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New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon.

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015
New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015The Sentinel (Scream Factory)[1]

Alison Parker (Cristina Raines) is a model living the model life in New York City who s just found the perfect apartment. Sure her new neighbors are a bit eccentric including a talkative old man (Burgess Meredith), a public masturbator (Beverly D Angelo), and a blind priest (John Carradine). Her life begins to crumble when she begins seeing and hearing things that should be impossible, and the closer she and her boyfriend (Chris Sarandon) get to the truth the closer they get to an inevitable fate. This is a rare horror film that uses its religious plot line to explore ideas beyond demonic possessions, and the result is a film that stands apart from the crowd today. It s a good story filled with solid scares, strong visuals, and stellar gore effects (via the legendary Dick Smith), and the cast is pretty ridiculous as in addition to the folks above it also features Ava Gardner, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, and more. As an ex-Catholic I m ashamed to say this was a first-time watch for me as I somehow missed it in the decades since its 1977 release, but Scream Factory s new Blu-ray is a fantastic way to remedy that as it comes with a fantastic picture and a trio of informative, anecdote-filled commentary tracks.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, interview]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015
New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015Breaker Morant (Criterion)[2]

Bruce Beresford is perhaps best known for directing Driving Miss Daisy, a less-than-beloved Best Picture winner for which he wasn t even nominated. But within a career that went from the Australian New Wave to Oscar bait, Beresford directed several masterful critiques of empire that lie in the shadows of his statue-circling blockbuster career in the 80s. As separate releases, Criterion has brought two such films to light that bookend Beresford s move to Hollywood: 1980 s Breaker Morant and 1990 s Mister Johnson, his first film made after Driving Miss Daisy.

Breaker Morant re-creates the true story of Australian officers working for the British army against the Boers, Dutch Speaking settlers in colonial South Africa, brought to trial by their own army for carrying out the empire s brutal orders. This thrilling courtroom drama is much more than a story of wartime innocence lost it s an indictment of the violence at the center of empire-building, for the protagonists crime is merely their expected service as obedient executioner. These films provide subtle, even at times ambivalent portrayals of characters who serve less as agents of their fate and more as tragic, helpless (but never completely innocent) signposts of the violent cost of the British empire. Together, they bring to light the career of a director whose ability to bring individual stories about the affects of systemic, global policy to screen has arguably been regrettably overlooked. Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews with cast, crew, and historians; commentary by Beresford; documentary about the real-life trial; trailer; illustrated booklet with essay.]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015Mister Johnson (Criterion)[3]

Bruce Beresford is perhaps best known for directing Driving Miss Daisy, a less-than-beloved Best Picture winner for which he wasn t even nominated. But within a career that went from the Australian New Wave to Oscar bait, Beresford directed several masterful critiques of empire that lie in the shadows of his statue-circling blockbuster career in the 80s. As separate releases, Criterion has brought two such films to light that bookend Beresford s move to Hollywood: 1980 s Breaker Morant and 1990 s Mister Johnson, his first film made after Driving Miss Daisy.

Mister Johnson is an even more direct critique of the cost of colonialism, as it follows the aspirations of its title character (Maynard Eziashi, manifesting a stunning tightrope balance of tragi-comedy), a colonized Nigerian donning a white colonial suit who longs to become an ideal British subject on his path to an inevitable fate that illustrates why empire s logic mandates that the oppressed never take the place of the oppressor. These films provide subtle, even at times ambivalent portrayals of characters who serve less as agents of their fate and more as tragic, helpless (but never completely innocent) signposts of the violent cost of the British empire. Together, they bring to light the career of a director whose ability to bring individual stories about the affects of systemic, global policy to screen has arguably been regrettably overlooked. Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews with cast and crew; trailer; illustrated booklet with essay]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015Moonrise Kingdom (Criterion)[4]

When Wes Anderson s Moonrise Kingdom made its festival and theatrical debut in May 2012, it was hailed as the live-action comeback for a director who threatened to become his own clich . In the few short years that have passed, and against the accomplished scale of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom surprisingly resonates now as a minor work. But it s the breeziness at the heart of the film that carries its charm, a deft and evenly handled comic touch that bears the briskness of Anderson s Bottle Rocket. It helps that this is a charming entry about young love-on-the-run that resurrects the spirit of the most enjoyable works of the French New Wave, a Pierrot le fou re-framed as a Boy Scout adventure co-starring Bill Murray and Edward Norton.

