DVD Collectibles (3/26):There's two wonderful releases this week from The Criterion Collection from two of the greats of cinema. First up there's Robert Bresson's "A Man Escaped" (1956), one of the most suspenseful jailbreak films of all time. Based on the memoirs of an imprisoned French resistance leader, this unbelievably taut and methodical marvel follows the single-minded pursuit of freedom, detailing the planning and carrying out of an escape with gripping precision. But Bresson's film is not merely process-minded -- it's a work of intense spirituality and humanity. In a new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... Second up is "Monsieur Verdoux" (1947), in which Charlie Chaplin played against type in his most controversial film, a brilliant and bleak black comedy about money, marriage, and murder. Chaplin is a 20th century Bluebeard, an enigmatic family man who goes to extreme lengths to support his wife and child, attempting to bump off a series of wealthy widows (including one played by the indefatigable Martha Raye, in a hilarious performance). This deeply philosophical and wildly entertaining film is a work of true sophistication, both for the moral questions it dares to ask and the way it deconstructs its megastar's lovable on-screen persona. In a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. Naturally, both films come loaded with incisive commentaries and supplemental material.
"From Beyond" (1986) makes its Blu-ray debut in a Collector's Edition from Shout! Factory. H.P. Lovecraft's classic comes to life in director Stuart Gordon's unrated cut. The Resonator, a powerful machine that can control the sixth sense, has killed its creator and sent his associate into an insane asylum. But when a beautiful psychiatrist becomes determined to continue the experiment, she unwittingly opens the door to a hostile parallel universe ... and to the deviant behavior within the human psyche. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo. Stars Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel and Ken Foree. Also from Shout! Factory: "Phantasm II Collector's Edition (1988), directed by Don Coscarelli and starring James LeGros, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and Paula Irvine. On DVD and Blu-ray, also from Shout! Factory.
For Trekkies, Paramount will release "Star Trek: Enterprise -- Season One" in a six-disc set with 25 episodes on six discs for $130.00. The cult-classic series recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before James T. Kirk helmed the starship of the same name. Set in the 22nd century, "Enterprise" takes place in an era when interstellar travel is still in its infancy. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) has assembled a crew of explorers to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft: Enterprise NX- 01. As the first human beings to venture into deep space, these men and women will experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations. Extras: "To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise" three-part retrospective documentary: "Part One: Countdown" chronicles the challenges faced by the producers and creative staff as they attempt to launch a new chapter in the Star Trek saga by making the then-radical decision to create a prequel to the beloved original series; "Part Two: Boarding the NX-01" follows the team as they begin the casting process and production on the series two-hour pilot "Broken Bow"; "Part Three: First Flight" charts the course for the rest of the series' first season including all-new interviews with key production and post-production personnel. The set also includes a candid conversation with the series' creators, new commentaries on select episodes, along with a host of previously released special features such as deleted scenes and outtakes.
From TV to DVD (3/26):"The Borgias: The Second Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes; on DVD, $49.99; Blu-ray Disc, $69.99. From Showtime/CBS/Paramount ... "The Carol Burnett Show: This Time Together" (2012) is a six-disc set 17 complete and unedited episodes hand picked by Burnett, including "The Family," "Mr. Tudball & Mrs. Wiggins," "The Oldest Man," "The Charwoman," "The Ham Actor" and "As the Stomach Turns" as well as such parodies and segments as "TV Commercials," "No Frills Airline," "The Recital," "Airline Security" and the ester Williams spoof. Guests include Dick Van Dyke, the Pointer Sisters, Hal Linden, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Madeline Kahn, Peggy Lee, Stiller & Meara, Ken Berry, Petula Clark, Sammy Davis Jr., Roddy McDowall, Bernadette Peters and Lily Tomlin. $59.95 from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life ... "Continuum: Season One" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes; on DVD, $44.98; Blu-ray Disc, $49.98. From Universal ... "MADtv Season 2" (2012) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $29.93 from Shout! Factory ... In "Maigret Set 7" (2001-02) and "Maigret Set 8" (2002-03), Bruno Cremer brings the beloved Parisian Inspector Maigret to life in this French TV series based on the best-selling crime novels by the legendary Georges Simenon. Six-disc sets, $59.95 each from MHz Networks ... "Men at Work: The Complete First Season" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $35.99 from Sony ... "Midsomer Murders: Tom Barnaby's Last Cases" (2009-11) is a value-priced collector's set of the 15 stand-alone mysteries in broadcast order from Series 12 and 13 about DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon)'s investigations of most sinister secrets of the cozy villages of Midsomer County. $149.99 from Acorn Media ... "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 1" (2012) is a new, glamorous "lady detective" series that makes its North American debut. Based on the popular detective novels by Kerry Greenwood, the gorgeously costumed and evocatively shot mystery series features Essie Davis as the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher, a sly sleuth and thoroughly modern woman of the late 1920s operating in a mostly male-dominated detective world. Produced for ABC Australia and filmed on location in Melbourne. Four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray from Acorn Media ... "Oliver Twist" (1982) George C. Scott, Tim Curry, Michael Hordern, Timothy West, Eileen Atkins is the DVD debut of the 1982 CBS miniseries. Two-disc DVD from Entertainment One ... "Veep: The Complete First Season" (2012) is a two-disc set with eight episodes; on DVD, $39.98; Blu-ray Disc, $49.99. From HBO.
