Welcome back to another jammed to the gills edition of This Week In DVD! Once again there’s a lot to love hitting shelves today including new movies like Bridesmaids and Bride Flight, TV on DVD releases like Modern Family, Castle, and Happy Endings, a new Bruce Willis movie that never saw the inside of a theater, and even a few re-issues of older movies you may never have heard of before… like the one starring a young Charlie Sheen as a mass murdering punk from the Midwest.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is well known and well liked as an actor from TV and films like Third Rock From the Sun and 500 Days of Summer, but he’s interested in more than just a life in front of the camera. HitRECord.org is his web-centered creation that sees projects small and smaller develop from the ground up as collaborative efforts with friends and strangers alike. Everything submitted is up for remix and recreation. One person’s short story can see pictures, animation, voice-overs, a score, and more added by any number of people. It’s an intriguing concept, and while some of the end results have premiered at Sundance and SXSW, this collection is the first retail release. The book itself is very McSweeney’s-ish, which is awesome, and includes a wraparound half-sleeve, creative text and artwork, a CD, and a DVD of short films, videos, and more. Fans of creativity, inspiration, and sweet little works of art should check it out and support the artists in the process.
Pitch: The closest thing this century currently has to a Gremlins, Goonies, or Critters…
Why Buy? Not every alien invasion hits the USA first as evidenced in this fun, exciting, and surprising little gem from the UK. (Which is fitting, as this DVD is a UK-only release… for now. The US DVD/Blu is scheduled for the end of October.) A group of teen thugs in a London housing project (or equivalent thereof) are witness to several vicious creatures falling from the sky and terrorizing the neighborhood. Joe Cornish’s film is a throwback of the best kind and manages to be both frightening and funny throughout. If you failed to seek this one out during its limited theatrical run this summer here’s your chance to see what the blogosphere has been raving about since SXSW (check out Brian Salisbury’s glowing review here). **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD which requires either a region-free player or the willingness to watch on your PC.**
Pitch: “Your kids don’t need to know who you were before you had them; they need to know who you wish you were, and try to live up to that person. They’re gonna fall short, but better they fall short of the fake you than the real you…”
Why Buy? Three generations of the Pritchett family are under the microscope here in a sitcom that follows the format of The Office as it explores the ups, downs, and hilarious in betweens of family relations. This is tied with Community for funniest show on network TV, and even its weakest episodes are usually better than the rest of the network schedules. As with Community it benefits for as perfect of an ensemble cast as you could hope for with every single member offering laughs and personality to spare. If you’re not watching this on Wednesday nights you owe it to your funny bone to pick up the DVD or Blu and laugh yourself silly across all 24 episodes of season two.
Pitch: “We eat, drink, sniff coke, and fuck as much as we like. But we never get fat, pregnant, or hooked…”
Why Buy? A trio of hot, female vampires inducts a fourth into their feminine fold but soon find themselves targeted by Berlin police. This German vampire flick is more action than horror, but it’s still a lot of bloody, sexy fun. It’s like an R-rated version of The Lost Boys as the new girl is inducted into and seduced by the bloodsucker lifestyle until she finally realizes it may not be for her. The film does a good job with back story too as we get a glimpse into the emotional side of these vamps. Genre and action fans should definitely give it a shot. Check out my full review here.
Pitch: Clang, clang, slice…
Why Rent? Korea is a country divided by political strife and pockets of rebellion, and these disagreements are settled with bloodshed. This action-filled period piece sees opposing forces clash over control of the country’s future, and where most Korean action films feature fisticuffs and kicking (lots and lots of kicking) this one prefers the route of cold steel. The sword fights are numerous and wonderfully choreographed, but they never overshadow the dramatic story behind it all.
Pitch: Bald psycho killers are scary, but they can’t hold a creepy candle to gingers…
Why Rent? The director of Two Moon Junction (Zalman King) attends a party where the host goes bald, crazy, and homicidal, and soon similar cases are popping up around the city. Writer/director Jeff Lieberman’s cult classic is an odd little film that features some truly tense and frightening scenes mixed in with some absurd dialogue and flat acting. It’s a cautionary tale of sorts about drug use, college experimentation, and hair loss, and while the ending is abruptly terrible the movie still has some fun to offer.
Pitch: Remember when Charlie Sheen was a talent to watch? No? Maxwell Caulfield? No? Umm, Penelope Spheeris maybe…
Why Rent? Two “teens” (Charlie Sheen and Maxwell Caulfield) from the Midwest leave school upon graduation and head for Los Angeles where they quickly become spree killers. Director Penelope Spheeris isn’t the only recognizable name behind the camera as it’s also the debut of screenwriters Glen Morgan and James Wong. The movie is a product of the eighties, but it still manages to be both engaging and entertaining in equal measure.
Pitch: Rutger Hauer is pretty much always reason enough to watch a movie. Even if he has less than ten minutes of screen time…
Why Rent? A trio of women meet on a post-WWII flight from Holland to New Zealand to reunite with their fiances. Also on board is a young man named Frank, and it’s his death fifty years later that brings the women back together and reveals the story of their relationships. This Dutch film is a beautifully shot romantic drama with strong performances all around, but if you need more of a reason to see it the third act features a fleshy interlude that ranks as one of the sexier scenes to hit screens in a while.
