"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini


Nov 152013

A divorced and single parent, Eva (Julia Louis Dreyfus) spends her days enjoying work as a masseuse but dreading her daughter’s impending departure for college. She meets Albert (James Gandolfini) — a sweet, funny and like-minded man also facing an empty nest. As their romance quickly blossoms, Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener), her new massage client. Marianne is a beautiful poet who seems almost perfect except for one prominent quality: she complains about her ex-husband way too much. Suddenly, Eva finds herself doubting her relationship with Albert when she realizes that Albert is the target of Marianne’s rants, and she begins to question her own perceptions about first impressions and second chances. Blu-ray extras: “Second Takes.” Vitals: Director: Nicole Holofcener. Stars: James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 93 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $14.809, million, Fox.

 Posted by on November 15, 2013 No Responses »
Nov 132013

photo for A vivid, three-dimensional portrait of youth confronting the funny, thrilling and perilous business of modern love and adulthood. Based on the Tim Tharp book, this is the tale of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior and effortless charmer whose “live in the moment” outlook on life is changed forever when he meets and unexpectedly falls in love with the not-so-average “good girl” Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). Sutter’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whisky-fortified 7UP cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee hovering over him. Not a member of the cool crowd, she’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She does have dreams, while Sutter lives in a world of impressive self-delusion. And yet they’re drawn to each other. What starts as an unlikely romance becomes a sharp-eyed, straight-up snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth — one that doesn’t look for tidy truths. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary with director James Ponsoldt, “Now to Then: Making The Spectacular Now” four part featurette: “Inception — Defying Hollywood,” “Cast — Finding the Voice,” “Aesthetic — Authenticity Counts” and “Real — Bringing It All to Life.” Vitals: Director: James Ponsoldt. Stars: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley , Brie Larson, Bob Odenkirk, Dayo Okeniyi, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.836 million, Lionsgate.

 Posted by on November 13, 2013 No Responses »
Nov 132013


Danny Kaye Clown Collectionscourt-jester

Danny Kaye: The Goldwyn Years (1944-48)
After conquering the Borscht Belt and Broadway, David Daniel Kaminski (Danny Kaye) got the nod from maverick impresario Samuel Goldwyn and quickly conquered cinema as America’s favorite clown. Set contains four features:

UP IN ARMS (1944) Kaye makes his feature film debut as the hypochondriac soldier Danny Weems who is enamored of nurse Mary (Constance Dowling) who actually loves Danny’s pal Joe (Dana Andrews), whose girl, nurse Virginia (Dinah Shore), really has the hots for Danny. The war might have proved the respite, but the whole quartet is now on a ship to the South Pacific.

WONDER MAN (1945) Virginia Mayo makes the first of her multiple movie pairings with Kaye in this crime comedy featuring a signature Kaye schtick: multiple roles in the same film. Kaye plays twins with a twist, one of them is a nightclub performer, the other a reclusive bookworm. One of them dead, murdered by the mob, the other possessed by his sibling’s spirit and set after the mobster that rubbed the brother out. Also features Vera-Ellen, Allen Jenkins and S.Z. Sakall.

KID FROM BROOKLYN (1946) A mild-mannered milkman accidentally ends up on the pro-boxing circuit thanks to a thick skull and an uncanny ability to avoid a punch. This re-working of Harold Lloyd’s The Milky Way features Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Steve Cochran, Eve Arden and Lionel Stander reprising his role from the original.

A SONG IS BORN (1948) Howard Hawks re-envisions his screwball classic, Ball of Fire as a superstar Jazz musical with Danny Kaye in the Gary Cooper role playing an out-of-it professor and Virginia Mayo in the Barbara Stanwyck role as the Snow White moll who sweeps seven monastic academics off their feet. With performances by Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Mel Powell, Harry Babasin, Louis Bellson, Al Hendrickson, The Golden Gate Quartet, Russo and the Samba Kings, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, and Buck and Bubbles.

