A mix of old and older highlight the releases this week, headed up by Fox's release of "Forever Marilyn," a seven-disc set honoring the 50th anniversary of the silver screen icon's death. The set includes "The Misfits," "Some Like It Hot," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "River of No Return," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "How to Marry a Millionaire" and "The Seven Year Itch"; $99.98. Each title will also be released separately on single Blu-ray Discs for $24.99 each. If you're a Marilyn fan, check out our eBook, "The Hollywood Guide to Marilyn Monroe," available for the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook ... Lionsgate and the StudioCanal collection offer us the Blu-ray debut of "La Grande Illusion" (1937), the masterpiece of French (and world) cinema directed by Jean Renoir. The film was the first foreign-language film ever nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (1938). Named one of "The 100 Best Films in World Cinema" in 2010, the film stars Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich Von Stroheim, Marcel Dalio and Julien Carette. During the thick of World War I, a German POW camp holds a group of French prisoners, including the aristocratic Boieldieu (Fresnay), Marechal the foreman (Gabin) and the Jewish banker Rosenthal (Dalio). The trio prepares to make their escape, but is soon moved to a seemingly impenetrable fortress. Remastered in 1080P High Definition, the "La Grande Illusion" Blu-ray Disc includes comprehensive special features.
It was the 1950s and a time of fear and doubt in the U.S. Though we had just won the second world war, American society was being threatened on all sides -- inside and out -- by Communists, crime syndicates, a war in Korea, loosening morals, juvenile delinquents and monsters from outer space. First the Soviets, then the Chinese, acquired atomic weapons, and Americans looked to their government for law and order. On TV and the in the movies, crime and punishment held sway; TV especially churned out Gangbuster and FBI series by the score. "Federal Men," also known as "Treasury Men in Action," which ran for five seasons (1950-55) on ABC, was one of those series; it featured true government stories of fraud and deception. In each thrilling episode -- based on real-life cases -- "The Chief" (Walter Greaza) and his agents pursued counterfeiters, loan sharks, gamblers, bootleggers, swindlers, smugglers and confidence men. This set includes 15 episodes from the fifth and final season. Jesse White, James Dean, Claude Akins, Carolyn Jones, Charles Bronson and Nancy Evans were among the actors who starred in the series. From Film Chest.
Also due this week: "A Three Stooges Celebration," a two-disc set that features more than five hours of classic Stooge-mania, with short films, live footage of the boys from a TV show called "Camel Comedy Caravan," and the special documentary "The Three Stooges Celebration"; $9.98 from Entertainment One ..."Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition"
(1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox, is a new director approved, high-definition transfer from the original film negative -- just in time for the Aug. 3 release of the remake. Extras include a new interview with director Paul Verhoeven. From Lionsgate ... And Echo Bridge Home Entertainment will bring out a Blu-ray debut of "Hellraiser"
(1987), directed by Clive Barker and starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence and Sean Chapman.
From TV to Video: (7/31)
"Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series" is a 16-disc box set that features nearly 40 hours of content, including all 110 episodes of "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (36 episodes), "The New Fat Albert Show" (24 episodes) and "The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (50 episodes), of which Seasons 2-4 have never before been released on DVD before.
From Shout! Factory ... "Hatfields & Mccoys" (2012), starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr, Tom Berenger, Powers Boothe, Jena Malone and Mare Winningham, was the History Channel's most-watched production, and No. 1 non-sports telecast in ad supported cable television history. Bonded by their oath to the same flag, two Confederate soldiers, "Devil" Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton), return home seeking peace after tireless months of battle. Their expectations are quickly shattered when a murder based on misunderstandings and an illicit love affair triggers warfare between former comrades and their clans. This historic feud teeters on the brink of an all-out civil war as friends and neighbors join opposing sides in a rivalry that would ultimately shape American history. From Sony ... "The Jodi Picoult Collection" is a three-disc set with a trio of Lifetime Movies based on the work of the best-selling author: "Salem Falls," "Plain Truth" and "The Pact," $19.95. From A&E ... "Misfits: Season One" (2009) is a two-disc set with six episodes of the U.K. series, $24.98 from BBC Worldwide Americas ... From inappropriate crushes and bullying to racial equality and the prom, the two-disc set of Lifetime Movies, "Surviving High School," tackles real-life issues for teens: "Odd Girl Out," "Augusta, Gone," "The Perfect Teacher" and "For One Night," $19.95 from A&E.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (7/31)
