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More DVD News: February 2012
This Just In: 'The Descendants'
Nominated for five Academy Awards and winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, director Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray March 13. Starring , the film is the sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey of Matt King (Clooney), an indifferent husband and father of two girls who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. Read more here. Other recent announcements: "War Horse" and "We Bought a Zoo" on April 3, "Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" and "Shame" on April 17, and "Contraband" on April 24.
Set for March 13
This Week's Releases (February 28)
From the Big Screen:
"Hugo" and "Johnny English Reborn." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (2/28)
This week's highlight is "Vanya on 42nd Street"
(1994), from The Criterion Collection. In the nineties, Andre Gregory mounted a series of spare, private performances of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" in a crumbling Manhattan playhouse. These treasures of pure theater would have been lost to time had they not been captured on film, with subtle cinematic brilliance, by Louis Malle. In "Vanya on 42nd Street," a stellar cast of actors -- including Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore, Brooke Smith and George Gaynes -- embark on a full read-through of "Uncle Vanya" (adapted into English by David Mamet); the result is as memorable and emotional a screen version of Chekhov's masterpiece as one could ever hope to see. This film, which turned out to be Malle's last, is a tribute to the playwright's devastating work as well as to the creative process itself. New high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.
From TV to Video: (2/28)
"Law & Order: The Tenth Year" (1999-2000) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, from Universal ... In "Midsomer Murders, Set 19"
(2009), John Nettles stars as the unflappable DCI Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes as his earnest, efficient protege. Includes "The Made-to-Measure Murders", "The Sword of Guillaume," "Blood on the Saddle" and "The Silent Land." From Acorn Media ... "Mission: Impossible: The '89 TV Season" (1989) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes, $42.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "Top Gear 17" (2011) is a three-disc set with the complete six-episode, 17th U.K. season; from Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (2/28)
In "Bounty Hunters (aka Bail Enforcers)" (2011), a group of down-on-their-luck bounty hunters hit the jackpot one night when they pick up an informant with $100,000 on his head. When the local mob boss offer them a million dollars in exchange for the informant, they refuse, and the Mafia unleashes a trio of assassins who use all their power to bring the bounty hunters down. Stars WWE Women's Champion Trish Stratus, Boomer Phillips, Frank J. Zupancic, Joe Rafla, Andrea James Lui. From MPI Home Video ... When the boss of a ruling Hong Kong triad is arrested and executed in China for counterfeiting money, mayhem ensues as the mob's leading contenders circle the throne in "King of Triads" (2010 -- Hong Kong), starring Simon Yam and Kenneth Low. From Lionsgate ... "Answers to Nothing" (2011) is an ensemble melodrama of personal stories that intersect during the search for a missing girl in Los Angeles. Stars Dane Cook, Julie Benz, Zach Gilford, Elizabeth Mitchell, Barbara Hershey. From Lionsgate ... High school kids are pitted against a psychotic killer in a community where adults blindly refuse to see the ominous dangers right before their eyes in "Beneath the Darkness" (2011) Dennis Quaid plays Ely, the well-respected mortician of rustic Smithville Texas, where he was once a heralded high school football star. Among the kids, however, he is legendary for a more sinister reason -- rumors that his house is haunted. The truth is, this pillar of the community is actually a flesh-and-blood monster who buries his victims alive; a sociopath who befriends adults and police while openly flaunting his murderous intentions to the youths. From Image Entertainment.
On the Indie Front: (2/28)
"I Melt With You" (2011), starring Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay and Thomas Jane, centers on a foursome of men approaching middle age, burdened by the responsibilities of their respective jobs and families. To get away from their day-to-day lives, the group attends an annual weekend retreat, but it becomes increasingly clear this trip will be unlike the rest. Fueled by excess during three days of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the men are forced to take a hard look at their lives and the choices they have made. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... Four young people navigate the suburban wonderland of metro-Detroit looking for love and adventure on the last weekend of summer in "The Myth of the American Sleepover" (2010), starring Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton and Amanda Bauer. From IFC.
