Buzzin' the 'B's: (11/27)A group of five people working to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic future discover what they think is a safe, abandoned farmhouse, but they soon find themselves fighting to stay alive as a gang of bloodthirsty predators attack in "The Day" (2012), starring Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Cory Hardrict, Dominic Monaghan, Shannyn Sossamon and Michael Eklund. From WWE Studios/Anchor Bay Films ... Two horrifying plot threads become inextricably intertwined in "Rites of Spring" (2011) Two female office workers are taken captive by the Stranger, a mysterious farmer who must, at the start of every spring, present young women as a ritual sacrifice to a hideous supernatural creature living beneath his barn. One of the girls escapes and winds up seeking refuge in an abandoned schoolhouse -- where kidnappers happen to be holding the daughter of a wealthy socialite for ransom. The frightened intruder puts the kidnappers' entire plan in jeopardy, especially when their poorly chosen hideout becomes a hunting ground for the deadly monster. Stars Anessa Ramsey, Katherine Randolph, Sonny Marinelli and AJ Bowen. From IFC Midnight.
On the Indie Front (11/27):A single mother of two in a rural town must deal with a pending divorce, finding meaningful employment, and living with her mother's belief that angels -- and "heaven" -- are right there with them in "Heaven's Door (aka Doorway to Heaven)" (2012), starring Charisma Carpenter, Dean Cain, Tommy "Tiny" Lister and Edward Herrman. From ARC Entertainment ... An English chef with a chic restaurant on Sydney, Australia's Bondi Beach tries to put his life and his relationship with his son back on track while surrounded by affairs with various women in "Burning Man" (2011 -- U.K./Australia), starring Matthew Goode, Bojana Novakovic, Rachel Griffiths, Essie Davis and Kerry Fox. From IFC Films.
From TV to Video (11/27):"Hot in Cleveland Season Three" (2011) is a three-disc set with 23 episodes, $29.99 from Paramount ... "Perry Mason: Season Eight, Volume One" (1964-65) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $55.98 Paramount.
For the Family (11/27):"Christmas in Compton" (2012), starring Omar Gooding, Keith David, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Orlando Brown, Miguel A. Nunez Jr. and Eric Roberts, is a comedy that centers around a father and son who run a Christmas tree lot in Compton. From Lionsgate ... Trying to get her life back on track, a young woman sets up a session with a life coach, who tells her to make 12 wishes for a positive change to get her life and her dog back before Christmas -- but her wishes have unforeseen circumstances in "12 Christmas Wishes For My Dog" (2011), starring Elisa Donovan, Gabrielle Carteris and Fred Willard. From Lionsgate ... "LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu: Rise of the Green Ninja" (2012) consists of seven episodes from the second season of Cartoon Network's show for boys ages 6-11, $14.98 from Warner ... "Transformers Prime: Season Two" (2012) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $59.99 on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
Special Interest (11/27):From acclaimed animator Bill Plympton, "The Flying House" (2011) is a "re-imagining" and restoration of Winsor McCay's 1921 short, "Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: The Flying House." Remastered in full color, it features the voice talents of Patricia Clarkson and Matthew Modine. From Microcinema International.
"The Expendables 2." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (11/20):As we head into Thanksgiving week and Black Friday, there's several tasty DVDs to add to your shopping list. First up there's "Heaven's Gate" (1980), a visionary critique of American expansionism directed by Oscar winner Michael Cimino ("The Deer Hunter") that is among Hollywood's most ambitious and unorthodox epics. Kris Kristofferson brings his weathered sensuality to the role of a Harvard graduate who has relocated all the way to Wyoming as a federal marshal; there, he learns of a government-sanctioned plot by rich cattle barons to kill the area's European settlers for their land. The resulting skirmish is based on the real-life bloody Johnson County War of 1892. Also starring Isabelle Huppert and Christopher Walken, "Heaven's Gate" is a savage and ravishingly shot demystification of Western movie lore. Originally panned by most major critics -- and dubiously credited for bringing down United Artists due to cost overruns that boosted its budget to $44 million -- the film has rarely been seen in its full version (the 1980 theatrical release was butchered by the studio). This is the full director's cut, letting viewers today see Cimino's potent original vision, which has finally come to get the acclaim it deserves. In a new, restored transfer of director Michael Cimino's cut of the film, supervised by Cimino. The 5.1 surround soundtrack has also been restored under Cimino's supervision. On DVD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection, of course.
"The Dust Bowl" (2012) is the two-part, four-hour documentary by Ken Burns (that premieres Nov. 18 and 19, 8–10 p.m. on PBS) that offers a dramatic depiction of how human blindness to the balance of nature destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains throughout the 1930s. The documentary chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Prairies were turned into deserts and massive deadly dust storms took the lives and hopes of many Americans. Eventually the federal government -- under the Roosevelt administration -- stepped in to help save the remaining farmers and their land. Filled with seldom-seen movie footage, unpublished photographs, the songs of Woody Guthrie and the observations of two remarkable women who left behind eloquent written accounts, the film explores this critical time in American history in all its complexities. The fascinating documentary also features interviews with 26 survivors of those hard times and may well be the last recorded testimony of the generation that lived through the Dust Bowl. Narrated by Peter Coyote. And painful at times to watch. On DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution/Paramount Home Media Distribution.
