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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 1.18.11)

It is another week of DVD and Blu-ray releases and it is a mix of indie films, B-Movies, a straight-to-DVD feature, a documentary and from the international front, an art-house film and an epic. Ryan Reynolds fans will be happy with two of his films being released this week and there is a array of acting talent on display with this week’s releases.

First Release

Buried (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Takers (DVD and Blu-ray)
Lebanon (DVD and Blu-ray)
Stone (DVD and Blu-ray)
Jack Goes Boating (Blu-ray)
Freakonomics (DVD and Blu-ray)
Paper Man (DVD and Blu-ray)
Death Race 2 (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
The Naked Kiss (DVD and Blu-ray)
Shock Corridor (DVD and Blu-ray)
Nomad: The Warrior (Blu-ray)

Buried (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

What’s the Deal?
Since having a leading role in Two Guys and a Girl, Ryan Reynolds’ rise to fame has been spectacular with roles in Blade: Trinity, Smokin’ Aces, Adventureland and pretty much stealing the limelight in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. For a man known for his comic ability, he took a chance making a serious indie thriller directed by Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes. Shot entirely in a coffin, Buried was highly praised at Sundance and become a success story from the festival.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is a truck driver working in Iraq. He awakes in a coffin buried six feet underground and with only an hour and thirty minutes worth of oxygen has to raise a ransom of $5 million. All he has is a cell-phone, a lighter, a pen and a knife and does everything he can with all the limitations.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 85% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 6.6/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Unearthing Buried: The Making Of Buried; ; Original Theatrical Trailers

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content: 4.5 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Takers (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The cast of Takers is a who’s who of B-list actors: Matt Dillon (Crash), Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious), Idris Elba (The Wire), Jay Hernandez (Hostel), Hayden Christensen and Zoe Saldana (Avatar). John Luessenhop (Lockdown) directs his second film and four writers worked on the screenplay.

Set in Los Angeles, a group of thefts have completed a $20-million heist. But as greed gets the better of them they have to go on one last job, with seasoned police officer, Jack Welles (Dillon) hot on their trail.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 28% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 3.7/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: “Yeah Ya Know (Takers)” by T.I. – Music Promo; ; Filmmaker & Cast Commentary

Additional Blu-ray Features: Executing the Heist – The Making Of; Take Action! – Inside Look at the Stunts; Movie IQ

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Lebanon (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Israeli cinema has produced some excellent films in recent years, with Waltz with Bashir, Eyes Wide Open and Ajami being met with excellent critical acclaim. In 2009, Lebanon was also highly praised on the festival circuit, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for 10 Ophir Awards (the Israeli version of the Academy Awards). Lebanon serves as the directorial debut for Samuel Maoz and the cast includes Oshri Cohen (Beaufort), Michael Moshonov and Itay Tiran (The Debt) in film that has been dubbed Das Boot in a tank.

Set during the 1982 Lebanon War, Lebanon focuses on a tank crew from day one of the conflict. As they go northwards, supporting the infantry, they see the horrors of war: from the Israeli army willing to break international law involving warfare whilst the PLO were willing to use innocent civilians as a human shield. It serves as a commentary of the situation today and is a great example of an anti-war film.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Notes on a War Film

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $26.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 4 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Stone (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
I am sure when producers made a film directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), written by Angus MacLauchlan (Junebug) and starring Edward Norton and Robert De Niro that they thought they had a candidate for awards recognition. Sadly it did not work out that way for the studio, with the film underperforming at the box-office and a lukewarm reception from critics.

Gearld “Stone” Creeson (Norton) is a convicted criminal serving time in prison. His parlour hearing on the horizon, Stone recruits his wife (Milla Jovovich) to manipulate and seduce his correctional officer Jack Mabry (De Niro).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 47% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 5.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: “The Making of Stone” featurette and theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $23.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Jack Goes Boating (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Philip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor, winning an Academy Award for Capote and been nominated for Charlie Wilson’s War and Doubt. Now he has turned his eye to directing and has adapted Robert Glaudini’s off-Broadway play Jack Goes Boating. Hoffman stars and he recruited Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), John Ortiz (Two Lovers) and singer Daphne Rubin-Vega.

