DVD Collectibles (7/30):There's several great films getting special treatments this week, headed up by The Criterion Collection's edition of "The Devil's Backbone" (2001). Before his infatuation with big-budget and special-effects-laden productions, Guillermo del Toro made small, personal films; "The Devil's Backbone" is his most brilliant, emotionally layered and stunning film yet. Set during the final week of the Spanish Civil War, "The Devil's Backbone" tells the tale of a 10-year-old boy who, after his freedom-fighting father is killed, is sent to a haunted rural orphanage full of terrible secrets, least among them the spirit of another dead child and the spectre of an unexploded bomb buried in the building. Del Toro effectively combines gothic ghost story, murder mystery, and historical melodrama in a stylish concoction that reminds us that the scariest monsters are often the human ones. In Spanish with English subtitles, in a new 2K digital film restoration, approved by del Toro and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.
"The Bronte Sisters" (1979) is a rediscovered and remastered classic by Andre Techine. Nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1979 Cannes International Film Festival, "The Bronte Sisters" has been only rarely seen in the decades since, but its reputation as an atmospheric and passionate masterpiece has grown. An early success for the revered director Andre Techine ("Rendez-vous," "Scene of the Crime," "Wild Reeds"), the film stars three of France's most enduring actresses: Isabelle Adjani, Marie-France Pisier and Isabelle Huppert. Director Techine, who co-wrote the film with Pascal Donitzer (writer of Jacques Rivette's film of "Wuthering Heights"), achieves an authentic depiction of the bleak, lonely existence of the Victorian-era Bronte sisters Emily (Adjani), Charlotte (Pisier) and Anne (Huppert). The young women live in a Yorkshire village under the stern eye of their minister father (Patrick Magee) and a rigid aunt -- and also have to deal with their troubled, opium-addicted brother Branwell (Pascal Greggory). While all four siblings have artistic ambitions, their dreams are thwarted by romantic disappointments and tragic illness. But remarkably, against all odds (and using male pseudonyms), the sisters publish their first poetry and novels, including Emily's "Wuthering Heights," Charlotte's "Jane Eyre" and Anne's "Agnes Grey." Techine's sensitive biographical film poignantly contrasts the sisters' humdrum lives with the wildly romantic fantasies that they conjured in their extraordinary novels. With stunning cinematography by Bruno Nuytten and powerful music by Philippe Sarde, "The Bronte Sisters" is a richly rewarding film; it's both a step back into history and a startling look at the immediacy of artistic creation. On DVD and Blu-ray from Cohen Film Collection
Three more films from the influential Italian director Fernando Di Leo -- considered by some, like Quentin Tarantino, who was immensely influenced by the director, to be "without a doubt, the master of (the gangster movie) genre" -- come to home video in the U.S. in "Fernando Di Leo: The Italian Crime Collection: Vol. 2," headed up by his lost masterpiece, "Shoot First, Die Later," which makes it to DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, digitally remastered and restored from 35mm negatives. Di Leo was a master of Mafia mayhem with ultraviolence (for its time), wild car chases and lurid tales of pimps and petty gangsters, made cheap and quick. Di Leo began as a screenwriter on Spaghetti Westerns, then soft-core exploitation films, then -- supposedly inspired by the new realism of such American fare as "The French Connection" -- went on to make a series of Italian crime genre films that were marked by social criticism of Italy's economic and political landscape of corrupt cops, politicians and church officials. The three films here: "Shoot First Die Later" (1974), "Kidnap Syndicate" (1975) and "Naked Violence" (1969). In a classy three-disc boxed set with an illustrated booklet and documentaries on each disc. Read more about the films here. On DVD and Blu-ray from Raro Video USA.
Blu-ray debuts this week:
From TV to DVD (7/30):"Banshee: The Complete First Season" (2013) is a four-disc set with 10 episodes of the Cinemax series that follows an ex-con who assumes the identity of the sheriff of a small town where he continues his criminal activities, even as he's hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier. On DVD, $39.98; Blu-ray Disc, $49.99; from HBO ... "Kendra on Top: The Complete First Season" (2012) is a two-disc set with 14 uncensored episodes, $24.98 from MPI Media Group ... "Touched By an Angel Season Eight" (2001-02) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.99 from CBS/Paramount.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (7/30)"3 Businessmen" (1998) is a surrealistic fable from Alex Cox, the director of "Repo Man." Two businessmen, Benny and Frank, venture out into the streets of Liverpool, a city neither of them knows, in search of dinner. They wander for miles, unable to find a meal, unaware that the town they began their journey in has morphed: first into Rotterdam, then into Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Abandoned by a taxi in the desert, they encounter a third businessman -- Leroy -- are fed, and briefly discover the metaphysical explanation for their trek. Stars Miguel Sandoval, Robert Wisdom and Alex Cox. From Microcinema International ... "The Fog Collector's Edition" (1980) features a new transfer of the film supervised by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Dean Cundey. Directed by John Carpenter and starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, John Houseman and Hal Holbrook. New extras include an exclusive interview with Jamie Lee Curtis discussing "The Fog" and covering her legendary early 80s "Scream Queen" career; commentary featuring Barbeau, Atkins and production designer Tommy Lee Wallace; a retrospective interview with director of photography Dean Cundey about his many legendary collaborations with John Carpenter; "Horror's Hallowed Grounds" locations featurette. On DVD and Blu-ray from Scream Factory/Shout! Factory ... "Filly Brown" (2012), starring Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Lou Diamond Phillips, Edward James Olmos and Emilio Rivera, is the inspiring portrait of a young woman striving to find her voice -- without compromising herself or the fate of her family. Filly Brown is a young aspiring hip-hop artist from Los Angeles. With her mother in prison and her father struggling to provide for his daughters, Filly knows that a record contract just might be the answer to her family's financial problems. So when a record producer offers her a shot at stardom, she has to choose between selling out her dreams -- or saving her family. Latin Grammy nominee Jenni Rivera' final on-screen appearance before her untimely death. On DVD and Blu-ray from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Black Rock" (2012), starring Katie Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth, three childhood friends get together for a private camp out at an iconic setting from their childhood, an empty island off the coast of Maine, to renew their bond of sisterhood. The trio, however, quickly finds themselves in a fight for their lives when they meet three men who have come to the island for a hunting trip and a night of drinking spirals into a tragic accident. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital. From Lionsgate.
Two delinquent teenage lovers from the suburbs of Los Angeles travel to a small southern town to falsely claim a dead friend's inheritance in "Rushlights" (2013), starring Josh Henderson, Haley Webb, Beau Bridges and Aidan Quinn. The pair wind up in a nightmare of greed and betrayal when confronted with the twisted and bizarre underworld of Tremo, Texas. On DVD and Blu-ray from Vertical Entertainment ... In "The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh" (2012), starring Vanessa Redgrave and Aaron Pool, antiques collector Leon (Poole) arrives at the house of his reclusive, estranged mother, Rosalind Leigh (Redgrave), after her mysterious death to take stock of his inheritance. Once there, he discover that she had been living in a shrine devoted to a mysterious cult. From Image Entertainment ... In "The Demented" (2013), starring Sarah Butler, Brittney Alger, Kayla Ewell, Richard Kohnke and Michael Welch, six college friends on a weekend getaway find themselves fighting for their lives after a terrorist attack turns the local residents into rage infused zombies. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Anchor Bay ... In "Blaze You Out" (2013), starring Veronica Diaz Carranza, Melissa Cordero, Jeremy Ray Valdez and Mark Adair-Rios, a strong-willed young woman -- an aspiring DJ -- ventures into the ruthless underworld of the town's heroin trade in order to save her younger sister's life. On DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate ... Two brothers team up to battle a creature "Under the Bed" (2012), starring Jonny Weston, Gattlin Griffith, Peter Holden, Musetta Vander and Kelcie Stranahan. Every child knows about the monster under the bed -- Neal Hausman's mistake was trying to fight it. Neal returns from a two-year exile following his tragic attempt to defeat the monster only to find his father ticking ever closer to a breakdown, a new stepmother who fears him, and his little brother being terrorized by the same monster. On DVD and Blu-ray from XLrator Media.
