DVD Collectibles: (1/31)Warner Home Video has finally seen fit to release the classic "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942), starring Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead and Ray Collins, to DVD. Orson Welles directed this brilliant, moving portrayal of an aristocratic American family in what many critics consider a masterpiece equal to "Citizen Kane." Based on a novel by Booth Tarkington, the drama begins in the 1870s when the Amberson family is at the height of its wealth and prestige. But the day arrives when all the Ambersons are stunned by the truth of their financial ruin. The film was severely edited by the studio, altering Welles' intended ending. This is the first stand-alone DVD version of the film (it was previously part of a special Amazon "Citizen Kane" Deluxe Set ... Universal has released the beloved "To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition" (1962), starring Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham, Richard Hale and Frank Overton, in a new two-disc set. Extras include a digital copy, "A Conversation With Gregory Peck," "Fearful Symmetry: The Making of To Kill a Mockingbird," Academy Award Best Actor acceptance speech, American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, excerpt from tribute to Gregory Peck, "Scout Remembers," commentary by director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula, "100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics." In both DVD and Blu-ray versions. A must for every collection.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (1/31)There's plenty of interesting 'B' matter this week, beginning with the great and famous Takeshi Kitano's "Outrage: Way of the Yakuza" (2010), another of the director's moral tales about the state of crime and punishment (on both sides of the law) in Japan. When a boss of the notorious Japanese crime syndicate (just as likely in today's modern world to be playing the stock market as well as shaking down pachinko parlors) issues an order to his associates to keep a rival gang in line, the task falls on Otomo (Kitano), who soon instigates a play for power that creates an all-out gang war, illustrating the brutal fate that befalls anyone who dares to violate the structured ways of the Yakuza. From Magnolia Home Entertainment/Magnet Label ... In "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" (2009), four friends set out on an everyday errand and end up in a fight for their lives when they discover the body of a dead hooker in their trunk. Led by sexy, impulsive Badass, her distant twin sister Geek, their bible-thumping friend Goody Two Shoes and chaotic rock star pal Junkie, the group must put aside their differences to dispose of the body as they face off against persistent police, a sleazy motel manager, chainsaw-wielding triads and a brutal serial killer. All while being followed by the mysterious Cowboy Pimp, who wants to claim the corpse for himself. From IFC ... In "Spiderhole" (2010), starring Emma Griffiths Malin, Reuben-Henry Biggs, Amy Noble and George Maguire, squatters in an empty flat in London face off against a malevolent force that sets to work ridding the house of its unwanted residents. From IFC ... A retired CIA operative is paired with a young FBI agent to unravel the mystery of a senator's murder, with all signs pointing to a Soviet assassin, in the thriller "The Double" (2011), starring Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Martin Sheen and Odette Yustman. From Image Entertainment.
In "Undocumented" (2010), an aspiring documentary film director and his crew set out to record firsthand the injustices and inequities faced by those trying to make it into the U.S. from Mexico, but what they encounter is a horror worse than any they had imagined: they're captured by a gang of sadistic radicals in New Mexico. From IFC ... Two teenage girls fall in love after meeting at a t.A.T.u concert and are swept into a dangerous world of obsession, drug abuse and murder in "You and I" (2011), starring Mischa Barton and Shantel VanSanten. From Lionsgate ... A local homicide detective teams up with a cop from New York City to investigate a series of unsolved murders in the Texas bayous in "Texas Killing Fields" (2011), starring Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jessica Chastain. From Anchor Bay ... "Chalet Girl" (2011), starring Felicity Jones and Ed Westwick, is a comedy about a tomboy champion skateboarder who gets a job slinging burgers at a plush ski chalets in the Austrian Alps and becomes a snowboarder, vying for a snowboard championship and the affections of her boss' handsome son. From IFC.
For the Family: (1/31)"Treasure Buddies" (2012) is the sixth film in the Buddies franchise with the talking canine superstars Rosebud, B-Dawg, Budderball, Buddha and Mudbud on a journey to mysterious Egypt in search of the greatest treasure known to animalkind, the legendary Cat's Eye jewel, from the lost treasure of Cleocatra. Available as a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and as a single DVD from Disney ... "Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears ... And More African Folktales" contains five stories in the by-now classic Scholastic Storybook animated style: "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears," "Hot Hippo," "The Village of Round and Square Houses," "Not So Fast Songololo" and "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters." From Scholastic Storybook Treasures.