"Omnibus: James Agee's Mr. Lincoln and the Civil War": Called "the most successful cultural magazine series and a prototype for educational television," "Omnibus" was the Golden Age of Television's most distinguished production, a multiple Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning series delivering sophistication, refinement, and sparkling intelligence to a national audience. Its eight groundbreaking seasons -- broadcast live and nationwide from 1952 to 1961 over 164 episodes -- of live, commercial-network broadcasts featured host Alastair Cooke and the most accomplished luminaries of the day, and garnered more than 13 million viewers per program and 65 awards. This historic two-DVD collection features the centerpiece of "Omnibus'" inaugural season: the ambitious five-part biographical drama of the 16th president by renowned author, screenwriter and film critic James Agree and starring Royal Dano and Joanne Woodward. $34.98 from Entertainment One ... "The Story of Film: An Odyssey": (2012) Filmmaker Mark Cousins covers 120 years of the world of cinema in 15 one- hour segments, filmed on four continents in over six years, and featuring interviews with legendary filmmakers and actors such as Gus Van Sant, Lars Von Trier, Kyoko Kagawa, Claire Denis, Robert Towne, and many more. The documentary covers famous moments in film -- the birth of Hollywood and the great movie genres, the evolution of movie stardom, the shock of the French "New Wave," the revolution of digital cinema, and much more. From Music Box Films ... "Eclipse Series 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku" is a four-disc set with four certifiably batty, low-budget fantasies from Japan's Shochiku studio -- tales haunted by watery ghosts, plagued by angry insects, and stalked by aliens -- including one in the form of a giant chicken-lizard. Shochiku's outrageous and oozy horror period shows a studio leaping into the unknown, even if only for one brief, bloody moment. The films: "The X From Outer Space" (1967), "Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell" (1968), "The Living Skeleton" (1968) and "Genocide" (1968); from The Criterion Collection ... "Zorro" (1975 -- Italy/France) is the official, complete English-language version of this international Spaghetti Western-type production that transports Zorro to South America for exciting sword fights and romance. Unlike its more violent Spaghetti prototypes, this outing is more family friendly, with colorful costumes and light humor -- but there is a stupendous 10-minute swordfight. And, best of all, it stars a still young, handsome and vibrant Alain Delon (as Zorro) and the great British actor Stanley Baker. Watch it for fun and with no preconceptions. On DVD and Blu-ray from Somerville House ... From 1963 to 1967, Danny Kaye hosted the Emmy Award-winning, top-rated television variety series on CBS, "The Danny Kaye Show." "Christmas With Danny Kaye"is a holiday DVD collection that brings together two memorable Christmas episodes in their entirety, unseen since their original 1960s network TV broadcast: The first (aired Christmas day, 1963) features the legendary Nat King Cole and Mary Tyler-Moore; and the second (Dec. 21, 1966) features Peggy Lee and Wayne Newton. From Inception Media Group.
Lionsgate has put together a comprehensive 10-disc set honoring Quentin Tarantino's 20 years of filmmaking, "Tarantino XX: 8-Film Blu-ray Collection," featuring eight films -- "Reservoir Dogs," "True Romance," "Pulp Fiction," "Jackie Brown," "Kill Bill Vol. 1," "Kill Bill Vol. 2," "Death Proof" and "Inglourious Basterds" -- and two discs with five hours of all-new bonus material; $119.99 ... There's two Blu-ray debuts this week: "Gypsy" (1962), starring Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, Ann Jillian and Karl Malden; and "Deathtrap" (1982), directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve and Dyan Cannon. Both are from the Warner Archive Collection.
From TV to Video (11/20):"Ancient Aliens: Season Four" (2012) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes on DVD and Blu-ray from A&E ... "Doctor Who: Limited Edition Gift Set" consists of 41 DVDs with the complete seasons 1-6 covering the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith), $249.95 from BBC/Warner ... "Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season Collector's Edition" (2012) is a collector's 10-disc (five Blu-rays, five DVDs plus digital copies) box set designed with the sigils of the four main houses of the series' Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and comes with a premium dragon egg paperweight, a Blu-ray bonus disc of Season Two, Episode One, as well as all of the bonus materials and interactive features from the original DVD and BD releases; $99.97 from HBO ... "Shipping Wars: Season One" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $19.95 from A&E ... "Storage Wars Texas: Season One" (2011-12) is a two-disc set with six episodes, $19.95 A&E.
For the Family (11/20):"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series" (1993-96) is a 19-disc set with all 145 original episodes from "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" Seasons One, Two and Three, plus the 10-episode series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Alien Rangers," $119.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume Two" (1993) is a three-disc set with the final 30 original episodes of Season One, $19.93 from Shout! Factory ... "Transformers Prime: Season Two" (2012) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $29.93 from Shout! Factory.
