle after the death of their son. I’m still not convinced this is a great movie, but I know it’s one hell of an interesting one. It’s also a great title to play in the background during parties. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg both give strong and grueling performances, and the film probably contains more WTF moments than any other title released last year. For all the craziness though the story holds an interesting and uncommon perspective that makes it worth a watch at least.
Extra Features? Commentary, video interviews, featurettes, trailers, booklet
Pitch: Continues to be the best mix of comedy and sex since the time my ex-girlfriend’s little brother sleepwalked his way into bed with us mid-coitus…
Why Buy? David Duchovny plays lover, father, teacher, and more (but not always to the same person) in Showtime’s best series. Season three sees Hank Moody’s life get a little more complicated when he takes a teaching gig at a local university and immediately horns in on faculty and student bodies alike. The show continues to be funny, engaging, and surprisingly touching. And by “touching” I mean exactly what you think I mean.
Extra Features? Bloopers
Pitch: Every year there’s a movie that deserved better but still bombs because you failed to support it in the theater. Yes, you. This is that movie…
Why Buy? A young man must navigate the difficult world of dating in Toronto, but things get even tougher when he’s forced to choose between a cute Asian high schooler and a cute Caucasian Amazon delivery woman. Poor baby… but to be fair he also has to fight seven evil exes to the death! Still though, no one’s crying for this guy. Director Edgar Wright has crafted one of the most fully realized comic-to-film adaptations yet, and the movie is filled to the gills with visual and audio gags, smart dialogue and smarter humor, and one of Cera’s best performances. Sure the Ramona Flowers character is annoying as hell and Knives Chau is a far better catch, but the story about fighting for the love you think is right is universal all the same. Speaking of Universal… the 8-bit universal logo is pretty damn brilliant.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, commentaries, trivia, photo galleries, videos
Pitch: CSI meets A Beautiful Mind meets absolutely brilliant…
Why Buy? Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve mysteries in modern-day London. Sounds like high concept bollocks doesn’t it? I thought so too… until I watched it. Martin Freeman is the recognizable face here in the role of Watson, and he plays perfect foil to Benedict Cumberbatch’s borderline sociopath Sherlock. And seriously, how awesome is the name Benedict Cumberbatch anyway? The modern era provides several new ways for Sherlock to showcase his intelligence and connect-the-dots mentality including images, words, numbers that appear and disappear on screen. The writing is sharp, the performances strong, and the show just looks great. This being British TV the “season” is only three ninety minute episodes, but the DVD does include the un-aired pilot episode too (even if it is a lesser version of episode one).
Extra Features? Pilot, making of, commentary
Pitch: “I loved Beirut. The women. The rush. It was a great place to be a spy. And then the embassy got hit…”
Why Rent? Ex-CIA agent Robert Baer takes a look at the history of the car bomb from its creation up through present day usage in Iraq and Afghanistan including the forensic techniques used to track the bombers. Baer lacks much in the way of charisma, but this doc is pretty interesting stuff. Two of the most fascinating facts? The first “car bomb” occurred in the US… in 1920. And some of the first people to use car bombs in the Middle East… were members of a Jewish commando group fighting against those who opposed a Jewish homeland.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Doctor Who is great and all, but I think World’s Tallest Black Doctor could take him…
Why Rent? A man travels trough time in a phone booth. Stuff happens. I can’t pretend to be all that knowledgeable about Doctor Who… hell, I hadn’t watched it since catching a few Tom Baker episodes with my dad. The new doctor played by Matt Smith is part of the recent rejuvenation of the series by Steven Moffat, and while there are some detractors it appears most folks seem to approve. The show is mild entertainment at worst and worth watching for fans of sci-fi in general… although fair warning… the new doctor’s new companion is a ginger.
Extra Features? New scenes, featurettes, outtakes, video diaries
Pitch: You may not know his name, but you’ve most likely been impressed by his small body of work…
Why Rent? Imagine you’re an actor whose entire career consisted of five feature films. Not all that impressive right? Now imagine those five films are The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather: Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter. I know, still not all that impressive… but at least the guy got to date Meryl Streep for a little while. But seriously. Cazale died in his fifties with these five films (as well as a few shorts that are included on this disc) as his only legacy, but if you watch any of his movies (Dog Day Afternoon in particular) you’ll see an actor who stands out even as he blends effortlessly into the background. This documentary revisists his life through his work and with the people who knew him.