Danny Kaye Double Feature

After stints at an array of studios, Danny Kaye came to call Paramount Pictures home for much of the fifties. It was there that Kaye created some of his most memorable screen portrayals, as evidenced by the pair found in this collection – both of which enjoy contributions from Kaye’s songstress spouse, Sylvia Fine.

THE COURT JESTER (1956) This epic comic fantasy sees Kaye playing a carnival performer who impersonates a fool to aid in the ousting of a usurping tyrant. Thanks to the amazing all-star cast (including Angela Lansbury and Basil Rathbone), a score courtesy of Sylvia Fine and Sammy Cahn, and creators Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, The Court Jester is rightly considered a cinema classic – ripe fare for young and old alike. 16×9 Widescreen

THE FIVE PENNIES (1959) This biopic, based on the roller-coaster life of Jazz hornblower Red Nichols, reteams Kaye with the legendary Louis Armstrong alongside a bevy of Big Band greats. Just as Red’s career takes off, his beloved daughter is stricken with polio and he must curtail his Dixieland dreams. Years later, Red makes a musical comeback thanks to the aid of some astonishing friends. Also stars Barbara Bel Geddes, Susan Gordon and Tuesday Weld (in her screen debut). 16×9 Widescreen

Jack Benny on the Big Screen

GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE (1942) Jack Benny stars in this classic comedy about a ‘confirmed cliff dweller’ banished to the wilds of the Pennsylvania countryside and the confines of a Colonial fixer-upper. Ann Sheridan plays the spouse who catches the old house flu and Hattie McDaniel co-stars as the maid along for the ride. Directed by William Keighley from a story by comedy kings George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.horn-midnight

THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT (1945) This cult classic comic fantasia finds Jack Benny playing the angel Athanael, sent down to Earth to blow The Last Trumpet and usher in Armageddon. Alexis Smith co-stars as his amorous angel co-worker, while Allyn Joslyn and John Alexander play Osidro and Doremus, a pair of fallen angels trying to cancel his apocalyptic gig. The butt of many jokes in its initial release – many of them thanks to Mr. Benny himself – The Horn Blows at Midnight is a cinema survivor that has the last laugh.

The Big Man Rides Out

CHEYENNE: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON (1962-63) After seven seasons, Cheyenne put up the saddle after saving a studio, a network, and forever changing American entertainment. Under the auspices of William T. Orr and creator/developer Roy Huggins, Cheyenne established the one-hour continuing drama as a pop-culture staple, eventually emerging as the dominant narrative force in American fiction. Helped in no small part by the charms of its star, the Big Man himself, Clint Walker, and the show’s blend of high adventure, drama and romance – all of which may be found in high abundance in this complete 13-Episode Collection. From shotgun marriages to abominable mountain-monsters, from range wars to the state senate, from amnesiac gunslingers to blind saloon singers, Cheyenne Bodie faces them all as he delivers his two-gun mix of justice and mercy across the plains. Long may he ride! Note: Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand.

4 Decades of Paramount Return to DVD

GOODBYE, COLUMBUS (1969) Film adaptation of Philip Roth’s best-selling social satire brings together Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw as young lovers crossing class lines and disapproving parents. Co-starring Jack Klugman and Nan Martin. 16×9 Widescreen

THE LAST TYCOON (1976) F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel about studio politics in early Hollywood comes to the screen courtesy of director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Harold Pinter. Robert DeNiro heads an astonishing cast playing a thinly disguised Irving Thalberg stand-in with Robert Mitchum, Jeanne Moreau, Theresa Russell, Anjelica Huston, Donald Pleasance and Jack Nicholson playing the studio chief’s cronies, lovers, pawns and opponents. 16×9 Widescreen

THIEF OF HEARTS (1984) This romantic thriller from the titanic production team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer stars Steven Bauer as a thief who seduces a wealthy suburbanite after stealing her diary (Barbara Williams). David Caruso co-stars as the accomplice that stand between the thief and a new life. 16×9 Widescreen

D.A.R.Y.L. (1985) Mary Beth Hurt and Michael McKean star in this Sci-Fi family drama that turns Frankenstein on its head. The Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform appears to be a teenager, but is built to be a weapon. Escaping the government, D.A.R.Y.L. gets a chance to be a real boy thanks to the love of Joyce and Andy Richardson but the government is on the hunt for their lost piece of hardware. 16×9 Widescreen

