Plus Aussie exploitation and Vatican melodrama
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Blu-ray 3D Combo" (Universal) delivers the Blu-ray 3D debut of the film along with all the supplements you could want from a Michael Bay extravaganza, including a nearly two-hour documentary on the making of the film, plus bonus 2D Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film. Videodrone's review is here.
"To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary" (Universal) presents the beloved Oscar-winning drama, based on Harper Lee’s novel and starring Gregory Peck, in a newly-remastered edition for its Blu-ray debut. The quiet, understated drama of this classic seems to actually improve with the years.
Peck, who won an Oscar for his portrayal, delivers what may be his career best performance as the single father who risks alienation within his community to defend a black man (Brock Peters) accused of raping a white woman in a small Southern town. Horton Foote adapts Lee’s novel with sensitivity and grace, capturing nuances and subtleties without letting us forget that we’re seeing this unfold from a child’s perspective. The film also marked Robert Duvall’s screen debut (who won his Oscar twenty years later in another film from a Horton Foote script: "Tender Mercies"). An unforgettable film that captures the sensations of summer, the imagination of childhood, the scary reality of the adult world just on the other side of adolescence, and one man’s struggle for justice in the face of hateful contempt.
The film has been remastered from original 35mm film elements as part of Universal's "100th Anniversary Collector's Series" for a new DVD edition and the film's Blu-ray debut. Both versions feature the supplements from the previous two-disc DVD release. commentary by director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula, the feature-length 1999 documentary "A Conversation with Gregory Peck" (1999) by Oscar winning documentarian Barbara Kopple, the feature-length documentary "Fearful Symmetry" on the making of the film (featuring cast and crew interviews and a visit to author Harper Lee's home town), Gregory Peck acceptance speech for his Academy Award for Best Actor and his speech accepting the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, his daughter Cecilia Peck’s speech at the Academy Award tribute to Gregory Peck, an interview with co-star Mary Badham ("Scout Remembers), and the trailer. New to the release is the featurette "100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics," which looks at the film restoration process.
The Blu-ray release comes in an illustrated digibook case and features a picture-in-picture viewing mode with interviews, clips, stills and narration by Gregory Peck’s Family and the usual BD-Live supplements, plus a bonus DVD and digital copy.
See the Blu-ray trailer below, after the jump
Unabashed Aussie schlockmeister John Lamond produced and directs "Australia After Dark" (Intervision), a "mondo"-style tour of depravity downunder, and "The ABCs of Love and Sex, Australia Style" (Intervision), a sex education mockumentary, a pair of artifacts from the seventies, a period of uninhibited filmmaking celebrated in the documentary "Not Quite Hollywood." Both of these disc are from recently rediscovered prints ("The ABCs of Love and Sex" is from an uncut print that was seized by the Australian Classification Board) and feature commentary by Lamond and "Not Quite Hollywood" director Mark Hartley.
"Monsignor" (Shout! Factory), a 1982 melodrama from director Frank Perry ("Mommy Dearest"), stars Christopher Reeve as a priest who breaks pretty much every commandment in the name of the Church to rebuild the treasury of the Vatican following World War II. Genevieve Bujold co-stars as a novitiate he seduces along the way. On DVD, no supplements.
Mickey Rooney stars in "Treasure Train" (Odyssey), a children's fantasy directed by Spanish surrealist Fernando Arrabal. On Blu-ray and DVD.
"Ice" (MVD) is an OVA anime feature from Japan, set in a future where pollution has killed off the male population. "Elvis Found Alive" (MVD) is a comic tell-all that proposes that the King faked his death to serve his country as an undercover Federal Agent.
Four films from the man Quentin Tarantino called "the master" of the Italian gangster movie, now on Blu-ray
Fernando Di Leo was, in the estimation of genre-hound Quentin Tarantino, "the master" of the Italian gangster movie. "Fernando di Leo Crime Collection" (Raro) spotlights four of his signature films from the early seventies: "Caliber 9" (aka "Milano Caibro 9"), "The Italian Connection" (aka "La Mala Ordina"), "The Boss" (aka "Il Boss" and "Wipeout!") and "Rulers of the City" (aka "Il padrone della citta" and "Mr. Scarface"), all making their Blu-ray debut in this box set.
