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Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 01/18 - 01/25/11 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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THE VIRGINITY HIT

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Huck Botko, Andrew Gurland

Starring Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Krysta Rodriguez, Jacob Davich

Sony//Rated R//Comedy//90 minutes

Available on: DVD

Matt's three friends seek to chronicle the loss of his virginity on camera, and post the event on the Internet. Along the way, they manage to alienate a dozen young women, earn the wrath of one teen's father, and post Matt's mounting mishaps to the web. When their efforts gain national attention, Matt receives unwelcome invites, and at least one promising indecent proposal. It's about more than the pursuit of fame for these young documentarians, but they never seem to grasp that exploiting the unwary is nothing to brag about. DVD features: filmmaker and cast commentary, Screen Test, Line-O-Rama, Zack's Funny or Die Audition, Jersey Girl - Featurette, English, French, Spanish or Thai English language tracks, Korean subtitles, widescreen.

TAKERS

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by John Luessenhop

Starring Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Hayden Christensen, Tip "T.I." Harris, Michael Ealy, Chris Brown, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Sony//Rated PG-13//Action//107 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Thanks to meticulous planning, five thieves (Walker, Elba, Christensen, Ealy and Brown) pull off a string of lucrative bank heists. The stakes are raised when a former member (Harris) rejoins their gang, bringing a wealth of knowledge about an armored truck -- soon to be carrying $25 million. Matt Dillon plays a troubled L.A. police detective, who along with his partner (Hernandez) is dedicated to catching the cocky crooks. Chase scenes that could have been brilliant, suffer from choppy editing while the serviceable script gets overly involved in the robbers' personal lives. DVD features: Filmmaker and cast commentary, Yeah Ya Know (Takers) - Music Promo, English or French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Making Of featurette, Inside Look at the Stunts, Movie IQ, English, French or Spanish English language tracks.

FREAKONOMICS

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Seth Gordon, Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki

starring Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt

Presenter Chad Troutwine

Magnolia//Rated PG-13//Documentary//93 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The problem with Freakonomics, an entertaining essay in four parts, is that it cites largely unproven positions. Based on the book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, these controversial theories invite discussion and counter proposals, but are never dull. One segment claims crime rates of the '90s dropped due to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion and thus limited the birth of unwanted children. Another considers the effect of our first names and finds that those with African American names, such as Tyrone, are less likely to get job interviews, thus limiting the name-bearer's opportunities. DVD or Blu-ray features: Additional Interviews with Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Producer's Commentary with Chris Romano, Dan O'Meara and Chad Troutwine, Directors' Commentary, HDNet: A Look at Freakonomics, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

JACK GOES BOATING

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman

Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Drama//91 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Originally performed by the Labyrinth Theater Company, where Hoffman, Ortiz and Rubin-Vega appeared in the roles they play here, this film also marks Hoffman's directorial debut. The story investigates Jack's (Hoffman) appetite for self-improvement once he begins dating Connie (Ryan). Jack, a livery-car driver at his uncle's company, depends on his friend Clyde (Ortiz) and Clyde's wife (Rubin-Vega), to teach him the social graces, and to help him learn new skills such as swimming. Hoffman's signature humor is evidenced in his poignant performance, and while little seems to happen, the performances are lively and Jack learns that even he can dare to dream. DVD or Blu-ray features: Jack's New York, From the stage to the big screen, Deleted scenes, Theatrical trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

STONE

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by John Curran

Starring Robert De Niro, Milla Jovovich, Edward Norton, Frances Conroy, Pepper Binkley, Enver Gjokaj

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Drama//105 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

A promising set up introduces Jack Mabry (De Niro) as a parole officer weighing-in on the possible early release of incarcerated Stone (Norton). Mabry is on the cusp of retiring when Stone unleashes his sexy wife Lucetta (Jovovich), with instructions to do whatever it takes to get Mabry on their side. Although claiming to be deeply religious, married Mabry succumbs to Lucetta's overtures. For this film to work as the thriller it claims to be, events should become dangerous. However, Stone, which bombed at the box office, abandons expectations to opt for an unwelcome, philosophical turn. Stone's screenwriter, Angus MacLachlan, must have rocks in his head. DVD or Blu-ray features: Making-of featurette, theatrical trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

DEATH RACE 2

(2010)

* (D)

Directed by Roel Reine

Starring Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames, Sean Bean, Luke Goss, Robin Shou, Frederick Koehler, Patrick Lyster, Tanit Phoenix, Joe Vaz, Lauren Cohan

Universal//Rated R//Action//101 minutes

Unrated version, Available on: DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

