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Monday, Aug. 23, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 08/17 - 08/22/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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TEMPLE GRANDIN

(2010)

* * * * (A)

Directed by Mick Jackson

Starring Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, Catherine O'Hara, David Strathairn

HBO//Drama//109 minutes

One look at the cover art of HBO's Temple Grandin is enough to either put you off, or pique your interest. It depicts Claire Danes in a Shirley Temple moptop and a cowgirl shirt straight out of the '40s. The retro getup replicates real-life Temple Grandin's favored wear, and seems to belie her heroism to those stricken with autism, while correctly signaling Grandin's unsung achievements to meat lovers. Born in 1947, Temple did not speak until age four. Her mother, portrayed by Julia Ormond, defied medical advice she should institutionalize Temple, dedicating herself to helping her autistic daughter find her way. When we meet Temple, she's defied the odds by winning acceptance to an Arizona University. While summering on her aunt's (Catherine O'Hara) cattle ranch, Temple discovers an ability to understand bovine creatures that experience the world much as she does. Based on this insight, Temple believes only she can redesign slaughter houses to make the process both more efficient and humane. She is constantly challenged to decipher human behavior, but the struggle proves to be an invaluable training ground when cattlemen deny her entry to their inner sanctum. Danes's award-worthy performance illustrates Grandin's confusion and her triumphs in this not-to-be-missed biopic. DVD features: commentary with director, Temple Grandin, and screenwriter Christopher Monger, Making-of featurette, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

COUGAR TOWN: Season One

(2009 - 2010)

* * (C)

Created by Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel

Starring Courteney Cox, Brian Van Holt, Christa Miller, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez

Buena Vista//Rated TV-14//Comedy//520 minutes

Available on: DVD

The idea is loaded with merit. What's a successful, 40-year-old divorcee to do about men? Successful Florida real estate broker Jules Cobb (Cox), decides to emulate divorced men in her age group by bedding younger men. Though insecure about her aging body, she feels superior to her quarry in other ways, and is only mildly embarrassed about flaunting her proclivities in front of 17-year-old son Travis (Byrd). Jules's ubiquitous ex Bobby (Van Holt), a failed musician turned landscaper, is a regular presence at her house, and functions as a measuring stick of Jules's poor judgement regarding men. She is caught between two best friends, married neighbor Ellie (Miller), and Jules's younger, hot-to-trot employee Laurie (Busy). The series could make a point about the netherworld occupied by divorced women over 35, but improbably, Jules gets to have her cake and eat it too. 3-Disc DVD features: Bloopers, deleted scenes, Taming Cougar Town - Discover How Cougar Town Has Evolved, From Its Initial Comedy Pilot Into Today's More Subtly Sexy ABC Hit, Jimmy Kimmel Live: Saber-Tooth Tiger Town, Ask Barb - The Ultimate Cougar Answers Your Questions, Stroking It With Bobby Cobb, DD 5.1 English language tracks, widescreen.

NANNY McPHEE

(2006)

* * (C)

Directed by Kirk Jones

Starring Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Kelly MacDonald, Derek Jacobi, Celia Imrie, Angela Lansbury, Imelda Staunton, Phyllida Law, Eliza Bennett

Universal//Rated PG//Comedy, Family//99 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

The screenplay for Nanny McPhee was written by its star, Emma Thompson, who portrays the all knowing nanny McPhee with admirable restraint. Sadly the film's production design consists of a visually painful salad of colors. After a series of nannies are bounced by the unruly Brown children, their widowed father, Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) hears a voice in his head saying, "Nanny McPhee is the person you need," and shortly thereafter, she appears at his front door. Despite her hairy moles and bulbous nose, McPhee quickly makes peace with Simon, the oldest and brightest of Brown's seven brats. Like "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" before her, McPhee teaches the children to carefully consider what they wish for by conjuring worst case scenarios. Angela Lansbury plays a wealthy aunt poised to withdraw Brown's allowance unless he marries within 30 days. He ought to chose his lovely and loyal scullery maid (Kelly Macdonald), but that would needlessly shorten the film's length. Christianna Brand's books put some difficult social issues, worth consideration, into a child friendly context. However the story's chaotic mess of screaming kids, will have you wishing Thompson had hired a script doctor. Blu-Ray features: commentary with director and the children, Casting The Children, Village Life, Nanny McPhee Makeover, deleted scenes, Gag Reel, How Nanny McPhee Came To Be, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

ORLANDO

(1992)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Sally Potter

Starring Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Lothaire Bluteau, John Wood, Heathcote Williams, Quentin Crisp, Charlotte Valandrey

Sony//Rated PG-13//Comedy//94 minutes

Special Edition, Available on: DVD

Director Sally Potter adapts Virginian Woolf's 1928 gender-bending novel for the screen. A young Tilda Swinton plays Orlando, mysteriously transformed from a 17th century youth, and Queen Elizabeth's favorite boy-toy, into a woman. Aging more slowly than usual, by the time Orlando reaches the early 20th century, she rides a motorbike, her small daughter ensconced in a sidecar. Woolf's novel sought to examine the differences and similarities between the sexes over the past few centuries, as well as defining the ideal man or woman. Likewise, via Orlando's career as a poet, literary fashions are skewered. The film succeeds—to an extent—in illuminating its complex subjects through a series of bon motts. However, it's an oddly stiff script, requiring much narration and onscreen descriptions that grow wearisome. The film won numerous international awards including a Felix for best picture, while garnering two Academy Award noms. DVD features: Orlando goes to Russia, Orlando in Uzbekistan, Jimmy was an angel, Venice Film Festival press conference, director interview, select scenes director commentary, English language tracks, widescreen.

