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This Week on DVD & Blu-ray (05-28-13)

May 28, 2013


It’s kind of a flimsy week for new releases, but that’s alright – there’s always something  to catch up with. I can’t say I’ll be clamoring to see “Dark Skies“, the alien invasion thriller that recently came and went in theaters this past February.  Haven’t read anything good about it, but for some reason I’m curious.  A better choice would be to revisit  the strange and authentic “Life is Sweet” from 1990, now on Criterion, which happened to be my first exposure to the films of director Mike Leigh.  One selection that sticks out to me this week though is the Australian/German war film “Lore” which almost made the short list for recent Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees. It’s the sophomore effort from Cate Shortland about five German siblings (led by the eldest, named Lore) of high-ranking Nazi parents who must trek their way through southwestern Germany to their grandmother’s home in Hamburg after WWII. What  are the odds that they run into some Allieds and a young Jewish concentration camp survivor? Bound to be a harrowing and emotional journey.
20th Century Fox home Entertainment has given “Cleopatra” a nice Blu-ray upgrade. The historical epic, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and Darryl Zanuck, about the iconic Egyptian queen (played by Elizabeth Taylor) was, for a time, the most expensive film ever made. In 1963, it cost over $44 million, or roughly $326 million when adjusted for inflation. It’s obvious where  the budget went on-screen – with its grand sets and sweeping themes and some of cinema’s biggest stars (co-stars Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowell, and Martin Landau, aren’t too shabby, but there was some on-set ego-clashing that made it memorable too). Too bad they didn’t spend more time on rewrites. Regardless, of how it is perceived now, back then it was a certifiable flop along the lines of “Cutthroat Island”.
Shout Factory once again releases some gems, this time three gloriously dated grindhouse favorites that have been championed by Quentin Tarantino. “Rolling Thunder” is a 1977 cult classic starring William Devane as Major. Rane in the armed forces, returning home from Nam, finding it difficult to reacquaint himself with civilian life. When his wife and son are killed and his hand mauled by some local thugs, Rane seeks vengeance with the help of a former military buddy (played by Tommy Lee Jones). I’ve never seen the violent and intense film, which was directed by John Flynn (“The Outfit”) from a screenplay by Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould, but heard great things about it. Considering Schrader’s involvement, one could draw parallels to “Taxi Driver”, seeing as how both deal with vigilalantism in some form.  
There’s also more grindhouse goodness in a Blu-ray 2-pack of “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” and “Race with the Devil“, two classics of the genre that star Peter Fonda.  “Dirty Mary”, released in 1974, mentioned in Tarantino’s “Death Proof”,  is a tale of love and vehicular chaos, directed by John Hough (who went on to direct Disney’s “Witch Mountain” movies).  Fonda stars as a driver and Adam Roarke plays his mechanic and both have NASCAR aspirations. To get there though, they rob a supermarket, take some hostages, along with Fonda’s fling (played by Susan George) and drive off in a Chevy Impala with a sheriff (Vic Morrow) in hot pursuit. Roddy McDowell also appears in an uncredited cameo.
In 1975’s “Race with the Devil”, Fonda and Warren Oates play best buds in San Antonio who take off to Colorado with their wives (Lara Parker and Loretta Swift)  for a ski vacation. Things go to hell when the two men witness a Satanic ritual near their campsite. They try to alert the local sheriff, who brushes it off, but once the foursome continue on their way, they experience several strange and  disturbing situations. When “Red State” came out in 2011, director Kevin Smith had mentioned  that this movie was influential on his redneck thriller. Considering the amount of films that have been remade over the past 20 years, I’m kind of surprised this one hasn’t received an update.
That’s about it for this week. Browse through the list below for more titles, there’s some good ones amid the questionable ones. Enjoy the Rundown…. 

  • In Old California (1942) (DVD)
  • A Good Day to Die (DVD)
  • Airheads (Blu-ray)
  • Bedazzled (Blu-ray)
  • Best Laid Plans (Blu-ray)
  • Beetlejuice: The Complete Series (DVD)
  • Black Knight (Blu-ray)
  • Blowing Wild (1953) (DVD)
  • Chasing Papi (Blu-ray)
  • Cleopatra (Blu-ray)
  • Covert Affairs: Season Three (DVD)
  • Dark Command (1940) (DVD)
  • Dark Skies (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Dead Mine (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (Blu-ray)
  • Doctor Who: Series Seven, Part Two (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Doctor Who: The Snowmen (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Dying Young (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Father Goose (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The File on Thelma Jordan (1950) (DVD)
  • Garbage: One Mile High… Live (DVD/Blu-ray )
  • George Gently Collection: Series 1-4 (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • George Gently Collection: Series 5 (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Girl Who Knew Too Much (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Grass is Greener (1960) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: The Complete First Season (DVD)
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Blu-ray)
  • Lady From Louisiana (1941) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Life Is Sweet (Criterion Collection) (1990) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Longmire: The Complete First Season (DVD)
  • Lore (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Magic Christian (Blu-ray)
  • My Dog Tulip (Blu-ray)
  • My Brothers (DVD)
  • My Super Ex-Girlfriend (Blu-ray)
  • The Newton Boys (Blu-ray)
  • NOVA: Mind of a Rampage Killer (DVD)
  • The Numbers Station (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Race with the Devil (Blu-ray)
  • Red Widow: The Complete First Season (DVD)
  • Rolling Thunder (Blu-ray)  (Blu-ray)
  • Reuben, Reuben (1983) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Shanks (1974) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Shoot First Die Later (Remastered) (1974) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Simply Irresistable (Blu-ray)
  • Sommore: Chandelier Status (DVD)
  • Star Chamber (Blu-ray)
  • Suits: Season Two (DVD)
  • Tiny Toon Adventures, Volume 4: Looney Links! (DVD)
  • The Ultimate Guide to Presidents (DVD)









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