Pitch: Ellie Kemper and Rose Byrne deserve their own spin-off…
Why Rent? Annie (Kristen Wiig) is the perpetual bridesmaid type, and her life is in shambles. Her job, her living arrangement, and her friendships are all at risk of implosion when her best friend’s (Maya Rudolph) impending wedding sends Annie’s life into a tailspin. The entire airplane scene is pretty damn funny, and Chris O’Dowd brings a welcome degree of heart and smarts, but the film should probably have been trimmed by twenty minutes or so. Rent it and watch the gag reel for the best laughs. Check out Cole Abaius’ full review here.
Pitch: Even I can’t deny the guy is ruggedly handsome…
Why Rent? Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is a best selling mystery writer who partners with NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) in solving crimes and flirting. Three seasons in and this show is exactly what it was when it started, lightweight but entertaining as hell. Fillion is full of personality and charm, Katic is a pretty straight-man woman, and the cases rarely get too serious or convoluted. There’s a running back story involving Beckett’s mom’s murder, but for the most part the episodes are simple and fun little diversions that carry a lighthearted attitude similar to shows like Magnum, PI or Simon & Simon.
Pitch: Admittedly, I first watched the show expecting some hot Asian ladies, but I had to settle for the laughs…
Why Rent? A group of twenty-somethings hang out together as friends. There have been dozens of Friends imitators since the show ended in 2004, but this is the first to come close to capturing its near perfect chemistry and laugh per minute ratio. All six of the leads are solidly entertaining, but the two standouts are Elisha Cuthbert and Eliza Coupe. The former reminds us about her comedic chops from The Girl Next Door, and the latter reminds us that she was the only worthwhile addition to the final season of Scrubs for the same reason. It’s a funny show people. Watch it, and make it a success.
Pitch: Has there ever been a more entertaining show with such a terribly bland lead? No. No is the answer…
Why Rent? The Jack Lord classic returned to TV last year, and CBS turned it into their best and biggest show of the season. (Technically NCIS gets higher ratings though as soemthing is seriously wrong with American TV viewers.) Alex O’Cardboard stars as Steve McGarrett, but it’s the supporting cast that delivers the personality, thrills, and entertainment. Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and the lovely Grace Park all shine and make this show worth returning to week after week. Don’t let the fact that Merrill Barr likes it too turn you away from it… he gets one right once in a rare while.
Pitch: A six hour miniseries about an American family you may not have heard of before…
Why Rent? The miniseries used to be a staple of the television landscape, but somewhere along the way the networks gave up on the concept and left cable to pick up the slack. HBO is the big name in the field now, but they’re not alone. This History Channel Reelz Channel production was criticized for its truthiness, but it features some strong performances from the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Greg Kinnear, and Barry Pepper, and is entertaining in its scope. Katie Holmes also stars.
Pitch: “You guys sure kill a lot of people for a little money…”
Why Rent? Robert McBain (Christopher Walken) is a Vietnam vet who owes his life to a fellow soldier, and years after the war ends he gets the chance to pay that favor back. Of course, that favor is in Columbia where his friend has been leading a rebel army against a military dictatorship. Writer/director James Glickenhaus is no stranger to ridiculous but fun and violence-filled eighties action movies, and this 1991 film is no different. Highlights include Walken shooting a jet pilot mid air from another plane with a handgun. He’s also quite intimidating in his panama hat. **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD which requires either a region-free player or the willingness to watch on your PC.**
Pitch: He ran. He ran so far away…
Why Rent? Terry Hitchcock is a 57 year old widower who found himself sinking into depression over the loss of his wife. He discovers a new focus in life though when he decides to run the equivalent of 75 marathons across 75 days to raise money for breast cancer research. This documentary is filled with inspiring bits starting with the fact that Terry is not exactly the most in shape guy… friends, family, and doctors all warn him against the endeavor, but determination and love are powerful motivators.
Pitch: Choosing between death and a job at the post office isn’t as clear a decision as you’d think…
Why Rent? A scoundrel found guilty of fraud, con artistry, and all around poor judgement is given one chance at avoiding the gallows. He’s given the job of Postmaster and tasked with resuscitating the office to its former glory, but the job is far from simple as incompetence, magic, and the evil head of a UPS-like corporation stands in his way. This miniseries adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel is fast-moving and fun and looks fantastic to boot. fans of Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and Robert Rankin should find much to enjoy here.
Pitch: “As I lay gaspin for my next breff, I knew God had given me a second chance. But I was too stupid to take it. I was going to get what was mine…”
Why Avoid? Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson stars as a gangster who finds himself in trouble with other gangsters including Ryan Philippe and Bruce Willis. I’ll give you a second for that to sink in… Bruce Freaking Willis is in this direct to DVD movie with 50 Cent. If you thought that would be enough to make this worth watching you’d be incorrect. The film by co-writer/director Mike Gunther is filled with cliched dialogue and creative acting from all involved (aside from Willis). On the plus side there’s a fairly solid foot chase towards the end. On the down side the chase is only a minute long. Skip it and watch any other Willis film. Well, any of them aside from Mercury Rising.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Aliens vs Avatars
Body of Proof: The Complete First Season
Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
Law & Order: Los Angeles – The Complete Series
The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season
The River Murders
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?