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More News: January-June 2010
Warner Home Video Celebrates Bogie
He's ranked No. 1 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest screen actors; he was the quintessential Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe; and his tough guy persona captured the imagination of a generation of film lovers coming of age in the '60s. He's Humphrey Bogart and on Oct. 5 Warner Home Video will celebrate the icon's career by bringing two of his best performances to Blu-ray: "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "The Maltese Falcon," both newly restored and remastered ($24.98 each). Also on that date Warner will present one of the most spectacular classic film collections ever amassed: "Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection," a definitive Bogie collection that features 24 of his most legendary films on 12 discs, packed with such special features as commentaries with film historians, historical featurettes and short documentaries, studio blooper reels, vintage radio shows, classic cartoons and newsreels that were played in theaters prior to the features, and much more; $99.98. Check out the complete list of films and read the Warner Home Video press release.
'The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut' Hits Blu-ray
Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin's masterpiece of suspense that haunted, intrigued, and thrilled the world, is coming to standard DVD and Blu-ray again on Oct. 5, but this time remastered in the Extended Director's Cut. A true cinema landmark, this theological thriller is one of the top 10 box office performers of all time. "The Exorcist" went on to win two Academy Awards and became a multi-million dollar franchise. When the movie was first released in 1973, viewers were blown away. Audience members were frightened out of their wits -- and literally out of their seats. Some ran out of the theater; others got physically ill or couldn't sleep for weeks. Newly remastered in 1080p from the original camera negative, the Blu-ray version includes both the remastered Extended Director's Cut as well as the remastered theatrical version of the film. According to Friedkin, "After my final cut of the original 'The Exorcist,' I took out 12 more minutes before we actually released it in theaters. Years later, Bill Blatty asked if I'd consider reviewing some of that rejected footage (which he always felt should have remained) with an eye towards putting it into a new version. Bill gave me the best piece of material I've ever received and because of that and because the film had such a major reputation over some 25 years, I agreed to revisit all these scenes. When I saw them, I came to realize that Bill was, in fact, right. With technical advances, scenes that didn't work then could now be fixed with CGI and there were others that I thought strengthened the spiritual aspect of the film. Warner agreed and released a whole new theatrical print in 2000 which we called 'The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen.' And I now agree with Blatty that this is the best and most complete version." Read about the Blu-ray edition,
This Week's Releases (June 29)
From the Big Screen:
"The White Ribbon," "The Crazies," "Percy Jackson" and "Hot Tub Time Machine." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
From TV to Video: (6/29)
"The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "How the Earth Was Made: The Complete Season Two" (2009-10) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes, $39.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Leave It to Beaver: The Complete Series" (1957-63) is a 37-disc set with 234 episodes, $199.99. Extras include: Special commemorative booklet, special "value-added" exclusive replica of the original "Leave It to Beaver Money Maker Board Game," a full-disc of exclusive bonus features offering a nostalgic look at the television series from the cast and crew: "It's A Small World" rare pilot episode that started it all, "Forever the Beaver: The Cleavers Look Back," "Ken Osmond and Frank Bank Remember," "The Drum Major of the Toy Parade" conversation with theme song composer Dave Kahn, six episodes of Shokus Radio's "Stu's Show" featuring members of the cast, special film for the U.S. Treasury featuring the Cleavers, original network promos; from Shout! Factory ... "Nuclear Hurricane"
(2007) is a Syfy Channel disaster flick about a meltdown at the world's most advanced nuclear reactor just as a gigantic hurricane bears is about to hit; from E1 Entertainment ... "Paranormal Cops" (2010) is a two-disc set with six episodes, $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Real McCoys: Complete Season 4" (1960-61) is a fur-disc set with 39 episodes, $29.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... "St. Urbain's Horseman" (2007) stars David Julian Hirsch, Elliott Gould and Andrea Martin in a Canadian miniseries based on Mordecai Richler's post-WWII novel; from E1 Entertainment. A&E Home Entertainment also has five Lifetime Movies due this week: "The Dive From Clausen's Pier" (2004) starring Michelle Trachtenberg, Sean Maher, Will Estes; "The Mermaid Chair" (2006) starring Kim Basinger, Alex Carter, Bruce Greenwood; "The Other Woman" (2008) starring Josie Bissett, Ted Whittall, MacKenzie Porter, Jason Priestley; "Plain Truth" (2004) starring Mariska Hargitay, Alison Pill; and "What if God Were the Sun" (2007) starring Lacey Chabert, Gena Rowlands.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (6/29)
Director Paul Schneider's "Pretty Bird" (2009) is based on the outrageous true story of three would-be entrepreneurs who set out to invent and market a personal rocket belt. As personalities clash and individual agendas emerge, the partnership begins to unravel in shockingly unexpected ways. A humorous look at the folly of human ambition and a parable about the dark side of the American Dream. Stars Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, Kristen Wiig, David Hornsby and Anna Camp. From Paramount ... In "Don McKay" (2009), starring Thomas Haden Church, Rachel Harker, Elisabeth Shue and Stephen Benson, Don McKay, a high school janitor who leaves his hometown after a tragedy, returns 25 years later to rekindle a romance with his old flame, who is dying, but the homecoming brings McKay more than he bargained for. From Image Entertainment ... In "The Eclipse" (2009), starring Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjele and Aidan Quinn, a teacher who believes his house is haunted meets up with a horror writer and a novelist in a quaint seaside Irish town. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... A devoted cop haunted by the unsolved disappearance of his young son eight years earlier discovers the buried remains of a boy who was brutally murdered more than half a century ago in the same region, and he becomes obsessed with investigating the long-forgotten crime in "Stolen (aka Stolen Lives)" (2009), starring Josh Lucas, Jon Hamm, Jimmy Bennett and Rhona Mitra. From IFC Films ... After a third teenage girl disappears from their idyllic suburb, Suzy -- the girl-next-door of every boy's dreams -- persuades Daniel, a 14-year-old with an obsessive crush, to help her uncover the terrible truth in "Beautiful" (2009), starring Peta Wilson and Aaron Jeffery; from E1 Entertainment.
In "Blood on the Highway" (2008), three maladjusted twentysomethings -- on their way to a rock concert -- accidentally wander into a town populated by bloodthirsty, dim-witted vampires. With no way to escape, they join the last remaining humans and prepare for an all-out, no-holds-barred battle with an army of the undead. Stars Deva George, Nate Rubin and Robin Gierhart. From E1 Entertainment ... In "The Brotherhood VI: Initiation" (2009), the latest installment in "The Brotherhood" franchise, a group of pledges arrive at a secluded lake cabin for a fraternity initiation, where they're met by a blood-thirsty lumberjack who won't stop until he's killed them all. From E! Entertainment ... When a marauding gang of swordsmen rampages a peaceful town, capturing every last sword master and demanding an unthinkable ransom, only one man dares to fight back in "Return of the One-Armed Swordsman" (1969 -- Hong Kong), starring Jimmy Wang Yu. From Vivendi/Weinstein/Dragon Dynasty ... "The Warlords" (2007 -- Hong Kong) is set in the midst of war and political upheaval during the Taiping Rebellion of the 1860s, when a general joins two bandits to fight off evil warlords, taking an oath to become "blood brothers," pledging loyalty to one another until death ... but things quickly turn sour and the three men become embroiled in a web of political deceit, and a love triangle involving a beautiful courtesan. Stars Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Wu Jing-Le. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles"
(2010) is a six-disc set of the first five seasons of the Internet series that takes place in the distant future where 10 soldiers battle for control of the least desirable piece of real estate in the known universe -- a box canyon in the middle of nowhere. $59.95 from New Video/Flatiron Film Company.
On the Indie Front: (6/29)
A successful middle-aged psychiatrist who always wanted to be a singer but followed his immigrant parents' wishes instead, finds that old dreams die hard in "Once More With Feeling" (2009), starring Chazz Palminteri, Maria Tucci and Drea de Matteo; from IFC Films ... A man coming off a disastrous affair with a married woman has a lyrical, strange and comedic cross-country journey in a modified VW bus in "Bass Ackwards" (2010); from New Video/Flatiron Film Company ... In "Homeland" (2009), five fates become entwined when a Marine returns on furlough from Iraq and sets out to look for his father on the wild Northwest coast; his journey becomes harder and harder as it intersects with his un-met step-mother, a bitter First Gulf War veteran, and the British stewardess from his flight home. And then a body washes up on the beach; from Vanguard Cinema ... In "The Last Big Thing" (1996), starring Mark Ruffalo, Dan Zukovic and Susan Heimbinder, a young man wages war against all of modern American popular culture, starting a magazine called "The Next Big Thing," which he uses to confront and insult upcoming actors, comics, models and rock bands. As his mysterious Underground Agenda escalates, will he become the "last big thing" or be co-opted by the very forces he is railing against? From Vanguard Cinema ... The indie outing "String Theory" (2009) starts as a seemingly simple morality tale centered on the fate of a beat-up church in Santa Monica, but ends as a psychedelic meditation on the modern experience of God. The Altman-esque cast of characters who interact in the course of one day include a surfer strung-out on theoretical physics, a dissatisfied lawyer, a morally compromised TV minister, a homeless man, a twisted city councilman, a prostitute, two bookies and a mysterious mute boy. From Vanguard Cinema.
For the Family: (6/29)
"Madeline's Great Adventures" (1993) features six episodes from the animated series based on the popular children's books; Madeline and friends encounter their very own Arabian lamp, a visit from the Prince of Monaco, a band of pirates and even track down 40 charitable thieves; $12.99 from Shout! Factory ... "The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo The Complete Series" (1985) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $19.98 from Warner.
Special Interest: (6/29)
Long before YouTube, there were the brilliantly insane, no-budget movies of underground, filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar. Creating stars out of their friends and family with just consumer-grade cameras, the teenage Kuchar brothers went from the 1960s New York City underground film scene of Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger to become the twin maestros of B-movie glamour and sleaze. In a mesmerizing stream-of-consciousness style, the documentary "It Came From Kuchar" (2009) effortlessly weaves nostalgic footage of 1950s New York, a "greatest hits" collection of Kuchar clips and present day interviews of an all-star lineup of fans including John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Wayne Wang, Bill Griffith, Gerard Malanga, B. Ruby Rich and Guy Maddin. Both outrageous and lovable, George and Mike will inspire you to pick up a camera and start making movies. $24.95 from IndiePix Films ... "Soul of a People: Writing America's Story" (2009) is the powerful story behind the controversial public assistance program the Federal Writers Project -- one of four arts programs in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, established during the height of the Great depression -- that hired unemployed men and women to document America in books, guides and interviews. $19.98 from Infinity Entertainment Group.
This Week's Releases (June 22)
From the Big Screen:
"Green Zone," "She's Out of My League" and "The Last Station." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (6/22)
This week sees two impoprtant films from The Criterion Collection: "Red Desert" and "Night Train to Munich." Michelangelo Antonioni's 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and "Red Desert" (1964), his first color film, remains one of his greatest. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age -- about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti ("L'avventura"), wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband's co-worker, played by Richard Harris ("This Sporting Life") -- continues to exert force over viewers. With one startling, painterly composition after another -- of abandoned fishing cottages, electrical towers, overwhelming docked ships -- "Red Desert" creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema's preeminent poet of the modern age. New, restored high-definition digital transfer. "Night Train to Munich" (1940)is a twisting, turning, cloak-and-dagger delight, a gripping, occasionally comic confection from writers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat (Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes") and director Carol Reed ("The Fallen Idol," "The Third Man"). Paced like an out-of-control locomotive, "Night Train" takes viewers on a World War II–era journey from Prague to England to the Swiss Alps, as Nazis pursue a Czech scientist and his daughter (Margaret Lockwood), who are being aided by a debonair British undercover agent, played by Rex Harrison. This captivating, long-overlooked adventure -- which also features "Casablanca's" Paul Henreid -- mixes comedy, romance, and thrills with enough skill and cleverness to give the master of suspense himself pause. New, restored high-definition digital transfer.
The restored version of "A Star Is Born," one of Hollywood's clasics, is a joy to behold. The George Cukor-directed 1954 film starring Judy Garland and James Mason was shortened for theatrical release after its premiere; this edition uses the original camera negative (and some still photos to replace lost footage) to bring the film back up to its three-hour running time. The technicolor comes to life with shimmering colors and the musical numbers ring with authority. There's nearly four hours of special features, including deleted scenes, alternate takes of some of the musical numbers, rare recording session music, alternate dramtic scenes, a 1954 studio exhibitor reel, and much, much more in the standard two-disc DVD set, a two-disc book format with 40 pages of photographs, and a Blu-ray edition. The last DVD edition of 'A Star Is Born' was in 2000; this one uses the latest technology to re-present the CinemaScope picture in all its glory, making it an important replacement for the previous, shortened edition. ... "Death Race 2000 Special Edition" is the latest addition to the Shout! Factory Roger Corman's Cult Classics collection. The 1975 film stars David Carradine, Simone Griffeth, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins and Martin Kove in a madcap adventure as a group of race car drivers trying to win the world's toughest car race -- Death Race 2000 -- in a post=apocalyptic America. Extras include "David on Death Race": A brief look back from star David Carradine recorded in 2008; commentary by Roger Corman and Mary Woronov; commentary by assistant director Lewis Teague and editor Tina Hirsch; "Playing the Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000"; "Ready to Wear": In-depth interview with costume designer Jane Ruhm on her inventive work for this film and other Roger Corman classics; "Designing Dystopia!": A detailed look at the film's futuristic landscapes and now-classic race cars with co-art director B.B. Neel, car designer James Powers and car constructor Dean Jeffries; "Start Your Engine!": How the world of "Death Race 2000" came to life, interview with original story creator Ib Melchior; "Killer Score": An all-new interview with composer Paul Chihara on the creation of the film's eclectic score, which was also his first feature film composition; Leonard Maltin interviews Roger Corman about "Death Race 2000"; collectible 12-page booklet.
From TV to Video: (6/22)
"Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season" (2009) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $39.98 from HBO ... "Hung: The Complete First Season"
(2009) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $39.9 from HBO.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (6/22)
"The Good Guy" (2010) stars Alexis Bledel, Anna Chlumsky, Andrew McCarthy, Bryan Greenberg and Scott Porter in the story of an ambitious young Manhattanite and urban conservationist who wants it all: a good job, good friends, and a good guy to share the city with ... of course that last one is often the trickiest in these complicated, modern times. From Lionsgate ... After an unfortunate mishap at the top of his game, mixed martials arts fighter Matt Chase retires for a life without glory, until he is forced back into the ring against the current undefeated champion, to kill or be killed in "Circle of Pain" (2010), starring Tony Schiena, Dean Cain, Ling Bai and Heath Herring; from Lionsgate ... Former football star turned convict, Tyler "The Fuse" Draven, discovers in jail that he has the ability to create fire by mere thought alone, and he uses his new-found power to wreak havoc and get revenge on everyone that's ever done him wrong ... which means the entire world in "Fireball" (2009, )starring Ian Somerhalder, Lexa Doig and Aleks Paunovic, from MTI Home Video ..."Riverworld" (2010) is a four-hour Syfy channel original movie in which Matt, an American journalist, and his fiancee Jessie are killed in an explosion, but reawaken in a very unusual afterlife -- a mysterious planet with an endless river terrain. Everyone who has ever lived on Earth has been resurrected simultaneously in this strange new world. Separated from Jessie, Matt joins forces with an intrepid crew including a 13th century female warrior and riverboat captain Mark Twain to find her, all the while tracked by the watchful eye of a mysterious alien force. Stars Alan Cumming, Tahmoh Penikett, Laura Vandervoort, Peter Wingfield, Jeananne Goossen. From RHI Entertainment/Vivendi Entertainment.
Based on Charles Perrault's grisly fairy tale, "Bluebeard" (2009 -- French), starring Dominique Thomas and Lola Creton, tells the story of young Marie-Catherine, child bride to an aristocratic ogre with a reputation for murdering his wives, who must employ all her cunning to outwit her husband and escape the most unpleasant of fates. Controversial director Catherine Breillat ("The Last Mistress," "Fat Girl") brings her personal touch to this classic tale, a favorite of good little French girls since the 1950s. From Strand Releasing.
For the Family: (6/22)
"Tom & Jerry Deluxe Anniversary Collection" is a two-disc set with 30 classic cartoons, $26.99. Features seven shorts that became Oscar winners for Best Short Subject, Cartoons: "Yankee Doodle Mouse," "Mouse Trouble," "Quiet Please!," "The Cat Concerto," "The Little Orphan," "Johann Mouse" and "Two Mousketeers." Also included is an excerpt from the 1945 live-action film "Anchors Aweigh," in which Jerry performs a dance routine with Gene Kelly. Another featured excerpt is from the 1953 musical film" Dangerous When Wet," in which Tom and Jerry appear with Esther Williams in a dream sequence where they perform a synchronized swimming routine. From Warner.
Special Interest: (6/22)
"Fuel" (2009) is an award-winning documentary film about alternative energy, a comprehensive and entertaining look at energy in America: a history of where we have been, our present predicament and a solution to our dependence on foreign oil. The film flows seamlessly through scientific data, facts, history and personal narrative, and like any good narrative, it has intrigue, conspiracy, greed…and murder. Directed by Josh Tickell and featuring Barbara Boxer, Richard Branson, Sheryl Crow, Larry David, John Paul DeJoria, Larry Hagman, Woody Harrelson, Jim Hightower, Robert Kennedy Jr., Vinod Khosla, Willie Nelson, Julia Roberts and Neil Young. $24.95 from Cinema Libre: EarthNOW! Also from Cinema Libre is "The Children's War" (2009), a documentary on the lost generation of Ugandan youth, the result of a 21-year civil war where a vicious rebel army leads a massive and coldly systematic child abduction machine.
This Week's Releases (June 15)
From the Big Screen:
"The Book of Eli," "When in Rome" and "Youth in Revolt." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (6/15)
Though it bombed when first released theatrically in 1995, "Showgirls," written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Paul Verhoeven (the team that brought you "Basic Instinct") has gained a reputation as a cult film of sorts and has begun pole dancing its way to many a Net critics' guilty pleasures viewing list. Apparently it has been one of the highest-grossing DVDs for MGM, generating more than $100 million from video rentals. The film -- the epitome of stupid sleaziness - centers on a young drifter (Elizabeth Berkley) who arrives in Las Vegas to become a dancer and soon sets about clawing and pushing her way to become the top of the Vegas showgirls. MGM's "Showgirls: 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition," which also stars Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon, Glenn Plummer, Robert Davi and Alan Rachins, arrives as a two-disc set with Blu-ray and standard DVD versions. Bonus features include "Pole Dancing: Finding Your Inner Stripper," "Lap Dance Tutorial Featuring the World-Famous Girls of Scores," "The Greatest Movie Ever Made: A Commentary by David Schmader," "Showgirls Fact-Up Trivia" and a "A Showgirls Diary."
From TV to Video: (6/15)
"American Dad! Volume 5" (2009-10) is a three-disc set with 14 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7" (2009-10) is a single disc with 11 episodes of the hit animated Adult Swim series, $29.98 from Warner ... "The Best Years: The Complete Second Season" (2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Everwood: The Complete Third Season" (2004-05) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "Family Guy: Volume 8" (2008-10) s a three--disc set with 15 episodes from the seventh and eighth seasons, $49.98 from Fox ... "HawthoRNe: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $34.95 from Sony ... "Leave It to Beaver: Season Three" (2009) is a six-disc set with 39 episodes, $39.97 from Shout! Factory ... "MacGyver: The TV Movies" presents two TV movies that followed the series finale: "MacGyver -- The Lost Treasure of Atlantis" and "MacGyver -- Trail to Doomsday"; $19.95 from CBS/Paramount ... "Sanctuary: The Complete Second Season" (2009-10) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $44.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume 4" (2010) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $39.99 from Disney.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (6/15)
In "Sister's Keeper" (2007), starring Kent Faulcon, Denise Boutte and Eric Roberts, a hit man sent to a small Southern town to eliminate a beautiful English teacher is mistaken for her long-lost brother, and he finds himself drawn into her frank and colorful family, causing him to have to choose between executing what should be an easy murder-for-hire and trying to solve the mystery of who would want the innocent woman dead; from MTI Home Video ... In "Unthinkable" (2009) (which was move to this week from June 1), starring Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Michael Sheen, Brandon Routh and Benito Martinez, Jackson plays a top-notch interrogator whose sole purpose photo is to safeguard the United States from terrorist threats; he has two days to get a captured terrorist to disclose the whereabouts of three nuclear bombs he claims to have planted in three major American cities; from Sony ... In "Control Alt Delete" (2009), starring Tyler Labine, Sonja Bennett, Alisen Down and Laura Bertram, a young man develops a sexual fetish for his computer; from E1 Entertainment.
On the Indie Front: (6/15)
Writer-director Adam Elliot brings the unique stop-motion style he forged in his Academy Award-winning short "Harvie Krumpet" to "Mary and Max" (2009), a feature about the unlikeliest of friendships. In 1970s suburban Melbourne, lonely 8-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle, the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distant father, picks a name at random out of a Manhattan phone book and writes to him. The recipient is Max Jerry Horovitz, an obese 44-year-old single man who, despite suffering from Asperger's syndrome, responds in kind. Thus begins a strange yet mutually supportive -- and at times strained -- pen-pal relationship that spans 20 years and two continents and touches on issues and concerns ranging from autism and alcoholism to taxidermy, kleptomania, religion, agoraphobia and where babies come from. Voices of Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana, Barry Humphries, Bethany Whitmore. From IFC/MPI Media Group.
"Divided Heaven" (1964 -- German), based on Christa Wolf's internationally acclaimed novel and criticized in the GDR (East Germany) for questioning the construction of the Wall, "Divided Heaven" was made during a brief cultural thaw in the early 1960s. Strongly influenced by French Nouvelle Vague cinema, this classic film directed by the legendary Konrad Wolf was praised by critics as one of Germany's 100 most important films. After a breakdown, Rita returns to her childhood village and, as she recovers, she remembers the past two years: her love for the chemist Manfred, 10 years her senior; his enthusiasm about his new chemical process, which turned to bitter disappointment in the face of rejection; his escape to West Berlin a few weeks before the Wall was built; and his hope that she would follow him. From First Run features.
For the Family: (6/15)
"Max & Ruby: A Visit with Grandma" (2010) features four new episodes of the Nick series, in which Max & Ruby go on an awesome treasure hunt, make "mudpies" and perform their very own recital in the backyard. The animated comedy series is based on the children's books by Rosemary Wells, and each episode centers on Max, a determined 3-year-old bunny, and his big sister, Ruby, a smart, goal-oriented 7-year-old. $16.99 from Paramount ... "Big Bird, Little Bird" (2010) features 13 soothing songs by singer-songwriter Sara Hickman for children ages newborn to five, brought to life through bright, bold computer animation. From Sleeveless; more info at www.sarahickman.com ... Join Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex as they build an awesome clubhouse; travel through the jungle on a wild adventure and play with silly animals in the all-new Nickelodeon "Yo Gabba Gabba!: Clubhouse." Four episodes, $16.99 from Paramount ... "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame Johnny Bravo: Season One" (1997) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $24.98 from Warner.
Special Interest: (6/15)
"The Real Story: Escape From Alcatraz" (2009) explores the fascinating true tale behind one of history's most infamous prison breaks, in which three inmates escaped the island prison at Alcatraz. Features interviews with key individuals, including Darwin Coon, the inmate who assisted them, the wardens who discovered them missing and the FBI agents who tried to track them down. $12.98 from Infinity Entertainment Group ... "Collapse"
(2009) is a documentary on Michael Ruppert, a police officer turned independent reporter who predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter five years ago when he was a cry in the wilderness about peak oil, the real estate and credit bubbles. Now, Ruppert warns of a new meltdown, one rooted in economics, covert U.S. policies and a seemingly inevitable oil shortage that may lead us all toward unprecedented global disaster. Is he a prophet who can clearly see America's terrifying future, or a conspiracy theorist fueled by fear and paranoia? $19.98 from MPI Media ... "Sex Positive" (2008) is a documentary that explores the life of Richard Berkowitz, a revolutionary gay sex worker turned AIDS activist in the 1980s, whose incomparable contribution to safe sex has never been aptly credited; from E1 Entertainment ... "Lewis Black: Stark Raving Black" (2010) is a new comedy special taped in Detroit in August 2009 featuring the inimitable rantings and ravings from the king of the grumpy old men, $16.99 from Paramount.
Just Announced: Fox Makes Aug. 10
Fox has booked August 10 for the DVD and Blu-ray release of the Tina Fey-Steve Carell comedy 'Date Night,' which grossed more than $95 million at the domestic boxoffice. Carell and Fey star as a sensible, loving couple with two kids and a house in suburban New Jersey who decide to reignite their marriage by going to Manhattan's hottest new restaurant -- without a reservation -- getting into an incredible adventure involving corrupt cops and the mob when they're mistaken for another couple. The DVD and Blu-ray both feature an extended edition of the film; extras include a gag reel, extended and deleted scenes, featurettes and commentary.
Reservations for 'Date Night'
This Week's Releases (June 8)
From the Big Screen:
"Shutter Island" and "From Paris With Love." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (6/8)
Charlie Chan is back, courtesy of TCM and Warner Home Video. The most popular American films in 1930s China, the Chan movies were based on a fictional Chinese-American detective originally created by Earl Derr Biggers in 1923. Over four dozen films featuring Charlie Chan have been made since 1926. In 1931, the Fox Film Corp. cast Swedish actor Warner Oland as Chan in "Charlie Chan Carries On"; the film was a success, and Fox went on to produce 15 more Chan films with Oland in the title role. Following Oland's death, Scottish-American actor Sidney Toler was cast as Chan; Toler made 22 Chan films, first for Fox and then for Monogram Studios. After Toler's death, six more films were made, starring Roland Winters. The character has also been featured in several radio programs, two television shows and a number of comics. The films in the four-disc set "TCM Spotlight: Charlie Chan Collection" were Monogram productions "Dark Alibi" (1946), "Dangerous Money" (1946) and "The Trap" (1946), starring Sidney Toler; and "The Chinese Ring" (1947), starring Roland Winters; $39.92 ... Thirty years ago "Caddyshack" did for golf what "Animal House" did for college movies and "Police Academy" did for law enforcement. Starring Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight, with Harold Ramis directing, the movie was included in the AFI's lists of top comedies and sports films. Bonus features include "Caddyshack: The 19th Hole" retrospective documentary; the Blu-ray version adds the new documentary "Caddyshack: The Inside Story." From Warner.
From TV to Video: (6/8)
"The A-Team: The Complete Series -- Limited Edition Box Set" (1983-87) is a 25-disc set, in an A-Team Truck package, $149.98 from Universal ... "Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season" (2009) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $39.98 from HBO ... "Family Matters: The Complete First Season" (1989-90) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Nip/Tuck: The Sixth and Final Season" (2009-10) is a five-disc set with 19 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series" (1982-83) is a six-disc collector's box set with all 20 action-packed episodes of the TV series that became a hit following the success of the Indiana Jones films: Set in 1938, the adventure series chronicled a young American adventurer and his ragtag group of friends as they become involved in death-defying hi-jinx, transporting people-on-the-run in a well-worn Grumman Goose seaplane.
Stars Stephen Collins, Caitlin O'Heaney, Roddy McDowall and Jeff Mackay. $49.97 from Fabulous Films/Shout! Factory ... "Z Rock: Season 2" (2009) is a single disc with 10 episodes, $19.97 from Anchor Bay.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (6/8)
Based on the novel by acclaimed author and suspense master Patricia Highsmith ("The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Strangers on a Train"), "The Cry of the Owl" (2009), starring Paddy Considine and Julia Stiles, tells the story of a man trying to recover from a messy divorce by seeking solace in a small town, where he becomes fascinated by the apparent domestic bliss of a young woman, who he ends up having a relationship with. When the woman's boyfriend goes missing, he becomes the number one suspect in a murder investigation, leaving him to wonder if she may not be all that she seems; from Paramount ... "Shinjuku Incident" (2009 -- Hong Kong) is a fast-paced Jackie Chan actioner about a Chinese laborer who goes to Japan for a better life and gets involved with the Japanese mob; from Sony ... "Sorority Girls 3D" (2010) is an exploitation film about the shenanigans that go on at a sorority house as pledges will do just about anyone to get accepted; in 3D and standard versions, with 3D glasses, from Infinity Entertainment ... In "Power Kids" (2009 -- Thailand), five friends who hang out at a Muay Thai training school have to band together to help one of their own, who needs a heart transplant; one becomes available, but it's locked inside a hospital overrun by terrorists, so the friends go after the bad guys to rescue the heart; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "MADtv" cast alumnus Bryan Callen and Noureen DeWulf star in a raunchy farce featuring favorite characters from Judd Apatow's hit films in "The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It" (2010), from Fox.
