Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs, Blu-rays and digital debuts for the week of February 19
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Argo" (Warner), the third feature from actor-turned-director Ben Affleck, tackles the real-life drama about the stranger-than-fiction rescue of six Americans who escaped capture when Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy It’s a savvy picture that takes a few liberties with the historical record to create a nail-biter of an escape thriller and it earned seven Oscar nominations. It arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand just in time to catch up before the Academy Awards are handed out on Sunday. Videodrone’s review is here.
"Anna Karenina" (Universal), Joe Wright's stage-limned adaptation of the Tolstoy novel with Keira Knightly and Jude Law, also picked up four Oscar nominations (all in craft categories). Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand.
"Sinister" (Summit), the horror film from writer-director Scott Derrickson ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose") and starring Ethan Hawke, and the family comedy "Fun Size" (Paramount) with Victoria Justice and Jane Levy, both arrive on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand, and at Redbox.
Also new this week: the indie drama "For Ellen" (Tribeca, DVD) with Paul Dano, the comedy "Small Apartments" (Sony, DVD and at Redbox), and "Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike" (Fox), the second film in producer John Aglialoro's adaptation of Ayn Rand's epic novel, arriving on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand after a spectacular theatrical flop.
Foreign film releases include the energetic Russian musical drama "Hipsters" (Kino), a coming-of-age tale and adventure in youthful rebellion set in the underground youth culture of 1955 Moscow, and "North Sea Texas" (Strand), a different kind of coming-of-age drama set on the coast of Belgium.
And non-fiction films this week includes last year's Oscar winner for Best Documentary, the high school sports documentary "Undefeated" (Anchor Bay), and Denis Côté's "Bestiaire," a portrait of the animals and human at a Quebec wildlife park.
TV on Disc:
"Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season" (HBO) builds on the foundation of the compelling first season to build an increasingly complex narrative with characters that become more interesting with every challenge. And the biggest challenge: a civil war that brings the series to a thrilling climactic battle and an even more compelling denouement that whets the appetite for Season Three. Videodrone's review is here.
"Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome" (Universal) is the TV-movie prequel to the SyFy series set early in the war first Cylon war and built around young William Adama (Luke Pasqualino) as a hotshot fighter pilot. Blu-ray and DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"Naked City: 20 Star-Filled Episodes" (Image) showcases some of the classic cop show's most impressive and familiar guest stars in a five-disc set (DVD only), and "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss: Collector’s Edition" (Warner) collects five previously-released animated TV specials adapted from the most famous works of the good Dr. Seuss (Blu-ray and DVD).
Cool and Classic:
Elia Kazan's "On The Waterfront" (Criterion) won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (for Eva Marie Saint) and Marlon Brando's first Oscar for Best Actor. It was the most successful film to date that erupted out of the Actor’s Studio "method" and Criterion's new edition is a reminder that it's also a beautifully-made film and a powerful drama. Blu-ray and DVD with a wealth of new and archival supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
Douglas Fairbanks was the first action hero and "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) (Cohen), a lavish adaptation of the Arabian adventure fantasy "A Thousand and One Nights" directed by Raoul Walsh from a script by Fairbanks, is one of the grandest and most glorious spectacles of the silent era. Blu-ray and DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
Making their respective Blu-ray debuts are the silky 1944 film noir "Laura" (Fox) with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, the 1948 musical "Easter Parade" (Warner) with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, and Michael Mann's 1999 "The Insider" (Touchstone) with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino, plus there's a newly remastered edition of "The Terminator" (Fox).
That just scratches the surface of a big week of classic releases that includes the 1958 "Les Miserables" (Olive, Blu-ray and DVD) from France, the 1987 comedy "Bagdad Cafe" (Shout Factory, DVD), Robert Altman's "That Cold in the Park" (Olive, Blu-ray and DVD), and the spy spook sequel "In Like Flint" (Twilight Time, Blu-ray) with James Coburn.
New on Netflix Instant:
"Undefeated" (2011), the Oscar winner for Best Documentary last year, arrives on Netflix Instant the same day as Blu-ray and DVD.
The indie romantic comedy "Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012), starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass, also arrives after a recent disc release, while the Danish drama "Teddy Bear" (2012) just hit DVD last week.
Here are some of the more interesting older titles to arrive in the past couple of weeks. For comedy, there's "About Adam" (2000) with Stuart Townsend and Kate Hudson, the silly "Nacho Libre" (2006) from Jack Black and "Napoleon Dynamite" director Jared Hess, and "Eagle vs. Shark" (2007) from New Zealand.
And there's a collection of cult movies, including Curtis Harrington’s eerie psychological fantasy "Night Tide" (1963) with Dennis Hopper, the 1968 psychedelic odyssey "Girl on a Motorcycle" (1968) with Marianne Faithfull, and a handful of films from Italian horror stylist Mario Bava.
New On Demand:
Ben Affleck's Oscar-nominated "Argo," a nail-biter of a real-life escape thriller, arrives just in time to catch up with before the Academy Awards on Sunday. Another Oscar nominee, the Tolstoy adaptation "Anna Karenina" with Keira Knightly and Jude Law, arrives the same day. Also new this week: the family comedy "Fun Size," the horror film "Sinister," "Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike," and the extended and unrated "Ted: Special Edition with Gag Reel."
Arriving in advance of theatrical release are "Hunky Dory," a British drama with Minnie Driver, and "Red Flag," a comedy with Alex Karpovsky.
Available from Redbox this week:
Arriving day and date with online sales and video stores is the horror film "Sinister" (Summit) with Ethan Hawke and the teens and tweener comedy "Fun Size" (Paramount) with Victoria Justice (both on Blu-ray and DVD) and the indie comedy "Small Apartments" (Sony, DVD).
Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week: the cop drama "End of Watch" (Universal) with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña (Blu-ray and DVD) and female buddy comedy "For a Good Time, Call" (Universal) with Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller (DVD).