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Monday, Aug. 16, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 08/10 - 08/16/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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THE JONESES

(2010)

* * * 1/2 (A-)

Directed by Derrick Borte

Starring Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard, Gary Cole, Lauren Hutton, Ben Hollingsworth, Glenne Headly

Fox//Rated R//Comedy//96 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Knowing that the public will buy what our idols wear, celebrities are frequently outfitted at no charge. The logical next step has marketers secretly repeating the strategy using your most fashionable friends. Steve and Kate Jones (David Duchovny and Demi Moore), along with their irresistibly attractive teens, Mick and Jenn (Ben Hollingsworth and Amber Heard), give us a glimpse of who such show-horses might be. Actors hired to play an idyllic upscale family, the Jones move into a McMansion situated in an exclusive gated community. Their mission is influencing community residents to purchase an array of pricey products. Kate handles designer wear, party favors and exquisite home decor. Onetime golf-pro Steve showcases high-end sports equipment, super-cool cars, and expensive jewelry for the wife. Pretty Jenn coeds to Beverly Hills cosmetics and handsome high schooler Mick owns all the latest must-have gadgets. Larry and Summer (Gary Cole and Glenne Headly), appear as the next-door neighbors intent on keeping up with the Joneses while Lauren Hutton plays the Joneses' ruthless boss. The story examines the self-esteem issues—and other emotions—lurking beneath the Joneses' facade. The satire sometimes ventures into sitcom territory, but it's all in the name of just cause. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Deleted scenes, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

DATE NIGHT

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Taraji P. Henson, Kristen Wiig, Jimmi Simpson, Common, Ray Liotta, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, William Fichtner

Fox//Rated PG-13//Comedy//88 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Date Night is a jumbled film that feels as if it was dashed out during hiatus from its stars' respective sitcoms. Yet due to the formidable talents of Steve Carell and Tina Fey, this madcap mishap bounces along agreeably. They portray Phil and Claire Foster, an overworked New Jersey couple concerned the romance is getting lost from their marriage. To recapture that spark, the suburban pair go to a trendy Manhattan restaurant for a date-night. Finagling a table causes them to be mistaken for extortionists by a mobster's (Ray Liotta) henchmen (Jimmi Simpson and Common). In an attempt to escape the mobster's wrath, the couple go on an all-night adventure to gather information from a pair of gooney lovebirds (James Franco and Mila Kunis), and the city's District Attorney (William Fichtner). The Fosters receive help from a perpetually shirtless security expert, portrayed with deadpan befuddlement by Mark Wahlberg. Extricating themselves from their mess is an urgent goal, but in the process the Fosters find that they've still "got it bad" for one another. A less frenetic plot would have allowed us to appreciate the silly ways in which the two amuse one another -- chiefly because these are the same ways that Fey and Carell amuse us. DVD features: both Theatrical Version and Extended Version of the Film, director commentary on theatrical version, Alternate Scenes, featurettes: Directing off-camera, Directing 301, Public Service Announcements, Gag Reel, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack features the same plus: DVD version of the film, Steve Carell and Tina Fey camera tests, BD-Live: Lookup.

DEATH AT A FUNERAL

(2010)

* (D)

Directed by Neil LaBute

Starring Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Luke Wilson, Peter Dinklage, James Marsden, Columbus Short, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, Regina Hall, Loretta Devine, Zoe Saldana, Keith David, Ron Glass, Kevin Hart