Special Interest (11/20):It's a musical week on DVD: "Inside John Lennon (Unauthorized)" (2003) is an intimate account of the life and career of the most controversial Beatle, originally released in 2004; $9.99 from Entertainment One ... "Ike & Tina: On The Road: 1971-72": (2012) By combining soul music with an explosive stage show, complete with the high energy dance choreography of Tina Turner and the Ikettes, and an ingredient sorely missed in today's soul -- gritty rock 'n' roll -- Ike & Tina Turner gained a reputation as one of the great live acts of all-time. In the early 70s, legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya toured with Ike & Tina, filming them performing, on the road, and behind the scenes. $19.98 from MVD Entertainment Group ... "The Rolling Stones Under Review 1975-1983: The Ronnie Wood Years Part 1" (2012) is an in-depth documentary covering the career and music of the Rolling Stones between 1975 and 1983, a period that began with two unsuccessful albums and the resignation of Mick Taylor and ending with Ronnie Wood, formerly of the Faces, plugging into the group and breathing new life into the band. From MVD Entertainment Group ... "Color Me Obsessed" (2012) is the first documentary about famed 80s indie-rock band The Replacements, told through the eyes of fans, friends, and contemporaries, from MVD Entertainment Group ... "Les Miserables: 10th Anniversary Concert Special Edition" is a newly remastered version of the 1995 DVD. The top stars from the original London and Broadway productions, along with a 150-voice chorus and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, came together for the most magical gala performance of "Les Miserables" ever produced, a 10th anniversary concert recorded at Royal Albert Hall in 1995. From BBC Worldwide Americas.
"Brave," "Savages," "The Watch," "The Queen of Versailles" and "2 Days in New York." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (11/13):There's so much cool stuff coming to DVD and Blu-ray this week that we just don't know where to start. So we'll go with the most obvious and the biggest: the Blu-ray debut of the restored version of David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" in a 50th Anniversary edition. Sony has pulled out all the stops and not only has digitally restored the film but packed it -- along with a three discs of extras and a soundtrack CD -- into a boxed set that also includes a sumptuous 88-page coffee table book and an individually numbered 70mm film frame. Bonus features include four original featurettes: "Wind, Sand and Star: The Making of a Classic," "Maan, Jordan: The Camels Are Cast," "In Search of Lawrence" and "Romance of Arabia"; an exclusive documentary: "The Making of Lawrence of Arabia"; a conversation with Steven Spielberg; original newsreel footage of the New York premiere; advertising campaigns;and talent files. All for $95.99. The 1962 film, which stars Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains and Arthur Kennedy, will also be packed as a stand-alone Blu-ray disc and sell for $26.99.
Next up is a pair of offerings from the folks at The Criterion Collection: The much anticipated Blu-ray debut of Jean-Luc Godard's "Weekend" (1967), the scathing late-sixties satire and anarchic work. Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a bourgeois couple travel across the French countryside while civilization crashes and burns around them. Featuring a justly famous centerpiece sequence in which the camera tracks along a seemingly endless traffic jam, and rich with historical and literary references, "Weekend" is a surreally funny and disturbing call for revolution, a depiction of society retreating to savagery, and -- according to the credits -- the end of cinema itself. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer. "Trilogy of Life" is a bawdy triptych of films from the great Italian poet, philosopher, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini: Giovanni Boccaccio's "The Decameron" (1971), Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" (1972) and "The Thousand and One Nights" (often known as "The Arabian Nights") (1974). The set is available in both DVD (four-disc) and Blu-ray (three-disc) formats.
"The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy" (2012) is a five-DVD/one-CD set that pays tribute to America's national treasure, Mel Brooks. Included here are gems such as "Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again," an evening with Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett that aired on HBO in September 2011 and was recently nominated for the Outstanding Variety Special Emmy Award; the 1981 BBC documentary "I Thought I Was Taller: A Short History of Mel Brooks"; "Excavating The 2000 Year Old Man," a PBS special on the story behind the iconic 2000 Year Old Man and the partnership between its creators, Brooks and Carl Reiner; "Mel and His Movies," a new five-part exploration of his film career; vintage appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and "The Dick Cavett Show"; episodes of the TV series "Get Smart," as well as "When Things Were Rotten" and his Emmy-award winning turn as unpredictable Uncle Phil on "Mad About You"; and, of course, "The Critic"; short films, tributes, and rare footage; a CD with long-lost comedy bits and songs from Brooks' movies; and a 60-page book featuring vintage photos, program notes and essays by Leonard Maltin, Robert Brustein, Gene Wilder and Bruce Jay Friedman. $89.93 from the Shout! Factory.