Criterion has, unsurprisingly, packed this inevitable release with features and decorative Wes Anderson ephemera. But the best feature is something we see all too rare in extras for new releases: an all-star cast and crew commentary. For Anderson fans, this detailed set is a nice step up from Universal s mass-market release. Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary featuring Anderson, Murray, Norton, co-star Jason Schwartzman, and Roman Coppola; storyboard animatics; interviews with cast and crew; making-of documentary; Norton s home movies; other behind-the-scenes footage; trailer; illustrated booklet with essay and Andersonian surprises]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

The American Dreamer[5]

The success of Easy Rider left Dennis Hopper riding high, but it also left him stumbling through the confusion of his own life. This little-seen documentary follows Hopper s musings as he struggles with his follow-up film, The Last Movie, and with his life in general. The pull of fame, drugs, and sex are constants in his new world, and all of them contribute to the questions he poses to himself and those around him. The doc follows Hopper s fractured mentality with scattered editing, odd jumps, and a hazy focus. It s an interesting watch for fans of the actor as it offers a glimpse into a lifestyle and time period we ll never see again. Vinegar Syndrome s new Blu-ray (under their Etiquette Pictures banner) offers a sharp restoration along with a handful of informative extras.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette, photo gallery]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Arrow: Complete Third Season[6]

Oliver Queen s quest to protect Starling City from evildoers keeps him in the Green Arrow s shoes, but as his presence becomes better known the enemies he faces become better prepared. The CW s move toward DC Comics properties now includes three shows, but unlike Gotham this and The Flash find their strength in main characters who most of us know very little about. The supporting players in Batman s past are still familiar, but Arrow s characters are fresh and offer unexpected wonders and story turns. I continue to lean ever so slightly towards Marvel s small-screen adventures, but these shows have another advantage in that they re not competing with a film universe.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries, gag reel, deleted scenes]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Big Sky[7]

Hazel (Bella Thorne) is an agoraphobic teen whose trip to a therapy center turns deadly when the van she s riding in is attacked in the desert. Everyone is left for dead, including her wounded mother (Kyra Sedgewick), leaving Hazel to fend for herself as she s forced to step outside in search of help. The acting is fine here, but the setup is never really fulfilled. Copycat handles the agoraphobia far better, and we re left here with a tease of a condition that fails to generate suspense or drama.

[DVD extras: None]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Chain of Command[8]

James Webster (Michael Jai White) has served his country overseas and has finally returned home, but the violence has followed. His brother is murdered, and soon other ex-soldiers are being killed too, so Webster sets out on one last mission. There are good direct-to-DVD action movies they do exist but this is not one of them. White s strengths have always been his martial arts skills and his sense of humor. This film ignores the latter and never quite lets the former shine thanks to mediocre choreography and editing. The story s turns into conspiracy and corrupt Armyrats © military officers is somewhat typical too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Eaten Alive (Arrow Video)[9]

The Starlight Motel wouldn t be anyone s first choice for a night s accommodations, but for some unlucky travelers it s destined to be their last. Judd runs the place, and together with his assistant manager okay, it s actually a giant crocodile he works hard to prevent himself from ever getting a return customer. Director Tobe Hooper crafts a sleazy, grimy, unsettling atmosphere here, but there really isn t much of a story. The characters aren t much of a help either as they exist solely to die or to be unpleasant survivors. Fans of the film should make this a automatic buy as Arrow has done wonders with the transfer and a host of extras, but it s not a film I d recommend as a blind buy. Hooper s Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a similarly uncomfortable sheen to it, but the narrative and intensity made it compelling stuff. Those traits just aren t here this time though.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews, featurette, booklet, reversible sleeve]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

The Flash: The Complete First Season[10]

A new hero has arrived in Central City, but blink and you ll miss him. Barry Allen is caught in an explosion involving some unstable and highly experimental materials, and the result is his new found ability to move incredibly fast. He decides to use his new skills to fight crime, and in the process he discovers a whole host of villains working non-stop to bring the city to its knees. The CW s newest comic book series based on a DC comic property has a fun sensibility and passable effects, and while it s guaranteed to be far more appealing to actual comic fans there s enough here to hold the attention of superhero fans in general. Like Arrow above, its biggest appeal is that he s a hero with very little exposure meaning there s more to discover.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

The Journey Home[11]

Luke lives near the Arctic circle with his mom (Bridget Moynahan), sister, and small local community, but their usually calm lives are upended when he heads off into the icy tundra on a rescue mission. After finding a polar bear cub that s been separated from its mother he sets out to reunite the pair, but bad weather and bad luck strike risking not only his life but that of the man (Goran Visnjic) sent to rescue him. This adventure tale for teens boasts some beautiful scenery and wildlife photography, but damn is this kid trouble. Good intentions give way to a stream of mistakes, and young viewers will need to be reminded not to emulate this kid s idiocy.

[DVD extras: None]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

The Last Man on Earth: The Complete First Season[12]

Phil Miller (Will Forte) is the last man on Earth, probably. A virus has wiped out humanity, and he s spent the ensuing months wandering the United States collecting valuables and leaving signs pointing other survivors to his new home in Tucson, AZ. His perfect life of solitude is about to be ruined by what he thinks he wants most. This freshman series from the guys behind 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie is a very funny affair at times for fans of shows where the lead is an absolute, irredeemable prick. The laughs grow less frequent towards the season s finish as Phil s behavior crosses too many lines of human decency, but it remains a fun and interesting watch all the same. Much of its strength comes from the supporting cast including Kristen Schaal and January Jones.

