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This Week on DVD & Blu-ray (10/22/13)

October 22, 2013
Two of the best films of the year come out on DVD & Blu-ray this week and one of the most disappointing. “Before Midnight” and “The Way Way Back” are the two I highly recommend, while “Only God Forgives”, Nicholas Winding Refn’s follow-up to “Drive”, is an unforgiving pretentious bore.  I would be so bold to say though that writer/director Richard Linklater has made the best trilogy ever with “Before Midnight” – of the independent category, at least (although, off-hand, I can’t say there are that many). Unlike the wretched “This is 40”, here is a film that accurately depicts the reality of marriage in that age-range. The doubts, the frustrations, the arguments and the friendship and love – it’s all there and it feels authentic and right. So does “The Way Way Back”, from writers and directors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (co-writers of “The Descendants”) but in a more deliberate comedic manner (albeit with some uncomfortably biting and poignant moments) providing a summer movie that should be treasured along with the few other classics in the overlooked subgenre.  It’s another indie film that gets its characters right, cast with a superb ensemble cast with a Oscar-worthy turn from Sam Rockwell.  What else is out this week?
Well, it’s kinda slim, but the other recent film worthy of your time (that is, if you’re not too much of a scaredy cat), is “The Conjuring” directed by James Wan (“Saw” and “Death Sentence”). It’s not the most original take on another subgenre, the haunted house, but it Wan does some very creepy and unsettling tricks with camera angles and sound design that it easily deserves viewing (especially with Halloween around the corner). The film boasts some fine performances by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston and, especially, Lili Taylor.
Also out this week are two comedies that came and went – “The Internship”, proving that the pairing of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn does not guarantee a hit anymore and “I Give It a Year”, about a newlywed couple approaching their year anniversary, which is the directorial debut of Dan Mazer (writer of “Borat” and “Bruno”).
Criterion’s two releases this week are also notable. First off, there’s “John Cassavettes: Five Films” which includes “Shadows”, “Faces”, “A Woman Under the Influence”, “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” and “Opening Night”, perfect for anyone new to the director or for cinefiles who are looking to fill an omission in their collection.  Secondly, 1944’s “The Uninvited” which follows a  pair of siblings (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) from London who purchase a surprisingly affordable, lonely cliff-top house in Cornwall, only to discover that it’s haunted with a bizarre romantic twist as well.  Directed by Lewis Allen (“Suddenly”), the film was groundbreaking for the seriousness in which it treated the subgenre and it remains an elegant and eerie experience, featuring a classic score by Victor Young (“Written on the Wind”). A tragic family past, a mysteriously locked room, cold chills, bumps in the nigh – what else could you want on a cool fall evening?
That’s it for this week! Previous reviews are highlighted below. Enjoy the Rundown!
  • Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Before Midnight (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Conjuring (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Dead in Tombstone (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • I Give It a Year (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Internship (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • John Cassavetes: Five Films (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • Just Like a Woman (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Kindred: The Embraced – Complete Series (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Nikita: The Complete Third Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • OKA! (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Only God Forgives (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Storm Rider (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Uninvited (Criterion Collection) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Vincent Price Collection (Blu-ray)
  • The Way, Way Back (DVD/Blu-ray)
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