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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 1.25.11)

This week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases caters to people with various tastes. There are action, thrillers, real life dramas, horror, some surreal art-house films and bio-pics and since the Academy Awards are coming up a number of this weeks re-releases are award winning films.

First Releases
RED (DVD and Blu-ray)
Saw: The Final Chapter (DVD and Blu-ray)
Secretariat (DVD and Blu-ray)
Nowhere Boy (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (DVD and Blu-ray)
Enter the Void (DVD and Blu-ray)
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
Broadcast News (DVD and Blu-ray)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Blu-ray)
A Beautiful Mind (Blu-ray)
The Color Purple (Blu-ray)
Malcolm X (Blu-ray)
AKA Tommy Chong (DVD)

RED (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
There have been a number of films featuring older action heroes in recent years, Live Free or Die Hard, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Rambo are a few examples which RED joins. RED is also the fourth 2010 film about American action teams linked to the CIA, the others being The Losers, The A-Team and The Expendables. Loosely based on a graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, Summit Pictures recruited Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveller’s Wife) to direct and an all-star cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds), Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban (Star Trek), Brian Cox and Richard Dreyfuss.

Frank Moses (Willis) is a retired CIA agent who is not enjoying his life. He speaks to call-center worker Sarah (Parker) as his only form of companionship in the world. But after a wet-team attempts to kill Frank, he has to save Sarah and join up with his old team to find out who wants to kill and why in a entertaining film that mixes action and comedy.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 70% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted and extended scenes; Access: Red – cast insights; CIA exposed; Audio commentary with retired CIA field officer Robert Baer

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Immersive 6-part interactive feature including pop up trivia, videos, interviews and more

Additional Blu-ray Special Edition Features: Animated documentary shorts on controversial CIA operations

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $17.99 (Blu-ray), $23.99 (Blu-ray Special Edition)

Score (DVDTalk.com): 
Content: 3 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 3 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Saw: The Final Chapter (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Saw series has been one of the most prolific horror series with seven films in seven years. With low such low budgets, they were easy profit for Lionsgate and started a new horror genre, torture porn, or gorno. But after Paranormal Activity stole its thunder, the Saw series has come to an end. Kevin Greutert was forced to direct his second film when Lionsgate evoked a clause in his contract preventing him from directing Paranormal Activity 2. Tobin Bell of course returns as Jigsaw, with Costas Mandylor and Betsy Russell coming back for their fifth Saw film and Cary Elwes returning from the original Saw whilst Sean Patrick Flanery (The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones) is a newcomer to the series.

On his path of death and destruction, Jigsaw (Bell) has left some survivors over the years and as you guess, they are a tiny bit traumatized. A group of survivors turn to Bobby Dagen (Flanery), a self-help guru and author who claimed to have survived Jigsaw’s terror for help. But Jigsaw has to act out one last wave of sadistic glee he has to act out on.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 11% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 4.3/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Producers’ Audio Commentary ; Writer’s Audio Commentary; Deleted and Extended Scenes; Music Videos; Theatrical Trailer; ; Closed Caption

Additional Blu-ray Features: “52 ways to die” – recounting the traps from the Saw films; Lionsgate live

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray), $24.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Secretariat (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Where would the world be without Disney sports films, stories of underdogs overcoming the odds against to win or at least walk away with pride aimed to inspirer us. Disney has turned to the world of horse racing, focusing on the story of Secretariat, an underdog horse who won the Triple Crown. Mike Rich, a veteran of writing sports films, who was credited for the script for The Rookie and did uncredited work for Miracle and Invincble, took on the writing duties. Randall Wallace (We Were Soldiers) directs his first film not based on one of his own scripts. Diane Lane stars, thinking she has found her Blind Side and is joined by John Malkovich, James Cromwell and Scott Glenn (Silence of the Lambs).

