DVD Collectibles (2/26):Topping this week's releases are two films from the fine folks at The Criterion Collection:
Few films can claim to be as influential to the course of cinema history as "Chronicle of a Summer" (1961 -- France). The fascinating result of a collaboration between filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin, this vanguard work of what Morin would term cinema verite is a brilliantly conceived and realized sociopolitical diagnosis of the early 60s in France. By simply interviewing a group of Paris residents in the summer of 1960 -- beginning with the provocative and eternal question "Are you happy?" and expanding to political issues, including the ongoing Algerian War -- Rouch and Morin reveal the hopes and dreams of a wide array of people, from artists to factory workers, from an Italian emigre to an African student. "Chronicle of a Summer's" penetrative approach gives us a document of a time and place with extraordinary emotional depth. In a new high-definition digital transfer of the Cineteca di Bologna restoration of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... When an idealistic governor disobeys the reigning feudal lord, he is cast into exile, his wife and children left to fend for themselves and eventually separated by vicious slave traders in Kenji Mizoguchi's masterpiece "Sansho the Baliff" (1954 -- Japan), here making its Blu-ray debut.
From TV to DVD (2/26):"The Client List: The Complete First Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $45.99 from Sony ... "Garrow's Law: The Complete Collection" (2009-11) includes all three series of the absorbing legal drama featuring Andrew Buchan as William Garrow, a revolutionary legal mind determined to defend the downtrodden in 18th-century England. Based on a true story, the series follows Garrow as he advocates for prisoners' rights and pioneers the idea of innocence until proven guilty. Six-disc set with 12 episodes, $79.99 from Acorn Media ... "Iron Road" (2008) stars Sam Neill, Peter O'Toole, Luke Macfarlane, Charlotte Sullivan and Betty Sun in a miniseries tale of forbidden love set against the 19th century backdrop of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad through the Canadian Rockies. From Entertainment One ... "Law & Order: The Twelfth Year" (2001-02) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $36.98 from Universal ... "Maigret Complete Collection" stars Michael Gambon in the acclaimed adaptations of Georges Simenon's classic detective novels, which were broadcast on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery! in the early 1990s. From Acorn Media ... Geraldine McEwan stars in the 1978 adaptation of Muriel Spark's "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," making its DVD debut in a three-disc set from Acorn Media.
Buzzin' the 'B's (2/26):"Border Run" (2012), starring Sharon Stone, Billy Zane, Manolo Cardona, Miguel Rodarte and Rosemberg Salgado, is a gritty and gripping drama that follows an American reporter as she searches for her missing brother against the backdrop of violence and human smuggling across the U.S./Mexican Border.On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... "Chicken With Plums" (2011) is the latest film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, the Academy Award-nominated filmmakers of "Persepolis." Like "Persepolis," this is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Satrapi that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking by combining live-action sequences reflecting a mixture of genres (expressionism, fantasy, melodrama) with a clever animated sequence of the classic tale "Appointment in Samarra." The story revolves around Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, who has lost all taste for life after his beloved violin gets broken; he decides to confine himself to bed to await death, where he plunges into deep reveries. From Sony ... An unlikely brotherhood of soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge makes a daring raid into the heart of Nazi Germany to stop Hitler from developing an atomic super weapon in "Company of Heroes" (2013), starring Tom Sizemore, Chad Collins, Vinnie Jones, Neal McDonough and Jurgen Prochnow. Based on the video game. On DVD and Blu-ray from Sony ... Set in the world of competitive women's track and field, a street smart runner develops an intense rivalry with an equally ambitious wealthy young athlete in "Fast Girls" (2012), starring Lenora Crichlow, Lily James, Bradley James and Rubert Graves. From RLJ/Image Entertainment ... Set in the 1970s and based on Elmore Leonard's best-seller, "Freaky Deaky" (2012) is a trippy comedy that follows an ex-bomb squad cop who gets involved with the seedy side of Los Angeles when he's transferred to the vice squad. Stars Christian Slater, Crispin Glover, Michael Jai White, Billy Burke, Roger Bart, Andy Dick, Bill Duke, Gloria Hendry and Sabina Gadecki. From Entertainment One ... "Hey Japanese" (2009 -- Japan) is a dark erotic comedy that takes a wild ride through Tokyo nightlife as a group of 58 small town suburbanites, from teenagers to retirees, take to the night in search of all sorts of sensual excitement. From Vanguard Cinema ... A former race car driver who transports stolen exotic cars is framed for a cop's murder, escapes prison, takes a female hostage (who turns out to be a deputy sheriff) and heads for L.A. in a high-speed chase with the police in "Joshua Tree" (1993), starring Dolph Lundgren, George Segal, Kristian Alfonso, Geoffrey Lewis, Michelle Phillips and Bert Remsen. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Shout! Factory ... A well-known Shaolin fighting monk must protect his New York City Kung-Fu school from a ruthless promoter in "Man From Shaolin" (2011), starring Peng Zhang Li, Brian Ames and Linda Elena Tovar. From Lionsgate ... In "Nobody Gets Out Alive" (2013), starring Shaun Paul Costello, Chelsey Garner, Brian Gallagher and Clint Howard, a group of partying college students escape their troubled lives only to find themselves fighting for their lives when they're attacked by a mad man seeking "revenge" for the death of his daughter years before at the hands of a drunk driver. From (Image Entertainment ... "Ultimate Zombie Feast Volume 1" is a collection of cool zombie films from around the world, ranging from 5 min. to 62 min., including the exclusive 62-min Mormon zombie film "The Book of Zombie" and festival winners "It Came From the West" and "Dead Hungry," and India's first zombie film "Savages." Other titles: "Zombies and Cigarettes," "Plague," "Bitten," "Arise," "Not Even Death," "Fear of the Living Dead," "Kidz," "ZomBeer." From Vanguard Cinema.