On the Indie Front (7/30):"War Flowers" (2012), starring Christina Ricci, Gabrielle Popa, Bren Foster, Jason Gedrick and Tom Berenger, is a Civil War drama about a Southern woman -- whose youngest child was lost to scarlet fever and whose husband is in the Confederate army -- who takes care of a badly wounded Yankee soldier left behind after a nearby battle. From Green Apple Entertainment ... In "A Night for Dying Tigers" (2010), starring Gil Bellows, Jennifer Beals, Kathleen Robertson and John Pyper-Ferguson, a young man's extended family gathers for his farewell dinner before he goes to prison for five years. As the reunion devolves, the truths behind the family's long history of conflict and tragedy are surprisingly revealed. From Monarch Home Entertainment ... In "Cloudburst" (2011), Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker star as an aging lesbian couple who escape from their nursing home in Maine and head up to Canada to get married; while on the road, they pick up a young hitchhiker (Ryan Doucette) with his own issues: He's returning to Nova Scotia to visit his dying mother. With equal parts humor and grace, the film explores the themes of life, death and love through the eyes of this oddball trio. From Wolfe Video.
Foreign (7/30):"Old Dog (Lao Gou/Khyi Rgan)" (2011 -- Tibet), directed by Pema Tseden, the leading artist of the burgeoning Tibetan cinema, and the first director to produce a Tibetan-language feature in mainland China, tells the story of a family on the Himalayan plains who discover that their dog is worth a fortune, but that selling it comes at a terrible price. First release by Icarus Film's dGenerate Films Home Video Collection.
For the Family (7/30):There's a bus waiting for your kids somewhere this week. Scholastic Storybook Treasures has two The Magic School Bus DVDs roaring your way: "The Magic School Bus: Revving Up" (2013) is a three-disc set -- "Under Construction," "Getting Energized" and "Cracks a Yolk" -- each containing three new episodes running the gamut from computers and electricity to city critters and desert adaptation. Each DVD also contains a special bonus episode fort more than four-and-a-half hours of Frizz-tastic fun. $24.95; and "The Magic School Bus: In a Pickle" (2013), with four never-before-released episodes including the title episode about microbes, along with "Meets Molly Cule," "Makes a Stink" about smell and "Meets the Rot Squad" which covers decomposition. $12.95 ... Meanwhile, Entertainment One offers two new three-episode DVDs of the Dove Foundation-approved "The Wheels on the Bus" series for children ages 1-5. Each episode features all the classic "Wheels on the Bus" verses, plus some bouncy new ones, as well as Roger Daltry as the voice of Argon the Dragon. In "The Wheels on the Bus: All Around Town" (2013), Papaya and Mango learn about all different type of jobs, visit a jungle bird show and a mechanics garage, and learn the ultimate Fairie's Golden Rule: be nice to others and they will be nice to you. In "The Wheels on the Bus: Animal Adventure" (2013), Papaya, Mango and Argon introduce young viewers to reptiles, bugs, sharks, turtles, dolphins, elephants, zebras and more in four episodes ... "Power Rangers Seasons 4-7" (1996) is a deluxe 21-DVD box set with all 183 episodes, including a disc jam-packed with bonus features including rarely seen archival material, brand-new retrospective featurettes including interviews with members of the cast, creative team, and fans, and more. Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa have been defeated once again, but the Command Center is in ruins, and King Mondo is on his way to conquer Earth. Picking up right where "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and "Mighty Morphin Alien Ranger"s left off, "Power Rangers: Seasons 4–7" continues the saga of the heroic "teenagers with attitude" through four more seasons: "Power Rangers ZEO," "Power Rangers Turbo," "Power Rangers in Space" and "Power Rangers Lost Galaxy." $129.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" (2013) is the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Original Animated Movies. When time travel allows a past wrong to be righted for Flash and his family, the event's temporal ripples prove disastrous, creating a fractured, alternate reality where the Justice League never formed, and even Superman is nowhere to be found. Amidst a new world being ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman's Amazons and Aquaman's Atlanteans, Flash must team with a grittier, more violent Batman and government agent Cyborg to restore the continuity of Flash's original timeline. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Warner ... "Meet the Small Potatoes" (2013) is a fun-filled adventure that follows Ruby, Nate, Chip and Olaf from the humble dirt of an Idaho farm to become a global singing sensation; an inspirational tale of friendship and creativity that proves even the smallest potato can make big dreams come true. Voiced by Malcolm McDowell and featuring songs by Tony-winning composer Jerry Bock ("Fiddler on the Roof"). From Universal.
"Ginger & Rosa," "Trance," "Twixt" and "Pieta." Read more at the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
DVD Collectibles (7/23):As I've mentioned many times before, sometimes the best films show up with little or no advance warning. Music Box Film's "The Silence" is the latest in a long line of such pleasant surprises; it's a German police-procedural-of-sorts psychological-mystery-thriller by Swiss-born writer/director Baran bo Odar who, in his feature debut, has turned Jan Costin Wagner's 2007 novel "The Silence" into a ominous, atmospheric, and beautifully acted film. The story line: Twenty-three years ago, on a hot summer day, a young girl named Pia is brutally murdered in a field of wheat by Peer (Ulrich Thomsen), as his helpless friend Timo (Wotan Wilke Moehring) watches. In the present day, on the exact same date, 13-year-old Sinikka goes missing, her bicycle abandoned in the same spot, leading police to suspect the same killer may be at work again. Recently widowed detective David (Sebastian Blombeg) and his pregnant colleague Janna (Jule Boewe) struggle to solve the mystery of these parallel crimes with the help of Krischan (Burghart Klaussner), the retired investigator of the unresolved case. While Sinikka's distraught parents are trapped in an agonizing period of waiting and uncertainty and their marriage begins to fall apart, their daughter's fate rips open unhealed wounds in the heart of Pia's mother (Katrin Sass) and sends Timo in search of Peer and their own old desires. This is a character-driven film: There's less emphasis on the procedural than the psychological underpinnings of the characters; there's a haunting and mesmerizing mood of menace, loss and anxiety. Odar's camera doesn't focus on the brutality of the murders, but rather he uses incredibly lush wide screen and overhead tracking shots to set the stage for the film's action. Highly recommended. Disclosure: I liked this film so much that OnVideo has partnered with Music Box Films on a give-away; see below.
