From TV to Video: (12/27)"Archer: The Complete Second Season" (2011) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.98 from Fox ... "The Borgias: The First Season" (2011) is a three-disc set with all nine episodes, $49.99 from Showtime Networks/CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Series 1" (2010) is a single disc with six episodes featuring the misadventures of an American office temp and convenient liar (David Cross) who bluffs his way into a senior sales job heading up the London office of the new energy drink Thunder Muscle; $24.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Jersey Shore Uncensored: Season Four" (2011) is a four-disc with all 12 uncensored episodes, $26.99 from MTV/Paramount ... "Shameless: The Complete First Season" (2011) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $39.98 from Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (12/27)The gruesome antics continue in the unrated version of the direct-to-video "Hostel: Part III" (2011): While attending a bachelor party in Las Vegas, four friends are enticed by two sexy escorts to join them at a private party way off the Strip, where they find themselves the subjects of a perverse game of torture. Stars Brian Hallisay, Kip Pardue, John Hensley, Chris Coy, Skyler Stone, Sarah Habel. From Sony ... Based on Graham Greene's chilling 1938 novel, "Brighton Rock" (2010) follows the nasty adventures of young antihero Pinkie -- a cunning charmer trying to make his mark on the vicious gangland of Brighton. When a young waitress stumbles on evidence that links him and his gang to a revenge killing, he draws her into a conned romance to keep the loose end tied up. Stars Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt. From IFC Films ... "The Pool Boys" (2011), starring Matthew Lillard, Rachelle Lefevre, Efren Ramirez, Brett Davern, Tom Arnold, follows a pool boy and his friends who, tired of working dead end jobs, scheme to get rich quick by turning an empty mansion into a home for the hottest escorts in Beverly Hills. From Entertainment One ... A lethal, ex-Special Forces soldier (Dolph Lundgren) finds himself transported back to a mystical age of sorcery, dragons and savage hand-to-hand combat to defeat the forces of darkness and fulfill an ancient prophecy in "In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds" (2011). From Fox.
A thirtysomething party animal famous for his lavish summer theme parties at his father's swanky Hamptons pad organizes one last blow-out before his circle of friends disbands and his father sells the estate in "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" (2011), starring Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Michelle Bort. From Sony ... Months after a zombie plague has wiped out 90 percent of the American population, a small group of survivors fight their way cross-country to a rumored refuge on the island of Catalina in "Zombie Apocalypse" (2011), starring Ving Rhames, Taryn Manning, Leslie-Ann Brandt. From The Asylum ... "Dispatch" (2011), starring Michael Bershad, Bruce Bohne, follows one turbulent night in the life of a successful screenwriter-turned-overnight Hollywood limousine night dispatcher. From Monarch Home Entertainment ... In "Game Time" (2011), starring Phil Haus, Jason Hurt, Maria DiDomenico, two friends find themselves as the top contenders in a basketball championship in New York City. From Lionsgate ... In "The Hunters" (2011), starring Steven Waddington, Tony Becker, Dianna Agron, Terence Knox, a group of friends decide to spend time in the one place that was forbidden to them as kids -- the woods, where they come upon what they believe is an abandoned fort, until they find the walls dripping with blood and decomposing bodies lining the floor. From Lionsgate.
Foreign: (12/27)"Love Crime" (2010 -- France), starring Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas -- the final film from director Alain Corneau -- pits the fiery talents of Sagnier and Scott Thomas against each other in a deliciously twisted tale of office politics that turn, literally, cut-throat. When Christine, a powerful executive (Scott Thomas), brings on a naive young ingenue, Isabelle (Sagnier), as her assistant, she delights in toying with her naivete and teaching her hard lessons in a ruthless professional philosophy. But when the protege's ideas become tempting enough for Christine to pass one as her own, she underestimates Isabelle's ambition and cunning-- and the ground is set for all out war. From IFC Films.
Special Interest: (12/27)"Jane's Journey" (2011) It would be hard to name anyone who has had more of an impact in the realm of animal research and wildlife conservation than Jane Goodall, whose 45 year study of wild chimpanzees in Africa is legendary. This documentary travels with her across several continents, from her childhood home in England, to the Gombe National Park in Tanzania where she began her groundbreaking research and where she still returns every year to enjoy the company of the chimpanzees that made her famous. Also features Pierce Brosnan, Kofi Annan, Angelina Jolie. $27.95 from First Run Features.