EXPLORERS (1985) Fab fan favorite director Joe Dante mixes flights of fantasy, innocence and humanist humor in this tale of three young visionaries who dream their way into a breathtaking interplanetary adventure. A very young River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke make their big-screen debuts. 16×9 Widescreen

SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER (1993) Steve Zaillian directs an all-star cast in this heartwarming adaptation of Fred Waitzkin’s memoir, Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess. Josh (Max Pomeranc) is a chess prodigy, so his hyper-competitive father (Joe Mantegna) sets him up with a demanding tutor, chess champion Bruce Pandolfini (Ben Kingsley). But Josh might prefer the lessons found with Washington Square Park chess hustler Vinnie (Laurence Fishburne). Also stars Joan Allen, William Macy, Laura Linney and David Paymer. 16×9 Widescreen

 Posted by on November 13, 2013 No Responses »
Nov 122013

From the Big Screen:

“Frances Ha,” “The Attack,” “Blackfish,” “Man of Steel” and “Turbo.” For more releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.


The Criterion Collection inaugurates their new strategy of packaging all releases as Blu-ray/DVD Combo sets with “City Lights” (1931). The most cherished film by Charlie Chaplin is also his ultimate Little Tramp chronicle. The writer-director-star achieved new levels of grace, in both physical comedy and dramatic poignancy, with this silent tale of a lovable vagrant falling for a young blind woman who sells flowers on the street (a magical Virginia Cherrill) and photo for City Lights mistakes him for a millionaire. Though this Depression-era smash was made after the advent of sound, Chaplin remained steadfast in his love for the expressive beauty of the pre-talkie form. The result was the epitome of his art and the crowning achievement of silent comedy. In a new, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance; “Chaplin Today: City Lights,” a 2003 documentary on the film’s production, featuring Aardman Animations cofounder Peter Lord; excerpt from Chaplin’s short film “The Champion” (1915), along with footage of the director with boxing stars at Chaplin Studios in 1918; trailers; booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Chaplin, and more.

For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Nov. 22, 1963), a day that forever changed American history, politics and culture, virtually every home video studio is putting out commemorative releases about the president, that fateful day, and the conspiracy surrounding his death (with most streeting next week). If you want a definitive collection of JFK films, then look no further than the “JFK 50th Commemorative Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray” from Warner. The set includes the Blu-ray edition of the 1991 Oliver Stone film, “JFK” (which explored the assassination and the possibility of a conspiracy behind it), starring Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Sissy Spacek, Jack Lemmon, Joe Pesci, Donald Sutherland, Laurie Metcalf, John Candy, Walter Matthau, Sally Kirkland and Edward Asner. The set also includes three captivating documentaries: Oliver Stone’s “JFK: To the Brink,” the insightful look at the JFK presidency that was included in his photo for JFK 50th Commemorative Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray 2012 Showtime Series, “The Untold History of the United States”; the brand-new “JFK Remembered: 50 Years Later” from filmmaker Robert Kline (also available as a separate DVD release for $5.94); and “John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums” (1965) (also available as a separate DVD release for $11.97), a documentary produced by George Stevens Jr. and written and directed by Bruce Herschensohn, who also composed the music. In addition, the “JFK UCE” includes the feature film drama “PT 109” (1963, starring Cliff Robertson), about Kennedy’s World War II experiences as a skipper in the South Pacific. The “JFK UCE” also contains commemorative items from the Kennedy Presidential Library: collectible reproductions of family and presidential photos, a campaign poster from the 1960 presidential campaign, and a copy of Kennedy’s historic inaugural address. Lastly, there’s a 32-page book of famous quotations, and a 44-page JFK movie photo book. “JFK” Extras: “Behind the Story,” commentary by director Oliver Stone, “Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy,” multimedia essays, “Assassination Update — The New Documents,” “Meet Mr. X: The Personality and Thoughts of Fletcher Prouty,” deleted/extended scenes, theatrical trailer. At $49.00, a bargain.