Sony//Rated R//Comedy//92 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Britain’s 2007 Death at a Funeral placed an uptight clan at the home of a deceased uppercrust patriarch. Due to a confluence of bizarre events, the gathering for this memorial service grows increasingly humiliating. Perhaps within the confines of a repressed British family, poo jokes, accidentally exposed corpses, sudden rooftop nakedness and secret homosexual flings, seem unlikely revelations. However, in this remake, the film's gags are pulled on an African American family headlined by Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. The reputation of these comics destroys the juxtaposition of class taken down to crass. Lawrence and Rock are stuck in the roles of straightmen, a waste of their talents that leaves the funny-making to Peter Dinklage (as a gay-midget) and James Marsden -- as the insecure outsider who mistakenly swallows a hallucinogen. The family is rounded out by Loretta Devine as a histrionic widow, Tracy Morgan and Zoe Saldana as the brothers' cousins, Luke Wilson as a spurned lover, Danny Glover as a curmudgeonly uncle, Regina Hall as Rock's barren wife, and Keith David as an impatient preacher. If nothing else, Death at a Funeral confirms that the louder the jokes, the weaker the humor. DVD features: Commentary with Director Neil LaBute and Chris Rock, Deleted Scenes, Behind The Scenes, Gag Reel, English or French language tracks, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: movieIQ™ sync, BD-Live, Family Album, Death For Real, Death at a Funeral: Last Rites, Dark Secrets, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

CRUMB

(1994)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Starring Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Jesse Crumb, Charles Crumb, Maxon Crumb, Beatrice Crumb

Criterion//Rated R//Documentary//120 minutes

Special Edition Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Many are familiar with R. Crumb's "Keep On Truckin'" poster featuring the large-legged, Mr. Natural. In the '60s, Crumb became a cult hero by creating the frequently offensive, sometimes funny, underground comic book known as Zap Comix. He designed the cover for the '60s album Cheap Thrills, and turned down dozens of lucrative offers to design others. At the time of this documentary, made in 1994, Crumb and his wife Aline lived an unassuming existence in a modest home in Winters, California. However, as this intimate documentary reveals, there is nothing normal about Crumb. To find out why his comics are so outlandish and sexually offensive, director Terry Zwigoff follows Crumb on visits to the homes of Crumb's ultra-depressed mother, Beatrice, and his brothers, Charles and Maxon. All are talented artists stricken with mental disorders. Crumb's unconventional, polyamorous lifestyle, and his comics featuring zaftig women victimized by eccentric men, belies the fact that he is a shy, and retiring fellow whose art relieves his relentless suffering. DVD and Blu-Ray features: 2 commentaries: Zwigoff in 2010, or Zwigoff and critic Roger Ebert in 2006, fifty minutes of unused footage, stills gallery, English language tracks, widescreen.

THE DIPLOMAT aka False Witness

(2009)

* * (C)

Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Starring Dougray Scott, Claire Forlani, Richard Roxburgh, Rachael Blake, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor

Rhino//Not Rated//Action//187 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray Combo Pack

This made for Ion TV mini-series features Dougray Scott as Ian Porter, a British diplomat, working for Britain's Secret Intelligence Service. Forlani portrays Porter's ex-wife, Pippa. The couple lives in Australia, where, as the story opens, Porter and Pippa are arrested by Scotland Yard, after heroin is found in Porter's luggage. In short order, he and Pippa escape, but Porter is pursued by Scotland Yard, and Russian baddies. The story moves through England, Tajikistan and Australia and is filmed in the gritty style of a BBC thriller. The first 90 minutes bog down in Scott's repeated flashbacks, but during the next 90 minutes the film becomes a fast-paced espionage thriller. 2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack features: feature film on DVD and Blu-Ray, English language tracks, widescreen.

LETTERS TO GOD

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by David Nixon, Patrick Doughtie

Starring Tanner Maguire, Jeffrey Johnson, Robyn Lively

Universal//Rated PG//Drama//114 minutes

Available on: DVD

Boasting production values superior to that of many faith-based dramas, Letters to God examines the effect on believers and nonbelievers alike when an 8-year-old boy courageously battles cancer. Tyler (Maguire) deals with the isolation and fear that accompany his illness by writing letters to God. His missives find their way to postal worker Brady McDaniels (Johnson), who is at a crossroads in his own life. Based on a true story, this wholesome film may attract an audience searching for inspiration. DVD features: commentary with director David Nixon and writer/co-director Patrick Douglas, Behind the scenes featurette, Theatrical trailer, English language tracks, widescreen.