There's a slew of nifty Blu-ray releases this week, headed up by the debut of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946), staring Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames and Audrey Totter, with such extras as an introduction by film historian Richard Jewell, "Lana Turner ... A Daughter's Memoir," "The John Garfield Story," "Phantoms, Inc.," "Red Hot Riding Hood," and the Screen Guild Theater radio broadcast, from Warner ... Also new-to-Blu-ray from Warner is the 1981 remake, directed by Bob Rafelson and starring Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos, Michael Lerner, John P. Ryan and Anjelica Huston ... "Empire of the Sun" (1987), based on J. G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano and Ben Stiller, arrives in a premium Blu-ray book featuring a collectible 36-page book with rare images, cast bios, facts about the film, essays and more; from Warner ... "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Parts 1 and 2: Ultimate Edition" (2010-11) arrives as a six-disc Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo pack, with more than six hours of special features (including "Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 7 and Part 8") and collectibles that include a photo booklet with 48 pages of rare photos of the cast and crew, concept sketches and behind-the-scenes insights; four limited edition character cards and a lenticular card; from Warner ... "The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series" (1961-66) on Blu-ray, a 15-disc set with all five seasons, with such extras as the TV Academy Tribute to Carl Reiner featuring Dick Van Dyke, George Clooney, Garry Shandling, Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Paul Reiser, Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, and more; a 50th Anniversary Q & A with Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner and Garry Marshall; more; $349.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray" with all 236 original broadcast episodes on 21 discs, with more than 20 hours of bonus features including an introspective documentary, never-before-released cast appearances, unaired footage, a new gag reel and more; $279.98 from Warner ... "Watchmen Collector's Edition" is a massive set with "Watchmen the Ultimate Cut" (which weaves together the director's cut of "Watchmen" with "Tales of the Black freighter"), two hours of bonus features, "Watchmen the Complete Motion Comics" -- all on three Blu-ray discs; the original theatrical cut on DVD; the first DC Comics hard cover edition of the graphic novel; lenticular packaging; $74.98 from Warner ... and, lastly, the Blu-ray debut of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989), starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin; from MGM.
Buzzin' the 'B's (11/13):"Vamps" (2012) is the latest outing from Amy Heckerling ("Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Clueless") starring Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter, Sigourney Weaver, Richard Lewis, Dan Stevens, Justin Kirk, Wallace Shawn, Marilu Henner and Kristin Johnson. It's a cheeky, fresh comedy about two eternally young party girls navigating the dating world in the Big City. Goody (Silverstone) and Stacy (Ritter) are addicted to the night life, clubbing, hooking up and always looking for the next thrill, all the while keeping a big a secret -- they happen to be modern-day vampires. But even with lifetimes of dating experience behind them, the duo realizes they still have a lot to learn about love when Stacy unexpectedly falls for the son of a vampire hunter, and Goody runs into the man of her dreams from decades earlier. With their destinies at stake, the girls are faced with a difficult choice; give up their eternal youth for a chance at love, or continue to live their uncomplicated fabulously single lives forever. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay ... "Comes a Bright Day" (2012), starring Craig Roberts, Imogen Poots, Kevin McKidd and Timothy Spall, is an offbeat love story set during the armed robbery of one of London's most exclusive jewelers. Sam is a bright, ambitious and handsome bellboy at a five star hotel who, while running an errand at one of London's most exclusive jewelers, suddenly finds himself in a life or death hostage situation with the radiantly beautiful Mary and her belligerent elderly boss Charlie. From Strand Releasing ... According to ancient lore, if a human freely offers their heart to a demon, that monster can become mortal, experiencing the true pains and passions of existence. In "Painted Skin: The Resurrection" (2012 -- China), starring Xun Zhou, Kun Chen and Wei Zhao, Xiaowei, a millennia-old fox spirit, is freed from her frozen prison and transforms into a dangerous seductress who must consume living hearts to maintain her youthful beauty. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA ... In "The Ghostmaker" (2011), starring Aaron Dean Eisenberg, J. Walter Holland, Liz Fenning and Jared Grey, a group of friends use an ancient coffin to experience the world as ghosts; from Lionsgate ... In "The Highway" (2011), starring Devin the Dude, Lil Duval, Gary Owen, Erik Estrada, Eddie Griffin, Elle Capone, Kelly Coffield and Keith David, two marijuana-loving brothers embark on a journey in search of a mythical highway in Kentucky, which they believe will lead them to "marijuana nirvana"; from Lionsgate ... "Snowmageddon" (2011) is a Syfy Channel movie about a mystical snow globe that makes very bad things happen in the real world when it is shaken; on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay ... When a soldier returns from Iraq and takes a job as a prison guard, he quickly realizes that the only thing distinguishing the prisoners from the "screws" (British slang for guard) is who holds the key in "Screwed" (2011), starring James D'Arcy, Noel Clarke, Frank Harper and Kate Magowan; from Inception Media Group ... "Lukewarm" (2011), starring John Schneider, Jeremy Jones, Nicole Gale Anderson, Jason Burkey, Jenna von Oy and Bill Cobbs, is an inspiring tale of temptation, faith and redemption, about a young man who realizes he can only move forward after facing his past and reconciling with his estranged father; from Image Entertainment.
On the Indie Front (11/13):Todd Solondz's "Dark Horse" (2012), starring Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow, Selma Blair, Jordan Gelber and Justin Bartha, just might be the melancholy director's most accessible -- and least depressing -- film yet. Romance blooms between two thirtysomethings in arrested development: an avid toy collector who is the dark horse of his family and a depressed woman on the rebound. Jordan Gelber plays Abe, a spoiled Long Island 35-year-old who still lives with his parents, collects action figures, takes money from his mom, has a do-nothing job with his dad's little real estate company, wears a rhinestone name necklace and drives a bright yellow Hummer. But the perpetually angry Abe's life suddenly perks up when he attends a wedding and meets the equally miserable (but beautiful) Miranda. Abe proposes on their first date, but the events that follow suggest Abe may have a very weak grasp of reality; plus, there's the sneaking suspicion that Miranda has ulterior motives for wanting to be with Abe. On DVD and Blu-ray from Virgil Films ... In "A Burning Hot Summer" (2012 -- Canada), starring Louis Garrel, Monica Bellucci, Jerome Robart and Celine Sallette, the once-happy marriage between brooding painter Frederic and his movie-star wife Angele hits the rocks when another couple joins them on a Roman holiday. Features an evocative score from the Velvet Underground's legendary John Cale. From IFC Films.
