Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs, Blu-rays and Digital Debuts for the week of May 15
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"The Grey" (Universal) drops Liam Neeson in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness and pits him against a pack of ravenous wolves in Joe Carnahan's muscular survival thriller. Blu-ray, DVD, digital download, and On Demand. Videodrone's review is here.
"Chronicle" (Fox) brings the "found footage" aesthetic to the superhero / coming of age drama to observe that with great power sometimes comes great irresponsibility and lots of property damage. Blu-ray, DVD, digital download, and On Demand. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"Rampart" (Millennium), co-written by James Ellroy and featuring Woody Harrelson as a renegade L.A. cop in the wake of the Rampart scandals, earned Harrelson an acting nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards. Blu-ray, DVD, digital download, and On Demand. Videodrone's review is here.
"Albert Nobbs" (Lionsgate) earned Oscar nominations for Glenn Close and Janet McTeer for playing women living their lives as men to get better jobs in Victorian-era Ireland. Blu-ray, DVD, digital download, and On Demand.
Also new this week: Katherine Heigl as a bounty hunter in "One For the Money" (Lionsgate) and the "found footage" horror "The Devil Inside" (Paramount), both on Blu-ray, DVD, digital download, and On Demand. Foreign films include "Norwegian Wood" (New Video), from Japan and "Michael" (Strand) from Austria, both DVD only.
TV on Disc:
"Hell on Wheels: The Complete First Season" (eOne) turns the building of the transcontinental railway into forge that created the new America in the aftermath of the Civil War, cable style. That means mud, blood, graft, vengeance, and a hotbed of racial conflict surrounding the construction of the railroad. Anson Mount and Common star. 10 episodes on three discs on both Blu-ray and DVD.Videodrone's review is here.
"The Runaway" (BFS), a British TV mini-series from 2010, stars Jack O'Connell and Joanna Vanderham as star-crossed lover in the turbulent culture of the London underworld between 1966 and 1976. Alan Cumming and Ken Stott co-star in the four-hour-plus drama based on the Martina Cole novel. DVD only.
"Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel" (PBS) profiles the author of "Gone With the Wind" for the PBS showcase "American Masters." DVD only.
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"Being John Malkovich" (Criterion), a devastatingly funny portrait of unhappiness, desperation, desire, and the vicious things we do for love, catapulted Spike Jonze from music video wunderkind to visionary director and Charlie Kaufman from sitcom scribe to brilliant screenwriter. It 1999 it was fresh and daring and inventive, and more than ten years later it is as timely and topical as ever, and just as inventive, surprising, devastating, and compassionate. Criterion remasters the film for Blu-ray and DVD and fills it with excellent supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
"1900" (Olive), Bernardo Bertolucci’s sprawling 1976 epic of Italy's volatile history in the years between the World Wars, stars Gerard Depardieu and Robert De Niro as childhood friends turned bitter enemies on opposite sides of the political battle lines. The complete 315-minute director's cut is presented on three discs on Blu-ray and DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"No Room for Rock Stars " (Shout! Factory) is a documentary on the long-running Vans Warped Tour, and "Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods" (Halo Eight) profiles one of the most influential writers in comics.
And on the MOD Movies front is a collection of silent films from director Tod Browning and actor Lon Chaney. Videodrone's review is here.
"Walking Tall: The Trilogy" (Shout! Factory) remasters the original 1973 southern fried vigilante thriller, starring Joe Don Baker as Tennessee Sheriff Bufford Pusser, along with the two sequels (with Bo Svenson walking into the role). The original isn't particularly good but it was a hit and a cultural touchstone, and it's far superior to the sequels. All three films have been remastered in widescreen editions for the Blu-ray debut. Also on DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"The War" (Paramount), Ken Burns' 2007 documentary mini-series, takes on the good war and the greatest generation with his trademark approach, spending 15 hours getting to know the people and culture behind the history. Six discs. Videodrone's review is here.
"Terminal Velocity" (Mill Creek), starring Charlie Sheen as a hot-dogging skydiving instructor turned action hero, is preposterously entertaining, in part because Sheen knows not to take it all too seriously.
Also new: "Bringing Down the House: 10th Anniversary Edition" (Touchstone) and the double feature "Father of the Bride / Father of the Bride Part II" (Touchstone) with Steven Martin, and the conspiracy thriller "The Odessa File" (Image) with Jon Voight.
New on Netflix Instant:
"Killer Elite" (2011) is not a remake of the Sam Peckinpah thriller but it does pit elite killers (Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen) in a fight to the death.
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (2011), from producer/screenwriter Guillermo del Toro, is a remake of the 1973 haunted house TV movie, with Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce.
"Adaptation" (2002), the second headgame collaboration between Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, makes a nice follow-up to the new Criterion release of "Being John Malkovich."
Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" (2007) is a thoughtful portrait of the battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the defending Japanese army.
Available from Redbox this week:
Day and date with video stores: the Oscar-nominated "Albert Nobbs" (Lionsgate) on DVD, and "One For the Money" (Lionsgate), "Rampart" (Millennium), and "The Devil Inside" (Paramount), all on DVD and Blu-ray. See new releases above.
Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week is "Let the Bullets Fly" (Well Go), a crazy action comedy from China starring Chow Yun-fat, and the flashback release of the week is the original "Men in Black" (Sony), in anticipation of the new sequel coming to theaters.