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This Week on DVD & Blu-ray (09-17-13)

September 17, 2013


This week, some of the better movies from this summer are now available on DVD & Blu-ray. Two of them, “The Bling Ring” and “The East” suffered from a limited release run and therefore probably didn’t receive the audience they should’ve and then there’s “World War Z” which surprised most by being better than all the maligned word-of mouth it had before it’s run in theaters. Director Marc Forster’s (“Quantum of Solace”) loose adaptation of Max Brook’s fictional historical account of a future where governments, scientists and medical specialists must deal with a global zombie attack (technically, the victims are moreso “infected”, rather than the “undead”)  is one of the those books that seemed not meant to be adapted for the big screen – if anything, maybe a television series. But despite the movie’s controversial production – going over-budget, plowing through several screenwriters and the studio insisting on a PG-13 rating – the movie wound up being quite a nail-biter. Just don’t expect a straight-up zombie movie from the movie as it’s more of a mysterious procedural than a gory horror fest, even though there are some terrifying sequences.

“The Bling Ring” is the latest film from Oscar-nominated writer/director Sofia Coppola. It has quite an interesting premise in that it’s based on actual events and could almost be considered a docudrama. The film follows  a group of Southern California teenagers who were apprehended for robbing the mansions of several celebrities (like Orlando Bloom, Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan) and getting high off the thrill of it.  What is also quite interesting is that none of these girls were considering low-income or poor, their families were actually quite affluent in their own right. So, are they just spoiled rich kids looking for some kicks or is there something more going on with these girls? The film stars Emma Watson (who’s doing well and playing against Hermione),  Taissa Farmiga (younger sister of Vera), Claire Julian (daughter of cinematographer Wally Pfister), Winnetka, Illinois native Katie Chang and one of the only boys in the Ring, played by Israel Broussard. I’m looking forward to checking this out for myself and coming up with my own conclusions.

Zal Batmanglij’s “The East” is a  suspense thriller that reteams the writer/director with actress and co-writer Brit Marling. Marling plays a character working for a private investigative group, assigned to look into The East, an underground activist group known for its covert attacks on major corporations. She begins to re-examine her priorities the more she finds out about both the activist group and the corporations they target. It also stars Patricia Clarkson, Jason Ritter, Shiloh Fernandez, Julia Ormond, Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page. I’ve heard good things about it and will definitely be catching up with it.

A movie I did recently catch up with is the latest (and possibly last) feature from director Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra”, a drama which adapts Scott Thorson’s 1988 novel (of the same name) that covers his affair with pianist Liberace as well as the flamboyant performers last ten years. The big draw for me was Matt Damon as Thorson and Michael Douglas as Liberace and these two deliver some great work, but there’s also some standout supporting performances by the likes of Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Debbie Reynolds and Scott Bakula. While the movie doesn’t provide anything completely compelling or original in the bio-pic genre, there is an inherent creepy feel about it that warrants a recommendation. Boosted by a screenplay from Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King”) and a score by the late Marvin Hamlish, “Behind the Candelabra” never made it to theaters as it was deemed “too gay” for audiences and was instead released on HBO earlier this summer.

Criterion is releasing Richard Linklater’s classic dramedy “Slacker” on Blu-ray. The writer/producer/director’s breakthrough indie film meanders from character to character in early 90s Austin, Texas. The random youths discuss life, love, death and everything else, as the camera is used as an observer with Linklater becoming focused on discussion, language and words, rather than a linear plotline. It’s one of the most interesting examinations of American youth in the 90s and, while it may be dated, it is so in the most positive and fascinating ways possible.

As expected, more horror films are getting released in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Besides “World War Z”,  a classic George Romero zombie film, 1985’s “Day of the Dead”, is getting the Scream Factory treatment on Blu-ray. Romero redefined the modern horror genre with “Night of the Living Dead” and each zombie flick he made (there was also 1979’s “Dawn of the Dead”) would offer a specific social commentary.  Set in Florida, the third in his zombie trilogy, has more of a sci-fi feel to it, with humanity’s survivors taking refuge in a bunker in an underground missile silo in the  Everglades. Among them are a scientist who’s trying to reverse the zombie plague and a psychotic psychiatrist who wants to capture the undead and turn them into indentured servants. Like their previous releases, Scream Factory is sure to make the HD transfer worthy of a purchase.

If none of that floats your boat, then take a peak at the trailers below….

That’s all for now. Previous reviews are highlighted below. Enjoy the Rundown!

  • Aberration (DVD)
  • Adventure Time: Jake the Dad (DVD)
  • A Letter to Three Wives: 65th Anniversary (Blu-ray)
  • Arrow: The Complete First Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Augustine (DVD)
  • Bates Motel: Season One (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Bless Me, Ultima (DVD)
  • The Bling Ring (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Breakout (DVD)
  • The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (Blu-ray)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The 13th Season (DVD)
  • Day of the Dead (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • The Devil Bat: Kino Classics Remastered Edition (1940)(Blu-ray)
  • Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors (DVD)
  • Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka (DVD)
  • Dracula (1931) (Blu-ray)
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • Drift (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The East (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Easy Rider: The Ride Back
  • Frankenstein (1931) (Blu-ray)
  • Gimme the Loot (DVD)
  • Grimm: Season Two (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Haunting of Helena (DVD)
  • Hidden in the Woods (DVD)
  • The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series (DVD)
  • Java Heat (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Last Tycoon (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Leverage: The Fifth Season
  • The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)
  • Nashville: The Complete First Season (DVD)
  • Peter Gabriel: Live in Athens 1987 (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Scenic Route (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven (DVD)
  • Simon Killer (DVD)
  • Space Junk 3D(Blu-ray)
  • Suddenly (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway the Movie (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Two Men in Manhattan (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Vegas: The DVD Edition
  • The Wolf Man (1941) (Blu-ray)
  • World War Z (DVD/Blu-ray)


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