Foreign (2/26):"A Simple Life" (2011 -- Hong Kong), starring Andy Lau and Deanie Ip, is a wonderfully heartfelt and poignant drama about -- well -- the events that move our simple, everyday lives. Roger (Andy Lau) is a successful movie producer. Ah Tao (Deanie Ip) has worked for Roger's family as a nanny and maid over the course of four generations. When Roger comes home to find Ah Tao has suffered a severe stroke and is unable to care for herself, he agrees to help her relocate to a nursing home. He wants to help, but fears he'll fail her. She needs his kindness, but doesn't want to be a burden. As their roles reverse, he becomes her caregiver, and comes to understand how much she means to him. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA.
For the Family (2/26):Perry the Platypus -- a.k.a. Agent P -- and his fellow operatives team up to thwart Dr. Doofenshmirtz and his dastardly "Inators" in "Phineas and Ferb: Animal Agents" (2013), which features 12 animated adventures including the two-part "Phineas and Ferb" cliffhanger "Where's Perry?" $19.99 from Disney ... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles" (2012) includes five episodes from Nickelodeon's new, CGI-animated TMNT series, featuring the voices of Jason Biggs, Sean Astin, Rob Paulsen and Greg Cipes. $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ...In "Barbie in the Pink Shoes" (2013), a ballerina puts on a pair of sparkling pink shoes and is transported to a fantastical ballet world where she must dance in her favorite ballets ("Giselle" and "Swan Lake") in order to defeat an evil Snow Queen. On DVD and Blu-ray from Universal ... "Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon" (2013) is a new Scooby-Doo! animated movie in which the lovable Great Dane and his pals attend a popular comic book and media convention where they find themselves battling a legendary super villain -- the hideous Mr. Hyde -- who comes to life and terrorizes everyone at the convention. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Warner ... A little orphan boy becomes best friends with an elephant named Lucky in "My Lucky Elephant" (2013), starring First Khunchan and Somboon the elephant. From Arc Entertainment.
Special Interest (2/26):
From the Big Screen:
"Argo," "Anna Karenina," "Fun Size," "Sinister," "Undefeated" and "Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (2/19):This week's top pick: The restored and remastered classic "The Thief of Bagdad," the ground-breaking 1924 silent film by director Raoul Walsh and Douglas Fairbanks. Hollywood's first great action hero was Douglas Fairbanks, and one of his most iconic movies is returning in a pristine new version. Choreographed by Fairbanks, with incredible art and production design by an uncredited William Cameron Menzies, the film was gigantic in its sweep and grandeur, with impossibly big, full-scale sets, amazing special effects (the flying carpet scenes are stupendous: no blue screen here; Fairbanks stood on a 3/4-inch thick sheet of steel attached to 16 piano wires rigged to the top of a crane, which lifted him above the crowd), outrageous stunts by Fairbanks, and the proverbial cast of thousands (as extras). It's gorgeous to behold. Lovingly restored from two 35mm negatives and incorporating the color tints and tones of the original release prints, this definitive edition features silent film score maestro Carl Davis("Napoleon") conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, performing a magnificent score that intermingles Davis' own music with the famous Orientalia of Rimsky-Korsakov. The soundtrack is in 5.1 Dolby Digital for DVD and DTS-HD Master Audio for Blu-ray. Extras include commentary by Douglas Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance and a featurette about the making of the film and its impact, including rare behind-the-scenes photographs. From Cohen Media Group's Cohen Film Collection). Watch a clip:
Hoping to continue to capitalize on the growing 3D craze, Disney has been going back to the vault to remaster Pixar hits ("Cars," etc), and the latest (and possibly the last, since it appears the 3D fad is winding down) is 2001's animated kids hit "Monsters, Inc.," with the voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger and Frank Oz. The "Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray 3D Ultimate Collector's Edition" is a massive set, a 5-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D + 2 Blu-ray Discs + DVD + Digital Copy); there' also a 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (2 Blu-ray Discs + DVD). Extras include a commentary, a Toy Story Toons: "Partysaurus Rex," "For the Birds" short, "Mike's New Car" short, filmmakers round table, "Roz's 100 Door" challenge game, "Pixar Fun Factory Tower," banished concepts, and a "Monsters University" sneak peek ... One of the hotter TV series has been HBO's "Game of Thrones," based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy series. It consistently has pulled large viewing numbers and the first season of the series became one of home entertainment's best-selling television titles in 2012. Now HBO is releasing "Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season," on DVD and Blu-ray, and the set includes such bonus features as "Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay" featurette; a "Game of Thrones: Inner Circle" roundtable discussion with actors Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Michelle Fairley and Liam Cunningham; "The Religions of Westeros" featurette; character profiles; and 12 commentaries. The Blu-ray adds a "War of the Five Kings" interactive guide that tracks the claims, strategies and key players involved in the battle for the Iron Throne; "Histories & Lore" with 19 animated histories detailing the mythology of Westeros and Essos; an In-Episode Guide; and hidden Dragon Eggs ... The hard-boiled classic TV series "Naked City" -- that aired from 1958 to 1963 on ABC -- was a ground-breaking drama in style and substance with a "semi-documentary" format that told gripping stories of real life in the big city ("There are eight million stories in the naked city"). Starring Paul Burke, the show featured many great guest stars including Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Fonda, William Shatner, Dustin Hoffman, Telly Savalas, James Caan, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Jack Klugman and many more. "Naked City: 20 Star-Filled Episodes" pulls together some of the series best episodes, on DVD for $24.98; from RLJ/Image Entertainment.
