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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 2.15.11)

After last week’s disappointing array of DVD releases, there is relief in home entertainment options this week. If you are looking for something newer, there is an action film, a comedy, a documentary and a period drama to pick from. And with the Academy Awards nearly upon us, five of this week’s re-releases are Oscar winners.

First Releases
- Unstoppable (DVD and Blu-ray)
- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Waiting for Superman (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Glorious 39 (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
- All the President’s Men (Blu-ray)
- Network (Blu-ray)
- Chaplin (Blu-ray)
- Last Tango in Paris (Blu-ray)
- Rain Man (Blu-ray)
- Moonstruck (Blu-ray)


Unstoppable
(DVD and Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Tony Scott’s first train film, The Taking of Pelham 123, underperformed at the summer 2009 box office. Undeterred, however, Scott made other train film, believing he identified the problem: the train wasn’t moving. Loosely based on a true story in Ohio, Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) wrote the script. Denzel Washington stars in his fifth Scott film and is joined by Chris Pine in his big follow-up role to Star Trek. Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl) and Kevin Dunn (Ron Witwicky in the “Transformers” series) act in supporting roles in what is an old-fashioned disaster film.

Frank Barnes (Washington) is a train driver about to go on enforced retirement and Will Colson (Pine) is a newly qualified man working with him and both have personal problems. A train in northern Pennsylvania turns into a runaway and is carrying a dangerous chemical. Both men are called into action to stop the train before it reaches a populated area with the help of yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson). To me, it’s “Thomas the Tank Engine” on steroids.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
86% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
Closed Caption; Audio commentary with director Tony Scott; The fastest track: unleashing unstoppable

Additional Blu-ray Special Features:
Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene; Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work; On the Rails With the Director and Cast; Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development

Amazon Price:
$15.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):
Content: 4 stars, Video 0 stars, Audio 0 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 3 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.


You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (DVD and Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
At the age of 75, Woody Allen has written/directed 43 films over five decades. In that time, you're bound to have hits and misses. These days, Allen has found it harder to gain critical success, but he is still going and his latest effort attached an all-star cast: Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Lucy Punch (Hot Fuzz).

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger follows the lives of two married couples, recently divorced Helena (Jones) and ex-husband Alfie (Hopkins) and their daughter Sally (Watts) and her husband Roy (Brolin). Helena watches as their love lives become chaotic, Alfie falling for a prostitute (Punch), Sally becoming infatuated with a gallery owner (Banderas) and Brolin becomin interested in his neighbour (Pinto).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 46% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 1 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Rent It.


Waiting for "Superman"
(DVD and Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Davis Guggenheim won an Oscar for Best Documentary for An Inconvenient Truth and his examination of the American Public Education system in Waiting for “Superman” won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance at 2010. Naturally, it is a surprise it was not nominated for an Academy Award. Guggenheim speaks with Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and school chancellor Michelle Rhee. The film follows five children, showing how America’s education system is failing its students.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 6.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
Closed Caption; Four additional inspiring teacher/student stories ; The making of "Shine": the film's title track by musician John Legend ; A conversation with director Davis Guggenheim

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

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


Glorious 39 (DVD and Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Glorious 39 is Stephen Poliakoff’s first theatrical film in 12 years, having focused on making television programs like The Lost Prince and Gideon’s Daughter for the BBC. A top cast of British actors were recruited: Romola Garai (Atonement), Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, David Tennant (Doctor Who), Christopher Lee and Charlie Cox (Stardust) for this latest effort.

Anne (Garai) is a young actress who uncovers a plot to appease the Nazis whilst staying the English countryside just before the outbreak of World War II. She is quickly forced into a dark world of secrets and danger.


Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 50% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Behind the scenes featurette/interviews

Amazon Price: $22.49 (DVD), $15.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 3 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Rent It.


All the President's Men (Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
When Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein discovered the Watergate scandal, their names were permanently etched in history. The rights to their book were quickly bought by Robert Redford and the film was one of the most acclaimed of 1976, winning four Oscars including Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. Redford and Dustin Hoffman play the journalists and Alan J. Pakula (Sophie’s Choice) directs.