From the Big Screen This Week:December 20-26: "Midnight in Paris," "Dolphin Tale," "Warrior," "Straw Dogs," "Colombiana," "Margin Call" and "Glee: The Concert Movie." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
From TV to Video:(12/20)"Futurama Volume 6" (2010) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.98 from Fox ... "One Tree Hill: The Complete Eighth Season" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98. from Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's:(12/20)"Burke & Hare" (2010), directed by John Landis and starring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and Isla Fisher, is a black comedy about two 19th century grave robbers who find a lucrative business providing cadavers for an Edinburgh medical school. From IFC Films ... "Saint Nick" (2010 -- Netherlands) is a horror film that depicts the jolly old saint as a murderous bishop who kidnaped and murdered children every 32 years during a full moon on December 5. Slain by the villagers he tormented, he swears vengeance on their descendants and, centuries later, returns (with his minions) to terrorize Amsterdam. From IFC Films ... A woman who is slowly losing her sight investigates the mysterious death of her twin sister, uncovering a mysterious world overshadowed by a malignant presence -- and the disappearance of people close to her in "Julia's Eyes" (2010 -- Spain), from IFC Films. ... It's been said (but unsubstantiated) that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In "Blackthorn" (2011), Cassidy (Shepard) survived, and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the U.S. and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. However, when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal derails his plans, he is thrust into one last adventure, the likes of which he hasn't experienced since his glory days with the Sundance Kid. Stars Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... All hell breaks loose when three female hoods fail to intercept a double-cross drug shipment for their crime boss in "Catch .44" (2011), starring Forest Whitaker, Bruce Willis, Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, Deborah Ann Woll and Brad Dourif. From Anchor Bay Entertainment.
March Criterion Favors Brits(December 17) In March, the Criterion Collection will dive into some classic British cinema with two cultural titans of the 20th century with the deluxe Blu-ray or DVD box set" David Lean Directs Noe Coward," which features "In Which We Serve," "This Happy Breed," "Blithe Spirit" and "Brief Encounter," all of them marvelous, award-winning entertainments. Then, Roy Ward Baker's "A Night to Remember," the brilliant dramatization of the sinking of the Titanic, resurfaces in a new special edition, on both Blu-ray and DVD, 100 years after the monumental disaster took place. Plus, two greats from the States: D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus's fast and furious political documentary "The War Room," about the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign, on Blu-ray and DVD; and Martin Scorsese’s powerful religious drama "The Last Temptation of Christ," for the first time on Blu-ray. All this and the long unavailable, visually astounding Soviet adventure film "Letter Never Sent" in Blu-ray and DVD editions. Read more.
22 More MGM Classics Scheduled for End of December(December 19) As December comes to a close, MGM Home Entertainment will release more MGM Limited Edition Collection titles on DVD for the first time ever through their special Manufacturing-On-Demand Platform. The 22 films will be available through major online retailers and feature classics from 1953 to 1994 including performances by Hollywood’s greats – Edward G. Robinson, Susan George, Peter Fonda, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rob Lowe to name just a few. Titles include "The Magnetic Monster" (1953), "Diary of a Bachelor" (1963), "Busting" (1973), "A Small Town in Texas" (1976), "Up the Creek" (1984), "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture" (1986) and "Getting it Right" (1989). Check out the complete list of films and the press release here.
From the Big Screen This Week:December 13-19: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Fright Night," :Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (12/13)The top collectible releases this week belong to The Criterion Collection, with two offerings from very independent Japanese New Wave bad boy director Seijun Suzuki. In the jazzy gangster film "Tokyo Drifter" (1966), reformed killer Phoenix Tetsu's attempt to go straight is squashed when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. This onslaught of stylized violence and trippy colors got director Seijun Suzuki in trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who were put off by his anything-goes, in-your-face aesthetic, equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller and Nagisa Oshima. "Tokyo Drifter" is a delirious highlight of the brilliantly excessive Japanese cinema of the sixties. In a new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... When Suzuki delivered the brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece "Branded to Kill" (1967) to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired. "Branded to Kill" tells the ecstatically bent story of a yakuza assassin (Joe Shishido, the chipmunk-cheeked superstar from "Gate of Flesh") with a fetish for sniffing boiled rice who botches a job and ends up a target himself. This is Suzuki at his most extremethe flabbergasting pinnacle of his sixties pop-art aesthetic. With a new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. As is de rigueur with Criterion, both releases are loaded with extras as well as informative booklets.
From TV to Video: (12/13)"Family Guy Volume 9" (2006-07) is a three-disc set with 14 episodes, from Fox ... "Gunsmoke: Season Five, Volume Two" (1959-60) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes, $42.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "The Life & Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season" (2010) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.98 from HBO ... "Spin City: The Complete Sixth Season" (2001-02) is a four-disc set with all 22 episodes from the show's last season, $29.98 from Shout! Factory ... "Swamp People: Season Two" (2011) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes, $24.95 from A&E ... "Switched at Birth: Volume 1" (2011) is two-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.99 from Disney.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (12/13)"Tanner Hall" (2011) is a provocative peek into the private, sometimes reckless, and always scandalous world of a privileged all-girls boarding school, starring Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Amy Ferguson, Brie Larsen, Amy Sedaris, Chris Kattan, Tom Everett Scott. From Anchor Bay ... Seduced by the ghost of a Civil War soldier, whose spirit dwells in her new home, Dr. Barbara Haughton contrives to have him live again in the body of a man who died in her hospital, giving the doctor more than she bargained for in "The Undying" (2009), starring Robin Weigert, Anthony Carrigan, Jay O. Sanders, Sybil Temtchine, Wes Studi. From MTI Home Video.