Fernando Di Leo was a veteran screenwriter of spaghetti westerns and director of a handful of giallo and sexploitation pictures when he made his first mob movie "Caliber 9" (1972), which immediately establishes the sensibility of his gangster films to come: a hard, unfeeling brutality, a pitiless expediency and an understanding of who is expendable, who is untouchable, and what happens when those rules are broken, as they invariably, inevitably are. In this film, it's a mob payout stolen by one of their own, and the suspects are tortured and killed willy nilly, and that's all in the first act.
There's no honor among thieves in these films, which is made abundantly clear in "The Italian Connection" (1972), where a Milan crime boss frames a local hood and brings two American hitmen (played by Henry Silva and Woody Strode) to make an example (Tarantino has said they were in the inspiration for Jules and Vincent in "Pulp Fiction"). By "The Boss" (1973), which opens on the wholesale execution of the heads of a rival family (it's a doozy of a scene, involving a private porno screening and a grenade launcher), it’s clear that the criminal code of “The Family” and the family is all a hoax dreamed up by the bosses to keep the soldiers in line.
"Rulers of the City" (1976), the final film in the set, is a simpler, more self-contained revenge film with no ties to outside bosses or internecine gang war. Jack Palance takes top billing as Scarface, a feared rival boss who is scammed by a pair of ambitious but reckless hoods, but for all the gunplay and gangster violence, it is the lightest of the bunch, a mix of caper, revenge and gang war movies rolled into a neat package with the closest the collection comes to a happy ending.
Di Leo has none of the baroque style of the giallo nor the operatic bloodbaths of the spaghetti westerns. The violence of these film is extreme but direct and his shoots the same way, with a camera that constantly brings us into the middle of every conflict and an almost garish display of crude color. These are crude people with a façade of culture trying to cover a savage nature, and the bigger the boss, the more barbaric the behavior.
The films were released on DVD last year but have been remastered for Blu-ray and the films have a sharper image and more visual information (the DVDs appear to be slightly trimmed in the transfer, which is corrected here). The films are presented in original Italian with English subtitles plus an optional English dub soundtrack and the set includes the 38-minutes documentary “Fernando Di Leo: The Genesis of the Genre,” plus numerous featurettes and an accompanying booklet.
See trailers for 'The Italian Connection' and 'The Rulers of the City' below, after the jump.
Plus 'The Comic Strip Presents' and 'Agatha Christie's Poirot' from Britain
"Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level" (Paramount) – The "next level" of this single-disc release is the high definition of Blu-ray. That's right, following the success of the original "Star Trek" series on Blu-ray, Paramount is remastering every episode from the original film elements. And like that "Star Trek" Blu-rays, this new edition features revised special effects, though in this case they are not remade from scratch so much as recreated from the original film elements and then digitally enhanced.
Think of it as a sampler for the Blu-ray seasons to roll out, though at a mere three episodes it's a tad skimpy. Granted, one of those episodes is the double-length pilot, but on the other hand, it's the pilot, a rocky beginning to a series that took two seasons to finally get its space legs and define itself. The other two episodes are, however, strong contenders: "Sins of the Father" (Season Three, Worf visit the Klingon high command) and "The Inner Light" (Season Five, Picard lives a lifetime in an instant). Blu-ray only, no supplements.
See the Blu-ray trailer below, after the jump.
"The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection" (eOne) presents the entire run of the anarchic British comedy series of the eighties, starring many of the defining comic talents of the era (including Robbie Coltrane, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Rik Mayall, Jennifer Saunders, and Alexei Sayle). Rather than the traditional skit-comedy format, the actors/writers/creators create a self-contained story for each episode, like an anthology of parodies with each actor taking a new role with each story. 39 episodes on nine discs, plus the feature film "The Supergrass" (1988) and bonus featurettes.
"Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series One" (Acorn) remasters the popular British mystery series starring David Suchet as the brilliant Belgian sleuth whose little gray cells go to work whenever presented with a mystery. The episodes debut on Blu-ray and are re-released DVD in the original U.K. Broadcast order. This set remasters the first ten hour-long episodes on two discs on Blu-ray and three discs on DVD.