Buzzin' the 'B's (3/26):"Easy Money" (2010 -- Sweden) Swedish crime thriller based on the international best-selling novel "Snabba Cash" by Jens Lapidus. Lower-class business student JW falls in love with a sexy heiress while living a double life mingling with Stockholm's wealthy elite. To keep up the facade of his lifestyle, he's lured into a world of crime and becomes a drug runner; his fate becomes tied to two other men: Jorge, a fugitive on the run from both the Serbian mafia and the police, and mafia enforcer Mrado, who is on the hunt for Jorge. Promising thriller gets bogged down with unlikable characters and weak -- and predictable -- story line progression. Stars Joel Kinnaman, Matias Varela, Dragomir Mrsic, Lisa Henni. From the Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay ... In a misguided attempt to protect his family and pay back gambling debts to the local mobster, a young man robs a fish market, which is coincidentally owned by the same mobster. On the run from the police and the mobster's crew, he's cornered in a local curio shop, where he takes hostage an assortment of colorful characters, who he enlists to help him escape in "Stand Off" (2011), starring Brendan Fraser, Colm Meaney, David O'Hara and Yaya DaCos. From Ketchup Entertainment ... In "House Arrest" (2011), starring Stacey Dash and Jayceon "The Game" Taylor, a young woman living the high life is arrested with her boyfriend for a crime she didn't commit, and is placed under house arrest and forced to move back in with her mother and daughter -- on the ghetto side of town. From Lionsgate ... In a world recovering from a global zombie outbreak, private companies have created money-spinning ways of disposing of the undead: a game called Zomball -- like paintball, except that you get to shoot zombies. Amidst this, a group of friends organize a stag weekend for a soon-to-be-married friend, with a PVC-clad stripper and a game of Zomball, but the zombies get loose and attack the group in "Stagnight of the Dead" (2011 -- U.K.), starring Sebastian Street, Sophie Lovell Anderson and Bruce Lawrence. From Vanguard Cinema ... A discredited university professor travels to the Arctic Circle to prove his obscure theory that Mary Shelley's literary classic "Frankenstein" is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy; what he finds is an unspeakable truth more terrifying than any fiction in "The Frankenstein Theory" (2013), starring Kris Lemche, Joe Egender, Timothy V. Murphy and Eric Zuckerman. From RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment ... A young boy left for dead by the cop/assassins who killed his parents is taken under the wing of a martial-arts master and shaped into a lethal killing machine with an insatiable appetite for revenge in "Bangkok Revenge" (2011 -- France/Thailand), starring Jon Foo, Caroline Ducey and Michael Cohen. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA ... Ordered to a delinquent camp by their exasperated parents, a group of wayward teens fall foul of a deadly virus that infects the guards and turns them into flesh-eating monsters in "Bad Meat" (2011), starring Dave Franco, Elisabeth Harnois, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Mark Pellegrino. From Jinga Films/MVD Distribution ... In a post-apocalyptic future, only one survivor remains on earth -- a woman named Lilith, who desperately wanders a planet devoid of humanity in "Population 2" (2012), starring Suzanne Tufan, Jon Ashley Hall and Shelly Lipkin. From Green Apple Entertainment ... "One Last Game (2011 -- Germany), starring Ken Duken, Regina Lund and Dan van Husen, is an English-language drama that follows the reminisces of a young man addicted to poker ala Elizabeth Kuebler Ross's five stages of grief. From House of Film/MVD Distribution ... "Sexsquatch: The Legend of Blood Stool Creek" (2012) is a comedy about teens at a "get-laid" party in the woods who are confronted by an oversexed sasquatch. From SRS Cinema/MVD Distribution.
On the Indie Front (3/26):"The Comedy" (2012), starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, James Murphy and Gregg Turkington, explores the aimless adventures of an aging hipster -- on the cusp of inheriting his father's estate, offering him the possibility of a sheltered life -- and his like-minded friends in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. From Tribeca Film.
Foreign (3/26):In the "Villa Virgin," a shantytown in the slums of Buenos Aires, two priests and long-standing friends, Julian and Nicolas, work tirelessly to help the local people by building a hospital, all the while facing the threats of paramilitary forces, the slum's drug-dealing cartels, and the pleasures of the flesh in "White Elephant" (2012 -- Argentina), starring Ricardo Darin, Jeremie Renier and Martina Gusman. From Strand Releasing ... "Either Way" (2011 -- Iceland), starring Sveinn Olafsson, Hilmar Gudjonsson and Thorsteinn Bachmann, is a dramatic comedy set in the remote north of Iceland, in the mid 1980s, where two employees of the Icelandic Road Administration spend the summer painting lines on the winding roads that stretch out to the distant horizon and where the barren wilderness becomes a place of adventure, disaster and discovery as both men reach difficult crossroads in their lives. From Vanguard Cinema.
For the Family (3/26):"The Official Digimon Adventure Set: The Complete Second Season" (2012) is an eight-disc set with all 50 complete, unedited episodes, $79.95. For the uninitiated, there are five complete seasons in the Digimon franchise (not including the sixth, soon to launch as "Digimon Fusion" on Nickelodeon later in 2013), but fans consider Seasons 1 & 2 to be the original, classic episodes. It is these episodes that have never been officially released in the U.S. until Flatiron unleashed them in all their digital glory. Season 1 found seven kids who, while at summer camp, discover seven "Digivices" that transported them to a strange digital world. It's here that these "DigiDestined" befriended Digimon -- short for Digital Monsters -- who were born to defend their world from various evil forces. After learning they have the ability to help their new Digimon friends "digivolve" into different monsters and fight as a team, the kids form a pact and hope the digi beings can ultimately help them find their way home. This is the direct sequel to Season 1, and takes place four years after the original series. Commonly referred to as Digimon Zero Two, it finds most of the original characters now in junior high school, with the Digital World supposedly secure and peaceful. However, a new evil has appeared in the form of the Digimon Emperor, a human just like the DigiDestined, who has been enslaving all Digimon. Includes a full-color 36-page character guide book and a gallery featuring more than 40 villain Digimon sketches. Also due this week: "Digimon Adventure: Volume 2" (2012), a three-disc set including 18 full-length episodes from Season 1 of the animated show, $19.95. Both from Flatiron Film Company/Cinedigm ... "The Springtime Collection Featuring Max's Chocolate Chicken" (2013) is a three-disc set with 13 award-winning stories, headlined by Rosemary Wells' delightful Easter-themed tale "Max's Chocolate Chicken." The title disc also includes "Max's Christmas," "Morris's Disappearing Dog," "Otto Runs for President" and "Max's Christmas -- Spanish Version." The other two discs: "The Ren Hen ... and More Cooking Stories," which includes "Bread Comes to Life," "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?," and "Arnie the Doughnut"; and "Chicken Little ... and More Zany Animal Stories," which includes "The Great White Man-Eating Shark," "The Three-Legged Cat" and "Dooby Dooby Moo." $24.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot: The Complete Series" (1967–68) is a four-disc collector's edition featuring all 26 episodes of the fantasy series from Toei Studios, $39.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Adventures in Zambezia" (2013) is a new animated adventure with the voices of Jeremy Suarez, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Samuel L. Jackson. When a spirited young falcon named Kai (Suarez) learns of Zambezia, the fabulous city of birds, he leaves his remote country home against the wishes of his father (Jackson). But when his dad is captured by an evil lizard who plans to attack the city, Kai must learn the importance of teamwork if he's to rescue his father, save his new friends and help keep Zambezia lizard free. On DVD and Blu-ray from Triggerfish Animation Studios ... "LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out" (2013) is a 22-minute original standalone LEGO tongue-and-cheek special. The heroes of the Rebel Alliance including heroic Luke Skywalker, swaggering Han Solo and steadfast Princess Leia have no time to celebrate their victory over the Empire as a new Imperial threat arises. But as Jedi-in training Luke embarks on this next mission, he discovers that his celebrity status as a "Death-Star-Blower-Upper" can be a double-edged lightsaber when he's constantly mobbed by crazed fans. From Fox.
