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Monday, Sept. 6, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 8/31 - 9/06/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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FLASHFORWARD: The Complete Series

(2009-2010)

* * * (B)

Created by David S. Goyer, Brannon Braga

Starring Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Courtney B. Vance, Brian F. O'Byrne, Sonya Walger, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List, Christine Woods

Buena Vista//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//989 minutes

Available on: DVD

At 11 am PST, everyone on earth falls unconscious for two minutes. During the global blackout, each person glimpses his life six months from now. This shared experience becomes everyone's focus in a story unfolding week by week. With 10 episodes in the can and declining viewership, ABC took a 3-month break, issuing this group of episodes on DVD, a strategy allowing viewers to catch up. The critically acclaimed show never recaptured its initial viewership. Joseph Fiennes appears as an FBI agent investigating the mystery with his partner (John Cho) as they hurtle toward their unsettling, future visions. Overall, the well-written series reflects its science fiction source, a novel by Robert J. Sawyer. What was planned as a multi-season story is compacted into an abbreviated ending that squeezes too much information in the last few episodes. Too bad. It was good while it lasted. 5-Disc DVD features: Commentaries on selected episodes, Examination of the Series from the Filming the Pilot to the Final Episode, Join Yuko Takeuchi on The Flashforward Set, To Play Keiko - Her First Role on American Television, Get the Inside Stories from with the Cast & Crew, Why Is There A Kangaroo Bouncing Around The Flashforward Set?, Interviews With The Mosaic Collective, Creating Catastrophe: The Effects Of A Global Blackout, Behind The Scenes: Creating The Freeway Disaster, A Look Ahead, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

HOUSE, M.D.: Season Six

(2009)

* * *1/2 (Grad A-)

Created by David Shore

Starring Omar Epps, Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison, Peter Jacobson, Jesse Spencer, Olivia Wilde

Universal//Not Rated//Drama, Comedy//969 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Dr. Gregory House (Laurie), is a diagnostician at New Jersey's Princeton-Plainsboro hospital. He's anti-social, arrogant and addicted to painkillers. As the season opens, House is compelled to remain in rehab or lose his medical license. He's eventually released into the custody of his best friend Wilson (Leonard), and continues to lust after his boss, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Edelstein), though she is otherwise romantically involved. More than a dramadey featuring incisive dialog and great characters, the series follows House's extraordinary efforts, along with a team of young specialists, to diagnose and treat life-threatening illnesses. 5-Disc DVD or Blu-ray set features: Before Broken: an original short featuring Hugh Laurie, A short featuring House's emotional journey at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital with director/executive producer Katie Jacobs, A different POV: Hugh Laurie directs A new house for House, New faces in a new house, Episode commentaries, DD 5.1 English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by Tyler Perry

Starring Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White, Tasha Smith, Tyler Perry, Louis Gossett

Lionsgate//Rated PG-13//Drama//121 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

In the sequel to Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married, the same four couples reunite for their annual vacation—a retreat intended to improve their marriages while strengthening the bonds of friendship between the couples. One recently remarried woman is stunned by the arrival of her ex, and his determination to win her back. As usual per Tyler Perry dramas, each character's flaws are exposed as the couples struggle with issues of trust and faith, career changes and family responsibilities. DVD and Blu-ray features: featurettes: Girl Talk: The Women of Married featurette, Male Bonding: The Men of Married, music video, Couples character guide, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

MARMADUKE

(2010)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Tom Dey

Voices of Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Kiefer Sutherland, Damon Wayans, Marlon Wayans

Starring Judy Greer, Caroline Sunshine, Finley Jacobsen

Fox//Rated PG//Comedy/88 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

When the Winslow family moves cross-country to an upscale neighborhood, they entrust their Great Dane Marmaduke (voiced by Wilson), to a pet-shipping company. Marmaduke's journey is harrowing, but it all seems worthwhile when he finally arrives at his new home to discover a spacious backyard, swimming pool and nearby dog friendly park where he makes many new friends. Marmaduke's head swells after he wins a surfing competition, setting him up to learn important lessons about friendship and family. DVD features: Cowabarka! More Surfing Dogs, Canine Casting, Deleted Scenes, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Gag Reel, Puppy Marmaduke & Kitty Carlos: Home Videos.

HARRY BROWN

(2009)

* * * (B)

Directed by Daniel Barber

Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, Liam Cunningham, Ben Drew

Sony//Rated R//Drama//103 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

After thugs kill his best friend, widower Harry Brown (Caine) doesn't care whether he lives or dies, provided he gets his revenge. He's a 77-year-old British pensioner, stuck in a deteriorating neighborhood, and knows his way around weaponry thanks to a youthful stint in the Royal Marines. As Harry sets about cleaning up the neighborhood, it falls to an understanding police detective (Mortimer) to see past Harry's apparent frailties. The story can be slow going, but Caine gives Harry his all, and it pays off. DVD and Blu-ray features: cast and filmmakers commentary, Harry Brown's vigilante justice with Deleted Scenes, English language tracks, widescreen.