[DVD extras: Commentaries, featurette, Q&A, deleted scenes, gag reel]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

The Man Who Could Cheat Death (UK)

Dr. Georges Bonnet is a young man who s found success both in his career and as an artist. He s also found a secret to staying young. Once every decade he kills a woman and swaps out her parathyroid gland for his own, but now, after a century of life, he s run into a problem. This Hammer Films classic lacks the traditional monster-type as there are no vampires or witches here, but Bonnet s behavior and physical deterioration are monstrous enough. A young Christopher Lee co-stars as a surgeon who gets roped into Bonnet s scheme, and it s a rare treat to see him playing against the villain. It s ultimately a simple tale, but an appealing cast, attractive photography, and a race against time make for an engaging thriller.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, booklet]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Nightmare Weekend[13]

A not-so mad scientist has invented a computer system that shoots marbles into people to turn them into raving psychotics, but that was never his intention. Instead it s his greedy assistant who orchestrates a test weekend that sees a handful of horny young adults turned into murderous tools. This mid- 80s oddity features plenty of gory bits and T&A, but if that s not enough for you there s also a puppet named George who lives in a dresser and has a psychic connection with the scientist s daughter. I think. It s a ridiculous film from beginning to end, but it s never dull. I won t pretend to fully understand it, but it has elements of films as diverse as Blue Sunshine, Phantasm, and Electric Dreams. And a puppet.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, alternate edits]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2[14]

The Barden Bellas approaching graduation, but after an embarrassing performance leaves audiences scarred for life the group s reputation hangs by a thread. Their only shot at redemption is the a capella world championships something the United States has never won but they ll need to work together as a team if they want to come out on top. Elizabeth Banks directs this time around, and I m really happy for the film s success for that reason. Unfortunately it s just not funny. They repeat a lot of gags, too many jokes fall flat, and I don t accept that anyone would think the Bellas actually beat Das Sound Machine in the championship. That German performance is fantastic!

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Performances, featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

The Red Road: The Complete Second Season[15]

The world keeps moving, but mankind s troubles and inability to get along with each other remains. A Native American tribe in residence near a small Midwestern town finds themselves constantly in conflict as elements of both communities continue to cause trouble. This Sundance Channel series finds real drama in its unusual premise and draws a strong performance from Jason Momoa along the way. It descends into violence more often than is probably necessary, but the characters create a compelling backdrop that makes even the non-violent moments dramatically engaging.

[DVD extras: Featurettes]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Results[16]

Trevor (Guy Pearce) runs an exercise gym that he s hoping to move into the big leagues, and Kat (Cobie Smulders) is one of his top trainers. They re also ex-lovers unsure how strict they want to be about the ex part. Danny (Kevin Corrigan) meanwhile is wealthy, recently divorced, and hoping to improve himself, but when he joins Trevor s gym he quickly becomes infatuated with his trainer, Kat. There s a lot to enjoy here as all three leads deliver fun, playful work, but there s a real lack of cohesion between the two story lines. They feel at times like two different movies, and that contributes to the film s seeming difficulty in ending meaning it ends three or four times. Ultimately the movie s worth watching for the cast alone as Corrigan and Smulders shine with their usual comedic chops and Pearce proves he s equally up for the task.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, interviews]

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

New DVD Releases: September 22nd, 2015

Alleluia
Bleading Lady
Drive-In Collection: On Her Bed of Roses & The Incredible Sex Revolution
In the Name of My Daughter
Peekarama: Lust Inferno & Marathon
Peekarama: Sexually Liberated Shemale & He and She
Ride
Saint Laurent

References

  1. ^ The Sentinel (Scream Factory) (www.amazon.com)
  2. ^ Breaker Morant (Criterion) (www.amazon.com)
  3. ^ Mister Johnson (Criterion) (www.amazon.com)
  4. ^ Moonrise Kingdom (Criterion) (www.amazon.com)
  5. ^ The American Dreamer (www.amazon.com)
  6. ^ Arrow: Complete Third Season (www.amazon.com)
  7. ^ Big Sky (www.amazon.com)
  8. ^ Chain of Command (www.amazon.com)
  9. ^ Eaten Alive (Arrow Video) (www.amazon.com)
  10. ^ The Flash: The Complete First Season (www.amazon.com)
  11. ^ The Journey Home (www.amazon.com)
  12. ^ The Last Man on Earth: The Complete First Season (www.amazon.com)
  13. ^ Nightmare Weekend (www.amazon.com)
  14. ^ Pitch Perfect 2 (www.amazon.com)
  15. ^ The Red Road: The Complete Second Season (www.amazon.com)
  16. ^ Results (www.amazon.com)

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