CJ Entertainment America -- the U.S. arm of Asia's premier entertainment company and South Korea's No. 1 studio and distributor -- has two fine offerings this week. Lest you think that most South Korean films are horrorfests ("A Tale of Two Sisters," "Thirst," "The Host"), I'm here to tell you that the Korean film industry is churning out a whole range of sophisticated melodramas as well as fine, edgy films that not only give you visceral jolts but make you think. Joon-ho Bong's "Mother," Chan-wook Park's "Oldboy," and the recent "A Bittersweet Life," directed by Jee-woon Kim and yet to be released in the states, all have an undercurrent of violence juxtaposed against themes of love, morality, honor and faith. "No Mercy" and "Hindsight" are too good examples. Both are indeed violent -- "No Mercy" is gruesome at times -- but the filmmaking is lyrical, with beautiful cinematography, probing characterizations, and intelligent, involving story lines. You need to see these films. In the crime procedural "No Mercy" (2010), by young filmmaker Hyoung-Jun Kim, forensic pathologist Kang is assigned to examine the dismembered corpse of a female murder victim. One of his ex-students, detective Min, points to a fanatic environmentalist, Lee Sung-ho, as the primary suspect. But when Lee's friend kidnaps Kang's daughter, he's forced to tamper with the evidence to keep her alive. A race begins between Kang and Min to resolve the situation -- which eventually hinges on secrets from the past that link Kang and Lee. "Hindsight" (2011), directed by Hyeon-seung Lee, is a modern gangster saga about Doo-heon, a legendary and brutal figure in organized crime who retires to lead a normal life; he enrolls in a cooking school and dreams of becoming a chef with his own restaurant. When a young woman, Se-bin, comes into his life, their shared passion for cooking soon becomes a romantic attraction, taking them both by surprise. But when deadly cartel politics erupt -- drawing a reluctant Doo-heon back into the violent shadows of the underworld -- he becomes the assassination target of former colleagues and discovers the lovely Se-bin isn't who she appears to be. The film is lyrical and lovely, with the emphasis on the budding romance (and cooking) -- though it does have its share of violence. Both are available on DVD only, featuring behind-the-scenes featurettes.
"Detention" (2011), starring Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke and Dane Cook, is a comedy-horror hybrid in which a group of high school seniors must prevent themselves from becoming the victims of a slasher-movie villain terrorizing their small town of Grizzly Lake. Along the way, they encounter body-switching, time-travel, and even a human-insect hybrid. From Sony ... In "Hijacked" (2012), starring Randy Couture, Dominic Purcell, Tiffany Dupont, Holt McCallany, Craig Fairbrass and Vinnie Jones, a special agent's plans to reconcile with his ex-fiance are ruined when she boards a private jet that is targeted by hijackers working for the same crime lord he's chasing. With no time to inform his team, he wriggles his way aboard the aircraft and risks it all to save the love of his life. From Anchor Bay ... In Los Angeles, five high-school friends deal with romance, money, prom, college, sex, bullies, Facebook, fitting in, standing out, and finding themselves -- a portrait of contemporary youth culture -- in "We the Party" (2012), directed by Mario Van Peebles and starring Mandela Van Peebles, Simone Battle, Moises Arias, Makaylo Van Peebles, Patrick Cage II, Y.G., Mario Van Peebles, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Michael Jai White, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister and Snoop Dogg. From XLrator Media ... In a world connected by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Miley Cyrus stars in "LOL" (2012) as a teen girl navigating her way through the peer pressures of high school romance and friendship, while dodging her protective mother. Co-stars Demi Moore, Ashley Greene, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Thomas Jane, Douglas Booth and Gina Gershon. From Lionsgate "188.8.131.52" (2010), starring Emma Roberts, Noel Clarke, Ophelia Lovibond, Tamsin Egerton, Shanika Warren-Markland, Mandy Patinkin and Eve, is a British crime thriller about four friends who inadvertently get involved in a diamond heist. From Universal ... "Scalene" (2011), starring Margo Martindale, Hanna Hall and Adam Scarimbolo, is a perceptual thriller told from three points-of-view revolving around the rape of a female college student by a mentally handicapped man and his mother's subsequent revenge after his incarceration. From Breaking Glass Pictures ... On a late night visit to an "ATM" (2012), three co-workers end up in a desperate fight for their lives when they become trapped by an unknown man. Stars Alice Eve, Josh Peck and Brian Geraghty. From IFC ... The Western "Cole Younger and the Black Train "
(2012), starring Cody McCarver and Jerry Chesser, follows the life of Cole Younger from his teenage years to his criminal partnership with Jesse James. From Lionsgate.
Celebrated author H.P. Lovecraft's classic tale of alien horror bursts onto the screen in the style of the classic horror films of the 1930s in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (2011). When Professor Albert Wilmarth investigates legends of strange creatures in the remote hills of Vermont, his inquiry reveals a terrifying glimpse of the truth that lurks behind the legends. Lovecraft wrote this classic tale of alien horror in 1931. The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society adapted Lovecraft's story as a feature-length motion picture. As with their previous silent movie adaptation of Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu," the HPLHS used their Mythoscope technique to evoke the look and feel of early cinema. The production was shot on location in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts to authentically capture the actual locations depicted in the story. From Microcinema ... "Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIV" features four schlocky transplants from Russia, Italy and two from Japan, watched by Joel, Mike and their band of robot brothers (Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot) with a joyously irreverent stream of higher consciousness: "The Sword and the Dragon" (Russia --1956), "Samson Vs. The Vampire Women" (Mexico -- 1962) and "Fugitive Alien" and "Star Force: Fugitive Alien II" (1987) (Both Japan -- 1987). $41.98 from Shout! Factory.