Mixing breathtaking action sequences with sultry romance, "Mandrill"
(2009 -- Chile) centers on Antonio (Marko Zaror), a man on a quest to avenge the murder of his parents. Working as a ruthless bounty hunter with the code name "Mandrill," Antonio's only weakness is women. When he's hired to capture a powerful Mafioso casino owner, he soon discovers that this is the man he has searched for all these years. But upon meeting Dominique, the casino owner's beautiful daughter, he begins an impossible romance that ends up being only obstacle to his revenge. From Magnolia Home Entertainment's Magnet Label.
For the Family: (2/28)
"The Angry Beavers: Season 3, Part 1" (2011) is a two-disc set with the first 13 episodes of Season 3, $19.93 from Shout! Factory ... "Justice League: Doom" (2011) finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains discover and implement the Dark Knight's "contingency plans" for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waid's much-heralded "JLA: Tower of Babel." Stars the voices of Nathan Fillion, Tim Daly and Michael Rosenbaum. Latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie. From Warner.
Special Interest: (2/28)
"Enemies of the People" (2009 -- U.K./Cambodia) is an award-winning investigative documentary that presents exclusive interviews, confessions, revelations, and chilling footage behind Cambodia's "killing fields" of the 1970s. Extras include six hours of bonus features (deleted scenes, extensive interviews, more) plus a 28-page booklet. From Old Street Films.
New Fox/MGM MOD Classics
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's manufacturing on demand program continues to expand with the newest selection of films as part of MGM's Limited Edition Collection. This month the studios will release 15 films available through major online retailers; including classics from 1951 to 1990 featuring performances by such Hollywood icons as Robert Mitchum, Frankie Avalon, Rock Hudson, Sid Haig, Brooke Shields and Kathy Bates, among many, many others. Films range from the rootin' tootin' Western "Southwest Passage" (1954) to "Savage Sisters" (1974) and "Number One with a Bullet" (1987). Read more.
This Week's Releases (February 21)
From the Big Screen:
"J. Edgar," "Tower Heist," "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Puss in Boots." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (2/21)
The highlight of the week is the release of "On the Bowery: The Lionel Rogosin Collection Volume 1," featuring three films by 1950s political filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. For songwriter Woody Guthrie, his guitar was a machine that "kills fascists." For Rogosin, the weapon of choice was a movie camera, and his first battle was waged on the streets of New York City. Exploring the underworld of the city's skid row, Rogosin developed his signature style. After months drinking with men he met on the Bowery, he worked with his buddies to write a screenplay that reflected their lives -- and then cast them as themselves. This technique of making films "from the inside" allowed Rogosin to film ordinary people caught up in universal problems. His films explored alcoholism, homelessness, racial discrimination, war, labor conflict, and poverty with great compassion and honesty. "On the Bowery" chronicles three days in the drinking life of Ray Salyer, a part-time railroad worker adrift on New York's skid row. When the film opened it 1956, it exploded on the screen. Now gloriously restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, "On the Bowery" is both an incredible document of a bygone era and a vivid and devastating portrait of addiction that resonates today just as it did when it was made. With an introduction by Martin Scorsese. Also included in the set: "Good Times, Wonderful Times," Rogosin's powerful anti-war film released during the height of Vietnam conflict, that juxtaposed footage of war atrocities from national archives with scenes of a London cocktail party; and "Out," never before released in the U.S., a documentary made by Rogosin for the United Nations that tells the plight of Hungarian refugees fleeing to Austria in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Also available on Blu-ray Disc. From Milestone/Oscilloscope Laboratories. Read more here.
Another top choice to add to your collection is The Criterion Collections release of "Anatomy of a Murder (1959), in which a virtuoso James Stewart plays a small-town Michigan lawyer who takes on a difficult case: That of a young Army lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering the local tavern owner who he believes raped his wife (Lee Remick). This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur Otto Preminger, was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sex -- more than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words. With its outstanding supporting cast -- including a young George C. Scott as a fiery prosecuting attorney and legendary real-life attorney Joseph N. Welch as the judge -- and influential jazz score by Duke Ellington, "Anatomy of a Murder" is a Hollywood landmark; it was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture. In a new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... Criterion will also release "World on a Wire (1973), a gloriously paranoid, boundlessly inventive take on the future from German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder. With dashes of Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick, as well as a flavor entirely his own, Fassbinder tells the noir-spiked tale of a reluctant action hero, Fred Stiller, a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate conspiracy. At risk? (Virtual) reality as we know it. Originally made for German television, this recently rediscovered, three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is a satiric and surreal look at the weird world of tomorrow from one of cinema's kinkiest geniuses. New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.