On the Indie Front: (6/8)
"Toe to Toe" (2009), starring Louisa Krause and Sonequa Martin, is the story of the friendship and rivalry between lacrosse mates Tosha and Jesse, two senior girls at a competitive Washington, D.C., prep school with different backgrounds: Tosha is a black scholarship student from Anacostia, one of Washington's poorest areas, while Jesse is a troubled and promiscuous white girl from the ritzy suburbs of Maryland. The two forge a close and genuine bond on the field, but their friendship unravels as they navigate through race and class related obstacles. When Jesse and Tosha discover that they've both been dating the same boy, the conflict becomes explosive. From Strand Releasing.
For the Family: (6/8)
"Starstruck" (2010) stars Sterling Knight, Danielle Campbell, Maggie Castle, Brandon Mychal Smith and Chelsea Staub in a Disney Channel Original Movie about two sisters sightseeing in L.A. whose chance meeting with a hot young pop star sets off a series of comic adventures; from Disney ... "Ghostwriter: Season One" (2009) is a five-disc set with 34 episodes of the PBS/Sesame Street kids series, $39.97 from Shout! Factory ... "iCarly: iSaved Your Life" (2010) features two iCarly TV specials plus three additional episodes: "iSaved Your Life," "iQuit iCarly," "iThink They Kissed," "iTwins" and "iMove Out"; For kids 2-11, $16.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Hot Wheels Battle Force 5: Season 1 Volume 2" (2009) features six episodes of the series based on the collectible toys, $14.97 from Warner ... "Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind" (2010) is a six-episode collection featuring Unidentified Farm Objects and paranormal sightings, $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Thomas & Friends: The Greatest Stories" (2010) is a two-disc set with 20 of the best "Thomas & Friends" episodes, including the first-ever episode; spans the years with conductors George Carlin, Ringo Starr, Alec Baldwin and Michael Brandon; $16.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.
Special Interest: (6/8)
In "My Lai" (2010), "American Experience" returns to 1968 and the Vietnamese village of My Lai, where the blood of nearly 500 civilians was spilled at the hands of American soldiers. The infamous massacre is revisited, featuring new footage, uncovered documentation and compelling and exclusive interviews from soldiers who were on the ground during the event; $24.99 from PBS ... Also from PBS comes "The Quake"
(2009), a "Frontline" documentary that looks at the effects of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti; $24.99 ... "The Pluto Files" (2010) details the controversy surrounding the decision by the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium to stop calling Pluto a planet; $24.99 from PBS ... "Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)" (2009) is a historic performance by members of the Monty Python troupe celebrating their 40th Anniversary with a song oratorio inspired by the cult film "The Life of Brian" at London's Royal Albert Hall; the performance features a rare on-stage reunion of Python troupe members Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam; $24.96 from Sony ... "Word Is Out" debuted in 1977 as the first feature-length documentary about lesbian and gay identity made by gay filmmakers (The Mariposa Film Group). After conducting 140 interviews, the filmmakers selected 26 people of various lifestyles, races, ages and backgrounds. What they achieved was a cornerstone in Gay Rights. The film quickly became a landmark in cinema, but time had taken its toll on the existing prints and the film was rarely seen. The Outfest Legacy Project and UCLA Film & Television Archive restored "Word Is Out" with the generous contribution of the David Bohnett Foundation, creating a high-definition video for this DVD premier. From Milliarium Zero/Milestone Film ..."Before and After Stonewall 25th Anniversary Edition" is a two-disc set with documentaries "Before Stonewall" (1984) and "After Stonewall" (1999). On June 28, 1969, the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn, a mafia-run gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, leading to three nights of rioting by the city's gay community, which lead to organizations that helped create the gay pride movement. "Before" explores the fascinating and unforgettable history of homosexuality in America (narrated by Rita Mae Brown); "After" chronicles lesbian and gay life from the 1969 Stonewall riots to the new century (narrated by Melissa Etheridge). $39.95 from First Run Features.
Fangoria, Lightning Set Horror Film Fest
Fangoria magazine has partnered with Lightning Media for a multi-tiered distribution program of independent horror films. Highlighting the program are eight feature-length thrillers --marketed under the Fangoria FrightFest banner -- that will be available on DVD, VOD and digital download Sept. 28. As part of the program, horror fans will be the voting jury in a mini film festival, a "Demand It" competition from June 21 through July 19, hosted by Fangoria, to select one of the eight films for limited theatrical release in late July (FangoriaFrightFest.com). Fans will be able to view and vote for their favorite trailer and will then be automatically entered into a summer consumer sweepstakes to win a trip to Las Vegas and other prizes. Also, from June 21 through July 19, a 30-minute special, "8 Fangoria Frights," will be available on Time Warner, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon FIOS and other cable systems. The program will feature clips from the films, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with many of the films' directors. The Fangoria FrightFest line-up embraces a range of horror film styles, from supernatural chillers to psychological horror and slasher flicks, embracing fans of every demographic, featuring such stars as the "Twilight" saga's Xavier Samuel, Calista Flockhart, Keri Russell, Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts and more. The titles: "Fragile," "Dark House," "Grimm Love" (aka Rohtenburg and Butterfly: A Grimm Story), "The Haunting," "Hunger," "Pig Hunt," "Road Kill" (aka Road Train) and "The Tomb" (aka Ligeia).
This Week's Releases (June 1)
From the Big Screen:
"Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wolfman." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (6/1)
"The Eastwood Factor Extended Version" (2010) documentary was written and directed by critic and film historian Richard Schickel, and presents director-star Eastwood in a way he's rarely seen -- visiting film locations or sites where his movies were created, and on the Warner lot visiting the costume department and Eastwood Scoring Stage, as well as his hometown of Carmel, Calif. Eastwood's candid, intelligent and often humorous interviews about his body of work and the choices he made, along with Schickel's selection of scenes from his movies, results in a rare view of one of our era's great icons. Narrated by Morgan Freeman; $14.97 from Warner.
"The Three Stooges: Volume Eight 1955-1959" is a three-disc set that contains 32 digitally remastered shorts from 1955-1959 and includes both Shemp Howard and Joe Besser. (Besser, a long-time friend of Howard, replaced him after Howard's death in 1955.) Disc 1: "Bedlam in Paradise," "Blunder Boys," "Creeps," "Flagpole Jitters," "Gypped in the Penthouse," "Hot Ice," "Husbands Beware," "Of Cash and Hash," "Stone Age Romeos," "Fling in the Ring," "Wham-Bam-Slam!" Disc 2: "Commotion on the Ocean" "Guns a Poppin!" "Hoofs and Goofs," "Horsing Around," "Hot Stuff," "A Merry Mix-Up," "Muscle Up a Little Closer," "Rumpus in the Harem", "Scheming Schemers," "Space Ship Sappy." Disc 3: "Outer Space," "Jitters," "Rusty Romeos," "Quiz Whizz," "Fifi Blows Her Top," "Pies and Guys," "Sweet and Hot," "Flying Saucer Daffy," "Oil's Well That Ends Well," "Triple Crossed," "Sappy Bullfighters." $24.96 from Sony
From TV to Video: (6/1)
"American Pickers: The Complete First Season" (2010) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes, $29.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Burn Notice: Season Three" (2009-10) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "The Cleaner: The Final Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.99 CBS/Paramount ... "Drop Dead Diva: Season One" (2009) is a single disc with 13 episodes, $39.95 from Sony ... "Foyle's War, Set 6" (2010) is a three-disc set with three new mysteries set in England in the immediate aftermath of WWII: "The Russian Hose," "Killing Time" and "Hide," which aired on PBS Masterpiece Mystery! in May; $49.99 from Acorn Media ... "Ghost Hunters International Season 1: Part 1," (2008) is a three-disc set with 11 episodes, $24.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Midsomer Murders Set 15" (2008) features three contemporary, stand-alone mysteries, available to U.S. audiences for the first time: "Blood Wedding," "Shot at Dawn" and "Left for Dead" (the first half of Series Eleven); from Acorn Media.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (6/1)
In "Unthinkable" (2009), starring Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Michael Sheen, Brandon Routh and Benito Martinez, Jackson plays a top-notch interrogator whose sole purpose is to safeguard the United States from terrorist threats; he has two days to get a captured terrorist to disclose the whereabouts of three nuclear bombs he claims to have planted in three major American cities; from Sony ... Wrestling star Steve Austin is "The Stranger" (2010), a man with no name, no memory and absolutely nothing left to lose who finds himself hunted by both the FBI and the Russian mob and decides to fight back; from Anchor Bay ... A single mother enters the world of Mixed Martial Arts -- specifically, the highly lucrative, extremely dangerous and completely illegal world of high-stakes all-female bare knuckle fighting -- to take her and her daughter out of their dead-end existence in "Bare Knuckles" (2009), starring Jeanette Roxborough, Teya Roxborough, Chris Mulkey and Martin Kove; from Image Entertainment ... During their nightly poker game, a group of lowlifes are terrorized in their own convenience store by a masked killer, and players begin to disappear one by one in "Cornered!" (2009), starring Steve Guttenberg, James Duval and Ellia English; from Phase 4 Films.
For the Family: (6/1)
"Firefly Fun and Buggy Buddies" (2010) features three episodes that will educate children about insects with celebrity appearances by Jenny McCarthy and Molly Shannon, $14.97 from Sesame Street/Warner ... "Peanuts 1970s Collection: Volume 2"
(2009) contains six remastered TV specials: "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown," "You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown," "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown," "It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown," "You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown" and "What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown"; $29.98 from Warner.
Special Interest: (6/1)
"Life" (2010) is a four-disc set of the Discovery Channel series that explores life on Earth.; narrated by Oprah Winfrey; from Warner ... "MLB Bloopers: Baseball's Best Blunders " (2010) features the game's finest athletes being brought to their knees by gravity, brain cramps, killer kittens and anything else that can disrupt the symmetry of the game; $14.97 from Shout! Factory.
The Living End: Complete 'Lost'
Two of the most popular TV series came to an end this season, but both will be living on -- in fans' memories, reruns and DVD releases. On August 24, Disney will release "Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season" as a five-disc set with 16 episodes, $59.99 on DVD and $79.99 on Blu-ray; and "Lost: The Complete Collection," a massive 36-disc set with box set containing every episode rom all six seasons; more than 30 hours of bonus material -- from every season -- plus one full disc of bonus material exclusive to the collection, containing a fascinating array of all-new behind-the-scenes featurettes, documentaries and a
series of unique tours of Oahu; a special edition collectible "Senet" game as seen in Season 6; a custom "Lost" island replica; an exclusive episode guide; a collectible Ankh; and a black light penlight; all for $229.99 DVD and $279.99 Blu-ray (although street price is $148.99 and $194.99, respectively). And on December 7, Fox will release "24: Season Eight" ($59.99 DVD and $69.98 Blu-ray) and "24: The Complete Series," with deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes footage; a comprehensive retrospective that looks back at the show's unforgettable eight seasons; an alternate ending for the series finale and more; (no price set).
and '24' Sets
This Week's Releases (May 25)
From the Big Screen:
"Dear John" and "The Road." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (5/25)
This week's highlight is "Stagecoach" (1939), John Ford's smash hit and enduring masterpiece that revolutionized the Western, elevating it from B movie to the A-list. Though not the first adult big-screen Western nor the first film to star John Wayne (those milestones go to Raoul Walsh's 1930 'The Big Trail'), this certainly put Wayne on the map and gave Ford the crown as indisputable chief of the horse operas. The quintessential tale of a group of strangers thrown together into extraordinary circumstances -- nine passengers traveling a dangerous route from Arizona to New Mexico -- "Stagecoach" features outstanding performances from Hollywood stalwarts Claire Trevor, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, and, of course, Wayne, in his first starring role for Ford, as the daredevil outlaw the Ringo Kid. Superbly shot and tightly edited, 'Stagecoach' (Ford's first trip to Monument Valley) is Hollywood storytelling at its finest. The Criterion Collection here brings it to standard DVD and Blu-ray in a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.
Here's a couple counter-cultural blasts from the past: "Words of Advice: William S. Burroughs on the Road" (2007), a documentary about the literary and pop culture icon and author of the cult classic "Naked Lunch" (1959). In 1983, William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), traveled throughout Scandinavia making a series of personal appearances. Twenty years later, filmmakers Lars Movin and Steen Moller Rasmussen found never-before-seen footage of his Copenhagen visit and set out on the road to record new material, telling the story of the acclaimed author's later work -- especially what is known as "The Last Trilogy" -- and his unique performance skills. "The World of Buckminster Fuller" (2007) is a documentary on Buckminster Fuller, an architect, engineer, geometrician, cartographer, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time and was renowned for his comprehensive perspective on the world's problems. For more than five decades he developed pioneering solutions reflecting his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does "more with less" and thereby improves human lives. He spent much of his life traveling the world lecturing and discussing his ideas with thousands of audiences. Now more relevant than ever, this film by Robert Snyder captures Fuller's ideas and thinking told in his own words. Both releases are from Microcinema International and sell for $24.95 each ... Universal has put together a 50th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of "Spartacus" (1960), directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Nina Foch, John Ireland, Herbert Lom, John Dall, Charles McGraw, Joanna Barnes and Woody Strode. Bonus features include deleted scenes, archival interviews with Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons, behind-the-scenes footage, five vintage newsreels, image galleries (production stills, concept art, costume designs, storyboards, posters and print ads), BD-LIVE.
From TV to Video: (5/25)
"Ancients Behaving Badly: The Complete Season One" (2009) is a two-disc set with eight episodes, $24.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Hoarders"
(2009) is a two-disc set with all seven Season 1 episodes, $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great" (1998) is a two-disc set of the four-part miniseries that follows the ancient triumphal march of Alexander of Macedonia from Greece to India, to uncover the truth behind one of history's most famous and enigmatic heroes; $34.98 from Warner ... "Leverage The Second Season"
(2009-10)is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $39.99 from Paramount ... "Marked: The Complete Season One" (2009) is a two-disc set with six episodes, $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Royal Pains: Season One" (2009) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "True Blood: The Complete Second Season" (2009) includes 12 episodes, $59.99 from HBO Home Video ... "The Virginian: The Complete First Season" (1962-63) is a 10-disc collector's set in an embossed tin package with all 30 episodes, restored and remastered, featuring all-new interviews with actors James Drury, Gary Clark, Roberta Shore, Robert Fuller and Peter Brown; $79.98 from Timeless Media Group/NBC Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (5/25)
"Mystery Team" (2009) stars members of the DERRICK Comedy troupe -- Donald Glover, D.C. Pierson, Dominic Dierkes, Aubrey Plaza, Matt Walsh -- in the adventures of three high-school virgins who are stuck solving childish whodunit mysteries in their neighborhood . When the bumbling boy detectives are tasked to investigate a real murder, they see the ultimate opportunity to prove themselves once and for all; from Lionsgate ... A group of defenseless campers find themselves on the run from a savage gang of Demon-worshiping bikers on the hunt for their next human offering in "Hard Ride to Hell"
(2010), starring Miguel Ferrer, Laura Mennell and Katharine Isabelle; from Vivendi Entertainment ... "Tell Tale" (2009), a modern adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Tell-Tale Heart," follows a single father whose recently transplanted heart leads him on a frantic search to find the donor's killer before a similar fate befalls him, starring Josh Lucas, Lena Headey and Brian Cox; from Genius Products/Vivendi Entertainment ...
Global warming has caused a rift in the Earth's atmosphere, causing powerful tornadoes and deadly electrical storms to descend on Manhattan; only a quarreling deputy mayor and his meteorologist wife can save the city in "NYC: Tornado Terror"
(2008), starring Nicole De Boer and Sebastian Spence; from Monarch Home Video.
On the Indie Front: (5/25)
Rather than rattling old chains, the spirits in "All My Friends Are Funeral Singers" (2010) play experimental music in the upstairs bedroom of a psychic adviser's home, and for as long as she can remember, the psychic has shared her home with a group of ghosts -- a priest, a bride, a mute child, some washed up vaudevillians and a noisy group of sight-impaired musicians -- who pass on incredible knowledge and abilities from beyond the world of the living. Stars Angela Bettis, Emily Candini, Reid Coker and Kevin Ford; from IndiePix Films ... Anxious dreams, hallucinations, and paranoid reality torment a young math professor in the aftermath of his wife's death in a car accident in "Butterfly Dreaming" (2008), starring Andrew Bowen, Missy Crider and James McDaniel; from Vanguard Cinema ... An aspiring journalist comes of age midst a struggle between apathy and idealism in today's youth culture in "The Unidentified" (2008), starring Jay Sullivan, Lauren Shannon and Erin Ecklund; also from Vanguard Cinema.
In modern-day Saigon, three lonely strangers form a unique family as a 10-year old run-away plays matchmaker to a zoo keeper and a beautiful flight attendant in "Owl and the Sparrow" (2007 -- Vietnamese), starring Cat Ly, Le The Lu and Pham Thi Han; from Image Entertainment.
For the Family: (5/25)
"Dwizzle Dee -- Colors, Sizes, Songs & Imagination!" (2010) is the first in a new preschool educational DVD series approved and endorsed by The Dove Foundation and KIDS FIRST! The series teaches fundamentals such as colors, sizes and shapes with the help of characters Lenny, Penny and Gifford, and their teacher, Ms. Ashley. Featuring colorful live-action puppet characters together with animation, the series encourages children to participate in all of the fun and stimulating adventures in Ms. Ashley's classroom, using repetition, imagination, songs and fun problem solving. $14.95. Visit www.dwizzledee.com for more information.
Special Interest: (5/25)
"My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story" (2009) is a documentary that explores the unique relationship between people and their beloved pets through candid interviews with notable dog lovers and intimate glimpses into the lives of actors and musicians, authors and designers, examining the profound connection they have with their dogs. Includes interviews with Glenn Close, Richard Gere and Carey Lowell, Edie Falco, Christopher Meloni, Isaac Mizrahi, Lynn Redgrave, Edward Albee, Greg Louganis, Richard Belzer, Cindy Adams, more. Twenty percent of every dollar earned by the film will be donated to nonprofit animal welfare charities designated by the participants. $26.95 from Docurama Films ... "I Know What I Saw" (2009) is a documentary featuring credible UFO witnesses from around the world telling stories that challenge reality about UFOs. $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Bigger and Blackerer: David Cross" (2010) is a comedy DVD by the actor-comedian-writer, taped during two shows at Boston's Wilbur Theatre; $14.98 from Sub Pop Records.
Google Connects With HDTVs
From our friends at Home Media Magazine: Google's long-rumored Google TV initiative became reality May 20 when the Internet behemoth confirmed it would put its Android software and Google Chrome browser into connected HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players later this year. The goal: an open-platform Internet experience on the TV screen. Google will release a software developer kit to allow third parties to optimize websites for Google TV. Google is working with Sony and Logitech on the hardware side, and Best Buy will begin carrying HDTVs and Blu-ray players with Google TV this fall. Read the complete report at Home media Magazine.
This Week's Releases (May 18)
From the Big Screen:
"Extraordinary Measures," "Invictus," "The Messenger," "The Spy Next Door" and "Valentine's Day." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (5/18)
This week's highlight is the exquisite "Walkabout" (1971), directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg and David Gulpilil, in a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, from a newly manufactured restoration element, in both Blu-ray and standard DVD editions. A young sister and brother are abandoned by their father in the harsh Australian outback and must learn to exist in the natural world, without their usual comforts. Along the way, they meet a young aborigine on his "walkabout," a rite of passage in which adolescent boys are initiated into manhood by journeying into the wilderness alone. "Walkabout" is a thrilling adventure as well as a provocative rumination on time and civilization, and one of the most beautifully photographed films of the 70s.
Also from The Criterion Collection this week is a set of five Nagisa Oshima (often called the Godard of the East) films, "Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties," in no-frills DVD versions: "Pleasures of the Flesh" (1965), "Violence at Noon" (1966), "Sing a Song of Sex" (1967), "Japanese Summer: Double Suicide" (1967) and "Three Resurrected Drunkards" (1968). The films deal with serial killers, rabid hedonists, stowaway misfits and social castoffs ... For a little levity, there's "Gamera, the Giant Monster -- Special Edition" (1965), the original Japanese version of the first Gamera movie, unedited, with English subtitles, presented in anamorphic widescreen from a newly restored HD master. Bonus features include a 12-page booklet with an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa, a photo gallery, trailers, more. $19.93 from Shout! Factory.
From TV to Video: (5/18)
"The Greatest American Hero: Season One" (1981) is a two-disc set with eight episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series" (1981-83) is a nine-disc set with all 43 episodes, $29.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Hunter: Season Two" (1985-86) is a four-disc set with 23 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Law & Order: Criminal Intent -- The Fifth Year" (2005-06) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "30 Days: The Complete Series" (2005-07) is a six-disc set with all 18 episodes of the Morgan Spurlock TV series that features a diverse group of participants, each given the opportunity to experience first-hand a world antithetical to their own comfortable existence, $29.99 from Virgil Films & Entertainment ... "21 Jump Street: Season Two" (1987-88) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "The Whitest Kids U'know: The Complete Third Season: Uncut and Uncensored" (2008) is two-disc set with 10 episodes, 24.98 from E1 Entertainment.
Buzzin' the 'B's:v
"Southern Gothic" (2007), starring Yul Vazquez, Nicole DuPort, William Forsythe, Dani Englander, Jonathan Sachar, Emily Catherine Young, is a thriller about a burnt-out, suicidal strip club bouncer trying to atone for the death of his daughter who sees a glimmer of hope when a new stripper arrives and he bonds with the woman and her daughter, giving him new meaning in life ... but things get complicated when a fire and brimstone preacher -- who makes it his crusade to "save" the new stripper -- is attacked by a band of wandering vampires and turned into a bloodsucker, and now aims his blood lust at the young girl. Kooky. From IFC Films/MPI Media ... "Misconceptions" (2010), starring Orlando Jones, A.J. Cook, David Moscow and David Sutcliffe, centers on a religiously conservative, married southern woman who receives a message from God instructing her to act as a surrogate mother and carry a child for two married gay men who live in Boston -- a Jewish doctor and African-American dance choreographer; from E1 Entertainment ... "The World Unseen" (2009) is a drama centered on two women who engage in a dangerous relationship during South Africa's apartheid era, based on Shamim Sarif's award-winning debut novel, inspired by stories of her grandmother's life in 1950's South Africa; from E1 Entertainment ... "The Louis L'Amour Collection" contains three American Frontier telefilms: The Sacketts" (starring Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott and Jeff Osterhage), "Conagher" (starring Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross) and "Catlow" (Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna and Leonard Nimoy); $19.97 from Warner ... "American Bandits" (2010), stars Peter Fonda, George Stults, Tim Abell, Jeffrey Combs and Anthony Tyler Quinn in the saga of Frank and Jesse James; from E1 Entertainment ... "Murder in Fashion"
(2010)is the true story of the murderous cross-country journey of gay party regular and aging boy toy Andrew Cunanan, who ended up in Miami and killed fashion designer Versace before taking his own life; from E1 Entertainment ... "The New Daughter"
(2009) stars Kevin Costner, Ivan Baquero, Samantha Mathis, Gattlin Griffith, Erik Palladino and Noah Taylor in a thriller about a newly divorced father who moves into a rural South Carolina home with his adolescent daughter and young son, where the girl seemingly becomes possessed by an evil entity; from Anchor Bay .. In "The Disappeared" (2008), starring Harry Treadaway, Greg Wise, Alex Jennings and Tom Felton, a young man -- responsible for the disappearance of his little brother at a playground years before -- is haunted by visions and voices that may or may not be his brother beckoning him; from IFC Films/MPI Media ... Directed by Thad Smith, "Everyman's War" (2009) is the poignant story of Smith's father, Staff Sgt. Don Smith, of the 94th Infantry Division, during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. Stars Cole Carson and Lauren Bair, from Virgil Films and Entertainment.
"The Girl on the Train" (2009 -- France). directed by Andre Techine and starring Catherine Deneuve, Emilie Dequenne and Michel Blanc, is a drama centered on a young woman who claims she was the target of an anti-Semetic attack and the subsequent media sensation it creates; from Strand Releasing ... "Dogora"
(2004 -- French), from acclaimed French filmmaker Patrice Leconte ("Ridicule," "Girl on the Bridge," "Man On the Train" and "Monsieur Hire"), is an inspired documentary about Cambodia. During a visit to that country, the director created a sound and image voyage through the land and its people. From the city streets to rural villages, from factories to farmlands and beyond, Leconte explores the men, women and children of this ever-surprising Southeast Asia nation at work, play and peace, all moving at the speed of life. Features a symphony/choir score by French composer Etienne Perruchon. From Severin Films.
For the Family: (5/18)
In "Barney: Let's Play Outside" (2010), Barney and the gang celebrate warm weather and let their imaginations soar; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Curious George: Goes to a Birthday Party!" (2010) includes eight episodes of the PBS KIDS TV series featuring Curious George as he takes a crack at a pinata, plans a surprise party, bakes a birthday treat, and more; $16.98 from Universal ..."Being a Friend" (2009) features four adventures exploring the theme of friendship with Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Barney, and Fireman Sam; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Mr. Bump Presents: Planes, Trains and Dillymobiles!" (2010) includes six episodes from "The Mr. Men Show": "Car Wash," "Flying," "Trains," "Cars," "Boats" and "Inventions," $14.94 from Sony.
Special Interest: (5/18)
"Pulling John" (2009) is a feature-length verite shot over four years that follows legendary arm wrestler John Brzenk, a living legend in a sport he helped popularize and who has enjoyed a 25 year run as the undefeated arm wrestling champion of the world. Brzenk works as an airline mechanic by day and now must decide whether to leave the sport he was raised on. Taking a journey to the far corners of the world where men define themselves by trying to beat the undisputed champ, the film visits with 23 year old Alexy Voevoda from Sochi, Russia, and Charlestown, West Virginia's 26 year old Travis Bagent, colorful characters who have been raised on the legend of Brzenk. And, in a philosophical and thrilling ride through human nature, the film culminates at the Zloty Tur Championship in Warsaw, where Bagent and Voevoda have the chance of their life -- to dethrone the conflicted champion. $24.95 from IndiePix Films ... America's 50-million strong Evangelical community is convinced that the world's future is foretold in Biblical prophecy, from the Rapture to the Battle of Armageddon. "Waiting for Armageddon" (2009) explores this apocalyptic worldview, from the homefront in America to the future battlefield of Israel. By weaving Christian, Zionist and Jewish perspectives along with telling archival materials, this eye-opening film also probes the potentially explosive alliance between Evangelical Christians and Israel ... an alliance that may set the stage for what one Evangelical leader calls "World War III." $24.95 from First Run features ... "Michael Jackson History: The King of Pop 1958-2009"
(2009) is a feature-length tribute that includes contributions from Janet Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Paul Gambaccini and more; Jackson's story is told through news reports, including never-before-seen footage; $6.99 from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... And, lastly, Sony has added two releases to its Bible Stories series: "The Bible Stories: Jeremiah" (1998), with Patrick Dempsey, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Oliver Reed; and "The Bible Stories: Solomon" (1997), starring Ben Cross, Vivica A. Fox and Anouk Aimee; $14.94 each.
'Cuckoo's Nest,' 'Psycho' on Blu-ray
Warner Home Video has announced a slew of exciting Blu-ray releases for the fourth quarter of the year. First up is a 35th anniversary edition of Milos Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," with the incredible cast of Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Scatman Crothers and Brad Dourif. Bonus features include "Completely Cuckoo," a feature-length documentary about the making of the film; commentary by director Milos Forman and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz; a new interview with Douglas, deleted scenes, original trailer, as well as collectibles including playing cards, posters, character cards, pre-production correspondence and movie trivia. Next up is Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992), also with a great cast including Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Gallagher, Cynthia Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dean Stockwell, Richard E. Grant, Sydney Pollack and Lyle Lovett. Follow that up with six sci-fi action films, all new to Blu-ray: "Forbidden Planet," "Mars Attacks!" "THX 1138 Director's Cut," "Lost in Space," "A Scanner Darkly" and "Matrix Reloaded." Release date for the Warner's Blu-rays: Sept. 7. Universal will celebrate the 50th anniversay of one of it's gems with a new Blu-ray release of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam. The special edition will arrive Oct. 19, remastered and gussied up with 5.1 Surround Sound and featuring a long list of bonus features.