Extra Features? Commentary, extended interviews, short films, essay
Pitch: It’s the Quantum Leap/Everybody Loves Raymond/Homicide crossover episode you never knew you wanted…
Why Rent? Three college friends now in their forties hang out in Los Angeles trading stories about their families, jobs, lovers, and more. Ray Romano actually co-wrote some of the episodes, and it’s good to see him outside of his sitcom comfort zone. Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher are equally fantastic here, and all three of them bring great character and personality to their roles. The show is equal parts funny and emotional, like a lighter weight Californication, and has quickly become a show I tune in to every week. Well, on DVR anyway.
Extra Features? Behind the scenes, deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary
Pitch: Who knew there were so many bad movies that could be improved by talking over them…
Why Rent? It’s time for another installment of Shout! Factory’s random sampling of MST3K episodes! This time we get to laugh along with Bride Of the Monster, Devil Doll, Devil Fish, and Robot Monster. All four films are laughably bad but the crew makes it all worthwhile with verbal jabs at the actors, writing, effects, and more. Most entertaining of the bunch is Robot Monster featuring the gorilla robot with the fishbowl head…
Extra Features? Introduction, featurettes, making of, short films, trailers
Pitch: I love subtle and vague titles that tell you absolutely nothing about the movie…
Why Rent? You’ll never guess what this flick is about. Unless you guessed pissed off transsexuals with sharp weapons. But you’ll also never guess that it’s actually pretty entertaining. Really. The story is straight out of the grindhouse exploitation canon with some brutes assaulting the wrong drag queen. His friends set out to get their revenge and devise a fairly painful punishment for the rapists. The movie is offensive (to some), amateurish, funny, and stupid, but it’s worth a watch for fans of exploitation with a sense of humor. And dick.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: “I think this is a rapeway.” “What the hell is that?” “It’s the way you go if you want to get raped…”
Why Avoid? Michael Madsen terrorizes three annoying people in an abandoned building. Madsen was never the greatest of thespians, but the guy isn’t even trying anymore. Between this steampile and the hilarious Outrage: Born In Terror from a couple months ago it’s clear that Madsen is simply taking paychecks for gigs that let him wear his own clothes and say whatever the hell he wants. You’d think “crazy evil” would be one of the easier characters to play as an actor, but Madsen makes it all so laughable. And the three victims are even worse. Poorly acted, terribly written… the only worthwhile part of it all (aside from the “rapeway” line above) is some solid bloodletting and gore. Skip it and watch a flick about a Trojan Horse instead.
Extra Features? Behind the scenes
Pitch: Larry Clark’s Kids is a funnier flick than this, and that is some unfunny shit…
Why Avoid? Five childhood friends grow up to be five once funny comedians. Well, two and a half once funny comedians anyway. This is comedy of the obvious as just about every joke is the exact same one a six year old would have made. Jamie Chung and a tall blonde girl (whose name I can’t be bothered to look up) represent the movie’s sole positives while everything else is just plain sad. Kevin James is onscreen for a whole two seconds before the first of many “funny” fat-related gags occurs, Chris Rock reminds yet again that he’s a terrible actor, Rob Schneider continues his trend of looking for laughs in gross sex, Adam Sandler manages to squeak out the only two laughs, and David Spade… well he’s in this too.
Extra Features? Featurettes, bloopers
Pitch: The Most Boring Whorehouse In Nevada…
Why Avoid? Helen Mirren and Native American Joe Pesci play wife and husband owners of a brothel. He enjoys gambling and banging his employees while she pretends not to notice either. That all changes though when he brings a prize fighter in hoping to make money off the man in the ring… and she falls in love with him. Mirren’s husband, Taylor Hackford, directed the flick which is the only reason I can think why she would have said yes to doing it. Clearly it wasn’t the script which fails to find a tone that it can stick with for more than twenty minutes. Certainly wasn’t the cast which also features a barely there Gina Gershon and Bai Ling. And the supposed love story that represents her character’s dramatic arc is unconvincing at best.
Extra Features? Introduction, commentary, deleted scene
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
The Brazen Bull
Californication: The Third Season
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifty Series
Men Of a Certain Age: The Complete First Season
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Sherlock: Season One
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
Charlie St. Cloud
The Chosen One
Damned By Dawn
Detroit Metal City
Hunt To Kill
Ramona And Beezus
Zombie Girl: The Movie
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?