Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs, Blu-rays and digital debuts for the week of January 29
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Hotel Transylvania" (Sony) - Adam Sandler reunites old friends (Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi) to fill out the mad monster party of this animated kids movie from the comedy star whose sense of humor has always tended toward the juvenile, not to say the sophomoric. So expect poop jokes along with the heartwarming lessons. Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, On Demand and at Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
"Seven Psychopaths" (Sony) stars Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken in a bloody black comedy of dognapping and retribution from director / writer Martin McDonagh. Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and at Redbox
One of the most acclaimed films from Sundance 2012, "Hello I Must Be Going" (Oscilloscope) gives Melanie Lynskey the lead in a tale of a recent divorcée who moves back in with her parents and slips into an affair with a 19-year-old, just one of many bad decisions in this comic drama. DVD.
"Citadel" (Flatiron) is a British horror about an agoraphobic single father fighting his illness and a hooded gang to protect his daughter. Blu-ray, DVD, and at Redbox. "Tales of the Night" (eOne), an animated film from France, celebrates stories, storytelling, and creativity. Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand.
Plus: The British horror film "The Awakening" (Universal) with Rebecca Hall and Dominic West (Blu-ray and DVD), the horror sequel "Paranormal Activity 4" (Paramount) (Blu-ray and DVD, On Demand and at Redbox), and the indie superhero thriller "All Superheroes Must Die" (Image) (Blu-ray and DVD).
You can check out the recent direct-to-disc and made-for-cable movies at the monthly "B-Sides" round-up here.
TV on Disc:
"Pan Am: The Complete Series" (Sony), the short-lived network series set in the early sixties and built around a quartet of young stewardesses who revel in the opportunity to travel the world, has gorgeous stars (Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner, and Margot Robbie among them), a handsome evocation of the era, and a veritable fashion show of a wardrobe. Too bad the writing never rises above slick nighttime soap opera with a dash of cosmopolitan romance and Cold War spy thriller. 14 episodes on three discs on DVD. Videodrone's review is here.
"Downton Abbey: Season 3" (PBS) is season of weddings and funerals, births and deaths, and an aristocracy stuck in the past dragged indignantly into the 20th century. The mix of wistful idealization of this world of privilege and ritual and wily critique of the aristocracy who embrace privilege as their duty and their right is so smooth it's hard to separate one from the other. Which may be why it is such a success on both sides of the pond. Eight episodes plus the "Christmas Special" series finale on three discs on Blu-ray and DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"Misfits: Season Two" (BBC) continues the British series of troubled teens imbued with super powers with more dark stories of survival in a world gone feral, filled with violence, death, sex, bad decisions, and a wily gallows humor. 7 episodes on two discs, DVD.
"Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season" (eOne), an original series made for Cinemax, is a lurid pulp crime show laden with sex, violence, and gratuitous nudity. The channel still earns its old nickname – Skin-emax. 14 episodes on three discs, DVD.
Cool and Classic:
To celebrate its 90th Anniversary, Warner Home Video is releasing a series of big box sets. Some of them real big. In fact "Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection" (Warner) weighs in as the biggest single box set released by a studio to date, with 100 films and two new documentaries on 50 discs, while "Best of Warner Bros. Best Pictures 20 Film Collection" (Warner) carves out 20 movies from that set that won the Academy Award for Best Picture (out of 22 winners) on 23 discs. Both DVD only, but there is also a Blu-ray box: "Best of Warner Bros. 50 Film Collection" (Warner). Videodrone's review is here.
"Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2" (Warner) completes the DC Universe animated original adaptation of Frank Miller's landmark graphic novel with Peter Weller voicing old man Bat and Michael Emerson taking on The Joker. Blu-ray and DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
The 1932 "White Zombie" (Kino), starring a divinely satanic-looking Bela Lugosi, is the first true zombie film. This bargain bin regular is remastered from a fine grain print and presented in digitally remastered and "raw" versions, the former clean and scrubbed of texture, the latter scratch and grainy and full of detail. Blu-ray and DVD
"Kit Carson" (Hen's Tooth), starring Jon Hall and Dana Andrews, is an old-fashioned western with great landscapes and a marvelous supporting turn by Ward Bond. DVD.
"That Obscure Object of Desire" (Lionsgate) is the final film from Luis Bunuel, who was almost 80 when he completed this surreal story of love and obsession. His shock effects have mellowed but he’s as unpredictable as ever: he casts two different actresses (cool French model Carole Bouquet and sensual Spanish actress Angela Molina) to play the part of the ambiguous beauty pursued by patronizing bourgeois cad Fernando Rey. With bonus interviews.
"The Duellists" (Shout! Factory), the feature debut of Ridley Scott, is a sumptuous period drama accomplished on a tiny budget. Based on a Joseph Conrad story, it stars Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine as officers in Napoleon's army trapped in a cycle of duels that goes on so long the ostensible affront is long forgotten. With commentary and featurettes. Videodrone's review is here.
Plus three 3D German undersea documentaries in 3D+standard editions: "Amazing Ocean" (Universal), "Fascination: Coral Reef" (Universal), and "Fascination: Coral Reef – Mysterious Worlds Underwater" (Universal).
New on Netflix Instant:
Available on streaming before disc release is "Death of a Superhero" (2011), which is not a superhero picture, mind you, but a coming-of-age drama about a teenage boy dying of cancer. Ian Fitzgibbons directs and Andy Serkis stars as the therapist who tries to reach the angry young man. Reviews here.
Direct from disc release comes "Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft" (2012), a B-movie with show Booboo and Fivel Stewart as American teenage descendants of the fairy tale siblings, and "Breathing" (2012), the German drama of an orphan teen in a juvenile detention center.
"Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story" (2012) is a second generation look at civil rights history from filmmaker Raymond De Felita and "The Giant Mechanical Man" (Tribeca) an indie romantic comedy with Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina.
New On Demand:
The animated Adam Sandler family comedy "Hotel Transylvania," the black comedy "Seven Psychopaths" with Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell, the British horror film "The Awakening" with Rebecca Hall and Dominic West, the horror sequel "Paranormal Activity 4," and the action thriller "The Cold Light of Day" with Sam Worthington and Bruce Willis.
Arriving days after theatrical release is "Knife Fight" with Rob Lowe and Julie Bowen.
Debuting Friday, February 1 is "The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia," same day as theaters, and "Wrong," a comedy by Quentin Dupieux, in advance of theatrical release.
Available from Redbox this week:
Day and date with video stores is the animated comedy "Hotel Transylvania" (Sony) from Adam Sandler, the black comedy "Seven Psychopaths" (Sony) with Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell, the British indie horror "Citadel" (Flatiron) and the horror sequel "Paranormal Activity 4" (Paramount).
Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week is "Fat Kid Rules the World" (Arc), which arrived for sale and for rent in video stores last week.