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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 11.22.11)

We at Player Affinity had an easy choice for Recommendation of the Week this time: the American classic 12 Angry Men. Based on a play, 12 Angry Men is a movie that is considered great by many and the Criterion Collection re-release contents features a variety of documentaries, interviews, commentaries and the 1955 television version.

First Releases
- Super 8 (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Conan the Barbarian (2011) (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (DVD and Blu-ray)
- The Devil’s Double (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Sarah’s Key (DVD and Blu-ray)

- 12 Angry Men (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Rushmore (Blu-ray)
- Three Amigos (Blu-ray)
- The Birth of a Nation (Blu-ray)
- Way Down East (Blu-ray)

12 Angry Men (DVD and Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

What’s the Deal?
12 Angry Men is considered one of the greatest movies ever made. It has made many top 100 lists and Roger Ebert considered it one of his "Great Movies." We at Player Affinity also highly rate this legal-based drama. Reginald Rose adapted his own 1954 play and served as the great Sidney Lumet’s (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) directorial debut.

Henry Fonda starred in and produced this movie that is simple on the surface: 12 jurors debate if a young man is guilty of murdering his father. But it explores much deeper themes of giving someone a fair trial, the process of the American legal system, the nature and make-up of America and an examination of personalities.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.6/10


DVD Special Features: Frank Schaffner’s 1955 television version, with an introduction by Ron Simon, director of the Paley Center for Media Studies; “12 Angry Men”: From Television to the Big Screen, a video essay by film scholar Vance Kapley comparing the Sidney Lumet and Schaffner versions; Archival interviews with Lumet; New interview about the director with writer Walter Bernstein; New interview with Simon about television writer Reginald Rose; New interview with cinematographer John Bailey in which he discusses cinematographer Boris Kaufman; Tragedy in a Temporary Town (1956), a teleplay directed by Lumet and written by Rose; Original theatrical trailer; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by writer and law professor Thane Rosenbaum

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The big new release is the J.J. Abrams’ character-driven sci-fi hit Super 8, a movie that divided audiences, but was of massive interest to film fans. From France we have the Holocaust-themed historical mystery Sarah's Key. Wes Anderson fans will be happy with the re-release of Rushmore and two of D.W. Griffith’s silent film classics have earned a re-release.

Super 8 (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 was one of Player Affinity’s most anticipated movies of the Summer of 2011, but it was also a movie that divided us. Made with a reasonable $50-million budget, Abrams’ pet project made almost $260 million worldwide and was produced by his idol, Steven Spielberg. The cast is comprised mostly of young unknown actors. Only Elle Fanning, Noah Emmerich and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) are recognizable faces.

Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) is a young boy whose mom died in an industrial accident in the late '70s. He is also helping his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) make a short movie, but Joe and his friends witness a massive train crash, which results in strange events and the military encroaching on their small town. During the events, Joe starts getting close to a girl, Alice (Fanning), and explores his relationship with his father (Chandler).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 82% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10


DVD Special Features: The Dream Behind Super 8; The Visitor Lives – Creating the Alien; Director JJ Abrams & Filmmakers’ Commentary

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Deconstructing the Train Crash: Uncover the secrets behind filming the astonishing scene; 8 Exclusive Featurettes: Explore the origins of the story, casting, creating the alien and more!; 14 Deleted Scenes; And Much more!

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Conan the Barbarian (2011) (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The 1981 version of Conan the Barbarian certainly has a number of fans, but die-hard afficionandos of Robert E. Howard’s work were unhappy with what John Milinus and the Governator did to their beloved character. 30 years later, Marcus Nispel (Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) directs his fourth remake and Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) stars as Conan. Rachel Nichols (Alias), Stephen Lang (Avatar), Rose McGowan (Planet Terror) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) are featured and Morgan Freeman continues as a narrator for hire.

Conan is a tough warrior who is literally born on the battlefield. He sets out to avenge his father’s murder and his village's destruction, but on the way he has to stop an evil sorcerer, Khalar Zym (Lang), from finding the pieces of a mask that could give him the ultimate power for world domination.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 23% (very poor)
Player Affinity Score: 4.8/10 (read our review)


DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; Feature-length audio commentary with director Marcus Nispel; Featuree-length audio commentary with stars Jason Momoa and Rose McGowan; The Conan legacy ; Robert E. Howard - the man who would be Conan; Battle royal - engineering the action; Staging the fights

Amazon Price: $15.49 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray), $22.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Robert Rodriguez is a talented filmmaker, but he has been struggling to find a hit for a while, whether geared for children or adults. He resorted to making a third sequel to his "Spy Kids" series after an eight-year break and brought back the gimmick of scratch-and-sniff. To me it was one of the worst movies of the year, an unpleasantly cheap and dumb film that stars Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven and two new spy kids in Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook.