'Avatar' Nears 20 mil in DVD Sales
Tired of "Avatar" yet? Nope. According to Home Media Magazine, the top grossing theatrical release in history continues to rack up DVD and Blu-rat sales at an impressive rate, with combined sales topping 19.7 million units. In addition, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment said the film has sold 6.2 million Blu-ray Discs, making it the biggest selling high-definition release in the format's short history.
This Week's Releases (May 11)
From the Big Screen:
"Daybreakers," "Edge of Darkness" and "Legion." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (5/11)
Four Robin Hood films new to DVD arrive this week just in time for the May 14 release of the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe version. "The Bandit of Sherwood Forest" (1946), starring Cornel Wilde; Prince of Thieves (1948), starring Jon Hall;" Rogues of Sherwood Forest" (1950), starring John Derek and Alan Hale; and "Sword of Sherwood Forest" (1960), starring Richard Greene and Peter Cushing; $14.94 each from (Sony) ... The "Cantinflas Collection" brings together four classic slapstick comedies featuring the Mexican comedian, for the first time on DVD: "El Gendarme Desconocido" (The Undercover Policeman) 1941; "Los Tres Mosqueteros" (The Three Musketeers) 1942, "El Circo" (The Circus) 1943, "A Volar Joven" (1947); $14.94 from Sony.
Blu-ray Releases: (5/11)
Heading up the Blu-ray releases this week is The Criterion Collection's superb rendering of "M" (1931). A simple, haunting musical phrase whistled offscreen tells us that a young girl will be killed. "Who Is the Murderer?" pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert, played by Peter Lorre, closes in on little Elsie Beckmann. In his harrowing masterwork "M," Fritz Lang merges trenchant social commentary with chilling suspense, creating a panorama of private madness and public hysteria that to this day remains the blueprint for the psychological thriller. Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack and loads of bonus features ... Funnyman Mel Brooks long career has had its share of hits and misses and overlooked gems. Here's one gem, one hit and one miss, respectively: "High Anxiety" (1977), starring Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, Ron Carey, Howard Morris and Dick Van Patten; the hilarious "History of the World: Part I" (1981), starring Brooks, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Ron Carey, Gregory Hines, Pamela Stephenson, Shecky Greene, Sid Caesar, Mary-Margaret Humes and Orson Welles; and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993), starring Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Dave Chappelle, Isaac Hayes, Tracey Ullman, Patrick Stewart, Dom DeLuise and Dick Van Patten; all have extensive bonus features; from Fox ... With a remake of "The Karate Kid" on its way, Sony has released Blu-ray versions of both the first film (1984) and its sequel, "The Karate Kid II" (1986) in The Karate Kid Blu-ray Collector's Edition Box Set, with commentaries, pop-up trivia quizzes, featurettes and more.
From TV to Video: (5/11)
"Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Fifth Season" (1994-95) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $29.98 Warner ... "Larry McMurtry's Dead Man's Walk"
(1996) stars F. Murray Abraham, Keith Carradine, Brian Dennehy, Edward James Olmos, Jennifer Garner, Jonny Lee Miller and David Arquette in the miniseries prequel to the "Lonesome Dove"; from Vivendi Entertainment and RHI Entertainment ... "Larry McMurtry's Streets of Laredo" (1995) stars James Garner, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Ned Beatty in the last story of the "Lonesome Dove" miniseries franchise; from Vivendi Entertainment and RHI Entertainment ... "thirtysomething: The Complete Third Season" (1989-90) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $59.97 from Shout! Factory.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (5/11)
"Malice in Wonderland" (2009), starring Maggie Grace, Danny Dyer, Matt King and Nathaniel Parker, is a twisted thriller take on "Alice in Wonderland" that follows American law student Alice (Maggie Grace), who after being knocked down by a London taxi, finds herself in a strange underworld called Wonderland, where she's joined by the cabbie on a dark and dangerous journey home, attempting to dodge gangsters, pimps and prostitutes, and avoiding a shadowy group determined to take her captive; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ...
A rebel prince, Black Raven Pirates, a Queen and a village orphan gypsy battle on the high seas for coveted ocean treasures, with plenty of sorcery, swordplay and a touch of romance in "The Legend of the Tsunami Warrior" (2008 -- Thailand); from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... Seismic activity detects an impending mega-tsunami is barreling towards the picturesque shores of a tourist-packed beach resort, and as a marine geologist races to alert the authorities, he encounters his ex-wife and the daughter he never knew he had, just as the massive wave heads their way at 500 mph in "Tidal Wave"
(2009 -- South Korea), also from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... In "Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes" (2010), starring Dalton Mugridge, Ciara O'Hanlon, Christopher Fazio, Mikayla Ottonello and Roddy Piper, three students have to find a way to free their teacher's soul from an enchanted amulet; from MTI Home Video.
The North Face side of the Swiss Alps' Eiger Mountain, also referred to as the "murder wall," was once one of the most deadliest walls to scale, and in 1936, a small group of German mountain climbers, urged on by Nazi propaganda, decided to face the incredible challenge head-on without ever looking back. "North Face" (2010 -- German) is based on the true story of two reluctant climbers who begin their daring ascent and attempt to scale the infamous rock face. Closely followed by two Austrians, all goes well at first as both rope teams make good headway ... but then the climbers lose their advantage over the mountain, and the race against time and the forces of nature begins. From Music Box Films Home Entertainment.
Special Interest: (5/11)
"Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense"
(2009) Jazz is a living thing, a conversation between musicians and each other, as well as the audience, and the genre today is undergoing changes of monumental magnitude and importance. This highly-acclaimed documentary captures the metamorphosis of jazz by showcasing the words, music, and spirit of the artists that are paving the way for an unprecedented musical revolution. Through interviews with 75 jazz artists culled from over seven years and over 25 hours of live performance footage and concerts, the film explores the thoughts and lives of the musicians at the forefront of today's jazz front lines. Focuses the spotlight on many current jazz icons including Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Douglas and Brass Ecstasy, Robert Glasper, Nicholas Payton, Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Medeski Martin and Wood. It also features the legendary predecessors and influences of today's contemporary jazz stars, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Wynton Marsalis. $24.95 from IndiePix Films.
'Iron Man 2' a Red Hot Rocket
Hollywood's summer season began this weekend with a bang: Marvel Studios/Paramount's Robert Downey Jr.-starrer "Iron Man 2" opened --as expected -- at the top of the charts with an estimated $133.6 million at the domestic boxoffice. That beat the original "Iron Man" debut of $98.6 million in May 2008, making the sequel the fifth-highest opener ever. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "IM2" led the foreign theatrical market for the second straight weekend (it opened a week earlier in many overseas markets), taking in $57.2 million with an accumulated boxoffice total of $194 million (it even took in $7.3 million from China). NO. 2 domestically was the remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and No. 3 was "How to Train Your Dragon," followed by "Date Night" and "The Back-up Plan."
'Avatar' Still Big in DVD, Blu-ray Sales
According to our friends at Home media Magazine, the sales juggernaut that is "Avatar" showed no signs of slowing in week two of the blockbuster film's home video release, with the Fox title again topping both the DVD sales chart and Blu-ray Disc sales chart. The film's nearest competitor was Universal's "It's Complicated," which debuted at No. 2 on the overall sales chart but sold fewer than 25 percent as many copies as "Avatar." On Blu-ray Disc, the disparity was even greater: "It's Complicated" also debuted at No. 2 on the chart, but sold just 6 percent as many copies as "Avatar," which generated 42 percent of its sales from the Blu-ray Disc release. Read more at Home Media Magazine.
This Week's Releases (May 4)
From the Big Screen:
"Leap Year," "Nine" and "Tooth Fairy." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (5/4)
It's been nine years since the last edition of "Doctor Zhivago" (1965, starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Ralph Richardson and Tom Courtenay) made its way to DVD, and Warner has taken the opportunity of the film's 45th anniversary to restore and remaster David Lean's stunningly beautiful romantic epic ... in the glories of Blu-ray, of course (A remastered standard DVD is also available). The classic Boris Pasternak love story set against the backdrop of the Bolshevik Revolution is just breathtaking.
The two-disc set "Doctor Zhivago 45th Anniversary Edition"
retains the bonus features from the 2001 edition, adding a new documentary, "Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration Part 1 & 2," as well as an eight-song CD soundtrack sampler of the Oscar-winning score, packaged in a 44 page-book of insightful essays, cast photos, and historical film facts.
Here's the latest wave of releases in the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection, a collaboration between Turner Classic Movies and Warner Home Video to present low-priced collections of some of the greatest films of all to serve both serious film buffs and a new generation of movie lovers: "TCM Greatest Classic Films: War: 'Battle of the Bulge,' 'The Dawn Patrol,' 'Gunga Din' and 'Operation Pacific'" and "TCM Greatest Classic Films: Westerns: 'Chisum,' 'Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid,' 'The Stalking Moon' and 'Ride thr High Country'"; each four-disc set sells for $27.92 ... Warner also has released a single-disc no-frills, remastered and restored edition of the classic Andy Griffith comedy "No Time for Sergeants" (1958) directed by Mervyn LeRoy and also starring Myron McCormick, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton and Don Knotts. This is the first time the film has been released to DVD.
Award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt has been a household name for decades with his "On the Road" segments, first airing on the "CBS Evening News" with Walter Cronkite, and then as the first host of the "CBS News Sunday Morning." For 20 years beginning in 1967, Kuralt wandered America's byways in search of the unusual and the overlooked. He and his small crew logged more than a million miles and wore out six motor homes. For his homespun vignettes of everyday life, Kuralt won an Emmy and three Peabody Awards. Curious, generous, and always warm, Kuralt found everyone fascinating. Acorn Media has released "On the Road With Charles Kuralt, Set 2," a three-disc set with 18 episodes for a total of 86 classic "On the Road" pieces, with segments on cowboys, traffic cops, short-order cooks, makers of corncob pipes, the 87-year-old college professor turned janitor who proclaimed "No honest work is undignified," a man who fixed toys, a farmer who carved slingshots, and a Russian who waited 43 years to thank the American soldiers who saved his life. $39.99.
On Blu-ray This Week: (5/4)
"Saving Private Ryan" is one of the Top 10 most anticipated releases on Blu-ray as tabulated by Amazon.com, and Paramount has done justice to the 1998 Steven Spielberg World War II drama, starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Ted Danson, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti and Barry Pepper. There's more than three hours of bonus features in this two-disc set, some duplicating those in the 2004 two-disc special edition, but there are a couple extra behind-the-scene featurettes for the curious, with the best being a documentary on WWII combat photographers. Everyone knows about the brutal, bloody D-Day opening of the film, and the Blu-ray version makes those scenes even more unbearable to watch. Spielberg is a master of visual storytelling, and Blu-ray and the director go hand-in-hand ... "Rock 'n' Roll High School" (1979) was executive produced by Roger Corman and directed by Allan Arkush, with explosive musical performances from the Ramones, T.S.O.L., The Vandals and D.I. Boasts performances by P.J. Soles in the lead role of Riff Randell, Vince Van Patten, Clint Howard , Dey Young, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller and Paul Bartel. Based on Arkush's own high school fantasy, this cult classic takes place at Vince Lombardi High School, the wildest, most rockin' high school around. That is, until a thug of a principal, Miss Togar, comes along and tries to make the school a totalitarian state. With the help of the Ramones, the students of Vince Lombardi battle Miss Togar's iron-fisted rule and take their battle to a truly rockin' conclusion. This 30th Anniversary Special Edition from Shout! Factory's Roger Corman Cult Classics label includes tons of bonus features for rockers of every stripe.
From TV to Video: (5/4)
"Doctor Who: Dreamland" (2010) is a new animated adventure voiced by David Tennant in which the Doctor hooks up with two new companions -- Cassie and Jimmy -- as he's pitted against a new alien race, the monstrous Viperox, in Area 51 in 1958; two-disc set, $24.98 from Warner ... "Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora" includes three digitally remastered Doctor Who classics: The Masque of Mandragora, The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon, $24.98 from Warner ... "The Facts of Life: The Complete Fourth Season" (1982-83) is a four-disc set with 24 episodes, $39.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Fallen" (2006) is a three-part ABC Family fantasy drama about Aaron, an Earth-bound nephilim -- half human, half angel -- caught up in the everyday problems of growing up, just as he is trapped in a celestial maelstrom between good and evil, starring Paul Wesley, Fernanda Andrade, Bryan Cranston, Tom Skerritt, Ivana Milicevic, Rade Serbedzija and Monique Ganderton ... "Freud" (1984) is a two-disc set with the six-part BBC mini-series about the great psychoanalyst starring David Suchet, Michael Kitchen, Suzanne Bertish, Michael Pennington, Miriam Margolyes, Anton Lesser and David Swift, $34.98 from Warner ... "Hamlet" (2010) stars David Tennant, Patrick Stewart and The Royal Shakespeare Company in the recent PBS' Great Performances production, from BBC/Warner ... New digital transfers of two of the last four Honeymooners ABC specials -- reuniting Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows and Art Carney -- broadcast in 1976 have been released by MPI Media Group: "The Honeymooners Second Honeymoon" and "The Honeymooners Valentine Special," $14.98 each ... "Marcus Welby, M.D.: Season One" (1969-70) is a seven-disc set with 27 episodes, $49.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Murdoch Mysteries Season Two" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes of the Canadian series that follows Detective William Murdoch as he uses cutting-edge techniques like ballistics and profiling to solve crimes in Victorian-era Toronto, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Race to Mars" (2007) is a Canadian miniseries about six extraordinary individuals from around the world who are selected for a grueling two-year mission to Mars, where they must rise above their fears and sacrifice their lives in the face of overwhelming danger; from E1 Entertainment.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (5/4)
"The Dukes" (2007) is a wry comic tale of a down-and-out Doo Wop band -- once hit-makers in the 1960s but barely making ends meet in 2007 -- who take a bumbling detour into burglary on their endless quest to make good on their dreams, starring Robert Davi, Chazz Palminteri, Peter Bogdanovich, Miriam Margolyes, Melora Hardin, Frank D'Amico, Elya Baskin, Eloise DeJoria, Alphonse Mouzon and Dominic Scott Key; from E1 Entertainment ... After an accident, an ordinary man finds that he has the ability to heal others, but each time he does so he depletes his own life energy, in "Working Miracles" (2010), starring Eddie Cibrian and Patrick Duffy; from Vivendi Entertainment/Genius Products ... In "Virtuality" (2009), starring Clea DuVall, Joy Bryant, Sienna Guillory, Ritchie Coster and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 12 extremely talented men and women have been chosen to be part of the Phaeton mission, a 10-year trek to explore a distant planetary system, but as the ship approaches a critical phase of the journey, a deadly flaw is discovered in the virtual system, forcing the crew to question if someone onboard might be a killer; from Universal ...
"Preacher's Kid" (2010), is a coming-of-age story about a small-town girl who leaves family and faith behind to pursue a dream of singing stardom, starring Letoya Luckett, Gregory Alan Williams and Clifton Powell; from the Warner Premiere label ... Vivendi Entertainment/Genius Products has three releases timed for Mother's Day: "Bound by a Secret" (2009), in which a famous actress reveals to her best friend that she's dying, and the pair must reveal a shattering secret to the latter's grown daughter about the reality of her natural, and secret, parentage, starring Meredith Baxter and Lesley Ann Warren; "Ladies of the House" (2008), in which three women take on the daunting task of renovating a run-down house in order to raise funds for their church, starring Florence Henderson, Donna Mills, Pam Grier, Lance Henricksen and Richard Roundtree; "The Nanny Express" (2008), about a young woman who goes to work as a nanny for a widower whose two kids have already run off six other nannies.
On the Indie Front: (5/4)
The fact-based "California Dreamin'" (2007), starring Armand Assante, Jamie Elman, Razvan Vasilescu, Maria Dinulescu, Alexandru Margineanu and Ion Sapdaru, proves that truth is stranger -- and more absurd -- than fiction. In 1999, during the bloody civil war in Yugoslavia, a train with a platoon of American Marines is stopped in Constanta, Romania, with a shipment of military radar meant to be deployed near the Serbian border in support of NATO air raids. The Marines become the "guests" of a poor village filled with a frustrating bureaucracy, sexy young women on the make, black marketeers, arms dealers, and odd pop culture celebrations. First film by Romanian new wave filmmaker Cristian Nemescu, 27, who was killed in a car crash while the film was being edited; from IFC Films/MPI Media ... "The Moment After 2: The Awakening" (2006) is an apocalyptic suspense thriller in the tradition of the best-selling "Left Behind" series: This sequel picks up after the New World Order assumes control of all nations and a small band of Christians dedicated to keeping the word of God alive prepare to clash against the Global Alliance in the ultimate showdown of good versus evil; stars David A.R. White, Brad Heller, Monte Perlin, Kevin Downes and Lonnie Colon; from Affirm Films/Sony ... In "Paper Covers Rock" (2008), starring Jeannine Kaspar, Sayra Player and Clint Jordan, a troubled young woman fights for custody of her six year-old daughter; from IFC Films/MPI Media.
In "Tokyo Sonata" (2009 -- Japan), an ordinary Japanese family slowly disintegrates after its patriarch loses his job at a prominent company. Facing completely unfamiliar circumstances, he decides not to tell his family and begins his lonely sojourn into the world of the secretly unemployed. Best known in the United States for unsettling horror films like "Pulse" and "Cure," director Kiyoshi Kurosawa ventures away from the genre with this drama. Probing the dark side of human nature and the social problems that confront contemporary Japan, this highly acclaimed film was awarded the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Stars Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Yu Koyanagi and Inowaki Kai; from E1 Entertainment.
For the Family: (5/4)
"The Best of Elmo 2" (2010) includes guest stars Jason Mraz, Adam Sandler, The Goo-Goo Dolls, David Beckham, more; $14.98 from Sesame Street/Warner) ... In "Go, Diego, Go!: The Great Panda Adventure" (2010), Nickelodeon's Diego and Baby Jaguar rescue animals all over the world in four new-to-DVD episodes: "All Aboard The Giant Panda Express," "Koala's Birthday Hug," "Leaping Lemurs" and "Diego Saves the Beavers"; $16.99. from Paramount ... "Iron Man Armored Adventures Season One" (2009) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes from the Nicktoons Network animated series, $29.93 from Marvel Animation, Method Films, Genius Products, Vivendi Entertainment ... "Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Television Series" (1994) is a three-disc set with 26 episodes, $29.99 from Disney ... "X-Men: Vol. 5" (1996-97) is a two-disc set with the final 14 episodes, $23.99 from Disney.
Special Interest: (5/4)
"9 to 5 Days in Porn" (2008) is a portrait of the people who work in adult entertainment, a business bigger than the music industry. Filmed over a period of more than a year, 10 different stories unfold, delivering insight into the personal lives of people in the adult movie business, their hopes and their dreams; from Strand Releasing ... "Mars Rising" (2007) is a six-part documentary series that explores the challenges behind a potential manned mission to Mars; narrated by William Shatner; $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ...
"Roads to Memphis" (2009) is a documentary that examines the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968; $24.99 from PBS ... A companion DVD is "A Ripple of Hope" (2008), a documentary about the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. King, including the subsequent riots and, in particular, the response of Robert Kennedy, who ventured into the heart of the Indianapolis inner city to give a scheduled speech to a potentially volatile crowd gathered in a park, also from PBS ... "The Awkward Comedy Show" (2010) showcases the talents of five groundbreaking black comedians: Comic Marina Franklin interviews the Awkward Comics, whose ranks include alternative stand-up artists Victor Varnado, Hannibal Buress, Eric Andre and Baron Vaughn; $19.95 from New Video.
Warner Locks Up
Get 'em while you can. According to Home Media Magazine, Warner Home Video is placing on moratorium two of its best-selling classics as the studio preps them for big Blu-ray Disc releases in 2011. "Citizen Kane" will go into the vault May 10, while "Ben-Hur" will no longer be sold beginning July 12. The titles will be remastered for Blu-ray and will include new bonus features, with a release slated for late 2011. "Citizen Kane" will see its 70th anniversary next year.
'Citizen Kane,' 'Ben Hur'
According to our friends at Home Media Magazine, "20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Avatar catapulted to the top of all three national video charts (DVD sales, DVD rentals, Blu-ray sales) its first week in stores. The title's home video performance was powered by a burst of out-of-the-gate sales that saw the top-grossing theatrical film of all time sell 6.7 million units its first four days in stores, 2.7 million of them on Blu-ray Disc." Read more at Home Media Magazine.
This Week's Releases (April 27)
From the Big Screen:
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" " and "It's Complicated." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (4/27)
"The Barbara Stanwyck Collection (Universal Backlot Series)" To many, Barbara Stanwyck is known as the matriarch of TV's 'The Big Valley' or the femme fatale of 'Double Indemnity,' but the actress' 80-film career spanned comedies, weepies, melodramas, Westerns and noir films: Stanwyck could handle anything sent her way and make it her own. Universal has put together a three-disc set featuring six previously unreleased-to-DVD films: 'Internes Can't Take Money' (1937), a Dr. Kildare melodrama; 'The Great Man's Lady' (1942); a William Wellman Western, 'The Bride Wore Boots' (1946); 'The Lady Gambles' (1949), and two excellent Douglas Sirk outings, 'All I Desire' (1953) and 'There's Always Tomorrow' (1956), which reunites her with 'Indemnity's' Fred MacMurray. $49.98 ... In 1953, three classic first season "I Love Lucy" episodes ("The Benefit," "Breaking the Lease" and "The Ballet") were edited together with newly-filmed connecting scenes to create "I Love Lucy: The Movie," a never-before-released feature-length film. (It was shelved when Lucy and Ricky signed a deal with MGM to do 'The Long, Long Trailer"). $19.99 from Paramount.
On Blu-ray This Week: (4/27)
Due this week: "Armageddon" (1998), "Dune" (1984), "Elizabeth" (1998),
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007), "The Jackal" (1997), "Out of Africa 25th Anniversary Edition" (1985), "Ride With the Devil" (1999), "Traffic" (2000) and "Tombstone" (1993).
From TV to Video: (4/27)
"Georgia O'Keeffe" (2009) stars Joan Allen, Jeremy Irons, Ed Begley Jr., Linda Emond, Henry Simmons and Tyne Daly in Lifetime's critically acclaimed original movie about America' most influential female artist and her turbulent 20-year relationship with renowned photographer Alfred Steiglitz; from Sony ... "The Hills: Season Five Part Two" (2009) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $26.98 from Paramount ... "Pride and Prejudice" (1995) is a two-disc set of the BBC production, color enhanced and completely digitally restored from hi-def source materials, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle; $39.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Rita Rocks: The Complete Season One" (2008-09) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes, $24.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Sherri: The Complete Season One" (2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Survivors" (2008) is a five-disc set with Seasons One and Two of the BBC series about the end of civilization due to the outbreak of a killer influenza virus, $59.98 from BBC/Warner ... "Survivors" (1975-77) Six-disc set with 38 episodes from the three seasons of the cult BBC series, also about a plague that devastates humankind, $79.98 from BBC/Warner ... "Tales From The Darkside: The Third Season" (1986-87) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $39.99 from Paramount.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (4/27)
In "Disgrace" (2008), John Malkovich stars as University of Cape Town Professor David Lurie, whose world is shattered when he is fired for seducing a college student. He finds peace at his estranged daughter's modest farm until a horrific incident of terror and violence forces Lurie to confront his beliefs and the disturbing racial complexities of the new South Africa; from Image Entertainment ... "Five Minutes of Heaven" (2009) stars Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and Anamaria Marinca in a thriller about the long-lasting pain caused by the Troubles in Northern Ireland: A man and the killer of his brother meet on a TV talk show 30 years after the murder; from IFC Films ... "District 13: Ultimatum" (2009) is a sequel to the cult hit "District 13," set in the ghettos of Paris in 2010 in which an undercover cop and ex-thug try to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb. This time around corrupt officials cash in on the district's redevelopment, causing civil unrest and the threat of a nuclear strike. More Parkour, the explosive art of movement; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... In "Transylmania" (2009), a dimwitted college student and his friends -- looking for beer, babes and bongs at what they think is a prestigious Transylvanian university -- instead discover a creepy castle populated by a torture-loving mad scientist, an over-cybersexed humpback, the nubile spirit of a decomposed sorceress and a bevy of vampire chicks that have finally found a student body they can really sink their fangs into; from Sony ... In "The Fear Chamber" (2009), starring Richard Tyson, Rhett Giles, Steven Williams and Miranda Kwok, a detective must track down a serial killer prowling the streets of Los Angeles, murdering young, healthy women for their organs; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "Marked" (2007), starring Tara Carroll, Samuel Child, Tony Suraci and Mark Colson, a group of ghost hunters discover a powerful force that points to the killer of the father of one of the researches; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "Passed the Door of Darkness" (2008), starring Matthew John Prater, Mark Colson, Kathryn Hansen and James Micheal Connor, two L.A. detectives in search of "The Shadow of God," the most sadistic serial killer the city has ever seen, slowly realize "The Shadow" is stalking them; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "Battle Planet"
(2008), starring Zack Ward, Monica May, Brea Grant and Kevin Thompson, is a sci-fi actioner about a Special Ops Officer sent to a desolate planet to arrest possible traitors to the Alliance, where he learns of a plot to destroy the human race; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
On the Indie Front: (4/27)
"Surviving Desire" (1991) is director Hal Hartley's swift dissection of male infatuation that is as fierce as it is compassionate: It's a comedy about obsessive love in which a handsome young college professor is smitten with a beautiful young female student who's more interested in empiricism than experience; stars Martin Donovan, Matt Malloy, Merritt Nelson, Julie Kessler and Mary B. Ward; from Microcinema International.
For the Family: (4/27)
"Runaway Ralph" (1988) features the voices of Fred Savage, Summer Phoenix, Sara Gilbert, Kellie Martin, Mark Hamill and Nichelle Nichols in Beverly Cleary's classic tale about Ralph, a young mouse who decides that he's going to run away from the hotel his family lives in, and sets out on his toy motorcycle for a host of adventures; $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Season 2.0" (1983) is a four-disc boxed set with 30 episodes, $29.93 from Shout! Factory ... "The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume 8" (2009) features the final three episodes from the second season of the Disney XD series, $19.94 from Sony ... "Looney Tunes Super Stars: Bugs Bunny" and "Looney Tunes Super Stars: Daffy Duck" are collections of 15 cartoons never-before-released to DVD, $19.98 each from Warner.
Special Interest: (4/27)
"In Search of Beethoven" (2009) is a comprehensive documentary about the life and works of the great composer. Over 65 performances by the world's finest musicians were recorded and 100 interviews conducted in the making of this beautifully crafted film that delves beneath the mythical image of the tortured, cantankerous genius to search for the real Ludwig van Beethoven; from Microcinema International ... "The End of Poverty?"
(2010) is a documentary that moves from the slums of Africa to the barrios of Latin America to explore how the true causes of poverty stem from actions taken during (and since) colonial times to perpetuate exploitation: first by forcing people from their land and their access to natural resources, then through unfair trade, debt repayment and unjust taxes on labor and consumption. Narrated by Martin Sheen; from Cinema Libre Studio.
Retailers Keep Doors Open for 'Avatar'
From Home Media Magazine: Hundreds of retailers big and small kept their doors open late Wednesday night to accommodate the masses looking to get their hands on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo releases of the No. 1 film of all time. Aiming to overtake "New Moon" as the top-selling title of 2010, "Avatar" may also have the legs to become the top-selling home entertainment title of all time. Retailers went all out for the release, with storewide signage, giveaways and tie-ins to Blu-ray players and HDTVs. Prior to the release, the Blu-ray/DVD combo accounted for 65% of preorders. Read the complete article at Home Media Magazine.
