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Monday, July 5, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 6/29/10 - 07/04/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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HOT TUB TIME MACHINE

(2010)

* * 1/2 (B-)

Directed by Steve Pink

Starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Lizzy Caplan, Crispin Glover, Sebastian Stan, Cornelius Crane, Chevy Chase, Lyndsy Fonseca, Collette Wolfe, Charlie McDermott

MGM//Rated R//Comedy//93 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Three middle-aged guys, Adam (John Cusack), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Nick (Craig Robinson), revisit a ski resort they frequented during college, in an effort to recapture their lost youth. After a night spent drinking in their suite's private hot tub, the pals, along with Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), realize they've been transported back to a fateful weekend in 1986. Given the opportunity for a do-over, the guys consider how changing their actions might impact their present lives. Spoilers would ruin the fun, but Hot Tub manages to locate both the agony and the ecstasy of their circumstances. Chevy Chase imbues his enigmatic hot tub repairman with deadpan droll. Other gags run the gamut from hilarious to incredibly offensive, while a few get pancaked. The film's best running joke depicts Crispin Glover as a belligerent, one-armed bellhop in the present day, but in possession of both arms -- back in 1986. Watching him place his arm in precarious situations is simultaneously funny and suspenseful. The film gleefully refuses to sentimentalize its characters, whose flaws appear destined to compromise their futures. Looking back, '80s lycra and big-hair are ripe for satire, but this portal into yesterday is a reminder that it won't be long before our text-aholic, low-slung jeans teens will be fodder for future satirists. DVD and 2-Disc Blu-Ray features: Both the theatrical version and unrated version of film, deleted scenes, promotional spots and trailers, English or French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: Production: acting like idiots, Chevy Chase: the nicest guy in Hollywood, Totally radical outfits: dayna pink, Crispin Glover: one-armed bell hop, Digital Copy of the unrated version of the film.

THE CRAZIES

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Breck Eisner

Starring Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Horror//101 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Ever since director George Romero began using low-budget zombie flicks as a means of making social commentary, the genre has continued to gain traction with audiences. Produced on the heels of the Vietnam war, the original Crazies jumped on this bandwagon. While the remake isn't strictly a zombie film, it deserves inclusion in the genre because the film scripts a virus that turns ordinary people into mindless killers. In other words, keep your antiseptic gel handy! In the small town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a lucky few uninfected try to escape the growing homicidal throng. The escapees include local sheriff, David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his physician wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell) her teenage employee (Danielle Panabaker), and the Sheriff's Deputy (Joe Anderson). The updated version explores the government's decision to keep its secrets at the expense of a small town. Where the Dawn of the Dead remake examined possible strategies to evade a zombie lynch mob, this film asks whether anyone can survive a military solution. Like game show contestants, the protagonists must make correct rapid-fire decisions or die. While Crazies' leads are bland stereotypes, the film offers high octane entertainment. It also feeds into the notion that an all-powerful federal government is not necessarily of, by, or for the people. DVD features: director commentary, Behind the scenes with director Breck Eisner, paranormal pandemics, The George A Romero template, Make-up mastermind: Rob Hall in action, The Crazies motion comic episodes 1 & 2, Visual effects in motion, Storyboards: building a scene, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: Trailers and TV spots, Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery, Easter Egg, DVD Disc, digital copy of film.

DON McKAY

(2009)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Jake Goldberger

Starring Thomas Haden Church, Elisabeth Shue, Melissa Leo, James Rebhorn, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Keith David, M. Emmet Walsh

Image//Rated R//Thriller//90 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