Special Interest: (1/31)PBS Distribution has released two "Frontline" documentaries: "Frontline: A Perfect Terrorist" (2012), about what has been called the most spectacular terror attack since 9/11. On the night of Nov. 26, 2008, 10 men armed with guns and grenades launched an assault on Mumbai with military precision that left 166 dead. India quickly learned the attackers belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group associated with Pakistan's secretive intelligence agency, the ISI. But what wasn't known then was that a Lashkar/ISI operative had been casing the city for two years, developing a blueprint for terror. His name was David Coleman Headley, and he'd been chosen for the job because he had the perfect cover: He was an American citizen. "Frontline" and ProPublica reporter Sebastian Rotella team up to learn more about Headley and his rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter. Also available is "Frontline: The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela" (2011), a two-hour biography with interviews, unique photos, and rare archival film, $24.99 ... "Thunder Soul" is a 2010 documentary in which alumni from Houston's storied Kashmere High School Stage Band return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for their beloved band leader who turned the struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. From Lionsgate.
"Real Steel," "The Whistleblower," "50/50," "Paranormal Activity 3" and "Restless." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles:The highlight of the week is the Blu-ray debut of the first Academy Award-winning film:William Wellman's 1927 "Wings." Meticulously restored, this World War I drama explores the devastating effects of war through the story of two men who go off to battle and the woman they both leave behind. Featuring groundbreaking aerial dogfights and epic battle sequences, "Wings" is both a cinematic spectacle and a compelling story of love and sacrifice that effectively dramatizes the bitter wages of war. Because the original negative was lost decades ago, contemporary audiences have only seen "Wings" in a compromised form. The restoration process used a duplicate negative housed in the Paramount archive, but despite this being the best element available, the negative was beset by damage, including entire reels that were strafed with scratches and printed-in nitrate deterioration that was literally eating into the edges of the frames. Using state-of-the-art digital tools normally used to create special effects, the film was meticulously restored frame-by-frame. Original tints and effects, such as colors that were embossed onto the film strip to give flames and explosions a fiery look, were also digitally recreated based on a detailed continuity script that still existed and tinting/toning guides from the period. For this release, the film's original paper score was procured from the Library of Congress and recorded with a full orchestra. Like many silent film scores, the music was a combination of original composition, popular songs of the period and themes from classical music. From Paramount.
Blu-ray Collectibles:Another round of MGM must-see fan favorites arrive on Blu-ray for the first time this week from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. There's two Woody Allen films: "Annie Hall" (1977), starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts; and "Manhattan" (1979), starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway and Meryl Streep. There's three Alfred Hitchcock thrillers: "Notorious" (1946), starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains; "Rebecca" (1940) starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders and Judith Anderson; and "Spellbound" (1945), starring; Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov and Leo G. Carroll. And one smashing comedy/social satire from Billy Wilder: "The Apartment: Collector's Edition" (1960), starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray and Ray Walston.
From TV to Video:"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season One" (1979-80) is a six-disc set with all 21 episodes, $24.98 from Universal ... "Mannix: The Sixth Season" (1972-73) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $54.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns: Season 4" (2011) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes, $29.98 from Lionsgate
Buzzin' the 'B's:In "Essential Killing" (2010), directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, Vincent Gallo gives an award-winning performance as Mohammed, a Taliban fighter captured by the U.S. military in Afghanistan after a violent desert attack goes awry. While being transported to a secret detention center in Europe, the vehicle crashes and he suddenly finds himself free. But his newfound freedom quickly disappears as he is relentlessly pursued in a snow-blanketed forest by an army that does not "officially" exist. Co-stars Emmanuelle Seigner. From Tribeca Film/New Video ... When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to "civilize" the last remaining member -- a female -- of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy in "The Woman" (2011) from The Bloody Disgusting Selects/Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Tales of an Ancient Empire" (2011), starring Kevin Sorbo, Michael Pare, Melissa Ordway, Whitney Able, Sarah Ann Schultz, the world's greatest warriors are summoned to save the peaceful kingdom of Abelar, which is threatened by a demon sorceress and an army of vampires. From Lionsgate ... When a tycoon's daughter is found dead of a cocaine overdose after being rescued from abduction, he stops at nothing to avenge her death, turning to his trusted bodyguard to seek out the perpetrators and exact revenge in the exceptional 2011 Hong Kong actioner "Punished," starring Anthony Wong, Richie Jen, Janice Man, Maggie Cheung. From Indomina Releasing ... An innocent man goes for the ride of his life after picking up a beautiful hitchhiker, ending up entangled in a web of love, lies and deceit in "Dirty Little Trick" (2011), starring Michael Madsen, Dean Cain, Christie Burson. From Maya Entertainment ... and finally, there's the "Lethal Ladies Collection, Vol. 2," with three Roger Corman cult classics: "The Arena," "Cover Girl Models" and "Fly Me." From Shout! Factory.