Special Interest (3/26):"Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW)" burst onto the scene in 1986 as the first ever all-female wrestling show on television. Like its competitor/frequent imitator the World Wrestling Federation, GLOW was a primetime wrestling series, complete with elaborate characters, costumes, skits, personalized raps and, of course, wrestling. By 1989, the GLOW girls were an international phenomenon, attracting over 7 million viewers worldwide, touring the nation and making big bank for the show's producers. One year later, GLOW was gone. The documentary "GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling" (2013) chronicles the rise and fall of the show through the stories of those who lived it. For some, the show was a brief foray into acting and a short-lived adventure. For others, their time in GLOW would impact and influence their lives for years to follow. For all of the women, working on GLOW was a unique and exciting experience that will bond them forever. From Docurama ... "Shakespeare Uncovered" (2012) combines history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passions of its celebrated hosts -- Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson, and David Tennant -- to tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare's greatest plays. Two-disc set, $34.89 from PBS Distribution ... "Frontline: Inside Obama's Presidency" (2013) goes behind closed doors to examine the first four years of the Obama administration and the decisions that led to health care reform, the expanded drone war, the economic stimulus package, and the failure to compromise with Congress that created the fiscal cliff crisis. 24.99 from PBS Distribution ... "Tom Green: Live" (2012) is Green's first stand-up comedy special, recorded at the Wilbur Theater in Boston. $14.98 from RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Misérables," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Rust and Bone," "The Other Son" and "This Is 40." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (3/19):There's two impressive Blu-ray debuts this week, both from The Criterion Collection. First off there's "Badlands" (1973), the film that added the name Terrence Malick to the roster of directors spearheading the American film renaissance of the 1970s. "Badlands" was Malick's first film, a beautifully photographed and directed impressionistic take on love and death in late-20th century America. The film relates the real-life killing spree of teen lovers Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather, who nonchalantly murdered their way from South Dakota to Montana in 1958. Malick used a serial-killer narrative as a springboard for an oblique teenage romance, lovingly and idiosyncratically enacted by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. The film used an enigmatic approach to narrative and character with a lyrical juxtaposition of human violence with natural beauty. It's a modern classic. In a new 4K digital restoration, approved by Malick, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" (1943), also from Criterion, is considered by many to be the finest British film ever made. Roger Livesey dynamically embodies outmoded English militarism as the indelible General Clive Candy, who barely survives four decades of tumultuous British history (1902 to 1942) only to see the world change irrevocably before his eyes. Anton Walbrook and Deborah Kerr provide unforgettable support, he as a German enemy turned lifelong friend of Blimp's and she as young women of three consecutive generations -- a socially committed governess, a sweet-souled war nurse, and a modern-thinking army driver -- who inspire him. "Colonel Blimp" is both moving and slyly satirical, an incomparable film about war, love, aging, and obsolescence shot in gorgeous Technicolor.
Also due this week in new Blu-ray editions: "On Approval" (1944), a classic, witty British comedy of manners about two wealthy Victorian widows who are courted by two impoverished British aristocrats. The ladies invite the men to spend a month at a Scottish mansion to test their compatibility as suitors and when the unmarried foursome arrives, the staff -- shocked by the impropriety -- refuses to stay, leaving them on their own. From Inception Media Group ... "TimERideR: The Adventure of Lyle Swan" (1982), starring Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, L.Q. Jones, Ed Lauter, Richard Masur and Tracey Walter, is a cult-sci-fi outing about a champion off-road racer who is accidentally zapped into a time-travel experiment and is sent 100 years into the past, where a gang of brutal bandits steals his motorcycle; Swann must outsmart the local cowboys and submit to the desires of a beautiful outlaw woman to survive the Wild West and get back to his future. From Shout! Factory.
From TV to DVD (3/19):"Chance in a Million Complete Collection" (1984-86) consists of all three seasons of the star-studded, award-winning British comedy starring Simon Callow as Tom Chance, a man -- cursed by fate -- whose courtship of Alison Little (Brenda Blethyn) is marred by a barrage of absurd coincidences and ludicrous circumstances. In a three-disc set with 18 episodes, from Acorn Media ... "Jersey Shore: The Uncensored Final Season" (2012) is a four- disc set with 13 uncensored episodes, $26.99 from MTV/Paramount ... "Les Miserables" (2000) is a Fox Family Channel miniseries starring Gerard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, John Malkovich, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Asia Argento, Jeanne Moreau and Christian Clavier. In a two-disc set from Entertainment One ... In "A Mind to Kill Complete Collection" (1994-2001), Philip Madoc stars as brooding detective Noel Bain, an old-fashioned and kindhearted cop who solves crimes with his unerring instinct, keen intelligence, and a passion for defending the innocent, while struggling to protect his daughter from the crime-filled world he knows too well. In an 11-disc set with 21 mysteries that never aired in the U.S., from Acorn Media ... "No Job for a Lady: The Complete Collection" (1990-92) features all three series of the witty Brit-com following Jean Price (Penelope Keith), who has just been elected Member of Parliament for the left-wing Labour Party and must learn to get along with her chauvinist fellow MPs while navigating the Machiavellian world of Westminster. In a three-disc set with 18 episodes from Acorn Media.
Buzzin' the 'B's (3/19):Three friends are asked to be bridesmaids at a wedding of a woman they used to ridicule back in high school and, on the night before the nuptials, go searching for a little fun that involves an epic girls' night out filled with strip clubs, ex-boyfriends and innumerable unmentionables in "Bachelorette" (2012), starirng Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... In "Cyberstalker" (2012), starring Mischa Barton and Dan Levy, a young woman, hiding for years after her life was destroyed by a frightening online stalker, soon discovers that, though she may have disappeared, his dangerous obsession has been waiting for her. From Lionsgate ... "The Great Magician" (2011 -- Hong Kong), starirng Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Lau Ching-wan and Zhou Xun, blends vaudeville-style humor, vivid magic sequences and ruthless political gamesmanship, set in the years after the Revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty in China and established the Republic. Village warlord Bully Lei is accused of using magic to recruit soldiers to his cause and new arrival Zhang aims to thwart these plans with an ambitious kidnap scheme and various tricks of his own. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA ... After a horrible car accident that takes the lives of his Thai wife and son, a western businessman must travel to the shadow world between life and death to set their souls free in "Hellgate" (2011), starring Cary Elwes, William Hurt, Ploy Jindachote and Paula Taylor; from IFC Films ... A radio talk show host unravels a conspiracy about encounters with mysterious beings known as The Shadow People and their role in the unexplained deaths of several hundred people in the 1980s in "Shadow People" (2012), starring Dallas Roberts, Alison Eastwood, Anne Dudek and Mattie Liptak; on DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... When a film crew moves into an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a shadowy past to shoot a low budget horror movie, the leaky, wet building comes to life, feeding off its new inhabitants in "Dark Feed" (2013), starirng Andy Rudick, Victoria Nugent, Michael Reed and Evalena Marie. From Lionsgate ... "Iron Doors" (2010 -- Germany) is an English-language thriller about a young investment banker who must escape from a locked vault or face a slow death from starvation. Who kidnapped him and why? From Jinga Films/MVD Distribution ... "Action-Packed Movie Marathon" consists of four explosive outings: two revenge flicks -- "Eye of the Tiger" (1986) and "Exterminator 2" (1984) -- and two sci-fi adventures -- "Alienator" (1990) and "Cyclone" (1987) -- in a two-disc set for the amazingly low price of $9.99. From Shout! Factory.