From TV to DVD (2/19):"Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake" (2012) What time is it? Time for the release of more episodes from Cartoon Network's smash hit animated "Adventure Time," here with 16 episodes from Seasons Two, Three and Four of the Emmy Award-nominated series (with the voice talent of Neil Patrick Harris as Prince Gumball) featuring Fionna and Cake -- a human girl and her cat -- as they battle the Ice Queen to save Prince Gumball and the Candy Kingdom. $19.82 from Cartoon Network/Warner ... "Ghost Hunters: Season 8 Part 1" (2012) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes, $24.98 from Image Entertainment ... When a single mom moves to a new town, she feels guilty for uprooting her 10-year-old daughter, so they adopt a dog from the pound -- which turns out to be the wayward pet of a handsome ballplayer -- and love ensues in "Puppy Love" (2012), starring Candace Cameron Bure, Victor Webster, Katie L. Hawkins; from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... "The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 3" (1975-76) is a six-disc set with 21 episodes, $39.98 from Universal ... "Swamp People: Season 3" (2011) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $24.98 from Lionsgate ... "Top Gear: The Complete Second Season" (2011-12) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes of the American version of the U.K. hit, $29.98 from BBC/Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's (2/19):An obsessed cop is on the trail of a serial killer prowling the streets of Buffalo, N.Y., but when his teenage daughter disappears, he drops any professional restraint to get the killer in "The Factory" (2011), starring John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, Mae Whitman, Dallas Roberts, Sonya Walger and Mageina Tovah. From Warner ... Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Juno Temple, James Marsden, Peter Stormare, Amanda Plummer, Dolph Lundgren, Rosie Perez, Rebel Wilson, James Caan and Johnny Knoxville star in "Small Apartments" (2012), the tale of a clumsy recluse who embarks on a hapless cover-up after accidentally killing his landlord. Surrounded by eccentric neighbors -- the stoner (Knoxville) and girlfriend (Wilson), the wanna-be stripper (Temple) and the artist (Caan) -- and questioned by a drunk investigator (Crystal), he dreams of Switzerland, and waits each day for an envelope from his institutionalized brother (Marsden) to set him free. On DVD and Blu-ray from Sony ... In "Lake Placid: The Final Chapter" (2012), starring Robert Englund, Yancy Butler and Elisabeth Rohm, a rogue game warden breaks out her guns after the schemes of an obsessed poacher lands a group of high school students into the midst of the man-eating crocodile "nature preserve." The third and (most likely not) last sequel. From Sony ... "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome -- Unrated Edition" (2013) is an all-new chapter in the "Battlestar Galactica" saga that takes place in the midst of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a young, talented fighter pilot, William Adama, finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Includes deleted scenes and "Blood & Chrome Visual Effects" featurettes. On DVD and Blu-ray from Universal ... "TerrorVision/The Video Dead Double Feature" (1986/1987) is a chilling and fun double feature from Scream Factory/Shout! Factory. In "TerrorVision," Stanley Putterman installs a state-of-the-art satellite dish in his backyard but, through a cosmic accident, a wayward monster's energy is beamed across galaxies, into the satellite and onto the Puttermans' television set, where he leaps off the screen and into the Puttermans' living room. In "The Video Dead," an old television set receives a single channel, one that not only shows the same film over and over -- a horror film where zombies rise from the grave to kill -- but also frees the gnarled, evil monsters into the neighborhood where they go after the new family on the block ... A courier for a local crime lord must deliver a mysterious package while being chased by a horde of unusual gangsters in "The Package" (2012), starring Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Keenleyside, Lochlyn Munroe and Michael Daingerfield; on DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... In order to keep one step ahead of the competition, a young aspiring chemist develops the most powerful batch of the violence-inducing drug Bath Salt (a combination of amphetamine-like chemicals, mainly mephedrone, MDPV and methylone) ... but something has gone horribly wrong. The new ultra potent bath salt batch has revealed a major side effect ... It turns users into violent flesh seeking "zombies" in "Bath Salt Zombies" (2012), from MVD Entertainment Group.
When war correspondent Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) is taken hostage in Afghanistan by the Taliban, the French government dispatches an elite Special Forces unit to bring her home alive in "Special Forces" (2012). But after liberating the captive, the commandos quickly finds themselves in a desperate fight for survival as they try to outrun their pursuers through the treacherous mountains of the Hindu Kush. Co-stars Djimon Hounsou, Benoit Magimel, Denis Menochet and Raphael Personnaz. on DVD and Blu-ray from Entertainment One ... Four assassins meet in a hotel suite in Hong Kong to resolve unfinished business in "4 Assassins" (2012), starring Will Yun Lee, Mercedes Renard, Miguel Ferrer and Oliver Williams; from Inception Media Group ... The houseboat with a group of teenage girls attending a summer camp is stranded in the middle of a river in Idaho, where they find themselves on the run, being pursued by a brutal and determined killer in "The Mooring" (2012), starring Hallie Todd, Thomas Wilson Brown, Karli Blalock and Anna Goodwin; from Lionsgate ... Creedmore Prison becomes a supernatural battleground when the specter of Charlie Forsythe, a man executed for murder, returns seeking vengeance from the brutal guard, Ethan Sharpe, who was aware of his innocence in "Prison Collector's Edition" (1988), starring Lane Smith, Viggo Mortensen, Chelsea Field, Lincoln Kilpatrick and Andre De Shields, in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory/Shout! Factory ... When a fringe scientist releases a prehistoric seed, it unleashes a horrific root system that rips through Nevada like an earthquake and devastates everything in its path in "Seeds of Destruction" (2011), starring Adrian Pasdar, Jesse Moss, James Morrison, Stefanie von Pfetten. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... in "The Cyclist" (2012), starring K.C. Clyde, Jennifer Klekas, K. Danor Gerald, Frank Gerrish and Renny Grames, an aimless young man, coasting along as a bike messenger, loses his job, apartment, and his girlfriend and decides to "grow up" by pursuing his dream of becoming a professional bike racer; from Image Entertainment ... When a college student travels to Riddle, Pennsylvania in search of her missing brother, she unravels a mystery connected to an abandoned psychiatric hospital on the edge of town, uncovering a terrifying past the town in determined to keep hidden in "Riddle" (2013), starring Elisabeth Harnois, Val Kilmer, Diora Baird and William Sadler; from XLrator Media ... "Sushi Girl" (2012), starring Tony Todd, Mark Hamill, Noah Hathaway, James Duval and Andy Mackenzie, centers on a man called "Fish," just released after six years in jail after not ratting on those involved in the robbery that sent him to prison, who celebrates his freedom with a congratulatory dinner with the men, consisting of a lavish array of sushi, served off the naked body of a beautiful young woman. Naturally, all hell breaks loose. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.