This Week's Releases (April 20)
From the Big Screen:
"Avatar," "Crazy Heart," "The Lovely Bones" and "The Young Victoria." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (4/20)
The Criterion Collection stuns us again with the release of Jean-Luc Godard's "Vivre sa vie" (1962) on standard DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The film was a turning point for Godard and remains one of his most dynamic films, combining brilliant visual design with a tragic character study. The lovely Anna Karina, Godard's greatest muse, plays Nana, a young Parisian who aspires to be an actress but instead ends up a prostitute; her downward spiral is depicted in a series of discrete tableaux of daydreams and dances. Featuring some of Karina and Godard's most iconic moments -- from her movie theater vigil with "The Passion of Joan of Arc" to her seductive pool-hall strut -- "Vivre sa vie" is a landmark of the French New Wave that still surprises at every turn. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer.
Composer-musician-producer-film-director-rock-'n'-roller Frank Zappa published a record of his most important influences on the inside cover of his debut album and it became a road map to the music he was to make over the following 40 years. Even in the early 1990s, when asked about his most-loved composers, musicians and artists, he would repeat names from this, by then legendary, index. "Frank Zappa: The Freak Out List" explores Zappa's musical roots by putting "The Freak Out List" under the microscope and tracing the lineage from the most pivotal names on the list to the recordings and performances of the man himself. Features rare footage of Zappa and the Mothers plus archive film of "Freak Out List" artists, and much, much more. $19.95 from Sexy Intellectual/MVD Visual.
From TV to Video: (4/20)
"The Bill Cosby Show: Season Two" (1970-71) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, available only at ShoutFactoryStore.com ... "Bump In the Night: The Complete Series" (1994-1995) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes from the classic Saturday morning cartoon series, available only at ShoutFactoryStore.com ... "Falcon Crest: The Complete First Season" (1981-82) is a four-disc set with 18 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "Heartland: The Complete First Season" (2007-08) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Heartland: The Complete Second Season" (2008-09) is a five-disc set with 18 episodes, $39.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys -- Season 1" (1995) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $26.98 from Universal ... "Perry Mason: Season Five, Volume One" (1961-62) is a four-disc set, $54.99 from Paramount ... "Xena: Warrior Princess -- Season 1" (1995-96) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $26.98 from Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (4/20)
A husband who learns of his wife's infidelity gathers together a motley crew of ex-thugs and thug hopefuls to kidnap her lover and submit him to a kangaroo court form of justice "44 Inch Chest" (2009), starring Ray Winstone, Joanne Whalley, Melvil Poupaudm John Hurt, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane; from Image Entertainment ... A young woman gets much more than she bargained for when she visits her boyfriend for the weekend; she must contend with his obsessive ex-girlfriend who will stop at nothing to keep her away from her man in "Homecoming" (2009), starring Jessica Stroup, Matt Long and Mischa Barton; from Paramount ... A police officer with a painful past returns home to help the FBI track down the mastermind assassin who shattered his life; this time the murderer is out to terrorize the entire city in "Deadly Impact (aka To Live and Die)" (2010), starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Joe Pantoliano and Amanda Wyss; from MGM ... "Knife Edge" (2008) is a thriller about a young woman who gives up her successful Wall Street career, moves with her family to a secluded country estate and begins seeing strange and terrifying visions of horrific events from the mansion's past; stars Natalie Press, Joan Plowright, Hugh Bonneville and Tamsin Egerton; from E1 Entertainment.
On the Indie Front: (4/20)
In "Wake" (2009), an emotionally isolated girl gets solace by going to strangers' funerals; but after an unexpected series of mix-ups and white lies, she finds herself in possession of a dead woman's engagement ring and finds herself in love with the grieving fiance; stars Bijou Phillips, Ian Somerhalder, Jane Seymour and Danny Masterson; from E1 Entertainment ... "Adopt a Sailor" (2008) stars Bebe Neuwirth, Peter Coyote and Ethan Peck in a comedy about a self-involved NYC couple who "adopt" a quiet young sailor from Turkey during Fleet Week; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "Uncertainty" (2009), starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins, a young couple, in love and facing a life-changing decision, find one seemingly ordinary July 4 cleaved in two by the flip of a coin on the Brooklyn Bridge; from IFC Films ...
The graduating class of a girls' school seeks payback for years of frustration at the hands of the immature boys of rival schools by setting up a prank contest pitting two boys' schools against each other in "Prom Wars" (2008), starring Ricky Ullman, Rachelle Lefevre, Alia Shawkat, Kevin Coughlin, Nicolas Wright and Chad Connell; from E1 Entertainment ... A young man attempts to accomplish something meaningful before his life is taken by cancer, determined to show his three best friends -- who are on the money-making fast track -- that there is more to live than just career success in "My True Self"
(2008), starring Jerod Edington, Rohit Nahata, Silas Gaither, Spencer Hill and Erin Gray; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Citizen Duane" (2006), starring Vivica A. Fox, Devon Dostick, Donal Logue and Douglas Smith, is a comedy about a teenaged Don Quixote born into a family of spectacular failures who runs for mayor of his tiny home town; from MTI Home Video ... In "Crimes of Fashion" (2004), starring Kaley Cuoco and Megan Fox, a young woman at a fashion school inherits the family business from a grandfather she never knew, skyrocketing her from nobody to a mob boss; from Image Entertainment ... A summertime canoe trip turns into a nightmare for four 14-year-old girls who end up losing more than their innocence in "Surviving Crooked Lake" (2008), starring Alysha Aubin, Candice Mausner, Morgan McCunn and Stephannie Richardson; from Neoclassics Films.
"Cloud 9" (2009 -- Germany) is the provocative story of a seductive love affair at a golden age. Set in East Berlin, this is the groundbreaking, lyrical and moving story of Inge (Ursula Werner), a 67-year old married woman who rediscovers passion and her sexuality when she unexpectedly falls in love with 76 year-old Karl (Horst Westphal). Winner of a host of international awards. From Music Box Films.
For the Family: (4/20)
"Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures" (2010) features 11 clay animated adventures from Sesame Street's new TV series, $12.99 from Warner ...
"Handy Manny: Big Race" (2010) is a new animated feature about Manny (Wilmer Valderrama) and Elliot (Lance Bass), who team up to build a fabulous race car to enter into the Wood Valley 500 race. For preschoolers age 2-5. $19.99 from Disney ... "The Transformers: Seasons Three and Four" presents the final 33 episodes of the series, featuring the rarely seen three-episode fourth season; $29.93 from Shout! Factory ... "Where's Spot? And Other Stories" (2009) is based on the best-selling books by Eric Hill. $9.97 from Warner ...
"He's Got The Whole World in His Hands ... and More Stories to Celebrate the Environment" (2010) is a celebration of all things green; in addition to the title story the collection includes "Owl Moon", "Come On, Rain!" "Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message," "The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks," "Patrick" and "A Boy, A Dog and a Frog." The DVD also features a guide for parents and kids with tips on how to be green; $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures.
Special Interest: (4/20)
"Earth Days" (2009) features profiles of the pioneers of the modern environmental movement, including former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall; biologist/"Population Bomb" author Paul Ehrlich; "Whole Earth Catalogue" founder Stewart Brand; Apollo Nine astronaut Rusty Schweickart; and renewable energy pioneer Hunter Lovin. $24.99 from PBS ... "Tales From the Script" (2009) is a comprehensive documentary about screenwriting: Author-filmmakers Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman present a in-depth look at the eternal quandary of the Hollywood screenwriter. By showcasing the first-person experiences of dozens of writers, from A-listers to newcomers, the dual project provides a mix of you-are-there gossip and practical advice. The film features interviews with a who's who of Hollywood storytellers, from newcomers to veterans. Among the 46 screenwriters featured in the movie are Allison Anders ("Gas Food Lodging"), John August ("Go"), Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon"), John Carpenter ("Halloween"), Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption"), Antwone Fisher ("Antwone Fisher"), two-time Oscar winner William Goldman ("The Princess Bride"), David Hayter ("Watchmen"), Oscar-winner Bruce Joel Rubin ("Ghost"), Paul Schrader ("Taxi Driver"), Guinevere Turner ("American Psycho"), and Oscar-winner David S. Ward ("The Sting"). From First Run Features ... "I Can Tell the World" (2009) is a documentary that follows members of an interracial, multigenerational choir committed to the preservation and performance of African American spirituals; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Cheech & Chong's Hey Watch This" (2010) follows the comedy duo as they reunite for the "Cheech and Chong Light Up America and Canada Tour." From Vivendi Entertainment/The Weinstein Company.
'Alice's' New Wonderland:
Tim Burton's fantasy adventure take on "Alice in Wonderland," Disney's fourth biggest film of all time, brings it's wild storyline into the home with a three-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy), single-Disc Blu-ray and single-Disc DVD -- but not 3D -- on June 1, from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The standard DVD includes three featurettes: on Alice, the Mad Hatter and a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film's characters. The Blu-ray Disc includes nine bonus features that take viewers deeper into the famous "Rabbit Hole," exploring more of the world of Wonderland and the making of the film. Features include the making of the Futterwacken Dance, a look inside the world of the Mad Hatter and Johnny Depp's transformation, Tim Burton's vision for the movie and its characters, the visual effects of growing and shrinking of Alice, costume designs, music, stunts and more.
June 1 DVD & Blu-ray
Error Flynn Action Arrives
Warner Home Video has just announced an August 3 release date for "Turner Classic Movies Spotlight: Errol Flynn Adventures," an adrenaline-charged collection of films starring the unforgettable legend, Errol Flynn. Each film will make its restored and remastered debut on DVD for the first time with an arsenal of bonus content and rare footage, some never before available on DVD. This five-disc set celebrates the 1940s output of the charismatic and legendary hero who became known to many as "The Baron." The collection includes: "Desperate Journey," "Northern Pursuit," "Uncertain Glory," "Objective, Burma!" all directed by the legendary Raoul Walsh, and "Edge of Darkness," directed by Lewis Milestone. The set has a $49.92 price tag. For more information, check out Warner Home Video's press release.
in Five-Disc Set
Fox Mounts Massive DVD/Blu-ray
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment today announced the kick-off of a 12-month marketing, promotions, publicity and media campaign to honor and promote the studio's 75th Anniversary (1935). The studio has launched a dedicated Web site -- www.fox75th.com -- that will feature information about upcoming Blu-ray Disc and DVD products, theatrical releases and national and local events and promotions tied to the anniversary campaign. The site is already promoting eight very cool limited edition 75th anniversary commemorative movie posters -- featuring iconic film images from Fox's 75 years of glamor, dynamic duos, rebels, cult classics, screams, sci-fi and music -- that are available to consumers when they buy one of the upcoming Fox DVDs. The studio will release a selection of seasonally timed singles, double and triple features and classic quads on DVD representing some of Fox's most recognizable films. They will also release a selection of event titles on Blu-ray Disc for the first time, including the "Alien Anthology," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show (35th Anniversary)," "The Sound of Music (45th Anniversary)," "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet," "Moulin Rouge!" and "The Last of the Mohicans." And, lastly, Fox will put together a 75th Anniversary Commemorative Box Set with a comprehensive collection of Fox films -- handpicked by studio chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos -- that will include "All About Eve," "Avatar," "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid," "Cleopatra," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Ice Age," "Juno," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Minority Report," "Patton," "Wall Street," and more. Check out their site for more information.
Promo for 75th Anniversary
This Week's Releases (April 13)
From the Big Screen:
"Pirate Radio." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (4/13)
The Criterion Collection has released this week the latest offering in its no-frills releases of classic art-house films. "Essential Art House: Volume Five" are elegant, movie-only DVD editions are practical, lower-cost alternative to the more elaborate Criterion Collection special editions. Available individually or in box sets of six, Essential Art House editions are the touchstones of world cinema, and feature beautiful digital transfers, accompanied by informative liner notes. Volume Five includes David Lean's "Brief Encounter" (1945), Federico Fellini's "8 1/2" (1963), Yasujiro Ozu's "Floating Weeds" (1959), Francois Truffaut's "Jules and Jim" (1962), Gillo Pontecorvo's "Kapo" (1959) and Milos Forman's "Loves of a Blonde (1965); $19.95 each or $99.95 for the six-film boxed set.
"The Great Mouse Detective: Mystery in the Mist Edition" (1986) with the voices of Vincent Price, Melissa Manchester and Barrie Ingham. Of all the animated films created by the talented duo of Ron Clements and John Musker ("The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," "The Princess and the Frog") this one, their first, appeals most to the adult in us -- maybe because of its grown-up story line involving Basil of Baker Street, a mouse version of Sherlock Holmes, hunting down his arch-enemy, the evil genius Dr. Ratigan. It's enjoyable throughout for kids and adults. Disney updates the original DVD release with the feature "You Think You Can Sleuth?" an animated look at the history of detective work, complete with a crime-solving puzzle for the entire family.
From TV to Video: (4/13)
"Dallas: The Complete Thirteenth Season" (1989-90) is a three-disc set with 27 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "Emergency! Season Six" (1976-77) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $39.98 from Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (4/13)
Woody Harrelson, Sandra Oh, Kat Dennings, Elias Koteas and Michael Kelly star in "Defendor" (2009), a comedy-drama about a regular man who takes on a superhero persona in order to combat crime in his local city; from Sony ... "The Slammin' Salmon" (2009) stars Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Forte, Vivica A. Fox and Morgan Fairchild in a comedy from the Broken Lizard moviemaking comedy group. A former heavyweight boxing champ turned restaurant owner (Duncan), indebted to the Japanese mob, challenges his waiters to sell more food in one night than they've ever sold before -- or face a pummeling by the Champ; from Anchor Bay ... In "Crazy on the Outside" (2010)starring Tim Allen, Kelsey Grammer, Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, Jeanne Tripplehorn, J.K. Simmons and Julie Bowen, a man released from prison for taking the rap for his best friend discovers life on the outside is even crazier than it was behind bars: His eccentric sister won't get off his back, his sexy ex-girlfriend won't leave him alone, and his former partner in crime won't take no for an answer; from Fox ... A private detective hired to tail a man on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles discovers that the man is one of the missing presumed dead after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in "The Missing Person" (2009), starring Michael Shannon, Amy Ryan, Margaret Colin, Linda Emond, Yul Vazquez and John Ventimiglia; from Strand Releasing ... In "Tenure" (2009), starring Luke Wilson, Gretchen Mol, David Koechner, Sasha Alexander and Bob Gunton, a popular instructor up for tenure has his plans unexpectedly threatened by the arrival of a hotshot new female faculty member up for his job -- who he happens to fall for; from Vivendi Entertainment ... In "The Grind" (2009), starring C. Thomas Howell, Tom Sizemore, Tanya Allen, Michael Welch, Danny Trejo and Eve Mauro, a seedy grifter who owes money to the Mexican Mob cooks up one final scheme to pay off his debt or be killed -- getting a local loan shark to advance him cash to start a Hot All-Girl Website. Unfortunately, the girls run off with the money, people start dying and all hell breaks loose; from Indican Pictures ... In "The Korean" (2008), starring Josiah D. Lee, Jennifer Voss, John Yost, Jack Erdie, Rik Billok and Rose Smith, a big city mob boss is betrayed by four criminal associates who disappear with his loot, his girl and more importantly, his pride. With only hours until his arrest, he calls in the deadliest "cleaner" on the Eastern seaboard to track them down and finish them off; from Indican Pictures ... A group of nonviolent criminals locked in a single prison cell, where claustrophobia and paranoia threaten to steal their sanity, witness a shocking death and a mysterious cover-up in "Stoic" (2009), starring Edward Furlong and Shaun Sipos; from Vivendi Entertainment ... In"Creature of Darkness" (2009), starring Devon Sawa, Sanoe Lake, Matthew Lawrence, Fernanda Romero and Kevin Alejandro, a man's nightmare of dying a horrible death in the claws of a rampaging creature come true when he goes on an off-road cycling trip with friends; from MTI Home Video.
For the Family: (4/13)
"Tom and Jerry Tales: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, nine never-before-seen on TV, of the animated series that features contemporary adventures of the beloved cat and mouse team; $19.98 from Warner ... "The Madeline Movie: Lost In Paris" (1999) is an animated feature based on the classic Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans, with the voices of Jason Alexander, Lauren Bacall, Christopher Plummer and Andrea Libman; $14.99 from Shout! Factory) ... In "Dora the Explorer: Explore the Earth!" (2010), Dora and Boots embark on colorful adventures across the globe, from the South Pole, to rain forests, to tropical beaches, giving kids the opportunity to learn all about our big, beautiful planet Earth; $16.99 from Paramount) ... "John Deere Earth Mover Action" (2010) is a tribute to big earth-moving machines -- excavators, front-end loaders, graders, scrapers, backhoes -- for kids and adults 3 and older. In addition to segments about plowing snow in the Rockies and powerful earth-moving action, there's stop-action segments featuring die-cast toys mining candy at the Big Rock Candy mountain Quarry, sing-alongs, and a "Let's Pretend" game; $14.95 from TM Books & Video.
Special Interest: (4/13)
"Plunder: The Crime of Our Time" (2010) is a hard-hitting investigative film that explores how the current financial crisis was built on a foundation of criminal activity. America's financial crisis has become a global catastrophe. Everyone is still debating how to fix it, what caused it and who is to blame for the loss of trillions in personal wealth and shareholder value. While politicians and some experts blame "mistakes" and "errors" driven by greed or poor business models, veteran journalist Danny Schechter has probed more deeply into a complex web of fraud and crime that he shows played a major, if largely unreported, role in bringing the economy down. The film looks into how the crisis developed, from the mysterious collapse of Bear Stearns to the shadowy world of trillion dollar hedge funds. To tell this eye-opening story, Schechter spoke with bankers, respected economists, insider experts, top journalists, and even a convicted white-collar criminal, Sam Antar, who blows the whistle on intentionally dishonest practices. Ultimately, the film calls for a full investigation and structural reforms of financial institutions to insure accountability by the white-collar perpetrators who profited from the misery of their victims. $19.98 from The Disinformation Co. ... "We Believe" (2009) is a documentary -- with a veritable who's who cast of Chicagoans -- that explores the extraordinary love affair between the city of Chicago and its baseball team, the Cubs. Narrated by Chicago native Gary Sinise. Among those interviewed are Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Bob Costas, Dennis Franz, Jeff Garlin, legendary Blues musician Buddy Guy, Hugh Hefner, Bonnie Hunt, Joe Mantegna, George Will and rare interviews with Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball and Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago. From Virgil Films & Entertainment.
'Titans' Beats Back 'Date Night'
As reported in Sunday's box office estimates, the weekend race was a squeaker, with merely $.2 million separating the top films, "Date Night" at No. 1 and "Clash of the Titans" at No. 2. As Monday rolled around, however, and final reports came in from movie theaters and the studios, the No. 1 and 2 films swapped position: "Titans" lorded it over "Date Night," $26.6 million to $25.2 million. This augurs well for "Titans," now in its second week or release, with a modest decline in ticket sales; the outlook for "Date Night" isn't so rosy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Its adult orientation might have worked against 'Date' on Sunday, when it registered 49% less coin than the previous day. High TV viewership for the conclusion of the Masters golf tournament that afternoon peeled prospective moviegoers away from most adult-targeting movies, Fox executives believe." For another take on why the film performed poorly, read the L.A. Times' Patrick Goldstein's "Why did 'Date Night's' Tina Fey and Steve Carell go from great TV to a bad movie?"
Box office face off for 'Date,' 'Titans'
A fairly tight race at this weekend's box office saw less than $2 million separating the top three films, with new arrival "Date Night," starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey, taking in an estimated $27.1 million, followed by holdover "Clash of the Titans," grabbing $26.9 million in box office gold, and "How to Train Your Dragon" flying off with $25.4 million. Find out more about the weekend box office at Inside Movie's Box Office Wrap.
Four recent theatrical releases -- all pretty much disappointments -- will soon be making their way to DVD. The best of the lot is "Dear John," a tearjerker starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried that performed well at the box office based only on the leads' cache, due May 25 from Sony. Next up is the failed horror remake "The Wolfman," from Universal June 1; followed by two outright flops: the John Travolta thriller "From Paris With Love," due June 8 from Lionsgate; and "When in Rome," starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, from Disney on June 15.
This Week's Releases (April 6)
From the Big Screen:
"Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" and "The Collector." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (4/6)
Sony has a nice set due this week for lovers of all things scary and British: "The Icons of Suspense Collection Presents Hammer Films,"
a six-disc set of British Hammer films: The uncut version of the futuristic classic "These Are the Damned" (aka The Damned, 1963), directed by Joseph Losey; "Cash on Demand" (1961), starring Peter Cushing and Andre Morell; "The Snorkel" (1958), about a young girl who can't convince anyone her stepfather is a murderer; the-Val Guest directed psychodrama "Stop Me Before I Kill!" (aka The Full Treatment, 1960); "Maniac" (1963), in which Kerwin Matthews finds himself in the middle of a strange mother/daughter threesome; plus the rarity, Cyril Frankel's astounding "Never Take Candy From a Stranger" (aka Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, 1960), a serious chiller about a small town terrorized by an elderly child molester. $24.96.
Another nice package this week is the Blu-ray Disc edition of
"The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy,"
a nine-disc set with all three "LOTR" films (theatrical version only, diehard fans will have to wait later for the extended versions) with seven hours of features, mostly those that were on the various DVD versions of the movies, including behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews and trailers. $99.98 from Warner ... Warner will also release this week (in standard DVD) Ralph Bakshi's "The Lord of the Rings" (1978) , the animator's literal adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy, remastered in a two-disc set, $29.99 ... Other Blu-ray releases this week include
"Battlestar Galactica: Season 2" (2005-06), a five-disc set with 20 episodes, $89.98, from Universal; and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), which seems tame by today's standards of horror but set the stage for teen nightmares to come. Stars John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Johnny Depp, Charles Fleischer, Joseph Whipp and Robert Englund. From New Line.
From TV to Video: (4/6)
"Ally McBeal Season Two" (1998-99), a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Box Set," a 25-disc set from Universal ... "Party Down: Season 1" (2009), a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.97 from Anchor Bay Entertainment ... "Sharpe's Peril"
(2010), in which Sean Bean returns as Lt. Col. Richard Sharpe in this British action-adventure film that premiere's on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre in April, from BBC/Warner ... "Simon & Simon: Season Four"
(1984-85), a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.97 from Shout! Factory.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (4/6)
The hanging of honorable Indian-fighter Sam Phoenix in a small Western town is cut short by the unexpected invasion of uranium-based insectoid creatures, forcing Sam and a small band of survivors to take refuge in a church, where they'll need more than a prayer and a pistol to survive the Wild West landscape inundated by a killer force of alien pioneers in "High Plains Invaders" (2009), starring James Marsters, Sebastian Knapp and Cindy Sampson; from Vivendi Entertainment ... "The Awakening of Spring" (2008) is a coming-of-age and sexual awakening story based on the 1891 play by German playwright Frank Wedekind (and which the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening" was based), starring Jon Aniston, Victoria Tennant, Alex Schemmer and Jesse Lee Sofer; from E1 Entertainment ... In "Murder.com" (2008), starring Alexandra Paul, David Chokachi, Robyn Lively and Bart Johnson, a lawyer investigating the mysterious death of her sister uncovers an online dating site that promotes kinky sex -- and may lead her to her sister's killer; from E1 Entertainment ... "Taxidermia" (2006 -- Hungary) is a surrealistic journey through the lives of three generations of Hungarian men: a dim grandfather who seeks gratification in extreme ways; an obese father, a competitive speed eater in the post-war pro-Soviet era who may or may not have exploded from over-eating; and a grandson, a meek taxidermist who yearns for immortality; from E1 Entertainment ... "Yesterday Was a Lie" (2008) stars Kipleigh Brown, John Newton, Chase Masterson and Mik Scriba in a modern noir-type thriller that has a woman with a sharp mind and a weakness for bourbon on the trail of a reclusive genius, where she's plunged into a fragmented, disconnected, surreal and mind-bending world of mysterious secrets and figures; from E1 Entertainment ... A small town sheriff who's investigating a murder at the local diner ends up finding more than he bargained for in the town and in himself in "Black Crescent Moon" (2008), staring William Atherton, Joanne Baron, Gil Bellows, Bob Bledsoe and Brent Briscoe; from Monarch Home Video ... "Dolan's Cadillac" (2010) stars Wes Bentley, Emmanuelle Vaugie and Christian Slater in a yarn based on a Stephen King short story: When a man seeks revenge for his wife's death at the hands of a Las Vegas mobster, the punishment turns into a modern day version of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado"; from National Entertainment Media.
On the Indie Front: (4/6)
In "Loins Of Punjab Present" (2007), six contestants in a small New Jersey town -- five Indian-Americans and one Jewish Indophile -- step up to the mic to compete for the title of Desi Idol, a Bollywood-style singing contest, in this affectionate, yet barbed satire on the Indian-American community; in a two-disc set from IndiePix ... A street musician takes care of a young man conned out of his life savings by a hustler and, discovering that he has an amazing singing talent, attempts to keep him safe from exploitation in "Harlem Aria" (1999), starring Damon Wayans, Christian Camargo, Gabriel Casseus; from Magnolia Home Entertainment.
For the Family: (4/6)
"My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths"
(2009) is a new full-length adventure for pre-schoolers. A magical shooting star lands in Rabbit's Garden, transforming the vegetables into super-sized power-granting produce that give Pooh, Tigger and the rest of the gang surprising superhero powers, which they use -- as the Super Sleuths -- to help friends all over the Hundred Acre Wood. $26.99 from Disney ... "Elmo: Love the Earth; Elmo: Being Green" (2010) are two Sesame Street eco-conscious and Earth-friendly DVDs, $14.98 each, from Warner ... "Finn on the Fly" (2009) stars Ryan Belleville and Ana Gasteyer in a Disney Channel movie about a young boy whose world is turned upside down when his dog is transformed into a flea scratchin', cat chasin', frisbee lovin' human in a genetic experiment gone awry, from E1 Entertainment.
Special Interest: (4/6)
"Dirt! The Movie" (2009) is a documentary that tells the story of humans trying to re-connect to dirt -- the living skin of the earth. Dirt feeds us and gives us shelter. Dirt holds and cleans our water. Dirt heals us and makes us beautiful. Dirt regulates the earth's climate. Why do we humans ignore, abuse, and destroy our most precious living natural resource? Traveling from the vineyards of California to the plains of Kenya, "Dirt!" reveals how repairing our relationship with dirt can create new possibilities for all life on earth. Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis; $26.95 from Docurama.
Slew of New 3D Films Planned
With the back-to-back success of "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland," the major studios are gearing up for more big 3D releases. According to 3D Hollywood in HDef, we can look forward to "Buck Rogers" from director Paul WS Anderson; "The Addams Family," a stop-motion animated version of the original New Yorker drawings, from director Tim Burton; and "Popeye," a CGI version from producer Avi Arad. Add this to the previously announced "Yogi Bear," "The Smurfs" and "The Green Lantern" and the future for 3D looks ... well, poppin' good. Meanwhile, check out 3D Hollywood's nifty calendar of 3D events (movies and TV shows).
This Week's Releases (March 30)
From the Big Screen:
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," "An Education" and "Sherlock Holmes." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: 3/30
Vivendi Entertainment and The Weinstein Co. have teamed for a two-disc Ultimate Edition reissue of (the now out-of-print) "The Killer" (1989), John Woo's guns-blazing masterpiece about a hitman with a code of honor. Chow Yun-Fat plays an assassin who agrees to one last job before quitting for good, but when his bosses double-cross him, he must take on the mob and the police, resulting in one of the most explosive showdowns in cinematic history. Loaded with some of the most outrageously choreographer action sequences ever committed to film and an absolute hailstorm of bullets, making this one of the best action movies ever.
"The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series -- Collector's Edition"
(1952-1953) is a nine-disc custom-packaged set with all 52 Episodes, digitally restored and re-mastered, with a 44-page book, and more than three hours of bonus features including a TV retrospective hosted by Milton Berle, a classic routines reel, Lou Costello's rare home movies, more; $59.98. Beginning in 1952, the filmed half-hour series "The Abbott and Costello Show" appeared in syndication on local stations across the country. Loosely based on Abbott and Costello's popular radio series, the show cast the duo as unemployed actors, perpetually looking for work while struggling to pay back-rent to Sidney Fields, their often frustrated landlord. Other fan-favorites/recurring characters included the elegant Hillary Brooke, the belligerent Mike "The Cop" Kelly (Gordon Jones), the malevolent and child-like Oswald "Stinky" Davis (Joe Besser) and the ever-gainfully employed immigrant entrepreneur Mr. Bacciagalupe (Joe Kirk).From E1 Entertainment.
