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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 1.17.11)

This week’s Recommendation of the Week is the Blu-ray re-release of the Steven Soderbergh movie Traffic. Featuring an ensemble cast and winning a number of awards, Traffic tells the story of the war on drugs from the perspective of law enforcement, drug barons and the family of a user. The re-release comes courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

First Releases
The Ides of March (DVD and Blu-ray)
Abduction (DVD and Blu-ray)
Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star (DVD and Blu-ray)
Courageous (DVD and Blu-ray)
Dirty Girl (DVD)

Re-Releases
Belle de Jour (DVD and Blu-ray)
Traffic (Blu-ray)
Good Morning Vietnam (Blu-ray)
Dead Poets Society (Blu-ray)
A Soldier’s Story (Blu-ray)
The Tuskegee Airman (Blu-ray)

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

What’s the Deal?
Based on a British miniseries, Traffic is a highly regarded movie. Prolific director Steven Soderbergh directed with Stephen Gaghan (Syriana) writing. Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Erika Christensen (Parnethood) and Tomas Milian (Amistad) star.

Traffic tells three parallel storylines about the war on drugs. Javier Rodriguez (Del Toro) is a Mexican police officer who is a part of the operation to bring down the cartels in Tijuana under the orders of General Salazar (Milian). Helena Ayala (Zeta-Jones) is the wife of Carlos Ayala (Steven Bauer) who happens to be a distributor for a cartel in California and ends up being arrested by DEA agent Montel Gordon (Cheadle). Helena soon has to adapt because everything she knew about her life she was based on a lie. Robert Wakefield (Douglas) is a Ohio judge who about to be appointed the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He is in control of American drug policy, but his teenager daughter (Christensen), a straight-A private school becomes a drug addict herself.

Traffic won four Oscars, including Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

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

The major new release of the week is The Ides of March, the highly praised political drama by George Clooney that features a cast of acting heavyweights. Also new this week, tweens will get a kick out of Taylor Lautner’s Abduction. If you are looking for a re-release the Criterion Collection offers French movie Belle de Jour. There’s also a double bill of two Robin Williams movies.

The Ides of March (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, George Clooney’s The Ides of March was considered to be an Oscar contender but other than four Golden Globe nominations has been ignored by most of the awards bodies. Clooney starred, produced, directed and co-wrote The Ides of March with Willimon and his regular producing partner Grant Heslov. Clooney was able to assemble a great cast, Ryan Gosling (Drive), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Evan Wood (Thirteen), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) and Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale).

This political drama is set during the Ohio Democratic Primary and a fierce battle is raging between Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) and Arkansas Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell). Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is the idealistic deputy campaign manager for Morris whose meeting with a rival campaign manager leads to his world being rocked and people around him having to sacrifice their ideals and beliefs.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 85% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.9/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Commentary with George Clooney and Grant Heslov; Believe: George Clooney; On The Campaign: The Cast of The Ides Of March

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Developing the Campaign: The Origin of The Ides of March; What Does a Political Consultant Do?

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $17.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Abduction (DVD and Blu-ray) 

What’s the Deal?
The “Twilight” Saga is nearly at an end and its three young stars are looking at how to define their career after it concludes. Taylor Lautner has tested the waters of being an action star with Abduction, dubbed by some as The Bourne Identity for tweens. This vehicle fsees him star along side Lily Collins (The Blind Side), Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films), Maria Bello (A History of Violence) and Michael Nyqvist (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). The once great John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) continues his downward spiral of directing generic action movies as a gun-for-hire.

Nathan (Lautner) is your typical all-American teen that only Hollywood can produce. He lives with his parents (Isaacs and Bello), but one day his friend, Karen (Collins) leads him to a website that leads him to believe he was abducted as a child. Soon after, Nathan has to go on the run as a target of both the CIA and terrorists.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 4% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 3.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star boasts a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and over 2,800 IMDB users have given it a 2.5/10. Produced and co-written by Adam Sandler (warning sign number one) and directed by Tom Brady (The Hot Chick —warning sign number two), this “comedy” stars Nick Swardson (Just Go With It) as Bucky Larson, a small-town grocery bagger who discovers his parents were famous porn stars. He heads westward to Hollywood to follow in their footsteps.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 0% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Laughter Is Contagious; Behind The Teeth; Gary: Tough Customer; Bucky Sparkles