There’s two interesting sets of TV series coming to home video this week:
photo for Combat! The Complete Series The ground-breaking “Combat!” (1962-67) offered a gritty, unflinching look at American soldiers battling on the front lines in Europe during World War II, confronting imposing odds and demonstrating remarkable levels of ingenuity and courage. Vic Morrow and Rick Jason headed a stellar cast in the long-running war drama featuring an incomparable list of guest stars (including Eddie Albert, James Caan, James Coburn, Lee Marvin, Leonard Nimoy, Mickey Rooney, Rip Torn, Robert Duvall, Roddy McDowall, Sal Mineo, Telly Savalas, Bill Bixby, Claude Akins, Dennis Hopper, Ricardo Montalban and Wayne Rogers) as well as top directorial talent. “Combat! The Complete Series” consists of all 152 episodes, including the final season in color. $229.98 from Image Entertainment … “Dexter: The Complete Series Collection” (2006-13) includes all eight seasons in a collectible recreation of the actual blood slide box used by Dexter Morgan to catalog his victims on the show. Also designed and photo for Dexter: The Complete Series Collection included specifically for this collection is “Grafix: The Art of Dexter,” a collection of photography, fan artwork and iconography and images used in the series’ cutting edge promotional campaigns. Finally, fans will enjoy an all-new bonus disc with over three hours of behind-the-scene interviews, featurettes and more. This bonus material delves deep into the series and is highlighted by the new documentaries “The Evolution of Dexter Morgan” and “The Code.” In a 33-disc DVD, $352.99; 25-disc Blu-ray, $427.99 from Paramount.

Blu-ray debuts this week: “Nosferatu” (1922): F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” is resurrected in an HD edition mastered from the acclaimed 35mm restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, backed by an orchestral performance of Hans Erdmann’s 1922 score. An unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” “Nosferatu” remains to many viewers the most unsettling vampire film ever made, and its bald, spidery vampire, personified by the diabolical Max Schreck, continues to spawn imitations in the realm of contemporary cinema. From Kino Lorber … “All the President’s Men 2-Disc Special Edition” photo for All the President's Men 2-Disc Special Edition BLU-RAY(1976), directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander, Meredith Baxter, Ned Beatty and Stephen Collins, in a new Blu-ray two-disc version that commemorates the 40th anniversary of Watergate. Extras include a new documentary “All the President’s Men Revisited,” plus vintage special features: “Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President’s Men”; “Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire”; “Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat”; commentary by Redford; “Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President’s Men”; Jason Robards Interview excerpt from Dinah!, hosted by Dinah Shore; trailer. From Warner … John Carpenter plays a creepy-looking coroner who introduces a trilogy of blood-curdling tales (directed by himself and Tobe Hooper) in “John Carpenter Presents Body Bags Collector’s Edition” (1993): “The Gas Station” (starring Robert Carradine and Alex Datcher), “Hair” (starring Stacy Keach), and “Eye” (directed by Tobe Hooper, and starring Mark Hamill). With special appearances by Deborah Harry, Sheena Easton, Twiggy, David Naughton, John Agar, David Warner and cameos by notable horror film legends Wes Craven, Hooper, Sam Raimi, Roger Corman and Greg Nicotero. From Scream factory/Shout! Factory … “The Lion of the Desert” (1981), starring Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, Oliver Reed, John Gielgud, Raf Vallone and Irene Papas, from Anchor Bay … “The Message” (1977), starring Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas and Michael Ansara. From Anchor Bay.