THE LAST SONG

(2010)

* 1/2 (C-)

Directed by Julie Anne Robinson

Starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston, Nick Lashaway, Carly Chaikin, Nick Searcy

Disney//Rated PG//Drama//107 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

It isn't easy to make Miley Cyrus unappealing, but the popular singer/actress is ill-served by her role of Ronnie, a troubled teen who, along her younger brother (Coleman), is sent by her mom (Preston) to stay with their estranged father (Kinnear). Musically talented like her father, city-girl Ronnie refuses to play the piano or sing, preferring to sulk about summering in Dad's seaside town. Then Ronnie falls for local dreamboat Will (Hemsworth), a spoiled rich boy with baggage of his own, and she begins to realize that no family is perfect. Written by tear-meister Nicholas Sparks, the film's success or failure rests on the faithfulness of Miley's youthful fanbase. DVD features: commentary By Director Julie Anne Robinson and Producer Jennifer Gibgot, Set Tour With Bobby Coleman: Behind The Scenes making of, Miley Cyrus Music Video: "When I Look At You," Making Of Music Video With Miley Cyrus, An Inside-the-Recording-featurette includes Interviews with Miley and Crew, English or French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack features same plus: alternate opening sequence, deleted scenes, includes DVD of the film with bonus features.

MY NAME IS KHAN

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Karan Johar

Starring Kajol, Tanay Chheda, Shahrukh Khan, Jimmy Shergill

Fox//Rated PG-13//Hindi and English, with English subtitles//161 minutes

Available on: DVD

Shah Rukh Khan appears as Rizvan Khan, an Indian man migrating to San Francisco following the death of his mother. He's a Muslim and a virgin stricken with Asperger's syndrome, but is functioning well in his job as a cosmetics salesman when he meets and marries Hindu salon owner, Mandira (Devgan). In the wake of 9/11, and anti-Muslim sentiment, Mandira tells Khan to leave her home, setting him on a quest to win her back. While the film's Bollywood roots all but guarantee it will veer into both improbability and melodrama, Khan is a winsome character and the story is surprisingly affecting. DVD features: Changing the Face Of Bollywood, Working Together, The Music, The Story, Sajda Music Promo, Tere Naina Music Promo, English and Hindi language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

FURRY VENGEANCE

(2010)

* (D)

Directed by Roger Kumble

Starring Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Ken Jeong, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Kinsey

Summit Entertainment//Rated PG//Comedy//92 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

In this family movie, a real estate developer (Fraser), his wife (Shields) and a construction crew, seek to develop a pristine wilderness into an exclusive community of McMansions. These hapless humans soon find their project sabotaged by clever woodland creatures that attack them in surprising ways— most surprising is that each comeuppance consists of a vulgar sight gag. Seemingly lost without his "Mummy" movies, Fraser contends with a series of crotch jokes that fail to amuse. Uneven CGI effects hold up poorly next to real-life critters, all of which ought to creep down from the Hollywood Hills to avenge themselves. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Director and Cast commentary, deleted scenes, The Pitfalls of Pratfalls, Working with Animals, Gag Reel, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

UGLY BETTY: Season Four

(2009)

* * (C)

Produced by Salma Hayek

Starring America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Vanessa Williams

Buena Vista//Not Rated//Comedy//860 minutes

Available on: DVD

The fourth and final season finds Betty (Ferrera) becoming an associate editor at fashion magazine Mode. Attempting to retain control of the troubled publication, editor in chief Wilhelmina Slater (Williams) continues to make everyone's life a living Hell, within the confines of a glossy sitcom format. An extended version of The Devil Wears Prada, the series had good intentions, and gives us a likeable heroine in Ferrera, but it consistently squanders an ordinary-looking girl's efforts to swim with fashionable sharks on too many go-for-laughs subplots. 4-Disc DVD features: commentaries, Betty goes Bahamas, Made after hours - webisodes, Betty bloops, deleted scenes, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

BLACK SNAKE MOAN

(2007)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Craig Brewer

Starring Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran, Jr.