On the Indie Front (3/19):In "Consent" (2010), starring Troian Bellisario and Peter Vack, a wealthy Manhattan family's inability to cope with the suicide of their eldest daughter sends them into a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and sexual taboos that threatens to destroy them. From New Video ... Seeking redemption, family outcast and ex-drug addict Scott returns to his hometown only to throw everyone's lives into disarray, in particular his sister-in-law, who was once his high school sweetheart in "Straight A's" (2013), starring Ryan Phillippe, Anna Paquin, Luke Wilson, Powers Boothe and Tess Harper. On DVD and Blu-ray from Millennium Entertainment ... "Angus Buchan's Ordinary People" (2012) is an inspirational film that follows the individual journeys of three men -- a desperate criminal who narrowly evades death at gunpoint, a hardened auto mechanic who finds himself caught between grief and debt, and a struggling young alcoholic who yearns to escape from his misery -- leading up to their attendance of the 2010 Mighty Men Conference, an annual gathering of Christian men to worship and connect with God. From Sony ... "Strange Frame" (2012), with the voices of Tim Curry, Claudia Black, Ron Glass, Juliet Landau, Tara Strong and George Takei, is the first animated sci-fi lesbian rock musical; the film explores the theme of the transformative power of love between two women, bringing viewers into a world of space pirates, indentured slaves and genetic mutations. At the end of the 28th century, humanity has been using genetic engineering to adapt to otherworld environments, to the point where changing one's skin color or gender has become commonplace. On the moon Ganymede, saxophonist Parker (Claudia Black) and guitarist Naia (Tara Strong) develop a close relationship. The two embark on their new relationship and form a new band but they also must fight for their freedom from the evil Mig (Tim Curry). From Wolfe Video ... The lives and intimacies of seven seemingly unrelated people are examined in "24-Hour Love" (2013), a tale of modern romance. Stars Malinda Williams, Tatyana Ali, Keith Robinson, Darius McCrary and Lynn Whitfield. From RLJ Entertainment/One Village Entertainment.
Foreign (3/19):When a successful man's ideal life starts to fall apart, he desperately tries to assume another's identity in the psychological thriller "The Big Picture" (2012), a French outing that has echoes of Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley. Paul Exben is a handsome and successful Parisian lawyer with a beautiful wife, two children, and a bright future in the firm he co-owns with his mentor, Anne. But behind this deceptively perfect facade lies a restless spirit who's uncomfortable in his conformist life and envies the freedom of his neighbor Gre, an uncompromising photojournalist. After Greg's unexpected death throws his life into chaos, Paul embarks on a cross-continent odyssey of self-discovery and reinvention, leading him to uncover the answer to the question: Is it possible to become someone else? Stars Romain Duris, Marina Fois, Niels Arestrup, Branka Katic and Catherine Deneuve. On DVD and Blu-ray from MPI Media Group ... "Hemel" (2012 -- Netherlands), Dutch director Sacha Polak's debut feature, is a frank and explicit look at carnal desire that is told from a distinctly female perspective. She paints an erotically charged portrait of a woman whose casual sexual encounters mask loneliness and a craving for intimacy. Hemel (Hannah Hoekstra) is a young woman who drifts through a series of anonymous one-night stands and seems only close to her father. When he finds himself a girlfriend, her jealousy puts her on the emotional edge. Uncut and uncensored from Artsploitation Films ... "Time of My Life" (2012 -- Belgium), based on the true story of Mario Verstraete, is a melodrama that revolves around a vigorous campaign to legalize euthanasia in Belgium. Just when Mario's political career is about to get under stream he is diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. Told through the eyes of his doctor friend, Thomas, the film focuses on how Mario and his friends deal with the crisis and come to terms with both the philosophical and profoundly human sides of the issue. From Strand Releasing.
Special Interest (3/19):
"Life of Pi" "Hitchcock," "Rise of the Guardians" and "Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (3/12):The highlight of the week is the Blu-ray and DVD debut of the restored version of Luis Bunuel's 1970 masterpiece "Tristana," the great director's first film in Spain after years of exile from the Franco regime. The film incorporates the master's arsenal of themes and motifs: the overlap of dreams and reality, the relationship between the sexes, the fetishization of women, the narrow border between repression and desire, the corruption of innocence, and the decadence and hypocrisy of the church and the bourgeoise. The film stars Catherine Deneuve, Fernando Rey and Franco Nero, all at their peak (Bunuel, at 70, was also at his peak, with "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," "The Phantom of Liberty" and "That Obscure Object of Desire" yet to come). It's an almost surreal criticism of the modern world, told through the story of Tristana (Deneuve), a young Spanish woman left to the care of Don Lope (Rey) -- a protective aristocrat -- when her mother dies. Though Don Lope espouses liberal attitudes, professes to be an honorable man, and champions the causes of the dispossessed and downtrodden, he takes advantage of the vulnerable Tristana, seducing her and forcing her to live with him. She eventually leaves him when she falls in love with the artist Horacio (Nero), but returns to Don Lope when she falls ill. He asks for her hand in marriage, and she accepts after losing her leg to cancer, finally choosing to remain in a passionless union. As the years go by, their roles reverse, and Tristana is transformed into a cruel, emotionless monster. It's an absorbing tale of unconscious desires, inhibition and societal constraints and aberrances, rich in Freudian and biblical allusions. The images and sound have been immaculately restored. Extras include an alternate ending montage and an incisive 30-minute visual essay about the film featuring Bunuel scholar Peter William Evans. Hats off to Cohen Media Group for bringing this back to the big and small screens.
Also at the top of the list this week is The Criterion Collection's restoration of Fritz Lang's "Ministry of Fear" (1944), a WWII spy thriller suffused with dread and paranoia. It's an adaptation of a novel by Graham Greene, whose work always plunges the reader into the eerie shadows of worlds turned upside down by politics, war and human greed. One of the better Lang thrillers, "Ministry of Fear" follows the travails of Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) who, after being released from a mental institution, stops at a seemingly innocent village fair and, by a quirk of mistaken identity, gets caught in a web of Nazi spies and traitors in London. It's a stylish outing with plenty of twists and turns and a fine acting turn by Milland. On DVD and Blu-ray in a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. Extras include a new interview with Fritz Lang scholar Joe McElhaney, trailer, essay by critic Glenn Kenny.