And don't forget the Blu-ray debut release of "Fort Apache"
(1948), directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Pedro Armendariz, Ward Bond, George O'Brien and Victor McLaglen, from Warner ... "Unforgiven 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Book" (1992), directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Jaimz Woolvett, Saul Rubinek and Frances Fisher, packed in a Blu-ray Book that contains 54 pages of behind-the-scenes filmmaking insight, rare Eastwood observations, photos, trivia and more, from Warner ... and the U.S. DVD debut of "Track 29"
(1988), director Nicolas Roeg's eccentric ride through truth and illusion. Linda Henry (Theresa Russell) is tormented by her disappointments and dreams. Unhappy with her barren marriage to surgeon Henry Henry (Christopher Lloyd), she craves something to awaken her lonely existence and becomes captivated with Martin (Gary Oldman), a hitchhiker who suddenly drops in on Linda claiming to be the child she gave up for adoption after a teenage pregnancy. They spend time together trying to forge a bond, but bizarre events and behaviors make Linda wonder about this oddity who has shown up at her doorstep. Is Martin real, or a figment of her imagination? Is he the son she gave up for adoption or a reflection of the desires she gave up so long ago? From Image Entertainment.
From TV to Video: (2/21)
"Borgia: Season One" (2011) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $39.98 from Lionsgate ... "Lawrence Welk Classic Episodes, Vol. 1-4"
(1960) is a four-disc set of classic Lawrence Welk shows. Hosted by iconic musician, accordionist and band leader Lawrence Welk -- whose style came to be known as "champagne music" -- "The Lawrence Welk Show" first aired locally in Los Angeles from 1951-55, broadcast from the Aragon Ballroom in Venice Beach. (The show debuted nationally in July 1955, taping at the Hollywood Palladium for 23 of its 27 years on air). Joining him here are his "Champagne Lady" of 22 years, Norma Zimmer, polka musician Walter "Li'l Wally" Jagiello and many more. $34.98 from Film Chest ... "Matlock: The Seventh Season" (1992-93) is a three-disc set with 14 episodes, $54.99 from Paramount ... "Nurse Jackie: Season Three" (2011) is a single-disc with 12 episodes, $39.98 from Lionsgate ... "That Show With Joan Rivers, Vol. 1-3" (1968-69) is a three-disc set of Rivers' first talk show, which aired weekdays in syndication from 1968-69 on NBC. $24.98 from Film Chest ... "Underdog: Complete Collector's Edition" (1964-67) is a nine-disc set with more than 20 hours of content, including the show's three seasons comprised of 62 four-part episodes, the original shorts featuring the characters Go Go Gophers, Klondike Kat and Commander McBragg as well as all-new extras; $69.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Weeds: Season Seven" (2011) is a single-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98 from Lionsgate.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (2/21)
"The Mighty Macs" (2011), starring Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz, Phyllis Somerville and Ellen Burstyn, is the inspiring true story of the underdog women's basketball team at tiny Immaculate College that went on -- against all odds -- to win the national championship. From Sony ... In "Retreat" (2011), starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell, three inhabitants of a remote island off the coast of Scotland are cut off from civilization when a deadly virus infects Europe. As they fight for survival, it becomes clear the virus is not the only thing they need to be concerned about. From Sony ... The stylish crime thriller "London Boulevard" (2010), starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin and Ray Winstone, is the directorial debut of William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "The Departed." An ex-con trying to make a fresh start enters into a relationship with a reclusive actress, but the star-crossed lovers run afoul of one of London's most vicious crime bosses. From Sony ... In "The Son of No One" (2011), starring Channing Tatum, Tracey Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche, Al Pacino and Jake Cherry, a second-generation cop gets in over his head when he's assigned to re-open a double homicide cold case in his Queens neighborhood. From Anchor Bay ... In "The Space