On the Indie Front (2/19):Shot in a mere five days, "Closure" (2012) is one of the first ever entirely crowd-sourced and financed feature films; it was conceived, written, cast and filmed in just 30 days as part of the 30 Day Film Challenge, a no-budget, Internet-based project created by the producers. Gaining the support of over 600,000 online followers in the first 12 days alone, filmmakers Marcin Teodoru, Tom Cole and Aaron Grasso were able to complete the feature-film in record time. The story: A man comes home from work to find his wife and daughter murdered, and when detectives tell him there are no leads, he enlists his step-brother and sister-in-law to search for justice, navigating a web of political intrigue that involves a cop and a district attorney ... all during one roller-coaster night. From Osiris Entertainment.
Foreign (2/19):A teenage boy's search for love finds him fixated on the boy next door in "North Sea Texas" (2011 -- Belgium). Pim and his ex-beauty queen, single mother live in a small town on the Belgian coast. Trapped, geographically and emotionally, they both yearn for unattainable things. Pim fantasizes about his older neighbor friend, Gino,and when things at home take a turn for the worse, Pim finds comfort and solace in Gino's family, who receive him with open arms -- and for the first time in his life he understands what it means to be loved. From Strand
For the Family (2/19):Garfield and his friends embark on a series of adventures in the animated "The Garfield Show: Spring Fun Collection" (2013), $14.93. from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... When his FBI agent father is abducted, a young boy whose concerns are dismissed as child's play by the agency arms himself with an array of his dad's high-tech spy gadgets and, with the aid of his quick-thinking, computer-genius best friend, goes on the hunt for the missing man in "Junior High Spy" (2012); from Inception Media Group ... "An American Girl: Mckenna Shoots for the Stars" (2013), starring Jade Pettyjohn, Nia Vardalos, Ian Ziering and Cathy Rigby, is a teen melodrama about a high school gymnast on track to make the regional championships who has troubles keeping up with her studies -- until a bad fall sidelines her from the team, doubly causing her to doubt herself. On Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal ... "Dora's Easter Collection" is a two-disc set featuring eight "egg-citing" springtime adventures from the "Dora's Easter Adventure" and "Dora Egg Hunt" DVDs; $19.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss Collector's Edition" features five animated TV classics, fully re-mastered and available together for the first time: "The Lorax," "Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!," "The Cat in the Hat" and "Horton Hears a Who!" On DVD, $44.98; and Blu-ray, $59.99; from Warner.
Special Interest (2/19):"American Experience: Henry Ford" (2013) is a fascinating portrait of the farm boy who rose from obscurity to become one of the most influential American innovators of the 20th century.; from PBS Distribution ... "Missions That Changed the War: The Doolittle Raid" (2011) recounts one of WWII's most daring missions, tracing the plan for an airstrike on Japan led by famed aviator Jimmy Doolittle. On two-disc DVD from Acorn Media ... "NOVA: Ultimate Mars Challenge" (2013) is a documentary on Curiosity's trip to Mars. NOVA obtained footage and interviews with the massive team of scientists and engineers responsible for Curiosity's inception and with those running the on-the-ground experiments to prepare the rover for dealing with harsh Martian conditions and equipment emergencies. On DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution ... "Your American Teen" (2012) is a documentary about the sexual exploitation of teenage girls in the Pacific Northwest that follows three teenage girls over three years. All had suffered severe trauma as children and throughout their adolescence; all had parents who were unable or unwilling to care for them. Their stories are horrifying and tragic and yet, in them, we see hope, innocence and beauty. Filmed in association with the Jennifer A. Lynch Committee Against Domestic Violence. From MVD Entertainment Group.
This Just In: 'Les Miz' Arrives March 22(February 12) Universal has just announced a March 22 release for the critically acclaimed and spectacular big-screen adaptation of "Les Misérables," directed by Tom Hooper and starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. Available on DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, VOD, Digital and UltraViolet; extras will include "The Stars of Les Misérables" casting featurette with director Tom Hooper; "Creating the Perfect Paris" production design featurette; "The Original Masterwork: Victor Hugo's Les Misérables" mini-documentary takes a look at the historical backdrop and universal themes of Hugo's classic; commentary with Hooper; more. Read more about the release here.
"Skyfall," "Robot & Frank," "The Sessions," "Bully," "The Man With the Iron Fists," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "Silent Hill: Revelation." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (2/12):Belgium auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have long made idiosyncratic films about working class people and societal outsiders, using a naturalistic, almost minimalist approach, many times with first-time actors. Their films are heart-wrenching studies of life on the edge -- delving into the spiritual and psychological casualties of modern society. "The Kid With a Bike" (2011), here re-released by The Criterion Collection in a beautiful Blu-ray edition (also available on DVD) follows 12-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret) who, living in a group home, attempts to reach his estranged, single father by any means possible, including running away. To his aid comes the compassionate Samantha (the radiant Cecile de France), who agrees to help him in his Don Quixote quest. She provides him with a bicycle -- a symbol of his lost parental relationship -- and together the pair track down Cyril's dad, with unintended consequences. A moving and powerful film not to be missed. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. New digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Alain Marcoen, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.