Other Blu-ray debuts:"The Blob" (1958) is a cult classic of "gooey greatness" that follows the havoc wreaked on a small town by an outer-space monster that absorbs everything it comes across. As the blob eats its way across the landscape, a group of teenagers try to warn their disbelieving parents of the danger from the skies, to no avail (a persistent theme in Atomic-era sci-fi films). The film helped launch the careers of Steve McQueen and composer Burt Bacharach, whose title song is just one of this film's many unexpected pleasures. In a new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; from The Criterion Collection ... "Who Framed Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Edition" (1988), directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer and Stubby Kaye, arrives in a Blu-ray/DVD combo with such extras as The Roger Rabbit Shorts (Digitally Restored): "Tummy Trouble," "Roller-Coaster Rabbit" and "Trail Mix-Up"; a "Who Made Roger Rabbit?" featurette; "Before & After Split-Screen"; "Toon Stand-Ins"; commentary; and more; from Disney ... "Brother Bear & Brother Bear 2 -- 2 Movie Collection" (2003,2006) in a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo; "The Hunchback of Notre Dame & The Hunchback of Notre Dame II -- 2 Movie Collection" (1996, 2002) in a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo; and "Mulan & Mulan II: 15th Anniversary Edition -- 2 Movie Collection" (1998, 2004) in a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo and two-disc DVD configurations; all from Disney ... Fox has "Willow" (1988), directed by Ron Howard and starring Warwick Davis, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh and Val Kilmer; and "Alfred Hitchcock: The Classic Collection Blu-ray," a three-disc set with "Notorious," "Rebecca" and "Spellbound."
More Collectibles:Paramount has restored Cecil B. DeMille's biblical saga "Samson and Delilah" (1949), starring Victor Mature, Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury and Henry Wilcoxon, bringing it back to its former glory. The original nitrate three-strip Technicolor negatives were scanned in 4K, and the three strip image was registered, cleaned and color corrected in 4K. In addition, DeMille's original nitrate print was used in order to complete the original music overture and special effect work was done to clean up original optical images, a particularly tricky three-strip challenge. Finally, the original mono audio track was cleaned up and restored ... "Drive-In Collection: Expectations + Confessions" features two forgotten adult exploitation B-pictures. "Expectations" (1978): Two women, one a wealthy socialite and the other a swinger, decide to swap lives; as the novelty wears off, they become slaves to each other's misery. "Confessions" (1977): A bored, upscale housewife decides to dabble in the world of anonymous sex and prostitution but quickly learns the unfortunate reality of that lifestyle. Directed by sleazemaster Anthony Spinelli, who made movies under a dozen different names. From Vinegar Syndrome.
From TV to DVD (3/12):"Alice in Wonderland" (1986) and "Alice Through the Looking Glass" (1973) are classic BBC productions of the Lewis Carroll classics; the first features "Doctor Who's" Elisabeth Sladen as the Dormouse and the latter features Judy Parfitt as the Red Queen and "Doctor Who's" Sarah Sutton as Alice; $14.97 each from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Borgen Season 1" (2011) is Denmark's blockbuster political drama that stars Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg, the idealistic head of the moderate party who becomes prime minister of Denmark through a political fluke and has to quickly learn the ways of power, all in the glare of a relentless Danish press corps that covers her administration in incessant news cycles.; in a four-DVD set, $49.95 from MHz Networks ... In "Doctor Who: The Aztecs," the TARDIS materializes inside an Aztec tomb in the 15th century with First Doctor William Hartnell and his companions, in a two-disc DVD, remastered, $34.98, from BBC Home Entertainment ... In "Doctor Who: The Ark in Space," the TARDIS lands on a space station orbiting the earth in the distant future and, although it's seemingly deserted, the Doctor (Fourth Doctor Tom Baker), Sarah Jane and Harry soon discover that they're not alone; in a two-disc DVD, remastered, $34.98, also from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Father Dowling Mysteries: The Final Season" (1990-91) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes of the final season of the popular series starring Tom Bosley as an amiable, inquisitive Chicago priest who moonlights as a detective, assisted by a rather worldly, lock-picking nun (Tracy Nelson); $61.99 from CBS/Paramount ... In "Foyle's War: The Home Front Files (Sets 1-6)," Michael Kitchen stars as DCS Christopher Foyle, who investigates crimes on the home front as WWII rages. The 22-disc set features the complete U.K. broadcast edition of the 22 mysteries, plus interviews with series writer and creator Anthony Horowitz, co-stars Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks, making-of documentaries, notes on a real-life Foyle, and more. $149.99 from Acorn Media.
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys -- Season Four" (1997-98) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $26.98 from Universal ... "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: The Complete Season Two" (1975-76) is a five-disc set with 39 episodes, $24.98 from Inception Media ... "The Mob Doctor: The Complete Series" (2012) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, from Sony ... "Red Skelton -- The Farewell Specials" is a compilation of farewell specials that includes "Freddie the Freeloader's Christmas Dinner" featuring Vincent Price and Imogene Coca, "More Funny Faces" with Marcel Marceau, "Funny Faces III" and "A Royal Command Performance" before Britain's royal family at London's Royal Albert Hall; $9.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "The Return of The Beverly Hillbillies" (1981) is a telefilm that as Uncle Jed, Jethro and Elly May Clampett coming back to solve the energy crisis, from MPI Media Group ... "Ripper Street" (2012-13) consists of eight episodes of the period drama about Inspector Edmund Reid who, haunted by the failure to catch London's most evil killer, Jack the Ripper, now heads up the notorious H Division -- the toughest police district in London's East End; in a three-disc DVD, $29.98 and two-disc Blu-ray, $34.98. From BBC Home Entertainment ... "Roseanne -- Season 7" (1994-95) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Roseanne -- Season 8" (1995-96) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "That '70s Show -- Season 7" (2004-05) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "That '70s Show -- Season 8" (2005-06) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Xena: Warrior Princess -- Season Four" (1998-99) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's (3/12):"This Must Be the Place" (2012), stars Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Harry Dean Stanton, Joyce Van Patten and David Byrne, about a 50-year-old former rock star who still dresses "Goth" and lives in Dublin off his royalties who discovers that his just- deceased father had an obsession: to seek revenge for a humiliation he had suffered at the hands of a Nazi war criminal, now hiding somewhere in America. The ex-rocker decides to pick up where his father left off, and starts a journey, at his own pace, across America. On DVD and Blu-ray from The Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay ... A married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of alcohol put their relationship to the test when the wife decides to get sober in "Smashed" (2012), starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Mary Kay Place; on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony ... In "The Devil's in the Details" (2012), starring Ray Liotta, Emilio Rivera and Joel Mathews, a veteran soldier is kidnapped by a drug cartel's ruthless enforcer and forced to help smuggle a fortune in drugs across the border ... or see his innocent wife and daughter killed; only a former Navy SEAL can help bring an end to the family's nightmare; on DVD and Blu-ray from RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment ... "The First Time" (2012) is a romantic comedy centered on two high schoolers: Dave, who until now has pined for a girl he can't have, and Aubrey, a creative type who's dating a guy who doesn't quite understand her. Stars Dylan O'Brien, Britt Robertson, Victoria Justice and James Frecheville; from Sony ... In "Pressed" (2011), starring Luke Goss, Tyler Johnston and Jeffrey Ballard, a short-term drug deal set up by an investment banker goes awry when a couple of joyriding teenagers stumble across the illicit money hidden in the back seat of the man's car; from Inception Media ... "Curandero: Dawn of the Demon" (2005) is an action-packed horror flick that takes a couple on a horrifying journey through the deepest bowels of the Mexican underworld: When beautiful federal agent Magdalena calls upon the local curandero for his services to purify a police station, the two suddenly find themselves immersed in a satanic cult's blood-thirsty battleground; from Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Miramax.