Penny Chenery (Lane) is a typical housewife who inherits her father’s stables after his death. The stables are losing money, but instead of selling the land, she is determined to make it work. When a special horse is born she plans to make him into a champion and recruits an eccentric trainer name Lucien Laurin (Malkovich) to help her. However, to save the stables her horse needs to do the impossible.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 63% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 4.6/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Heart Of A Champion – This feature takes a look at one of the most famous thoroughbred horses ever known; Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary By Director Randall Wallace:; Director Introduction; Memories ; Seth Joins The Team ; Too Soon To Celebrate; Music Video – AJ Michalka “It’s Who You Are”

Additional Blu-ray Features: Disc 1 – Blu-ray Feature Film + Bonus; ; Choreographing The Races – Discover How The Filmmakers Used Innovative Technology to Re-Create Breathtaking Races From Days Gone By; ; A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation With The Real Penny Chenery – Randall Wallace Sits Down With Secretariat’s Owner As She Shares Astonishing True Stories; ; Secretariat Multi-Angle Simulation – Relive Secretariat’s Triumphant 1973 Preakness Run From Numerous Perspectives ; ; 4 Additional Deleted Scenes; ; Disc 2 – DVD Feature Film + Bonus; ; Heart Of A Champion – An Inside Look At Secretariat, One Of The Most Famous Thoroughbred Horses Ever Known; ; 3 Deleted Scenes; Music Videos – AJ Michalka “It’s Who You Are”

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $22.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Nowhere Boy (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Beatles are one of the greatest bands ever and Nowhere Boy tackles the subject of John Lennon’s traumatic teenage years. Based on the memoirs of Julia Baird, Matt Greenhalgh (Control) adapts it for artist Sam Taylor-Wood, directing her first film. A great British cast was recruited for this film: Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass and now Taylor-Wood’s fiancé), Anne-Marie Duff (The Magdalene Sisters), Kristin Scott Thomas and Thomas Sangster (Bright Star, Love Actually).

In the 1950s John Lennon (Johnson) was in the middle of a family drama and torn between two women. There was his aunt, Mimi (Scott Thomas), who raised him as her son and his birth mother Julia (Duff) who he wants to reconnect with. Julia teaches John the banjo and gets him into rock-and-roll but can not meet his emotional needs as his two mothers crash. As this is going on, John also meets a certain like-minded man, Paul McCarthy (Sangster).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 79% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes; The Making of Nowhere Boy Featurette; Nowhere Boy: The Untold Story of John Lennon and the Creation of The Beatles Featurette

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 2 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The third and final part of the Swedish version of the “Millennium Trilogy” is coming to DVD and Blu-ray. The novels by Stieg Larsson were a worldwide sensation and the film adaptations have been a boost to the Swedish film industry internationally. Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist reprise their roles for the final time and director Daniel Alfredson makes his second film in the series.

Set soon after the events of The Girl Who Played with Fire, hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) go on one more investigation. This time they have to investigate a dark, secretive section of the Swedish government, which will lead to Salander and Blomkvist to serious danger. All this goes on as Salander has to explore her dark past and awaits trial for attempted murder.

For those who can’t stand subtitles, the first of these novels is being turned into an English language film by “The Social Network” director David Fincher.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 52% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Enter the Void (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
In 2002, French director Gasper Noé made the controversial Irréversible, a film that was loved and loathed in equal measure. Now he has returned with Enter the Void, which has also divided critics. 

Newcomer Nathaniel Brown and Paz de la Huerta (Broadwalk Empire) star in a film set in a hellish version of Tokyo. Oscar (Brown) and Linda (de la Huerta) are brother and sister in a world of violence and crime. Oscar is a drug dealer and Linda is a stripper. But after a crime goes wrong, Oscar has to reflect on his life.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 71% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Teasers; Trailers; US Trailer; Unused Trailers; VFX; Vortex; DMT; Posters

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
If fictional drama or comedy is not your thing, then a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) may be the film for you. ‘Client 9″ is an examination of Eliot Spitzer, the former District Attorney and Governor of New York. His political career saw him tackle major white collar crime on Wall Street and was seen as a risiting star for the Democratic party, but it was all thrown away when he was caught in a prostitution scandal in 2008.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; Commentary with Writer/Director Alex Gibney; Interview with Writer/Director Alex Gibney; Additional Interviews; Deleted Scenes; HDNet: A Look at Client 9

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 4.5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Broadcast News (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
James L. Brooks is considered a comedy great, working as a writer, director and producer. His credits include Terms of Endearment (which earned him an Oscar), As Good as it Gets and he also worked as a producer on The Simpsons. Broadcast News is one based on his experience as a broadcast journalist. William Hurt, Albert Brooks (The Simpsons Movie) and Holly Hunter star in a film that some consider a comedy classic that earn seven Academy Award nods.

