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DISCussion: What’s New on DVD/Blu-ray (6.19.12)

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers around, having made a large number of movies hailed as classics during his career. One of his more underappreciated movies is Empire of the Sun, which has won the battle to become Recommendation of the Week.

First Releases
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (DVD and Blu-ray)
Big Miracle (DVD and Blu-ray)
Wanderlust (DVD and Blu-ray)
Project X (DVD and Blu-ray)
A Bag of Hammers (DVD and Blu-ray)
Seeking Justice (DVD and Blu-ray)
Cat Run (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
And Everything is Going Fine (2010) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Gray’s Anatomy (1997) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Empire of the Sun (1987) (Blu-ray)
Newsies (Blu-ray)
Evita (Blu-ray)
Sister Act Double Pack (Blu-ray)

Empire of the Sun (1987) (Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Tom Stoppard (screenplay), J.G. Ballard (novel)
Starring: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers

What’s the Deal?
One of Steven Spielberg’s favorite movies is David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and the adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s semi-autographical novel Empire of the Sun was originally going to be directed by Lean before Spielberg took over. It is also one of Christian Bale’s first movies.

A sometimes forgotten Spielberg film, Empire of the Sun tells the story of Jamie Graham (Bale), an upper-middle class British brat living in 1937 Shanghai as the Japanese are at war with China. When the Japanese army finally takes control of the city, Jamie is separated from his parents, taken as a prisoner of war and has to form friendships with an American Sea Steward, Basie (John Malkovich) and Dr. Rawlins (Nigel Havers, Downton Abbey).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 82% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.3/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $23.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

There is a big theme of comedy with this week’s releases, with the likes of Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Wanderlust, Project X, A Bag of Hammers and the “Sister Act” series being release in some form or another. Two musicals, Newsies and Evita are being rereleased onto Blu-ray.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (DVD and Blu-ray)

Written and directed by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong, Susan Sarandon

What’s the Deal?
Jason Segel is a very busy man, starring in How I Met Your Mother and writing and starring in The Muppets and The Five Year Engagement. Another comedy he fit in to the schedule was this indie effort from Jay and Mark Duplass, the fathers of mumblecore.

Jeff (Segel) is a 30-year-old slacker who lives in his parents’ basement who one days helps his brother Pat (Ed Helms, The Hangover) find his adulterous wife.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 77% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.49 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Big Miracle (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Ken Kwapis
Written by Jack Amiel, Michael Begler (screenplay), Tom Rose (book)
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski

What’s the Deal?
Based on the true story of Operation Breakthrough in 1988 and Tom Rose’s book Freeing the Whales, Big Miracle tells how three California gray whales end up trapped in the ice in the Arctic Circle in Alaska with only a single hole in the ice for them to breath. Adam Carlson (John Krasinski, The Office) is a TV reporter who gets his ex-girlfriend and Greenpeace activist Rachel (Drew Barrymore) to help arrange the rescue operation and get support from politicians, businesses and the local community.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 74% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

Wanderlust (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by David Wain
Written by David Wain, Ken Marino
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston

What’s the Deal?
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston reunite since their time on Friends, starring in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy Wanderlust. Sadly for them, Wanderlust failed to make back its $35-million budget.

George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) are a New York couple who after of losing their jobs are forced to leave the city to live with George’s obnoxious brother Rick (Ken Marino, Role Models). But on the way George and Linda meet a commune of hippies and the couple end up trying to live their lifestyle.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 59% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10 (read our review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Project X (2012) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Nima Noruizadeh
Written by Matt Drake, Michael Bacall (screenplay), Michael Bacall (story)
Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Dax Flame

What’s the Deal?
Produced by the director of The Hangover, the found-footage comedy Project X is one of the most morally bankrupt movies of 2012 as it makes frat-boy, douchbag behavior not just acceptable, but desirable, and that nothing else matters more than high school popularity.

Thomas (Thomas Mann) is about to celebrate his 17th birthday and his ‘friend,’ the ultra-annoying D-bag Costa (Oliver Cooper) convinces him to have the largest house party possible when his parents are away. But things get out of hand when the party grows more wild and Thomas tries to make his best friend his girlfriend, the very pretty Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 26% (bad)
Player Affinity Score: 4.5/10 (read our review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Extended Cut; Damage Control: One insane house party: friggin’ priceless. Cost to refurbish said home after one night of epic partying: astronomical! Grab pen and paper as you’ll be our on the spot insurance adjuster, tallying up all the insane damages and devastation.; The Pasadena Three: Get the low down on the three newbies on the scene as they share their hysterical time shooting their first film. Holding nothing back we get a glimpse at their casting tapes and their off screen antics.; Ground Zero: Party Central: From actual flame throwers, to roof surfing stunts, to well orchestrated mayhem, witness some serious off the hook action and get the inside story on how a sleepy suburban California neighborhood was transformed into party central!

