New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for Aug 24, 2010
The upside to this week on Blu-ray? There are so many great titles being released (most of them catalog titles) I could almost die. The Square? The Long Good Friday? Mona Lisa? Time Bandits? Withnail and I? I want them all (none of them sadly were sent to me to review), just the very thought the dent picking these discs up could put into my bank account enough to make me depressed for the remainder of the week. On the upside, the rest of this week’s releases are a rather forgettable lot, and although I’m sure many will be eager to pick up a certain television title color me a tad less unenthused.
TV of the Week
Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season
It all ends here. The show that redefined the serial drama is coming to an end after six eventful, heartbreaking seasons (and maybe a couple of missteps early on but rectified quickly). The end is a fitting one as some might say, while others might disagree, the season finale being hotly debated ever since it aired in May of this year. As a whole, the season isn’t the show’s best, but it’s pretty good, and watching the journeys, adventures, and tribulations of the people and the Island draw to a close is emotionally satisfying.
However no one can argue with the fact that this Blu-ray is packed with goodies. Insightful featurettes such as the “Crafting a Final Season” featurette, “LOST on Location” behind-the-scenes, an Epilogue entitled “The New Man in Charge”, and selected Audio Commentaries. There’s also Deleted Scenes, “A Hero’s Journey” featurette, signature LOST Bloopers and much more, including the Blu-ray Exclusive “LOST University: Master’s Program” which is a BD-Live enabled college that lets you delve even deeper into the themes and mysteries of the series. As of this writing, the DVD is #2 and the Blu-ray is #5 on Amazon’s Bestsellers list.
- Written by Dennis Crane
Movie of the Week
One of the few movies I’ve seen twice in the theatres this year, this twisty (and twisted) Australian noir is quickly becoming one of my 2010 favorites. While my overall opinion to the film’s highs and lows hasn’t really changed (read my theatrical review here), I find director Nash Edgerton’s debut to be just so much wicked fun the minuses seem to weigh on me less and less as time goes by. As far as this week is concerned, this is definitely the one title I am making sure to pick up for a purchase at some point down the line.
The Back-Up Plan
I’ve long been something of a Jennifer Lopez apologist, but even I can’t excuse her for making the anemic and incredibly unfunny The Back-Up Plan. In a year of numerous sub par romantic comedies this one comes very close to being the worst of the lot (and would be if When in Rome hadn’t proven to be downright unwatchable), and for the multitalented star this “comeback” vehicle proved to be anything but. For those interested in hearing more about my pain suffered while watching this pile of drivel, you can read my theatrical review by clicking here.
Here’s a kind of independent success story that released to theaters on March 19, 2010, on a couple of screens and throughout its (Summer) run increased audience numbers and climbed the limited release latter by topping out at 269 screens in the first week of May; it wound down after that but ending up collecting $6.6 million to date (playing in about four theaters this week), according to Box Office Mojo. The comedy starring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies that won the Audience Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival is being released on both formats, the film divided our critics, with Roy Earle’s DVD review calling it one of the best of 2010 so far, and Mitchell’s Blu-ray review having something a bit less enthusiastic to say about it.
- Written by Dennis Crane
Survival of the Dead
I saw George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead in the perfect environment. It was a midnight screening in a packed theatre during the Seattle International Film Festival. The majority of the attendees were in full zombie regalia ready to devour their idol’s latest foray into the undead right down to the bone. So why, then, was I so under whelmed (read my theatrical review here)? Mainly because as much fun as the carnage and gore could be I felt like this was Romero going through the motions, and while this sixth (sixth!?!?) zombie effort from the genre’s master and creator was a definite improvement over Diary of the Dead nothing that happened up on screen excited me to the point I felt like my midnight foray to the theatre was even close to worthwhile. As for this Blu-ray presentation of Romero’s latest, you can read Mitchell's Blu-ray review.
The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season
Wow. I’m still kind of in shock that this awesome series is still on the air. For you trivia buffs out there, this thirteenth season was the last full season to use traditional cell animation. It also kicked off with “Treehouse of Horror XII” for those curious about the first episode. This Blu-ray presentation comes fully loaded packed with commentary tracks on every episode, Easter Eggs, seven different featurettes, sketch galleries and much, much more. For fans this is as close to must-buy as there is probably is.
The Long Good Friday
Withnail and I
Image Entertainment continues to empty their coffers offering up pieces of classic British pulp cinema at unbelievably reasonable prices (all four are only $12.99 a piece at Amazon). While quality isn’t superlative (according to the folks over at DVD Beaver) it’s good enough they’re still recommending fans of the films wouldn’t be making a mistake picking them up. The only question here is whether or not Criterion sill has license on any of these and, if so, they’ll be coming out with their own feature-packed Blu-rays at some point in the future.
Sensational Israeli production that was up for the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (it lost to Argentina’s The Secret in Their Eyes). I saw this much earlier this year but for whatever reason never got around to reviewing it. Still, it must be stated that this is a stirring thriller definitely worthy of watch. Strong stuff, yes, but for fans of international cinema plenty worthwhile.
This has been out in Europe for some time, and is making its debut here in home video. Ben Barnes plays the title character trading his soul for eternal youth but when his hunger for pleasure deepens, the only choice he sees is to murder to protect his secret. Colin Firth plays a shady Lord who may have an influence over Dorian Gray, and Rachel Hurd-Wood c-stars as well. Mitchell has reviewed the disc and you can read his Blu-ray review now.
- Written by Dennis Crane
Brittany Murphy’s final film is an Anchor Bay thriller about a woman, Mary (Murphy), delivering her boyfriend to the hospital for minor surgery only to return and find him missing. Worse, the hospital has no record that he was ever admitted or even existed, leading those in charge to question the woman’s sanity. Costarring Mimi Rogers, Dean Cain and Peter Bogdanovich, I can’t exactly say this one looks like it will be all that great. Still, I’m going to have to give it a chance, if only to be reminded of just how talented Murphy was, how tragic her passing proved to be and just how much she’ll be missed by those of us who felt like she never quite got around to rising to her own potential.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
90210 – The Complete Second Season
Gossip Girl – The Complete Third Season
NCIS – The Complete Seventh Season
Another week, another flurry of television shows making their way to DVD.
“NCIS” has enjoyed a steady rise in viewership for years and is a top-rated show for CBS, and its success is rightfully earned, the show combining the procedural formula with two important elements, characters you care about and want to root for, and bits and pieces of humor that come natural. The seventh season produces solid stories, and as is custom with the DVD releases for the show, the special features are truly “special” in that they are both insightful and entertaining. Even though we did not receive this set for review, the “Cast Roundtable” featurette has been fun to watch on previous sets. A couple of commentaries, a “Year in Review”, and a handful of featurettes round out the box set. - Written by Dennis Crane
As for “90210,” I just can’t get into it. The original was glossy, overproduced silly fun but this update/remake is pretty darn tiresome, I must say. Definitely not for me.
As for “Gossip Girl,” I adored the first two seasons, found them to be gloriously trashy and more or less awesome. Season three (read my DVD review) is a bit of a comedown but still worthwhile, the juicy dialogue and stupendous fashions almost worth the price of picking this set up all on their own.
Three Silent Classics by Josef Von Sternberg (Underworld / Last Command / Docks of New York) (Criterion Collection)
Another Criterion box set for me to lust over. Oh well. C’est la vie. A girl can’t get everything she wants, after all. And, trust me, this girl wants this set. Bad.
Fortunately for Roy Earle, he got it, and has sent in his DVD review as a non-exclusive to share with our readers.