For the Family: (7/31)
"Transformers Prime -- One Shall Stand" (2012) features the seven-part story arc spanning the first two seasons of the series, seamlessly edited together in a special presentation produced by Hasbro Studios. $14.97 from Shout! Factory.
The folks at The Criterion Collection have an impressive set of films from a filmmaker making movies against all odds -- during the German occupation of France: "Eclipse Series 34: Jean Gremillon During the Occupation." Though little known outside of France, Jean Gremillon is a consummate filmmaker from his country's golden age. A classically trained violinist who discovered cinema as a young man when his orchestra was hired to accompany silent movies, he went on to make almost 50 films - which ranged from documentaries to avant-garde works to melodramas with major stars - in a career that started in the mid-1920s and didn't end until the late 1950s. Three of his richest films came during a dire period in French history: "Remorques," starring Jean Gabin, was begun in 1939 but finished and released after Germany invaded France, and "Lumiere d'ete" and "Le ciel est a vous" were produced during the occupation. These are character-driven dramas that reveal either a society on the precipice of doom or people breaking free of societal limitations; humane, entertaining, and technically brilliant, they show Gremillon to be one of cinema's true hidden masters. The three-DVD box set sells for $44.95. Read more here.
And you can add two Blu-ray debuts to your collection -- if you like the slow-moving, talky screen work of director Whit Stillman: "Metropolitan" (1990), considered one of the great American independent films of the 1990s, starring Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols; and "The Last Days of Disco" (1998), starring Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Chris Eigeman, Mackenzie Astin, Matt Keeslar, Robert Sean Leonard and Jennifer Beals; both loaded with nifty extras from The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Video: (7/24)
"Boss: Season One" (2011) is a three-disc set with eight episodes, $39.97 from Lionsgate ... "Childrens Hospital: The Complete Third Season" (2011) is a two-disc set with 14 episodes, $24.98 from Warners ... Kevin Whately returns for a fifth season as Inspector Lewis in "Inspector Lewis 5," in which he and his young partner, DS Hathaway (Laurence Fox), continue to solve cases in the seemingly perfect academic haven of Oxford. Two-disc set with four mysteries from PBS Distribution ... "Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour" is a prequel to the "Inspector Morse" series. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the UK premiere of "Inspector Morse" in 1987, "Endeavour" turns back the clock to 1965 to tell the story of the making of the legendary detective, who was played by John Thaw in 33 episodes. From PBS Distribution ... "Sliders: The First Season" (1995) is a three-disc set with nine episodes, from Universal ... "Sliders: The Second Season" (1996) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, from Universal ... "Touched By an Angel: The Fifth Season" (1998-99) is a seven-disc set with 26 episodes, $57.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Treasure Island" (2011) stars Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood, Donald Sutherland, Toby Regbo, Rupert Penry-Jones and Daniel Mays in a SyFy miniseries redo of the classic tale, from Sonar Entertainment and Vivendi Entertainment ... "Untouchables: The Fourth Season, Vol. 1" and "Untouchables: The Fourth Season, Vol. 2" (1962-63) are four-disc sets with 15 episodes, $42.99 each from CBS/Paramount.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (7/24)
When a high-class escort is murdered, her protector stops at nothing to find her killer, leaving a bloody trail in his path to uncover the truth and avenge the death of the woman he loved in "The Girl From the Naked Eye" (2012), starring Jason Yee, Samantha Streets, Ron Yuan, Dominique Swain and Sasha Grey, from Arch Stone ... "Age of the Dragons"
(2011), starring Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, Corey Sevier, Larry Bagby, Kepa Kruse, Sofia Pernas and Dave Morgan, is an adaptation of Herman Melville's classic novel "Moby Dick." Set in a medieval realm where Captain Ahab and crew hunt dragons for the vitriol that powers their world, Ishmael, a charismatic harpooner, and his friend, Queequeg, join the quest. Ahab's obsession to seek revenge on a great "White Dragon" that slaughtered his family when he was young and left his body scarred and mauled, drives the crew deeper into the heart of darkness. From ARC Entertainment ... A Secret Service Agent is held captive in the trunk of a car and endures mental and physical torture as terrorists attempt to extract information for their plot against the President of the United States in "Brake" (2012), starring Stephen Dorff, Chyler Leigh, JR Bourne and Tom Berenger, from IFC ... A young man is taken on a murder-fueled ride by a mysterious stranger that transforms a weak-willed, disillusioned husband and father into a desperate hero willing to go to any length to protect his family in "Meeting Evil" (2012), starring Samuel L. Jackson, Luke Wilson and Leslie Bibb, from Sony.