In a world in which "The Taint" (2010) poisons the minds of men, turning them into raging misogynists, one young man and his girlfriend fight back against castration and endless head crushing. Stars Drew Bolduc and Colleen Walsh; from Troma ... In "Black Eagle (aka Soar Into the Sun)" (2012 -- South Korea) starring Jung Ji-hoon (aka "Rain") and Yu Jun-sang, a hotshot elite Air Force pilot is kicked off the military's top-notch air team and demoted into combat where his brash ways cause tension with the unit's own ace top gun ... until a North Korean MIG enters their airspace and feuds are set aside to battle the aggressors. From CJ Entertainment America ... "Drive-In Collection: Savage Water + Death By Invitation" consists of two grimy, regional sleaze-fests. "Savage Water" (1979): Regional horror filmmaking at its most bare-bones, Paul Kener's Utah lensed proto-giallo is a schizoid blend of big budget home movie and ultra cheap sleaze. "Death By Invitation" (1971): One of producer Leonard Kirtman's odd ventures into horror filmmaking, an effectively gritty tale of 20th century witchery topped off with a pleasant touch of psychedelia. From Vinegar Syndrome ... "Fairy in a Cage" (1977) is a controversial Japanese erotic bondage film, part of the Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection, about a young woman and a kabuki actor tortured by an evil military judge during WWII. In a new high-definition transfer taken from the original 35mm camera negative, on DVD and Blu-ray from Impulse Pictures ... In "Father's Day" (2012), starring Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy and Conor Sweeney, a young man, released from prison for a murder he didn't commit, teams up with a priest and a young hustler to put an end to the serial killer known as "The Father's Day Killer." This 1970s-style gore-fest is on DVD and Blu-ray from Troma Entertainment ... In "Female Teacher: In Front of the Students" (1982 -- Japan) a teacher gets more than she bargained for when she takes a new teaching job at a creepy old high school. Part of the Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection; from Impulse Pictures ... A young couple's cottage vacation is violently interrupted by a family on a murderous and identity stealing journey in search of the "perfect" life in "In Their Skin" (2012), starring Joshua Close, Selma Blair, James D'Arcy and Rachel Miner; from IFC Films ... A rookie cop in the Stealth Riders division, a secret police unit consisting of the best drivers on the force who go after criminals in the drag-racing underworld, teams up with a veteran partner to take on a legendary escape driver who has never been caught in "Motorway" (2012 -- Hong Kong), starring Anthony Wong, Shawn Yue and Josie Ho; from Lionsgate.
For the Family (3/12):In "Angelina Ballerina: The Mouseling Mysteries" (2012), Angelina and her pirouetting posse star in a collection of five whodunits: "Angelina and Roquefort's Rhythmic Ghost," "Angelina and the Case of the Missing Music," Angelina, the Pet Sitter," "Angelina and Super Polly" and "Angelina and the Marcel Mousseau Mime Challenge"; $14.98 from Lionsgate ... In "Curious George Swings Into Spring" (2013), George and best friend Hundley explore all the wonders of the season together -- blooming flowers, baby animals, canoe rides -- until Hundley loses his way and George takes to the skies to find his pal, in this new animated feature;$19.98 from Universal ... "The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: Vol. 1 Escape from the Kitchen" (2013) consists of the first 10 episodes of the Cartoon Network series that follows the adventures of Orange and his pals Pear, Passion Fruit, Marshmallow and their wacky human handler Nerville as they travel through time and space in their magical fruit cart; from the prehistoric era to colonial times, Orange and the crew are dropped into random adventures and forced to squeeze their way out. Spin-off from the YouTube hit, with guest stars Tim Curry and Michael Clarke Duncan. $14.93 from Gaiam Vivendi ... A homeless Iraq War vet leaves his dying dog and best friend, Duke, on the doorstep of a clinic, and when the dedicated staff nurse Duke back to health, they launch a campaign to locate the vet and re-unite him with his best pal in the Hallmark Movie Channel original "Duke" (2012), starring Steven Weber, Sarah Smyth and Allison Hossack; $14.93 from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... "Max & Ruby: A Bunny For Every Season" incldues 48 bunny stories spread out over four DVDs: "Springtime for Max & Ruby," "Summertime With Max & Ruby," "Perfect Pumpkin!" and "Everybunny Loves Winter!"; $26.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount.
Special Interest (3/12):
"The Intouchables," "Wreck-It Ralph," "Playing for Keeps" and "Red Dawn." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles (3/5):One of the most powerful films of all time, and arguably Steven Spielberg's dramatic masterpiece, "Schindler's List" (1993) has been remastered by Universal in a 20th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo set. Wedged in between the ground-breaking (and ground-shattering, so to speak) "Jurassic Park" and the bloated and overly melodramatic "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List" made a star of Ralph Fiennes and ensured Liam Neeson's position as a top-notch dramatic actor. Its black-and-white camerawork and attention to detail (in the horrors of the Nazi liquidation of the Krakow ghetto and the disdain for human life at the Paszow concentration camp) makes it tough at times to watch, but it's life-affirming story line (about businessman Oskar Schindler and his attempts to save hundreds of Jewish lives from extermination at Auschwitz) makes it a joy to behold. "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Extras include "Voices from the List," a documentary with testimonies from those who survived the Holocaust thanks to Oskar Schindler; "USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg," in which Spielberg shows how filming "Schindler's List" inspired him to establish the USC Shoah Foundation.