From TV to Video: 3/30
"Clash of the Gods: The Complete Season One" (2009) brings ancient mythology to rich life with stunning modern-day CGI, just in time for the theatrical release of the remake of "Clash of the Titans," from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Crucifer of Blood" is a 1971 telefilm in which Charleton Heston plays Sherlock Holmes, from Warner ... "iFight Shelby Marx" (2010) is a two-disc set that features two iCarly TV movie specials ("iFight Shelby Marx" and "iDate a Bad Boy") plus two bonus episodes ("iLook Alike" and "iCarly Awards"); $16.99 from Paramount ...
"The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty" (2009) is a two-disc set with all six episodes of the reality mini-series about the Jackson family that chronicles the turbulent personal and professional lives of the Jackson brothers -- Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine -- as they reunite in the aftermath of the death of Michael; $24.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Jesse James' Hidden Treasure" (2009) is a History channel investigation into the belief that the notorious criminal was a clandestine member of a powerful Confederate secret society determined to help the South rise again; the documentary follows a dedicated team of treasure hunters searching for the hiding place of the notorious outlaw's riches; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Mysteryquest: The Complete Season One" (2009) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes; $29.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Nostradamus Effect: The Complete Season One" (2009) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes; $34.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Season One" (2009) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.95 from A&E Home Video ...
"Steven Seagal: Lawman: The Complete Season One"
(2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ..."Sports Night: The Complete First Season" (1998-99) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes; $29.97 from Shout! Factory.
Buzzin' the 'B's: 3/30
"I Sell the Dead" (2008) stars Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman and Larry Fessenden in an homage to the rich gothic style of Britain's Hammer Films, the popular pastime of grave-robbing, and the good old days of fright films. Dominic Monaghan stars as 19th century corpse snatcher Arthur Blake, who pilfered the cemeteries and coffins of England until his capture by police. From IFC Films.
On the Indie Front: 3/30
Set in 1960s swinging London, "Separation" (1968), starring Jane Arden, portrays the inner turmoil of a woman's breakdown -- both marital and mental. Her past and possible future are revealed through a fragmented and often humorous narrative. With original music by Procol Harum, Matthew Fisher and Stanley Myers; from Microcinema.
For the Family: 3/30
"Wordgirl Earth Day Girl" includes eight episodes of the PBS animated series that follows the adventures of a superhero who fights crime and enriches vocabulary usage -- all in a day's work; $14.99 from Paramount ... "Giggle, Giggle, Quack ... And More Stories By Doreen Cronin" (2009) includes five stories by Doreen Cronin brought to life for early readers ages 3 to 8: The title story plus "Dooby Dooby Moo," "Duck for President," "Diary of a Worm" and "Diary of a Fly." Narrated by Abigail Breslin, Alexander Gould and Randy Travis. $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures.
Special Interest: 3/30
Henri Cartier-Bresson may be considered the father of modern photojournalism, but he was not solely a photographer. Several documentaries he shot between the 1930s and the 1970s bear witness to his affection for the cinema, a medium that he sees as "an alternative to photography in the way it sees the world and captures its movement." "Henri Cartier-Bresson" (2010) is a two-disc collector's edition that includes a series of documentaries about the artist, showing his powerful and rare photographic work; five major works directed by Cartier-Bresson himself; and a 24-page illustrated collectible book containing criticism of his work as well as reproductions of his legendary photographs. $49.95 from New Video ... "The Phoenix Lights: Beyond Top Secret" (2010) is the true story of the biggest and most important UFO sighting in modern history: the still-unexplained Arizona mass sighting of 1997. An updated version of the original documentary, adding enormous additional research by dozens of people associated with the film since its release in early 2008, and hundreds of more affiliated with the event. $19.95 from Vanguard Cinema.
'Crazy Heart' Strums Way to DVD
"Crazy Heart," the Academy Award winning melodrama about a boozy, broken-down country singer (Jeff Bridges) who reaches for salvation with the help of a journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who discovers the real man behind the music, will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on April 20 from Fox. Bridges, of course, won the Oscar for Best Actor, and the song, "The Weary Kind," won for Best Original Song. Bonus features include deleted scenes on the DVD; the Blu-ray Disc includes deleted scenes, alternate music cuts, commentary by Bridges, Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall, and a digital copy.
This Week's Releases (March 23)
From the Big Screen:
"The Blind Side," "Brothers," "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (3/23)
From The Criterion Collection comes "Bigger Than Life"
(1956), starring James Mason, Barbara Rush and Walter Matthau. Though ignored at the time of its release, Nicholas Ray's "Bigger Than Life" is now recognized as one of the great American films of the 1950s. When a friendly, successful suburban teacher and father (James Mason) is prescribed cortisone for a painful, possibly fatal affliction, he grows dangerously addicted to the experimental drug, resulting in his transformation into a psychotic and ultimately violent household despot. This Eisenhower-era throat-grabber, shot in expressive CinemaScope, is an excoriating take on the nuclear family. That it came in the day of "Father Knows Best" makes it all the more shocking -- and wildly entertaining. New, restored high-definition digital transfer.
"The T.A.M.I. Show" (1964), one of the rarest rock events ever captured on film, was filmed live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1964, a mere seven months after the Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show." This legendary film has never been seen in its entirety since it originally appeared in theaters, including its "world premiere" at 33 Los Angeles area theaters on Nov. 14, 1964. Mastered from a new High-Definition transfer and restored to its original length, this complete version features the Beach Boys performances that were removed shortly after the film's initial theatrical run. The T.A.M.I. Show is the first concert movie of the rock era, capturing such superstars as the Rolling Stones (with the late Brian Jones), James Brown, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles (featuring Smokey Robinson), Jan and Dean, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Lesley Gore, Gerry and the Pacemakers and many other acts in their early prime. Many of the performers were backed by a band that we've now come to know as "the Wrecking Crew," famed for playing on all the Phil Spector-produced hits, and including future stars Glen Campbell and Leon Russell among others. Fanita James, Jean King, and future solo star Darlene Love, billed as The Blossoms, provided backing vocals. $19.93 from Shout! Factory ... In "Red Cliff" (2008-09), director John Woo retruns to his homeland for an epic and extravagant drama about two second century Chinese warlords -- sworn enemies -- who team up to fight an aggressive Han Dynasty Emperor who wants to pulverize them; one of the most expensive film productions in Chinese cinema and onr that has come to dominate the Chinese box office. Reunites the director with Tony Leung for the first time since 1992's "Hard Boiled." Available as a standard DVD theatrical version, a Blu-ray theatrical version, the original international version containing Part I and Part II (with a combined runtime of almost five hours) on two-disc DVD and Blu-ray. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.
From TV to Video: (3/23)
"The Lair: The Complete Third Season" (2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Life With Derek: The Complete Third Season" (2007-08) is a three-disc set with 26 episodes, $29.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Mad Men: Season Three" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 from Lionsgate ... "The Prisoner" (2009) is a three-disc set with all six episodes of the miniseries starring Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel, $29.98 from Warner ... "7th Heaven: The Tenth Season" (2009) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from Paramount ... "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: The Sixth Season" (2001-02) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Stargate: Atlantis: The Complete Series" (2004-09) is a 26-disc giftset with all 100 episodes from Seasons One through Five, including a bonus disc with never-before-seen special features; $199.98 from MGM.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (3/23)
When a travelling carnival makes a stop in the small town of Reliance, Nebraska, the local townspeople eagerly await the debut of the rarely seen unimaginable Jersey Devil in "Carny" (2009). But when the beast is unveiled and goes wild, tearing through the panic-stricken patrons in a violent, feral rampage, the local sheriff joins the carnival's lovely clairvoyant and sets out to capture the carnivorous fugitive. Another installment in the Syfy Channel "Maneater Series." Stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Alan C. Peterson and Vlasta Vrana; from Vivendi Entertainment ... An abused wife's plan to escape her husband goes awry when she accidentally kills him, causing her to split on a cross-country drive with her kids, her best friend and his corpse in tow in "Drool" (2009), starring Laura Harring, Jill Marie Jones and Oded Fehr; from Strand Releasing ... "Damage" (2009) is a slugfest actioner about an ex-con (six-time WWF Champion "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) who's ready to leave violence behind him until he learns that the young daughter of the man he killed can't afford the heart transplant she needs to save her life; he joins an underground fighting community to win enough prize money to pay for her procedure; from Fox ... In "Banshee!!!" (2008), a group of college friends on a spring break camping trip are stalked and slashed by an unknown creature with the ability to make them hallucinate through sound waves; the survivors hold up refuge in an isolated farmhouse, cut off from all communication, trying to come up with a plan to kill this unrelenting creature before it kills them; from MVD Entertainment Group ... In "The Vigilante" (2008), starring Robert Diaz, Kazuya Wright, Lexie Symon and Margot Robbie, a successful businessman trains himself in the martial arts to avenge the rape and murder of his girlfriend; from MTI Home Video.
On the Indie Front: (3/23)
In "Four Corners of Suburbia" (2005), starring Paul Blackthorne, Madchen Amick, Alec Newman and Alice Evans, four young adults -- including a schoolteacher and his wife, a painter and a single woman -- spend a chaotic weekend together on a secluded Maine island, where everyone must decide what they really want in life and what they're really willing to do to get it; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Tracing Cowboys"
(2008) is a road movie about a young Englishman -- obsessed with his hero John Wayne and intent on becoming a Country and Western singer -- who travels to Mexico during the festival of the Day of the Dead to find his missing girlfriend. The only map he has is contained within photographs Debi has taken during her journey, and no matter how far he travels the whereabouts of Debi remain elusive, until her photos point him toward the film's surprising and dramatic conclusion. Stars Sacha Grunpeter and Megan C. Edwards; from Vanguard Cinema.
"Séraphine" (2008 -- France) is the true story of Séraphine Louis aka Séraphine de Senlis (Yolande Moreau), a simple and profoundly devout housekeeper who in 1905 at age 41 began painting brilliantly colorful canvases. In 1912 Wilhelm Uhde (Ulrich Tukur), a German art critic and collector (he was one of the first collectors of Picasso) discovered her paintings while she worked for him as a maid in his lodgings in Senlis outside Paris. Uhde became her patron and grouped her work with other painters, with acclaimed shows in Paris, elsewhere in Europe and eventually at New York's MOMA. The film revolves around the relationship between the avant-garde art dealer and the visionary cleaning lady. The internationally-praised film swept the 2009 Cesar Awards (The French Academy Awards) with seven wins, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Music Written for a Film. From Music Box Films Home Entertainment ... When a beautiful high society girl, who's also a regular guest in the national celebrity press, finds herself on her own she takes a job selling role-playing books and accessories at the local popular fantasy-shop Astropia, fantastically transforming her life in "Astropia" (2008 -- Iceland), starring Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, Snorri Engilbertsson, David Thor Jonsson and Sverrir Thor Sverrisson; from Vanguard Cinema).
For the Family: (3/23)
"Free Willy: Escape From Pirate's Cove" (2010) is a sequel of sorts to the Free Willy films, here starring Bindi Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter's daughter), Beau Bridges, Falkow, Bongolethu Mbutuma and Siyabulela Ramba. A young girl (Irwin) summering with her grandfather (Bridges) in South Africa discovers a baby orca stranded in the lagoon near her grandfather's rundown seaside amusement park and embarks on a quest to lead the little guy back to his anxious pod before her grandfather's greedy rival turns the whale into a captive, moneymaking attraction at his slick theme park; from Warner ... "Bob the Builder: Heavy Duty Diggers" (2010) features five new episodes of Bob the Builder and his Can-Do Crew: "Scratch's Hidden Treasures," "Scrambler's Best Ideas," "High Tide for Lofty," "Scoop the Artist" and "Lofty and the Monster," for kids 2-5; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.
Special Interest: (3/23)
"tallhotblond" (2009) is a documentary about a beautiful teenager who used Internet chat rooms to lure men into her cyberspace web. When the girl -- known by the screen name "tallhotblond" -- discovers that she's been lied to by one of her online beaus, she wants revenge and unleashes a fantasy online that escalates into real life murder; from Paramount ...
"Bedford: The Town They Left Behind" (2008) explores war and the home front through the eyes of one small Virginia town and the "boys" of its National Guard unit who "laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom" as the first to land on D-Day in 1944. Sixty years later, echoes of the past travel with the young, fresh-faced members of that same unit, from the same families and from the same town, as they are deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Bulletproof Salesman" (2008) is a documentary about the business of war and the darkly humorous story of Fidelis Cloer, a self-confessed war profiteer. In a career spanning two decades of global turmoil, Fidelis has supplied kings, presidents and dictators with the finest armored vehicles that money can buy. In his world, where security is a commodity, violence (and war) presents sales opportunities just as rain sells umbrellas. Fidelis found the perfect business opportunity when the U.S. invaded Iraq -- selling thousands of his hand-crafted vehicles. But as the war evolved, and armor-defeating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) proliferated, Fidelis found himself engaged in an arms race with insurgents who upped their explosive ante to defeat his increasingly higher (and more expensive) levels of armor; from First Run Features ... First Run Features also has two German TV documentaries due this week: "Heinrich Himmler: Anatomy of a Mass Murderer" (2008), about the man who became the driving force behind the indescribable crimes of the Nazi regime; and "The Night of Broken Glass" (2009), that uses rare footage, photographs and documents to reveal the background to the November 1938 orgy of anti-Semitic violence in which German soldiers set on fire some 400 synagogues and destroyed 7,000 Jewish stores and businesses. More than 90 people were killed, 600 committed suicide, and over 26,000 men were deported to concentration camps. The event became known as Kristallnacht: the night of broken glass, and though it was masterminded by the Nazi regime, it was largely accepted by the German public.
Long 'Road' Home to DVD
'The Road," one of many 2009 end-of-the-world tales (and probably the least successful financially, though the direction and performances came in for critical accolades) arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on May 25. The film revolves around the post-apocalyptic journey taken by a father (Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee) across a barren landscape after an unnamed cataclysm has pretty much wiped out most life on the Earth. Also announced for May: "Tooth Fairy," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (May 4) and "Extraordinary Measures," starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser (May 18).
This Just In: 'Book of Eli' Reads June 15
Warner Home Video has announced a June 15 release date for the Denzel Washington starrer "The Book of Eli," a post-apocalyptic tale in which a lone man (Denzel Washington) fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. The Blue-ray/DVD combo will include 90 minutes of features, including "The Lost Tales," "Starting Over," "Eli's Journey," and deleted scenes, as well as Warner's Maximun Movie Mode.
'Alice' Keeps Growing
Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" kept its upward trend at the box office this weekend by adding another $34.5 million to its "Underland" coffers, taking the No. 1 slot for the third week in a row. According to The Hollywood Reporter the Tim Burton extravaganza has taken in $265.8 million domestically with a worldwide total of $565.8 million. Coming in second was "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" with $21.8 million, followed by "The Bounty Hunter" ($21.0 million), "Repo Men" ($6.1 million) and "She's Out of My League ($6.0 million).
Just Announced: Eastwood's 'Invictus,'
Warner Home Video has just announced a May 18 release date for Clint Eastwood's latest, "Invictus," starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in a dramatization of Nelson Mandela's efforts to unite blacks and whites in apartheid-torn South Africa behind the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match. Extras include a "Matt Damon Plays Rugby" featurette; the Blu-ray Disc version adds "Vision, Courage and Honor: Clint Eastwood and the Power of a True Story" featurette, "Mandela Meets Morgan" featurette, and a shortened version of the Richard Schickel documentary "The Eastwood Factor." Meanwhile, The Criterion Collection is releasing new DVD and Blu-ray versions of Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train," Michelangelo Antonioni's "Red Desert," a new Blu-ray version of Luchino Visconti's grand "The Leopard," and a new DVD edition of Carol Reed's" "Night Train to Munich."
Criterion June Titles
'Avatar' DVD/Blu-ray to Celebrate Earth
Fox Home Entertainment announced today that it will release director James Cameron's history-making "Avatar" on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on an unusual day: Thursday, April 22, to coincide with Earth Day. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the releases will not include any bonus features, previews or trailers so as to use every bit of disc space for optimum picture and audio quality. "Avatar" producer Jon Landau told the Times "We went to Fox and told them that, for this movie, we wanted to do something really special and reach for the best presentation of any film in the history of the format. Everything that is put on a disc takes up room -- the menus, the extras, the trailers and studio promotions -- and we got rid of all of that so we could give this movie the best picture and sound possible." Additionally, Landau said that typical compression sessions to make a Blu-ray version of a theatrical film lasts two weeks; the work on the 'Avatar' Blu-ray lasted six weeks. A press conference will be held next week to discuss the releases as well as plans for a November multi-disc "ultimate" edition. But don't hold your breathe for a 3-D version. Cameron wants to wait for DVD technology to catch up with theatrical-quality 3-D -- which won't be this year. Suggested retail prices: $29.98 DVD/$39.99 Blu-ray.
Day, April 22
This Week's Releases (March 16)
From the Big Screen:
"Armored," Astro Boy," "Broken Embraces" "Did You Hear About the Morgans," "The Fourth Kind," "Ninja Assassin," "Paris," "The Princess and the Frog" and "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (3/16)
Here's a wonderful, overlooked film brought back to life by The Criterion Collection. In "Dillinger Is Dead" (1969), an inscrutable late-sixties masterpiece, Marco Ferreri, one of European cinema's most idiosyncratic auteurs, takes us through the looking glass to one seemingly routine night in the life of an Italian gas mask designer, played, in a tour de force performance, by New Wave icon Michel Piccoli. In his claustrophobic, mod home, he pampers his pill-popping wife, seduces his maid, and uncovers a gun that may have once been owned by John Dillinger -- and then things get even stranger. A surreal political missive about social malaise, "Dillinger Is Dead" finds absurdity in the mundane. It is a singular experience, both illogical and grandly existential. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, loaded with Criterion's customary excellent bonus features, including excerpts from a 1997 roundtable discussion about director Marco Ferreri, with filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci and Francesco Rosi and film historian Aldo Tassone.
From TV to Video: (3/16)
"Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season" (2009) is a four-disc DVD and three-disc Blu-ray with 13 episodes, $39.95/$49.95 from Sony ... "C.O.P.S: Volume Two" (1988) is a four-disc set, $39.98 from Shout!Factory.com ... "Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years" (2001) is a Panoramic journey through 20 centuries of belief and conflict, two-disc set, $24.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Destination Truth: Season 1" (2007) is a two-disc set with six episodes, $26.98 from Universal ... "The Goldbergs: The Ultimate Goldbergs" (1949) is a six-disc set of the classic early TV series, a Shout! Factory online exclusive, available at Shout!Factory.com ... "Hawaii Five-O: The Eighth Season" (1975-76) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $49.98 from Paramount ... "Holy Grail in America" (2009) History documentary about the fascinating debate surrounding the location of the most famous religious relic in history, the Holy Grail, long thought to be guarded by the Knights Templar until their 14th century massacre' startling new evidence suggests that the Holy Grail may, in fact, be right under our feet. $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Monk: Season Eight" (2009) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "My Two Dads: The Complete Second Season" (1989) is a three-disc set with 16 episodes, $34.98, a Shout! Factory online exclusive ... "The Real Wolfman"
(2009) is a History special that uncovers the truths behind the mythic and toothsome creatures, $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season" (2009) is a three-disc set with 14 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (3/16)
In the comedy "Wonderful World" (2009), Matthew Broderick stars as a failed children's folk singer, compulsive marijuana smoker and less-than-extraordinary weekend dad whose pessimistic worldview slowly changes when his roommate's illness is mishandled and he goes after the city with a lawsuit for depraved indifference; it doesn't hurt that he meets his roommates beautiful and engaging sister. Co-stars Sanaa Lathan, Michael K. Williams, Jodelle Ferland, Philip Baker Hall and Jesse Tyler Ferguson; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "Bandstand" (2009), starring Vanessa Hudgens, Aly Michalka, Gaelan Connell, Scott Porte and Lisa Kudrow, is a teen rock musical about a battle of the bands set in New Jersey (but filmed during the South by Southwest Music Festival); from Summit Entertainment ... In "Expecting a Miracle" (2009), starring Jason Priestley, Teri Polo, Cheech Marin, Shalim Ortiz and Rebeka Montoya, a married couple unable to have a baby travel to Mexico for a much-needed vacation to mend their marriage, and get stranded in a small village where the less-complicated lifestyle enthralls them; from Genius/Vivendi Entertainment ... Six years after abandoning his family, a former football star returns home for the reading of his late father's will, braving an emotional standoff with the family he deserted, including his wife and children, his brother, and his hard-loving and resilient mother, in "Relative Stranger" (2009), starring Eriq La Salle, Cicely Tyson, Michael Michele and Michael Beach, from Genius/Vivendi Entertainment ... A young boy's letters to a soldier overseas sets into motion a love affair between the man and the boy's divorced mom in "Soldier Love Story" (2010), starring Lori Loughlin, Johnny Messner and Amy Grabow; from Genius/Vivendi Entertainment ... "D.C. Sniper" (2010), starring Christopher Kriesa, Ken Foree and Tory N. Thompson, is a dramatization of the 2002 three-week sniper murder spree that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area; from North American Motion Pictures ... "I Sell the Dead" (2008) stars Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman and Larry Fessenden in an homage to the rich gothic style of Britain's Hammer Films, the popular pastime of grave-robbing, and the good old days of fright films. Dominic Monaghan stars as 19th century corpse snatcher Arthur Blake, who pilfered the cemeteries and coffins of England until his capture by police. But just before Blake is to meet the hangman's noose, he will confess to a peculiar priest his gruesome tale of vampires, zombies and cadaver-dealing that takes him from the savagery of the criminal underworld to the terrors of the undead. From IFC Films.
On the Indie Front: (3/16)
"Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" (2009) is based on the short story collection by David Foster Wallace. First-time director John Krasinski ("The Office") brings the late Wallace's famous -- and allegedly unfilmable -- cascades of words to life in a dark comedy about man's inhumanity to ... women. Wallace, whose sweeping novel "Infinite Jest" ranks as one of the greatest novels of the late-20th century, presented his short stories as transcripts of interviews conducted by an unseen and unheard moderator. To help bring these engrossing tales to the screen, Krasinski cast Julianne Nicholson as the interviewer, Sara Quinn, a young woman who has been dumped by her boyfriend with little explanation. Sara, a doctoral candidate in anthropology, decides to put her training in scientific examination to work by interviewing random men about why they have mistreated the women in their lives. Timothy Hutton, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Meloni, Chris Messina, Will Arnett, Frankie Faison and Krasinski himself play the interviewees, whose responses range from savagely funny to disturbing to poignant as the men confess their desires, failures, frustrations and resentments. In the process, Sara learns more about men, and herself, than she bargained for. From IFC Films.
For the Family: (3/16)
"Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Volume 3" (1993) is a four-disc of the kid-favorite animated character; the $39.98. set is a Shout! Factory online exclusive, available at Shout!Factory.com ... "SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob's Last Stand" (2010) is a single disc with seven episodes, $16.99 from Paramount.
Special Interest: (3/16)
"Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVII" is another wacky extravaganza in which hosts Joel Robinson, Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot, Mike Servo and Gypsy deconstruct the best of schlocky cult films. This 17th outing is a four-disc set with "The Crawling Eye," "The Final Sacrifice," "The Beatniks" and "Blood Waters of Dr. Z," $59.97 from Shout! Factory ... Due March 20 (Saturday) in conjunction with the release of the DVD/Blu-ray of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" is "Twilight in Forks: The Saga of the Real Town" (2010), which takes a look at Forks, Wash. (located four hours northwest of Seattle), the real town and the fictional home of "The Twilight Saga's" characters. The documentary brings fans of the books and movies to the heart of the town that's now experiencing new-found fame since it became central to the tales written by Stephenie Meyer. $19.99 from Summit Entertainment.
'Alice' Only Shrinks a Little at Box Office
One week will make you larger, one week will make you small. Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" got a little bit smaller at the box office this weekend, but still took the top spot with an estimated $62 million, falling just 47% from its week-earlier opening. In its first 10 days in domestic theaters the Tim Burton 3D extravaganza took in $208.6 million; add to that another $220 million overseas and "Alice's" adventures total about $430 million, with nowhere to go but up (the film has yet to open in 40% of the international market). Meanwhile, the Paul Greengrass-Matt Damon Iraq war drama "Green Zone" took in $14.5 million for second place, followed by "She's Out of My League ($9.6 million), "Remember Me" ($8.3 million) and "Shutter Island" ($8.1 million).
This Week's Releases (March 9)
From the Big Screen:
"The Boondock Saints II," Capitalism: A Love Story," "Old Dogs" "Planet 51," "Precious" and "Up in the Air." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
"The Brothers Warner" (2009) is an intimate portrait and saga of four film pioneers -- Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner, who rose from immigrant poverty through personal tragedies, persevering to create a major studio with a social conscience. The Warner brothers turned a storefront that used a sheet for a screen into a dream factory rooted in the credo of "educate, entertain and enlighten." In this fascinating documentary, filmmaker (and Harry's granddaughter) Cass Warner Sperling tells a story of sibling rivalry, social conscience and the silver screen. It's a story of pioneering (risking all for Talkies) and politics (standing alone in Hollywood against the Nazis), of reels ("The Public Enemy," "Casablanca" and more) and rifts (including a shocking family betrayal). It's a story told from the inside (via rare family archives), by those who lived it (among them such stars as Dennis Hopper, Debbie Reynolds, Tab Hunter and more) and from the outside by film historians. $19.98 from Warner.
From TV to Video: (3/9)
"Amazing War Machines" is a three-disc set of the 13-part series, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "America: The Birth of Freedom" is a two-disc set of the 10-part documentary series, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Chronicles of War" is a three-disc set of documentary features that brings viewers to the front lines of war with captivating interviews, rare video footage and stunning images creating a 13-hour journey into the history of the American soldier, $24.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "The Commish -- Season 1" (1991-92) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Fight! Dragon" is a three-disc set with all 26 episodes of the Japanese Kung-Fu TV show, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Greek: Chapter Four" (2009) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $29.99 from Disney ... "Hannah Montana: Miley Says Goodbye?" (2009) features six episodes, including the season finale with Miley's pivotal decision-making moment about staying in Hollywood or returning home to Tennessee, $19.99 from Disney ... "Hell on Earth" is a two-disc documentary collection with 25 features chronicling some of the most epic disasters humankind has faced throughout the 20th century, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "In Plain Sight: Season Two" (2009) is a three-disc set with 15 episodes, $39.98 from Universal ... "Iron King" (1972-72) is a three-disc set with all 26 episodes of the gloriously loopy Tokusastu Japanese superhero television shows, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Life With Derek: The Complete Third Season"
(2007-08) is a three-disc set with 26 episodes, $29.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Matt Houston: The First Season" (1982) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount ... "Rampage: Killing Without Reason" is a two-disc set of the 10-part documentary series on rage-murders, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Scarecrow & Mrs. King: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a five-disc set with 21 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "Silk Stalkings -- Season 1" (1991-92) is a six-disc set with 20 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe" (1980) is a three-disc set with 14 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Trail Of Tears: A Native American Documentary Collection" is a two-disc set with four documentary programs that chronicle the struggles of the Native American culture from the forced relocation known as the Trail of Tears to current issues today, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Tremors: The Complete Series" (2003) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.98 from Universal ... "Walker, Texas Ranger: The Seventh Season" (1998-99) is a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $49.98 from Paramount ... "Wanted: Dead or Alive -- Season Two" (1959-60) is a four-disc set with 32 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Wiseguy -- The Collector's Set" (1987-90) is a 13-disc set with 67 episodes, $44.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (3/9)
"The Sensei" (2010), starring Diana Lee Inosanto, Michael O'Laskey II, Keith David and Louis Mandylor, is a martial arts film with a heart -- and a cause -- and even ends up being a tearjerker: A lonely gay teenager struggles to fit in with his classmates in a small, conservative Colorado town. After he's severely beaten at school, a female martial arts Sensei secretly trains him to defend himself; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "Fix" (2009), starring Olivia Wilde, Tao Ruspoli and Shawn Andrews. documentary filmmakers Bella and Milo dash across Los Angeles -- from Beverly Hills to Watts -- and everywhere in between -- in a race-against time to get Milo's brother Leo from jail to rehab before 8 p.m., or Leo goes to prison for three years; from E1 Entertainment ... In "Possession" (2009), starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace and Michael Landes, newlyweds Jess (Gellar) and Ryan (Landes) seem to have it all until a car accident renders both Ryan and his brother Roman (Pace) comatose; things spin eerily out of control when Roman wakes up and tries to convince Jess that he is her husband; from Fox ... In "Justin Time" (2009), starring Chris Laird, Shareece Pfeiffer, Michael Flynn, Matthew Reese and Danny Trejo, a young Shoshoni Indian comes into possession of an ancient stone amulet and calendar disc that has the power to stop time; he chooses to use the power to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, a power-seeking financier goes after the stone to indulge in the riches of the world; from MTI Home Video ... After suffering a parent's worst nightmare -- the abduction and murder of their 8-year-old daughter -- a married couple move to a charming old house in need of repair -- but soon a presence that may or may not be the spirit of their murdered daughter starts to haunt them in "Haunted Echoes"
(2008), starring David Starzyk, Sean Young and M. Emmet Walsh; from E1 Entertainment.