The folks at The Criterion Collection have another pair of outstanding releases this week: "Babette's Feast" (1987) (DVD and Blu-ray), at once a rousing paean to artistic creation, a delicate evocation of divine grace, and the ultimate film about food. Directed by Gabriel Axel and adapted from a story by Isak Dinesen, this is the layered tale of a French housekeeper with a mysterious past who brings quiet revolution in the form of one exquisite meal to a circle of starkly pious villagers in late 19-century Denmark. "Babette's Feast" combines earthiness and reverence in an indescribably moving depiction of pleasure that goes to your head like fine champagne. In Danish, French, and Swedish with English subtitles with a new 2K digital film restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition ... "The Ice Storm" (1997) (Blu-ray debut) takes place in suburban Connecticut, 1973 and follows the Hood and Carver families as they try to navigate a Thanksgiving break simmering with unspoken resentment, sexual tension, and cultural confusion. With clarity, subtlety, and a dose of wicked humor, Academy Award–winning director Ang Lee renders Rick Moody's novel of upper-middle-class American malaise as a trenchant, tragic cinematic portrait of lost souls. Featuring a tremendous cast of established actors (Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver) and rising stars (Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes) "The Ice Storm" is among the finest films of the 1990s. With a restored high-definition digital film transfer, supervised and approved by Lee and director of photography Frederick Elmes, with a 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
From TV to DVD (7/23):"Superjail! Season 3" (2013) features 10 episodes from the Adult Swim animated comedy about Superjail, the largest and most brutal prison in the world. Built in an active volcano, this complex routinely has riots and murders, though nobody is ever able to escape. The Warden, who is in charge of the prison, has gone insane over the years and has decided to make his prison unlike any other in the world. Each near 11-minute "Superjail!" episode features a sequence of escalating and unprintable carnage; this season includes more fist fights, baffling love triangles and psychedelic animation that will melt your face off. $19.97 from Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's (7/23):In the well-wrought, well-executed psychological crime thriller -- ripe with nuance and characterization -- "New World" (2013 -- South Korea), starring Lee Jeong-jae, Choi Min-sik and Hwang Jun-min, Korea's biggest crime organization, "Goldmoon," has been infiltrated by a cop who has been undercover for six years. When the head of the syndicate dies, the police chief orders him to participate in project "New World," designed to bring down the notorious crime organization by damaging the relationship between the two feuding contenders. The undercover cop faces a difficult decision: Follow the chief's orders or maintain his loyalty to "Goldmoon." A superb outing that has more to do with story telling than violence, though the film is not short in that department. A must-see for fans of modern Asian cinema. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA ... "Starbuck" (2013) is a French Canadian comedy, starring Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton, Antoine Bertrand and Dominic Philie, about a 42-year-old man who lives the life of an irresponsible adolescent. He coasts through life with minimal effort and maintains a complicated relationship with Valerie, a young policewoman. Just as she tells him she's pregnant, his past resurfaces: Twenty years earlier, he began providing sperm to a fertility clinic in exchange for money. He discovers he's the father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class action lawsuit to determine the identity of their biological father, known only by the pseudonym Starbuck. From Entertainment One ... In "Welcome to the Punch" (2013), starring Mark Strong, James McAvoy, Andrea Riseborough, David Morrissey and Peter Mullan., master criminal Jacob Sternwood (Strong) escapes London during a daring robbery that left detective Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) physically and emotionally scarred. Three years later, when a failed heist puts Sternwood's son in a hospital, the fugitive is forced to come out of hiding in Iceland -- giving Max his second chance to get the one criminal who got away. But as Max returns to the pursuit of his arch-nemesis, he begins to uncover evidence of a vast conspiracy that may put him in even greater danger than his personal vendetta. On DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Films/MPI Media Group ... A Beautiful vampire's passionate affair with a human screenwriter -- and the safety of the whole vampire community -- gets endangered when her troublemaker sister unexpectedly comes to visit in "Kiss of the Damned" (2012), starring Josephine de La Baume, Milo Ventimiglia, Roxane Mesquida and Riley Keough. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment
In "Graceland" (2012 -- Philippines), family man Marlon Villar, the longtime chauffeur of Manuel Chango, a corrupt Filipino politician, finds himself in an impossible situation when, while driving his daughter and the politician's daughter home, their car is ambushed in a kidnapping attempt and, during the confusion of the ambush, the wrong girl is taken and held for ransom. Marlon is determined to save his daughter, but between the conflicting motives of the kidnappers, the politician and the police, Marlon is forced into a terrible downward spiral of deceit and betrayal. Stars Arnold Reyes, Menggie Cobarrubias and Ella Guevara. On DVD and Blu-ray from Drafthouse Films ... "The Breakfast Club" meets "Zombieland" when a group of teenagers trapped in detention fight for survival after their classmates turn into a ravenous zombie horde in "Detention of the Dead" (2013). Can a cheerleader, a stoner, a jock, a bully, a goth, and a nerd put aside their differences for one night to take on the undead? Stars Jacob Zacher, Alexa Nikolas, Christa B. Allen, Jayson Blair, Justin Cho and Max Adler. From Anchor Bay ... Based on the notorious Bangkokian gangs of the 1950s-60s, "The Gangster" (2012 -- Thailand) follows a newly released prisoner who wants to go straight but, because he knows nothing else other than the life of a gangster, he returns to his old gang. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day" (2012), starring Marc Pickering, Mark Lewis Jones, Elen Rhys, Joshua Richards and Michael Jibson, follows the true story of a young monk who faces a horde of deadly Vikings during his daring journey to deliver a sacred book to a holy monastery. From Lionsgate ... In "The King of the Streets" (2012 -- China), starring Yuen Song, Becki Li, Yang Junping and Hou Xu, an angry ex-con returns to the streets in search of a new life but also seeks to avenge the death of his parents some eight years earlier by local gangsters. From Well Go USA ... A pro ball player with a substance abuse problem is forced into rehab in his hometown, finding new hope when he gets honest about his checkered past, and takes on coaching duties for a misfit Little League team in "Home Run" (2013), starring Scott Elrod and Dorian Brown. On DVD and Blu-ray from Millennium Entertainment ... In "House Party: Tonight's the Night" (2013), the fourth sequel in the "House Party" franchise, starring Tequan Richmond, Zac Goodspeed, Rolonda Watts, Christopher "Kid" Reed, Christopher "Play" Martin, Gary Anthony Williams and Tristin Mays, a college-bound high schooler throws one last party that turns into an epic disaster where anything can happen and anyone might turn up ... including the original house partiers, Kid 'n Play. From Warner.
On the Indie Front (7/23):In "The Wedding Chapel" (2013), starring Mark Deklin, Emmanuelle Vaugier and Shelley Long, a single painter, down on her luck, takes a break from her mundane life and visits her mom, in hopes of finding some inspiration. During her visit she becomes involved in a mission to conserve the local church, which is in danger of being shut down; her efforts not only give her a new outlook on life, but also enables her mother to rekindle a long lost love from her past. From Nasser Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Love and Honor" (2013), starring Liam Hemsworth, Aimee Teegarden, Teresa Palmer and Austin Stowell, a young soldier in Vietnam in 1969 gets dumped by his hometown girl and he and his best friend decide to go AWOL and return to the States to win her back. In just seven days they must get to the U.S., change her mind and make it back to their posts without getting caught. But when they arrive in Michigan they find the girl and her beautiful, committed activist friend are at the heart of the anti-war movement. Now the young soldiers must make some life-changing decisions. On DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Films.