Jane Craig (Hunter) is a news producer thrown into the middle of a romantic and professional conflict. She falls for Tom Grunick (Hunt), a good-looking news anchor who represents everything she hates about the changing nature of journalism from hard news to “infotainment.” A talented reporter, Aaron Altman (Brooks), harbours feeling for Jane, but she does not feel the same.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 97% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Disc One: ; New Audio Commentary Featuring Brooks and Marks; Original Theatrical Trailer; ; Disc Two: James L. Brooks – A Singular Voice, a new Documentary on Brooks’s career in television and film, featuring Actresses Marilu Henner and Julie Kavner, among other collaborators; Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes, with Commentary by Brooks; New Video Interview with Veteran CBS News Producer Susan Zirinsky, one of the mondel for Actress Holly Hunter’s character and an Associate Producer on the film; Featurette containing on-set footage and Interviews with Brooks, Hunter, and Actor Albert Brooks; ; Plus: a Booklet Featuring an Essay by Film Critic Carrie Rickey

Amazon Price: $21.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a great example of a cult film, one beloved by a large number of film fans. Music Video director Michel Gondry (The Green Hornet) and writer Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) worked together on the film. Jimmy Carrey (in serious mode) and Kate Winslet star together and are supported by stars like Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson.

Joel (Carrey), an emotionally withdrawn man and a free-spirit, Clementine (Winslet),are totally different but together in a relationship. When their relationship goes sour, Clementine has her memory erased. Joel goes through the same procedure, but through the process he goes through a journey of the mind and looks at his relationship with his former love.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.3/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $17.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

A Beautiful Mind (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
To me, Ron Howard is a great example of a hit-or-miss director: for ever film like Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon he counter balances with the likes of The Da Vinci Code and Far and Away. A Beautiful Mind is one of his bestfilms, earning eight Oscar nods and winning four, but some critics now consider it overrated. Russell Crowe leads the cast featuring the wonderful Jennifer Connelly (winning an Oscar for best Supporting Actress), Paul Bettany and Ed Harris, working with a script by Akiva Goldsman (A Time to Kill, Batman and Robin).

A Beautiful Mind is a bio-pic about John Nash (Crowe), the famous mathematician who created Game Theory. Howard’s film tells his struggle as a graduate student wanting to come up with an original idea, his relationship with his wife Alicia (Connelly), his work as a codebreaker against the Soviet Union and his battle against mental illness.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 78% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Color Purple (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Alice Walker’s original novel is considered a great piece of work, winning the Puiltizer Prize in 1983. It was quickly turned into a film directed by Steven Spielberg, a big step for him at the time because he was known then for making summer blockbusters. For this thematic film, Spielberg brought in a cast lead by Whoopi Goldberg and supported by Danny Glover, Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfery. The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Oscars but did not win a single award.

Set in the rural Deep South, Celie Harris (Goldberg) is a beaten down young woman. She has been raped by her father and gave birth to his children. She is forced to marry a vile man (Danny Glover), but with the help of two women, Shug (Avery) and Sofia (Winfery), she learns to stand up for herself and become her own woman.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Conversations with the Ancestors: The Color Purple from Book to Screen; A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple; The Color Purple: The Musical Cultivating a Classic: The Making of The Color Purple; Behind-the-Scenes and Cast-Focused Featurette Galleries; Theatrical Trailers

Amazon Price: $23.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Malcolm X (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Malcolm X is of course an important historical figure for the Civil Rights Movement. He was a man who offered an alternative view to Martin Luther King Jr. In 1992, Spike Lee adapted his autobiography with the great Denzel Washington as the Civil Rights leader.

Malcolm X is a three-hour epic, telling how the man turned from a petty criminal to joining the Nation of Islam whilst in prison, and his rise as a Civil Rights figure, spreading his controversial ideas of Black Nationalism. Malcolm X is a respected film which was preserved by the Library of Congress in 2010 and highly rated by Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Commentary by Spike Lee, Director of Photography Ernest Dickerson, Editor Barry Alexander Brown and Costume Designer Ruth Carter; Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Spike Lee; Featurette By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X

Amazon Price: $23.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

AKA Tommy Chong (DVD)

What’s the Deal?
Last but not least is the 2008 documentary about Tommy Chong, one half of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong. Director Josh Gilbert follows Tommy Chong from his arrest in 2003 for selling drug paraphernalia and consequent prison sentence. He was a critic of George W. Bush’s handling of the War of Terror and used all this in his comedy routine and questions the conduct of the FBI’s anti-drugs operations.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 71% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $13.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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