"The Monitor" (2011)) is the latest dark thriller from Sweden. After escaping an abusive husband, Anna and her 8-year-old son move to a secret location in a giant apartment building. Terrified that her ex-husband will find them, she buys a baby monitor to keep in her son's room at all times. But strange noises echo in the baby monitor from elsewhere in the building. When she thinks she hears the sounds of another child being hurt, she relives the nightmare she recently escaped and must figure out what's real and what isn't before she loses her sanity and her child. Stars Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner and Henrik Rafaelsen. From Lionsgate ... A decent but troubled young man is sent to a psychiatric institution for the criminally insane and soon finds himself in a fight for his life battling ghosts inside his head and very real enemies all around him in "On the Inside" (2011), starring Nick Stahl, Olivia Wilde and Dash Mihok, from Anchor Bay ... A hippie-yogi, personal growth guru helps save a couple's marriage when the wife appears on a reality TV show in "The Love Guide" (2011), starring Christy Scott Cashman, Jay Harrington, Michael Panes and Parker Posey. From Green Apple Entertainment.
The stand-out foreign offering this week: "My Way" (2011 -- South Korea), starring Jang Dong-Gun, Joe Odagiri and Fan Bingbing. After emerging as bitter rivals and enemies as young marathon Olympic runners, Korean native Kim Jun-shik and Japanese aristocrat Tatsuo Hasegawa both find themselves in the Japanese army, fighting the Chinese and Soviets in a bloody battle. Jun-shik is there under duress, while Tatsuo is a powerful colonel. After both are taken prisoner by the Soviets, and forced to fight the Nazis, the two eventually rely on each other for survival, making it to Germany, where they are in turn separated and forced to fight for the Nazis. They meet again at Normandy Beach, both unlikely survivors, bonded together by history as they struggle to survive one more terrible battle as the Allies arrive on D-Day. Korea's most expensive feature to date -- and inspired by a true story. From Well Go USA.
'Blade Runner' 30th Anniversary Set Due October 23
The last third of the year is really heating up, what with such great Blu-ray releases as The "Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Singles" (8/28), "Quadrophenia" (8/28), "Titanic" (9/14), "Children of Paradise" (9/18), "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures" (9/18), "Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection" (9/25), "Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection" (9/25), "Cinderella Blu-ray Diamond Edition Collection" (10/2), "The Princess Bride 25th Anniversary" (10/2) and "Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection" (10/2). Now add this in to the mix: On Oct. 23, Warner will release "Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition," a four-disc Blu-ray/DVD and UltraViolet commemorative gift set that includes all 10+ hours of bonus content from the critically acclaimed Ultimate Collector's Edition from 2007 plus a 72-page production art book of newly discovered sketches from director Ridley Scott, with photos from the set and more; a special motion lenticular scene; a numbered collectible spinner car designed by visual futurist Syd Mead Content; and the "Dangerous Days" documentary. Includes all five feature film versions: The Final Cut, '92 Director's Cut, Domestic and International Theatrical versions and the rare Work Print. $64.98. The film will also be available as a three-disc Blu-ray book with The Final Cut version and a 36 page hard cover book with never-before-seen images from the set and scene sketches from Ridley Scott; $34.99. Read the complete press release.
July 17 Releases From the Big Screen:
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," "The Three Stooges," "Friends With Kids" and "Casa De Mi Padre." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (7/17)
The highlight of the week is another beautiful box from the smart folks over at Warner Home Video: The "Singin' in the Rain 60th Anniversary Three-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition is a gorgeously packaged set that comes loaded with goodies. Included in the limited and numbered Blu-ray/DVD pack is a 4K feature scan, collectible memorabilia with 48-page hard cover book with new photos, memos promotional art reproductions; a collectible, custom full-size umbrella; and theatrical poster reproductions. Bonus features include a new documentary, "Singin' in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation"; commentary by Stanley Donen, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and film historian Rudy Behlmer; "Great Performances: Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM", a 1996 PBS documentary about the career of producer-songwriter Arthur Freed; "The Making of Singin' in the Rain"; "You Are My Lucky Star" outtake musical number; Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed film excerpts (a collection of 12 film clips from earlier films with Freed/Brown songs); scoring stage session cues; stills gallery; and the theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray/DVD set goes for $84.99; a two-disc DVD ($14.96) and single-disc Blu-ray ($19.98) are also available. Lest you forget, the 1952 film was directed by Donen and starred Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse and Rita Moreno.
"The Beat Hotel" is a documentary by Alan Govenar that delves deep into an amazing place and time: Paris' The Latin Quarter in 1957, where a cheap no-name hotel becomes a haven for a new breed of artists struggling to free themselves from the conformity and censorship of America: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, Ian Somerville and Brion Gysin. Run by Madame Rachou, the Beat Hotel was a hotbed of creativity and permissiveness, where Burroughs finished "Naked Lunch"; Ginsberg began his poem "Kaddish"; Somerville and Gysin invented the "Dream Machine"; Corso wrote some of his greatest poems; and Harold Norse wrote a novella, aptly called "The Beat Hotel." On DVD from First Run Features.
