Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs, Blu-rays and digital debuts for the week of November 27
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Men in Black 3" (Sony) reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, undercover cops policing the extraterrestrial population secretly living amongst us, 15 years after their first case, and director Barry Sonnenfeld manages to create a sequel and a prequel simultaneously. Josh Brolin gives a sly impression of Jones that borders on genius as a younger version of the veteran agent, circa 1969, and the twist in the partner dynamic gives this version its greatest pleasures. Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and On Demand, also available at Redbox, all arriving Friday, November 30. Videodrone's review is here.
"Lawless" (Anchor Bay), a drama of a family of bootleggers in prohibition-era Virginia, stars Shia LaBeof of the youngest of three brothers (Tom Hardy and Jason Clark are his elders) who go to war with the corrupt local deputy (Guy Pearce). Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand, also available at Redbox.
"Paranorman" (Universal), an animated ghost story for adolescent audiences, is a spooky comedy about a boy who not only sees dead people but converses with them. The stop-motion production is from Laika, the creators of "Coraline." Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and On Demand, also available at Redbox.
"Sparkle" (Sony), the remake of the seventies musical drama, stars Jordin Sparks as an aspiring singer but is more famous for the final screen appearance by Whitney Huston. Arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand on Friday, November 30. Also at Redbox.
And for the direct-to-disc and made-for-cable round-up, including a stocking full of Christmas movies, see the B-Sides here.
TV on Disc:
"Luck: The Complete First Season" (HBO), the magnificent HBO original series about the culture around a California horse track, will never see a second season – the show was shut down by the creators after the death of three horses in the course of production. But that single season is a marvel of character and storytelling, with a chemistry and a rhythm and sensibility unlike anything else on TV, network or cable. Nine episodes on Blu-ray and DVD. Videodrone's review is here.
"Hot in Cleveland: Season Three" (Paramount) TV Land's first and still most popular original sitcom, brings Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, and Betty White back for 22 more episodes on DVD. The fourth season begins in 2013.
"Perry Mason: Season 8, Volume 1" (Paramount) presents 15 more episodes of courtroom brilliance from Raymond Burr's definitive TV lawyer and his crack team. DVD only.
Cool and Classic:
"Black Magic" (Hen's Tooth), a 1949 gothic drama starring Orson Welles as the 18th century hypnotist and charlatan Cagliosto, is directed by Gregory Ratoff but the influence of Welles can be felt beyond his mesmerizing presence in the shadowy style and sensibility of the film. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Flying House Project" (Plymptoons) is the labor-of-love restoration of Winsor McCay's 1921 short film, an animated extension of his "Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend" comics, featuring both the original B&W silent version and a new presentation featuring color, a new score, and voices (including Matthew Modine and Patricia Clarkson), along with supplements. DVD only. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"Visions of Ecstasy: The Films of Nigel Wingrove" (Kino) collects four short films by the British experimental filmmaker, including the 1989 title film that was banned in Britain on grounds of blasphemy, plus supplements. DVD only.
New on Netflix Instant:
"The King's Speech" (2010), starring Colin Firth as the future king of England, was the big winner at the Academy Awards two years ago, taking home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Firth), and Best Original Screenplay.
"Hugo" (2011), Martin Scorsese's first family film (it's PG!), is a love letter to the magic of cinema, a tribute to film pioneer Georges Méliès, and winner of five Academy Awards.
"The Hole" (2009), Joe Dante's family-friendly horror film, mixes fantastic nightmares with family dynamics and childhood anxieties.
Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War" is a front-runner for this year's Oscar nominations in the documentary category, and "American Horror Story: Season One," interesting, creepy, at times gruesome horror story told over the course of a cable TV season, won an Emmy Award for supporting actress Jessica Lange.
New On Demand:
"Lawless" (Anchor Bay), the depression-era bootlegging drama with Shia LaBeof and Tom Hardy, the animated ghost story for kids "ParaNorman," and the dance drama "Step Up Revolution" (Summit), are available same day as disc.
On Friday, November 30, "Men in Black 3" (Sony) with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and the new musical "Sparkle" (Sony) with Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston, are available same day as disc.
Also on Friday, the Hong Kong martial arts drama "Dragon" with Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro, is available same day as theaters.
Available from Redbox this week:
"Lawless" (Anchor Bay), the depression-era bootlegging drama with Shia LaBeof and Tom Hardy, and the dance drama "Step Up Revolution" (Summit), arrive day and date with video stores on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week: "Ruby Sparks" (Fox), the comedy by the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine" and starring Zoe Kazan as a fictional character brought to life by a young novelist (Paul Dano), and the self-styled "Buddhist film noir" "Headshot" (Kino) from Thailand.