On the Indie Front:Ezra Miller, Jesse McCartney, Zoe Kravitz, Amy Sedaris, Campbell Scott star in "Beware the Gonzo" (2011), about a wild-eyed rebel journalist ousted from his prep school's newspaper who starts an underground paper, The Gonzo Files, to give voice to all the school's misfits. From Tribeca Film/New Video ... On Christmas Eve, a hit man enters a church to confess his sins. Through a series of flashbacks, the Confessor's journey is revealed, laying out what has brought him to this moment and leading to a climax where his chance at ultimate redemption hangs in the balance in "The Confession" (2011), starring Keifer Sutherland, John Hurt. From Flatiron Film/New Video ... In "The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom" (2011), starring Macha Grenon, Gil Bellows and Julia Stone, an average suburban 11-year-old in 1976, praying for adolescence to arrive, discovers her whole life has been a lie and runs away in search of her true identity, forcing her adoptive mother to break out of the carefully constructed "truth" she's been clinging to and go after her. From Osiris Entertainment.
Special Interest:There's three very interesting documentaries this week:
From the Big Screen:
"The Ides of March," "Abduction" and "Courageous." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (1/17)Two outings by Robin Williams -- featuring his early dramatic roles -- and three releases by The Criterion Collection highlights this weeks slate of collectibles. Williams stars as a dedicated teacher broaching the middle-class stability of a private school in Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society (1989), starring Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Norman Lloyd and Kurtwood Smith. Bonus features include "Dead Poets: A Look Back" featuring interview footage with director Peter Weir, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and others; "Raw Takes"; "Master of Sound: Alan Splet" interviews with David Lynch and Peter Weir; "Cinematography Master Class" intensive and inspirational lighting workshop with cinematographer John Seale; commentary by Weir, Seale and writer Tom Schulman. In Barry Levinson's Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Williams plays an unorthodox and irreverent DJ who shakes things up when he is assigned to the U.S. Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam. The film co-stars Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl and J.T. Walsh. Extras include a production diary (five features): "How the Movie Came to Be, Actor Improv"; "Music of the Movie";" Origin of the Good Morning, Vietnam Sign-On"; "Shooting in Thailand & Overview of the Film a Year Later;" raw monologues. Both films are making their Blu-ray debut from Disney.
From Criterion comes Belle de jour (1967), a surreal and erotic late-sixties daydream from provocateur for the ages Luis Bunuel; it's an examination of desire and fetishistic pleasure (its characters' and its viewers'), as well as a gently absurdist take on contemporary social mores and class divisions. The porcelain perfection of Catherine Deneuve hides a cracked interior in the actress's most iconic role: Severine, a chilly Paris housewife by night, a bordello prostitute by day. Fantasy and reality commingle in this burst of cinematic transgression, which was one of Bunuel's biggest hits. A new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... "Traffic" (2000) examines the question of drugs as politics, business, and lifestyle. With an innovative, color-coded cinematic treatment distinguishing his interwoven stories, Steven Soderbergh embroils viewers in the lives of a newly appointed drug czar and his family, a West Coast kingpin's wife, a key informant, and police officers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film, delivering a complex and nuanced take on this issue of such great international importance without sacrificing any energy or suspense, is a contemporary classic, and the winner of four Oscars, for best director, best screenplay, best editing, and best supporting actor for Benicio del Toro ... Eclipse Series 31: Three Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin highlights the work of filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin, widely known for his early-seventies collaborations (including "Tout va bien") with Jean-Luc Godard in the Dziga Vertov Group, established his singular voice with this trio of accomplished, fascinating, and nontraditional documentaries, made in Southern California after his relocation there. "Poto and Cabengo" (1978) is a compelling visit with two young San Diego twins who have invented their own language. "In Routine Pleasures" (1986), Gorin conjoins the story of a group of model train enthusiasts in Del Mar with a meditation on the work of critic and painter Manny Farber. And "My Crasy Life" (1992) is an expectation-shredding exploration of a Samoan gang in Long Beach. With these three films, Gorin excavates hidden communities that are a part of everyday American life, and shows himself to be a major chronicler of what is eccentric and beautiful in our common culture.