SONS OF ANARCHY: Season Two

(2009)

* * * (B)

Created by Kurt Sutter

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Mark Boone Junior, Tommy Flanagan, Maggie Siff, Ron Perlman, Kim Coates, Katey Sagal, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, Adam Arkin, Henry Rollins

Fox//Rated TV-MA//Drama//583 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

FX is known for its adult dramas intended for mature audiences. "Sons of Anarchy" relies on violence, sex and adult language to depict the inner workings of an outlaw motorcycle club founded by a pair of Vietnam vets. John Teller died under mysterious circumstances, but speaks to us in voice-over. After his death, Teller's wife Gemma (Sagal) married club co-founder, Clay Morrow (Perlman), who helped her raise Teller's son Jax (Hunnam). The show benefits from its through-story and character development, both smartly handled by creator Kurt Sutton. The club owns a legit car repair shop used to launder profits from selling guns to buyers in Oakland, Modesto and other crime-ridden cities. This season, the gang's grip on its hometown is challenged by a white separatist group (headed by Adam Arkin and Henry Rollins). Federal agents also have the club in their sights, but the club is also threatened by disagreements and suspicions between club members. 4-Disc DVD and Blu-ray features: commentary on select episodes: The moral code of Sons of Anarchy, roundtable, English language tracks, French, Korean or Spanish subtitles, Cantonese subtitles (Blu-ray only) widescreen.

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: The Complete Collection

(2007-2009)

* *1/2 (B-)

Created by James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie

Starring Rhys Darby, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie

HBO//Not Rated//Comedy//690 minutes

Available on: DVD

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, appear as themselves, a song-writing duo performing folk parody. New Zealanders transplanted to NYC, the boys subsist on next to nothing, thanks to nonpaying gigs booked by their manager, a low-level travel agent. Jermaine and Bret squabble over girls, money and practice schedules, sharing their feelings and impression though their songs which frequently stand in for dialog. 5-Disc DVD features: On Air Documentary Feature, Dave's Pawn Shop Commercials, New Zealand Consulate Meetings with Murray & Greg, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, English or Spanish language tracks, French subtitles, widescreen.

ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY

(2004)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Adam McKay

Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard

Paramount//Rated PG-13//Comedy//91 minutes

Mahogany Edition - Available on: Blu-ray

News reader Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) reveals his inadequacies and desires, as he strives to be Mr. Cool. Burgundy bares his fleshy chest to impress Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), the first anchorwoman on air in 1970's San Diego. Burgundy leads a gang of rather vacant sideburned cronies, including clueless weatherman Brick (Steve Carell). Hearing that a woman's scent can attract bears, cowboy sportscaster Champ (David Koechner) complains to their news director (Fred Willard) that Veronica's presence puts "our lives in danger," while reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) douses himself in what he hopes is chick magnet after-shave. 2-Disc Blu-ray is a Best Buy Stores Exclusive and features: commentaries on both theatrical and unrated versions included in this set, 36 Deleted and Extended Scenes, music video, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, raw footage - good takes, Table Read, Comedy Central looks at Anchorman, Additional in-pack items, The Many Months of Burgundy journal, 12 Trading cards In baseball card packaging, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

BULL DURHAM

(1988)

* * * (B)

Directed by Ron Shelton

Starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins

MGM//Rated R//Drama//108 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Director Ron Shelton defied conventional wisdom when making a late '80s big budget film about baseball. Costner's performance as catcher Crash Davis, demonstrates the magnetism and charm that made him a star, while Susan Sarandon's portrayal of Crash's sexy, intellectual love interest established her as a serious film actress. Shelton deserves much credit for effectively capturing both the sport's milieu and its mystique. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: film on Blu-ray and DVD, Director Commentary or commentary with Costner and Robbins, The Greatest Show on Dirt, Diamonds in the Rough, Making of featurette, Kevin Costner Profile, Sports Wrap, English, French or Spanish language tracks, Korean or Cantonese subtitles (Blu-ray only), widescreen.