For the Family (11/13):In "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Season 2 Part 1: Danger in the Deep" (2012), the gang returns to their hometown, Crystal Cove, to solve a series of baffling mysteries in 13 new episodes; $19.97 from Warner ... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection" (1987-1996) is a 23-disc set with all 193 episodes from 10 seasons, packaged in an exclusive, collectible TMNT Party Van, $99.98 from Lionsgate ... "The Astonishing X-Men Blu-Ray Collection" (2011) includes all four Astonishing X-Men adventures from Joss Whedon: "Astonishing X-Men: Gifted," "Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous," "Astonishing X-Men: Torn," Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable." Also available on DVD. From Shout! Factory.
Special Interest (11/13):"The Predator Collection" (2012) includes four Smithsonian Channel programs: "Big Cats of the Savannah," "Cheetah: Price of Speed," "Lions in Battle" and "Diving with Crocodiles"; $24.98 from Inception Media Group ... In "Nitro Circus The Movie" (2012), Travis Pastrana and his tight-knit, highly-skilled, adrenaline-addicted friends bring their impossibly insane adventures to the screen with the most dangerous stunts in the world of action sports -- from back-flipping a bike between two 60-story buildings to going air- born to destroy their friends in a life size, high-speed game of Freedom Flyers. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 3D Blu-ray from ARC Entertainment ... "Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2" (2012) is a new collection of 12 Pixar short films: "BURN•E," "Dug's Special Mission," "George & AJ," "Air Mater," "Time Travel Mater," "Your Friend the Rat," "Partly Cloudy," "Presto," "Day & Night," "Hawaiian Vacation," "Small Fry," "La Luna." In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack from Disney ... "A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand" (2012): On February 11, 2011, Barbra Streisand was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year (MusiCares was established in 1989 by The Recording Academy to provide a safety net of assistance to music people in times of need by way of a wide range of financial, medical and personal assistance). At a gala fund-raising event in Los Angeles, Streisand and an all-star cast of guests, including Tony Bennett, Faith Hill, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow, Seal, Stevie Wonder and more, performed many of the songs she made famous throughout her illustrious career. Proceeds from the sale of the DVD and Blu-ray -- which contain 13 performances from that evening -- will provide support for MusiCares. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Shout! Factory ... "Company in Concert" (2011) is a live performance of the hit Stephen Sondheim musical comedy, starring Craig Bierko, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Katie Finneran, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Lazar, Patti LuPone, Jill Paice, Martha Plimpton, Anika Noni Rose, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jim Walton and Chryssie Whitehead. Winner of the 1971 Tony Award for Best Musical, "Company" follows five married, once married, or soon-to-be-married couples and their mutual friend, Robert, a 35-year-old bachelor who has been unable to connect in a long-term relationship. The relationships are presented in a series of vignettes. Performed for four sold-out evenings with the New York Philharmonic and filmed for theatrical exhibition. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Image Entertainment.
The folks at both First Run Features and Docurama have a slew of documentaries due this week: From FRF comes "Culinary Masterpieces: Four Great Foodie Films," a gift set featuring four culinary masterpieces in a special edition box set: "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven," "Kings of Pastry" (by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus), "Guy Martin: Portrait of a Grand Chef" and "A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt," $59.95 ... Taiwan is known around the world as having one of the most diverse cuisines in Asia, and food is the foremost passion of its 23 million inhabitants; "The Raw and the Cooked" (2012) is a sumptuous exploration of the island's rich culinary traditions, and their relationship to Taiwan's unique mix of cultures ... "The Island President" (2011) is a film about one man's mission to save his nation and perhaps the planet. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced -- the survival of his country and everyone in it. Nasheed, who brought democracy to the Maldives after decades of despotic rule, now faces an even greater challenge: As one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1,200 islands of the Maldives and make them uninhabitable. A classic David and Goliath tale, this documentary captures Nasheed's battle to stop global warming -- and save his country. From Docurama: "They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain" (2012) was shot clandestinely over a two-year period, providing a rare look at the second-most isolated country on the planet and lifting the curtain to expose everyday life in a country that has been held in the iron grip of a brutal military regime for 48 years. Culled from over 120 hours of striking images, the film is an impressionistic journey. Interviews and interactions with more than 100 people throughout Burma, including an interview with the recently released Aung San Suu Kyi -- an opposition politician who had been imprisoned for 15 of the past 21 years -- are interwoven with spectacular footage of this little-seen nation and its people ... "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" (2012) was inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's groundbreaking book. The documentary takes on one of the central moral challenges of the 21st century: the oppression of women and girls worldwide. The film is an unforgettable journey with actress/advocates Eva Mendes, America Ferrera, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Uniuon, Diane Lane and New York Times journalist Kristof to meet some of the most courageous individuals of our time, who are doing extraordinary work to empower women and girls everywhere. These are stories of heartbreaking challenge, dramatic transformation and enduring hope. The two-disc set features episodes on Gender-Based Violence/Sierra Leone, Sex Trafficking/Cambodia, Education/Vietnam, Maternal Mortality/Somaliland, Forced Prostitution/India.