Foreign (7/23):"Vanishing Waves" (2012 -- Lithuania-France-Belgium) is an award-winning film by Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte, a science fiction romance that is equally occupied by the erotic as well as the fantastic. Lukas (Marius Jampolskis) is assisting a scientific research team by functioning as a patient in a series of heavily monitored (and medicated) sensory deprivation experiments wherein he is attempting to make some form of contact with the subject, Aurora (Jurga Jutaite), a young woman who has been locked in a comatose state for some time. Doctors initially hope for just a vague reaffirmation of consciousness, but the experiment takes an unexpected twist when Lukas and Aurora actually develop a strong psychic link in their mutually altered forms of consciousness…and their link quickly evolves into a romantic, sexually charged relationship. As Lukas hides this data from his researchers, he and Aurora meet secretly and passionately in a series of surreal dreamscapes created by their collective minds, but their union is tragically doomed to collapse around them. From Artsploitation Films.
For the Family (7/23):The Robotech chronicle continues with the unveiling of the all-new anime adventure "Love Live Alive," coupled with "Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles," in "Robotech: 2-Movie Collection" (1985/2013): Lieutenant "Lancer" Belmont, a veteran of the Robotech's New Generation, recounts his journey from before his first encounter with Scott Bernard to the aftermath following Admiral Rick Hunter's expedition to liberate the Earth from the mysterious Invid race. From Lionsgate ... "Dragons: Riders of Berk" (2013) is a two-disc set with 20 episodes of the TV series based on the DreamWorks franchise; from Fox ... Double the fun and learning with "Dora & Blue's Clues Double Feature: Dora's Musical School Days & Blue's Big Musical Movie" (2013); in "Dora," kids help Boots' teacher get to school on time to greet her students with a song, learn new Spanish words, cheer up the Grumpy Old Troll and help Dora and Boots deliver mail; in "Blue," kids help to get a backyard music show underway by keeping a checklist, assembling the stage and costumes, writing a song with G-Clef -- voiced by Ray Charles -- and of course, playing Blue's Clues to find Blue a singing partner. $16.99 from Nickelodeon ... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 3" (1989-90) is a four-disc set with all 47 episodes of the entire third season of the classic 80s TV series, $19.98 from Lionsgate.
Special Interest (7/23):"War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State" (2013) features true stories of four American whistleblowers who exposed fraud in government, including the Stellar Wind program, a super secret warrantless surveillance program that violated American's privacy rights and the warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA). From Disinformation Company ... "The Jeffrey Dahmer Files" (2012) is a documentary on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to 957 years in prison for killing 17 people and dismembering their bodies over a 13-year period. Stories of necrophilia and cannibalism added to the horror of Dahmer's crimes. This film explores Dahmer by talking to those who knew him during and after his hidden killing spree. From IFC Entertainment.
"The Silence" Give-awayOn July 23, Music Box Films will release director Baran bo Odar's critically acclaimed "The Silence" (2010), a brooding mystery and psychological thriller about a young girl's disappearance on the anniversary of the unsolved rape and murder of a young girl 23 years earlier. As a new investigation is mounted, a small German town is ripped apart by guilt, grief and suspicion. Featuring spot-on performances, beautiful cinematography, and a captivating script, "The Silence" has an 87% Fresh rating including rave reviews by The Washington Post, LA Times, Entertainment Weekly and more. We're giving away three DVD copies of the film; for a chance to win, answer the following question and send your answer to email@example.com:
Who wrote the book upon which "The Silence" is based?
Three e-mail addresses will be chosen at random from those received; only correct answers sent to firstname.lastname@example.org are eligible to win. Only winners will be notified and only one entry per email address.
"42," "Evil Dead" and "Bullet to the Head." Read more at the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
DVD Collectibles: (7/16)"Bert Stern: Original Mad Man" is the definitive look at the life and work of one of the greatest American photographers of all time -- shot by his current wife and lover, Shannah Laumeister. An original Madison Avenue "mad man" (and close friend of Stanley Kubrick, who helped his early career), Stern's images helped create modern advertising by putting concepts into the message, not just drawings or images of products; his ground-breaking campaign for Smirnoff in 1955 (a glass of vodka in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza, with the pyramid reflected in the liquid, advertising the driest of dry martinis) forever changed the industry. In the next decade he photographed some of the greatest stars and celebrities of the day, including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Audrey Hepburn, Bridget Bardot, Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren and Twiggy, among many, many others. He created the iconic and infamous Lolita image from Kubrick's film and, along with other photographic greats such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, became a celebrity in his own right. And he'll forever be remembered as the photographer for Marilyn Monroe's "last sitting": In the summer of 1962, before her death, Stern took more than 2,500 photographs of Monroe over three sessions held in a Los Angeles hotel. But despite his success, Stern was a prisoner of his own pictures and of the life he had created as a celebrity; he became dependent on drugs and his career faltered; he moved to Spain in the 1970s to recover. He returned to the U.S. and for thy next three decades continued to photograph the famous and infamous alike (Kylie Minogue, Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan). This documentary is a candid, first-person account of a man who loved two things in his life "women and photography." Stern died June 26 of this year at 83. From First Run Features.
Remember Rick Springfield? "Jessie's Girl"? If not, you're in good company, for the 1980s rock 'n' roller and heartthrob star of the soap "General Hospital" disappeared from the scene in the mid-nineties. But there's millions of fans that still love Springfield, who returned to touring and recording after more than a decade of silence. He's been under the radar -- until now. "An Affair of the Heart," which aired on May 15 on Epix, is a heart-felt documentary named for one of Springfield's classic songs that follows the singer's unique relationship with seven super fans who put their lives on hold to follow him on tour and on one of the many cruises that he headlines. In pop media, it's a cliche to say that the music (or the movie or the book) changed one's life; for some of the fans of Springfield, that's a reality. Springfield -- who, by the way, at 63, can still rock with the best of them -- connects with his fans like no other musician I'm aware of. He's always accessible to them at concerts and gatherings; he's made friends with hundreds of them, personally calling them up during times of need. He tours everywhere (not just gigantic venues) to be near them; this guy really loves his fans and brings joy to people; he's genuinely human. His music has changed people's lives and helped them: there's a woman with congenital heart disease and a female minister who was gang raped who both turned to Springfield (and got) spiritual support. Some fans have overcome deep trauma by connecting with his music, for others he's served as a catalyst for life-long friendships. And we did say he can rock. At the 2010 Sweden Rock Festival, Springfield was on the bill with some heavy metal bands and the crowd was dubious of his "lightweight" credentials. But once he began to rock, he won over the critical Swedes. The film follows Springfield on tours and book signings and is peppered with intimate interviews with fans and their families. As Springfield says about the film, "It was a real laugh/cry kind of thing. As a person, I am kind of peripheral. It is about their connection, what they view and how they interpreted who I was, and the right times that music that they liked came along to help them to get through difficult stuff." The title of this film says it all. On Blu-ray and DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures.