THE EVIL DEAD

(1981)

* * * (B)

Directed by Sam Raimi

Starring Bruce Campbell, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich, Ellen Sandweiss, Theresa Tilly

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Horror//85 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Five young friends vacationing at a cabin in the woods, stumble upon an ancient book bound in human flesh and inked in blood. After unleashing an unspeakable terror connected to the tome, each is transformed into a zombie, save Ash (Bruce Campbell) who must dismember the reanimated corpses of his friends in order to survive. Sam Raimi's atmospheric slasher-horror boasts several hysterical scenes. To raise production funds, young Raimi pitched his project to local midwestern businessmen. The engrossing result spawned two sequels. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: all-new audio commentary with Sam Raimi, Producer Robert Tapert and Star Bruce Campbell, film on DVD, The Untold Saga, Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor, The Ladies Of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell, Book of The Dead: The Other Pages, Discovering The Evil Dead, Unconventional, At The Drive-In, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

MGM's CELEBRATED WOMEN OF COLOR COLLECTION, Volume One:

is available on DVD. The collection includes the following four films on four discs. At about $25, it represents an excellent value.

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES

(2008)

* *1/2 (Grade B-)

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Starring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Paul Bettany, Hilarie Burton, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds

Rated PG-13//Drama//109 minutes

A Southern drama set in 1964, the film examines racial tensions. Following clues left by her deceased mother, Caucasian Lily Owens (Fanning), her black nanny (Hudson) in tow, arrives on the doorstep of the black Boatwright sisters. Unaware Lily is lying about her abusive father's (Bettany) death, the beekeeping sisters treat Lily like one of the family. August (Latifah) mothers the child while her sisters, June (Keys) and May (Okonedo), confide in the girl. Lily falls-in-like with a local boy (Wilds), but tragedy soon befalls their circle in this diligent, but cloying adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's bestseller.

WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED

(2004)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Michael Schultz

Starring Kimberly Elise

Rated R//Drama//90 minutes

This breakout role finds Elise playing a woman victimized by her mother's desperate need for a man. Sexual abuse during childhood leads to Michelle's teen drug addiction, a prison term, and her ill-fated attempts to make positive changes. From the book by minister T.D. Jakes, Michelle's tragic experiences are a compilation of real-life stories. DVD Features: film trailers, anamorphic widescreen or pan & scan.

OUT OF TIME

(2003)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Carl Franklin

Starring Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, John Billingsley

Rated PG-13//Thriller//105 minutes

Small town police chief Whitlock (Washington) steals impounded drug money to pay for his girlfriend's cancer treatments, but his Robin Hood deed culminates in Whitlock being framed for her murder. Whitlock has more than one reason to cover up the theft and his affair when his police detective wife (Mendes) is assigned to the case as lead investigator. If Washington is out of place as a dummy, the film hardly leaves time to notice as Whitlock races to beat the clock.

JASON'S LYRIC

(1994)

Directed by Doug McHenry

Starring Allen Payne, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Anthony Criss, Eddie Griffin

Rated R//Drama//119 minutes

A father's alcoholic violence is perpetuated by one of his sons, but a second son (Payne) draws hope from his romance with Lyric (Pinkett).

MGM's CELEBRATED WOMEN OF COLOR COLLECTION, Volume Two.

While a lesser collection than Volume one, for about $25 it's still an excellent value. These four discs include: Waiting To Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Holiday Heart, Beauty Shop. I've reviewed two titles.

HOLIDAY HEART

(2000)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Robert Townsend

Starring Alfre Woodard, Ving Rhames, Mykelti Williamson

Rated R//Drama//97 minutes

Seeing Ving Rhames, known for his tough guy roles, play a drag queen, is part of "Holiday Heart's" fun. Rhames softens his deep voice and brings a Southern lilt to the title role of Holiday, an apartment house owner and female impersonator. He fights like a man, but cries like a woman in this film based on the play by Cheryl West. Holiday finds meaning in rescuing little Nikki and her crack-addicted mom, Wanda (Alfre Woodard). He gives them a place to live and cares for Nikki while Wanda works on her book of racy, feminist poetry. Woodard portrays Wanda's guilt, pain and dreaminess with a searing honesty that earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Though the film calls its characters to account, it sometimes slips into dramadey.

BEAUTY SHOP

(2005)

* 1/2 (C-)

Directed by Bille Woodruff

Starring Queen Latifah, Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou

Rated PG-13//Comedy//105 minutes

Latifah carries this "Barbershop" spin-off on her capable hips, but the screenplay is melodramatic and shopworn. Bacon appears as Gina's (Latifah) ex-boss, vindictive salon owner Jorge Christophe. Andie MacDowell, Alfre Woodard and Alicia Silverstone show up as babes attached to Gina's ghetto fabulous beauty parlor, where the hairdresser's calling card is her ego-boosting "do."