"The Amazing Spider-Man," "Your Sister's Sister" and "Arthur Christmas." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (11/6):At the top of the list this week is Billy Wilder's masterpiece "Sunset Boulevard" (1950), starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough and Jack Webb, newly restored in a Blu-ray edition by the folks at Paramount. Not only a cinematic masterpiece with its dark take on Hollywood, fame, fortune and the human condition, "Sunset Boulevard" also captures some extraordinary moments in Hollywood history, including Cecil B. DeMille on the set of "Samson and Delilah." Director Erich von Stroheim, who had directed Swanson previously in real life, appears as Norma Desmond's butler and former director. Various notable figures make appearances in the film as themselves, including Buster Keaton, Hedda Hopper, Anna Q. Nilsson and H.B. Warner. And, of course, there are the iconic images of Hollywood itself, including the well-known shot of Paramount's legendary gates, the Alto Nido Apartments, Schwab's Pharmacy, and more. The Blu-ray boasts over two hours of bonus material that sheds light on the film, its origins and its path to becoming a classic. Also includes a never-before-released deleted scene entitled "The Paramount-Don't-Want-Me Blues," which was obtained from the Academy Film Archive and features Academy Award-winning songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans performing a comedic song that was cut for fear of being too Hollywood insider in 1950. There's a host of featurettes on the film, the director and the stars, "The City of Sunset Boulevard" and "Franz Waxman and the Music of Sunset Boulevard" featurettes, a Hollywood location map; and much, much more.
For its 100th anniversary, Universal has put out the "Universal 100th Anniversary Collection," a selection of 25 films that helped shape the legacy of the studio. The set includes "100 Years of Universal," a 72-Page collector's book with rare photos and memorabilia from the studio's archives, and a 15-track music CD containing a selection of the most popular music scores from Universal films, including "Psycho," "The Sting," "Jaws," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Out of Africa." Extra features include an exclusive bonus disc, with eight "100 Years of Universal" featurettes, vintage cartoons and rarely seen shorts from the Universal archives. The titles: "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930), "Dracula" (1931), "Dracula Spanish" (1931)" (Blu-ray Collection only), "Buck Privates" (1941), "Pillow Talk" (1959), "Spartacus" (1960), "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962), "The Birds" (1963), "American Graffiti" (1973), "The Sting" (1973), "Jaws" (1975), "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978), "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), "Scarface" (1983), "The Breakfast Club" (1985), "Back to the Future" (1985), "Out of Africa" (1985), "Field of Dreams" (1989), "Do the Right Thing" (1989), "Jurassic Park" (1993), "Schindler's List " (1993)" (DVD Collection only), "Apollo 13" (1995), "The Fast and the Furious" (2001), "The Bourne Identity" (2002), "Mamma Mia! The Movie" (2008), "Despicable Me" (2010). DVD, $299.98; Blu-ray Disc, $349.98.
Want more film history? How 'bout "Rags and Riches," a three-film Mary Pickford set with newly mastered (with full orchestral scores) editions of "The Poor Little Rich Girl" (1917), "The Hoodlum" (1919) and "Sparrows" (1926), on DVD and Blu-ray from Milestone Films. Milestone also has "Cut to the Chase: Charley Chase Comedy Collection," a two-disc set of work by the silent film comedic star. Exactly 100 years ago this year, Charles Joseph Parrott, fresh off the stage, started working at the Christie Film Company as a juvenile lead, a gag writer and a comedy director. When he changed his name to Charley Chase and found himself featured in the Hal Roach short comedies, he became one of the great geniuses and stars of Hollywood's golden era of silent comedy. Included here are "April Fool," "The 'Fraidy Cat," "Bad Boy," "The Caretaker's Daughter," "Be Your Age," "Bromo and Juliet," "Dog Shy," "Charley My Boy," "The Uneasy Three," "Innocent Husbands," "Isn't Life Terrible?," "What Price Goofy?," "Long Fliv the King," "Mama Behave," "Mighty Like A Moose," "Mum's the Word." On DVD.
At the other end of film history is the delightful low-budget sci-fi actioner "They Live Collector's Edition" (1988), starring Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. Horror master John Carpenter directs this heart-pounding thriller in which aliens are systematically gaining control of the Earth by masquerading as humans and lulling the public into submission. Humanity's last chance lies with a lone drifter who stumbles upon a harrowing discovery -- a unique pair of sunglasses that reveals the terrifying and deadly truth. On DVD and Blu-ray from Shout! Factory/Scream Factory. And for you Internauts out there, there's "RVBX: Ten Years of Red vs. Blue," a 14-disc boxed set that collects the full first 10 seasons of this online video series based on the explosively popular video game franchise Halo and created with a new form of animation called "machinima." From tank romances to alien offspring, buddy clubs, "knock knock" jokes, laser faces and more, this is the sci-fi comedy that paved the way for an entire generation of online video. The set features newly remastered surround sound audio, plus additional videos and miniseries, hours of special features, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and much more. DVD, $139.95; Blu-ray Disc, $179.95, from Cinedign Entertainment/Flatiron Film Company.