On the Indie Front: (3/9)
"The Art of Being Straight" (2008) is a sexy, comedic drama about two college friends questioning their careers and sexuality in east Los Angeles. Winner of the Audience Award at the Dublin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and an Official Selection at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. Stars Jesse Rosen, Jared Grey, Johnny Ray Rodriguez and Rachel Castillo; from E1 Entertainment.
The Nazi occupation of Tunisia strains the bonds of friendship between a Muslim woman and a Sephardic Jewess who are both preparing for their marriages in "The Wedding Song" (2008 -- France), starring Lizzie Brochere, Olympe Borval, Najib Oudghiri, Simon Abkarian and Karin Albou; from Strand Releasing ... "Service"
(2008 -- Philippines/France) is a drama that follows the travails of the Pineda family in the Filipino city of Angeles. Bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest and bothersome skin irritations are all part of their daily challenges, but the real "star" of the show is an enormous, dilapidated movie theater that doubles as the family business and living space. At one time a prestige establishment, the theater now runs porn double bills and serves as a meeting ground for hustlers of every conceivable persuasion. The film captures the sordid, fetid atmosphere, interweaving various family subplots with the comings and goings of customers, thieves and even a runaway goat while enveloping the viewer in a maelstrom of sound, noise and continuous motion. Stars Gina Pareno, Jacyln Jose, Julio Diaz, Coco Martin and Kristofer King; from E1 Entertainment.
For the Family: (3/9)
"Hachi: A Dog's Tale" (2009), directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Jason Alexander and Sarah Roemer, is based on one of the most treasured and heartwarming true stories in Japanese culture. Richard Gere stars as Professor Parker Wilson, a distinguished scholar who discovers a lost Akita puppy on his way home from work. Despite initial objections from Wilson's wife, Hachi endears himself into the Wilson family and grows to be Parker's loyal companion. As their bond grows deeper, a beautiful relationship unfolds embodying the true spirit of family and loyalty, while inspiring the hearts of an entire town. From Sony ... "Elmo and the Rainbow and Other Springtime Stories " (2009) features three episodes in which Elmo and friends explore the seasons, bumble bees and rainbows; from Sesame Workshop/Warner ... "Charlie and Lola" (2009) includes nine episodes from the animated Playhouse Disney pre-school series; from Warner.
E1 Entertainment has a very special treat for early-TV and comedy fans: On March 30 they'll release "The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series -- Collector's Edition," a nine-disc custom-packaged set with all 52 episodes of the wacky series that ran from 1952-53, digitally restored and re-mastered, with a 44-page book, and more than three hours of bonus features including a TV retrospective hosted by Milton Berle, a classic routines reel, Lou Costello's rare home movies, and much more; $59.98. Beginning in 1952, the filmed half-hour series "The Abbott and Costello Show" appeared in syndication on local stations across the country. Loosely based on Abbott and Costello's popular radio series, the show cast the duo as unemployed actors, perpetually looking for work while struggling to pay back-rent to Sidney Fields, their often frustrated landlord. Other fan-favorites/recurring characters included the elegant Hillary Brooke, the belligerent Mike "The Cop" Kelly (Gordon Jones), the malevolent and child-like Oswald "Stinky" Davis (Joe Besser) and the ever-gainfully employed immigrant entrepreneur Mr. Bacciagalupe (Joe Kirk). Order it Today (He's the catcher).
'Alice's' Big Boxoffice Adventure
Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" took the No. 1 spot on both the domestic and overseas box office charts this weekend, taking in an amazing $116.3 million in North America and an estimated $94 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $210.3 million. According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, "Alice" displaced "Avatar," which had been No. 1 offshore for 11 consecutive weeks; the film was also the biggest opening launch of any title this year. ("Avatar" opened on Dec. 20.) The rest of the domestic Top 5: "Brooklyn's Finest ($13.5 million), "Shutter Island" ($13.3 million), "Cop Out" ($9.1 million) and "Avatar" ($7.7 million).
This Week's Releases (March 2)
From the Big Screen:
"Cold Souls," "Ponyo," "2012" and "Where the Wild Things Are." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (3/2)
With the release this coming weekend of Tim Burton's highly anticipated 3D version of "Alice in Wonderland," two older live-action versions come to home video this week: the 1933 "Alice in Wonderland", directed by Norman McLeod with a screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies and starring Charlotte Henry, Leon Errol, Louise Fazenda and Ford Sterling, from Universal; and the 1999 TV "Alice in Wonderland," which combined Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" for a three-hour special, starring Gene Wilder, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lloyd, Miranda Richardson, Martin Short, George Wendt, Robbie Coltrane and Tina Majorino., from Vivendi Entertainment.
In conjunction with this week's release of "Ponyo" from Japanese Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki, the folks at Disney are re-releasing two-disc versions of three of Miyazaki's previous films -- films that take your breath away with the sheer breadth of imagination and execution -- "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988), "Kiki's Delivery Service" (1989) and "Castle in the Sky"
(1986) ... Shout! Factory delivers this week "Elvis" (1979), the long-awaited DVD debut of the classic bio of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, timed closely to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Presley's birth. The movie, restored from the original film elements, was originally broadcast February 11, 1979, on ABC. John Carpenter took time away from directing horror films to helm this biography, which stars Kurt Russell, Shelley Winters, Season Hubley, Bing Russell, Pat Hingle, Robert Gray, Joe Mantegna and Ed Begley Jr. Extras: include the "Bringing a Legend to Life" featurette with archival interviews of Kurt Russell and John Carpenter (1979); commentary by "The Voice of Elvis" in the film, Ronnie McDowell, and author Edie Hand; rare clips from "American Bandstand" and a photo gallery.
From TV to Video: (3/2)
"Designing Women: Season Three" (1988-89) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $44.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Have Gun -- Will Travel: Season 4, Volume 1"
(1960) is a three-disc set with 19 episodes, $39.98 from Paramount) ... "Matlock: The Fourth Season" (1989-90) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (3/2)
A lovable loner's life is turned upside down when a pretentious fantasy author steals his story at a writers camp in "Gentlemen Broncos" (2009), starring Jemaine Clement, Michael Angarano, Jennifer Coolidge, Sam Rockwell and Mike White, from Fox ... In
When the tempting trio arrive in the desert to retrieve stolen jewels at a ruthless gangster's hideout, they find themselves competing against an assortment of bizarre criminals -- and each other in "Bitch Slap" (2009), starring Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo, from Fox ... "Return to the 36th Chamber" (1980 -- Hong Kong) Gordon Liu, Kara Hui, Hsiao Ho. is the action-packed sequel to one of the best martial arts films of all time, "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin," which is being released on Blu-ray this week, from Vivendi Entertainment/The Weinstein Co.
On the Indie Front: (3/2)
After her much older husband forces a move to a suburban retirement community, a woman engages in a period of reflection and finds herself heading toward a quiet nervous breakdown in "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" (2009), starring Robin Wright Penn, Mike Binder, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder, Ryan McDonald, Cornelius West and Maria Bello, from Screen Media Films.
For the Family: (3/2)
"Barney: Egg-Cellent Adventures" (2010) features three Easter and egg-themed episodes of the adventures of the purple dinosaur and his friends, a favorite of kids 1 to 5, $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Thomas & Friends: Thomas & the Runaway Kite" (2010) includes four episodes featuring the animated locomotives of the Island of Sodor; the title episode has Thomas and his railroad friends chasing a runaway kite; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... In a creative parody of the beloved story of Pinocchio, the new "VeggieTales: Pistachio -- The Little Boy That Woodn't" (2010) adventure features a helpful lesson in listening to parents, a new Silly Song, and more, $14.99 from Big Idea ... Sony has two TV Bible stories due this week: "The Bible Stories: Esther" (1999), starring Louise Lombard, F. Murray Abraham, Jurgen Prochnow and Thomas Kretschmann; and "The Bible Stories: Jesus" (1999), starring Jeremy Sisto, Debra Messing, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jacqueline Bisset and Gary Oldman; $14.94 each ... "Super Why! Peter Rabbit & Other Fairytale Adventures" (2009) offer new interpretations of the classic stories "Peter Rabbit," "Tom Thumb," "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Rapunzel," as Super Why and his friends practice spelling and investigate rhyming words, $14.99 from Paramount ..."Sesame Street's Abby in Wonderland"
(2009) is a Sesame Street take on "Alice in Wonderland," timed for the release of Tim Burton's big-screen version, $14.98 from Sesame Street/Warner ... In the new CGI animated feature "Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess Movie" (2010), Berry Bitty City is preparing for the annual spring festival, and Strawberry Shortcake has been appointed Berryfest Princess to ensure the festival and parade are the sweetest events the town has ever seen, $19.98 from Fox ... "Olivia ... Takes Ballet" (2009) is the second Olivia DVD, with four episodes of the Nick Jr. character based on acclaimed author/illustrator Ian Falconer's award-winning titles about a 6-year-old dynamo who believes she can do anything and sees every day as an opportunity to try new things, $16.99 from Paramount.
Special Interest: (3/2)
"We Live in Public" (2009) On the 40th anniversary of the Internet, this Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Documentary winner tells the story of the effect the web is having on our society as seen through the eyes of "the greatest Internet pioneer you've never heard of", visionary Josh Harris. Award-winning director, Ondi Timoner documented Harris' tumultuous life for more than a decade to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives. Harris, often called the "Warhol of the Web," rose to prominence during the dot.com boom of the 1990s. He founded Pseudo.com, the first Internet television network, and created his vision of the future, an underground bunker in NYC where 100 people lived together on camera for 30 days over the millennium. He proved how in the not-so-distant future of life online, people will willingly trade privacy for the connection and recognition they desire. Through his experiments, including a six-month stint living under 24-hour live surveillance online -- which led him to mental collapse -- he demonstrated the price we will all pay for living in public. From IndiePix Films.
Warners Restores 'A Star Is Born'
Warner Home Video has just announced the release of a stunning restoration (by the company's
Motion Picture Imaging division) of Judy Garland's triumphant return to the screen, "A Star Is Born" (1954), scheduled for June 22 in a two-disc Blu-ray package with a 40-page book featuring photography, press materials, production history and more. The film was famously reconstructed in the early 1980s under the leadership of late film historian Ronald Haver, and MPI has meticulously preserved and restored Haver's 176-minute version of the film to its original luster, bringing back the brilliant, saturated colors and crisp picture. Bonus content will include alternate takes, deleted scenes, excerpts from Garland's audio recording sessions, and more. A Deluxe Special Edition two-disc DVD will also be available. Pricing: $34.99 Blu-ray/$20.97 standard. Read the entire press release for "A Star Is Born."
for June 22 Release
DVD Collectibles (2/23):
"Blank Generation" (1980), starring Richard Hell, Carole Bouquet, Ulli Lommel and Andy Warhol, is a classic punk rock movie illustrating the end of the first wave of New York City punk rock better than any documentary. Nada (Carole Bouquet), a beautiful French journalist on assignment in New York, records the life and work of an up and coming punk rock star, Billy (Richard Hell). Soon she enters into a volatile relationship with him and must decide whether to continue with it, or return to her lover, a fellow journalist trying to track down the elusive Andy Warhol (playing himself). Featuring members of the Voidoids and the Ramones. This long-lost film is like a time capsule from pre-Disneynification New York City: sleazy, dirty and most importantly, real. From MVD Entertainment.
From TV to Video (2/23):
"Adam 12: Season 4" (1971-72) is a four-disc set with 24 episodes, $34.97 from Shout! Factory ... "FlashForward, Part 1, Season 1" (2009) is a two-disc set with first 10 episodes of the series, $29.99 from Disney ... "G.B.H."
(1991) features seven episodes of the Award-winning British political miniseries starring Michael Palin (Monty Python) and Robert Lindsay in the celebrated British satire that follows the epic power struggle between an unassuming schoolteacher and a corrupt, ambitious politician, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Lock N' Load With R. Lee Ermey: The Complete Season One" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $34.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ...
"Midsomer Murders, Set 14" (2007) comprises four contemporary, stand-alone British mysteries from the top-selling series. The feature-length mysteries -- the second half of Series Ten -- have not aired in the U.S. and are available to U.S. audiences for the first time. $49.99 fro, Acorn Media ... "My Three Sons: Season Two Volume One"
(1972) is a three-disc set with 18 episodes, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Outlaw Bikers" (2008) features four episodes of the National Geographic Channel series that explores the world of the Hell's Angeles, $14.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Project Runway Season 6" (2009) is a four-disc set with 14 episodes, $27.99 from Vivendi Entertainment ... "Taggart, Set 2" (2009) features eight episodes from the world's longest continually running police drama series that follows a team of Glasgow detectives taking on the city's worst crimes. $59.99 from Acorn Media.
Buzzin' the 'B's (2/23):
"The James Dean Story: Racing With Destiny" (1997) stars Casper Van Dien, Carrie Mitchum, Diane Ladd, Mike Connors, Robert Mitchum, Connie Stevens, Casey Kasem and Joseph Campanella in a biodrama bout the movie legend who burst onto the screen in 1955 with "East of Eden" and then died in September of that year in a car crash; one month later "Rebel Without a Cause" was released, followed by "Giant" in 1956; sealing Dean's reputation forever. From MPI Home Video ... "Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum" (2009) is a campy modern update of the classic horror tale; seven students arrive at a secluded mansion to participate in a scientific experiment conducted by a bizarre hypnotist with a dark past. Naturally the students start disappearing. Stars Lorielle New, Stephen Hansen, Bart Voitila, Danielle Demski; from E1 Entertainment ... In "The Trade"
(2003), starring Eddie Mills, Elizabeth Banks, Sascha Knopf, Judah Friedlander, Victor Slezak and James Rebhorn, a young, ambitious Wall Street exec discovers that it's never business as usual when he gets involved with a beautiful, carefree woman with an adventurous spirit, and a high-stakes business deal -- one that involves him firing his best friend; from Echo Bridge Entertainment ... "Unbeatable Harold" (2006), starring Gordon Michaels, Nicole Dehuff, Henry Winkler, Gladys Knight, Taryn Manning, Charles Durning, Lin Shaye, Robert Peters, Phyllis Diller and Dylan McDermott, is a romantic comedy about Elvis-wannabe loser Harold James Clark, proud assistant manager of the Wagontrain Steakhouse, who hits it big when he meets Wanda Livingston, who just left her 80's rocker boyfriend. Harold wants Wanda's love, her boyfriend wants her back ... and Wanda just wants to run; from Echo Bridge Entertainment ...
"Beyond Sherwood Forest" (2009) stars Robin Dunne and Erica Durance in a Syfy Channel movie that has the Sheriff of Nottingham unleashing a hideous winged monster -- a tortured forest spirit -- to destroy the gentle towns and woods of England, massacre Robin Hood's men and capture Maid Marian in 12th century England; from Anchor Bay ... "Colour From the Dark" (2009) is based on the "The Colour Out of Space" novel by H.P. Lovecraft, about a couple who find something incredibly sinister stirring at the bottom of the well on their farm, which seeps into their minds and triggers off inexplicable events around them. Stars Debbie Rochon, Michael Segal, Marysia Kay, Gerry Shanahan, Eleanor James, Emmett Scanlan; from Vanguard Cinema ... In "The Caretaker" (2008), starring Jennifer Tilly, Judd Nelson, Jennifer Freeman and Jonathan Breck, a group of teenage boys out to give their girlfriends a good scare on Homecoming night -- which lands on Halloween -- head to an abandoned house where they uncover the story of a real life urban legend; from MTI Home Video ... "The Damned United" (2009) stars Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Jim Broadbent in the bittersweet story of Brian Clough and his disastrous 44-day tenure as manager of reigning football champions Leeds United; from Sony ... In "Wrong Side of Town" (2010), starring David Bautista, Rob Van Dam, Nelson Frazier Jr., Ja Rule, Omarion and Ava Santana, an ex-Marine is forced to take on a gang of murderers after he accidentally kills a crooked nightclub owner who attacked his wife; from Lionsgate ...
When a group of medical students take a sex-and-booze-fueled ski vacation to a remote cabin in the scenic Norwegian Alps, they uncover a dark secret from World War II: a battalion of uncontrollable, unstoppable and extremely undead Nazis have thawed out and are on a rampage in "Dead Snow" (2009 -- Norway); from MPI Media/IFC Films.
On the Indie Front (2/23):
The secret lives of a shy auto mechanic locked into his daily work routine -- who furtively follows a local girl he admires and stands under her bedroom window listening to her play violin -- and a pretty waitress at the local diner -- who hides a deep personal wound -- intersect in the melodrama "Swedish Auto" (2006), starring Lukas Haas and January Jones; from MPI Media/IFC Films ... "$9.99" (2008), featuring the voices of Samuel Johnson, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony Lapaglia, Joel Edgerton and Claudia Karvan is a stop-motion animated feature about a young man who finds an ad for a small, yet amazing booklet promising the meaning of life for a bargain price and goes on a search for hope and redemption; from E1 Entertainment ... In "Breakfast With Scot" (2007), starring Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman and Noah Bernett, the dream life of an ex-hockey player and his partner, a lawyer, is disrupted when they take over raising Scot, a flamboyant 11-year-old who becomes their charge and whose genuine, true-to-himself behavior forces them to examine their own issues with being gay; from E1 Entertainment ... In "Stephanie's Image" (2009), starring Janis DeLucia Allen, Melissa Leo and Chirs Butler, a documentary filmmaker investigates the murder of a former model and finds that everything she's been told about her death is false; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Alexander the Last" (2009), starring Jess Weixler, Justin Rice, Barlow Jacobs and Amy Seimetz, is a seriously sensual story of a married theater actress, her musician husband, her on-stage lover and her impulsive sister, all caught in their own sexual and creative tangle of commitments, temptations and performance; from MPI Media/IFC Films ...
In "Three Blind Mice" (2008 -- Australia), starring Ewan Leslie, Toby Schmitz and Matthew Newton, three naval officers on shore leave in Sydney, Australia, after six months at sea, spend a final night of women, poker, family dinners and a dark secrets before shipping out for Iraq the next morning; from MPI Media/IFC Films.
"Bliss" (2007 -- Turkey), starring Ozgu Namal, Talat Bulut, Murat Han and Mustafa Avkiran, is a tale about love, honor, freedom and redemption, set amidst Turkey's natural wonders. When a 17-year-old Meryem is found unconscious and disheveled by the side of a lake, her family believes the worst -- that her chastity has been lost. To uphold the family honor they turn to an ancient moral code that condemns her to death, and a distant cousin, Cemal, is ordered to carry out the task. Instead, Meryem and Cemal embark on a surprising journey across traditional and modern-day Turkey. From First Run features) ... Two young people meet at the re-enactment of a South Korean historic event -- the brutal repression of a peaceful demonstration during the early days of the South Korean democracy -- and their attraction and participation mirrors the love story of her parents 25 years earlier in "May Story" (2009 -- South Korea), starring Kim Yoon Sung, Jang See Yoon and Yang Im Ho; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Shall We Kiss?" (2009 -- French), starring Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Mouret, Julie Gayet, Michael Cohen, Frederique Bel and Stefano Accorsi, is a wry, observant and touching contemporary meditation on the myriad implications of a simple kiss. When Gabriel and Emilie meet by chance, he offers her a ride and they spend the evening talking, laughing and getting along famously. At the end of the night, Emilie declines Gabriel's offer of "a kiss without consequences." Emilie admonishes him that the kiss could have unexpected consequences, and tells him a story, unfolding in flashbacks, about the impossibility of indulging your desires without affecting someone else's life. From Music Box Films) ... "Flame and Citron" (2008 -- Denmark) takes place in 1944 Copenhagen. As the Nazi occupation of Denmark deepens, two Resistance fighters -- a young idealist code-named Flame and tense family man Citron, become, despite their own misgivings about committing violent acts, the underground's most proficient killers of Nazis, collaborators and sympathizers. Stars Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkel
For the Family (2/23):
"Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" (2010) is the seventh entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe Animated original PG-13 movies. Here a "good" Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League; from Warner ... Join the ringmasters of the pre-school circus in "The Wiggles: Hot Poppin' Popcorn" (2010), the latest fun-filled adventure featuring 18 brand-new songs to wiggle and sing along to including a special performance by legendary Australian singer Jamie Redfern; $14.97 from Warner.
Special Interest (2/23):
"Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls" (2007) is a documentary that tells the story of the resurgence of roller derby in the U.S. (with more than 30 leagues nationwide forming the Women's Flat Track Derby Association), focusing on Seattle's own DIY league, The Rat City Rollergirls. The league is populated by 80 plus players who are known to the world almost exclusively by their clever sobriquets. Explosive trackside action punctuates the conversation with many of the fan favorites, including Miss Fortune, Basket Casey, Shovey Chase, Burnett Down, Betty Ford Galaxy, and Dirty Little Secret. From Strand Releasing ... "Crude" (2009) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet: the infamous $27 billion "Amazon Chernobyl" lawsuit pitting 30,000 rainforest dwellers in Ecuador against the U.S. oil giant Chevron. Winner of 19 international awards, "Crude" takes viewers inside a riveting, high stakes drama steeped in global politics, the environmental movement, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. $24.95 from First Run Features ... "Electric Purgatory" (2009) is a documentary that examines the struggles of black rock musicians and the industry's ambivalence towards them by combining scintillating performance footage and provocative interview clips. Director Raymond Gayle spent the better part of a year traveling around the U.S. interviewing many of black rock's elite including Fishbone, Vernon Reid, Adam Falcon, Jimi Hazel and Cody Chesnutt. The film also attempts to dissect the stigma black rock musicians face in the black community and more importantly how to bring black audiences back into the fold. From Microcinema DVD ... "The End of the Line" (2009) is a documentary on the impact of over-fishing in the world's oceans. Narrated by Ted Danson; $26.95 from Docurama ... "No Sweat"
(2009) The glamor of the fashion industry often blinds the public to the common reality behind the scenes: dark and dingy factories -- modern-day sweatshops -- where undocumented workers toil under the radar of labor laws for substandard wages, without breaks or benefits. And in an era in which big-name labels are frequently accused of resorting to sweatshop tactics as a means of keeping rising production costs in check, filmmaker Amie Williams turns her lens on the Los Angeles garment industry to investigate trendy clothing manufacturers American Apparel and SweatX's fervently vocal commitment of to creating "sweat-free" threads. $19.95 from Indiepix ... "The Universe: The Complete Season Four"
(2009) s a four-disc DVD and three-disc Blu-ray with 12 episodes of the series that features amazing new discoveries about our universe -- some just uncovered in the past year. Uses stunning CGI graphics to explore death stars, ringed planets, star clusters, wormholes and more, $39.95/$54.95 from A&E Home Entertainment.
Just Announced: 'Yes Men,' 'Gamera,' 'The Lovely Bones' and Criterion
Here's a spate of new release announcements: Due April 1 is the funny documentary "The Yes Men Fix the World" that follows two gonzo political activists from New Orleans to NYC to India as they pull off the world's most outrageous pranks, from Docurama; on April 20 Paramount will release Peter Jackson's fantasy thriller The Lovely Bones, starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci, on DVD and two-disc Blu-ray. The Blu-ray features nearly three hours of bonus content including an immersive, 15-week production diary hosted by Jackson and co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens that provides in-depth, behind-the-scenes access to the film's shoot in the U.S. and New Zealand, as well as a look at the film's visual effects. Also announced: The Criterion Collection's a Blu-ray edition of Fritz Lang's "M" (May 11), Nicolas Roeg's "Walkabout" in DVD and Blu-ray (May 18) and "Stagecoach" in DVD and Blu-ray (May 25). And don't forget Shout! Factory's May 18 release of the campy "Gamera, the Giant Monster" (1965), the unedited original Japanese version of the first Gamera movie, with English subtitles, presented in anamorphic widescreen from a newly restored HD master; $19.93.
Clearly the hot item this week is the (admittedly pricey) boxed set "Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.," a massive 19-disc collection of 34 films Eastwood has made at warner Bros., with the 35th film being "The Eastwood Factor," an all-new intimate short film from critic and historian Richard Schickel. Includes hours of special features, commentaries and featurettes in an elegantly boxed double-wide DVD album giftset package. Includes a 24-page sampler booklet with an extract from "Clint: A Retrospective" by Richard Schickel, published by Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., as well as rare and one-of-a-kind correspondence and photos. $179.98 from Warner. See our DVD Calendar for the complete list of films.