Also Out This Week

BEATDOWN

(2010)

Directed by Mike Gunther

Starring Eric Balfour, Danny Trejo, Rudy Youngblood

Lionsgate//Rated R//Action//90 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

When street fighter Brandon's brother was murdered and robbed, he carried $40,000 belonging to a local gangster. Given one week to pay up, Brandon flees to his father's suburban home, where he learns of an underground fight club. Brandon befriends former MMA champ Drake Colby, and together the pair hatch a scheme to raise the money, or die trying. DVD and Blu-ray features: director commentary with actors Rudy Youngblood and Susie Abromeit and Editor Dave Macomber, Behind the Scenes Interviews, Three Days on Set with Michael Bisping, Choreographing the Beatdowns, Beatdown Contest Winner, TapouT Promos, Trailer Gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: BERRYWOOD HERE WE COME

(2010)

Available on: DVD

Fox//Rated G//Animated//45 minutes

Strawberry Shortcake and pals head for Berrywood, where their friend, Limelight is an insecure movie star. After learning show biz is tough, the friends decide to re-open their town's local theater, but greedy Pie Man schemes to keep the theater for himself. DVD features: DVD-ROM Printable Coloring Page, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: THE GLIMMERBERRY BALL MOVIE

(2010)

Fox//Rated G//Animated//64 minutes

Available on: DVD

Strawberry Shortcake and her pals prepare for the winter Glimmerberry Ball by attempting to carve a spectacular Glimmerberry lantern. DVD features: "Never Say Never" Sing-Along, Read-Along Storybook, DVD-ROM Printable Coloring Page, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

KILLING ROOM

(2009)

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Starring Timothy Hutton, Peter Stormare, Clea DuVall, Chloe Sevigny, Nick Cannon, Shea Whigham

Genius//Rating R//Drama//93 minutes

Four strangers are recruited for a classified government experiment that is different from the one represented when they signed up. Brooding Dr. Phillips (Peter Stormare) is determined to make the study support his theories while military psychologist and the newest member of his team, Ms. Reilly (Chloe Sevigny), questions the ethics of making unwitting participants fight for their lives. Blu-ray features: English language tracks, widescreen.

BROTHERS AND SISTERS: Season Four

(2009-2010)

Created by Jon Robin Baitz

Starring Dave Annable, Calista Flockhart, Balthazar Getty, Rachel Griffiths, Ron Rifkin, Patricia Wettig, Sally Field, Kerris Dorsey, Matthew Rhys, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Rob Lowe

Buena Vista//Rated TV-PG//Drama//1032 minutes

Available on: DVD

This prime time soap opera returns to trace the successes and failures of the Walker family. The brood runs a profitable produce and wine business, but their proceeds have fallen during the economic crisis. Appearing as strong matriarchs, Patricia Wettig and Sally Field play rivals compelled to work together. Ron Rifkin plays a gay family member, belatedly out of the closet. In the fourth season Calista Flockhart's character is diagnosed with cancer while a pair of young family members learn they are not related and are free to fall in love. As in previous seasons, family dinners routinely degenerate into food fights. 6-Disc DVD features: Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, The Cast and Crew on The Red Carpet, Season 4 Premiere Party, Off Tthe Clock with the Actors and Crew, At the Show's Softball Game, their very own Art Opening and The Malibu Triathlon, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.



9TH COMPANY

(2006)

Directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk

Starring Aleksei Chadov, Ivan Kokorin, Konstantin Kryukov, Artem Mikhalkov, Artur Smolyaninov, Amadu Mamadakov, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Mikhail Efremov, Mikhail Evlanov

Well Go USA//Rated R//Action//140 minutes

Collector's Edition Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

This Russian drama is set between 1988 and 1989 at the tail end of the Soviet-Afghan war. Military trainees Petrovsky, Ryaba, Chugun, Stas, Pinochet, Lyutev and Vorobyev are trained in Siberia, then head off to the Afghani province of Khost where they try to secure their military supply lines. They recruits are unprepared for the reality of war leaving thousands of Soviet victims in its wake. 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray features: Making of featurette, 20 Years Later, The Premiere, Russian or English language tracks, English subtitles, widescreen.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

(2006)

Directed by Jerry Turner

Starring Travis Michael Holder, Lucas Elliot, John Brotherton, Deborah Shelton, Mary Jo Catlett, Jesse C. Boyd

Ariztical Entertainment//Drama//85 minutes

Available on: DVD

TV star Den (Holder) has never "come out" despite living with his wheelchair-bound lover (Brotherton) in the Hollywood Hills. Then David, the 16-year-old son Den never knew he had, arrives hoping to become acquainted with dear old dad. David's homophobia threatens to drive them apart, until the women in Den's life (Mary Jo Catlett and Deborah Shelton) help David understand there are many aspects to love and family. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

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