Other goodies this week (7/16): "Doctor Who -- The Doctors Revisited: One-Four." This year marks the 50th anniversary of "Doctor Who," the longest running science fiction show in television history. To celebrate, BBC Home Entertainment is releasing a curated selection of the best of each of this storied program's 11 Doctors. The first release showcases "Doctor Who's" first four doctors, including William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, spanning the years 1963-1981. Includes a profile of each Doctor and one classic program for each: "The Aztecs," "Tomb of the Cyberman," "Spearhead from Space" and "Pyramid of Mars." In a four-disc DVD, $39.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Lord of the Flies" (1963): In the hands of the renowned experimental theater director Peter Brook, William Golding's legendary novel on the primitivism lurking beneath civilization becomes a film as raw and ragged as the lost boys at its center. Taking an innovative documentary-like approach, Brook shot "Lord of the Flies" with an off-the-cuff naturalism, seeming to record a spontaneous eruption of its characters' ids. The result is a rattling masterpiece, as provocative as its source material. New, restored 4K digital film transfer, supervised by cameraman and editor Gerald Feil, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. Extras include commentary featuring director Peter Brook; audio recordings of William Golding reading from his novel, accompanied by the corresponding scenes from the film; a collection of behind-the-scenes material, featuring home movies, screen tests, outtakes, and stills; more. From The Criterion Collection.
New to Blu-ray this week is "Heavy Traffic" (1973), Ralph Bakshi's animated masterpiece about an underground cartoonist who contends with life in the inner city, where various unsavory characters serve as inspiration for his artwork, from Shout! Factory; and "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (Director's Cut)" (2009) for fans of the 2000 crime picture renowned for the unique story of the fast rise and fall of its egomaniacal filmmaker, Troy Duffy (who was a bartender in Los Angeles when his script was produced). This sequel about the MacManus brothers' return to Boston features 27 minutes of never-before-seen footage, including a longer opening sequence, a lengthened fantasy sequence and an extended elevator sequence leading up to the Prudential shoot-out. Stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz, Peter Fonda and Judd Nelson. The two-disc set includes the theatrical and director's cut versions. From Sony.
From TV to DVD (7/16):"Alphas: Season Two" (2012) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $44.98 from Universal ... "America's Test Kitchen: Season 13" (2012) is a four-disc set with more episodes of foolproof recipes, tips and techniques, equipment recommendations, and more, $39.95 from PBS Distribution ... "Combat!: The Complete Fourth Season" (2012) is a eight-disc set with 31 episodes from one of the television's most popular series. The ground breaking "Combat!" offered a gritty, unflinching look at American soldiers battling in Europe during World War II, confronting imposing odds and demonstrating remarkable levels of ingenuity and courage. Vic Morrow and Rick Jason head a stellar cast, featuring an incomparable list of guest stars from Hollywood's Golden Age as well as top directorial talent such as Richard Donner and Robert Altman. $39.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Damages: The Final Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $45.99 from Sony ... Before Inspector Morse, there was rookie Constable Morse, fed up with police work and ready to nip his career in the bud by handing in his resignation. That is, until a murder turned up that only he could solve. Endeavour Morse -- before his signature red Jaguar, but with his deductive powers already running in high gear -- solves mysteries in 1960s Oxford in "Endeavour Series 1" (2012), a three-disc set with four whodunits. On DVD $39.99, Blu-ray $44.99, from PBS Distribution ... "Femme Fatales: The Complete Second Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes of the Cinemax series about powerful, sexy and dangerous women inspired by pulp stories and graphic novels, with guest stars that include Vivica A. Fox, Eric Roberts, Jeff Fahey, Casper Van Dien, Antonio Sabato Jr., Steve Railsback, Ashley Hamilton, Nikki Grifin, Jeffrey Combs and Ellie Cornell. $29.98 from Entertainment One ... "George Lopez: The Complete Third Season" (2003-04) in a three-disc set with 28 episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season" (2012), a three-disc set with 10 episodes, on DVD and Blu-ray from Entertainment One ... "Matlock: The Ninth & Final Season" (1994-95), a five-disc set with 15 episodes, $54.99 from Paramount ... "Misfits: Season Three" (2011), a two-disc set with nine episodes of the series about five young outsiders on community service who get caught in a strange storm and soon realize they have developed superpowers. $24.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Orphan Black: Season One" (2012), with 10 episodes of the BBC Americas series about a young woman, an outsider and an orphan, who witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks like her and decides to take on the woman's identity, boyfriend and money -- only to get involved in a deadly conspiracy involving clones. In a three-disc DVD, $29.98 and two-disc Blu-ray, $34.98. From BBC Home Entertainment.
Buzzin' the 'B's (7/16):In "Erased" (2012), starring Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato and Olga Kurylenko, an ex-CIA operative (Eckhart) and his teenage daughter (Liberato) are caught up in a chase for their lives when both are targeted for termination -- by the very organization that originally employed him. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment/Radius-TWC ... The fight for survival continues in the second disaster film in the five-part ReelzChannel doomsday series. In "Eve of Destruction" (2013), starring Steven Weber, Treat Williams, Christina Cox and Aleks Paunovic, scientists drill a hole in the universe to harvest a limitless pool of "dark energy," but the experiment goes horribly wrong and wipes an entire city off the map. Now, the effort to save the world becomes the ultimate threat that could destroy it. On DVD and Blu-ray from Sonar Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... When a tragic accident claims the lives of Rockwell's beloved high school basketball team, time in the picturesque town stands still -- literally -- when a deal is made with the devil and sickness, aging and death cease for those left behind ... until decades later when a mysterious drifter with a sordid past blows into town, stirring up the long-buried past, causing the hands of time begin to move forward once again in "God Don't Make the Laws" (2011), starring Ella Rae Peck, Lucas Salvagno, Robert Prescott and Peter Vack. From Green Apple Entertainment ... "The Good Life" (2012), starring Tangi Miller, Jacques Vandelay, Christian Keyes and Maya Gilbert, is an urban romantic thriller about a seemingly happily married couple who are keeping dark secrets from each other. On DVD and Blu-ray from Entertainment One ... Out on parole after eight years in prison, Bill Hayward returns home to find his now 11- and 15-year-old sons abandoned by their mother and fending for themselves. He reluctantly agrees to hang around and act like a father for social services, and after awhile he grows into his parental role. But when one of his sons gets into trouble with his old drug-dealing mates, he must decide what kind of dad he wants to be -- a good one or a free one in "Wild Bill" (2011 -- UK), starring Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter and Sammy Williams. From Flatiron Film Co.
On the Indie Front (7/16):In "White Frog" (2012), starring Booboo Stewart, Harry Shum Jr., Tyler Posey, BD Wong, Joan Chens and Kelly Hu, Nick (Stewart), a neglected high school student who is struggling with Asperger's Syndrome, finds his life in disarray when tragedy strikes and his idolized older brother dies in a car accident. The family spirals into disarray and, in an effort to keep his brother's memory alive, Nick tentatively reaches out to Chaz's school friends to try making sense of his untimely death but in doing so, he quickly realizes that his brother had a secret life ... and the truth will change his own life forever. From Wolfe Video.