The Criterion Collection this week will release Max Ophuls classic "Lola Montes" (1955), starring Martine Carol, Peter Ustinov and Anton Walbrook. "Lola Montes" is a visually ravishing, narratively daring dramatization of the life of the notorious courtesan and showgirl, played by Martine Carol. With his customary cinematographic flourish and, for the first time, vibrant color, Max Ophuls charts Montes' scandalous past through the bombastic ringmaster (Peter Ustinov) of the American circus where she ends up performing. Ophuls's final film, "Lola Montes" is at once a magnificent romantic melodrama, a meditation on the lurid fascination with celebrity, and a meticulous, one-of-a-kind movie spectacle. (Posted February 16)
From TV to Video:
"Barnaby Jones: The First Season" (1973) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Cannon: Season Two, Volume Two" (1973) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... "Head Case: Season 2"
(2008) is a single disc with 10 episodes, $19.97 from Anchor Bay ... "Lincoln Heights: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $34.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Small Wonder: The Complete First Season" (1985) is a four-disc set with all 24 episodes of the series about a cybernetics engineer who brings home his top-secret invention, a robot built to resemble a 10-year-old girl; from Shout! Factory. (Posted February 16)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Black Dynamite" (2009), starring Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Arsenio Hall, is a blaxploitation action comedy spoof following the exploits of an ex-CIA agent and full-time ladies man out to avenge the death of his brother against kung-fu masters, drug-dealing pimps and The Man; from Sony ... With the plug about to be pulled on his late night talk show and his wife engaged in a steamy affair with a pro baseball star, a TV host concocts the mother of all media stunts to salvage his life -- which results in comedy, mystery, murder and mayhem in "Remarkable Power"
(2008), starring Kevin Nealon, Tom Arnold, Kip Pardue, Nora Zehetner, Dule Hill, Christopher Titus, Evan Peters and Whitney Able, from MTI Home Video .... In "Hellhounds"
(2009), starring Scott Elrod, James A. Woods and Amanda Brooks, a Greek warrior delves into the trenches of hell and battles ravenous hellhounds in order to save his love from the evil clutches of Hades; from RHI Entertainment/Vivendi Entertainment ... Seventeen years after NASCAR racer Cutter McCullough died in a fiery crash, he and his car return from the grave to settle a score with his old girlfriend Tammy and his rival JJ Sawyer, who hit the road with the Phantom Racer on their tail in "Phantom Racer" (2009), starring Nicole Eggert, Greg Evigan and Brenna O'Brien; from Vivendi Entertainment ..."13teen (aka For Sale by Owner)" (2005), stars Amanda Brown, John Lansch and Marc Hustvedt in a thriller about a serial killer who stalks a small town, carving the number 13 into his victim's chests; from North American Motion Pictures. (Posted February 16)
On the Indie Front:
"Women in Trouble" (2009) stars Carla Gugino, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adrianne Palicki, Simon Baker, Elizabeth Berkeley, Connie Britton, Marley Shelton, Cameron Richardson, Garcelle Beauvais, Caitlin Keats and Paul Cassell in a day in the life of seemingly disparate Los Angeles women, including a porn star, a flight attendant, a psychiatrist, a masseuse, a bartender and a pair of call girls. All of them with one crucial thing in common: Trouble; from Screen Media Films ... "Immigrants"
(2006) features the voices of Hank Azaria and Dan Castellaneta in the animated adventures of two recent immigrants to the U.S. -- roommates Vladislav (Russian) and Joska (Hungarian) -- as they get into all kinds of troubles and comical situations while adapting to life in America with their neighbors: Flaco, a friend from Mexico; Mr. Chea, a Chinese restaurant owner; Nazim, a former Pakistani scientist turned tour bus driver; and Mr. Splits, an old black pimp. Directed by Gabor Csupo ("The Rugrats"). From Echo Bridge Entertainment ... In "From Mexico With Love" (2009), starring Kuno Becker, Steven Bauer, Stephen Lang, Alex Nesic, Danay Garcia and Bruce McGill, struggling migrant farm worker Hector spends his days in the fields and his nights as a part-time prizefighter but a brawl with the boss' thugs earns him a one-way ticket back over the Mexican border. Beaten up, broke and jobless, he joins forces with an old-school trainer and sets his sights on the rancher's boxer son for the ultimate David-and-Goliath face off; from Lionsgate ... In "Splinterheads" (2009), starring Lea Thompson, Rachael Taylot and Thomas Middleton, a twentysomething slacker who has decided that his "thing" is that he has no "thing" at all meets a gorgeous con artist who has more "things" going for her than anyone he has ever met in this indie comedy; from Monarch Home Video. (Posted February 16)
For the Family:
"The Spectacular Spider-Man Volumes 6 and 7" (2009) features episodes from the second season of the hit TV series that was recently re-launched on Disney's XD network; $19.94 each from Sony ... "Shaun the Sheep: A Woolly Good Time" (2010) includes six five-minute shorts featuring another ba-a-a-th of adventures of Shaun the Sheep and friends Bitzer, Shirley, Timmy and more; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Hot Wheels Battle Force 5: Season 1 Volume 1," (2009) is a single-disc with six episodes of the animated series in which an elite team of teen drivers and their ultra-fast vehicles save the planet; $14.97 from Warner ... "Scooby-Doo Abracadabra-Doo" (2009) is a new feature-length animated Scooby-Doo movie. Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang set out on a trip to visit Daphne's sister Madelyn, who has been studying magic at the Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy. When the gang arrives, they learn that the school has been troubled with strange disturbances and they set out to investigate. $19.98 from Warner ... "Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies" (1977) is an animated Easter special that features a star-studded lineup of all-time favorite Looney Tunes characters -- including Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Granny, Pepe Le Pew, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam and Daffy Duck -- auditioning to see who will help deliver Easter baskets; $14.97 from Warner ... "The First Easter Rabbit: Deluxe Edition" (1976) is an animated classic that tells the story of the origin of the first Easter Bunny; narrated by Academy Award winner Burl Ives. Remastered. $14.97 from Warner. (Posted February 16)
In "Good Hair" (2009), Chris Rock visits beauty salons, scientific laboratories and Indian temples to explore the way hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of the black community to answer a question posed by Rock's daughter: "Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?" From Lionsgate ... "Lives That Changed the World: Nelson Mandela" (2009) is a documentary about Nelson Mandela, who became president of South Africa after being imprisoned for 27 years. Includes interviews with former Prime Minister F.W. de Klerk, Mandela's daughter Zindzi, Christo Brand, a former racist and prison guard who watched over Mandela, more. $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment ... "Shooter Series Volume Two: F. Gary Gray" (2010) is the second release in the innovative DVD series dedicated to pioneers behind the camera, this compilation of visual, musical and artistic works from the director of "Law Abiding Citizen" includes "Doing the Impossible" documentary; trailers from "Be Cool," "A Man Apart," "The Negotiator," "Set It Off" and "Law Abiding Citizen"; a "Law Abiding Citizen: Behind the Scenes" featurette; and music videos from Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, R Kelly, Mary J. Blige, TLC, Queen Latifah and others. $24.95 from Genius Products/Vivendi Entertainment ... "World Wrestling Entertainment Titles": WWE has five ruthless DVDs out this month: "TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs," "Survivor Series 2009" (featuring the Triple Threat Match of John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels), "Bragging Rights 2009" (featuring the Fatal Four Way Match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Undertaker vs. CM Punk vs. Batista vs. Rey Mysterio), "John Morrison: Rock Star" (a behind-the-scenes look inside and outside the ring with the upcoming WWE star), and "Raw: The Best of 2009," a three-disc set with the highs and lows of the year in wrestling, featuring 20 complete matches). From WWE Home Video. (Posted February 16)
Weekend Box Office Gets Plenty of
"Valentine's Day," the Garry Marshall-directed ensemble comedy that wasn't so well-love by the movie critics, conquered all at the box office in the first three days of the four-day Valentine's Day/Presidents Day weekend with an estimated $52.4 million in North America. Action fantasy "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" bolted into second place with
$31.1 million and "The Wolfman" transmuted third with $31.6 million. With "Avatar" taking in $22 million and "Dear John" garnering $15.2 million, this President's Day weekend is headed for a record. And, according to Inside Movies' weekend box office report, there's a "growing influence of women over the fortunes of studios and theater owners," citing a "list of recent and potential hits driven largely or entirely by female viewers [that]includes 'New Moon' ($294.4 million), 'The Blind Side' ($244.7 million), 'The Lovely Bones' ($41.5 million), 'It's Complicated' ($107.6 million), 'Dear John' ($53.2 million in 10 days) and now, big-time, 'Valentine's Day.'
Disney Shortens Theater-to-DVD Window
Walt Disney dropped a bomb on the film industry yesterday when the company announced that it would shorten it's theater-to-DVD window from four months to three months for the upcoming Tim Burton-Johnny Depp version of "Alice in Wonderland." The film, which opens March 5, would come to video in early June.
Disney Is Exploring New DVD Territory With "Alice in Wonderland"
The reason, according to Walt Disney Co. chief executive Bob Ager, is to maximize DVD revenue and conform to changing consumer habits; consumers want their movies to come home to their HD TVs, computers and hand-held devices sooner and sooner after the images fade from the movie screen.
Despite a hue and cry from theater owners, who feel -- and perhaps rightly so -- that some consumers will wait for a DVD release instead of going to a theater if the window is shortened -- the folks at Disney are struggling to offset the growing slump in DVD sales. Additionally, according to Disney, the shortened window will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and not for every film. DVD sales have long propped up the filmmaking industry, and Disney sees the shortened window as a way to maximize sales to help defray the costs of making and distributing an expensive 3-D movie such as "Alice." They want the movie out as fast as possible so that it's still fresh in people's minds.
The only flaw in that thinking: "Alice," if it's a big blockbuster as it most likely will be, won't need any help in jogging consumers' minds four months after its theatrical release. What needs a boost is a film like "Everybody's Fine," which Disney's Miramax division released in December to poor reviews and even poorer box office. That's when the window needs to be opened.
Highlight of the week is Sony's "Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 1 and Volume 2," two-disc sets that each feature four restored and remastered Columbia Pictures classics highlighting the tough dames of cinema. In the '40s and '50s, the juiciest roles for actresses in Hollywood were often in B-pictures that explored the dark side of life and offered them starring roles as cool, calculating gals who could stick a knife in a man's back and make him like it. Volume 1 includes "The Killer That Stalked New York" (1953), "Two of a Kind" (1951), "Bad for Each Other" (1953) and "The Glass Wall" (1953); Volume 2 includes "Night Editor" (1946), "One Girl's Confession" (1953), "Women's Prison" (1955) and "Over-Exposed" (1956). $24.96 each. (Posted February 9)
E1 Entertainment has three classic TV dramas on release this week: "Omnibus: King Lear," shot live for the prestigious OMNIBUS Series; Orson Welles made his dramatic television debut in this legendary performance, presented newly restored and re-mastered in the first authorized release since its original CBS live telecast on October 11, 1953; $29.98 ... "Studio One: Twelve Angry Men," the Emmy Award-winning drama featuring Norman Fell, Robert Cummings and Franchot Tone in the 1954 Studio One production; $19.98 ... and "Studio One: Rod Serling Studio One Dramas," featuring two of Rod Serling's classic contributions to the anthology series with "The Arena," called a mesmerizing exploration of political machinations and personal ambitions, and "The Strike," about a life or death situation during the Korean War; $19.98. (Posted February 9)
From TV to Video:
"Alice Through the Looking Glass" (1966) is the NBC musical production of Lewis Carroll's book "Through the Looking Glass," featuring Judi Rolin as Alice, Robert Coote as the Red King, Agnes Moorehead as the Red Queen, Nanette Fabray as the White King, Ricardo Montalban as the White King and Jack Palance as the evil Jabberwock. Just in time for the March 5 release of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" extravaganza. $19.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... "Army Wives: The Complete Third Season" (2009) is a five-disc set with 18 episodes, $45.99 Disney ... "Best of Television Game Shows" is a set of five television game show compilations: "The Best of Match Game," "The Best of All-Star Family Feud," "The Best of The Price Is Right," "The Best of Password"; $14.98 each from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Gabriel Amor Immortal" (2009) is a box set with all the episodes of the Megaseries that captivated viewers on the Spanish Broadcasting System, $29.99 from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season" (2008) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes, $39.99 from Disney ... "Ice Castles" (2009)is a remake of the 1978 tearjerker about a young skater with Olympic dreams who is blinded in an accident and attempts to overcome the tragedy with the help of her loving boyfriend; from Sony ... "JAG: The Final Season"
(2004-05) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $55.98 from Paramount ... "The Life & Times of Tim: The Complete First Season" (2008) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Maneater" (2009) stars Sarah Chalke, Judy Greer, Gregory Harrison and Maria Conchita Alonso in the Lifetime miniseries about an enterprising young woman who navigates the professional waters of Beverly Hills in order to land the hottest producer in town, fully unaware that she is about to get in way over her head; $24.96 from Sony ... "Rad Girls" (2007) is a two-disc set with eight episodes of the series that's dead-set on proving that "Jackass"-style humor isn't just for boys; $19.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Two Volume Two"
(2008) is a two-disc set, $26.98 from Paramount ... "Stargate Universe 1.0"
(2009) is a three-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray with all 10 episodes of the first season, $49.98 and $69.98 from MGM ... "Vega$: The First Season, Volume 2" (1979) is a three-disc set, $36.09 from Paramount. (Posted February 9)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
In "Heist" (2009), starring Rick Jordan, Christian Mendez, Erik David, Dana Fares, Tim Aslin and C'nyle, two brothers concoct an armored truck robbery to pay off a debt to a drug lord, resulting in greed, betrayal, honor and bond between brothers and thieves; from Echo Bridge Entertainment ... "A Dangerous Man" (2010) is the latest Steven Seagal direct-to-video action; here Seagal stars as a man released from prison after serving six years for a crime he didn't commit. Just hours after regaining his freedom, he witnesses the murder of a State Trooper by two members of the Chinese mafia and rescues a terrified girl holding a bag of money. Now he must fight his way through a corrupt town in order to take the girl to safety. From Paramount ... "The Brotherhood V: Alumni"
(2009)is the latest installment in the horror franchise: A year after a mean-spirited prom prank turned deadly, the most popular students of Sunnydale High are summoned back for a surprise reunion only to find themselves at the mercy of a relentless killer; from E1 Entertainment. (Posted February 9)
On the Indie Front:
"Endgame" (2009) stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jonny Lee Miller, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Derek Jacobi and Clarke Peters in a story based on the covert discussions that brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa; from Monterey Video ... "Hurricane Season" (2009) stars Forest Whitaker, Bow Wow, Isaiah Washington, Lil Wayne, Taraji P. Henson and Bonnie Hunt in the true story as Louisiana high school basketball coach Al Collins who, a year after Hurricane Katrina, assembles a team of kids from previously rival schools and leads them on a path to the state championship; from Vivendi Entertainment ... In "I Can't Think Straight" (2007), starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth, two women from different worlds and cultures (one a London-based Jordanian of Palestinian origin, the other a British Indian woman) meet and form a powerful bond; from E1 Entertainment ... "Peter and Vandy" (2009) stars Jason Ritter, Jess Weixler, Jesse L. Martin, Tracie Thoms and Noah Bean in a romantic tale about a love affair gone bad; from Strand Releasing ... "The Pleasure of Being Robbed" (2008) stars Eleonore Hendricks and Joshua Safdie in an offbeat comedy about a young woman who steals her way through life; from MPI Media/IFC Films. (Posted February 9)
For the Family:
"Colors Are Fun!" (2010) features a colorful palette of stories featuring pre-school favorites Barney, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Kipper in adventures featuring colors, fun and imagination, $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "The Penguins of Madagascar Operation: DVD Premiere" (2010) features never-before-seen "missions" that continue the penguins' MAD-tastic adventure, plus escapades from the Nickelodeon series "The Penguins of Madagascar," from Paramount ... "Disney Little Einsteins: Animal Expedition" (2009) is a new release from the hit Playhouse Disney series, featuring four episodes and an interactive bonus feature "The Animal Crane Game," $19.99 from Disney ... "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's Bow-Tique" (2009) features four Minnie-themed stories including a never-before-seen episode and a Minnie magnet bow frame, $19.99 from Disney ... "Free Style" (2008) stars Corbin Bleu, Penelope Ann Mille, Madison Pettis and Sandra Echeverria in a family motocross adventure about a young man determined to win a coveted spot on the Grand National racing team without compromising his devotion to his friends and family, from Fox ... "So You Want to Be President? ...And More Stories to Celebrate American History" (2010) is an all-new animated adaptation of Judith St. George's Caldecott Medal-winning book, "So You Want to Be President?" narrated by Stockard Channing, and other stories about America's vibrant political life, for young citizens ages 5 and up; $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures. (Posted February 9)
"For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots" (2010) is a
documentary about the untold saga of African-Americans' centuries-long service to their country, brought powerfully to life by a who's who of entertainers, using letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records to document the accomplishments of black men and women since the earliest days of the republic, from the Revolutionary War whose first casualty was a Black man, Crispus Attucks, to the current battle against global terrorism. From Melee Entertainment/Eleventh Day Entertainment/Vivendi Entertainment ... "Welcome to Nollywood" (2009) is a documentary that takes a look at the emerging Nigerian film industry: Just behind the U.S. and India, rampant consumers have made "Nollywood" the third largest film industry in the world, generating a staggering $286 million yearly for the Nigerian economy; $19.95 from Indiepix. (Posted February 9)
'Dear John' Letter for 'Avatar'
After eight weekends sitting atop the box office charts, James Cameron's sci-fi epic "Avatar" has been dethroned -- and by an unlikely culprit: a "chick flick." According to Inside Movie's weekend box office report, "Dear John" took in an estimated
$32.4 million, an astonishing number for a film aimed strictly at women. No tears for Cameron, however; its weekend second-place total of $23.6 million takes its domestic box office record to $630 million. In third place was "From Paris With Love," which took in $8.1 million, a low number for an action film and one starring John Travolta. Maybe the guys were too hyped on the Super Bowl to have the energy for a flick this weekend. "Edge of Darkness" with $7 million and
"Tooth Fairy" with $6.5 million round out the Top 5.
Universal is releasing this week a special edition of "The Wolf Man"
(1941), starring Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Maria Ouspenskaya and Patric Knowles, in a two-Disc special edition, with a digitally remastered picture and new bonus features ... just in time for the February 12 theatrical release of director Joe Johnston's remake starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins (also released by Universal). Bonus features include a trailer gallery, commentary by film historian Tom Weaver, a host of featurettes: "Monster by Moonlight," "The Wolf Man Archives," "The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth," "Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney Jr.," "He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce," "Universal Horror."
Over at Warner Home Video there's another wave of releases in the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection, a collaboration between Turner Classic Movies and Warner to present low-priced collections of some of the greatest films of all to serve both serious film buffs and a new generation of movie lovers. Each four-disc set sells for $27.92: TCM Greatest Classic Films: Marx Brothers: "A Day at the Races," "A Night in Casablanca," "Room Service" and "At the Circus"; TCM Greatest Classic Films: Romances:"Love in the Afternoon," "Splendor in the Grass," "Mogambo" and "Now, Voyager"; and TCM Greatest Classic Films: Sci-Fi Adventures: "Them!" "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms," "World Without End" and "Satellite in the Sky." (Posted February 2)
From TV to Video:
"Beverly Hills 90210: The Ninth Season" (1998-99) is a six-disc set with 26 episodes, $59.98 from Paramount ... "Dr. Who: The Complete Specials"
(2009) features four action-packed specials -- "The Next Doctor," "Planet of the Dead," "Waters of Mars" and "The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2" -- that serve as a farewell to David Tennant; from BBC/Warner ... "Doc Martin, Series 3" (2007) features seven episodes of the British (and PBS) series about the surly, tactless, self-centered, and uptight doctor living amid eccentric townsfolk and spectacular scenery, kind of "Northern Exposure" meets "House"; $39.99 from Acorn Media ... " Dynasty: Season Four, Vol. 2" (1984) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... "The Mary Tyler Moore Show Season Six" (1975-76) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $29.98 from Fox ... "A Mind to Kill: The Complete First Series" (1994-95) features six episodes of the British series about an old-school Welsh cop tackling disturbing modern crimes, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Eleventh Season" (1994-95) is a five-disc set with 21 episodes, $49.98 from Universal ... "She-Wolf of London: The Complete Series" (1990) is a four-disc set with all 20 episodes, $39.98 from Universal ... "Zane's Sex Chronicles: The Complete First Season" (2008) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes of the Cinemax urban adult series that follows five sexy friends as they take on hot issues of life, love and liberation in the big city, $29.98 from Warner. (Posted February 2)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
A creaky Victorian mansion, a graveyard, a lunar eclipse and a pretty college girl: all the elements of classic '80s horror are back with an old-school atmosphere of dread and "satanic panic" and a less-is-more approach -- with a modern twist in "The House of the Devil" (2009), starring Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Jocelin Donahue, Greta Gerwig and AJ Bowen, from Dark Sky Films/MPI Media Group ... Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren reteam for another Universal Soldier chapter, "Universal Soldier: Regeneration"
(2010), about the next-generation Universal Soldier -- an elite fighter genetically altered into a programmable killing machine, from Sony ... Five talented young basketball players from Akron, Ohio, star in "More Than a Game" (2009), the remarkable true-life coming of age story about friendship and loyalty in the face of great adversity. Coached by a charismatic but inexperienced player's father, and led by future NBA superstar LeBron James, the "Fab Five's" improbable seven-year journey leads them from a decrepit inner-city gym to the doorstep of a national high school championship; from Lionsgate ...Tony Jaa stars in and directs "Ong Bak 2: The Beginning" (2009 -- Thailand), a prequel to "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior": A hundred years in the past, an orphan boy is raised by bandits, trained to be a killer and prophesied to be the conqueror of an empire; well-taught in countless styles of weaponry and martial arts, he is a one-man-army hell bent on avenging the murder of his parents; from Magnolia Home Entertainment. (Posted February 2)
For the Family:
"Air Bud: Golden Receiver Special Edition" is a remastered version of the 1998 kids tale, starring Tim Conway, Dick Martin, Kevin Zegers and Cynthia Stevenson, packed with an Airbud Sport Whistle Necklace, from Disney ... In "Elmo's World: Let's Play Music" (2010), Elmo teaches pre-schoolers about violins, bells and drums, $12.99 from Sesame Street/Warner ... "Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases Volume 4" is a single-disc with 14 episodes, $14.97 from Warner. (Posted February 2)
"Hitler's Bodyguard," is a four-disc set with 13 episodes of the series that examines how Adolf Hitler managed to survive more than 40 assassination attempts before the end of World War II, $79.99 from Acorn Media ... "The Evelyn Waugh Collection"
brings together faithful adaptations of two of the master storyteller's most brilliant and biting satires, "A Handful of Dust" (1988) and "Scoop" (1988), with casts that include Kristin Scott Thomas in her breakthrough role, Alec Guinness, Rupert Graves, Stephen Fry, Michael Maloney, Anjelica Huston, and Judi Dench in a BAFTA-winning role; $39.99 from Acorn Media ... "Liza's at the Palace" (2009) captures Liza Minnelli's midnight performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2009, where she re-created her Broadway show at the Palace Theater, which, just a few months earlier, had won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, with songs written by such greats as George and Ira Gershwin, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Sammy Cahn and the team most associated with Minnelli, John Kander and Fred Ebb, composers of the showstoppers "Cabaret," "Maybe This Time," "But the World Goes 'Round" and "New York, New York"; $24.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me"
(2009) is the comedian' second solo HBO comedy special, $19.97 from Warner ... "
Amelia Earhart: Queen of the Air" (2009) is a Bio Channel documentary just in time for the DVD release of "Amelia," starring Hilary Swank; $12.95 from A&E Home Entertainment. (Posted February 2)
'Avatar' Rolls a Seven at the Box Office, Beats Gibson
We're getting tired of this -- well, not really: In its seventh weekend, James Cameron's "Avatar" again topped the domestic and international box offices, finishing No. 1 with $30 million in North America and $95.1 million at 120 overseas markets. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the domestic gross now registers $594.5 million through the weekend and an overseas total of $1.45 billion, pushing the film's worldwide gross to $2.045 billion. "Avatar" is still $6.3 million short of Cameron's "Titanic's" U.S. and Canada record of $600.8 million, however, but that record should fall this week. "Avatar" broke "Titanic's" all-time overseas gross mark of $1.242 billion on Jan. 23, and notched a new worldwide benchmark $1.859 billion last Monday. For how other films fared this weekend -- in particular Mel Gibson's return to the big screen, read Mel's Comeback Falls Short of 'Avatar' -- Box Office Report Jan. 29-31 at Inside Movies.
There's two great collections due this week. First up is The Criterion Collection's homage to Roberto Rossellini, one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. It was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II -- "Rome Open City," "Paisan" and "Germany Year Zero"- that he left his first transformative mark on cinema. With their stripped-down aesthetic, largely nonprofessional casts, and unorthodox approaches to storytelling, these intensely emotional works were international sensations and effectively launched the neorealist movement. Shot in battle-ravaged Italy and Germany, these three films are some of our most lasting, humane documents of devastated postwar Europe, containing universal images that encompass both tragedy and hope. "Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy"
comes in a three-disc set loaded with features, $79.95.
Hosted by Alastair Cooke, "Omnibus" was the Golden Age of Television's most distinguished production, a multiple Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series delivering sophistication, refinement, and sparkling intelligence to a national audience. Its eight seasons, broadcast nationwide from 1952 to 1961, featured the most accomplished luminaries of the day. In collaboration with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, E1 Entertainment will bring the heralded series to a new generation; the first release in the series is "Omnibus: Leonard Bernstein," featuring seven newly-restored programs featuring Leonard Bernstein in a four-DVD set. Includes "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" (1955), "The World of Jazz" (1955), "The Art of Conducting" (1955), "American Musical Comedy" (1956), "Introduction to Modern Music" (1957), "The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach" (1957) and "What Makes Opera Grand?" (1958). $49.98. Extras: Rare performance of Handel's Messiah, with Bernstein conducting from the harpsichord. (E1 Entertainment). (Posted January 26)
From TV to Video:
"Bonekickers" (2008) is a BBC action-adventure series that follows a motley team of archaeologists as they unearth secrets from the past, in a six-disc set, $39.99 from Acorn Media ... "Callan, Set 2" is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Cowboys & Outlaws" (2009) is a two-disc set of the History Channel series, $24.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Inspector Lewis Complete Set" is an eight-disc set with 11 Masterpiece Mystery! Inspector Lewis mysteries, $69.99 from PBS ... "MI-5 Volume 7" (2009) is a four-disc set with eight episodes of the British spy series, from Warner ... "Pawn Stars: Season One" (2009) is a two-disc set, $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Pie in the Sky, Series 2" is a three-disc set with 10 episodes of the much-loved British detective series that features equal amounts of police work and culinary adventure, $49.99 from Acorn Media ... "Southland: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a two-disc set with seven episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Touched By An Angel: Inspiration Collection -- Faith" and "Touched By An Angel: Inspiration Collection -- Love" each contain four thematic episodes; from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount ... "The Waltons: The Movie Collection" contains six Walton telefilms that aired between 1982-1997 on CBS, from Warner ... "The Whitest Kids U'know: The Complete Second Season -- Uncut and Uncensored" (2008) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $24.98 from E1 Entertainment. (Posted January 26)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
"I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" (2009) chronicles one young man's alcohol-fueled adventures on a night of debauchery, first to a friend's bachelor party, where he ensnares the groom in a lie that threatens the wedding and then abandons him to pursue further carnal knowledge. Stars Matt Czuchry, Jesse Bradford, Geoff Stults, Keri Lynn Pratt, Denise Quinones; unrated version from Fox ... "Ponypool" (2008) is a cult sychological horror thriller about a radio shock-jock who discovers that a deadly virus -- which turns people into murderers -- is being spread through language and has infected his small Canadian town; stars Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Rick Roberts; from IFC Films ... In "On the Line" (1987), starring David Carradine, Scott Wilson and Victoria Abril, a Border Patrol agent is determined to catch his old nemesis, an American criminal who successfully smuggles illegal aliens across the border from Mexico; from Vanguard Cinema ... A tough as nails private investigator squares off with gangsters and thugs to protect a valuable and mysterious suitcase that purportedly contains the "meaning of love" in "Give 'em Hell Malone" (2009), starring Thomas Jane, Ving Rhames, Doug Hutchison abd Elsa Pataky; from National Entertainment Media ... A tough convict serving a life sentence puts together a hardcore crew to bust out of a London penitentiary to see his terminally ill daughter in "The Escapist" (2008), starring Brian Cox, Damian Lewis, Joseph Fiennes, Seu Jorge, Liam Cunningham and Dominic Cooper; a BAFTA award-winner from IFC Films ... A struggling songwriter/high school teacher, who obsesses over the women in his life, gets involved with a female drifter who drags him down with lies, threats and betrayal in "Mr. Vincent" (1997), starring Frank John Hughes, Lisa Locicero, Mimi Scott, Robert Bruzio; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Carnera: The Walking Mountain" (2008) is a biodrama about the Italian fighting champ Primo Carnera, who won the World heaveyweight Championship in 1933; stars Andrea Laia, F. Murray Abraham, Paul Sorvino and Burt Young; from Monarch Home Video ... and, finally, two Asian martial arts outings from Lionsgate: "Jackie Chan Presents Wushu" (2008), starring Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Fengchao Liu, Wenjie Wang and Fei Wang, about a group elite martial arts practioners who cross paths with an evil martial arts master and foil his kidnapping plan, using their combat skills to defeat the enemy and save their brotherhood; and "Fireball" (2009), starring Preeti Barameeanant, Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan, 9 Million Sam and Phutharit Prombundarn in a Thai actioner about a young man who returns home from jail to find his twin brother in a coma; his investigation of the crime leads him to an underground ultra-violent game based on Muay Thai and Basketball principles, hosted by criminal drug lords, where he risks his life to avenge his brother. (Posted January 26)
On the Indie Front:
"Little Ashes" (2009), directed by Paul Morrison and starring Javier Beltran, Robert Pattinson, Matthew McNulty, Marina Gatell, is a docudrama about the life and loves of artist Salvador Dali, filmmaker Luis Bunuel and writer Federico Garcia Lorca in 1920s Madrid; from E1 Entertainment ... Two brothers on a cross-country search for their estranged father are joined by an aspiring singer fleeing her troubled marriage in "Tennessee"
(2009), starring Mariah Carey, Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck; from Vivendi Entertainment ...