Between" (2010), starring Melissa Leo, Anthony Keyvan, Brad William Henke and AnnaSophia Robb, a world-weary flight attendant, Montine McLeod, and Omar Hassan, a prematurely wise 10-year-old Pakastani- American boy, connect with one another amidst the chaos of September 11, 2001. When Montine discovers the boy's direct personal link to the terrorist attacks, she instinctively embarks on an unsanctioned cross-country road trip to help Omar discover his uncertain future. From Inception Media Group ... In "Honey 2" (2011), talented dancer Maria Ramirez is recently released from juvenile detention and finds an outlet for her passion with a new dance crew. Stars Katerina Graham, Randy Wayne with moves from some of America's top dance crews, including Quest Crew, Beat Freaks, Strikers All-Stars, Super Cr3w and Fanny Pak. From Universal ... And here's a guilty pleasure cult film from the 1970s: "ZAAT (The Blood Waters of Dr. Z)" (1971), starring Marshall Grauer, Wade Popwell, Paul Galloway, Gerald Cruse, Sanna Ringhaver and Dave Dickerson. An obsessed scientist, Dr. Kurt Leopold -- who has been scorned by his peers -- is convinced he can transform humans into fish. In his isolated backwoods laboratory, he proves his hypothesis by turning himself into a horrible, vengeful creature that is part man, part walking catfish. Armed with his mutagenic chemical compound, ZAAT, the monster is bent on revenge, determined to turn the tables on humanity by making his fishy friends the dominant species on Earth. All that stands in his way are a small town sheriff, a dedicated young biologist and a couple of swinging agents from the Inter-Nations Phenomenon Investigations Team. Restored and remastered in HD. From Film Chest on the CULTRA and HD Cinema Classics labels.
In "War of the Arrows " (2011 -- South Korea), the best archer in 17th century Korea is forced to go up against the Qing Dynasty in order to save his younger sister from Mongolian invaders. From Well Go USA.
For the Family: (2/21)
Based on the best-selling children's book by Janell Cannon, "Stellaluna"
(2012) is the fun-filled animated feature that follows a spirited young fruit bat who finds friendship, love and acceptance in the most unexpected places. $12.95 from Scholastic.
Special Interest: (2/21)
"I Ain't Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac" (2011) is a documentary on the acclaimed comedian, who died in 2008. The film unearths early footage and never-before-seen performances courtesy of Bernie's friends and family, and includes better-known work, such as the Kings of Comedy Tour, "The Bernie Mac Show" and several of his feature films, as well as fascinating behind-the-scenes memories. From Image Entertainment.
This Week's Releases (February 14)
"The Rum Diary" and "Take Shelter." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (2/14)
The highlight this week is Universal's restoration and release of "All Quiet on the Western Front"
(1930), directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Louis Wolheim and Lew Ayres in the hard-hitting, timeless masterpiece that follows a group of idealistic young men as they naively join the German Army in WWI only to find their patriotism destroyed by the brash and bloody realities of combat while on assignment at the Western Front. The film, based on the stunning novel by Erich Maria Remarque, is packed in a collectible hardcover book, which also features rare movie memorabilia reproductions, studio newsletters, posters and photos. The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack is also loaded with hours of bonus features including a rarely seen "silent" version of the film presented by the Library of Congress. Read more here.
Also due this week is "Three Outlaw Samurai"
(1964), the first film by the legendary Hideo Gosha ("Sword of the Beast"). An origin-story offshoot of a Japanese television series phenomenon of the same name, "Three Outlaw Samurai" is a classic in its own right. In it, a wandering, seen-it-all ronin (Tetsuro Tamba) becomes entangled in the dangerous business of two other samurai (Isamu Nagato and Mikijiro Hira), hired to execute a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of a corrupt magistrate. With remarkable storytelling economy and thrilling action scenes, this is an expertly mounted tale of revenge and loyalty. From The Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray.