For the Family (7/16):In four entertaining episodes in "Arthur Stands Up to Bullying" (2013), the world's most famous aardvark, Arthur Read, and his family and friends, stand up to bullying, learn about teasing, and think about friendship. $9.99 from PBS Distribution ... "Caillou: Big Kid Caillou" (2013) contains six episodes featuring Caillou as he learns that every race is not about winning, remembers what it's like to be the "new kid" at school, and discovers the importance of good vision. $9.99 from PBS Distribution ... "Dinosaur Train: Nature Trackers" (2012) contains eight episodes chock-full of adventure and fun, teaching young explorers about stargazing, snakes, wildlife diversity and nature's life cycle. $9.99 from PBS Distribution ... In the final four episodes of "Power Rangers Samurai: The Ultimate Duel -- Volume 5" (2011), Master Xandred's powers are surging out of control, the Sanzu River is seeping into our world, and giant Moogers are running on a rampage, so the Power Rangers Samurai must enter the Tengen Gate to retrieve the most powerful samurai weapon yet -- The Black Box. From Lionsgate ... "The Smurfs: Smurfs to the Rescue!" (2012) contains six adventures from the Saturday morning cartoon series, $14.97 from Warner ... "Super Why!: Hansel & Gretel: A Healthy Adventure" (2013) features two adventures for pre-schoolers that teach the benefits of healthy food choices, different types of foods, and unhealthy snacks. $9.99 from PBS Distribution ... "Tom and Jerry: No Mice Allowed!" is a two-disc set with 30 cartoons, a mix of classic theatricals and contemporary TV shorts, including "Smitten Kitten," "Timid Tabby" and "24 Karat Kat." $19.97 from Warner.
Special Interest (7/16):
From the Big Screen:
"Spring Breakers," "The Host," "Admission," "Dead Man Down" and "Tyler Perry's Temptation." Read more at the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
DVD Collectibles (7/09):There's a trio of interesting collectible releases this week, headed up by "The Life of Oharu" (1952 -- Japan) from The Criterion Collection. A peerless chronicler of the soul who specialized in supremely emotional, visually exquisite films about the circumstances of women in Japanese society throughout its history, Kenji Mizoguchi had already been directing movies for decades when he made "The Life of Oharu" in 1952. But this epic portrait of an inexorable fall from grace, starring the incredibly talented Kinuyo Tanaka as an imperial lady-in-waiting who gradually descends to street prostitution, was the movie that gained its director international attention, ushering in a new golden period for him. In Japanese with English subtitles. New high-definition digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. Next there's the Blu-ray debut of Rouben Mamoulian's action-romance "Blood and Sand" (1941), starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn, J. Carrol Naish and John Carradine. In this Academy Award-winning classic, Juan Gallardo (Power) returns home to claim the hand of his childhood love and continue his rise toward becoming Spain's greatest matador. But when he catches the eye of a beautiful seductress (Hayworth), Juan will learn that the battles that matter most are fought outside the ring. From Fox. And from Shout! Factory comes the Blu-ray debut of "Cohen & Tate" (1988), starring Roy Scheider, Adam Baldwin and Harley Cross. Two mismatched hitmen kidnap a 9-year-old boy -- an eyewitness to a recent mob rub-out -- and endeavor to deliver him to Houston where he'll be eliminated. Extras include commentary with writer-director Eric Red.
From TV to DVD (7/09):"Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season, Volume One" (1964-65) is a five-disc set with 19 episodes, $46.99. Extras include special cast promos with restored visual elements accompanied by original narrations from the cast on several fan-favorite episodes, including "Old Sheba," "Invention of a Gunfighter" and "The Wild One"; commentaries on select episodes; photo galleries; more. From CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season, Volume Two" (1964-65) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $46.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Dynasty: The Seventh Season, Volume One" (1986-87) is a four-disc set with the first 17 episodes of the seventh season of the primetime soap opera that follows the exploits of the Carringtons and Colbys, both "oil-rich" family dynasties in Denver, as they accrue and manipulate power and wealth. $39.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Dynasty: The Seventh Season, Volume Two" (1986-87) is a three-disc set with the last 12 episodes of the seventh season of the primetime soap. $39.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... In "For Richer or Poorer" (2012), a spoiled prima donna with a taste for the finer things in life has to kiss her expensive fashions goodbye when her handsome, doting husband -- who indulges her every whim -- loses his well-paying job and has to flip burgers to pay the bills. Stars Rockmond Dunbar, LeToya Luckett, Angell Conwell and Jackee Harry, and originally aired on the Gospel Music Channel. From Image Entertainment ... "How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 2" (2012) is a three-disc set with 19 episodes, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "How the West Was Won: The Complete First Season" (1977) is based on the 1962 film of the same name and features an all-star cast including James Arness, Eva Marie Saint and Bruce Boxleitner. The two-disc set contains the entire first season, told in three 90-minute segments. As an added bonus, the release includes the "The Macahans," the 1976 TV movie about the Macahan family's initial journey out West to escape the Civil War. $19.98 from Warner ... "Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1999" (1999) is the world's longest-running sitcom, with more antics from everyone's favorite elder delinquents. In a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Portlandia Season Three" (2013) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes. On DVD, $19.95; Blu-ray Disc, $24.95. Extras include a "Winter in Portlandia" special episode, Portland tours led by Kumail Nanjiani featuring locations like the Feminist Book store and a vegan strip club, deleted scenes. From VSC ... "The Twilight Zone: The Complete Third Season" (1961-62) is a five-disc set with 37 episodes, $29.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Unforgettable: The First Season" (2011-12) Six-disc set with 22 episodes, $61.99. Poppy Montgomery stars as NYC Queen's homicide Det. Carrie Wells, a cop with hyperthymesia, which means she visually remembers everything; in her case, however, that means everything except remembering what happened on the day her sister was murdered. CBS had cancelled the series last summer but reconsidered and will bring it back for 13 episodes beginning Sunday, July 28. Extras include deleted scenes; commentary; "The Rememberers," a featurette that explores the fascinating world of those with a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) with real-life HSAMer Marilu Henner and neurobiologist Dr. James McGaugh; more. From CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Warehouse 13: Season Four" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 20 episodes of the SyFy series about secret service agents assigned to a warehouse in South Dakota that houses supernatural artifacts. Prepare for more paranormal thrills, chills, excitement and steampunk action. After the destruction of the Warehouse, the agents risk the use of a mythical artifact in an attempt to restore all they've lost. But the use of this dangerous artifact could change the Warehouse team and the world forever. Featuring guest appearances by Brent Spiner, Sam Huntington and other sci-fi favorites. Extras include deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, episode podcasts with cast and crew, a 10-part animated web series "Grand Design." From Universal.