From TV to Video: (1/17)"Merlin: The Complete Third Season" (2010) i a five-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 BBC Home Entertainment ... "Sliders: The Fifth and Final Season" (1999-2000) is a four-disc set with 18 episodes, $34.98 from Universal ... "Waking the Dead: The Complete Season Six" (2007) is a three-disc set 12 episodes, $39.98 BBC Home Entertainment.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (1/17)The "Age of Heroes" (2011), starring Sean Bean, Danny Dyer, James D'Arcy, is a WWII action-thriller about the formation of Ian Fleming's (yes, James Bond's Ian Fleming) 30 Commando unit -- a precursor to the elite U.K. SAS assault forces -- that operated smash-and-grab missions during the war. From Entertainment One ... In "Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star" (2011), starring Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Stephen Dorff, Bucky (Swardson) is a buck-toothed Mid-Western small town grocery bagger, going nowhere in life -- until he discovers that his conservative parents were once adult film stars. Armed with the belief that he has found his destiny, Bucky packs up and heads out to L.A., hoping to follow in his parents' footsteps -- despite certain shortcomings. From Sony ... In "Dirty Girl" (2010), starring Juno Temple, Jeremy Dozier, Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy, Dwight Yoakam, Mary Steenburgen, it's 1987 and Danielle, the high school "Dirty Girl," is running away. With her is chubby, gay Clarke, a bag of flour called Joan and a Walkman full of glorious '80s tunes. From The Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay ... A pair of whacked-out old men douse women -- lured to their decrepit mansion via the Internet -- in nitroglycerine for illicit terror experiments in "Cold Sweat" (201O -- Argentina), starring Facundo Espinosa, Marina Glezer, Camila Velasco. From Dark Sky Films/MPI Media.
On the Indie Front: (1/17)"Division III: Football's Finest" (2011), starring Andy Dick, Adam Carolla, Will Sasso, is a football black comedy about a psycho coach with a suspect record (the attempted murder of a Pee Wee football team) who takes over the Pulham Blue Cocks when the team's coach drops dead on the sidelines. From Image Entertainment ... "KickOff" (2011), starring Duncan MacInne, Ian Sharp, Jason Maza, Nathan Clough, Jay Brown, Stephen Hoo, is a British comedy set in the world of 5-a-side footie (soccer to you Yanks) that finds a macho football team meeting their match when they're forced to compete against a team comprised entirely of gay men in their Sunday soccer league. From Wolfe Video.
Foreign: (1/17)In the "Special Treatment" (2010 -- France), the darkly erotic drama from cult filmmaker Jeanne Labrune, Isabelle Huppert stars as a high-class prostitute named Alice who serves up sexual fantasies for her clientele, from schoolgirl innocence to S&M. Fed up with the seamy underbelly of French masculinity, Alice crosses paths with Xavier, a neurotic psychoanalyst facing a marriage crisis. The two quickly realize their professions share a thing or two in common as they navigate the overlapping worlds of psychotherapy and sex therapy. From First Run Features ... "Mysteries of Lisbon" (2011 -- Portugal) is one of the final works by legendary filmmaker Raul Ruiz. This acclaimed adaptation of the epic Portuguese novel tells a sweeping tale of romance, war, passion and betrayal. Adapted from the 19th Century novel by Portugal's Camilo Castelo Branco, the film covers three decades, four countries and a host of rich characters -- all sparked by one man's search for the truth. From Music Box Films.
For the Family: (1/17)It's a wild ride with Thomas and his friends on the Island of Sodor as they deliver some curious cargo -- from giraffes and cows to birds and bunnies and more in the four episodes of "Thomas & Friends: Curious Cargo" (2012), $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.
