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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 11.15.11)

Hong Kong is a great city, if a little manic. It is also the setting our Recommendation of the Week, the crime thriller Infernal Affairs. Intelligently written, this movie is a must have for fans of crime fiction and world cinema and was the basis for The Departed.

First Releases
Larry Crowne (DVD and Blu-ray)
Beginners (DVD and Blu-ray)
Main Street (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
Three Colors Trilogy (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Rules of the Game (DVD and Blu-ray)
Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis (DVD and Blu-ray)
West Side Story (Blu-ray)
My Fair Lady (Blu-ray)
Evil Dead 2 (Blu-ray)
Infernal Affairs (Blu-ray)
Spy Kids Triple Feature (Blu-ray)

Infernal Affairs (Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

What’s the Deal?
The 2006 movie The Departed finally earned Martin Scorsese a long overdue Oscar, but it was a remake of an excellent thriller from Hong Kong, Infernal Affairs. Directors/stars Andrew Lau and Alan Mak were influenced by Hollywood thrillers when making Infernal Affairs and it shows.

In the battle between the police and the Triads in Hong Kong, both organizations place moles to gather intelligence. Chan Wing Yan (Leung) is an undercover officer in the Triads, led by Hon Sam (Eric Tsang). Sam was able to place a mole of his own in the police, Inspector Lau Kin Ming (Lau). As the two young men’s worlds collide they are assigned the mission to expose the mole in the rival organization.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 95% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.7/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4 stars, Video 2 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 1 stars, Replay 3 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

We sadly have little to report on first releases this week, the only major movies being Tom Hanks’ comedy flop Larry Crowne and the indie dramedy Beginners. But there are plenty of re-releases to entertain you, including the musicals West Side Story and My Fair Lady, the art house movies The Three Colors Trilogy and The Rules of the Game and the horror-comedy Evil Dead 2.

Larry Crowne (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Larry Crowne was a passion project for Tom Hanks: he stars, directs, produces and co-wrote with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Hanks also got his friend Julia Roberts to co-star, but unfortunately reviews were mixed to poor and we at Player Affinity were not fans.

Larry Crowne (Hanks) is a nice guy who is fired from his job after his company downsizes. Larry decides to go back to college and reinvent himself. On the way, he befriends a wide range of students and falls for his jaded public speaking teacher, Mercedes (Roberts).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 34% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 4.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 2 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 1 stars, Replay 1.5 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Beginners (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The indie comedy-drama Beginners by Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) was a critical hit and stars Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) and Goran Visnjic (ER).

Told in flashbacks, Oliver (McGregor) is a man who, after his father’s (Plummer) death, meets Anna (Laurent) and as their romance blooms, Oliver thinks back to his father’s revelations that he was gay.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 84% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Main Street (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Main Street boasts an impressive cast, including the likes of Colin Firth, Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream), Patricia Clarkson and Orlando Bloom and had experienced playwright Horton Foote writing the screenplay, and it still ends up as a straight-to-DVD release.

Serving as John Doyle’s directional debut, Main Street tells the story a close knit community in a small North Carolina city whose lives are changed when they unite to save a decaying town.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 13% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $18.99 (DVD), $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Three Colors Trilogy (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Three Colors Trilogy is considered one of the great movie trilogy, certainly within art-house communities. Directed by Krzsztof Kieslowski (The Double Life of Veronique), two of the movies are in French and one in Polish. Each movie is based on a color of the French and tackles a theme, like liberty, equality and fraternity.

Blue
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: N/A

White
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

Red
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 98% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New high-definition digital restorations, with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray editions; Three cinema lessons with director Krzysztof Kieślowski; New interviews with composer Zbigniew Preisner; writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz; and actors Julie Delpy, Zbigniew Zamachowski, and Irène Jacob; Selected-scene commentary for Blue with actress Juliette Binoche; Three new video essays, by film writers Annette Insdorf, Tony Rayns, and Dennis Lim; Kieślowski’s student short The Tram (1966) and his fellow student’s short from the same year The Face, which features Kieślowski in a solo performance; Two short documentaries by Kieślowski: Seven Women of Different Ages (1978) and Talking Heads (1980) Krzysztof Kieślowski: I’m So-So . . . (1995), a feature-length documentary in which the filmmaker discusses his life and work; Two multi-interview programs, Reflections on “Blue” and Kieślowski: The Early Years, with film critic Geoff Andrew, Binoche, filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, cinematographer Sławomir Idziak, Insdorf, Jacob, and editor Jacques Witta; Interviews with producer Marin Karmitz and Witta; Behind-the-scenes programs for White and Red, and Kieślowski Cannes 1994, a short documentary on Red’s world premiere; Original theatrical trailers; New and improved English subtitle translations; PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Colin MacCabe, Nick James, Stuart Klawans, and Georgina Evans, an excerpt from Kieślowski on Kieślowski, and reprinted interviews with cinematographers Sławomir Idziak, Edward Klosinski, and Piotr Sobocinski