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $17.99 (Blu-ray), $22.99 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 1 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

A Bag of Hammers (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Brain Crano
Written by Brian Crano, Jake Sandvig
Starring: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury, Rebecca Hall, Amanda Seyfield

What’s the Deal?
The comedy A Bag of Hammers tells of two young criminals, Ben (Jason Ritter, Parenthood) and Alan (Jake Sandvig, Easy A) who pose as car valets so they can steal people’s rides. But they are forced to grow up when they have to take care of a 12-year-old boy (Chandler Canterbury, Knowing) from a troubled background.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 59% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $12.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Seeking Justice (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Roger Donaldson
Written by Robert Tannen
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Guy Pearce, January Jones, Jennifer Carpenter

What’s the Deal?
Nicolas Cage’s tax problems strike again, forcing him to accept any project given to him, including this run-of-the-mill thriller. Despite the promise of talents Guy Pearce and January Jones (Mad Men) and The Bank Job’s Roger Donaldson directing, Seeking Justice ended up receiving poor reviews and tanking at the box office, not even earning back its modest budget.

Wil Gerard (Cage) is a high school English teacher who is happily married to musician Laura (Jones). But when Laura is sexually assaulted, a mysterious man, Simon (Guy Pearce) offers to get rid of the rapist if Wil does a favor in return. However, when Wil refuses to kill someone he does not know he ends up hunted by the vigilante group.

A little footnote, the movie was originally titled “The Hungry Rabbit Jumps.“

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 24% (bad)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $23.95 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3.5 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 3.5 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

Cat Run (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by John Stockwell
Written by Nick Ball, John Niven
Starring: Paz Vega, Scott Mechlowicz, Alphonso McAuley, Janet McTeer

What’s the Deal?
In the action-comedy Cat Run, Catalina Rona (Paz Vega, Spanglish) is a high-end escort who ends up discovering a government cover-up of a horrific crime. She ends up having two bumbling private detectives (Scott Mechlowicz and Alphonso McAuley) as her only protection from a ruthless female assassin (Janet McTeer, Tideland) and her employers.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 15% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $11.99 (DVD), $15.99 (Blu-ray)

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

And Everything is Going Fine (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Spalding Gray

What’s the Deal?
From the Criterion Collection this week are two rereleases of movies directed by Steven Soderbergh and featuring writer-actor Spalding Gray. The first is the 2010 documentary And Everything is Going Fine, made after Gray’s death in 2004, focusing on both his career and his personal life.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 89% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Making of “And Everything Is Going Fine”; Sex and Death to the Age 14, Spalding Gray?s first monologues; Trailer; English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by writer Nell Casey

Amazon Price: $21.93 (DVD), $28.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Gray’s Anatomy (1997) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Spalding Gray, Renee Shafransky
Starring: Spalding Gray

What’s the Deal?
The other Soderbergh/Gray collaboration of the week is Gray’s Anatomy, an adaptation of Gray’s 1993 monologue of the same name as Gray suffers from an eye condition and seeks alternative treatments to cure it.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 53% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New interviews with Soderbergh and cowriter Renee Shafransky; A Personal History of the American Theater, a monologue by Spalding Gray; Theatrical trailer; English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin

Amazon Price: $21.93 (DVD), $28.95 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Newsies (1992) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Kenny Ortega
Written by Bob Tzudiker, Noni White
Starring: Christian Bale, David Moscow, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall, Ann-Margret

What’s the Deal?
The other Christian Bale rerelease is Disney musical Newsies, a movie with a cult following as Bale plays Jack “Cowboy” Kelly who leads the 1899 newsboys strike in New York after the newspaper publishers raise prices. The film was recently turned into a Broadway musical.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 32% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $17.96 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Evita (1996) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Alan Parker
Written by Alan Parker, Oliver Stone (screenplay), Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice (musical)
Starring: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Jimmy Nail

What’s the Deal?
Queen of pop Madonna campaigned, lobbied and begged for the lead role in the adaptation of Evita and it has been considered her best role. Seeing the amount of rubbish she starred in, it was not hard for Evita to accomplish this.

Based on the life of Eva “Evita” Duarte de Peron, the musical adaptation charts her life from poverty to acting before marrying the President of Argentina, Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce, Brazil) as she becomes a champion of the poor and working classes whiles feared by the military and upper classes.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 59% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $12.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Sister Act Double Pack (Blu-ray)

Sister Act
Directed by Emile Ardolino
Written by Joseph Howard
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Harvey Keitel

Sister Act: Back in the Habit
Directed by Bill Duke
Written by James Orr, Jim Cruickshank, Judi Ann Mason
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy, Maggie Smith, James Coburn

What’s the Deal?
It has been 20 years since the release of Sister Act and now the two movies have earned a rerelease. In Sister Act we follow Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg), a lounge singer who is put into the witness protection after witnessing a murder and hides in a nunnery. She then takes charge of the convent choir, bringing a whole new side of music to the sheltered nuns. And of course these movies show the fun side of Catholicism.

Sister Act (1992)
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 70% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 6.0/10

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 7% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $19.96 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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