From TV to DVD:

“The Best of Dance Moms:The Championship Dances” (2012) is a three-disc set of episodes that feature the hottest dance routines from Seasons 1 and 2, including full-length choreographed dances never before-seen-on TV. $14.98 from Lionsgate … “Blood on the Docks” (2011) consists of four episodes of the gritty French TV series — adapted from the best-selling crime novels by Graham Hurley — about the war on the streets in the port city of Le Havre. Three-disc DVD, $39.95 from MHz Home Entertainment … “The Carol Burnett Show: photo for The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas With Carol Christmas With Carol” features two complete holiday episodes from “The Carol Burnett Show”: December 21, 1974 and December 18, 1977, as well as an additional hour of bonus sketches such as “Christmas Night Quarrel” with Sid Caesar, “Charwoman: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Jonathan Winters and “The Twelve Days After Christmas.”$12.95 from StarVista Entertainment … “The Capture of Grizzly Adams” (1982) stars Dan Haggerty, Chuck Connors, June Lockhart and G.W. Bailey in a Dove Foundation approved made-for-TV family film that follows the wilderness-loving mountain man Grizzly Adams as he seeks to clear himself of a wrongful murder charge and rescue his daughter, who may be sent to an orphanage. From CBS/Paramount … “Dexter: The Complete Final Season” (2013) features the final 12 episodes of the bone-chilling series in a four-disc DVD, $57.99 and three-disc Blu-ray, $68.99. From Paramount … “East West 101: Series 2 & 3” (2009-11) is an Australian series about a young detective — a Muslim in a post-9/11 world where such an identity automatically arouses suspicion and fear — at the Major Crime Squad in Sydney. The detective and his team work together to solve cases involving people who represent a cross-photo for MADtv: Season Four section of modern Australia while exploring the fear and mistrust that exist between East and In a three-disc DVD set, $39.95 from MHz Home Entertainment … “Half Brother” (2013) consists of eight episodes of the Swedish TV series that revolves around the life of a family spanning the last half of the 20th century as an unproduced screenwriter searches for his elusive half-brother. our-disc DVD, $49.95. From MHz Home Entertainment … Primetime Emmy-winning series “MADtv” — a late night sketch-comedy show based on the humor of MAD magazine — was one of the top-rated late-night comedy staples in the 1990s and ran on Fox for 14 seasons. This fast-paced and irreverent sketch comedy series is well-known for its outrageous movie and television parodies, cutting political satires, commercial and music video spoofs, social commentary and pop culture send-ups. In this season, guest hosts Vivica A. Fox, Shaquille O’Neal, Keri Russell, Jerry Springer and others joined in with the ensemble to mock some of the year’s most popular movies, stars and politicians. “MADtv: Season Four” (1998-99) is a four-disc set with 25 episodes, $29.93 from Shout! Factory … Co-hosted by comic book maven Stan Lee, “Stan Lee’s Superhumans — Season Two” (2011) scours the globe for the real-life counterparts of Lee’s characters — people with unique genetic traits that translate into remarkable powers. These include a Shaolin monk with an unbreakable body, a man who may be the greatest jumper in the world and another who can control sharks. Four-disc set, $24.98. From Lionsgate.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Action Packed Movie Marathon, Vol. 2” is a two-disc set with four action flicks. “Bulletproof” (1988): Los Angeles cop/ex-CIA agent Frank “Bulletproof” McBain (Gary Busey) travels across the border to retrieve a top-secret attack vehicle which was hijacked by Russian-backed Libyan terrorists. Darlanne Fluegel and Henry Silva also star. “Bamboo Gods and Iron photo for Action Packed Movie Marathon, Vol. 2 Men” (1974): An attempt is made by an underworld organization to recover a carved Buddha in which is hidden a substance powerful enough to control the world. “Trackdown” (1976): A Montana rancher (Jim Mitchum) comes to Los Angeles, searching for his runaway sister (Karen Lamm), who has become entangled in a world of crime, drugs, and prostitution. Erik Estrada, Anne Archer and Cathy Lee Crosby also star. “Scorchy” (1976): Scorchy (Connie Stevens) is a female undercover agent who will stop at nothing to bust a drug-smuggling ring. Cesare Danova, William Smith and Greg Evigan also star. $9.99 from Shout! Factory … In “Ambushed” (2013), starring Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Vinnie Jones, Carly Pope, Gianni Capaldi and Daniel Bonjour, a pair of mid-level drug pushers want a chance to hit the big time and decide to achieve their goal by ripping off their middleman in a murderous bid for greatness, setting off a dangerous chain of events involving a ruthless crime boss, a dirty cop and the Federal agent chasing them all. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo. From Anchor Bay … When an island off the coast of Ireland is invaded by bloodsucking aliens, the townspeople discover that the tentacled creatures are allergic to alcohol — so getting drunk is the only way to survive in “Grabbers” (2012 — UK/Ireland), starring Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley and Russell Tovey. From IFC Films … photo for Ip Man: The Final Fight“Ip Man: The Final Fight” (2013 — Hong Kong), starring Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Jordan Chan, Gillian Chung, Marvel Chow, Anita Yuen, Xiong Xin-xin and Wong Cho-lam, follows legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man’s later life in Hong Kong as he struggles against the vicissitudes of life: His pursuit of a romance with a young singer after his wife’s death (against the wishes of his disciples); his relationship with his elder son; his thoughts on Bruce Lee, who would become his most celebrated student; and challenges from a rival kung fu school that draws him into the dark and dangerous underworld of the Triads. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc. From Well Go USA … Faced with the absurd competitiveness surrounding his son’s youth league baseball team, a famous comedian decides to get to know the colorful parents and coaches better in an attempt to find the inspiration for his next movi in “Dealin’ With Idiots” (2013), directed by and starring Jeff Garlin; co-stars Max Wright, Nia Vardalos, Bob Odenkirk, Gina Gershon, Timothy Olyphant, J.B. Smoove and Jami Gertz. From IFC Films.