Some nice Blu-rays to add to your collection: Jim Jarmusch's "Down by Law" gets The Criterion Collection treatment; Warner has Blu-ray debuts for "The Butterfly Effect" (2004), "Cellular" (2004), "Hard to Kill" (1990) and Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" (1973).
From TV to Video: (7/17)
"Alphas: Season One" (2011) is a three-disc set with 11 episodes, $44.98 from Universal ... "Bonanza: The Official Third Season Vol. One and Vol. Two" (1961-62) is a nine-disc set with 34 episodes in two volumes, featuring photo galleries and original Chevrolet commercials with the "Bonanza" cast, $76.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Dan Vs. -- The Complete First Season " (2011) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $24.98 from Anchor Bay ... "Eureka: Season 5" (2012) is a three-disc set with 14 episodes, with a gag reel, deleted scenes, and commentary, $34.98 from Universal ... "IRT: Deadliest Roads: Season Two -- The Andes" (2011) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.95 from A&E ... "The Inbetweeners: The Complete Series" (2011) is a three-disc set with 18 episodes, $39.98 from (Entertainment One ... "Leverage: The 4th Season" (2011-12) is a four-disc set with 18 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "Sanctuary: The Complete Fourth Season" (2011) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, with behind-the-scenes featurettes, from Entertainment One ... "Storage Wars: Volume Three" (2011-12) is a two disc set with 16 episodes, $19.95 from A&E.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (7/17)
Tomorrow at 4:44 a.m., the world is going to come to an end, brought about by the destruction of the ozone layer. As panic hits the Earth's population, two lovers -- actor and recovering drug addict Cisco and painter Skye -- seclude themselves in their Manhattan apartment to spend their last hours of existence together in "4:44 Last Day on Earth" (2011), directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh, Natasha Lyonne. From IFC Films/MPI Media Group ... "Lockout" (2012), starring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun and Peter Stormare, is a sci-fi actioner produced by Luc Besson that follows a falsely convicted ex-government agent (Pearce) whose one chance at obtaining freedom lies in the dangerous mission of rescuing the president's daughter (Grace) from rioting convicts at an outer space maximum security prison. From Sony ... "Intruders" (2011), starring Clive Owen and Carice van Houten, is the chilling story of two children living in different countries, each visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them. From Millennium Entertainment ... In "Deserter" (2002), Englishman Simon Murray, disillusioned by a failed romance, blindly joins the French Foreign Legion. His idealistic fantasy is soon shattered when he encounters his fellow recruits, all escaping pasts far less innocent than his own, and then marches off to battle in North Africa in an effort to quell the bloody, 1960 Algerian civil uprising for independence. Stars Paul Fox and Tom Hardy. From Inception Media Group ... "Deadline" (2011), starring Steve Talley, Eric Roberts, Anna Felix and Lauren Jenkins, is a fact-based mystery-thriller inspired by the true-crime story of the murder of an black youth in rural Alabama that has gone uninvestigated, unsolved and unpunished for almost 20 years. That all changes when Nashville Times reporter Matt Harper meets an idealistic blue blood bent on discovering the truth. Harper, aided by grizzled veteran newsman Ronnie Bullock, undertakes the investigation despite the opposition of his publisher, violent threats from local forces, a break-up with his fiance and his father's cancer diagnosis. From Freestyle Digital Media.
"Extraterrestrial" (2011 -- Spain) is a sexy, apocalyptic sci-fi comedy about two lovers who, after a one-night stand, wake up to discover giant flying saucers hovering above the now-deserted city. The only other people left are a creepy neighbor and the girl's ex-boyfriend. What's a guy to do when he faces jealousy and the end of the world? Stars Michelle Jenner and Julian Villagra.From Entertainment One ... Six beautiful high school friends reunite on the Florida coast -- near the shoot for the topless "Crazy Girls Unlimited" line of DVDs -- for spring break during their freshman year in college -- only to find a sadistic killer with a medieval war hammer has targeted them in "Girls Gone Dead" (2012), starring Krystyna Ahlers, David Ausem, Tony Batman and Beetlejuice. From Entertainment One ... When the Earth's solar system aligns with the Milky Way's galactic equator, previously unseen forces begin to pull the Earth apart at the seams -- causing massive earthquakes and vast chasms that swallow up populated areas -- and only one man, using a magic rod, must uncover an age-old mystery and save the planet from imminent destruction in "Doomsday Prophecy" (2011), starring A.J. Buckley, Jewel Staite and Alan Dale. From Anchor Bay ... "Midnight Son" (2011) is a twisting, terrifying tale of vampirism and humanity and how the two conditions can intertwine. Jacob is a young man with a rare skin disorder that forces him to avoid exposure to the sun ... confining him to a life of seclusion and shadow. As his symptoms worsen, Jacob's mental and physical health begin to crumble, forcing him to cross a barrier that few would consider: drinking human blood. When Jacob meets Mary, who is as lonely and damaged as himself, he falls in love. Stars Zak Kilberg and Maya Parish. From Image Entertainment.