"De Gaulle and Churchill: The Appeal of June 1940" (Kultur), originally made for French television, dramatizes the days before the fall of France to the Nazis and political relationship between Charles De Gaulle (Michel Vuillermoz) and Winston Churchill (Christian Rodska) when De Gaulle fled to France to head the French Resistance. See a promo from the show below, after the jump. The clip is in French with no subtitles. The DVD features English subtitles.
"Poldark: The Complete Collection" (Acorn) presents the entire 1975 British costume drama based on the novels of Winston Graham and starring Robin Ellis as the dashing Ross Poldark, who returns from the war in the colonies and into a life of duels and deceit and betrayal in the provincial 18th century world. It originally arrived on American shores via "Masterpiece Theatre" in 1977 and immediately became one of the most popular British TV imports of its era. Previously released in two DVD sets, this simply boxes them up in a single release, with eight discs in two cases with hinged trays.
"Hey Dude: Season Two" (Shout! Factory) features 13 more episodes of Nickelodeon's live-action sitcom set on an Arizona dude ranch and co-starring Christine Taylor.
Plus 'The Thing,' the documentary 'Thunder Soul,' 'The Mill and the Cross' and more
In "Drive" (Sony), the sleek pulp crime cool-meets-art-house style thriller starring Ryan Gosling as a taciturn getaway driver, director Nicolas Winding Refn embraces the genre with all his love of underworld tragedy and Gosling gives his unnamed hero an enigmatic chivalry. On Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and OnDemand, and available day and date at through Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
Time isn't just money in Andrew Niccols' latest big screen metaphor "In Time" (Fox), it's a kind of indentured servitude where the 1% live forever and the 99% slave away simply to keep on living. Justin Timberlake becomes the Robin hood in the future of class warfare when he's gifted with a wealth of near-immortality by a suicidal millionaire and sets out to redistribute the years and Amanda Seyfried is the privileged girl who joins his crusade after he's falsely accused of murder by the time-brokers willing to kill to maintain the status quo. Cillian Murphy and Olivia Wilde co-star.
It is "short on substance and style," according to MSN film critic Kat Murphy. "Sold as a sci-fi thriller, the film's full of footraces and car chases but succumbs to narrative inertia, helpless to whip up momentum or tripwire suspense. The acting runs from predictable to wooden to just plain silly." The DVD features deleted and extended scenes and the Blu-ray adds the featurette "The Minutes." Also available via digital download and OnDemand.
MSN has an exclusive deleted scene from the release.
"The Mill and the Cross" (Kino Lorber), a thoughtful and visually inventive investigation into the story behind Pieter Bruegel's legendary painting "The Way to Calvary," is Videodrone's indie pick of the week. Directed by Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski, starring Rutger Hauer as Bruegel and co-starring Charlotte Rampling and Michael York, it's a real multinational production with a riveting mix of classical filmmaking and modern technology. Majewski uses CGI to place actors within Bruegel's paintings and layer live action in painterly compositions, both as a way to explore the creative process and as illustration and commentary on the social and political reality of Spanish-ruled Flanders that inspired Bruegel. While this unusual layering of textures collapses the space between real life and artistic recreation, Majewski contrasts it with hearty scenes of life in 16th century Flanders (which inspired many of the artist's greatest works).
It’s an ingenious and illuminating mix of art history, political commentary, historical recreation, and creative fancy, a way to deconstruct and analyze a work of art and contemplate the inspiration and artistic method of a European master in a visually creative and involving way. See more reviews here. On Blu-ray and DVD, with the making-of featurette "The World According to Bruegel" and a video interview with director Lech Majewski.
Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black are bird watchers in the comedy "The Big Year" (Fox), which MSN film critic Glenn Kenny recommends: "while "The Big Year" is not quite a frequent laugh-out-loud comedy romp, it's a genuinely engaging and amiable film that convincingly brings the viewer into a world that is very likely not his own." Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, JoBeth Williams, Kevin Pollak, Rosamund Pike, Joel McHale and Jim Parsons co-star and David Frankel directs. The Blu-ray and DVD both feature the theatrical version of the film plus an extended edition with bonus footage. The Blu-ray also includes a featurette, deleted scenes, a gag reel and BD Live supplements, plus a digital copy for portable media players. See the trailer below.