On the Indie Front:

“Prince Avalanche” (2013), starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, is an offbeat buddy comedy about an odd couple of sorts, the introspective and stern Alvin and his girlfriend’s brother, Lance, dopey and insecure, who leave the city behind to spend the summer of 1988 repainting traffic lines on a desolate country highway that’s been ravaged by wildfire. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each photo for Prince Avalancheother and the women they left behind, but eventually they develop an unlikely friendship. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment … Armed with nothing more than twigs, their imaginations and a simple set of rules, a group of 12-year-olds engaged in a lively game of “Capture the Flag” in the neighborhood woods start dangerously blurring the lines between make-believe and reality in “I Declare War” (2012), starring Gage Munroe, Michael Friend, Aidan Gouveia, Andy Reid, Spencer Howes, Alex Cardillo, Dyson Fyke and Eric Hanson. On DVD and Blu-ray from Drafthouse Films … After surviving a plane crash and coming into a big, fat insurance payout, a young conservative woman suffers a crisis of faith and heads out to Las Vegas with a checklist of untried sins for a comedic and oddball odyssey of lost souls, broken faith and cheap cocktails in “Paradise” (2013), directed by Diablo Cody and starring Julianne Hough, Octavia Spencer, Russell Brand, Holly Hunter and Nick Offerman. On DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment … Three strangers — — a single mother from Toronto, an irresponsible British teen, and a New Yorker trying to escape his criminal past — are deported to a home they’ve never known and are forced to start their lives over on the unforgiving streets of Jamaica in “Home Again” (2012), starring Tatyana Ali, Stephan James and Lyriq Bent. From One Village Entertainment.


“Animals” (2012 — Spain), starring Oriol Pla, Augustus Prew and Martin Freeman, is an unconventional coming-of-age tale, an intoxicating blend of fantasy and cold reality. Seventeen-year-old high-schooler Pol has stubbornly extended his childhood, aided in no small measure by his opinionated, drums-playing, English-speaking pet Teddy bear, Deerhoof. But when he meets alluring new student Icari, the safety of Pol’s innocent imagination crumbles as he experiences his first pangs of love and sexual longing. Catalan helmer Marcal Fores’ debut feature. From Artsploitation Films.