Amazon Price: $24.99 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 1 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 1 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Courageous (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The religious movie Courageous made over $34 million from a $2-million budget. Written, directed and starring Alex Kendrick, Courageous focuses on four police officers after a tragedy who have to struggle with their faith, hopes and their duties as fathers and husbands.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 35% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Commentary with the Kendrick Brothers; Deleted Scenes; OUTRAGEOUS: Outtakes and Bloopers; Courageous in 60 Seconds; The Making of Courageous; The Heart of Courageous; The Story Of My Father

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Dirty Girl (DVD)

What’s the Deal?
Since her supporting role in Atonement, Juno Temple has struggled to define herself as an actress. She has tried drama with Cracks, comedy in Year One and tried action in The Three Musketeers. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010, Dirty Girl also stars Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy and Jeremy Dozier.

Set in 1987, Danielle (Temple) is the “dirty girl” of her high school with a bad reputation. After getting banished to special education classes, her mother (Jovovich) announces she is about to marry a Mormon, so Danielle runs away with her gay friend Clarke (Dozier) as she tries to find her birth father.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 25% (very poor)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Abe Sylvia; Deleted and Extended Scenes

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Belle de Jour (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The other major re-release of the week from the Criterion Collection is the French movie Belle de Jour. Directed by Luis Buñuel and starring Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion, Dancer in the Dark), Belle de Jour tells the story of Séverine (Deneuve), a frigid housewife who is unable to become intimate with her husband so she becomes a prostitute by day to fulfil her sexual fantasies.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 95% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New high-definition digital restoration; Audio commentary featuring Michael Wood, author of the BFI Film Classics book Belle de jour; New video piece featuring writer and sexual-politics activist Susie Bright and film scholar Linda Williams; New interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière; Excerpt from the French television program Cinéma, featuring interviews with Carrière and actress Catherine Deneuve; Original and American release trailers; New and improved English subtitle translation; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Melissa Anderson and a 1970s interview with director Luis Buñuel

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Good Morning Vietnam (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Good Morning Vietnam is a considered one of Robin Williams’ best comedies. This loose bio-pic about Adrian Cronauer, a famous American DJ in the American Military, was directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Sleepers). 

Cronauer (Williams) becomes popular with U.S. servicemen but upsets middle management in the U.S. Armed Service Radio Stations in Vietnam. But soon Cronauer discovers the true horrors of war. Much of Williams’ performance was improvised and he earned himself an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
 
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 89% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Dead Poets Society (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The second Robin Williams film of the week is his first attempt at a dramatic performance, Dead Poets Society, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Australian director Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Master and Commander) helmed this project and then-young actors Robert Sean Leonard (House) and Ethan Hawke provided support.

In a conservative and exclusive preparatory school in Vermont, 1959, a new English professor John Keating (Williams) goes against the grain of his superiors and encourages his students to challenge the status quo and fall in love with poetry. Students in his class include Neil Perry (Leonard), who has to live in the shadow of his older brother and Todd Anderson (Hawke), who has the pressure of an overbearing father.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 87% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

A Soldier’s Story (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Based on a Pulitzer-winning play by Charles Fuller, A Soldier’s Story was adapted into a movie by Fuller with acclaimed director Norman Jewison.  Howard E. Rollins Jr. stars in a story about the murder of an African-American soldier in an army base during World War II in the Deep South. The murder is believe to be a hate crime, and black officer/attorney Captain Davenport (Rollins) is assigned to find the murderer. A Soldier’s Story offers us one of Denzel Washington’s earliest screen roles.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 87% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Tuskegee Airmen (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
With the release of the World War II movie Red Tails just around the corner, it’s of course a perfect time to re-release the TV movie version of this story onto Blu-ray. This movie about famed WWII air squad was an HBO TV movie in 1995. It features a predominately African-American cast: Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr., Allen Payne (New Jack City), Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Courtney B. Vance (FlashForward).

The Tuskegee Airmen is the story of the 322nd Fighter Group, a fighter group of African-American pilots who have to overcome racist opposition and prejudice from senior military figures and politicians to prove themselves one of the Air Force’s best fighter groups.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 83% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $10.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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