"The Thing" (2011) (Universal), a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 modern classic, combines horror and science fiction in a lukewarm attempt to create chills from an alien invasion thriller. MSN film critic Kat Murphy complains that director Matthijs van Heijningen and writers "simply rework the bare-bones template -- shape-shifting alien stalking a scientific team in Antarctica -- while relying on a CG-improved monster to up the terror ante. The malformed result is a subpar slasher movie…." Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton star. On Blu-ray and DVD with commentary by director Matthijs van Heijningen and producer Eric Newman, two featurettes, and deleted scenes. Also available via digital download and OnDemand.
The award-winning documentary "Thunder Soul" (Lionsgate) profiles a high school band that became a funk phenomenon in the 1970s and reunites decades later. MSN film critic James Rocchi praises the film: Director Mark Landsman makes no pretense of objectivity -- he's clearly a fan, and cajoled the band alumni to move their reunion show to better fit the filming -- and at the same time he films events with a loose and gentle hand, keeping the rhythm but not being afraid to riff a solo when the mood is right." DVD only, with commentary and bonus footage. See the trailer below.
"The Double" (Image) stars Richard Gere as a retired CIA operative and Topher Grace as a young, hotshot FBI agent who join forces in an uneasy alliance to find a legendary Cold War-era Soviet assassin in the spy thriller. MSN film critic James Rocchi suggests that it is "less bad than it is simply musty, a vacuum-packed piece of content that, when opened, gives off the unmistakable whiff of being past some indefinable cultural sell-by date." Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary and a featurette. Available day and date at through Redbox
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz move with their young daughters to an old home with a tragic secret in "Dream House" (Universal), a haunted house movie directed by Jim Sheridan. "With its telegraphed twists and clunky pacing, the film would be unbearable were it not for the fine trio of Craig, Weisz and Naomi Watts, all more or less slumming," writes Los Angeles Times film critic Mark Olsen. On Blu-ray and DVD, with four featurettes. Also available via digital download and OnDemand.
Director Lucky McKee collaborates with writer Jack Ketchum on the horror movie "The Woman" (Vivendi), about an authoritarian husband and father who abducts a feral woman to "civilize" her, and how her presence upsets the already unbalanced family equilibrium. "True to its genre, there is gore and sudden shrieks," confirms New York Times film critic Andy Webster. On DVD, with a featurette, deleted scenes, and a bonus short film.
"The Other F Word" (Oscilloscope) is a humorous look at fatherhood through the experiences of punk rockers trying balance their anti-authoritarian slogans with parenthood. According to San Francisco Chronicle film critic Amy Biancolli, the film is a "sweet, revealing and proudly foulmouthed ethnography on rock and the modern dad." Features commentary, outtakes, bonus performances and other supplements.
"Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles" (eOne) is a kind of mystery: director Jon Foy tracks the enigmatic tiles implanted in asphalt in cities across the United States and South America. Roger Ebert describes the film as "confoundingly watchable." Features commentary and bonus and deleted scenes.
"Texas Killing Fields" (Anchor Bay), directed by Ami Canaan Mann (daughter of Michael Mann) and based on the true story of a search for a serial killer, stars Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jessica Chastain and Chloë Grace Moretz. On Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary, and available day and date at through Redbox. Reviews are here and read an interview with co-star Moretz on The Hitlist here.
Abigail Brelsin is "Janie Jones" (Tribeca/New Video), who is suddenly introduced to self-involved rock musician dad (Alessandro Nicola) when her mom (Elizabeth Shue) goes into rehab. On DVD, with commentary and a promotional featurette. Click here for reviews.
Takeshi Kitano directs, writes and stars in "Outrage: Way of the Yakuza" (Magnolia), a the deadpan Japanese gangster movie about a bloody mob war presented with Kitano's brand of bloody violence and black humor. Blu-ray and DVD, plus supplements.
"Chalet Girl" (IFC) is a romance on the slopes starring Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick and Bill Nighy. High school outcasts resist the pressure to conform in the indie comedy "Spork" (eOne). Mischa Barton and Anton Yelchin star in "You and I" (Lionsgate), a romantic drama from director Roland Joffe. "The Hammer" dramatizes the true story of Matt Hamill, who overcame deafness to become a national collegiate champion and a UFC fighter.