Marissa Wilson (Alba) is one of the best agents the OSS has, but she decides to retire to have a child. She already has two bratty step-children, Rebecca and Cecil, but they are all forced into action to stop the evil Time Keeper, who is speeding up time.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 21% (very poor)
Player Affinity Score: 2.0/10


DVD Special Features: Robert Rodriguez Interview; Deleted Scenes; Featurette: Spy Kids Passing the Torch; Spy Gadgets

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Devil’s Double (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Devil’s Double is a yet another movie about Iraq that failed at the box office, but this movie attempts to be more stylish in the vein of Scarface. Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors, Die Another Day) directs  based on Latif Yahia’s autobiography, that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger) stars as both Uday Hussein and his body double Latif Yahia. Yahia was forced into becoming Uday’s double under the threat of death. While on his new job, Yahia soon sees Uday is not just a member of a brutal regime, but also a complete psychopath.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 55% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; True Crime Family; Double Down with Dominic Cooper; The Real Devil's Double; Director's commentary

Amazon Price: $21.99 (DVD), $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 3.5 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Sarah’s Key (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
It has taken the French a long time to face up to their dark World War II past involving the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv round-up, where 13,152 non-French Jewish émigrés and refugees and their French-born offspring were shipped to Auschwitz by the French police. Now, two movies about the roundup have been made in quick succession, including Sarah‘s Key.

Anglo-French actress Kristin Scott Thomas stars as the American journalist Julia Jarmond, based in France, who is researching the atrocity. She finds out about a 10-year-old girl, Sarah Starzynski (Melusine Mayance), whose family hid her four-year-old brother. As Julia tracks this story, she finds out Sarah was able to escape.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 75% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $21.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Rushmore (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Wes Anderson is a popular director for fans of independent cinema and Rushmore was a very well-received movie, winning two Independent Spirit Awards in 1999. Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman stars with Bill Murray (who earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance) and Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) in this movie about 15-year-old Max Fischer, a student at the private school Rushmore, who struggles academically, but is the king of extracurricular activities. His world is turned upside down when he is put on academic probation and falls for elementary school teacher Miss Cross (Williams).

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


DVD Special Features: New high-definition digital transfer of the director’s cut, supervised by director Wes Anderson, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack; Audio commentary by Anderson, cowriter Owen Wilson, and actor Jason Schwartzman; The Making of "Rushmore,” an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary by Eric Chase Anderson; Max Fischer Players Present: Theatrical “adaptations” of Armageddon, Out of Sight, and The Truman Show, staged for the 1999 MTV Movie Awards; Episode of The Charlie Rose Show featuring Anderson and actor Bill Murray; Cast audition footage; Wes Anderson’s hand-drawn storyboards, plus a film-to-storyboard comparison; Props, posters, behind-the-scenes photos, and other graphic ephemera; Original theatrical trailer; Collectible poster; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dave Kehr

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Three Amigos (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The adventure comedy Three Amigos has a lot of talent behind it. The film was directed by John Landis and starred Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. Made as a parody of The Magnificent Seven, the comedy trio stars as three silent movie actors who are invited to go to Mexico in 1916, but end up finding out the locals think they are real gunslingers and have to save the town from bandits who keep raiding it.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 56% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: Cast interview with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short; Deleted scenes

Amazon Price: $10.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Birth of a Nation (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Birth of a Nation is both an important and very controversial movie from the silent film era. Directed by the legendary D.W. Griffith, The Birth of a Nation was based on a racist novel, The Clansman, and brought in revolutionary filming techniques and exciting battle sequences. But this was a movie that had a massive social impact because of its negative depiction of African-Americans, resulting in riots, racial attacks and ultimately the way it reignited the Ku Klux Klan.

In South Carolina, two families' friendship are severed during the Civil War as they take different sides. The Birth of a Nation looks at the impact of the war, including the assassination of Lincoln and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10


DVD Special Features: Disc 1 - Blu-ray; Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (2011); Spoken Introduction by D.W. Griffith and Walter Huston (including the newly rediscovered intermission sequence); ; Disc 2 - DVD; The Birth of a Nation, restored by David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates in 1993; ; Orchestral Score adapted in 1993 from the original Score by Joseph Carl Breil, in 2.0 stereo; ; "The Making of The Birth of a Nation" (24 min.) Produced by David Shepard; Compiled and Written by Russell Merritt; ; Disc 3 - DVD; Civil War shorts Directed by D.W. Griffith: (Music by Jon C. Mirsalis unless indicated); ; In the Border States (1910, 16 min.); The House With Closed Shutters (1910, 17 Min.); The Fugitive (1910, 17 Min.); His Trust (1910, 14 Min.) Courtesy of David Shepard; Musical setting compiled and arranged by Robert Israel; Performed by the Biograph Quartet; ; His Trust Filled (1910, 11 Min.); ; Swords and Hearts (1911, 16 Min.); The Battle (1911, 17 min.); ; "New York vs. The Birth of a Nation" Archival documents pertaining to the censorship battles over the film's 1922 re-release; ; Excerpts from souvenir program books

Amazon Price: $23.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Way Down East (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Way Down East has D.W. Griffith’s lowest Rotten Tomatoes score, but if 88% is the worst he can do, then there is nothing to worry about. This 1920 silent film stars Lillian Gish as Anna Moore, a naïve country girl who is tricked in a sham marriage by womanizer Lennox (Lowell Sherman). She has to rebuild her life when she gives birth to a child out of wedlock.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A


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