For the Family:

“Barney: Perfectly Purple” (2013) offers three episodes with rainbows of sharing, caring and imagination with the purple dinosaur: “A Perfectly Purple Day,” “Arts” and “Neighborhood.” $14.98 from Lionsgate … “Chief Wilson” (2013) is the latest title in the popular pre-school “Chuggington” animated train series. Features the episodes “Chief Wilson” and “Stop Koko photo for Barney: Perfectly Purple Stop” from the new television season, as well as “Magnetic Wilson,” “Wilson’s Wacky Tour,” “Chugger of the Year” and “Undercover Action Chugger,” plus a bonus Badge Quest episode, “Chug Patrol.” $14.98 from Anchor Bay … “Mumfie’s White Christmas” (1995) is the first release from the series “Britt Allcroft’s Magic Adventures of Mumfie,” about a special little elephant who sets off to find adventure, meeting new friends Scarecrow and Pinkey the flying pig along the way. Here Mumfie, Scarecrow and Pinkey mount a quest across sea and snow to ask Santa for a wintery white Christmas. (Britt Allcroft is creator of the award winning children’s television shows “Thomas and Friends” and “Shining Time Station.”) $9.98 from Lionsgate … After two young elves give Santa and the North Pole food poisoning they must redeem their Naughty List status by finding a way to save Christmas in “The Naughty List” (2013), with the voices of Matthew Lillard, Drake Bell, Sean Astin, Kyle Chandler and Naya Rivera. From ARC Entertainment.

Special Interest:

“Gettysburg and the Civil War” (2013) is a box set that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (November 19, 2013). Includes the documentary “Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray,” which presents the crucial battle of the war as described by the soldiers who took part in it; a 24-page illustrated history of the conflict; and a selection of recreated replica memorabilia, including a map of the Battle of Gettysburg, a map of America which illustrates the extent to which the nation was divided, and an 1863 “call to arms” by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. $19.99 from PBS Distribution … Known as the father of photo for In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey American Primitive Guitar, John Fahey is considered to be a foundational figure in American folk music. As both musician and musicologist, Fahey made an important contribution to our understanding and appreciation of such music genres as Delta blues, Appalachian bluegrass and New Orleans jazz. The documentary “In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey” (2013) combines interviews, performances and archival footage with animation in a musically charged tribute to a tremendously influential composer, guitarist and provocateur. Interviewees include The Who’s Pete Townshend, Chris Funk of The Decemberists and renowned radio personality Dr. Demento. From First Run Features … Universal has three 3D Blu-ray releases this week: “Fascination Coral Reef: Hunters and the Hunted” (2013): Eat or be eaten … it’s all about survival. This undersea adventure explores the brightly colored reefs, teeming with life and hungry attackers in a struggle between the hunters and the hunted. Surprisingly, the diverse fish confuse some of the attackers — sharks — with their vast display of shapes and colors; “Ocean Predators” (2013): Documentary takes a look at an underwater world of dangerous predators with razor-sharp teeth and unveils the mysteries surrounding sharks, barracudas and moray eels; “Polar Bears: Ice Bear” (2013): The Polar Bear is the Arctic’s biggest predator … but what happens to the “Ice Bear” when there’s no ice? This documentary features breathtaking 3D cinematography shot over 12 months in the Canadian Arctic, capturing rarely-seen behavior for an enthralling and captivating look at the bear’s changing world. All three also play in 2D on any Blu-ray player.

 Posted by on November 12, 2013 No Responses »
Nov 112013

photo for When Princeton grad student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) believes he’s been swindled by an online poker site, he heads to Costa Rica to confront gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), the man he thinks is responsible. But Richie is seduced by Block’s promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him. Blu-ray extras: “House of Cards: The Inside Story of Online Poker,” deleted scenes. Vitals: Director: Brad Furman. Stars: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $18.819 million, Fox.

 Posted by on November 11, 2013 No Responses »
Nov 112013

photo for Don Jon Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to have a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off with him into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy. Extras: HitRECord Shorts: “My Favorite Things: Request Video,” “My Favorite Things Remix: Film Preservation,” “Love of Objects,” “Vinegar.” Blu-ray adds “Making of Don Jon,” “Don Jon’s Origin,” “Joe’s Hats,” “Objectified,” “Themes & Variations.” Vitals: Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $23.501 million, Fox.