As everyone should know by now, Warner Bros. is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a flurry of boxed sets highlighting the studios filmic output -- including a massive "Best of Warner Bros 100 Film Collection" and a gigantic "Best of Warner Bros 50 Film Collection Blu-ray" set. This week Warners is releasing "The Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collections: Musicals," one of many 20-film collections honoring different genres. Included here are such classics as "The Jazz Singer" (1927), "Broadway Melody of 1929" (1929), "42nd Street" (1933) and "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936) as well as more modern outings such as "Cabaret" (1972), "Victor, Victoria" (1983), "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986) and "Hairspray" (1988). On DVD, $98.92.
From TV to DVD (2/12):"Bonanza: The Official Fifth Season" (1963-64) is a nine-disc set with 34 episodes of the long-running Western series that follows the High-Sierra adventures of the Cartwright family's wise patriarch Ben Cartwright and his three dissimilar sons, Adam, Hoss and "Little Joe," as they attempt to maintain and operate their sprawling timberland ranch, the Ponderosa, in an era of violence and lawlessness in mid-1800s Nevada; $58.98 from CBS/Paramount ... "Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror" (1964) is a digitally remastered edition of the Doctor Who classic that includes the original episodes 1, 2, 3 and 6 plus brand new animated versions of episodes 4 and 5, currently missing from the BBC Archives. The Tardis and First Doctor William Hartnell arrive near Paris during the French Revolution, a time of great upheaval, bloodshed and terror. $24.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Family Matters: The Complete Third Season" (1991-92) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Matlock: The Eighth Season" (1993-94) is a six-disc set with 20 episodes of the courtroom/crime drama starring Andy Griffith as a high-priced but successful Atlanta defense attorney; $54.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Nurse Jackie: Season Four" (2012) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, on DVD and Blu-ray with cast and crew commentaries, a "Cruz Control" featurette, an "On the Floor at All Saints" featurette and a gag reel; $39.98 from Lionsgate ... "Storage Wars: Volume 4" (2012) is a two-disc set with 16 episodes, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "Weeds: Season Eight, The Final Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $35.98 on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
Buzzin' the 'B's (2/12):The South Korean heist film "The Thieves" (2012) was that country's highest-grossing movie to date, with more than a half-million tickets sold on the first day and over 10 million tickets sold in the first three weeks of its release. The film -- stylishly photographed and choreographed -- follows a group of five thieves who go after the score of a lifetime: a 318-carat diamond, worth $20 million, locked away in a casino, defended by a bevy of cops. But the cops and the vault aren't the least of their problems: the thieves have to watch out for each other. Slow-going at times -- particularly as the culprits plot their robbery -- but things pick up as the action progresses. On DVD and Blu-ray, with two behind-the-scenes featurettes. From Well Go USA ... In a town overrun with zombies, vampires, and a melting mad scientist with plans for an impending alien invasion, it's up to a select few to try and keep order in "Doomsday County" (2012), starring Tara Lightfoot, Paul Alessi and Mike Santi; from Troma Entertainment ... In "Kill for Me" (2012), starring Katie Cassidy, Tracy Spiridakos, Ryan Robbins and Donal Logue, two roommates with abusive men in their pasts consider murder as an option to help settle each other's problems; from Sony ... After losing his high-powered political job and his fiance on the same day, a young man escapes to the small New England town of Harpswell in Cape Cod, where he falls in love with a bookstore owner as well as the quaint town itself, giving him new purpose and a sense of belonging in life, in the Hallmark Channel movie "Fairfield Road" (2012), starring Jesse Metcalfe and Natalie Lisinska; from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... A troubled teen goes online to test an urban legend and mistakenly summons a devious murderer named Smiley (so called because he has nothing but a carved "smiley" on his face) to kill a stranger online but ends up being marked as his next victim in "Smiley" (2012), starring Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Michael Bart, Keith David and Shane Dawson; from ARC Entertainment ... "The Euro-Sleaze Collection" includes three depraved European films on three discs: "The Sister of Ursula" (1978), about two beautiful sisters who go to a seaside resort for a relaxing vacation that soon becomes a depraved nightmare of kinky exhibitionists, dope-sick lotharios and lust-crazed lesbians; "The Sinful Dwarf" (1974), about a pint-sized pervert who imprisons drugged teenage sex slaves in the attic of his drunken mother's decrepit rooming house; and "Hanna D: The Girl From Vondel Park" (1982), about a Dutch schoolgirl who goes from coy teenage tease to depraved junkie whore; $29.95 from Severin Films.
Foreign (2/12):"Dangerous Liaisons" (2012 -- China) stars Zhang Ziyi, Jang Dong-Gun and Cecilia Cheung in a re-imagining of the classic 18th-century French novel, here set in 1930s Shanghai, the glamorous, tumultuous "Paris of the East." From Well Go USA ... A student is sucked into the dangerous and alluring world of Iceland's drug trade, where he becomes the drug lord's right hand pusher, rolling in cash, drugs and girls in "Black's Game" (2012 -- Iceland), starring Thor Kristjansson, Vignir Rafnlborsson Val and Johannes Haukur Johannesson; from Lionsgate.