On the Indie Front: (7/17)
In "Here" (2011), starring Ben Foster, Lubna Azabal and Peter Coyote, cartographer Will Shepard hits the road for his latest job: to create a new, more accurate satellite survey of Armenia. During his assignment, he forms a bond with an Armenian expatriate and art photographer. From Strand Releasing ... In an effort to save his newly inherited house from foreclosure, a 26-year-old scrap hauler turns it into a brothel -- even though he's a virgin in "Virgin Alexander" (2012), starring Rick Faugno, Paige Howard, Bronson Pinchot, Patrick Zeller and Elizabeth Masucci. From Osiris Entertainment.
Special Interest: (7/17)
"Patagonia Rising" (2011): Deep in the heart of Chile's Patagonia region flow two of the world's purest rivers, the Baker and Pascua. Fed by vast glacial systems, these untouched rivers drive biodiversity in rainforests, estuaries and marine ecosystems. Now, five huge hydroelectric dams are planned for the two rivers. Promoted as "clean" energy, damming these major rivers would make floodplains out of river valleys, force ranchers off their land and wreak havoc on the massive ice fields and watersheds already under stress from global warming. Over the past century more than 45,000 large dams have altered the health of the planet's rivers with disastrous impacts that continue to unfold. This award-winning documentary captures the heated battle between those who wish to exploit the rivers, and those who wish to preserve the rivers and their surrounding lands. From First Run Features.
"Doctor Who: Ep. 72 -- Death to the Daleks" contains two episodes from 1974: "Death to the Daleks" and "The Krotons." From BBC/Warner ... "Father Dowling Mysteries: The Second Season" (1990) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.99 from Paramount ... "The Glades Season 2" (2011) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98 Fox ... "iCarly: The Complete 4th Season" (2010-11) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $19.99 from Nickelodeon Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "The Note 3: Notes From the Heart Healer" (2012), starring Genie Francis and Ted McGinley, is the third installment in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie Series "The Note," in which a romantic getaway for advice columnist Peyton MacGruder and husband King Danville takes an unexpected detour when an infant is abandoned at their doorstep, transforming them into temporary parents. From Sony ... "Warehouse 13: Season Three" (2011) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, from Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (7/10)
In "Butterfly Swords" (1993 -- Hong Kong), starring Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung, members of an elite group of assassins loyal to a Ming Dynasty king must infiltrate a group of rebels when the group threaten to take down the empire. From Well Go USA ... "Cherry Bomb" (2011), starring Julin Jean, Nick Manning and John Gabriel Rodriquez, is an homage to the action exploitation films of the early 1980s ("I Spit On Your Grave"): When exotic dancer Cherry is attacked by a group of sleazy men in the club where she works, she vows revenge by killing them off one by one. Things start to spiral out of control when a mysterious hit man named Bull is hired to put an end to her bloody tirade; from Well Go USA ... A once famous and now washed-up Hollywood screenwriter fighting to finish his latest script finds himself in the center of a murder investigation involving a prominent politician's wife; the events give him new inspiration for his script until he's discovers that he's being framed for the murder in "Mysteria" (2011), starring Robert Miano, Danny Glover and Michael Rooker; from Green Apple Entertainment ... Reno may be the "Biggest Little City in the World," but when a "Peace Bomb" nuclear test goes awry in the Nevada desert and turns most of the population into bloodthirsty zombies, the gambling Mecca becomes the biggest zombieland of all time in "Remains" (2011), starring Grant Bowler, Evalena Marie, Tawny Cypress, Miko Hughes, Anthony Marks, Jessica Alexandra Green, Kevin Shea and Lance Reddick; from Shout! Factory ... In the post-apocalyptic "Dark Nemesis (aka The Dark Knight)" (2011), starring Kyle Walsh, Aaron Farb and Debra Lopez, a group of desperate soldiers hatch a plan to steal a Warlord's treasure and start a new life but instead have to retreat to a desolate and forbidden land where they must fend off the Warlord's vicious assassins while defending themselves from the terrifying creatures that inhabit the land; from MTI Home Video ... "Black Limousine" (2010), starring David Arquette, Bijou Phillips, Vivica A. Fox, Nicholas Bishop and Lin Shaye, follows the downward spiral of a once hot Hollywood composer who drives a limo to make ends meet, and battles depression and addiction; from Anchor Bay Entertainment ... In "You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You" (2012), starring James McDaniel , Michael Mosle and Chance Kelly, two New York City detectives must track down a serial killer with an appetite for some of hip-hop's biggest stars, along the way uncovering a complex web of murder, sex and money; from Lionsgate.
On the Indie Front: (7/10)
"Margaret" (2011) is a coming-of-age drama that centers on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student who feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that claimed a woman's life; in her attempts to set things right, she meets with frustration and anger, pitting her youthful ideals against the realities and compromises of the adult world; stars Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Sarah Steele, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, J. Smith-Cameron, Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby, Kieran Culkin, Krysten Ritter, Michael Ealy; from Fox ... "Freak Dance" (2010) is a musical dance comedy where the sexy and wealthy Cocolonia (Megan Heyn) decides to escape her uptight mother (Amy Poehler) and learn to dance fight in the streets with the help of Funky Bunch (Michael Cassady), the leader of a local dance crew; from the creative minds at the Upright Citizens Brigade. From Image Entertainment.