This prequel to the 2008 remake of Roger Corman's 1975 Death Race 2000 is an origin story that squanders the first two-thirds of its runtime by depicting the collapsing economy, the resulting crimewave and the burgeoning prison system run by private corporations. So far, it's pretty close to the real thing, but the scenario deviates from reality when an effort to placate the restless masses has prisoners competing in a Death Race broadcast on TV like a game show. Ten competitors are outfitted with armored muscle cars that are rigged with machine guns and other weaponry. Their mission is to cross the finish line alive. Anyone winning five races is promised his freedom, but viewers of this direct-to-video movie will feel like prisoners of the film's inferior script and lame race action. Lock it up and throw away the key. DVD features: choice of original R, or Unrated version with 2 minutes of additional footage, deleted scenes, Director's Montage, The Evolution of the Death Race, The Stunts, The Cars, director commentary, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray.

LEBANON

(2009)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Samuel Maoz

Starring Itay Tiran, Oshri Cohen, Michael Moshonov, Yoav Donat, Zohar Strauss, Reymond Amsellem, Ashraf Barhom, Zohar Strauss, Dudu Tassa

Sony//Rated R//Drama - in Hebrew, with English subtitles//94 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Based on the writer's own experiences as a 20-year-old rookie soldier during the 1982 Lebanon-Israeli War, we step inside a tank to accompany four young soldiers during the first 24 hours of an invasion. They crew a tank ordered to secure a reportedly pacified Lebanese town. By the time this intelligence proves to be false, the malfunctioning tank is stuck in the town, and overrun by violent factions. The great iron beast rumbles and creaks on the verge of breakdown, but human error is even more perilous. Events outside are seen through the tank's gun scope and the eyes of a nervous soldier representing the film's writer-director, Samuel Maoz. DVD or Blu-ray features: Notes on a War Film, Hebrew language tracks, English subtitles, widescreen. widescreen.

DOC WEST aka Triggerman

(2009)

-Bomb- (F)

Directed by Terence Hill, Giulio Base

Starring Paul Sorvino, Terence Hill, Claire Carey, Micah Alberti, Alessio DiClemente, Mary Petruolo, Ben Petry

Composer Maurizio De Angelis

Lionsgate//Rated PG//Western//97 minutes

Available on: DVD

A made-for-TV Western, this one wants to replicate Sergio Leone's moody spaghetti Western, but the stumbling story lacks the requisite tension. Terence Hill unwisely attempts to direct himself in the role of Doc West, a poker player and expert gunslinger looking for revenge against those who cheated him. Sheriff Basehart (Sorvino, who is slumming), locks Doc up, then offers his prisoner a get-out-of-jail-free card provided Doc joins lawmen in defending the town against outlaws. The saggy, baggy plot makes it impossible to like this one enough to hate it. DVD features: Trailer Gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: Season 4, Vol. 2

(1967-1968)

*1/2 (C-)

Created by Irwin Allen

Starring Richard Basehart, David Hedison, Robert Dowdell, Paul Trinka, Terry Becker, Del Monroe, Richard Bull, Arch Whiting

Fox//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//663 minutes

Available on: DVD

This science fiction series ran from 1964 through 1968. Storylines from the final season reflect similar plots from "Star Trek," which began airing in 1966 and was undoubtedly influenced by this series. Set aboard the Seaview, a glass-nosed atomic submarine, "Voyage" finds the Seaview's crew encountering monsters, aliens, a time traveler and alternate realities. Inexpensive special effects might be overlooked if not for a generally downbeat approach to its plots and central characters that lack pizzazz. Produced on the cheap, the show recycles monsters from other projects, and creates many of its sets using miniatures. Collectors of early science-fiction or classic TV, will be gladdened by the release of these final 13 episodes, even if they must endure the dreaded double-sided DVD disc. 3-Disc DVD features: Original unaired pilot, Broadcast pilot with vintage TV commercials, English or French language tracks, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

NAKED KISS

(1964)

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Starring Constance Towers, Virginia Grey, Michael Dante, Anthony Eisley, Patsy Kelly, Betty Bronson, Linda Francis, Barbara Perry

Criterion Collection//Not Rated//Drama, B&W//90 minutes

Special Edition, Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Samuel Fuller directed low budget films that have long been admired by critics. This one observes that most women, in 1964, had little room to maneuver in a male-dominated society. Constance Towers portrays a reformed prostitute determined to turn her life around when she moves to the small town of Grantsville. Though she has shed her pimp, men continue to control and abuse her. DVD or Blu-ray features: New Video Interview with Star Constance Towers by Film Historian and Filmmaker Charles Dennis, Excerpts from a 1983 episode of The South Bank Show dedicated to Director Samuel Fuller, Fuller Interviews: A 1967 French TV series, A 1987 French TV series, Original Theatrical Trailer, English language tracks, widescreen.