Special Interest: (1/17)"Bill Moyers: Amazing Grace" (2011) is the inspiring, Emmy-winning PBS documentary that traces the history of the beloved hymn. Legendary journalist Bill Moyers explores the song's origins and enduring power through 24 captivating performances including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Jessye Norman, Marion Williams, the Boys Choir of Harlem, and more. From Acorn Media ... The award-winning investigative documentary "Enemies of the People" (2009 -- U.K./Cambodia) presents exclusive interviews, confessions, revelations, and chilling footage behind Cambodia's "killing fields" of the 1970s. From Old Street Films ... The critically-acclaimed one-man show "Thurgood" (2011) features Laurence Fishburne in his Emmy-nominated performance as the legendary civil rights pioneer and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as he tells audiences his story. From HBO ... With the unexpected death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and the succession of his untried 28-year-old son Kim Jong Un, the threat of nuclear escalation looms once again. Media speculation of the heir is anything but optimistic; some predict that he may be even more dangerous than his father. Bloomberg News suggests that Kim's death may prompt his son to accelerate nuclear weapons development and menace his neighbors in a show of force (and with other nine nations who also have nuclear weapons on alert, resulting in 23,000 weapons worldwide, North Korea certainly is not the only one ensuring fear in the world). The timely documentary "The Forgotten Bomb" (2010) focuses on gathering a comprehensive perspective of the various sides of the nuclear weapons debate, while surveying the nuclear weapons cycle from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to its continuing effect on the world today. When the Cold War ended, the generations that lived through it were relieved to finally vanquish the specter of a mushroom cloud from their minds. But today, thousands of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia remain on high-alert, still poised to destroy the planet. From Cinema Libre Studio.
Criterion Celebrates 'Harold and Maude' in April(January 15) Iconoclastic American filmmakers will be in the spotlight in April when The Criterion Collection presents the Hal Ashby's very wicked "Harold and Maude," the whimsical cult classic featuring cinema's ultimate May-December romance; "¡Alambrista!," the long unavailable debut feature from American independent director Robert M. Young about an illegal immigrant's travails in the U.S.; and a collection of important avant-garde works by the great Hollis Frampton, never before on home video. April will also see "The Organizer," a gripping tale of a union strike in early-20-century Italy by Mario Monicelli ("Big Deal on Madonna Street"), and Criterion's first title by the great Yasujiro Ozu to come to Blu-ray, the magnificent "Late Spring." And, this month's Eclipse release focuses on the pearls of the Czech New Wave with five films from the 1960s -- by Vera Chytilova, Jaromil Jires, Jirí Menzel, Jan Nemec, and Evald Schorm. Sometimes rollicking, sometimes sobering, these movies are politically provocative and immensely entertaining. Read more here.
"Moneyball," "Killer Elite," "What's Your Number?" and "Higher Ground." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (1/10)The much-anticipated release of "Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season" (2011), a five-disc set with 12 episodes for $59.99, heads up this week's collectibles. Steve Buscemi stars as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson -- the powerful and corrupt boss of Atlantic City during the decadent and violent "roaring" 1920s. The Great War was over, Wall Street was about to boom, women got the vote and everything was for sale, even the World Series. The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City was the town's treasurer, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Buscemi), a political fixer and backroom dealer who was equal parts politician and criminal and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day's drive from Chicago, the town was a hub of activity for rumrunners. And Nucky Thompson took full advantage. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes that delve into the creation of the 300-foot Boardwalk set, explore the main characters, reveal Atlantic City as it was in the 1920s and present an insider's view of the show through commentaries from the actors, directors and producers. On Blu-ray and DVD from HBO.
