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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 8.23.11)

This week showcases lower-budget and smaller movies and Player Affinity honors that with our Recommendation of the Week, the comedy hit Swingers. Starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, Swingers is an inexpensive Blu-ray re-release that features documentaries, commentaries and the short film Swingblade.

First Releases
The Beaver (DVD and Blu-ray)
Troll Hunter (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (DVD and Blu-ray)
Henry’s Crime (DVD and Blu-ray)
Blitz (DVD and Blu-ray)
Sympathy for Delicious (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
Secret Sunshine (DVD and Blu-ray)
Swingers (Blu-ray)
Rounders (Blu-ray)
Hostage (Blu-ray)
Bambi II (Blu-ray)

Swingers (Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

What’s the Deal?
Made with low budget of $200,000, Swingers did remarkably well and helped the careers of stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau (who also wrote the movie) and kickstarted director Doug Liman’s (The Bourne Identity) career. This comedy is about Mike (Jon Favreau), a man who is struggling with his love life and turns to his friend Trent (Vaughn) to help him out and get him back on the social scene. Swingers is cult hit, a showcase for low-budget filmmaking and Player Affinity’s Recommendation of the Week.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 86% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: “Making it in Hollywood” Original Documentary; Art Imitates Life: Writing the Story; Life Creates Art: Getting “Swingers” Made; Life Imitates Art: “Swingers” Culture; Art Creates Life: Life After “Swingers”; The Cutting Room Floor; Audio Commentary; Illustrated Action Commentary; “Swingblade” Short Film; Original Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $10.49 (Blu-ray)

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

Other films out this week are the Norwegian mockumentary Troll Hunter, part of the new-age low-budget monster movie scene that has earned much hype and acclaim, the dramedy The Beaver, starring the ever-controversial Mel Gibson and Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary. Re-releases include the cult movie Rounders, an award winning drama from South Korea and a Disney cash-in.

The Beaver (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Originally there was a lot of promise when The Beaver was first put into production because Kyle Killen’s script was on the Blacklist, a list of the best unproduced screenplays. Bravely, however, the film cast Mel Gibson, whose various anti-racial and anti-Semitic “incidents” forced The Beaver’s release to be pushed back and ultimately the film made very little money. Gibson’s performance, however, was highly praised in a movie that also stars Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation) and Jennifer Lawrence. Foster also directed for the third time in her career.

Walter Black (Gibson) is a toy executive who suffers from severe depression that affects him and his family. His wife (Foster) does not know what to do and older son Porter (Yelchin) wants to be avoid being like his father, despite seeing the similarities. After a failed suicide attempt, Walter finds a beaver puppet and starts using it to talk for him. Soon Walter becomes more confident and successful, but is using a beaver puppet the most healthy way to communicate?

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 63% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10 (Read the Review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio commentary with director Jodie Foster; Deleted scenes; Everything is Going to Be O.K. – Featurette on the making of The Beaver

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Troll Hunter (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
In the past, only Hollywood had the money to create expert CGI and special effects, but in recent years we have received fine monster movies from overseas such as The Host, Daybreakers, District 9, Monsters and Attack the Block. Norway is also having a go with the mock documentary Troll Hunter. It was a movie that received a lot of praise in its homeland and the rights for an American remake have already been brought by Chris Columbus’ company, 1492.

Troll Hunter is set in a world where monsters from folklore really exist and have been kept secret by world governments. Hans (Otto Jespersen) is assigned the mission to track and eliminate dangerous trolls in the Scandinavian countryside.
 
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 79% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; Deleted Scenes; Improv and Bloopers; Extended Scenes; Visual Effects; Behind the Scenes; Photo Galleries; HDNet: A Look at Trollhunter

Amazon Price: $10.99 (DVD), $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 3.5 stars, Video 2.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 3.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Like Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock has made a name for himself as a popular documentary filmmaker and found success with Super Size Me. Spurlock’s latest target is product placement in modern media. He sees how much product placement he can get in his movie and explores the world of advertisement.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 70% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes & Commercials; Workin’ Nine to Five (AM): POM Behind-the-Scenes; Commentary with Director Morgan Spurlock, Producer Jeremy Chilnick, Cinematographer DanieL Marracino & Editor Thomas M. Vogt

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: At the Sundance Film Festival; Shooting for Perfection: Hyatt & JetBlue Behind-the-Scenes; Over 15 Minutes of Additional Deleted Scenes