From TV to Video: (2/14)
"Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the
"Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume Four" (1994) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes, $21.99 from Paramount ... Wardrobe" is the 2011 "Doctor Who Christmas Special," from BBC Home Entertainment ... Two other Doctor Who discs are available today from BBC: "Doctor Who: The Sensorites," with the First Doctor (William Hartnell), and "Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani Special Edition," with the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) ... "Family Matters: The Complete Second Season" (1990-91) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Ghost Hunters International Season 2: Part 1" (2011) is a three-disc set with 13 episode, $24.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Storage Wars: Volume 2" (2011) is a single-disc with 14 episodes, $19.95 from A&E.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (2/14)
"Ocean Heaven" (2011) stars Jet Li -- in his first dramatic role -- as Wang, a maintenance man at an Ocean Park-style water theme park, who lives with his 20-year-old autistic son; when Wang discovers he has terminal cancer and only a matter of months left to live, he must help his son assimilate into normal society, or risk him being incarcerated in a hellish mental asylum. From Well Go USA ... "The Mortician" (2011), starring Edward Furlong, Method Man, Dash Mihok, Wendell Pierce and Blake Michael, is an urban thriller about an inner city mortician whose life is changed when a woman's body arrives at his table and stirs up memories of his past while dealing with a young boy hiding in the morgue, on the run from his father, who wants him dead. From Lionsgate ... On the Eve of D-Day, two Allied commandos sent to destroy a German gun installation uncover a secret occult lair where the Nazis are hiding a deadly she-demon, whom they plan to use to turn the tide of the war in "The Devil's Rock" (2011), starring Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland and Gina Varela. From Entertainment One ... "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within" (2010) is an exciting thriller from Brazil, set in the sprawling slum that surrounds Rio de Janeiro that is one of the most dangerous places on earth. As the head of Rio's Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE), Captain Nascimento has seen his share of intense situations. When a BOPE mission to stop a jail riot ends in the violent death of a gang leader, Nascimento finds himself accused of a massacre ... but the citizens of Rio, tired of the crime and drugs that plague their city, embrace him as a national hero. Brazil's official submission for Best Foreign Picture in the 2012 Academy Awards.
On the Indie Front: (2/14)
"All Things Fall Apart" (2011), starring 50 Cent, Mario Van Peebles, Lynn Whitfield and Ray Liotta, and directed by Van Peebles, is a drama centered around a promising football running back during his senior year in college; from Image Entertainment
... "Swinging With the Finkels" (2011), starring Martin Freeman, Mandy Moore, Jonathan Silverman, Melissa George, Angus Deayton, Paul Chowdhry, Daisy Beaumont and Jerry Stiller, is a comedy about a suburban couple who decide to shake up their marriage by "swinging" with another couple. From Freestyle Digital Media ... When three married couples trying to spice up their marriages go on a retreat at a tranquil Malibu estate run by sexy psychologist, Dr. Jalen Masters, their vows are sorely tested in "The Marriage Chronicles" (2012), starring Vivica Fox, Jazsmin Lewis, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Mel Jackson, Terri J. Vaughn, Persia White and Clifton Powell. From Entertainment One.
"Mozart's Sister" (2010 -- France), starring Marie Feret, David Moreau, Marc Barbe, Delphine Chuillot and Clovis Fouin, is a gorgeous, music-filled tale of the early life of Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart, Wolfgang's overshadowed older sister and a musical prodigy in her own right. An accomplished singer, harpsichordist and violinist, Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart (Marie Feret) is originally her family's featured performer. But Nannerl gives way to her five-years-younger brother Wolfgang (David Moreau) as the main attraction, as their strict but loving father Leopold (Marc Barbe) tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French Revolution Europe. It is as Nannerl approaches marriageable age that her father bows to social strictures and forbids her from violin playing or composing, while privately conceding her talent to his wife. Though she is restrained by the limitations imposed by her time and gender, Nannerl's friendship with the son and daughter of France's Louis XV offers her ways to challenge the established sexual and social order of the day. From Music Box Films.
Special Interest: (2/14)
"Woody Allen: A Documentary" (2011): In 2010, iconic writer, director, actor, comedian, and musician Woody Allen allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. With this unprecedented access, filmmaker Robert Weide followed the notoriously private film legend over a year and a half to create this ultimate film biography, which chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen's career from his teenage years furnishing jokes for comics and publicists, his work in the 1950s-60s as a TV scribe for Sid Caesar, stand-up comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film each year for more than 40 years. A Two-disc set from Docurama.