"Thorne" (2010) is a gritty, uncompromising and edgy British crime drama that hit the airwaves in the U.K. with two three-part episodes that center on complex and unpredictable Detective Inspector Tom Thorne (David Morrissey) as he goes on intense chases through chilling crime scenes after unfathomable psychopaths, deals with deliberately manipulated clues, and trudges through the darkest depths of London (a theme that seems to underpin a number of modern British TV series). In the first miniseries, "Sleepyhead," the detective is dragged back into the nightmares of the past when young girls are found murdered by "induced" strokes, with the latest victim deliberately left alive but paralyzed and unable to communicate. The serial killer even goes after Thorne, toying with the detective but not killing him. In the second, "Scaredy Cat," two female victims have been killed in the same way, and an investigation turns up several similar, unsolved cases from the past. Thorne eventually reckons that there's two serial killers, working together but killing separately. The series, which aired in the states on Encore as part of their Big Mini-series Showcase, will keep you guessing right to the end, and is a welcome relief from the predictability of most detective series. $29.98 from Anchor Bay.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Collection" is a nifty package with all seven original "Nightmare" films on four discs, with a fifth disc that includes new featurettes "Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger"; "Freddy's Nightmares Episode 2: It's a Miserable Life," the second episode from the television spinoff series (October 15, 1988); "Freddy's Nightmares Episode 3: Killer Instinct," the third episode from the television spinoff series (October 22, 1988); "Welcome to Prime Time" behind-the-scenes featurette; "Conclusions," a detailed examination of the series' sadomasochistic elements, its style, the series' mythos and importance in teenage culture. All seven films come with the original DVD release commentaries and featurettes. $59.99 from Warner.
Other Blu-ray debuts: "The Nativity Story" (2006), directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac; and "Westworld" (1973), directed by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin; both from Warner.
From TV to DVD (3/5):"Abducted: The Carlina White Story" (2012) is a Lifetime Original Movie based on the true story of the kidnapping of Carlina White, who was abducted as an infant by Ann Pettway from a New York hospital, solved her own kidnapping and reunited with her biological parents 23 years later. Stars Aunjanue Ellis, Keke Palmer, Sherri Shepherd and Roger Cross. From Lionsgate ... "Dalziel & Pascoe: Season 7" (2002) is a two-disc set with six episodes, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Duck Dynasty Season 2: Volume 1" (2012) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $19.98 from A&E ... The four-disc sets "H20: Just Add Water: The Complete Season One, The Complete Season Two, The Complete Season Three" (2006-10) each contain 13 episodes from each season of Teen Nick's #1 rated series about three normal teenage girls growing up on sun-drenched beaches Down Under who stumble upon an ancient cavern that transforms them into mermaids with magical powers. $24.95 each from Flatiron Film Company ... The charming hit mystery series "Murdoch Mysteries" features forensic sleuthing in the Age of Invention; the Seasons 1-4 Collection is a 16-disc DVD boxed set and 12-disc Blu-ray set with 52 episodes, from Acorn Media ... In "Murdoch Mysteries, Season 5" (2012), Murdoch helps a woman accused of murder; investigates an Egyptian curse; experiments with time travel; and crosses paths with Jack London, Henry Ford, and his idol, Alexander Graham Bell. 13 episodes in a DVD 4-disc boxed set and Blu-ray 3-disc set; from Acorn Media ... "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" (2011) is a four-disc set with all 12 episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 of the U.K. reality series (airing on TLC in the U.S.) about modern gypsies and travelers and their lavish weddings -- a world of ancient traditions meeting extravagance in extraordinary rites of passage. With unprecedented access, cameras capture their lives through births, evictions, divorces and their complex relationship with the "non-gypsy" community. $29.95 from Flatiron Film Co. ... "Regular Show: Party Pack" (2013) includes 16 episodes from all three seasons of the Emmy Award-winning Cartoon Network animated series about best-friends and park groundkeepers Mordecai and Rigby, a blue jay and raccoon, whose attempts to escape the boredom of their everyday lives takes them to fantastical extremes -- much to the chagrin of their boss, Benson, an anthropomorphic gumball machine and much to the delight of Pops, their humanoid looking lollipop friend. $19.82 from Warner ... In "The Seven Year Hitch" (2012), starring Darin Brooks, Natalie Hall, Frances Fisher, Griffin Cleveland, Ryan Doom and George Wendt, two best friends accidentally take their relationship to the next level and suddenly find themselves saying "I do." A Hallmark Movie Channel movie from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... "Tyler Perry's House of Payne: Volume Ten" (2012) is a three-disc set, $29.98 from Lionsgate.
Buzzin' the 'B's (3/5):A professional odds-maker's (Bruce Willis) small-time sports gambling world is turned upside down when he meets up with a former stripper and gambling prodigy (Rebecca Hall) who helps him score big -- and earns the ire of his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in "Lay the Favorite" (2012), directed by Stephen Frears and also starring Joshua Jackson, Vince Vaughn, Laura Prepon and Frank Grillo; on DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... "Interview With a Hitman" (2012), starring Luke Goss, Caroline Tillette, Stephen Marcus and Danny Midwinter, revolves around Viktor, an Eastern European assassin at the top of his profession. After a ruthless betrayal by the men who trained him, he escapes to London to and joins a new "family" -- but his past secrets won't fade away and he gets sucked into a vicious power struggle to survive. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA ... An ecological disaster that claimed 700 human lives, 2 million fish and 1,000 blackbirds in a small Maryland town is revealed through people's iPhones, Androids, 911 calls and web cams three years after the mysterious parasitic outbreak was covered up by the government in "The Bay" (2012), directed by Barry Levinson and starring Kristen Connolly, Christopher Denham, Kether Donohue and Michael Beasley; from Lionsgate ... After returning to his hometown on leave, Sgt. Jake Carter (WWE's Mike "The Miz" Mizani) learns that his sister has been abducted by a band of violent extremists. When he launches a daring one-man assault on their base of operations, he discover the group's ruthless leader is plotting a deadly terrorist strike in "The Marine 3: Homefront" (2011), starring Neal McDonough and Ashley Bell; from Fox ... Betrayed and left for dead by treacherous Japanese forces, ruthless samurai Yamada Nagamasa is rescued, taken to a remote Thai village and nursed back to health among the acolytes in the monastery where, years later, he's forced to fight back against the elite Japanese warriors who left him behind in "Muay Thai Warrior" (2010 -- Thailand), starring Seigi Ozeki and Kanokkorn Jaicheun; on DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA.