Foreign: (12/13)New Video's China Lion imprint has two new releases this week: "A Beautiful Life" (2011 -- China), a melodrama about a beautiful real-estate agent who accidentally bumps into a straight-laced, lonely cop and a friendship is born -- despite the fact that she's having a tortuous affair with a married man. As the woman gradually abandons her materialistic values and falls in love with the good-hearted cop, it becomes apparent that he is suffering from a disease that is robbing him of his mental faculties; and "If You Are the One: Love and Marriage" (2010 - China), which picks up where director Feng Xiaogang's popular first romantic comedy ends: Wealthy middle-aged retiree Qin Fen and serious-minded young airline attendant Xiaoxiao enter into a trial marriage by living together full-time in a tropical villa, where they learn more about each other and what it takes to make romance blossom ... "Circumstance" (2011 -- Iran) is a provocative coming of age story that cracks open the hidden world of Iranian youth. As culture wars and politics define the country, a wealthy Iranian family struggles to contain their personal lives as their children lead a group of friends in Tehran to rebel against the constant oppression. Atafeh and Shireen's lifelong friendship has turned sexual, and they dream of escaping to Dubai, while Atafeh's brother harbors a dangerous obsession. From Lionsgate ... nspired by true events, "Champions" (2011 -- China) tells the story of China's search for the martial artist to bring their national sport of Wushu to the world during the Olympics hosted in Beijing. Competing for the honor of demonstrating the sport of Wushu on behalf of China, millions of martial artists come together to show off their strength and skills. With a chance to represent their country's national sport at the Olympics, honor is on the line for two men ... and the road to the Games is paved with hardship and heartbreak, and their journey will test their strength, skill and spirit to its limits. From Lionsgate.
Special Interest: (12/13)
From the Big Screen This Week:December 6-12: "The Help," "The Hangover Part II," "Cowboys & Aliens," "The Debt," "Point Blank" and "Mr. Popper's Penguins." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (12/6)This week's releases are highlighted by a pair of Criterion selections deserving spots on everyone's home video shelf. "Design for Living": (1933) Gary Cooper, Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins play a trio of Americans in Paris who enter into a very adult "gentleman's" agreement in this continental pre-Code comedy freely adapted by Ben Hecht from a play by Noel Coward and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. A risque relationship comedy and a witty take on creative pursuits, it concerns a commercial artist (Hopkins) unable -- or unwilling -- to choose between the equally dashing painter (Cooper) and playwright (March) she meets on a train en route to the City of Light. "Design for Living" is Lubitsch at his most adroit, an entertainment at once debonair and racy, featuring three stars at the height of their allure. New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. "The Lady Vanishes": (1938) In Alfred Hitchcock's most quick-witted and devilish comic thriller, the beautiful Margaret Lockwood, traveling across Europe by train, meets a charming spinster (May Whitty), who then seems to disappear into thin air. The younger woman turns investigator and finds herself drawn into a complex web of mystery and high adventure. Also starring Michael Redgrave, "The Lady Vanishes" remains one of the great filmmaker's purest delights. High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack.
From TV to Video: (12/6)"Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season" (2011) is a four-disc set with 10 episodes, $59.99 from HBO ... "Big Love: The Complete Collection" (2011) is a 19-disc set, $199.95 from HBO ... "Designing Women: The Complete Fifth Season" (1990-91), a four-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.95 from Shout! Factory ... "The Game -- The Fourth Season" (2011), a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "Law & Order: The Ninth Year" (1998-99), a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $49.98 from Universal ... "The Lucy Show: The Official Fifth Season" (1966-67),a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $42.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "The Simpsons Season 14" (2002-03), a four-disc set with 22 episodes, including the incredible 300th episode starring Tony Hawk and Blink-182, $49.98 from Fox.
Foreign: (12/6)In "Life, Above All" (2010 -- South Africa), starring Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane, Lerato Mvelase, just after the death of her newly-born sister, 12-year-old Chanda hears a rumor that spreads like wildfire through her small, dust-ridden village near Johannesburg that destroys her family and forces her mother to flee. Sensing that the gossip stems from prejudice and superstition, Chanda leaves home and school in search of her mother and the truth. From Sony ... "Medea" (1969 -- Italy) is Pier Paolo Pasolini's acclaimed production of the Greek tragedy, starring Maria Callas, one of the best-selling classical singers of all time, as the title character in the only dramatic film role of her life. Fully restored and re-mastered from a new 35mm film-to-tape transfer. From Entertainment One.
For the Family: (12/6)"The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Fourth Season" (2011) is a two-disc set of the "Doctor Who" spin-off children's series that follows the exploits of school friends Luke, Clyde and Rani, who team up with alien investigator Sarah Jane Smith and her trusty super-computer Mr. Smith to examine strange and mysterious events. $29.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising" (2011) is a new five-part miniseries. Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Arcee, AUTOBOT Ratchet, Bulkhead, and many others are back to "roll out" against Megatron's latest attempt to conquer Earth after he acquires a rare element that allows him mastery over life itself. $14.97 from Shout! Factory.
Special Interest: (12/6)"Bobby Fischer Against the World" (2011) is a searing portrait of a brilliant, yet troubled man -- chess prodigy Bobby Fischer -- using news clips and archival footage, as well as rare interviews with Fischer himself. From Docurama.
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January 1, 2012
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).