In "The Flowers of War" (2011 -- China), directed by Yimou Zhang and starring Christian Bale, Paul Schneider, Ni Ni and Tong Dawei, a Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937 and, posing as a priest, he attempts to lead them to safety. From Lionsgate.
For the Family: (7/10)
"Adventure Time: The Complete First Season" (2010) is a two-disc set with 26 episodes from the acclaimed Cartoon Network series about a human boy and his adopted brother -- a magical dog -- who set out to become righteous adventurers in the Land of Ooo; from Warner ... "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Series 2, Season 2" (1984) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes; from Shout! Factory.
Special Interest: (7/10)
"Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog" (2004 -- Japan) is based on a true story, the sweet tale of a yellow Labrador Retriever guide dog for the blind named Quill who is paired with a blind man named Watanabe who at first is reluctant to rely on him but is won over by Quill's great patience, gentleness and skill; from Music Box Films ... "Fightville"
(2011) is a documentary that focuses on a group of young athletes in southern Louisiana as they work toward achieving their goals of becoming professional mixed martial arts fighters; from MPI Media Group ... "Frontline: Money, Power and Wall Street" (2012) is a special four-hour investigation that tells the inside story of the origins of the financial meltdown and the battle to save the global economy; from PBS Distribution.
July 3 Releases From the Big Screen:
It's a rare Tuesday when there's no major theatrical release heading to home video; this Tuesday is one of those. With the Fourth of July holiday splitting the week in half, the studios decided to hedge their bets and wait until next week to resume their parade of ho-hum releases. I guess they figured that people would be too busy gulping down hot dogs and hamburgers, drinking beer and setting off fireworks to be too interested in watching DVDs indoors.
DVD Collectibles: (7/3)
This week's highlight is -- once again -- an older film, a cult classic of sorts: The Blu-ray debut of the genre-bashing "Barbarella" (1968), starring Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O'Shea and Marcel Marceau. What can you say about a film that begins with Jane Fonda doing a zero-gravity striptease in a rocket ship, baring her all for the cameras (under the control of director Roger Vadim, who was Fonda's husband at the time)? Tres magnifique! The Franco-Italian science fiction film was based on Jean-Claude Forest's French Barbarella comics that took Europe (and the U.S. underground) by storm in the late-60s, with its mix of sci-fi, erotica, surrealism and mythology. Fonda stars as the titular heroine who lands on the planet Lythion in the year 40,000, sent on a mission by the President of Earth to stop the evil scientist Durand Durand (yes, that's where the rockers got their name) from upsetting universal peace. Faced with robots, monsters and evil of varying kinds, she must vanquish her enemies, all the while attempting -- and failing -- to keep her skin-tight spacesuit on. Along the way she receives assistance from a variety of handsome men, including a blind angel (John Phillip Law) whom she seduces. There's psychedelic sets, far-out characters and very bizarre sex machines. From Paramount. Watch a trailer:
Also this week: "Born on the Fourth of July Universal 100th Anniversary Edition"
(1989), a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the award-winning film directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Cruise, Tom Berenger, Frank Whaley, Stephen Baldwin and Kyra Sedgwick. Bonus features include commentary by Stone, "From the NBC News Archives: Backstory Born on the Fourth of July," "100 Years of Universal: The 80s," "100 Years of Universal: Academy Award Winners." From Universal ... "The French Chef: Julia Child's French Classics" is a special collection of six original black-and-white episodes of "The French Chef" from the 1960s, bringing Julia back into the kitchen to teach cooks at all levels how to prepare some of her favorite French classics: French Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Quiche Lorraine, Chocolate Mousse, French Crepes II (Crepes with Orange Butter and Almonds; Crepes with Apples and Macaroons; Crepes Suzette) and French Tarts Apple Style. $19.99 from PBS Distribution.
From TV to Video: (7/3)
"Dynasty: The Sixth Season Volume One and Volume Two" (1985-86) is a package of two four-disc sets with 30 episodes, from Paramount ...