This Week's Releases (February 7)
From the Big Screen:
"Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" (Releasing Saturday, Feb. 11), "Anonymous" and "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (2/7)
There's a fabulous mix of collectible DVDs and Blu-rays hitting the home video stores this week, headed up by the Diamond Edition Blu-ray debut of Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" (1955) in a wonderful frame-by-frame restoration with some new features and some old features from the film's 50th anniversary edition). New is "Second Screen: Inside Walt's Story Meetings": As the movie plays you will hear a re-enactment of Walt Disney and his top animators in their story meetings working on scenes from the film. Viewers can use their iPad to see sketches, rough animations, story notes and more as the film plays. For those who don't have a second screen device, there's an audio only commentary: "Inside Walt's Story Meetings." Also new are "Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad" in which Diane Disney Miller revisits the years around 1955 when Walt was possibly at his busiest, simultaneously working to complete both "Lady and the Tramp" and Disneyland in his apartment above the firehouse on Main Street at Disneyland; three deleted scenes: "Introduction of Boris" (a Russian dog after Lady's heart, "Waiting for Baby" and "Dog Show"; and a never recorded song: "I'm Free as the Breeze." Classic features include "Lady's Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp," "Finding Lady: The Art of the Storyboard," "Original 1943 Storyboard Version of the Film," "PuppyPedia: Going to the Dogs," "The Siamese Cat Song: Finding a Voice for the Cats," "Bella Notte" music video, trailers and excerpts from "Disneyland" TV shows. A three-disc Diamond Edition (Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy) will be available for $44.99 and a Diamond Edition two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo will sell for $39.99.
Next up is the Blu-ray debut of "La Jetee" (1963) and "Sans Soleil" (1983
the former one of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made, the latter a mind-bending free-form travelogue. A filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, and now videographer and digital multimedia artist, Chris Marker has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his investigations of time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. These two films -- a tale of time travel told in still images and a journey to Africa and Japan-- remain his best-loved and most widely seen. Restored high-definition digital transfers, approved by Marker, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks. From The Criterion Collection.
Follow this with the DVD release of one of the hottest TV series around, "Downton Abbey Season 2" (2012), in a three-disc set (DVD, $44.99, Blu-ray $49.99). As the Great War rages across Europe, discord is sown even into the serene Yorkshire countryside. Simmering tensions behind the gates of Downton Abbey are beginning to come to a boil as the men and women of Downton do their part on both the front lines and the home front. What's more, the brutality and intensity of war seem to inflame more familiar passions -- love, loss, blackmail, and betrayal -- leaving family and staff alike to struggle in an ever-changing world, against a host of new demons. From PBS Distribution.
Another highlight this week is "The Jazz Singer" (1959), a rare dramatic performance by Jerry Lewis, produced as a special for NBC's Lincoln-Mercury Startime TV series, and never rebroadcast or distributed in any home format since its original 1959 airing. Included are the transfer of a B&W kinescope of the broadcast and an extremely rare video recording, one of the earliest surviving examples of color television. Lewis stars as Joey Rabinowitz, the son of a Jewish Cantor who must defy his father in order to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz singer. On DVD. from Inception Media Group.
Next there's "Ethos (2011). Hosted by twice Oscar nominated actor and activist Woody Harrelson, "Ethos" lifts the lid on a Pandora's Box of systemic issues that guarantee failure in every aspect of our lives, from the environment to our democracy and our own personal liberty. From conflicts of interest in politics to unregulated corporate power, to a military industrial complex that just about owns our government, the film explains how our country is controlled by some very wealthy families and not our chosen government; these families control the main pillars of our society which include politics, corporations, banks and the media. We cannot change our system until we know how it works and this film, with interviews from some of today's leading thinkers, will show you how to make meaningful and sustainable change. With interviews from influential thought-leaders including author and activist Noam Chomsky ("Manufacturing Dissent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media"), Chalmers Johnson ("Blowback: The Sorrows of Empire"), Oscar-winning documentarian Michael Moore and Howard Zinn ("A People's History of the United States"). From Cinema Libre Studio.
And, finally, there's the Blu-ray debuts of "Love Story"
(1970), starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw; and "Dangerous Liaisons"
(1988), starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Swoosie Kurtz, Keanu Reeves and Uma Thurman.