From TV to Video: (1/10)"Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1994-2003" is a three-disc set with seven Columbo TV feature movies, $26.98 from Universal ... "Dennis the Menace Season Four" (1962-63) is a five-disc set with all 38 episodes from the final season, $29.93 from Shout! Factory ... "Diary of a Single Mom" (2011 -- TV), directed by Robert Townsend and starring Monica Calhoun, Valery M. Ortiz, Janice Lynde, Leon, Richard Roundtree, Billy Dee Williams, chronicles the seemingly endless challenges and ultimate successes of three urban women struggling to create lives that not only sustain them and their extended families, but also inspire others toward self-determination and compassion in their own lives. From Image Entertainment ... "Doctor Who Classic: The Android Invasion" stars Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), $24.98 from BBC/Warner ... "Doctor Who: Invasion of the Dinosaurs" features Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), from BBC/Warner ... "Hawaii Five-0: The Twelfth and Final Season" (1979-80) is a five-disc set with 20 episodes, $54.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "Primeval: Volume Three" (2011) is a four-disc set of the complete U.K. seasons four and five, $59.98 from BBC Home Entertainment.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (1/10)"1911" (2011), directed by Jackie Chan, details a key moment in modern Chinese history -- the fall of the Qing Dynasty -- and the violent rebellion that brought it down. Stars Jackie Chan, Li Bing Bin, Winston Chao, Joan Chen, Jaycee Chan. From Well Go USA ... In "Sinners and Saints" (2010), starring Johnny Strong, Kevin Phillips, Costas Mandylor, Sean Patrick Flanery, Bas Rutten, Clifford "Method Man" Smith, Kim Coates, Louis Mandylor, Jolene Blalock, Tom Berenger, the leader of an elite "Street Crimes" task force squad in New Orleans must not only cope with the death of his young son and the abandonment of his wife, he must deal with the ambush and the vicious murder of his partner and a baffling gangland homicide case that points toward one of his childhood friends, a security contractor just back from the Middle East. From Anchor Bay Entertainment ... In the direct-to-video "The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption" (2012), starring Victor Webster, Ron Perlman, Billy Zane, the Scorpion King's kingdom has fallen, he's lost his queen to plague, and he's now an assassin for hire; he must defend a kingdom from an evil tyrant and his ghost warriors for the chance to regain the power and glory he once knew. From Universal ... Arising out of the horror of the Spanish Civil War, a candidate for canonization is investigated by a journalist who discovers his own estranged father had a deep, dark and devastating connection to the saint's life in "There Be Dragons" (2011), directed by Roland Joffe and starring Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley, Dougray Scott. From Fox ... "Answer This!" (2010), starring Christopher Gorham, Arielle Kebbel, Nelson Franklin, Chris Parnell, is a comedy set in the world of competitive bar trivia, centering around a group of frustrated academics who finally get a shot at beer, women and nerdy redemption when they enter a citywide trivia tournament. From Lionsgate.
On the Indie Front: (1/10)"A Mile In His Shoes" (2011) stars Luke Schroder, Dean Cain, George Canyon in a family-friendly film about Mickey Tussler, an autistic pitcher in the 1940s, who joins a minor-league baseball team and has a profound effect on the team and manager Arthur "Murph" Murphy over the course of a season. From Nassar Entertainment.
For the Family: (1/10)"The Garfield Show: Dinosaurs and Other Animal Adventures" (2012) features six animal-themed episodes, $14.93 from Vivendi Entertainment ... "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Series 2, Season 1" is a four-disc set with 24 episodes and fan favorite five-part miniseries "Operation Dragonfire," from Shout! Factory.
Special Interest: (1/10)In "An Idiot Abroad" (2011), Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, co-creators of "The Office" and "Extras," send their friend Karl Pilkington around the world ... against his will. Karl thinks he's visiting the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but along the way the "Little Englander" must endure camel rides, jungle treks, tribal customs and local oddballs while dining on toads and testicle and searching for a clean bathroom. Will this be the trip of a lifetime, or the vacation from hell? And will Karl even know the difference? From BBC Home Entertainment ... There's three NOVA documentaries this week: "NOVA: Deadliest Volcanoes" (2011), in which NOVA travels with scientists who are attempting to discover how likely volcanoes are to erupt, when eruptions might happen and how deadly they could prove to be; "NOVA: Iceman Murder Mystery" (2011), in which defrosts the ultimate time capsule -- 5,000-year-old Otzi, the mummified corpse pulled from an Alpine glacier nearly two decades ago. Undergoing an autopsy like none other, scientists attempt to unravel more mysteries from this ancient mummy; combining the latest telescope images with dazzling CGI, "NOVA: Finding Life Beyond Earth" (2011) immerses audiences in the sights and sounds of alien worlds, while top astrobiologists explain how these places are changing how we think about the potential for life in our solar system. $24.99 each from PBS Distribution.