For the Family (2/12):In "Babar: The Movie" (1989), the lovable pachyderm, star of Jean de Brunhoff's charming and best-loved children's books, makes the leap from page to film in this Dove-approved, feature-length animated movie originally theatrically released by New Line Cinema; from Entertainment One ... "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Butterfly Ball" (2012) features three new-to-DVD episodes from the current season: "The Butterfly Ball," "¡Vamos a Pintar!" and "¡Feliz Día de los Padres!"; $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Duck Dodgers: Dark Side of the Duck: Season 1" (2003) stars Daffy Duck as the heroic Captain Duck Edgar Dumas Aloysius Dodgers and Porky Pig as his trusted companion, as they blast off into outer space to protect the Earth from menacing Martian invaders. Two-disc set with 13 episodes, $19.97 from Warner ... "Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang" (2012) features five episodes of the Nerd Corp's popular animated action series; $14.97 from Shout! Factory Kids ... In "Martha's Magnificent Egg" (2013), Martha Stewart's animated series celebrates Easter with an episode in which 10-year-old Martha and her friends create and craft their Easter baskets to enter an Easter contest; $6.95 from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment/A Squared Entertainment.
"The Red Hen ... and More Cooking Stories" (2013) presents four delectable tales about food: the title story plus "Bread Comes to Life," a live action film narrated by Lily Tomlin; "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?"; and "Arnie the Doughnut," the hilarious tale of pastry run amok; $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "Chuggington: Safari Adventures" (2013) includes six jungle-inspired episodes that has the Chuggington crew embark on a trainload of escapades -- with non-stop adventure and positive messages -- with a variety of exotic animals at the Safari Park. For ages 2 to 7; $14.98 on DVD; a DVD with a collectible Mtambo toy engine sells for $16.98; from Anchor Bay ... "Bible Stories From the Old Testament" (2013) is a compilation of History specials that retell stories from the Bible in new and unexpected ways. On the three-disc set: "Mysteries of the Bible: The Story of Creation," "Adam and Eve: Lost Innocence," "History's Mysteries: Sodom and Gomorrah," "Mega Disasters: Noah's Great Flood," "Moses and the Ten Commandments," "Battles BC: Joshua's Epic Slaughter," "Samson and Delilah: Love and Betrayal," "Battles BC: David, Giant Slayer," "Solomon." A companion three-disc set is "Bible Stories From the New Testament," which includes "Lost Worlds: Herod the Great," "Mary of Nazareth," "Joseph: Silent Saint," "Jesus: His Life," "Mary Magdelane," "Peter," "Pontius Pilate," "Judas," "Paul the Apostle." $19.98 each from Lionsgate.
Special Interest (2/12):To coincide with the release of the latest James Bond film, "Skyfall," BBC Home Entertainment will release "Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars" (2012), featuring "Top Gear" presenter Richard Hammond celebrating 50 years of Bond films by revealing the interesting behind-the-scenes stories of Bond's most iconic cars, including the "Goldfinger" Aston Martin DB5 and the Lotus Esprit submarine car. Additionally, ex-Bond Roger Moore shows up to host a segment on Bond's greatest car stunts. Quite a bargain at $9.95 ... "Jedi Junkies" (2010) is a film about the world's most dedicated "Star Wars" fans, from lightsaber wielding martial arts academies to a filmmaker who built the world's only life-size Millennium Falcon, from a Monster Garage-esque sculptor whose professional livelihood is building custom lightsabers to metal-bikini wearing dancers who embody Slave Leia. This documentary offers a rare glimpse into the lives of rabid fans whose personal and professional self expression via "Star Wars" borders on obsession -- and a way of life. $19.95 from Cinedigm/Docurama ... The documentary "Girl Model" (2012) explores how young girls are discovered in obscure corners of the globe and initiated into the high stakes modeling industry. The film follows two protagonists: Ashley, a former model and now scout who scours Siberia looking for fresh faces; and one of her discoveries, Nadya, a 13-year-old plucked from her rustic home and dropped into the center of bustling Tokyo with promises of a profitable career. From First Run Features ... "The Origins of Oz" (2013) is a Smithsonian Channel documentary that pulls the curtain back on L. Frank Baum and reveals the inspiration behind his books: Who Dorothy was modeled after, why a scarecrow and a tin man served as main characters, how the 1893 Chicago World's Fair sparked the conception of Emerald City, and much more. $14.98 from Inception Media ... "Undersea Edens" (2013) is a Smithsonian Channel documentary that journeys through New Guinea, Australia, South Georgia Island and beyond to explore the breathtaking underwater empires of the southern oceans; $24.98 from Inception Media.
"Flight," "Alex Cross," "Celeste and Jesse Forever," "A Late Quartet" and "Here Comes the Boom." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (2/05):Anyone interested in the future of film should take note of "Side By Side" (2013), a tour of the past and the future of filmmaking -- hosted by Keanu Reeves -- that takes a look at the impact of digital on the art of filmmaking. Since the invention of cinema, the standard format for recording moving images has been film. Over the past two decades, a new form of digital filmmaking has emerged, creating a groundbreaking evolution in the medium. Digital has now supplanted filmstock as the medium for showing movies: According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, "Hollywood is expected to stop distributing 35-millimeter film prints to all U.S. theaters later this year. The vast majority of indoor theaters ... have already converted to digital projectors." Reeves explores the development of cinema and the impact of digital filmmaking via in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters such as James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh and many more. From Tribeca Films/Cinedigm.