Amazon Price: $20.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Henry’s Crime (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Henry’s Crime is a comedy crime caper starring Keanu Reeves, James Caan and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) and was directed by Malcolm Venville (44 Inch Chest). Reeves plays Henry Torne, a man released from prison after serving time for a crime he did not commit. In prison he falls under the influence of Max Salzmann (Caan) and they plan to rob the bank he was initially accused of robbing.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 40% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Blitz (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Jason “The Stath” Statham is one of the few genuine action stars left; the man is physically fit and believable as a tough guy. The British cop movie Blitz is based on a novel by Irishman Ken Bruen. As a mad cop killer, The Blitz (Aiden Gillen, Game of Thrones) is striking terror across London. With the police struggling, maverick, no-nonsense police officer Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Statham) is assigned the case and must stop The Blitz before he strikes again. Blitz also features David Morrissey (State of Play) and Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 50% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 6.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: UK Theatrical Trailer; Cast & Crew Interviews; Behind the Scenes; Previews

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Sympathy for Delicious (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal
Mark Ruffalo is a talented actor, having been in movies such as Zodiac, Shutter Island and The Kids Are All Right, and is about to play Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers. Sympathy for Delicious is his directorial debut, starring its writer Christopher Thornton, Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom and Laura Linney as well as Ruffalo. Ruffalo won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Sympathy for Delicious was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

Dean (Thornton) is a DJ who has become paralyzed and goes to Faith Healers to cure him. But what he discovers he has to gift to heal others, but not himself.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 29% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Behind-The-Story Featurette; Audio Commentary with Christopher Thornton, Mark Ruffalo and Orlando Bloom; Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $27.49 (DVD), $26.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Secret Sunshine (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
From South Korea this week is the critically acclaimed Secret Sunshine, which won numerous awards, including Best Actress for Jeon Do-yeon (The Housemaid) at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress at the Asian Film Awards. Secret Sunshine was directed by Lee Chang-dong (Poetry), who as well as being a director is also a successful novelist in South Korea and a former Minister for Culture (it’s rare for a government minister to direct movies).

Shin-ae (Jeon) is a single mother suffering from the tragedy after the lost of her husband. She moves to her husband’s hometown, Miryang, to start a new life, but more tragedy strikes and she is forced on a personal journey.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Lee Chang-dong and cinematographer Cho Yong-kyu; New interview with Lee; On the Set of “Secret Sunshine,” a video piece featuring interviews with actors Jeon Do-yeon and Song Kang-ho, as well as behind-the-scenes footage; U.S. theatrical trailer; New and improved English subtitle translation; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dennis Lim

Amazon Price: $18.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Rounders (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
As well as being a fun way to kill time with your friend, card games have provided lots of suspense and fun in films such as Casino Royale, 21 and Lucky You. Rounders was one of the first, starring then young and up-and-coming actors Matt Damon and Edward Norton. Directed by John Dahl (The Great Raid), Rounders top-flight cast also includes John Turturro , Famke Janssen, John Malkovich, Gretchen Mol (Broadwalk Empire) and Martin Landau (Ed Wood).

Mike McDermott (Damon) is a law student and a reformed gambler who loses his savers to a Russian gangster, Teddy KGB (Malkovich). Mike loses everything, including his girlfriend (Mol) and he must to turn to an old buddy, Lester “Worm” Murphy (Norton) as they’re forced deeper in the criminal underworld.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 64% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Behind-the-Scenes Special; Inside Professional Poker; Feature Commentary with Professional Poker Players; Feature Commentary with Cast & Crew; Champion Poker Tips

Amazon Price: $10.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Hostage (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
From his humble beginning in Moonlighting, Bruce Willis has been able to make himself one of the biggest action stars in the world. Although he’s dabbled in more dramatic films, he is still drawn to action movies and thrillers and Hostage is based on a novel by Robert Crais which was adapted by Doug Richardson (Die Hard 2). French director Florent Emilio Siri (Intimate Enemies) helmed the movie and it also starred Kevin Pollak (Casino), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma) and Jonathan Tucker (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2003).

Jeff Talley (Willis) is a former hostage negotiator who is now a police chief in Ventura County, Calif. Jeff is forced into two deadly stand-offs in his suburban district: a group of teenagers invade the house of a accountant and a group of thugs kidnap Jeff’s wife and daughter.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 35% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 6.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Taking Hostage Behind the Scenes; Deleted Scenes with Commentary; Extended Scenes with Commentary; Audio Commentary by Director Florent Emilio Siri

Amazon Price: $10.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content 3.5 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 3.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Bambi II (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Disney has made many classic animated movies over the years, but it has the nasty habit of making Direct-to-Video/DVD sequels simply for profit.

After Bambi (Alexander Gould, Finding Nemo), loses his mother, he is overcome with grief, but has to grow up quickly and becomes closer with his distant father, The Great Prince (Patrick Stewart).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 57% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Friend Owl’s Forest Fun Games – Three interactive learning games; Deleted song – “Sing the Day”; Thumper’s Hurry Scurry interactive game; Disney Sketch Pad: Learn to draw Thumper; Bambi II – The Legacy Continues; Bambi’s Trivia Tracks – Pop-up text reveals fun facts about the movie

Amazon Price: $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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