Buzzin' the 'B's (7/09):When the mayor of a crime-ridden city and his opponent are both assassinated while seeking election, two FBI agents reluctantly join forces to investigate the murder ... only to discover that City Hall holds more secrets than the identity of the killer in "Dark Power" (2013), starring Sean Patrick Flanery and Kristanna Loken. From Green Apple Entertainment ... In "Would You Rather" (2012), starring Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, Sasha Grey, John Heard, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Eddie Steeples and Charlie Hofheimer, a seemingly philanthropic aristocrat offers a group of desperate individuals all looking to make some easy money a chance at untold riches. But the guests soon find themselves trapped in the man's mansion and forced to play a sadistic parlor game of Would You Rather, where one is faced with two grim, violent choices and where only the winner will get out alive. On DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group ... The monster possessed by the spirit of a biblical demon goes on a killing spree in a high school and it's up to two buddies to hunt and kill the creature -- at night, alone in the school building in "Killing Twice" (2007), starring Julian Lara, Jose Manuel Gomen and Jesus Gallardo. On DVD and Blu-ray from Troma ... The menu at a late-night backwood's restaurant includes horror, cannibalism, sex and violence in "Open 24/7" (2010), starring Philippe Beun-Garbe, Emilie Brunner and Veronique Caldarola. From Troma ... "Drive-in Collection: Vixens of Kung Fu and Oriental Blue" is a 1975 double bill with" Vixens of Kung Fu," about a young prostitute who, after being brutally assaulted by a group of men, is in taken in by a secret sect of beautiful female kung-fu masters who teach her about the erotic side of martial arts; and "Oriental Blue," about an underground white slave trade operation in a hidden apartment beneath a Chinese restaurant. From Vinegar Syndrome ... "Street Trash -- Special Meltdown Edition" (1987) is a subversive cult classic/horror comedy about homeless men living in a junkyard, a stash of 40-year-old wine (Tenafly Viper) that's gone so bad it melts anyone who drinks it, and an insane Vietnam War veteran who goes after a young runaway who falls for his secretary. A classic of the genre, with self-referential humor that makes it a fun gore outing. In a high-definition transfer from the original camera negative with 5.1 Surround remix created specifically for home theatre environments. From Synapse Films/CAV Distributing ... In "Hands of the Ripper" (1971), starring Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow and Keith Bell, the daughter of Jack the Ripper -- who watched in horror as an infant when he brutally murdered her mother -- channels her dead father's spirit and continues his murderous spree. Completely restored in high-definition and released uncut for the first time on Blu-ray in the U.S.; considered one of the most gruesome Hammer horror films ever made. In a DVD/Blue-ray Combo from Synapse Films ... A peaceful California town is shaken after the brutal murder of diner owner by a gang of vicious punks, and when the daughter of the slain man attempts to avenge her father's death, she's held hostage by the gang, resulting in an epic battle between punks and rednecks in "Punk Vacation" (1987), starring Stephen Fiachi, Sandra Bogan, Roxanne Rogers and Rob Garrison. From Vinegar Syndrome.
On the Indie Front (7/09):In "The Power of Few" (2012), set in New Orleans, a smuggling ring's efforts to steal a priceless artifact unfold through the perspective of five sets of characters, each with overlapping story lines. What begins as the tale of a store heist becomes a much bigger exploration of urban existence, religious conspiracy and the interconnectedness of life. Stars Christopher Walken, Christian Slater, Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford, Moon Bloodgood, Nicky Whelan, Q'orianka Kilcher and Juvenile. On DVD and Blu-ray from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... "My Best Enemy" (2011 -- Austria), starring Moritz Bleibtreu, Georg Friedrich, Ursula Strauss, Uwe Bohm and Marthe Keller, is a comedy-drama full of twists and turns about two friends in pre-war Vienna -- Victor, the son of wealthy Jewish art gallery owners, and Rudi, the son of their servants, whose lives are changed when the Nazis take over: Rudi becomes a Nazi and Victor is sent to a concentration camp. When the Nazi want a priceless Michelangelo sketch, Victor is taken out of the concentration camp to produce the genuine article, but a dramatic plane crash, switched identities and an elaborate scheme engender a complicated game of cat and mouse. From IFC Films.
Foreign (7/09):"Combat Girls" (2011 -- Germany), starring Alina Levshin and Jella Haase, is a searing coming-of-age drama follows two suburban girls from vastly different backgrounds who become ensnared in the Neo-Nazi youth movement. Twenty-year-old Melissa is a hard-core believer, a semi-skinhead who is adorned with Nazi tattoos. Fourteen-year-old Svenja is a sheltered, spoiled, straight A student who becomes fascinated with the group because of her Neo-Nazi boyfriend. They began as adversaries but soon become best friends though their loyalty to each other is shaken when Marisa decides she wants to leave the group. Extras include an interview with Alina Levshin and an eight-page booklet. From Artsploitation Films.
For the Family (7/09):In "Our Wild Hearts" (2013), starring Cambrie Schroder and Ricky Schroder, a wealthy teenage girl from Malibu falls in love with a beautiful wild mustang, adventure, and the father she has never known in the wild Sierra Nevada Mountains. From ARC Entertainment ... "The Legend of Korra: Book One: Air" (2012) is a Nickelodeon CGI series that follows a 17-year-old headstrong and rebellious girl who continually challenges tradition on her quest to become a fully realized Avatar in a world where benders are under attack. From the creators of the "Avatar: The Last Airbender." On DVD and Blu-ray from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder" (2012) contains seven episodes of the Nick CGI-animated series, $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Ben 10 Omniverse: Heroes Rise 2" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes of the new season in which Ben faces all-new Omnitrix aliens, gets a new partner and enters an underground world filled with intergalactic life. $19.97 from Cartoon Network/Warner ... "Best of Daizy" (2013), the fourth and final title in the "Best of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" DVD collection, is a compilation of seven entertaining and charming episodes starring Wubbzy's independent next door neighbor and gal pal. $14.98 from Anchor Bay ... "Wolverine: Origin" (2012) is an animated motion comic that reveals the secret history of Wolverine that changed the Marvel Universe forever. Written by Eisner Award winner Paul Jenkins from a story by Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins and Bill Jemas, with artwork by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove. The adventures of Wolverine's early days and the startling revelation of his true origins are brought to life by Marvel Knights Animation. Extras include interviews with the creators and illustrators. From Shout! Factory.
Special Interest (7/09):
From the Big Screen:
"56 UP." Read more at the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
DVD Collectibles (7/02):I was still in junior high school when "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," one of the first TV shows to really key in on the longings and aspirations of teenagers -- in particular those of teenage boys seeking popularity, money, and the attention of beautiful and unattainable girls -- hit the airwaves in September, 1959. Sure, there were teens on other TV shows -- "The Donna Reed Show," "Father Knows Best," "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" -- but "Dobie" was the first to center on teens in America. It was an immediate hit -- and the talk of my school every Wednesday morning (the show aired Tuesdays at 8:30 pm on CBS).
The show was loosely adapted from American writer and humorist Max Shulman's book of short stories "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," which inspired the 1953 film "The Affairs of Dobie Gillis" with Debbie Reynolds, Bob Fosse and Bobby Van. Shulman was fairly active in the 1950s, having written such big-screen hits as "The Tender Trap" and "Rally Round the Flag, Boys!" He also wrote a weekly uncensored college newspaper humor column, "On Campus With Max Shulman," from 1954 until the mid-60s.
Dwayne Hickman, fresh off Bob Cummings' "Love That Bob" TV show, starred as Dobie, a typically indecisive young man who continually set out on hopeless quests for popularity, money and the attention of beautiful girls, all the while trying to make his parents happy; Bob Denver played Maynard G. Krebs, Dobie's sweatshirt-wearing beatnik best friend. The show lasted four years, with Dobie and Maynard moving from high school through a stint in the army to junior college. In the first season, Dobie chased after the unconquerable money-hungry blonde Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld) while trying to compete with wealthy, well-dressed Milton Armitage (Warren Beatty); after Weld and Beatty left the show, Dobie's love interests changed from episode to episode, while his nemesis became Chatsworth Osborne, Jr. (Steve Franken). By the fourth season, the show had worn thin, with "ugly duckling" Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James Kuehl) -- introduced in the first season -- coming to the fore not as a love interest but as the female chasing after Dobie. Dobie's dad and mom were the great character actors Frank Faylon and Florida Friebus.