THE ART OF THE STEAL

(2009)

* * * (B)

Directed by Don Argott

Host Julian Bond, David d'Arcy, Richard H. Glanton, Christopher Knight, Ross L. Mitchell, Barry Munitz

IFC Films//Not Rated//Documentary//101 minutes

Available on: DVD

Upon the 1951 death of multimillionaire art collector, Arthur C. Barnes, his will stipulated his collection was not to be sold, lent, or be otherwise removed from the grounds of the Barnes Foundation. He left the foundation under the care of Lincoln University, a traditionally African-American college, supervised by his protegee, Violette de Mazia. When she died in 1988, Lincoln University took control of a collection now valued at 25 billion dollars. With such vasts amounts at stake, filmmaker Don Argott chronicles the manner in which greed, politics and even good intentions have colluded to subvert Barnes' will and scatter his collection far and wide. DVD features:, Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR: New To The Zoo

(2010)

DreamWorks//Not Rated//Animation, Family//88 minutes

Available on: DVD

Dreamworks's popular Penguins and their lemur friend, King Julien, return for 8 more episodes from Nickelodeon's Emmy and Annie Award-Winning series. Each program introduces a new zoo character, including, a boa constrictor, a baboon, and a red squirrel. DVD features: English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

MULTIPLE SARCASMS

(2010)

Directed by Brooks Branch

Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino, Dana Delany, Mario Van Peebles, Stockard Channing, India Ennenga, Chris Sarandon, Laila Robins

Image//Rated R//Drama//97 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Gabriel Richmond (Hutton) is having a midlife crisis when he decides to write a play about himself and his relationships with his wife Annie (Delany), his daughter Elizabeth (Ennenga) and his best friend Cari (Sorvino). Though the play becomes wildly successful, Richmond's real life continues its downward spiral until Gabriel decides that only he can write a surprise ending. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Behind The Scenes Featurette, Cast and Crew Interviews, Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

BREAKFAST SPECIAL

(2010)

Starring Rick Sebak

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

Available on: DVD

Rick Sebak, champion of all things Americana, travels across the U.S. to sample traditional and ethnic breakfast fare. The documentary is part travelogue, part food show, and part a portrait of those Americans willing to get up early to consume good eats. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

LA MISSION

(2009)

Directed by Peter Bratt

Starring Benjamin Bratt, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Peter Bratt, Erika Alexander

Screen Media//Rated R//Drama//117 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Benjamin Bratt steps into the lead role of his real-life brother's movie. He plays Che Rivera, an ex-con, recovering alcoholic and macho bus driver. When Che learns that his academically overachieving son Jes (Valdez) is gay, he kicks the lad out of the house. Though Che meets a radiant woman (Alexander), he has begun to drink and has trouble connecting. Set in San Francisco's Mission District, this intimate drama benefits from a solid script and the soulful performances of a game cast. DVD and Blu-Ray features: English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

CLONE HUNTER

(2009)

Directed by Andrew Bellware

Starring Angela Funk, David Ian Lee, Vincent Marano, Thomas Rowen, Benjamin Thomas

Lifesize Entertainment//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//86 minutes

Available on: DVD

Five hundred years in the future, the wealthy extend their lives by harvesting organs from clones. Despot Gulliver rules a secluded planet and is determined to get back his escaped clone. He hires Cane and Angela to find the renegade, but as they pursue the escaped clone, the pair begin to doubt the ethics of doing so. DVD features: Director commentary, Interview with the director, Outtakes, Trailer, Photo gallery, English language tracks, widescreen.

SECRETS OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

(2009)

Infinity//Rated TV-G//Documentary//47 minutes

Available on: DVD

This Smithsonian program documents the mating ritual of the coral inhabiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The reef, 1200 miles in length, is Earth's largest structure composed of living organisms. On a night shortly after the November full moon, the temperature and tides are right for a synchronized mating that greatly increases the odds the coral's offspring will survive. Here's hoping. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.