After the devastation of the Great Epidemic during which the world was overrun by hordes of living dead, two zombie hunters and a scientist set out to find the cause of the obliteration of the human race and a cure for the epidemic, leading them to neo-Nazis and the daughter of the feared plague-spreader in "Eaters" (2011 -- Italy), starring Rosella Elmi, Guglielmo Favilla and Elisa Ferretti; from Entertainment One ... In "Grave Encounters 2" (2012), starring Richard Harmon, Dylan Playfair and Stephanie Bennett, a film student, obsessed with the movie "Grave Encounters," sets out with his friends to visit the psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film. When they find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable horror, they bank on the hope that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive the sequel. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Tribeca Film ...In "Repligator" (1996), starring Gunnar Hansen and Brinke Stevens, a top-secret military experiment turns burly soldiers into sexy nymphets who turn into alligators when they have an orgasm. We kid you not! From MVD Entertainment ... An ex-con returns home to the Bronx after three year in prison to discover his wife estranged and his teenage son exploring a sexual transformation that will put the fragile bonds of their family to the test in "Gun Hill Road" (2011), starring Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, Miriam Colon, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Franky G.; from Virgil Films ... An engaged couple's backpacking trip in the Caucasus Mountains is derailed by a single misstep -- when they encounter an armed man and his two sons -- that threatens to undo everything the pair believed about each other and about themselves in "The Loneliest Planet" (2011), starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg; from IFC ... A playwright whose marriage and career are in a free fall has an explosive run-in with his former neighbor, a right-wing ex-con in "Collaborator" (2011), starring Martin Donovan, Olivia Williams, Katherine Helmond and David Morse; from Entertainment One ... A former CIA agent-turned-political talk show host descends into the treacherous jungles of Ecuador to rescue a team of environmental activists caught up in the criminal corporate cover-up of a violent local massacre in "A Dark Truth" (2012), starring Andy Garcia, Forest Whitaker, Eva Longoria, Deborah Kara Unger and Steven Bauer; from Sony.
On the Indie Front (3/5):A former Britpop rocker who now works on a farm near Los Angeles gets caught driving drunk and faces deportation, forcing him to confront the past and current demons in his life in "California Solo" (2012), starring Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen, Danny Masterson, Kathleen Wilhoite and A Martinez; from Strand Releasing ... "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You" (2012), starring Toby Regbo, Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Peter Gallagher and Lucy Liu, is a coming-of-age drama about a 17-year-old boy who -- ignored by his divorced parents -- decides to skip college and instead attempts to work out his confusion by talks with his grandmother and a life-coach; from FilmBuff ... Two hapless garbage truck drivers become overnight celebrities after an amazing discovery: On a routine garbage run through Hollywood, the pair notice a shiny gold object sticking out of a landfill -- Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in "Jerry Maguire " in "Garbage" (2012), starring Jon Huck, Jed Rees, with special appearances by Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Billy Baldwin and Steven Bauer. From Osiris Entertainment.
For the Family (3/5):In the DOVE-approved family film "Midnight Stallion" (2013), starring Kris Kristofferson, Jodelle Ferland and Chelah Horsdal, a young girl and her family are rescued from their financial struggle by an unexpected guest: A mysterious, wild stallion in a nearby meadow that may hold the key to saving the family's farm; from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Barney: Play With Barney" (2013) Barney and his friends teach the importance of being a team payer in four episodes: "Let's Play games," "Playing Games," "Riff to the Rescue!" and "For the Fun of It"; $14.98; from Lionsgate ... In "Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Friends Forever" (2013), Strawberry and Blueberry prepare for the very formal Berry Bitty Buggy Derby; from Fox ... In "Thomas & Friends: Go Go Thomas" (2013), Thomas and his locomotive friends are charged up and ready to go, go in five episodes: "Express Coming Through," "Race to the rescue," "Flash Bang Wallop," "Welcome Stafford" and "O' Wheezey Wobbles"; $14.98 from Lionsgate ... "Scooby-Doo and the Circus Monsters" (2013) is a new Scooby-Doo compilation that includes three funny-bone chilling cases for Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. crew; $9.97 from Warner ... "Care Bears: Totally Sweet Adventures" (2012) features four adventures with the animated bears; $14.98 from Lionsgate ... "LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu Season 2" (2011) contains 13 episodes of the Cartoon Network series; on DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray Disc, $24.98 from Warner ... "Ultramarines" (2010) features the voices of Terence Stamp, Sean Pertwee and John Hurt in a CGI-animated feature-length movie interpretation of the internationally successful Warhammer 40,000 Universe that centers on the genetically enhanced Space Marines that are the only force that stands between humanity and alien hordes; from Anchor Bay ... "Tom and Jerry: Pint-Sized Pals" contains 30 Tom & Jerry cartoons featuring some of the tussling twosome's most popular pals; the cartoon selection is comprised of several legendary classics, including the Academy Award-winning "The Two Mousketeers"; $19.97 from Warner ... In "Power Rangers: Clash of the Red Rangers -- The Movie" (2011), the Samurai Rangers team up with the mysterious RPM Red Ranger to fight off dual threats from Master Xandred's Mooger army and a robotic super villain from the RPM Ranger's dimension; $14.98 from Lionsgate.
Special Interest (3/5):"Waiting for Lightning" (2012) is the inspirational story of Danny Way, a young boy from a broken home in Vista, Calif., whose passion for skateboarding would one day bring him fame and a lifetime of accomplishments. A visionary skateboarder whose love of big air in half-pipes and on gigantic ramps have garnered him fame and fans around the world, Way decides to attempt the impossible: jump China's Great Wall on a skateboard. Features a who's who of action sports all-stars including Way, Travis Pastrana, Laird Hamilton, Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Mat Hofman, and Ken Block. On DVD and Blu-ray from First Run Features ... The California Condor neared extinction in the 1980s until biologists nurtured the population and saw their numbers grow upward to 160. However, these noble birds face a grave threat which prevents them from flourishing further: lead poisoning. "Scavenger Hunt" (2012) chronicles the battle between bird and man, as the birds, which mostly reside in Northern Arizona, are coming down with lead poisoning which they contract from eating the flesh of buckshot deer. From Cinema Libre Studio ... "The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond" (2009) examines the history of "The Wizard of Oz," using clips and celebrity interviews with the likes of Tommy Tune, Joan Leslie, Mickey Rooney, Dom DeLuise, Joel Grey, and three of the original munchkins from the classic 1939 film and its producer Mervyn LeRoy. Chronicles the earliest stage and screen Oz adaptations, such as the 1925 silent version and the even earlier "The Scarecrow of Oz," to the quintessential 1939 film to the successful stage play "Wicked" and every production in between. The original 1925 silent film version of The Wizard of Oz featuring Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man is included as a bonus. From Entertainment One ... The original program "MLB Superstars: Impact Players" (2013) constructs a 25- man dream team of current stars and cornerstone players. Assembled from a general manager's perspective, the all-star lineup includes: Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Stephen Strasburg, David Price, Justin Verlander and many more. $14.95 from Lionsgate.
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February 1, 2013
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).