"George Gently, Season 4" includes two feature-length episodes ("Goodbye China" and "Gently Upside Down") of Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw), a by-the-book cop from London now working in the North East of England. This corner of the country is just starting to experience the social changes sweeping the rest of 1960s Britain, but the former Scotland Yard detective finds that crime occurs here the same as anywhere else. From Acorn Media ... "Mannix: The Seventh Season" (1973-74) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, from Paramount ... For more than a decade, DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) has policed the murderous county of Midsomer, winning legions of fans-including the queen of England herself. In "Midsomer Murders, Set 20" -- four new, contemporary stand-alone mysteries -- Barnaby investigates his final cases before leaving the denizens of Midsomer in the capable hands of his cousin, DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon). Set in England's picture-perfect but perilous Midsomer County, Set 20's episodes are available to U.S. audiences for the first time. On DVD and Blu-ray from Acorn Media ... "The Streets of San Francisco Season Three Volume One" (1974-75) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, and "The Streets of San Francisco Season Three Volume Two" (1974-75) is a three-disc set with 11 episodes, both from Paramount.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (7/3)
"God Bless America" (2012) is a "revenge" film of a different kind: weird, violent, upsetting -- and given that it's by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, that goes without saying. The story: Divorced, recently fired and possibly terminally ill, Frank (Joel Murray) has had enough of the downward spiral of American culture. He sees America as overrun with cruelty, stupidity and intolerance. Finding himself with nothing to live for, he decides not to take his own life, but instead buys a gun to take out his frustration on the cruelest, stupidest, most intolerant people he can imagine -- reality television stars. On his journey, he finds an unusual accomplice in a high-school student named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), who shares his sense of rage and disenfranchisement. Together they embark on a nation-wide assault on our country's dumbest, most irritating celebrities. From Magnolia Home Entertainment's Magnet Label ... In The Hunter (2011 -- Australia), starring Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Frances O'Connor, a skilled mercenary is hired by an anonymous company to go to the island of Tasmania (off the coast of Australia) on a hunt to collect genetic material from the believed-to-be-extinct Tasmanian tiger; he soon gets involved in unforeseen dangers and betrayal. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... In "The Forger" (2012), starring Josh Hutcherson, Hayden Panettiere, Alfred Molina, Lauren Bacall, Dina Eastwood and Billy Boyd, troubled, homeless 15-year-old Joshua (Hutcherson) lives from hand to mouth on the streets until he arrives in artsy Carmel by the Sea, where his prodigious art skill is discovered and he is lured into the underground world of high dollar art forgery. From Big Air Studios ... "Battle Force" (2011), starring Scott Martin and Clint Glenn Hummel, is the story of an elite fighting unit formed in 1942 -- officially named the First Special Service Force -- made up of mountain men, hunters and all around misfits, trained to scale cliffs, jump out of airplanes and kill Nazis. From Lionsgate ... "Chesty Morgan's Bosom Buddies," contains three James Bond spoofs featuring busty super agents, by exploitation director Doris Wishman: "Deadly Weapons" (1974), "Double Agent 73" (1974) and "The Immoral Three" (1975), from Image Entertainment/Something Weird Video ... "Elvira's Movie Macabre: Giant Monsters" is a two-disc set with four classic 'B' movies curated by the "Scream Queen": "The Giant Gila Monster" (1959), "Teenagers From Outer Space" (1959), "Attack of the Giant Leeches" (1959) and "Monster From a Prehistoric Planet" (1967). From Entertainment One.
On the Indie Front: (7/3)
At the age of 10, Henry James Hermin, a boy who was conceived in a petri-dish and raised by his feminist mother, follows a string of Post-It notes in hopes of finding his biological father in "Jesus Henry Christ" (2012), starring Toni Collette, Michael Sheen, Jason Spevack and Samantha Weinstein. From Entertainment One ... "The American Dream (aka Make a Movie Like Spike)" (2012), starring Jamil Walker Smith and Malcolm Goodwin, portrays the yearning wanderlust that accompanies coming-of-age young men who imagine a brighter future than they see possible in their own backyards. Before shipping off to Afghanistan, Luis and Ronald, best friends and newly-enlisted Marines, capture their few remaining days at home using a movie camera. From Image Entertainment.
"Wind Blast" (2010 -- China), starring Wu Jing, Zhang Li, Yihong Duan and Francis Ng, is an action-packed "martial arts Western" in which cold-blooded killer Zhang Ning sneaks back into China but is quickly pursued by two fierce and brutal bounty hunters, resulting in a grisly battle between the killer, bounty hunters and cops involving a flurry of gunfights, martial arts combats, car chases, equestrian acrobatics and pyrotechnic extravaganza. From Well Go USA ... Things get very complicated very quickly in the dark comedy "Joe + Belle" (2011 -- Israel) when an angst-ridden drug dealer meets a buoyant suicidal psychopath. After an outlandish accident in Tel Aviv leaves the pair of women with a body to dispose of, they embark on a madcap journey to lose the cops -- and end up finding love together in Sderot (the target of ongoing rocket attacks). From Wolfe Video.
For the Family: (7/3)
In "An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars" (2011), starring Nia Vardalos, Ian Ziering, Cathy Rigby, Kerris Dorsey and Jade Pettyjohn, a young girl whose dream to compete as a world class gymnast is jeopardized when she begins to have trouble in school. Inspired by the American Girl line of dolls. Scheduled to air July 14 on NBC and available at Wal-Mart and American Girl stores. From Universal.
"The Women of SNL" (2012) is a showcase reunion of the women of "Saturday Night Live," with classic sketches such as Debbie Downer, Mary Katherine Gallagher, The Lawrence Welk Show, Oprah, Bronx Beat and the Nerds as well, featuring the work of original SNLers Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin. From Universal.