"Contagion," "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," "The Guard," "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "Shark Night." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (1/03)The highlight this week is the HBO version of "Mildred Pierce" (2011), in a two-disc set The Emmy-winning HBO miniseries stars Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce, Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Mare Winningham, Hope Davis and Brian F. O'Byrne. Directed by Todd Haynes ("Far From Heaven"), "Mildred Pierce" is based on James M. Cain's classic 1941 novel of pride and status in the middle class. It tells the story of Mildred, a struggling single mother in Depression-era Los Angeles determined to fulfill the demands of her eldest daughter Veda, while surpassing societal expectations and the duplicity of the men in her life. With a talent for baking and a tremendous work ethic, Mildred sets her sights on becoming a restauranteur. Along the way she finds unexpected romance with Monty Beragon, a charming and wealthy idler, but personal tragedy soon strikes and Mildred faces the ultimate betrayal of love by her gifted but haughty daughter. $39.99. Extras: Commentaries from Haynes, co-writer Jon Raymond and production designer Mark Friedberg (who created the historically accurate setting); a menu-based "Series Index" and "Previews" of each of the five parts. Also available as a DVD/Blu-ray Collector's Edition for $52.99, which adds "Inside the Episode" pieces and the behind-the-scenes featurette "The Making of Mildred Pierce." From HBO.
From TV to Video: (1/03)"Dr. Willoughby" (1999) stars Joanna Lumley as Donna Sinclair, an actress desperately clinging to her fading career in a sleazy daytime soap in which she stars as competent and compassionate Dr. Willoughby; off-screen, Sinclair is a holy terror -- conniving, vain, and utterly insincere. $29.99 from Acorn Media ... "Justified: The Complete Second Season" (2011) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $45.99; also available on Blu-ray Disc, $55.99; from Sony ... "Man in a Suitcase, Set 2" (1968) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Royal Pains: Season Three -- Volume One" (2011) is a two-disc set with the first half of Season 1, $26.98 from Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (1/03)Gothic horror meets industrial-strength cleaning products in this spine-tingler about a pill-popping cleaning service employee and a sprawling mansion with secrets of its own in "Removal" (2010), starring Billy Burke, Mark Kelly, Oz Perkins, Kelly Brook, Emma Caulfield, Elliott Gould. From Lionsgate ... "Puncture" (2011) is a David and Goliath law drama about a drug-addicted lawyer who takes on a health supply corporation while battling his own personal demons. Stars Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Marhsall Bell, Vinessa Shaw, Michael Biehn, Jesse L. Martin. From Millennium Entertainment.
For the Family: (1/03)"A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventure" (2011) is an animated tale that follows Sammy the turtle's incredible 50-year journey across the world as he meets new friends, including his best friend Ray, finds his true love Shelly and discovers how important it is to protect the earth we live on. Voices of Melanie Griffith, Jenny McCarthy, Kathy Griffin, Tim Curry, Anthony Anderson, Stacy Keach. $19.95 from StudioCanal and Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Barney: I Love My Friends" (2012), Barney takes his friends on a super-dee-duper adventure that shows just what it means to be a friend, $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... Love and friendship take center stage in these five episodes of the popular pre-school series, "Angelina Ballerina: Sweet Valentine" (2012), $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.
Special Interest: (1/03)A resilient lioness in Botswana's Okavango Delta embarks on an epic journey of survival to protect her three cubs in "The Last Lions" (2011), a nature documentary from National Geographic and award-winning filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The story unfolds against the backdrop of the stark reality that lions are vanishing from the wild; in the past 50 years, lion populations have plummeted from 450,000 to as few as 20,000. Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons. From Virgil Films and Entertainment ... Last year, the Obama administration set new records for detaining and deporting immigrants who were inside the country illegally. The government plans to best those numbers in 2011, removing more than 400,000 people. "Frontline: Lost in Detention: The Hidden World of Immigration Enforcement" (2011) is a penetrating look at Obama's vastly expanded immigration net, exploring the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program and going inside the hidden world of immigration detention. $24.99 from PBS Distribution ... "The Windsors: From George to Kate" (2011)is an absorbing documentary that traces the recent history of the British monarchy from King George VI through Prince William's recent wedding. Provides a window into the captivating lives of the British Royal Family. $29.99 from Acorn Media.
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February 1, 2012
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).