From TV to Video (11/6):"Aim High: The Complete First Season" (2011) includes all six webisodes of the series about a 16-year-old undercover CIA agent who fights terrorists in-between homework and dates with his crush Amanda, $14.97 from Warner ... "American Restoration: Volume Two" (2012) is a two-disc set with 17 episodes, $19.95 from A&E ... "Entourage: The Complete Series" is an 18-disc set with all eight seasons and more than six hours of bonus content, boxed in a stylishly cool, black casing; on DVD and Blu-ray from HBO ... "Law & Order: The Eleventh Year" (2000-01) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $36.98 from Universal ... "Lifetime Gold Collection" is a two-disc set with four of Lifetime's most popular Original Movies: "Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story," "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy," "Ambulance Girl" and "We Were the Mulvaneys"; $14.95 from A&E ... "The Love You Save" (2011) stars Robin Givens, Christopher Williams and Kierra "Kiki" Sheard in a family telefilm about a successful single real estate mogul, with a seemingly perfect life who finds things coming apart at the seams when her children discover a secret from their past that shakes the family to its core. From Image Entertainment ... "Moms to the Rescue Collection" features four Original Lifetime Movies on two discs: "Honeymoon With Mom," "Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story," "Mom, Dad and Her" and "Mom at Sixteen"; $19.95 from A&E ... "Top Shot: Season Four" (2012) is a four-disc set with nine episodes, $29.95 from A&E ... "Wolf Lake: The Complete Series" (2001-02) is a three-disc set with all nine episodes, $39.98 from Entertainment One.
Buzzin' the 'B's (11/6):In "Outpost: Black Sun" (2012), starring Catherine Steadman, Richard Coyle, Julian Wadham and Daniel Caltagirone, a NATO Special Forces Unit in Eastern Europe must battle a zombie army of Nazi Storm-Troopers created by a war-criminal German scientist. This sequel to 2008's Nazi zombie film "Outpost" is a straight-ahead action-horror-thriller that doesn't get bogged down in talk despite an emphasis on science (the Nazis are transformed into monsters by a quantum force field). Fun. On DVD and Blu-ray from Xlrator ... "Hirokin: The Last Samurai" (2011) stars Wes Bentley, Jessica Szohr, Angus Macfadyen and Laura Ramsey in a weak "Star Wars" knock off about a reluctant samurai on a distant, desert planet who has to avenge the murder of his family by the planet's evil dictator and fight against an elite army of warriors for the freedom of his people; from Lionsgate ... "360" (2012), directed by Fernando Meirelles ("The Constant Gardener," "City of God") and starring Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Ben Foster, is a sexy, dramatic thriller about interconnected romantic life in the 21st century. "360" starts in Vienna, weaving stories set in Paris, London, Bratislava, Rio, Denver and Phoenix into a single, mesmerizing narrative. A businessman tempted to be unfaithful to his wife sets into motion a series of events that ripple around the globe with dramatic consequences. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "Fire With Fire" (2012) is a thriller that follows a fireman's unexpected course of action when he's threatened by a white supremacist that he's testifying against in a murder case. Stars Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Vincent D'Onofrio, 50 Cent, Richard Schiff and Vinnie Jones. On DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate ... "Maximum Conviction" (2012) is a Steven Seagal programmer about a pair of former black ops operatives decommissioning an old prison who have to protect two mysterious female prisoners from an elite force of mercenaries; co-stars Steve Austin, Michael Pare and Aliya O'Brien. From Anchor Bay ... As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother's death, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home in "The Pact" (2012), starring Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner, Mark Steger and Haley Hudson. On DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Midnight Films ... "Supernatural Activity" (2012) is a send-up of "found footage" films by the creators of "Scary Movie" in which a team of myth-debunking ghost hunters on television take off on their most frightening assignment just in time for the last episode of the season; from Well Go USA ... "REC 3: Genesis" (2012) is the third chapter in the REC "recorded" series; this one follows a young couple's wedding day in the country when it turns into a big nightmare after a viral outbreak transforms their guests into blood-thirsty zombies; from Sony ... A pregnant teen, on the run from her unsupportive mother, hitchhikes to L.A. to see her rock star father, along the way meeting up with a group of eccentric characters in a trailer park where she finds the true meaning of family in "A Very Mary Christmas (aka Expecting Mary)" (2010), starring Elliott Gould, Linda Gray, Lainie Kazan, Cloris Leachman, Della Reese, Olesya Rulin, Cybill Shepherd, Gene Simmon and Fred Willard. From Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
For the Family (11/6):There's plenty of Christmas offerings again this week; the onslaught is just beginning. In "What She Wants for Christmas" (2012), 10-year-old Abigail has written to the North Pole and asked for something very special this year -- something she's kept secret even from her mother. But when Abigail discovers that Santa won't be bringing her special "gift," she activates her back-up plan to capture jolly St. Nick ... and gets Christmas all tied up. From Entertainment One ... In "Adventures of Bailey: Christmas Hero" (2012), worried that he won't get any presents from Santa because he's been a bad doggie, Bailey learns of a mysterious Native American Indian brave who may be able to make his Christmas wishes come true. With visions of tennis balls, squeaky toys and dog bones dancing in his head, Bailey sets out to find this legend in the woods. But his misguided actions threaten his family's Christmas plans. From Entertainment One ... In "Chilly Christmas" (2012), starring Bryson Sams, C. Thomas Howell, Brooke Langton and Tom Arnold, an 11-year-old boy -- unhappy because he's moving with his detective dad from California to Manhattan -- tries to train his dog Chilly to live in an apartment (including using the toilet and a treadmill) while fending off dognappers. From Anchor Bay ... "The Swan Princess Christmas" (2012) is an all-new CGI musical with Princess Odette, Prince Derek, and their trusted woodland friends as they celebrate their first Christmas together, and face the villainous and evil sorcerer, Rothbart. From Sony ... When Santa vanishes on Christmas Eve, YouTube sensation dancing green gummy bear Gummibar and his band of wacky, misfit friends shake their booties from the North Pole to the tropics on a madcap search ... only to find Santa was abducted by a dance-crazed alien in "The Yummy Gummy Search for Santa" (2012). From Lionsgate.