A young man, stuck working at his stepfather's gas station, struggles to change his life and save his girlfriend from an abusive life, in "Fuel" (2009), starring Michael Esparza and C. Thomas Howell; from Vanguard Cinema ... An aspiring musician who makes ends meet by working as a waitress in London is swept off her feet by a stranger who frequents her deli in
"In a Day" (2006), starring Lorraine Pilkington and Finlay Robertson; from IFC Films ... A 16-year-old girl is uprooted by her lesbian moms from her gay-friendly home in San Francisco and moved to a conservative suburban community in Southern California, where her life is complicated by sexual politics, closed minds and closeted friends, in "Tru Loved" (2008), starring Najarra Townsend, Jake Abel, Matthew Thompson and Alexandra Paul; from E1 Entertainment ... In "3 Americas" (2008) starring Kristen Gonzalez, a young girl -- America -- spends her summer in Boston shoplifting, hanging out with friends and avoiding her aunt's alcoholic husband until she's sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina to live with her reclusive and anti-American grandmother, where she must struggle to find her place; from Vanguard Cinema. (Posted January 26)
In "Quiet Chaos" (2008 -- Italy), a stressed-out business executive loses his wife and then struggles to raise his 10-year-old daughter by himself, waiting for the pain to arrive every day but instead taking on the pain and difficulties of his friends, relatives and co-workers. Stars Nanni Moretti, Valeria Golino, Alessandro Gassman, Isabella Ferrari. Winner of three David di Donatella Awards (Italy's Oscars); from IFC Films ... In "The Higher Force" (2008 -- Iceland), a low-life debt collector becomes the top dog in his paranoid gang by pretending to know a renowned crime lord, a neighbor of his who happens to be a lonely school teacher with illusions of grandeur and troubles at work. Naturally, things get out of hand when the gang wants him to move on the "crime lord." Stars Petur Johann Sigfusson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, Eggert Borleifsson and Michael Imperioli; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Mermaid" (2008) was Russia's entry in the 2009 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Five-year-old Alisa has taken a rebellious vow of silence and when she's shipped off to a special-needs school, she channels her emotional turmoil into magical telekinetic powers. Years later, she meets a man who inspires her to speak again; from IFC Films. (Posted January 26)
For the Family:
In the feature-length "SpongeBob SquarePants: Viking-Sized Adventure"
(2009), SpongeBob and his pals go on a Viking-Sized Adventure, weather a storm, fill in for super heroes Mermaidman and Barnacleboy and meet Mr. Krab's grandpappy the pirate; $16.99 from Paramount ... "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" (1985) is a remastered deluxe edition of the classic peanuts cartoon; $19.98 from Warner ... "I Heart Jonas"
(2009) is a single-disc with seven episodes of the Jonas brothers series, with premium magnets featuring each of the Jonas Brothers on the package; $19.99 from Disney. (Posted January 26)
"WWII in HD" (2009) is a visually astonishing landmark series that presents the story of World War II through the eyes of 12 Americans who experienced the war firsthand, using color footage never before seen by most Americans -- converted to HD; from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Copyright Criminals: This Is a Sampling Sport" (2009) is a documentary that traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry, examing the legality of hip-hop performers and producers re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions; from Indiepix Films ... "The People Speak" (2009): This stirring History program pays homage to ordinary citizens whose words and actions commanded extraordinary change in America, presenting history through speeches, letters and music performed by today's most talented voices. Based on historian Howard Zinn's best-selling books, including "The People's History of the United States" and "Voices of a People's History," it features Matt Damon reading from The Declaration of Independence; Bruce Springsteen performing Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" with voiceovers by Morgan Freeman, Marisa Tomei, Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, Kerry Washington, Bob Dylan and Eddie Vedder; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Dominick Dunne: After the Party" (2009) is a candid and poignant journey through Vanity Fair correspondent Dunne's roller coaster life, as told through the pictures, films, and unforgettable stories of the man himself and those that knew him best; from Indiepix Films ... "Prom Night in Mississippi" (2008) is a documentary about a small-town in Mississippi as it prepares for its first integrated senior prom; in 1970, the town of Charleston, Mississippi, allowed black students into their white high school, but refused to integrate the senior prom. Twenty-seven years later, Charleston resident and Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman offered to finance the prom -- under one condition: it had to be integrated; from Docurama Films ... "Brave New Films 5th Anniversary Activist Collection": For the past five years, Robert Greenwald and his production company, Brave New Films, have been at the forefront of the fight to create a just America. Using new media and Internet video campaigns, Brave New Films has created a quick-strike capability that informs the public, challenges corporate media, and motivates people to take action on social issues worldwide. This is a compilation of virtually everything they've produced to date in a colossal, 10-disc box set. Titles include: "Rethink Afghanistan," "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," "Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers," more; $59.99 from The Disinformation Company ... "Re:Frame -- Scanning Time/Documenting Change" (2009) is a selection of seven films from a contemporary Indian cinema far removed from Bollywood, oscillating between documentary, video art, experimental film, and animation; from Microcinema International ... "All About Prints: 500 Years of Prints and Printmaking" (2009) was shot in Hi-Def video at museum print rooms, print fairs, galleries, and print workshops in America and Europe, and explores the collaborative nature of printmaking, the democratic character of multiples, and the deep-rooted traditions of the art form; from Microcinema International ... and, finally, there's two A&E Home Entertainment DVDs that look at the JFK assassiantion: "JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America" (2009), a four-hour special that strips away years of confusion to allow for a fresh and clear-eyed view of that historic day in November 1963, when a gunman pulled a trigger and forever changed the world, $19.95 and "The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After" (2009), a near real-time account of this pivotal day in history told from the point-of-view of Lyndon Johnson that uses stunning details uncovered in newly public documents to reveal a vice president thrust into the role of commander-in-chief, forced to make critical decisions with limited information, $19.95. (Posted January 26)
Box Office: Cameron's 'Avatar' on Way to Beating His 'Titanic' Record
For the sixth week in a row James Cameron's "Avatar" has dominated the domestic box office, the first film since the director's "Titanic" to top domestic rankings for six straight weekends, taking in $36 million to push its box office to $552.8 million. "Titanic" took in $600.8 million domestically. According to Inside Movies, if it can average $6.3 million a day over the next eight days, it will have eclipsed "Titanic's" record by the morning of the Oscar nominations. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "Avatar" became the biggest-grossing offshore title in movie history, earning $1.288 billion to date, exceeding by $46 million "Titanic's" 13-year international box office record of $1.242 billion. Overall, "Avatar" has an estimated $1.841 billion in worldwide box office, just a shade behind the record $1.843 billion rung up by the "Titanic" in 1997-98.
Coming Soon: Recent DVD Announcements
There's a whole spate of new releases coming down the DVD pipeline as the studios begin to release their fourth quarter 2009 movies to home video. Coming soon: Feb. 23: "Everybody's Fine," with Robert De Niro; Uma Thurman's "Motherhood," documentary "The September Issue" and horror-thriller "Sorority Row." Due March 9: Animated "Planet 51." Due March 16: "Astro Boy" and sci-fi thriller "Fourth Kind." Due March 23: "The Blind Side," "Men Who Stare at Goats" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Check out our February and March calendars and February and March DVD charts for more information.
There's an eclectic batch of collectible DVDs this week, headed up by an all-new anamorphic widescreen transfer of the 1977 cult film "Kingdom of the Spiders," starring William Shatner, Woody Strode, Tiffany Bolling, Roy Engel and Lieux Dressler. The plot: An Arizona town is infested with a horde of arachnids who turn on the humans whose insecticides have depleted their natural food supply. Bonus features include a new interview with William Shatner; commentary by director John Bud Cardos, producer Igor Kantor, spider wrangler Jim Brockett and cinematographer John Morrill; and more; from Shout! Factory.
From The Criterion Collection comes Steven Soderbergh's "Che"
(2008), a fascinating exploration of the revolutionary as icon. "Che" paints a vivid,
naturalistic portrait of the man (with a stunning, Cannes-award-winning performance by Benicio del Toro), from his overthrow of the Batista dictatorship to his 1964 United Nations trip to the end of his short life. Originally released in two parts, "Che" is presented here in its complete form (four-and-a-half hours). Also from Criterion is the "Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Akerman in the Seventies," a three-disc collection that showcases the Belgian director's early films. These five intensely personal, modernist investigations of cities, history, family, and sexuality, made in the 1970s in the United States and Europe, continue to have a profound influence on filmmakers. Included in this no-frills set is "La chambre," "Hotel Monterey," "News From Home," "Je tu il elle" and "Les rendez-vous d'anna." ... "Streamers" (1983) was the third of director Robert Altman's many adaptations of stage plays (right after 1982's "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"); his disastrous flirtation with plays came after a decade of hits in the 1970s and extended until he rebounded with 1988's "Tanner '88" and 1992's "The Player." Here he tries to transform into a film David Rabe's award-winning play about four young recruits about to be sent to Vietnam who confront their prejudicial feelings when it's learned one of them is homosexual. Still, for Altman completists, it's a must. Stars Matthew Modine, Michael Wright, Mitchell Lichtenstein, David Alan Grier, Guy Boyd and George Dzundza. From Shout! Factory. (Posted January 19)
From TV to Video:
"Dallas: The Complete Twelfth Season" (1988-89) is a three-disc set with 26 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "Damages: The Complete Second Season" (2009) a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.95 from Sony ... "Defying Gravity Season One" (2009), a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "The Game: The Second Season" (2007-08), a three-disc set with 20 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... "Girlfriends: The Final Season" (2007), A two-disc set with 13 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... "Hunter: The Complete First Season" (1984), a three-disc set with 19 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "In the Doghouse Season One" (1998), featuring 13 episodes, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) ... "Instant Star Season Three" (2007), with 13 episodes, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "Law & Order: The Seventh Year" (1996-97), a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "Renegade: The Complete First Season" (1992), a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Thirtysomething: The Complete Second Season" (1988-89), a five-disc set with 17 episodes, loaded with bonus features, $59.97 from Shout! Factory ... "21 Jump Street: The Complete First Season" (1987), a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment. (Posted January 19)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball" (2009) stars Tom Berenger, Clayne Crawford, Martha Higareda, Ernie Hudson, Michael Parks, Autumn Reeser, Vinnie Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Maury Sterling and Christopher Michael Holley in this direct-to-video sequel of sorts to the popular "Smokin' Aces" in which assassins, vicious sociopaths and other murderous free-lancers battle to bring down a single, high-priced target. Federal agents once again match wits with a cadre of creative killers, includes a resourceful beauty who has a unique method of killing her prey, a power-tool wielding psychopath, a deadly master of disguise and the fan-favorite Tremor family from the original film. Full of hyper-kinetic visuals and explosive action. From Universal ... "The Keeper" (2009) is a direct-to-video Steven Seagal thriller about an L.A. street cop double-crossed by his rogue partner and forced to retire; he accepts a gig guarding the beautiful daughter of a wealthy businessman but when mobsters kidnap the girl, his job turns from protector to hunter as he untangles a dangerous web of lies and murder. From Fox ... "Speed Dating" (2008) is a comedy about a thirtysomething guy who takes up speed dating and gets involved with a mysterious woman; stars Hugh O'Conor, David Hayman, Flora Montgomery, Don Wycherly, Alex Reid, Nora-Jane Noone and Emma Choy; from MTI Home Video. (Posted January 19)
On the Indie Front:
In "According to Greta" (2009), Hilary Duff stars as Greta, a rebellious 17-year-old "exiled" for the summer to a sleepy Jersey-shore community where she immediately informs her grandparents (Michael Murphy and Ellen Burstyn) of her plans to kill herself by the time she turns 18. But before Greta can cross suicide off her "to-do" list, she begins a romance with a young cook from a troubled background, confronts a tragic family secret and maybe even discovers the promising young woman beneath her sarcastic shell. From Anchor Bay Entertainment. (Posted January 19)
There's two interesting German films from First Run features this week:
"My Führer" (2009 -- Germany)
is a blistering satire about Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich best described as the bastard love child of Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" and Mel Brooks' "The Producers." It's December 1944: Berlin lies in ruins and the war is as good as lost. Goebbels is convinced all the country needs is a re-energizing speech from the Führer. Adolf, however, is only a shadow of his former self; demoralized and depressed, he hides in his office. The only man who can help is Germany's finest acting teacher, Adolf Grührernbaum -- a Jew ... Between 1946 and 1992, East Germany's DEFA Studios produced more than 800 animated films. Included in the collection "Red Cartoons: Animation Before Unification" are 16 of the best -- an astonishing array of animation featuring a wide variety of styles and techniques, filled with social and political satire that would have never been allowed in live action films. (Posted January 19)
There's Just No Stopping 'Avatar'
(January 17) According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, "Avatar" is on its way to winning another weekend at the box office, making this its fifth in a row. The film dropped just 18% from its previous Friday-Sunday tally for an estimated $41.3 million through Sunday, with its $491.8 million domestic box office part of a $1.61 billion worldwide tally. According to THR, "Avatar" is expected to surpass $500 million in domestic box office on Monday, its 32nd day in release. That would beat the 45-day record set by "The Dark Knight" in 2008; "Titanic" took 98 days. (Posted January 19)
'New Moon' Rises on DVD March 20
Twihards Rejoice! This just in from Summit Entertainment: "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" will be released on a two-disc Special Edition DVD and Special Edition Blu-ray on March 20, a Saturday street date that will allow fans across the nation to celebrate at retailers' midnight release parties before taking home the film at 12:01 a.m. Already a worldwide literary phenomenon, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," a post-modern Romeo and Juliet story, took in an estimated $300 million domestic at the theatrical box office and had the third largest opening weekend box office in movie history at $142 million. The DVD and Blu-ray releases will sell for $32.99 and $34.99, respectively, and will include commentary by director Chris Weitz and editor Peter Lambert; a six-part behind-the-scenes documentary; music videos from Death Cab for Cutie, Anya Marina and Mute Math; and more.
'The African Queen' Finally Chugs to DVD, Blu-ray
The long-awaited classic "The African Queen" (1951), directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, has finally made it's way to DVD and Blu-ray Disc with a completely restored edition of the print. According to the folks at Paramount, which is releasing the film March 23, "The African Queen was "restored using state-of-the-art 4K digital technology. The restoration process began at the source: Romulus Films, one of the film's original production companies, provided access to the original three-strip negative at a London facility where the film was carefully scanned and digitized. The separate elements were then transferred to Los Angeles and painstakingly recombined and inspected frame by frame." A single-disc and a collectible box set will be available in both formats. Read more info on the release of "The African Queen and read The DVD Spin Doctor's take on the release.
Warner Sets Date for 'Wild Things' DVD
Warner Home Video has just announced a March 2 release date for the DVD and Blu-ray Disc of Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are." The film, which stars Max Records, Catherine Keener, Benicio Del Toro, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose, Catherine O'Hara, Tom Noonanand James Gandolfini, took some critical hits when it opened last October, with many reviewers bemoaning the film's slow pace and awkward-looking "Wild Things." Other's thought that in his attempt to bring the book to the screen for more adult tastes that Jonze's had created a hybrid kids film/grownup film that pleased neither. Still, "Wild Things" went on to make more than $76 million at the domestic box office.
From TV to Video:
"Becker: The Third Season" (2000-01), a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... "ER: The Complete Twelfth Season" (2005-06), a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from Warner ... "Make It or Break It: Volume One (Extended Edition)" (2009), a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.99 from Disney ... "Robin Hood: Season Three" (2009), a five-disc set with 13 episodes from the final season of the popular BBC America series, $59.98 from BBC/Warner ... "The Simpsons Season 20" (2009-09), a four-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray with 21 episodes, from Fox ... "10 Things I Hate About You: Volume One" (1999), a two disc-set with 11 episodes, $29.99 from Disney. (Posted January 12)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
A 35-year-old parking attendant who lives at home with his mother and is a self-described "world's biggest New York Giants fan" struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player in "Big Fan" (2009), starring Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport and Marcia Jean Kurtz, from Vivendi Entertainment ... "Breaking Point" (2009) is a dramatic tale of corruption and self-realization, in which a once prominent criminal defense attorney attempts to come back to the profession after a struggle with drug addiction and a family tragedy, starring Tom Berenger, Busta Rhymes, Armand Assante, Sticky Fingaz and Musetta Vande, from Barnholtz Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Deep in the Valley" (2009), starring Denise Richards, Tracy Morgan, Kim Kardashian, Brendan Hines and Chris Pratt, is an erotic comedy about a mysterious video booth that transports two friends to an alternate reality straight out of a pornographic film; in R-rated and unrated versions from Vivendi Entertainment ... A young man growing up in war-torn Hungary becomes fixated on older women in "In Praise of Older Women" (1978), starring Tom Berenger, Karen Black, Susan Strasberg and Helen Shaver,from E1 Entertainment ... In "The Riverman" (2004), based on real-life events, Robert Keppel, former chief criminal investigator for the attorney general of Washington, recounts the efforts to track down mass murderer Gary Ridgeway, aka the Green River Killer, recruiting imprisoned serial killer Ted Bundy to help find the killer-at-large. Stars Bruce Greenwood, Cary Elwes, Sam Jaeger, Sarah Manninen and Kathleen Quinlan. From North American Motion Pictures ... A gun-slinging ex-convict goes on a death quest to find the man who murdered his wife more than a decade ago in "Ca$h" (2008), starring Thom Doty, Jerry Lloyd and Ray Stanton, from MTI Home Video. (Posted January 12)
On the Indie Front:
"Passing Strange: The Movie" (2009), directed by Spike Lee and starring Daniel Breaker and Eisa Davis, is an adaptation of the Broadway play for PBS; it's a semi-autobiographical story of a young black man, identified simply as Youth, who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in mid-1970s Los Angeles to travel to Europe in search of his artistic and personal identity, or what he calls "the real." From IFC Films ... "Amreeka" (2009), starring Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass and Alia Shawkat, is a heart-warming tale of an immigrant mother and her teenage son's new life in a small town in Illinois, from Virgil Films & Entertainment ... In "Superheroes" (2007), starring Dash Mihok and Spencer Treat Clark, an Iraq war veteran comes home to New York to deal with emotional as well as physical trauma, including the heartbreak of being abandoned by his wife for another man; from IFC Films ... In Strong>"Goliath" (2008), starring David Zellner, Nathan Zellner and Caroline O'Connor, a young man who is going through a nasty divorce and is facing a demotion at work really starts to lose his grip when his lone anchor to life, his cat Goliath, goes missing, setting him on a pathetic, comedic search, from IFC Films ... Affirm Films/Sony has two interesting releases this week: "The Moment After" (1999), starring Kevin Downes, David A. R. White and Brad Heller, about two F.B.I. agents who are assigned to investigate the sudden disappearance of millions of people worldwide; and "The Theory of Everything" (2006), starring David de Vos and Victor Lundin in a drama about the power of family as a son helps his dying father on his quest to explain the existence of God through science. (Posted January 12)
In Argentina, they're known as the desaparecidos -- the disappeared -- the 30,000 people believed to have been kidnapped and murdered by a military junta between 1976 and 1983. The national nightmare haunts the country to this day, and writer-director Paco Cabezas makes that haunting literal in "The Appeared" (2007 -- Spanish), a ghost story combining fact and fiction. During a road trip to visit their dying father, an estranged brother and sister discover a hidden diary from 20 years earlier that reveals a family legacy of fear and torture. That very night a family is killed in a manner eerily resembling a description in the old diary, and the siblings must confront the truth behind the trail of "the disappeared" -- some of whom may have now returned to our world in this startling combination of supernatural chiller and shocking political thriller. From IFC Films. (Posted January 12)
For the Family:
"Like Stars on Earth" (2009) is produced, directed and stars Aamir Khan, one of India's most acclaimed filmmakers. The film follows 8-year-old Mumbai native Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary), who lives in a world where letters dance exuberantly with the brilliant colors, lively animals and joyfully soaring kites of his fantastical imagination. Struggling to read and write and unable to deliver the good grades and disciplined behavior expected by his parents and teachers, he's shipped off to a boarding school where his new art teacher energizes him by asking students to think, dream and imagine, instead of merely following the rules. Includes seven Bollywood dance numbers, vividly imagined animated interludes and a brand new English-language track. From Disney ... "The Transformers: Season Two, Volume Two (25th Anniversary Edition)" (1985) is a four-disc set with 21 episodes, $29.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers"
(1979) is a 24-minute Valentine's Day TV feature, $14.97. from Warner ... "Bob the Builder: The Best of Bob the Builder" (2010) features three hours of nuts and bolts action with 10 episodes of Bob and his Can-Do Crew, $14.98 from Lionsgate/Hit Entertainment ... In "Let's Grow: Lend a Helping Hand" (2010), Kelly and her puppet friend, Chica -- the hosts of TV's "The Sunny Side Up Show" on pre-school channel Sprout -- host this new series of DVDs that weave together themed-episodes from HIT TV series to focus on issues pre-schoolers are growing up with -- manners, safety, friendship, cooperation, etc. This first releases focuses on lending a helping hand with episodes from Thomas & Friends, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina. $14.98 from Lionsgate/HIT Entertainment. (Posted January 12)
"The Good Soldier" (2009) is an acclaimed documentary that follows the journey of five combat veterans from different generations of American wars -- World War II, Vietnam, The Gulf War and The Iraq War. They sign up, go into battle, and simultaneously grapple with what it means to be a good soldier as it relates to their duty and their own humanity. The veterans tell of their alien surroundings, their connection to their comrades, and the ghastliness of their reality. Each man in his own time discovers the courage to confront his past actions and begin his healing. From Artistic License Films/NeoFlix ... The documentary "Frontrunner" (2009) tells the heroic story of the medical doctor and mother of three who, as a children's advocate, defied the murderous Taliban regime and boldly ran for president -- the only woman in a field of 17 candidates -- in Afghanistan's first democratic election ever. From IndiePix ... "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama" (2009) is an HBO documentary that follows Senator Obama from the moment he declared his candidacy to his historic election and inauguration as the first black president of the United States; told through unprecedented and exclusive footage of Obama and his staff, the film offers viewers an all-access pass to campaign life on the historic road to the White House. $24.96 from Sony ... In "Acting Shakespeare" (2009), Ian Mckellan performs Shakespeare's most famous and striking monologues in a masterful one-man tour de force. $29.98 from E1 Entertainment. (Posted January 12)
Fourth Consecutive No. 1 Week for 'Avatar'
The box office for James Cameron's "Avatar" is still out of this world with a fourth-consecutive week at the No. 1 position with an estimated $48.5 million, giving the film a $429 million domestic gross. The sci-fi epic has garnered $1.34 billion worldwide to-date, the second-highest in history after the filmmaker's "Titanic," which took in $1.84 billion in 1997-98, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter. According to the trade paper, the film's domestic total is the seventh-best ever after 24 days of release. Two new wide releases -- the vampire actioner "Daybreakers" and the romantic comedy "Leap Year" performed as expected, landing in the fourth and sixth spots respectively. Not so for the buzzed-about Michael Cera-starring comedy "Youth in Revolt," which landed in ninth place.
'Hangover' Again Leads DVD Sales, Rentals
(January 6) "The Hangover" was the No. 1 home video seller for the third week in a row and also took the top spot on the week's rental charts, according to Home Media Magazine. The comedy ended 2009 as the year's No. 2 seller, behind "Twilight" and ahead of "Up." And, according to the film's distributor, Warner, it also has become the No. 1 grossing comedy of all time on home video, topping 8.6 million units in sales and rentals.
Sony Sets Date for '2012'
The end of the world is drawing near -- again -- as Sony has announced a March 2 release date for the DVD and Blu-ray release of disaster film '2012.' The destruction-derby epic crunbled cities and mountains this fall, taking in north of $735 million worldwide. The film will be available in two-disc Blu-ray, one-disc Blu-ray and DVD editions, with such DVD extras: as commentary by writer-director Roland Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser, a "Roland Emmerich: Master of the Modern Epic" featurette, an alternate ending and deleted scenes. The two-disc Blu-ray edition adds movieQ and Picture in Picture behind-the-scenes material, an interactive Mayan calendar, and five featurettes: "Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar," "Designing the End of the World," "Science Behind the Destruction," "The End of the World: The Actor's Perspective," and "Countdown to the Future."
From TV to Video:
"Big Love: The Complete Third Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with 10 episodes, $59.99 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "Chuck: The Complete Second Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "Kendra: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $22.98 from Fox ... The Philanthropist: The Complete Series (2009) is a two-disc set with eight episodes, from Universal. (Posted January 5)
Buzzin' the 'B's:
In "Torture Room" (2009), starring Lena Bookall, John Forgeham, Barry Ratcliffe, Chad Nell and Louis Graham, an American woman is kidnapped and taken into custody because of her connections to Middle Eastern men -- and endures starvation, isolation, psychological mind games and torture; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "The Circuit" (2009), starring Michelle Trachtenberg, Bill Campbell and Drew Fuller, a young race car driver -- estranged from her father, a racing car legend in his own right -- gets caught up in her sponsors' eagerness to exploit and sell her on and off the track, and her father steps in to bring her back down to earth -- by challenging her and her superstar boyfriend in a once-in-a-lifetime race, from Vivendi Entertainment. (Posted January 5)
Director brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne create a thrilling meditation on morality and the value of human life in "Lorna's Silence" (2008 -- Belgium), starring Arta Dobroshi, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione and Alban Ukaj. Lorna's a young Albanian woman living in Liege, Belgium, who gets involved with some seedy gangsters and a Russian mafioso in a convoluted murder plot when she agrees to marry a Belgian man for money. The man, a drug addict, gets money for his habit. Lorna gets money so that she can open a restaurant with her boyfriend. And after the waiting period for citizenship, the plan is to kill the addict with a drug overdose so Lorna can then marry the Russian, who will in turn become a Belgian citizen. But all goes awry when Lorna starts to have doubts about their plan. From Sony. (Posted January 5)
For the Family:
For action there's "Super Friends! Season 1 Volume 1" (1973) is a two-disc set with eight episodes, showcasing some of the greatest DC super heroes of all time, including Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, as they combine their special powers to save the world, $26.99 from Warner; "Iron Man: Armored Adventures Volume 2"
(2009), a single-disc with six episodes, $6.95 from Marvel Animation/Genius Products/Vivendi Entertainment; and "Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the Complete Series" (1987), a three-disc set with 19 digitally-remastered episodes of the 1980s series that was a reimagined, updated version of the original character from the 1940s, $46.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... For the wee one's there's "Elmo Loves You!" (2010), in which Elmo Learns about love, emotions and friendship, featuring musical performances by Trisha Yearwood, John Legend and R.E.M., from Sesame Street/Warner; "Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You Special Edition" (1999) features three Winnie the Pooh stories and Pooh-themed Valentines Day cards: "Un-Valentines Day," "A Valentine for You" and "My Hero," $29.99 from Disney; "Thomas & Friends: Splish Splash Splosh" (2009 )includes four episodes of the popular animated series, with a new host, Driver Perkins, on the famous Island of Sodor, $14.98 from Lionsgate/HIT Entertainment; and "Barney: Please & Thank You" (2009), with three episodes headed up by "Magic Words," which revolves around Baby Bop forgetting to say "please" and "thank you" and the ensuing lesson in how words can make people feel good inside, includes 19 Barney songs, $14.98 from Lionsgate/HIT Entertainment. (Posted January 5)
"Hubble's Amazing Rescue" (2009) is a PBS NOVA documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes on a riveting journey with astronauts and engineers charged with saving the famous Hubble Space Telescope, from PBS Home Video ... "Lizard Kings"
(2009) is a PBS NOVA documentary on monitor lizards, members of an ancient family that includes massive Komodos -- the largest lizards to walk the planet. Travel with expert lizard hunter Dr. Eric Pianka as he tracks the elusive monitor through Australia's heartland using cutting-edge "lizard cam" technology to provide a lizard's-eye view of these amazing "living dragons"; from PBS Home Video ... "The 1930s" (2009) is a five-part PBS American Experience documentary on the turbulent decade of the 1930s: "The Crash of 1929," "The Civilian Conservation Corps," "Hoover Dam," "Surviving the Dust Bowl" and "Seabiscuit"; $39.99 from PBS Home Video. (Posted January 5)
'Avatar' Scaling New Box Office Heights
James Cameron's "Avatar" had a great New Year's celebration by topping the box office charts for the third week in a row, ringing up an estimated $68.3 million during the weekend for an amazing 17-day total of $352.1 million. Add to that $133.5 million in foreign earnings during the weekend -- for a $670.2 million international total -- and you get an earth-shaking $1.02 billion worldwide. According to The Hollywood Reporter, that puts "Avatar" at No. 4 among the top global grossers of all time, behind Cameron's "Titanic" ($1.84 billion), the Peter Jackson "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($1.12 billion) and Gore Verbinski's "The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" ($1.07 billion). How high will "Avatar" fly? Both the folks at Moviefone's Inside Movies and THR's Risky Business take a look at what the future holds for the blockbuster.
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June 1, 2010
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).