Jack (Hoffman) and Connie (Ryan) are two single parents from New York who are set up on a blind date. As their relationship buds, the couple who set them up, Clyde (Ortiz) and Lucy (Rubin-Vega) have face their own unresolved issues.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 67% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Jack’s New York; From the stage to the big screen; Deleted scenes

Amazon Price: $20.99 (DVD), $29.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3.5 stars, Video 3 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 3 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Freakonomics (DVD and Blu-ray)


What’s the Deal?
Freakonomics was a popular non-fiction book written by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. Looking at the human behavior, Freakonomics was able to attach some of the best known documentary filmmakers to direct: Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me), Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters), Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) and Eugene Jarecki (The Trials of Henry Kissinger). All these directors examine the case studies displayed in the book.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 65% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; Additional Interviews with Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; Producers Commentary with Chris Romano, Dan O’Meara and Chad Troutwine; Directors Commentary; HDNet: A Look at Freakonomics

Amazon Price: $13.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com: N/A

Paper Man (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Actor Kieran Mulroney and his partner in crime, writer Michele Mulroney, write and direct their first feature film together, a surreal drama comedy called Paper Man. The two attach an impressive cast, Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber), Emma Stone (Easy A), Ryan Reynolds and Lisa Kudrow.

Daniels plays Richard Dunn, a failing novelist living in Long Island with his surgeon wife Claire (Kudrow). But with the aid of local teenager Abby (Stone), Richard sets out to write his next novel and reconnects with his childhood imaginary friend Captain Excellent (Reynolds).

Despite some poor reviews the Mulroneys have written the script for next winter’s “Sherlock Holmes 2.”

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Trailer ; Making Of

Additional Blu-ray Features: Extended & Deleted Scenes

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Death Race 2 (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Paul W.S. Anderson’s 2008 version of Death Race made a moderate box-office return. The producers of the film, including Mr. Anderson, believed that there was still live in the series, so they made a direct-to-DVD sequel with a $14-million budget. Direct-to-DVD specialist Roel Reiné helms this version which is based on a script by Tony Giglio (Chaos). A decent cast was assembled, including Luke Goss (Blade II), Danny Trejo (Machete), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction) and Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring).

Made as a prequel, Death Race 2 sets out to tell the origins of Frankenstein. Carl “Luke” Lucas (Goss) is a criminal in prison with a price on his head. His only hope of getting out is by surviving the death race.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Director’s Montage; The Race Begins: The Evolution of the Death Race; Cheating Death: The Stunts Of Death Race 2; Fast Cars and Firearms: The Cars of Death Race 2; Feature Commentary with Director Roel Reine

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $26.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content: 2.5 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

The Naked Kiss (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Samuel Fuller is famous for being a low-budget director willing to take on controversial subjects. But he did not just turn to these subjects simply for shock value. Fuller’s 1964 film stars Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante and Virginia Grey.

Kelly (Towers) is a former prostitute who wants to escape the big city. She moves to a small town to escape but ends up falling into another seedy environment when someone is murdered and the townspeople blame her for it.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New Video Interview with Star Constance Towers by Film Historian and Filmmaker Charles Dennis; ; Excerpts from a 1983 episode of The South Bank Show dedicated to Director Samuel Fuller; ; Interview with Fuller from a 1967 Episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps; ; Interview with Fuller from a 1987 episode of the French television series Cinéma Cinémas; ; Original Theatrical Trailer

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Shock Corridor (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The second Fulller film of the week is his 1963 feature Shock Corridor. Starring Peter Breck (The Big Valley), Constance Towers, Gene Evans and James Best (The Dukes of Hazzard), this thriller has a strong reputation behind it and it has been preserved by the Library of Congress.

Johnny Barrett (Breck) is a journalist desperate for a Pulitzer Prize. He believes the best way to do it is invest an unsolved murder at a mental institution and gets himself tagged as insane to find out from the inside.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New Video Interview with Star Constance Towers by film Historian and Filmmaker Charles Dennis; ; The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera, Adam Simon’s 1996 Documentary on Director Samuel Fuller; ; Original Theatrical Trailer; ; Plus: Illustrations by Cartoonist Daniel Clowes and a booklet featuring an Essay by critic and Poet Robert Polito and excerpts from Fuller’s Autobiograpy, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Nomad: The Warrior (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Sasha Baron Cohen was able to insult the whole of Kazakhstan with his character Borat. The Kazakhs were not going to take it lying down and the epic film Nomad: The Warrior was designed to win over Western audiences. It is the most expensive film made by the Kazakh’s film industry, having a budget of $25 – 40 million. Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) produced the film that was directed by Sergei Bodrov (Mongol) and Ivan Passer. Western actors Jay Hernandez, Kuno Becker (Goal) and Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) star with Kazakh actors. Nomad: The Warrior was Kazakhstan’s entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but it was a box-office bomb in America.

Set in the 18th Century, Kazakhstan is ruled by Mongol invaders. The Kazakhs are divided, but there is hope in the form of Mansur (Becker) who is trained to be a mighty warrior and lead his people to freedom.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 6% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $17.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 1.5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 0 stars, Replay 1 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

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