"What My Husband Doesn't Know" (Image) is a stage production of the David E. Talbert play starring Brian White and Michelle Williams. "Potnah" (Headliners) is an urban drama set in the underground business of cigarette sales.
All the supplements a giant robot fan could want - and MSN has an exclusive clip from the new edition
Michael Bay's third rock 'em sock 'em giant robot spectacular was shot and designed for 3D, which forced the director to slow his chaotic editing down and create a coherent action canvas.
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Blu-ray 3D Combo" (Paramount) marks the film's home video debut in 3D, albeit on for consumers who own Blu-ray compatible monitors and Blu-ray players. For the rest of us -- or at least the rest of us with Blu-ray players -- this four-disc set includes a standard Blu-ray edition, which benefits from the restraint in as much as you can actually see the transformations unfold and the action play out. It's just the story that makes no sense. But then again, it's a movie about giant alien robots who go to war in the city of Chicago and destroy half the city along the way, so who needs a story? Videodrone reviewed the original Blu-ray and DVD release here.
Apart from 3D, the draw of this new set is the collection of extras. The original release featured no supplements on either the Blu-ray or the DVD edition. This set features Blu-ray 3D and standard editions, a bonus DVD, a digital download, and an Ultraviolet digital copy for download and instant streaming, and all the supplements one could want from a Michael Bay extravaganza in high definition.
The bonus disc of special features is Blu-ray only and anchoring the supplements is the feature-length "Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon," an exhaustive production documentary that lasts nearly two hours as if chronicles the film from inception to release. It's everything a fan of the movie could want and a very long promotional featurette for anyone who isn't interested in exploring every detail of the film's production. But to give credit where it is due, I confess that the film does show Bay's on-set ingenuity, and when you come down to it, the very scale of the entire enterprise -- the production, the stunts, the set pieces, and the special effects -- is impressive in its own right.
Here's an exclusive clip from the documentary, exclusive to MSN:"Deconstructing Chicago: Multi-Angle Sequences" invites the viewer to explore compare the stages of production through multiple clips from key effects sequences, "The Dark of the Moon Archive" is a collection of brief featurettes, and "The Art of Cybertron" presents galleries of art and stills exploring the robots and technology of the film. The 26-minute "Uncharted Territory: NASA’s Future Then and Now," a short documentary on the real life American space program.
Pulp movie crime with art house style
"Drive" (Sony), the sleek pulp crime cool-meets-art-house style thriller starring Ryan Gosling as a taciturn getaway driver, was an Oscar favorite when it debuted in the fall. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (a veteran of gritty, brutal Danish underworld dramas) with a silky smoothness and a stylized cool that recalls "Le Samourai" and Walter Hill's "The Driver," and an eighties vibe and neon palette that channels such films as "To Live and Die in L.A." and "Thief," it's a film that celebrates -- one might say revels in -- the pulp mythology of existential anti-heroes and criminal chivalry and street opera tragedy of American movies. But most of all, it is a movie that enjoys being a movie.
Gosling is the unnamed anti-hero (he's just The Driver, a genre convention the film wears like a badge), introduced to us by way of his unfazed professionalism as the wheelman-for-hire successfully transporting his latest clients from a sloppy heist. He's a pro defined by talent, confidence and complete self-possession, living a simple life by rules he doesn't break for anyone. Until, of course, he falls for a pretty young neighbor (Carey Mulligan) raising a son while her husband is in prison.
Refn, working from a stripped-down script by Hossein Amini, melds American and European sensibilities, offering a grim fairy tale for the small-time operators of the Los Angeles underworld and the innocents in the orbit, complete with Gosling as the enigmatic street prince whose chivalry is rekindled when he falls for a princess (Mulligan) and battles the underworld dragons (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman).
Why it was left in the dust is something of a mystery, even with the critical backlash against its neon noir stylings and romanticized gangster movie tropes.