There's three non-Christmas-themed family adventures arriving this week: "Regular Show: The Best DVD in the World* At This Moment in Time" (2011-12) features 16 episodes from the second and third seasons of the popular animated series about Mordecai and Rigby -- a bluebird and a racoon who are the groundskeepers at a park and whose attempts to escape their everyday boredom take them to fantastical extremes; $19.82 from Cartoon Network ... "Astonishing X-Men 2-Disc Blu-ray Collection" (2012) is a two-disc set with "Astonishing X-Men: Gifted," "Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous," "Astonishing X-Men: Torn," "Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable," bonus content, and original cover art illustration by John Cassaday. Also available on DVD; from Shout! factory ... "Digimon Adventure: Volume 1" (2011) is a three-disc set with 21 episodes, $19.95 from Flatiron Film Company.
Special Interest (11/6):"The Paradise Lost Trilogy Collector's Edition" (2012) is the landmark documentary that sparked an international movement to "Free the West Memphis Three." "Paradise Lost" investigates the gruesome 1993 murder of three 8-year-old boys and the three teenagers accused of killing them as part of a Satanic ritual. From real-life courtroom drama and clandestine jailhouse interviews to behind-the-scenes strategy meetings and intimate moments with grief-stricken families, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were granted unprecedented access to all the players involved, capturing the events as they unfolded. "Paradise Lost: Revelations" delves deeply into the shocking aftermath of the trials, updating the story seven years after the murders. With Echols on death row and Baldwin and Misskelley serving life sentences, "Paradise Lost: Purgatory" picks up the story and reexamines the horrifying crime with fresh insights that only the passage of time can provide. (Just before the third documentary was completed, the three men were exonerated). From Docurama ... "Celebrity Trials in the Media" (2012) is a fascinating look at the media's fascination with celebrity trials, centering on the rape trial of Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and the child molestation trial of singer Michael Jackson. Director Brian Malone examines the ethical shortcomings of the press when they drop their guard to cover celebrities; if a celebrity is involved, an otherwise unnoticed case of drunk driving, insider trading, rape or even murder gets more national and local coverage than the real news of the day. This documentary examines Americans' fascination with celebrity scandals, from Fatty Arbuckle to Patty Hearst and Tonya Harding to Winona Rider and, of course, O.J. Simpson. $19.95 from Cinema Libre Studio.
One of our favorite natural history subjects, the good old dinosaur, gets a makeover and then some in "Dinotasia" (2012), a fantastically ambitious and groundbreaking documentary. Based on cutting-edge paleontology and the latest fossil records, "Dinotasia" presents a series of vignettes about dinosaurs -- both familiar faces and some we have only found out about in the past 10 years. The film uses CGI to bring the stories to life, but draws on animation's birth in silent film and early Disney to create proper, traditional visual storytelling. Werner Herzog narrates. On DVD and Blu-ray from Cinedign Entertainment/Flatiron Film Company ... The documentary "High Ground" (2012) follows a team of veterans of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq as they set out to climb a towering Himalayan peak to overcome challenges and heal the mental and emotional ravages of war. The 11 wounded U.S veterans, each dealing with unique issues and looking to move on with their lives, join an expedition to climb the 20,000-foot Himalayan giant Mount Lobuche. Led by blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer and a team of Mount Everest summiteers as their guides, they embark on an emotional and gripping climb to reach the top and heal their psychic wounds. From Virgil Films ... The IMAX documentary "Rescue" (2011) plunges viewers into the grueling, highly technical work of saving lives in the face of a natural disaster, following first responders as they train at sea, in the air and on the ground preparing for the worst that can happen. And then it does ... when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes the Caribbean nation of Haiti. On DVD, 3D Blu-ray Disc (compatible with 2D players) from Image Entertainment ... "Warren Miller's ... Like There's No Tomorrow" (2011), narrated by Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley and filmed on five continents, tours the world's most inspiring snowy landscapes, from the rugged peaks of New Hampshire's Mount Washington to the legendary powder of Squaw Valley, California; from the striking Himalayas in Gulmarg, India, to the southern hemisphere's highest peak in Portillo, Chile. On DVD and Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
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December 1, 2012
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).