For those of us growing up in the 50s and 60s, Dobie Gillis was a benchmark TV show, one sorely missing from late night reruns today. Now, however, the folks over at Shout! Factory have put together a long-awaited box set that includes all 147 episodes -- on 20 DVDs -- of the series, for $139.99 ($199.99 at Amazon). Extras include original rare pilot footage and bonus episodes from "Love That Bob!" and "The Stu Erwin Show." For a glimpse of pre-Vietnam, pre-counter-culture teen America, where all that mattered were girls, bongos and crazy schemes, "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" is a must.
If you're a fan of "Wallander" (either the British or Swedish versions), "Borgen," "Midsomer Murders," "The Killing," "Inspector Morse" and the works of Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo or Henning Mankel, you'll love "Falcón" (2012), a critically acclaimed crime series that stars Marton Csokas and Hayley Atwell and is based on the bestselling novels by Robert Wilson. Set in the magnificent Spanish city of Seville, "Falcón" follows a smart, intuitive detective bent on exposing hard truths and corruption. The British production features a seductive beauty and sinister undercurrent all its own, along with stunning cinematography and stylish direction. It's incessantly gritty, quirky and suspenseful, full of surprising twists and turns and dark secrets bubbling below the seeming calm of Seville's high society. In these two feature-length thrillers -- "The Blind Man of Seville" and "The Silent and the Damned"-- Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón (Csokas) investigates a murder connected to his father's murky past and the apparent suicide of a businessman whose former misdeeds impact the present. There's also corrupt officials, power-hungry judges, an ex-wife and a seductive lover to complicate matters. U.S. debut. Two-disc DVD, $39.99 from Acorn Media.
Also due this week: The Blu-ray debut of "The Kentucky Fried Movie " (1977), the original "take-off" cult classic from the highly successful team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker. Directed by John Landis, the spoof features a lewd, loosely connected collection of skits that spoof blaxploitation films, news shows, porno movies, TV commercials, kung fu flicks and more. Includes well-known stars such as Bill Bixby, Donald Sutherland, Tony Dow, George Lazenby and Henry Gibson in 22 segments including "Cleopatra Schwartz," "The Wonderful World of Sex," "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble," "A Fistful of Yen" and more. A wonderful Blu-ray edition of Mel Brooks' "The Producers: Collector's Edition" (1968), starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett and Renee Taylor, in a new HD transfer, also makes its debut this week. Extras include "Mel and His Movies: The Producers." Both releases are from Shout! Factory.
From TV to DVD (7/02):"The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Fourth Season" (1964-1965) debuts on Blu-ray with a three-disc set with 32 episodes, $59.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Last Resort: The Complete Series" (2012-2013) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $38.99 from Sony ... "Legends of the Old West" (1994) is a three-disc collection of History documentaries: "Buffalo Bill and His Wild West," "Wild Bill Hickok," ""The Legendary Cowboys,"" "The Law From Behind the Tin Star," "Meet The James Gang," "The Texas Rangers." $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "North & South" (1975) a BBC period drama starring Patrick Stewart, is a classic British romance in the vein of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Middlemarch," based on the celebrated novel by Elizabeth Gaskell that depicts the tensions of the Victorian era as traditional society clashed with the coming of the modern world. U.S. debut. Two-disc set with four episodes, $39.99 from Acorn Media.
Buzzin' the 'B's (7/02):A Christmas Eve party at a 108-story luxury residential building takes a horrific turn when a fire breaks out in "The Tower" (2012 -- South Korea), starring Sul Kyung-gu, Ye-jin Son and Sang-kyung Kim, from CJ Entertainment America ... "Tai Chi Hero" (2012 -- China), starring Jayden Yuan, Angelababy, Eddie Peng, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Daniel Wu and Peter Stormare, is the second installment in the steampunk-infused, video game-influenced, kung fu throwdown "Tai Chi Trilogy" that mixes elements from disparate eras in China's past and brings together different film genres in a completely unique way. Lu Chan (Yuan) is adapting to life in the Chen Village when the Grandmaster's eldest son returns and reminds the town of a legendary prophecy that may spell doom for the civilians and -- once again -- it is up to Lu Chan to save the day. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA ... A female forensic psychiatrist takes on a new patient whose multiple personalities are murder victims, and the more she finds out about him and his past, the closer she and her loved ones are to becoming murder victims themselves in "6 Souls" (2012), starring Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Frances Conroy. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... A successful musician returns to her small home town for some R&R at the family cabin, only to become the target of a frostbitten killer who first slaughters all her friends in "Blood Runs Cold" (2011), starring Hanna Oldenburg, Patrick Saxe, Andreas Rylander and Elin Hugoson. From Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Inescapable" (2012), starring Alexander Siddig, Joshua Jackson, Marisa Tomei and Oded Fehr, a now-successful and respected Canadian businessman who, as an officer in the Syrian military police, left Damascus 25 years earlier under mysterious circumstances, must return home to rescue his journalist daughter. On DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Films ... A year after witnessing the murder of a young man, the residents of Tower Block 31 -- who stood by during the killing -- find themselves being picked off by a sniper, pitting those lucky enough to be left alive into a battle for survival in "Tower Block" (2012), starring Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey, Jack O'Connel, Ralph Brown and Kane Robinson. On DVD and Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
On the Indie Front (7/02):There's two impressive indie releases this week:
For the Family (7/02):"An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky" (2013) is the latest in the series based on the popular doll line. Nine-year-old Saige, a talented artist with a passion for horses, struggles to find her voice when her favorite class in school -- art --has been cut and her best friend seems to be spending more and more time with another girl. Stars Jane Seymour, Sidney Fullmer, Alex Peters and Alana Gordillo. On DVD and Blu-ray from Universal.
Special Interest (7/02):"Why We Laugh: Funny Women" (2012) is a documentary that explores the journey and evolution of the female stand-up comedian; includes personal and in-depth interviews and live performance footage with some of the most prominent female voices in comedy and entertainment: Kathy Griffin, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Kim Wayans, Janeane Garofalo, Rita Rudner, Kathy Najimy, Sandra Bernhard, Natasha Leggero, Aisha Tyler and many more. $19.98 from Lionsgate ... In "The House I Live In" (2013), award-winning documentarian Eugene Jarecki takes a look at our losing war on drugs, revealing its causes, its implementation and its tragic consequences. This informative, passionate and eye-opening documentary lays out the government crackdown on drug use and distribution dating back to the Nixon administration. Interviewing judges, jailers, law enforcement officials, convicts and more, Jarecki shows how, for more than 40 years, the war on drugs has accounted for more than 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before. Executive produced by Danny Glover, John Legend, Brad Pitt and Russell Simmons. $14.99 from Virgil Films ... "Venus and Serena" (2012) is an unfiltered look into the remarkable lives of the greatest sister-act professional tennis has ever seen. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "Death By China" (2013) is a documentary, directed by Harvard-trained economist Peter Navarro, that explores the history and implications of the imbalanced U.S.-China trade relationship, China's unfair trade practices and the economic impact of multinational companies like Apple, Boeing and Caterpillar that export millions of American jobs to improve their bottom line. Narrated by Martin Sheen. Find out more here. $13.99 from Area23a.
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August 1, 2013
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).