"The set piece in its center, in which Gosling's driver takes on a crime job as a mission of mercy, and has to deal with one brutal double cross and disaster after another, truly is one of the most incredible sustained pieces of cinematic action and suspense to come from any moviemaker anywhere in a long, long time, and it's absolutely worth the price of admission," writes MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "But those pleasures are encased in a story line (adapted from a short novel by James Sallis) so rudimentary as to almost be some kind of contemptuous joke (suffice it to say that by this film's lights, all crime in Los Angeles is an extremely intimate affair)."
But even its critics agree Albert Brooks was criminally overlooked by the Academy for his superb creation as genially ruthless L.A. mobster Bernie Rose, a former movie producer whose generosity and, at times, compassion, never gets in the way of taking care of business. Director Nicolas Winding Refn embraces the genre with all his love of underworld tragedy and Gosling gives his unnamed hero an enigmatic chivalry.
The Blu-ray and DVD editions both include featurettes and a length interview with director Nicolas Winding Refn. In the 25-minute interview "Drive Without a Driver" Refn turns storyteller to lay out the film from the inception of the collaboration (a pretty entertaining story involving a surfeit of cold medicine, a disastrous meeting with actor Ryan Gosling, and a sing-along to an REO Speedwagon song on the radio).
In the 12-minute featurette "Under the Hood," the actors discuss their characters, while Cary Mulligan focuses on the film's central relationship in the six-minute "Driver and Irene" along with the screenwriter and the producers. Conspicuous their absence from these and the other two featurettes ("I Drive," about the hero, and "Cut to the Chase," about the stunts; both under five minutes) are star Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn.
The Blu-ray also features UltraViolet digital copy for streaming or downloading. Also available via digital download and OnDemand.
See trailer below, after the jump.
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Drive" (Sony), the sleek pulp crime cool-meets-art-house style thriller starring Ryan Gosling as a taciturn getaway driver, was an Oscar favorite when it debuted in the fall. Why it was left in the dust is something of a mystery, even with the critical backlash against its neon noir stylings and romanticized gangster movie tropes (see Glenn Kenny's review on MSN). And almost everyone agrees that Albert Brooks was criminally overlooked by the Academy for his superb creation of a genially ruthless L.A. mobster. Director Nicolas Winding Refn embraces the genre with all his love of underworld tragedy and Gosling gives his unnamed hero an enigmatic chivalry. On Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and OnDemand. Videodrone's review is here.
"In Time" (Fox) is a science fiction thriller where life energy has become a commodity and Justin Timberlake becomes a kind of "time bandit" and the future of class warfare. But according to MSN film critic Kat Murphy, the film from writer/director Andrew Niccol is "short on substance and style." Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy co-star. MSN has an exclusive deleted scene here. "The Thing" (2011) (Universal), a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 modern classic, combines horror and science fiction in a lukewarm attempt to create chills from an alien invasion thriller. Both on Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and OnDemand.
Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black are bird watchers in the comedy "The Big Year" (Fox), which MSN film critic Glenn Kenny recommends, and Richard Gere and Topher Grace star in the spy thriller "The Double" (Image).
"The Mill and the Cross" (Kino Lorber), a thoughtful and visually inventive drama about the story behind Peiter Bruegel's legendary painting "The Way to Calvary," is Videodrone's indie pick of the week (Blu-ray and DVD), while MSN film critic James Rocchi recommends the upbeat music documentary "Thunder Soul" (Lionsgate).
Also new this week: the haunted house story "Dream House" (Universal) with Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts, the drama "Janie Jones" (Tribeca/New Video) with Abigail Breslin and Alessandro Nivola, the crime thriller "Texas Killing Fields" (Anchor Bay) with Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jessica Chastain, the documentaries "The Other F Word" (Oscilloscope) and "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles" (eOne), and Takeshi Kitano's mob-war action film "Outrage: Way of the Yakuza" (Magnolia) from Japan.
TV on DVD:
"Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level" (Paramount) is essentially a Blu-ray sampler, a single-disc featuring three episodes of the show remastered from the original 35mm film elements for Blu-ray, including enhanced special effects from the original elements. Features the double-length pilot, plus "Sins of the Father" (Season Three, Worf visit the Klingon high command) and "The Inner Light" (Season Five, Picard lives a lifetime in an instant). Blu-ray only, no supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection" (eOne) presents the entire run of the anarchic British comedy series of the eighties, starring many of the defining comic talents of the era (including Robbie Coltrane, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Rik Mayall, Jennifer Saunders, and Alexei Sayle). 39 episodes on nine discs, plus the feature film "The Supergrass" (1988) and bonus featurettes.
"Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series One" (Acorn) remasters the popular British mystery series starring David Suchet for Blu-ray and DVD and presents them in original U.K. Broadcast order, while "Poldark: The Complete Collection" (Acorn) simply boxes up the two previously release DVD sets.
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Blu-ray 3D Combo" (Universal) delivers the Blu-ray 3D debut of the film along with all the supplements you could want from a Michael Bay extravaganza, including a nearly two-hour documentary on the making of the film, plus bonus 2D Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film. Videodrone's review is here.
"To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary" (Universal) presents the beloved Oscar-winning drama, based on Harper Lee’s novel and starring Gregory Peck, in a newly-remastered edition for its Blu-ray debut. It features all the supplements of the earlier DVD special edition plus a bonus DVD and digital copy. Also available on DVD. Videodrone's review is here.
"Australia After Dark" (Intervision) and "The ABCs of Love and Sex, Australia Style" (Intervision) are exploitation films from the wild days of Australian seventies filmmaking, and "Monsignor" (Shout! Factory) is a 1982 melodrama starring Christopher Reeve as a priest who breaks the commandments while serving the Pope.
"Fernando di Leo Crime Collection" (Raro) presents the Blu-ray debut of four Italian gangster movie classics from the seventies from the director that Quentin Tarantino called "the master" of the genre, and offers a sharper image and a more accurate preservation of the original film. Videodrone's review is here.
You can tell it's Oscar season when the studios pull past winners out of the vault for new home video editions. Debuting on Blu-ray this week are Oscar winners "Shakespeare in Love" (Lionsgate), "The English Patient" (Lionsgate), "The Piano" (Lionsgate), "Cold Mountain" (Lionsgate), and "Adaptation" (Image), and Oscar nominees "Frida" (Lionsgate) and "Malcolm X" (Warner). Meanwhile, the five-disc "Best Picture Academy Award Winners" (Lionsgate) includes the new "Shakespeare" and "English Patient" discs along with the previously released "Chicago," "Crash," and "No Country for Old Men.
New on Netflix Instant:
Older titles debuting on the service include "Conspiracy Theory" (1997) with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, the warm, low-key drama "Breaking Away" (1979) with Dennis Christopher and Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Robert Aldrich’s satirical "The Longest Yard" (1974) with Burt Reynolds as a pro football bad boy behind bars, plus the more demanding 2006 drama "Babel" (2006) with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and Martin Scorsese's controversial "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988).
Available from Redbox this week:
Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week:
"Contagion" (Warner), Steven Soderbergh uses his camera lens as a kind of microscope to study the effects of a fictional pandemic. It's an eerie medical thriller with a very different atmosphere than the usual disaster film.
"Shark Night" (Universal) sends seven comely college kids to Louisiana lake that is filled with sharks. What more do you need to know?
Redbox DVD flashback this week is "Ghost Rider," the comic-book movie flop with Nicolas Cage as a motorcycle stunt driver turned into "the Devil's bounty hunter," a demon rider with a flaming skull for a head. Can't recommend this one, but with the sequel set for 2012 release, there is that impulse to catch up…
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Videodrone's thumbnail guide to what's new, notable and recommended (or not) this week
Here's our thumbnail guide to what's new, notable and recommended (or not) this week for home viewing. Just click on the titles and links for full reviews and more information.
The New Release Rack
"Real Steel" (Disney) leads the hitlist of this week's New Release Rack: the rousing underdog robot boxer spectacle by way of father-son bonding drama, with Hugh Jackman as the absent dad with a shot at redemption. Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Download, On Demand, and day-and-date availability at Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
"50/50" (Summit) is what Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts his chances of survival when he's diagnosed with cancer in the comedy inspired by the real-life ordeal of producer/screenwriter DVD and Blu-ray, day-and-date availability at Redbox.
Also new this week:
"Restless" (Sony), Gus Van Sant's romantic drama of quirky young adults. DVD and Blu-ray.
