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This Week on DVD & Blu-ray (09-03-13)

September 3, 2013


For some reason, I had no desire to see Louis Leterrier’s bank heist/illusionist thriller “Now You See Me”, which came out last May. It has some actors in it that I generally like and find entertaining, but I guess  I’ve lost interest in the concept in the “ensemble cast as clever and cool criminals” subgenre (and I have a slight case of Morgan Freeman fatigue). Surprisingly, I heard it’s pretty good AND they’re making a sequel (which better be called “Now You Don’t”).  Michael Shannon plays real-life contract killer/family man Richard Kuklinski in “The Iceman” a crime thriller that saw a limited release on the same day of a certain Man of Iron. This qualifies as no-brainer inevitable viewing for me. Of course, “From Up on Poppy Hill” the new animated feature from Studio Ghibli piques my interest. Master animator Hayao Miyazaki may have announced his retirement recently, but it’s clear we’ll still be the recipients of his creative genius (he serves as screenwriter here). This beautifully animated film was directed by his son, Gorō Miyazaki, his first since his debut “Tales form Earthsea”, and is based on a popular Japanese manga strip from 1980, which follows a couple of high school kids who try to save their school from getting demolished in order to make room for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Two recent movies that were barely released earlier this summer are now out as well.

“Arthur Newman” is a the name of a film directed by Dante Ariola and is also the protagonist played by Colin Firth. Newman is a middle-aged man who fakes his own death and assumes a new identity as he tries escape his life and winds up meeting a woman (Emily Blunt) who is also working to put her life behind her.

“The English Teacher” is a dramedy that’s been available on VOD for a while now. It stars Julianne Moore as, well, an English teacher whose life is disrupted when a former student revisits her small town after failing at being a playwright. It also stars: Greg Kinnear, Michael Angarano, Nathan Lane and Lilly Collins.

I highly recommend “Stories We Tell” a fascinating and creative documentary directed by Oscar®-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley. it’s a film about truth and how it all depends on who’s telling it. Polley serves as both filmmaker and detective as she investigates her own family, a family of storytellers.  Like everyone’s family, there is dysfunction and secrets and there are all kinds of sides to each. Through playfully interviews, Polley interrogates a cast of family members and friends of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. As each relates their version of her family’s story, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. “Stories We Tell” explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story.

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since Harrison Ford’s last great movie? Well, believe it. To celebrate, Warner Bros. is releasing a special 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of “The Fugitive”. This August 1993 release was the perfect combo of summer action and fine characterization with a phenomenal cast (earning Tommy Lee Jones a Best Supporting Actor win) and impeccable action sequences.  Some of the same Special Features can be found here, but there’s also a documentary called “The Thrill of the Chase” which touches on the importance of the memorable score by composer James Newton Howard.

Since Halloween is nearing, studios are starting to release repacked “classics” and holdovers from the past year that pertain specifically to the spooky fun holiday. For recent releases, look no further than Rob Zombies latest “The Lords of Salem” from last year. It takes place in Salem, Massachusetts and may or may not have something to do with the town’s violent past. It stars Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie (a staple in all his movies) and has quite an array of veteran horror/sci-fi talent: Bruce Davison, Maria Conchita Alonso, Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn, Ken Feore, Sid Haig and the ultra-creepy Meg Foster. Josh Schwartz’s “Fun Size” , starring also came out last year and like the deceptive tiny candy marketing term, it left most viewers wishing for something more substantial. It’s a story that takes place on Halloween, containing tweens and teens and kind of falls in the subgenre of babysitter adventuring. I only know a couple of folks who’ve seen it and they weren’t necessarily suggesting I rush to catch it.

Also out this week is 1971’s “A Bag of Blood”, helmed by Italian director Mario Bava (along with Lucio Fulci), known for his strong contribution to giallo, a term for the Italian horror genre of the 20th Century. Bava’s horror films could be compared to the beat-up, yellowed dime store novels you can find on the spinner rack at a used book store. “A Bag of Blood” consists of a bunch of teenagers, a murder spree and the fortune of a murdered heiress.

Image Entertainment hopes to entice you with three Blu-rays that contain two horror films. One includes the 1985 cult classic “Re-Animator” starring Jeffrey Combs as a scientist who uses a green goo to bring dead tissue back to live. When he experiments on people, the results are eventually out of his control.  That disc also includes Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” from 1977, which was remade in 2006. It’s about on a road trip through California, whose car breaks down in an area closed off to the public – as it turns out, for a very good reason since it’s inhabited by violent savages. The same studio also combines the first two “Hellraiser” movies into a Blu-ray twofer as well as a Stephen King double feature of “Children of the Corn” and “Sleepwalkers”. Not the best of King’s adaptations, but certainly the best of the “Children of the Corn” movies – not that that’s saying much.

There’s also a full set of “Final Destination” movies for Blu-ray completists of that particular franchise. But, how about a movie lies somewhere between “I can’t believe this was made” and “It was only a matter of time”? That’s what I’d call “Cockneys vs. Zombies” which has an elderly Honor Blackman (known for playing Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger”) mowing down zombies with a machine gun.  I’ve haven’t seen it yet, but “oh my”.

Now, can you call “Sharnado”, a sci-fi channel movie starring Tara Reid, Ian Ziering and John Heard, a horror movie? That’d be pushing it. I really have no clue why this movie created such a twitter-flurry over the summer. I guess folks had no idea that the sci-fi channel has been making these inane schlocky movies with has-been stars for some time now. Or is it the gimmick of mixing killer animals with deadly weather conditions too good to pass up? I don’t have an answer for such questions and I’m fine with that.


    • 4 Frightful Films Collection: Re-animator/ Hills Have Eyes/ Darkness Falls/ Sleepwalkers (DVD)
    • 5 Dolls for an August Moon: Remastered Edition (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls (Blu-ray)
    • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Blu-ray)
    • Ancient Aliens: Season 5 – Volume 1 (DVD)
    • Arthur Newman (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Bay of Blood: Kino Classics Remastered Edition (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film DVD Collections: Thrillers! (DVD)
    • Blancanieves (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Cockneys vs. Zombies (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Creepshow 2 (Blu-ray)
    • Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest (DVD)
    • Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete First Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story/The Eastwood Factor: Extended Version (DVD)
    • Empire State (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • From Up on Poppy Hill (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • The Fugitive: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
    • Haven: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
    • Horror Classics Double Feature: Children of the Corn/Sleepwalkers (Blu-ray)
    • Horror Classics Double Feature: Re-Animator/The Hills Have Eyes (Blu-ray)
    • The Iceman (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Idle Hands (Blu-ray)
    • Jesse Stone: The Complete Set (DVD)
    • The Lords of Salem (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • MLB 25: Greatest Postseason Home Runs (DVD)
    • Movies 4 You – Sci Fi Classics (DVD)
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
    • Now You See Me (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • The Office: Season Nine (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Parks and Recreation: Season Five (DVD)
    • Petunia (DVD)
    • Regular Show – Fright Pack 4 (DVD)
    • Revolution: The Complete First Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Scandal: The Complete Second Season (DVD)
    • Sharknado (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • The Shield: The Complete Series (DVD)(DVD)
    • Sinbad: The Complete First Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Slightly Single in LA (DVD)
    • Spartacus: War of the Damned – The Complete Third Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Stories We Tell (DVD)
    • The Stranger Within (DVD)
    • The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)
    • The Vampire Dairies: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
    • Violeta Went to Heaven (DVD)






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