When there's a break-in at the DNC headquarters, young journalist Woodward and experienced political journalist Bernstein are assigned the story. They start to uncover a web of corruption within the Nixon White House as they learn the truth.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Rating: 9.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Telling the truth about lies: The making of All the President's Men; Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the fire; Out of the shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat; Commentary by Robert Redford ; Vintage featrurette pressure and the press: The making of All the President's Men; 5/27/1976 dinah! with Jason Robards ; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $24.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A


Network (Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
The other Oscar-winning film of 1976 (celebrating 35 years) is Network, winning four awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay. Directed by a cinematic master, Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon), the cast features the likes of Peter Finch (the first actor to win a posthumous Oscar), Faye Dunaway, William Holden (The Bridge Over the River Kwai) and Robert Duvall.

Howard Beale (Finch) is a veteran anchor for a major news network. But when he is fired for low ratings, Howard declares live on TV that he will kill himself in two weeks. Ratings skyrocket, but the anchor slowly descends into madness as he is exploited by the network and head of programming (Dunaway).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: The Making of Network 6-part documentary; Vintage Paddy Chayefsky interview excerpt from Dinah!, hosted by Dinah Shore; Commentary by director Sidney Lumet; Private Screenings with Sidney Lumet: Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne interviews the director; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

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


Chaplin (Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Charlie Chaplin had a long filmmaking career, spanning from 1914 to 1967, but there is a massive story behind it that's explored in Chaplin. He was a man who raised from poverty in London to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world, a political activist who was critical of the Nazis and hounded by J. Edgar Hoover as well as married several times.

Based on his autography and the book
Chaplin: His Life and Art by David Robinson, Richard Attenborough (A Bridge too Far, Gandhi) directed Chaplin. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the silent film star, earning a deserved Oscar nod for a performance that combined his dramatic and comic abilities. Paul Rhys (From Hell), Dan Akyroyd, Milla Jovovich, Anthony Hopkins and Moria Kelly (One Tree Hill) co-star and Geraldine Chaplin plays her own paternal grandmother.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 61% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: “All at Sea” home movie of Charlie Chaplin vacationing in Catalina, CA; “Strolling into the Sunset” featurette with Director Richard Attenborough; “Chaplin the Hero” featurette on Chaplin’s contributions to film; “The Most Famous Man in the World” featurette on Chaplin’s status as a pop icon; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A


Last Tango in Paris (Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Maria Schneider recently pasted away, so it is fitting that her best known film, Last Tango in Paris, has been re-released. The 1972 film was very controversial when it was first released, earning an X rating before being downgraded to an NC-17 in 1997. Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor, The Dreamers) co-wrote and directed with Marlon Brando co-starring.

Paul (Brando) is an American living in Paris whose wife has recently committed suicide. He meets a young French woman, Jeanne (Schneider) and the two embark on an affair where nothing is taboo.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 81% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: "All at Sea" Chaplin home movie; "Strolling Into the Sunset" featurette; "Chaplin the Hero" featurette; "The Most Famous Man in the World" featurette; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A


Rain Man (Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Rain Man is another award-winning film, with four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay). Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass (What Dreams May Come) co-wrote the script together and Barry Levinson (Sleepers) directed. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman (winning the Oscar) star as the brothers in the film.

Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) is a selfish young man whose father has died. When he finds out that his dad only left him a car and rose bushes, he discovers he left his $3-million fortune to a trust. Charlie finds out he has an autistic older brother, Ray (Hoffman), who inherited the fortune, so Charlie takes Ray across America, with no idea what's in store for him.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 87% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 5.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $13.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A


Moonstruck (Blu-ray)

What's the Deal?
Last but not least is Moonstruck, a romantic comedy that won three Academy Awards, Best Original Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley), Best Actress (Cher) and Best Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis). Nicolas Cage also stars in this film directed by Norman Jewison (The Hurricane).

Moonstruck tells the story of an Italian-American family struggling with repression and dissatisfaction. The focus of the film is Loretta Castorini (Cher), who has to choose between her fiancé and his brother.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 92% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio Commentary Featuring Cher, Director Norman Jewison and Writer John Patrick Shanley; Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Documentary; Music of Moonstruck Featurette

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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