Amazon Price: $41.99 (DVD), $55.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Rules of the Game (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The French movie The Rules of the Game is considered one greatest French movies ever made, having an 8.1 rating out of 10 on IMDB, ranked the third best movie ever made by international critics in Sight & Sound in 2002 and ranked the best 13 International Film in Empire poll of World Cinema in 2010.

Directed and co-written by Jean Renior (La Grande Illusion), The Rules of the Game is a satire on high society in France before World War II and their affairs the upper classes have in microcosm of a country estate.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 97% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: High-definition digital restoration; Introduction to the film by director Jean Renoir; Audio commentary written by film scholar Alexander Sesonske and read by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich; Comparison of the film’s two endings; Olivier Curchod Presents “The Rules of the Game,” a 2005 documentary comparing today’s 106-minute edit with Renoir’s original script; Scene analysis by Renoir historian Chris Faulkner; Excerpts from Jean Renoir, le patron: La règle et l’exception (1966), a French television program by filmmaker Jacques Rivette; Part one of Jean Renoir, a two-part 1993 BBC documentary by film critic David Thompson; Video essay about the film’s production, release, and 1959 reconstruction; 1965 interview from the French television series Les écrans de la ville in which Jean Gaborit and Jacques Durand discuss their reconstruction and rerelease of the film; Interviews with set designer Max Douy; Renoir’s son, Alain; and actress Mila Parély; PLUS: A booklet featuring writings by Jean Renoir, François Truffaut, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Bertrand Tavernier; an essay by Sesonske; and tributes to the film and Renoir by J. Hoberman, Kent Jones, Paul Schrader, Wim Wenders, Robert Altman, and others

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is considered one of the greatest sci-fi movies and certainly one of the best silent movies ever. But because of the age of the movie Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder was asked to resort Metropolis. But Moroder took the controversial step of replacing the classical score with a pop soundtrack of contemporary artists and changing the speed to 24 frames per second. And well, the complete cut of Metropolis was re-released last year, but this version does have its fans.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 99% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 3.5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 3 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

West Side Story (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
West Side Story is considered a classic musical and a modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Based on the 1957 Broadway musical, the 1961 movie was adapted by Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest) and directed by the musical’s creator Jerome Robbins and the ever versatile Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Sound of Music) directed a movie that won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

In New York City two gangs roam the streets, the Jets and the Sharks, battling for control. Within the gangs are Maria (Natalie Wood) from the Sharks and Tony (Richard Beymer) from the Jets fall for each other, despite being in rival gangs and different ethnicities.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Disc 1: Pow! The Dances of West Side Story In-Movie; Viewing Mode; Song-Specific Commentary by Stephen Sondheim; Music Machine; Disc 2: A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy; Creation and Innovation; A Timeless Vision; West Side Memories; Storyboard-to-Film Comparison Montage

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

My Fair Lady (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The other musical re-release this week is the 1964 movie My Fair Lady. My Fair Lady provides us with one of Audrey Hepburn’s and Rex Harrison’s most famous roles as Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins.

In Edwardian London the snobbish Professor Higgins accepts a bet from his friend to teach a Cockney flower girl, Eliza how to be a lady and fool everyone she is one.

My Fair Lady has been parodied a number of times and Carrie Mulligan has been linked to a remake.
 
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 94% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Evil Dead 2 (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Evil Dead was a cult hit and is still. Because of this writer-director Sam Raimi made a sequel and it debatable that it is better then the original. Bruce Campbell returns to series as Ash who has to battle the dead once again and his girlfriend who is turned into a Deadite.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 98% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $9.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Spy Kids Triple Feature (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
After Robert Rodriguez became a cult filmmaker and a friend of Quentin Tarantino he became an in demand director, being linked to X-Men, Superman Lives and The Mask of Zorro. But he stayed away and made his own family friendly series, Spy Kids and it became a big hit. Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara star as the spy kids in question, following in their parents footsteps in the world of espionage.

Spy Kids
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 5.5/10

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 75% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 5.0/10

Spy Kids: Game Over
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 44% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 4.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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