An indie film, Don McKay could be the twisted child of Blood Simple, a film cited by writer/director Jake Goldberger, as a major influence. Don McKay (Church), is a bored janitor when he receives a note from Sonny (Shue) that she hasn't long to live and wants him to come visit. M. Emmet Walsh, the memorable killer from Blood Simple, appears here as a cabbie quick to remind McKay of his past transgressions. McKay finds Sonny wearing an assortment of sexy nighties and looking splendid for a dying lady. Melissa Leo plays Sonny's enigmatic maid, conservative in appearance, save for her heavily tattooed arms. Everyone behaves oddly, including McKay who has patsy written all over him. Before long, there's a dead body and the problem of what to do with it. The film's quirky rhythms and dark humor run hot and cold as do the characters' motivations. Sometimes inhibited by Goldberger's direction, the actors acquit themselves admirably. DVD or Blu-Ray features: commentary by writer/director Jake Goldberger and Producer Jim Young, Deleted Scenes, Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

THE ECLIPSE

(2009)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Conor McPherson

Starring Ciaran Hinds, Aidan Quinn, Iben Hjejle, Jim Norton, Eanna Hardwicke, Hannah Lynch

Magnolia//Rated R//Drama, Horror//88 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Almost a horror, but not quite a drama, Eclipse is an Irish production co-written by its Irish director. Ciaran Hinds plays Michael Farr, an English teacher and gentle widower trying to raise his children and reenter the world two years after his wife's untimely death. Volunteering to chauffeur writers attending the County Cork literary festival, Michael meets and befriends both Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), a British author of paranormal tales, and Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), a married American author determined to resume his affair with Lena. Michael confides he's seeing apparitions of his dead wife to Lena who enjoys his company and feels safe with him. As played by Quinn, Holden is a riot of charm and flaws, not safe by any means, but worthy of Lena's attention. The horror element isn't frightening in the usual sense because the story's point of view seems to be that we pay a price for living in our memories. DVD or Blu-Ray features: deleted scenes, Making of Eclipse, HDNet: A look at the Eclipse, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Starring Logan Lerman, Kevin McKidd, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario

Fox//Rated PG//Fantasy//118 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

In the first film adapted from Rick Riordan's 5-novel series, present day 12-year-old Percy Jackson (Lerman) learns the god Poseidon is his father. Even more disturbing, busybody Greek gods continue to interfere with mankind's fate. Zeus (Bean) commands young Percy to retrieve the one weapon capable of saving both Olympus and Earth from Hades, but before doing so. Percy, the son of a human woman (Keener), must first attend a spectacular training camp for half-bloods and run by the centaur Chiron (Brosnan). Once through his training, Percy embarks on a quest for the weapon, accompanied by half-goat Grover (Jackson) and beautiful demi-goddess Annabeth (Daddario). They meet numerous magical characters both wondrous and loathsome. Sequels are likely. DVD and 2-Disc Blu-Ray features: Extended and deleted scenes, Bringing the Book to Life featurette, Discover Your Powers quiz, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: more Extended and deleted scenes, Secrets of the Gods featurette, On Set with Brandon T. Jackson, Inside Camp Half-Blood, Meet the Demigods, BD-Live featurette Demigods at Work & Play: Inside the Lotus Land Casino, DVD copy of film.

THE DANCING BOYS OF AFGHANISTAN

(2010)

Starring Najibullah Quraishi

PBS//Not Rated//Documentary//60 minutes

Available on: DVD

Afghan journalist, Najibullah Quraishi, investigates a disturbing Afghani practice known as Bacha Bazi, translated as "boy play." Posing as an interested party, Quraishi is granted total access to this dark underworld of dancing boys, the pubescent sons of impoverished families who sell them to "managers" promising to looked out for the lads. They boys are taught to dance for audiences of middle-aged pedophiles, but are given no indication about what else to expect. Dressed in female clothes, the dancers are sold to the highest bidder for the night after performing. Though banned under the Taliban rule, the practice apparently didn't go away, but now attracts patronage from government officials and military officers in today's more open atmosphere. One man explains his wife approves his boy play in lieu of other women, but it's a perilous occupation for the boys, one of whom was killed during the filming of this Frontline documentary. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

PRETTY BIRD

(2008)

* 1/2 (C-)