Speaking of digital, Warner Home Video has released a gorgeous restoration on Blu-ray of the ground-breaking movie musical "Cabaret" (1972), Bob Fosse's dark look at the decadence of pre-WWII Germany, with break-out performances by Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Joel Grey, Helmut Griem and Marisa Berenson. Remastered with new and vintage special features, in a Blu-ray book that contains 40 pages of photos and text. A DVD version will also be available. Extras include a new documentary, "Cabaret: The Musical That Changed Musicals"; vintage documentaries "Cabaret: A Legend in the Making" and "The Recreation of an Era"; a multi-part memory gallery; and much, much more. "Cabaret" is definitely one of the classics of American cinema ... The folks at Disney have worked their digital magic on 1953's "Peter Pan" with a new restoration for the classic animated adventure. "Peter Pan" was only one of three to boast all of Disney's famous "Nine Old Men" as directing animators. The Diamond Edition is available as a three-disc Blu-ray combo (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + a cool Storybook App for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices) and a two-disc Combo Pack (BD & DVD). Extras include new featurette "Growing up With Nine Old Men," a new introduction by Diane Disney Miller, deleted songs and scenes, "You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan," "Tinker Bell: A Fairy's Tale," Disney song selections, commentary hosted by Roy Disney, music videos, and more ... Also due from Warner this week is the Blu-ray debut of "A Star Is Born" (1976), directed by Frank Pierson and starring Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson and Gary Busey. The disc is packed in a 40-page Blu-ray book, and the soundtrack is remastered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras include commentary by Streisand, additional scenes, wardrobe tests and a trailer gallery. This one is for Streisand fans only.
From TV to DVD (2/05):Kelly Reilly stars as a detective trying to prove herself and Ciaran Hinds co-stars as her hard-boiled, flawed, and charismatic boss in the British detective series "Above Suspicion Set 2" (2009), from the creators of "Prime Suspect." U.S. debut. From Acorn Media ... "Cougar Town: The Complete Third Season" (2012) is a two-disc set with 15 episodes, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season, Vol. 2" (1962) is a five-disc set with 17 episodes, $39.95. Matt Dillon maintains law and order -- and solves human problems -- in the wild west of Dodge City in the longest-running TV drama series of all time (tied with "Law & Order" at 20 seasons). From CBS/Paramount ... "House of Cards Trilogy" (1990) is the original UK series about political intrigue, remastered for its Blu-ray debut and return to DVD; DVD, $39.98; Blu-ray $49.99. From BBC Home Entertainment ... "Southland: The Complete Second, Third and Fourth Seasons" (2010-12) includes all 26 episodes from Seasons 2, 3 and 4 plus an hour of bonus content, $59.98 from Warner ... "Testimony of Two Men" (1977 -- TV) is an ambitious, post-Civil War costume drama miniseries spanning 36 years that intertwines several stories of lust, power, greed and murder. Stars David Birney, Barbara Parkins, Steve Forrest, William Shatner, Linda Purl, Ralph Bellamy, Tom Bosley, Joan Van Ark. Three-disc DVD set from Acorn Media.
Buzzin' the 'B's (2/05):"Deadfall" (2012) stars Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson in a thriller that follows two siblings who decide to fend for themselves in the wake of a botched casino heist, and their unlikely reunion during another family's Thanksgiving celebration. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "The Whole Truth" (2009) is a comedy about an acting coach who teaches criminal defendants how to work the system and win jury acquittals but who now finds that her technique is used against her when one of her clients tries to have her killed. Stars Elisabeth Rohm, Sean Patrick Flanery and Eric Roberts; from Green Apple Entertainment ... When a street-smart private investigator (Miley Cyrus) is drafted by the FBI to go undercover in a college sorority to protect the daughter of a key witness in a case against the mob, she quickly discovers she's way out of her element amongst a sisterhood of snooty, high maintenance, materialistic college girls in "So Undercover" (2012), co-starring Autumn Reeser, Alexis Knapp, Joshua Bowman, Kelly Osbourne and Jeremy Piven. On DVD and Blu-ray from Millennium Entertainment ... After a young boy catches a failed bank heist on tape, it's up to two detectives to figure out how the crime went down -- but as the story unravels, it becomes obvious that not everything is what it seems in "Caught on Tape" (2012), starring Cedric the Entertainer, Vivica A. Fox, David Marciano, Kel Mitchell, Erik Palladino, Ian Somerhalder and Sticky Fingaz. The story is told entirely through rap music, and features over 30 original songs. From Lionsgate ... In "The Bouquet" (2012), starring Kristy Swanson, Danny Glover, Michael Shanks and Alberta Mayne, two estranged sisters are brought back home by a sudden tragedy and find that the family's floral business is about to fail; the sisters agree to put their hostility aside and join together to save their legacy and mend their mother's broken heart. From Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment/Nasser Entertainment ... When a ruthless crime boss crosses a cynical, jaded cop bent on revenge, she becomes obsessed with bringing him down and is willing to do anything to get to him -- including breaking the law she swore to protect in "Mafia" (2011), starring Ving Rhames, Pam Greer and Robert Patrick; from Ketchup Entertainment.
