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This Week on DVD & Blu-ray (05-07-13)

May 7, 2013
Wow, this is a full week! And I’m not just talkin’ about Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher” where the movie star (he’s beyond actor, right?) plays the 6’5″, 250 lb. titular character made popular by author Lee Child’s series of novels. What? No interest in that one, eh? We’ll be getting a sequel, so acquaint or prepare yourself, accordingly. I can’t vouch for “Jack Reacher” but I will recommend “Mama” a ghost story brought to us by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by Andy Muschietti, starring Jessica Chastain. It’s an unsettling, albeit familiar horror film which is quite satisfying. Another recommendation is Steven Soderbergh’s final (?) film “Side Effects” a particularly entrancing thriller with an impressive performance by Roonie Mara. If a film that has a hybrid of Hitchcock and Polanski about it interests you, definitely check it out. Also out this week….
Writer/director/editor/composer (you get the idea), Shane Caruth follows his sci-fi time-bending film, “Primer” with his sophomore effort, “Upstream Color”, a disorienting look at two lost souls suffering from the residual effects of trauma due to identity theft and some Cronenbergian body horror. It’s a visually visceral film that touches on specific senses, using images like Terrence Malick would if he were to delve into surreal sci-fi. I haven’t had the chance to catch it yet, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
MGM/Fox Home Entertainment is releasing “The Great Escape” on Blu-ray, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. It remains one of the great adventure sagas of all time. Using a real-life POW jailbreak from WWII as his inspiration, director John Sturges stages the film like a heist thriller. During the first act, we get to know the large, diverse cast of characters (including Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson) and then we follow their plans for a daring prison break, and finally watching them as they try to successfully execute their exodus. Part of the genius of this picture lies in how skillfully Sturges modulates his tone. It’s both a daring and exciting film that doesn’t sacrifice any entertainment value for some dark subject matter.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is also releasing some worthy films on Blu-ray. Two classic titles, one from Elia Kazan and the other from Sidney Lumet. Kazan’s “Viva Zapata” retells the life and death of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who led a rebellion against the dictatorship of president Porfirio Diaz. Working with a screenplay by John Steinbeck, Kazan mines Zapata’s exploits for a good deal of contemporary relevance, and he gets great performances from the likes of Anthony Quinn, Jean Peters, and Marlon Brando, who brings his trademark improvisatory flair to his work in the title role.

“The Verdict” is one of Lumet’s great legal dramas as well as one of Paul Newman’s finest work, earning him an Oscar nomination (as well as four other Oscar noms). It’s a legal thriller  from focusing on Newman as Frank Galvin, a boozy, morally dubious lawyer who scores a shot at redemption when he takes on a controversial medical malpractice suit. Director Sidney Lumet delivers an absorbing legal thriller and is aided by David Mamet’s script, which is colorful and illusive and complex in ways that most pop legal dramas aren’t. And then there’s Newman, who gives the best performance of his life as Galvin. Newman has internalized this part so deeply that he single-handedly turns “The Verdict” into a character study. Galvin’s decades-long battle with alcoholism becomes as exciting as his courtroom machinations. If you’re a fan of Newman and Lumet and you haven’t checked out “The Verdict”, now is the time to do it.

That’s it for this week! All previous reviews are highlighted below. Enjoy the Rundown….

  • Another Country (DVD)
  • The Assassin’s Blade  (DVD)
  • Babe: Pig in the City (Blu-ray)
  • Band of Outsiders (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • Barrymore (DVD)
  • Best of the Best: Without Warning (Blu-ray)
  • Bounty Hunters 2: Hardball (Blu-ray)
  • Brubaker (Blu-ray)
  • Citizen Hearst (DVD)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
  • Dragon Lord (Blu-ray)
  • The Exorcist in the 21st Century (DVD)
  • Felicity: Season Four (DVD)
  • Felicity: Season Three (DVD)
  • Flashpoint: The Fifth Season (DVD)
  • Fortress (Blu-ray)
  • Fresh (Blu-ray)
  • Fringe: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)
  • Fringe: The Complete Series (DVD)
  • Full Frontal (Blu-ray)
  • Gamer 3D (Blu-ray)
  • The Great Escape (Blu-ray)
  • The Grifters (Blu-ray)
  • Gunsmoke: The Eighth Season 1 (DVD)
  • Gunsmoke: The Eighth Season 2 (DVD)
  • Have Gun – Will Travel: The Sixth & Final Season 1 (DVD)
  • Have Gun – Will Travel: The Sixth & Final Season 2 (DVD)
  • Heaven (Blu-ray)
  • Hellraiser VII: Deader (Blu-ray)
  • The Hoax (Blu-ray)
  • In the Name of the Father (Blu-ray)
  • If I Were You (DVD)
  • In the Hive (DVD)
  • James A. Michener’s Texas (DVD)
  • Jersey Girl (Blu-ray)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (Blu-ray)
  • K9: The Complete Series (DVD)
  • Left to Die: The Sandra and Tammi Chase Story (DVD)
  • Mama (DVD)
  • Marley Africa Road Trip (DVD)
  • Mighty Fine (DVD)
  • Norman (DVD)
  • One Hour Photo (Blu-ray)
  • The Oranges (DVD)
  • Pillow Talk (Blu-ray)
  • Private Practice: The Complete Sixth Season (DVD)
  • Revenge for Jolly! (DVD)
  • Rookie Blue: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
  • Royal Pains: Season Four (DVD)
  • Safe Haven (DVD)
  • Sesame Street: Elmo the Musical (DVD)
  • Side Effects (DVD)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (Blu-ray)
  • Shanghai Noon & Shanghai Knights 2: Movie Collection (Blu-ray)
  • Sparkle (1976) (Blu-ray)
  • Starlet (DVD)
  • Steel Magnolias (2012) (DVD)
  • Superman: Unbound (DVD)
  • Teaching Mrs. Tingle (Blu-ray)
  • Upstream Color (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Verdict (Blu-ray)
  • Witness (DVD)
  • WWII from Space (DVD)






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