"The Whistleblower" (Fox), with Rachel Weisz as a U.N peacekeeper who uncovers a conspiracy in Bosnia. DVD and Blu-ray.
"Paranormal Activity 3" (Paramount) continues the zero-budget horror franchise of haunted houses and home video. DVD and Blu-ray, day-and-date availability at Redbox.
"Happy Happy" (Magnolia), a black comedy of an eternal optimist in a failing marriage from Norway. DVD and Blu-ray.
"Essential Killing" (Tribeca/New Video), Jerzy Skolimowski's abstract survival thriller with Vincent Gallo as a Taliban fighter. DVD only.
"Hell and Back Again" (Docurama), an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary. Blu-ray, DVD and VOD.
TV on DVD
"Kojak: The Complete Movie Collection" (Shout! Factory) features eight made-for-TV movies starring Telly Savalas as the uncompromising Lt. Theo Kojak, and Andre Braugher as his lead detective in the final five telefilms. DVD only.
Also new this week:
"WWII in 3D" (History), a documentary on 3D photos (including reconnaissance shots) and motion picture footage from the war. Blu-ray only.
"Mannix: The Sixth Season" (Paramount) with 24 episodes of the Mike Connors private eye series. DVD only.
"Mad: Season One, Part Two" (Warner) with 13 more very short episodes of animated spoofing. DVD only.
Off the Rack – Classic, Cult and Blu-ray Debuts
"Wings" (Paramount), the film that won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in a newly restored and remastered edition. Clara Bow (the "It" Girl herself) takes top billing but the amazing aerial spectacle is the real star of this World War I fighter-pilot drama. Videodrone's review of the DVD and Blu-ray debut is here, along with an exclusive clip from the disc.
Five films from French cult director Jean Rollin, including his signature film "The Shiver of the Vampires" (Redemption/Kino) and his haunting "Lips of Blood" (Redemption/Kino). Videodrone reviews them here.
Three Alfred Hitchcock classics – including the Oscar-winning "Rebecca" (MGM), the psychological thriller "Spellbound" (MGM), and his glorious romantic thriller "Notorious" (MGM) – all produced by David Selznik, debut on Blu. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
Also new this week:
"Godzilla" (Criterion), the mother of all Japanese monster movies, is newly remastered on DVD and Blu-ray.
"The Roots of Heaven" (Twilight Time), John Huston's drama of eco-warriors taking on elephant poachers in post World War II Africa. Blu-ray.
"Picnic" (Twilight Time), the 1955 classic with William Holden and Kim Novak. Blu-ray.
"The Apartment: Collector's Edition" (MGM), Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning tale of modern urban romance in a corporate culture. Blu-ray.
It’s a boom week for fans of classic films. Among the hundreds of films and TV shows just added to the Instant Streaming library are: "Duck Soup" (1933) with the Marx Brothers, "Jane Eyre" (1944) with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) and Robert Altman's "3 Women" (1977), plus the first season of "Portlandia" (2011) and all three seasons of "United States of Tara" (2009-2011). Read all about these and others on Videodrone here.
New at Redbox
"Final Destination 5" (Warner) is yet another installment in the high-concept franchise that finds yet more new ways to dispatch its victims. In the words of MSN film critic Kat Murphy, it "isn't really a movie any more than a meat grinder is." DVD and Blu-ray.
Oscars at Home
Looking to cram for this year's awards? Here's our guide to the year's nominated films currently available on DVD, Blu-ray and On Demand, including "Moneyball" (Sony), "Midnight in Paris" (Sony), "The Tree of Life" (Fox), "The Help" (Touchstone), and "Rango" (Paramount). Find the complete list on Videodrone here.
Coming next week:
"In Time" (Fox)
"The Thing" (2011) (Universal)
"The Double" (Image)
"The Mill and the Cross" (Kino Lorber)
"To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary" (Universal)
"Star Trek: The Next Generation – Next Level" (Blu-ray) (Paramount)
"Shakespeare in Love" (Blu-ray) (Lionsgate)
"The English Patient" (Blu-ray) (Lionsgate)
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Blu-ray 3D Combo" (Universal)
"Fernando di Leo Crime Collection" (Blu-ray) (Raro)