The obscene "Night of the Tentacles" (2013) is a Faustian tale in which a young artists sells his soul to Satan for the new heart he so desperately needs. The only catch is that the heart is a tentacled monstrosity with a hunger for human flesh. Stars Brandon Salkil, Nicole Gerity and Jackie McKown; from MVD Entertainment ... "Yelling to the Sky" (2011), starring Zoe Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Antonique Smith, Gabourey Sidibe and Tim Blake Nelson, is a coming-of-age tale about Sweetness O'Hara, the nice, quiet 17-year-old daughter of mixed-race parents (an alcoholic white father, either absent or abusive, and a black mother, emotionally unstable) who's struggling to find her place in the rough Queens neighborhood she calls home. On DVD and Blu-ray, from MPI Home Video ... "Beast Beneath" (2011), starring Kristina Morales, Phillip Agresta and Gloria Castaneda, is based on the true story of a cursed thousands-acre ranch, now known as L.A.'s Griffith Park, that was stolen by the greedy best friend of Mexican landowner Don Antonio Feliz. The land was then cursed by the Don's blind sister, and ever since a bloodthirsty netherworld beast guards a supposed fortune in gold hidden under the park. From Entertainment One ... "Tyler Perry's Madea Gets a Job" (2013) is the newest musical stage play from director, writer and producer Tyler Perry, taped before a live audience. When a judge orders Madea to do community service at a local retirement home, the residents and staff are not ready for Madea's brand of "the truth," but all's well that ends well when Madea helps the residents of Easy Rest Retirement Home realize the importance of family, love and forgiveness. Stars Tyler Perry, Patrice Lovely, Cheryl Pepsii Riley and Chandra Currelley-Young. On DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate ... Four women form an unlikely alliance to get revenge on a superstar professional athlete and his friends for playing them in "The Coalition" (2013), starring Adrienne Bailon, Denyce Lawton, Jackee Harry, Nadine Ellis, Shanti Lowry and J.R. Ramirez. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... After a "Bigfoot Hunter" claims to possess the body of a dead Sasquatch, a disgraced investigative journalist stakes his comeback -- and the lives of his documentary film crew -- on proving the find to be a hoax in "Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes" (2012), starring Drew Rausch, Rich McDonald, Ashley Wood, Noah Weisberg and Frank Ashmore. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from XLrator Media ... "Back Then" (2012) is an urban rom-com about a dapper, well-dressed "Man of the Year" who relives his high school days as a poorly dressed social outcast when the high school girl who broke his heart walks back into his life. Stars Aaron D. Speares, Tae Heckard and Malinda Williams; from Entertainment One.
On the Indie Front (2/05):What starts as a comedy of errors ends up as a uniquely erotic journey when a straight, married woman -- dissatisfied with her joyless love life -- seeks out the sexual services of a high-priced call girl in "A Perfect Ending" (2012), starring Barbara Niven, Jessica Clark, John Heard, Morgan Fairchild and Rebecca Staab; from Wolfe Video ... When Brooklynite Seth takes his girlfriend to his family's weekend house in upstate New York for a romantic getaway, they are unexpectedly joined by Seth's estranged father, Gil and his new, younger girlfriend in "In Our Nature" (2012), starring Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery and Gabrielle Union. The women have to negotiate emotional minefields to persuade the father and son to share the house for the first time in years, causing unspoken grudges to bubble to the surface; from Flatiron Films/Cinedigm.
Foreign (2/05):"My Worst Nightmare" (2011 -- French), starring Isabelle Huppert, Andre Dussollier, Benoit Poelvoorde and Virginie Efira, is a delightful comedy from French director Anne Fontaine ("Coco Before Chanel"). An uptight, impatient art dealer (Huppert) lives a desolate, emotionally dry existence in an expensive Parisian apartment with her wealthy publisher husband. She crosses paths with a skirt-chasing, unemployed single father who lives in his van with his son when her husband hires him to remodel their apartment; the odd couple relationship turns into the woman's worst -- but comedic -- nightmare as the man moves into the apartment and -- in typically French style -- sparks fly. From Strand Releasing ... A close-knit circle of thirty- and fortysomething friends embark on their annual summer getaway to Cap Ferrat in southeastern France where heated tensions and outbursts among the old acquaintances bubble up as the little white lies just beneath the surface of their relationships reach a boiling point in "Little White Lies" (2012 -- France), starring Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoit Magimel, Gilles Lellouche and Jean Dujardin. On DVD and Blu-ray from MPI Media Group ... "The Battle of Narayama" (1958 -- Japan) is a haunting, kabuki-inflected version of a Japanese folk legend, set in a remote mountain village, where food is scarce and tradition dictates that citizens who have reached their 70th year must be carried to the summit of Mount Narayama and left there to die. The sacrificial elder at the center of the tale is Orin (Kinuyo Tanaka), a dignified and dutiful woman who spends her dwindling days securing the happiness of her loyal widowed son with a respectable new wife. In a new 4K digital master from the 2011 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition from The Criterion Collection.
For the Family (2/05):The Dove-approved "The Solomon Bunch" (2012) follows five spirited, well-meaning kids as they create hilarious havoc in their peaceful small town: When they see a stranger and overhear something they don't understand, they jump to the conclusion that he is up to no good and they devise secret missions and elaborate schemes to warn the town about this "bizarre" new resident. Stars Craig Crumpton, Audray McCroskey, Todd Maynor, Randall Franks and Abbey Kochman; from Slingshot Pictures/Image Entertainment ... "Baby Geniuses and the Mystery of the Crown Jewels" (2012) is the third title in the Baby Geniuses movie series; this one has the little ones traveling to Europe to help recover the Queen of England's stolen crown. Stars Jon Voight, Skyler Shaye and Casey Graf; from Anchor Bay ... "Monster High: Double Feature -- Friday Night Frights/Why Do Ghouls Fall In Love?" (2013) features two animated adventures with the Monster High classmates; from Universal ... "Animaniacs Volume 4" (1993-98) is a three-disc set with 24 cartoons from the iconic TV series; $29.99 from Warner ... "Ben 10 Omniverse: A New Beginning -- Vol. 1" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $19.97 from Warner ... Delight in 50 years of big fun and big friendships in seven party-packed Clifford tales in "Celebrate With Clifford" (2013); the package includes five bonus Speckle stories and a bonus disc: "Happy Birthday Clifford." $14.98 from Lionsgate ... "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man: Avenging Spider-Man" (2012) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes of the new animated Spider-Man adventures, $26.99 from Disney.
Special Interest (2/05):There's a bevy of wonderful special interest and documentary releases this week; in no particular order:
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February 1, 2013
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).