From TV to Video: (2/7)
"Ancient Aliens: Season Three" (2011) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes; This third installment of the otherworldly, hit History series delves even more deeply into the 75 million years of the most credible alien evidence found on Earth. $29.95 from A&E ... "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- Grave Danger" (2005) is a two-part Season Five finale directed by Quentin Tarantino; from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Father Dowling Mysteries: The First Season" (1987-88) is a two-disc set with eight episodes; from Paramount ... BBC Home Entertainment's "The Hour" (2011) is set behind the scenes of the BBC newsroom just as a new investigative program is launched, profiling the personal lives and professional interplay between an aspiring but renegade journalist, a beautiful ambitious young producer with whom he is in love, and his handsome rival, the face and lead anchorman of this rising television news team. Two-disc set with 12 episodes ... "Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred" (2011), starring Lucas Cruikshank, Jake Weary and Siobhan Fallon, is a Nickelodeon movie that follows the titular hero on his quest to expose his new music teacher, Mr. Devlin, as an evil vampire; from Lionsgate ... In the BBC's "New Tricks, Season 6 " (2011), a team of semi-retired and somewhat curmudgeonly detectives investigate cold cases; from Acorn Media ... "Rocko's Modern Life: Season Two" (1994-95) is a two-disc set with 22 episodes, $19.93 from Shout! Factory ... Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson star in "The Song of Lunch" (2011), based on award-winning author Christopher Reid's narrative poem following the story of an unnamed book editor who is meeting his former love 15 years after their break-up for a nostalgic lunch at the Soho restaurant they used to frequent. From BBC Home Entertainment ... "The Sunset Limited" (2011) stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson in a drama based on Cormac McCarthy's play that mixes humor and pathos to examine the relationship between strangers brought together by desperate circumstances. Set in a New York tenement apartment, the story focuses on two very different men -- a deeply religious black ex-con (Jackson) who thwarts the suicide attempt of an asocial white college professor (Jones) who tried to throw himself in front of an oncoming subway train, The Sunset Limited. From HBO.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (2/7)
In "Yakuza Weapon" (2011 --Japan), starring Tak Sakaguchi, a hard-hitting maverick returns to Tokyo to discover his Yakuza father murdered, his family headquarters turned into a shady loan shop, and a powerful gang leader attempting to overthrow the entire criminal underworld. With rival gangs jacked up on "hyperdrug," he must becomes a one-man, butt-kicking army -- and things only get wilder when he loses an arm and a leg, only to have them replaced with more firepower than the entire Japanese military. From Well Go USA ... "Fireflies in the Garden," which sat on the shelf since 2008, was recently released theatrically and now to DVD; the slow-moving and over-wrought drama follows the lives of a family devastated by an accident that takes place on the day their matriarch is due to graduate from college -- decades after leaving to raise her children; stars Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Julia Roberts, Ioan Gruffudd and Hayden Panettiere; from Sony ... In "The Rebound," also held on the shelf (this one since 2009), a newly single mother with two kids moves from the suburbs to New York City, where she gets involved with a younger man; stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha; from Fox ... In "Stormhouse" (2011), starring Grahame Fox, Martin Delaney and Katie Flynn, the military has captured and imprisoned a supernatural entity ... and now it wants to play; from Lionsgate.
For the Family: (2/7)
"Geek Charming" (2011) stars Sarah Hyland, Matt Prokop and Sasha Pieterse in a Disney Channel original movie about a high school film geek who makes a documentary on the school's most popular girl; from Disney ... "The Valentine's Collection ... Featuring One Zillion Valentines" (2012) features five stories about friendship from top children's authors. When Marvin shows Milton how to make valentines, they decide to make one for each person in their neighborhood in "One Zillion Valentines," an animated adaptation of Frank Modell's sweet book about random acts of kindness and generosity. The additional stories featured include "Goggles," Ezra Jack Keats' Caldecott Award-winner, "A Letter to Amy," "Will I Have A Friend" and "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge." The DVD also includes Scholastic's read-along function. $14.95 from Scholastic.
Special Interest: (2/7)
In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera," Cameron Mackintosh produced a unique, spectacular staging of the musical on a scale which had never been seen before. Inspired by the original staging by Hal Prince and Gillian Lynne, this lavish, fully-staged production set in the sumptuous Victorian splendor of London's legendary Royal Albert Hall features a cast and orchestra of over 200, plus some very special guest appearances. "The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall" (2011) is the result of those efforts; from Universal ... "Project Nim" (2011), directed by James Marsh, is the remarkable story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised as a human child to tragic consequences. This is the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who became the focus of a landmark 1970s experiment to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. But as Nim's natural instincts take over and the humans around him fail to protect him, Project Nim uncovers the unflinching and extraordinary journey of one animal thrust into human society. From Lionsgate.
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March 1, 2012
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).