Directed by Paul Schneider

Starring Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, David Hornsby, Kristen Wiig, Elizabeth Marvel, Denis O'Hare, Garret Dillahunt

Paramount//Rated R//Comedy//99 minutes

Available on: DVD

This tale of three would-be entrepreneurs bombs in spite of an excellent cast. Crudup plays Curt, a transparent wheeler-dealer determined to create and market a personal jet pack. Curt ropes in his gullible friend Kenny (Hornsby) as financier. Curt next persuades unemployed rocket scientist Rick (Giamatti) to design a key jet pack component. After Rick miraculously accomplishes the task, Curt spirits the invention away to an undisclosed location. A supposedly comic turn of kidnapping ensues, but since the film never creates any tension, its intended madcap comic ending falls flat. No special DVD features.

PREDATOR

(1987)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by John McTiernan

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Duke, R.G. Armstrong, Jesse Ventura, Elpidia Carrillo, Carl Weathers, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, Kevin Peter Hall

Fox//Rated R//Sci-Fi, Action//107 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

In a South American jungle, Maj. Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his commandos are attacked by an invisible killer that wields superior weapons and favors skinning its prey. Dutch Dillon (Carl Weathers), and Blain (Ventura), correctly conclude that whatever is hunting them is not the usual enemy. The final act is so suspenseful you have to remind yourself to breathe. The film stars two future governors (Schwarzenegger and Ventura), spawned two sequels and two sidequels pitting the Predator against James Cameron's Alien. Blu-Ray features: All-new Digital Restoration of Predator, Director commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, New - Predator: Evolution of a species, Inside the Predator Documentary, Text commentary by film historian Eric Lichtenfeld, featurettes: Making of, Special F/X, Short Takes w/filmmakers, Photo Gallery, Predator Profile, Sneak Peek at the New "Predators," English, Spanish or French language tracks, widescreen.

Also Out This Week:

UNTHIINKABLE

(2010)

Directed by Gregor Jordan

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Michael Sheen, Brandon Routh, Benito Martinez

Sony//Rated R//Thriller//97 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Largely ignored despite the presence of Samuel L. Jackson, the film examines whether the hard line tactics employed by expert interrogator "H" (Jackson) are justified when he attempts to coerce a suspect (Sheen) into revealing where he has planted three nuclear bombs. DVD features: Extended version of the Film with Alternate Ending, director commentary, English language tracks, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: movie IQ sync and BD Live connect.

AIRLINE DISASTER

(2010)

Directed by John Willis III

Starring Meredith Baxter, Scott Valentine, Lindsey McKeon, Jay Beyers

Asylum//Not Rated//Action//90 minutes

Available on: DVD

A state-of-the-art airliner, piloted by the President's brother, is hijacked. Meredith Baxter appears as the Commander in Chief, forced to make gut-wrenching choices that could put the nation as well as her brother, in peril. Special effects include a crash into the Washington Monument. DVD features: Making of featurette, Bloopers, Trailers, English language tracks, widescreen.

THE REAL McCOYS: Season 4

(1961)

Created by Irving Pincus

Starring Walter Brennan, Richard Crenna, Kathleen Nolan, Lydia Reed, Michael Winkelman, Tony Martinez, Andy Clyde, Madge Blake

Infinity Entertainment//Not Rated//Comedy//897 minutes

Available on: DVD

"The Real McCoys" (1957-1963) had the dubious distinction of paving the way for comedy shows featuring rural Americans, "Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres." When a happy-go-lucky West Virginia mountain family moves to a California ranch in San Fernando Valley, Grampa Amos McCoy (Brennan) just can't help but meddle in everyone's affairs. Joining him are grandson Luke (Crenna), Luke's bride Kate (Nolan), teenage sister, "Aunt" Hassie (Reed), 11-year-old brother Little Luke (Winkelman), farm hand Pepino (Martinez), and their argumentative neighbor, George (Clyde) whose spinster sister Flora (Blake) has eyes for Gramps. 4-Disc DVD set has been digitally remastered and has no special features.

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