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Nov 112013

photo for A high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly brings two exceptional lawyers (Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall) with a romantic past together on the defense team. They soon realize they’ve stepped into a dangerous web of cover-ups and lies, and their knowledge of the government’s top-secret classified evidence has put their reputations and lives at stake. Extras: “Secrets Behind the Camera: Closed Circuit” featurette. Vitals: Director: John Crowley. Stars: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds, Julia Stiles, Jim Broadbent. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $5.733 million, Universal.

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Nov 112013

photo for Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child’s life is at stake, the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? Extras: Two featurettes: “Prisoners — Every Moment Matters,” “Prisoners — Powerful Performances.” Vitals: Director: Dennis Villeneuve. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 153 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $59.127 million, Warner.

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Nov 072013

photo for White House Down Every once in awhile a high concept idea bubbles up in Hollywood that’s so good that, in the same year — sometimes only a few months apart — two “copycat” movies on the same or similar themes get made. Such was the case in 1998 with “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” and “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life,” and in 2006 with “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige.” This year the hot idea floating through Hollywood was “Die Hard in the White House,” and so in March we got Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” in which an ex-Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) single-handedly fights off North Korean terrorists who have taken over the White House, and then in June we got Roland Emmerich’s “White House Down,” in which a wannabe Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) single-handedly fights off U.S. terrorists who have taken over the White House. Both films scored about the same with critics and audiences, with “Olympus” taking in about $25 million more than its counterpoint (probably because it was first out of the gate). Both films have likeable (if not overly talented) leads; both films sport strong support by their co-stars (Morgan Freeman in “Olympus” and Jamie Foxx in “White House”); both films have great special effects and destruction sequences (Emmerich is used to destroying things; he wiped out the White House once before, in “Independence Day,” and wiped out the world in “2012”)); both films have despicable villains you can root against; both films vindicate the hero and freedom-loving people everywhere (I added that last part in just for the heck of it). If you liked “”Olympus,” pop “White House” into your DVD player and enjoy the excitement. The synopsis: Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, and, coincidentally, during their visit, the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter … and the country. Extras: Four Featurettes: “A Dynamic Duo,” a look at the chemistry between Tatum and Foxx and their on-screen presence; “Men of Action” featurette on Tatum’s willingness and desire to perform his own stunts, as well as the extensive training required; “Roland Emmerich — Upping the Ante,” a look at Emmerich’s vision for the film; “Meet the Insiders” on the supporting cast. Blu-ray adds a gag reel and nine more featurettes: “The Beast,” a look at the film’s presidential limo; “The Full Arsenal: Guns, Grenades, Tanks and Choppers”; “VFX Boundaries Down”; “The Inside Story” about the film’s fast-moving rise from concept to the big screen; “Presidential Treatment,” a look at the size and scope of the massive production; “Lights, Camera, Heart-Pumping Action”; “Crashing the Oval Office,” a look at how the filmmakers constructed a stunt set, then drove an SUV at full speed into the Oval Office; “Drowning the Beast” presidential limo escape from the White House pool; “Recreating the White House,” about the meticulous detail that went into replicating the White House. Vitals: Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 131 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $72.425 million, Sony. 3 stars

 Posted by on November 7, 2013 No Responses »
Nov 072013

photo for Girl Most Likely “Girl Most Likely” is a pretty dull outing for talented actress Kristen Wiig, who’s been trying to step out from her supporting roles as everyman’s wife and girlfriend and hold down a film by herself. Coming off 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” in which she almost lost the film to an overpowering Melissa McCarthy, Wiig took on the lead in this boxoffice flop about a failed New York playwright — dumped by her high-society boyfriend — who has to move back home with her younger brother, her gambling-addicted mother (Annette Bening), and her mom’s oddball new boyfriend (Matt Dillon). It’s a worked to death premise not made any better by lackluster direction, slow pacing, and laughs that are far and few between. Extras: “Making Most Likely” featurette, “Life in the Human Shell” featurette, deleted scenes, gag reel. Vitals: Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. Stars: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Christopher Fitzgerald, June Diane Raphael, Natasha Lyonne, Bob Balaban. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $1.370 million, Lionsgate. 2 stars

 Posted by on November 7, 2013 No Responses »