Paramount//Rated R//Drama//115 minutes

Available on: DVD

Christina Ricci appears as Rae, a backwoods nymphomaniac found beaten and near death by old blues player Lazarus (Jackson). Determined to drive the devil from Rae, Lazarus chains her to an old radiator and reads scripture to her. His bizarre therapy helps, but Rae is a lost soul without her boyfriend (Timberlake), gone off to join the army. A strange plan has Jackson sing the titular song while pop star Timberlake remains noteless. The excellent score and the cast's enthusiasm for this dark material, may cause you to moan for missed opportunities. DVD features: directory commentary, deleted scenes, Making of documentary, Rooted in the Blues featurette, English, French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

THE CONVERSATION

(1974)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Starring Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Teri Garr, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Lionsgate//Rated PG//Thriller//113 minutes

Available on: DVD

Director Francis Ford Coppola authored this knowing thriller casting Hackman as nerdy wiretapper Harry Caul, a precursor to his later role in "Enemy of the State." For once, Caul's paranoia is justified, for having recorded the wrong conversation. The action is tense, thoughtful and even more relevant in a society defined by our increasingly public lives. DVD features: Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola or commentary by film editor Walter Murch, "Close-Up on The Conversation" featurette, theatrical trailer, English or French language tracks, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

CA$H

(2008)

Directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson

Starring Sean Bean, Chris Hemsworth, Victoria Profeta, Glenn Plummer, Mike Starr, Michael Mantell, Anthony Thekkek

Lionsgate//Rated R//Action//108 minutes

Available on: DVD

When clean-cut Sam and Leslie (Hemsworth and Profeta) find a suitcase filled with cash, they set about spending some of their newfound wealth, secure in the knowledge they'll never have to work again. That all changes when they are found by Pyke Kubic (Bean), the vicious criminal whose money they've been spending. Rather than kill them, Pyke decides to let them live provided they repay their debt by robbing stores. Dropped into a life of crime, the couple is desperate to find a way out. DVD features: director commentary, Making-of featurette, Deleted and Extended Scenes, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION

(2008)

Directed by James Ivory

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Omar Metwally

Screen Media//Rated PG-13//Drama//118 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

James Ivory adapts Peter Cameron's novel for the screen. Following the suicide of a South American author, a professor from Colorado (Metwally) decides to write the man's biography. The professor's efforts to gain access to the author's papers lead him to the author's estate in Uruguay where he opens a Pandora's box of resentments brewing among the writer's widow (Linney), his girlfriend (Gainsbourg), and the author's gay brother (Hopkins). DVD and Blu-Ray features: Director's Comments, Making-of featurette, English language tracks, widescreen.

SKELLIG: THE OWL MAN

(2009)

Directed by Annabel Jankel

Starring Tim Roth, Bill Milner

Image//Rated PG//Fantasy, Drama//104 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Adapted from the children's novel by David Almond, this Brit television production stars Tim Roth as magical Skellig, a supernatural owl/human hybrid. Young Michael despises his dilapidated new home and is troubled by school bullies. Compounding the lad's worries are concerns that his prematurely born baby sister may die. Then Michael meets Skellig, the magical, but ailing being hiding out in the backyard shed. Michael nurses Skellig, who has a taste for brown ale, back to health and learns he has made a powerful new friend. DVD and Blu-Ray features: English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Season Four DVD

(2009)

Starring Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Minka Kelly

Universal//Not Rated//Drama//577 minutes

Available on: DVD

After the town of Dillon is redistricted, Coach Taylor (Chandler) is sent to a dilapidated high school on the East side while his wife Tami (Britton) remains in her position at Dillon High. The move creates tension between the couple and fuels resentments between those who've got it, and those that ain't. Buddy's car dealership struggles to survive, but the town's wealthy beer magnate is raking in the bucks and reveling in his son's growing triumphs as Dillon High's quarterback. 3-Disc DVD features: commentaries, deleted scenes, all-new behind-the-scenes footage, Intros by Peter Berg, English language tracks, widescreen.

BIG MONEY RUSTLAS

(2009)

Directed by Paul Andresen

Starring Jason Mewes, Insane Clown Posse, Jumpsteady, Mark Jury, Twiztid, Ron Jeremy, Bridget Powers, Shaggy 2 Dope, Violent J, Jason Mewes

Vivendi Entertainment//Rated R//Comedy//95 minutes

Available on: DVD

A Western Spoof featuring the Insane Clown Posse. This prequel to Big MoneyHustlas, finds Mud Bug's residents under the control of deranged gambler, Big Baby Chips (Violent J) whose reign of terror is supported by "yes men" Dusty Poot (Monoxide) and Raw Stank (Madrox), along with henchman Hack Benjamin (Jumpsteady). Sheriff Sugar Wolf (Shaggy 2 Dope) plans to defeat the gang with the aid of local gunman, Dirty Sanchez (Jury), and wacky night watchman, Bucky (Mewes). DVD features: Commentary by Insane Clown Posse or Commentary by Paul Andresen and Mark Jury, Movie Premier featurette, Photo Slideshow, Insane Clown Posse & Twiztid Music Videos, English language tracks, widescreen.

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