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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 02/09/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts, Pauline Collins

Narrated by and Zak Orth

Sony//Rated R//Drama//99 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Writer-director Woody Allen's film recent is set in London. This time, two couples investigate futures without their spouses. Brolin leads the ensemble, portraying Roy, a writer unable to produce a second successful novel. Instead of writing, Roy pursues his young, pretty neighbor (Pinto). Roy's wife Sally (Watts), tires of his immaturity and considers having an affair with her attractive boss (Banderas). Gemma Jones plays Sally's mother Helena, recently divorced from Alfie (Hopkins), Sally's father. Alfie is stuck in an ill-fated second marriage to a gold-digging prostitute (Punch). Helena becomes infatuated with a local bookstore owner and with New Age spiritualism. The characters appear to be looking for love, but all are actually searching for meaning. DVD or Blu-ray features: English or French language tracks, widescreen.



WAITING FOR SUPERMAN

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Davis Guggenheim

Paramount//Rated PG//Documentary//102 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Documentarian Davis Guggenheim investigates the decline of American public education and our ongoing difficulty in finding solutions. He considers the plight of minorities stuck in inner city schools, and concludes that, at least in New York City, much of the fault lies with an entrenched teacher's union. Whether low teacher salaries and the ever-growing influx of illegal aliens, are partially to blame—receives little consideration, but the film raises public awareness and brings teachers' unions into focus. DVD or Blu-ray features: Commentary by director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott, Changing the Odds: successful programs to change public education in the U.S., Updates: what's changed since the movie was filmed, A Conversation with Davis Guggenheim, The Future is in Our Classrooms, The Making of "Shine," Deleted Scenes with Four additional stories of real-life students and teachers: Keith and Tiffany, Locke High and Steve Barr, Bill Strickland. The Green Family, English, French or Spanish language tracks, Portuguese subtitles, widescreen.



UNSTOPPABLE

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Tony Scott

Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson

Fox//Rated PG-13//Action//98 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

This action-packed thrill-ride is based on the true story of a 2001 runaway train in Toledo, Ohio. After exhausting standard protocols to stop an unmanned train traveling 70 MPH and loaded with hazardous waste, a veteran engineer (Washington) and a rookie conductor (Pine), volunteer to make a daring, last-ditch effort to prevent disaster. The film goes all out creating exciting chases and explosions, expertly filmed by director Tony Scott. To greenlight their fifth blockbuster collaboration, Scott reduced his usual $9 million dollar salary, while Washington agreed to forgo his typical $20 million dollar advance. DVD features: Director Commentary, Script Development, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Director Commentary, Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene, Stunt Work, On the Rails with the Director and Cast, Unleashing Unstoppable, Script Development, Digital Copy, English, French, Spanish or Portuguese language tracks, Cantonese or Traditional Chinese subtitles, widescreen.

KITES

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Anurag Basu

Starring Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Kabir Bedi, Nicholas Brown

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Image//Rated PG//Drama//131 minutes

Bollywood makes the leap to American in this story outfitted with outlandish action and driven by true love. J (Roshan) is a streetwise Vegas hustler romancing the daughter of a mobbed-up casino boss. Natasha (Mori) is a beautiful Mexican illegal set to marry the same mobster's son when she and J fall in love and decide to ditch their respective fiancees to be with one another. On the run, the pair are pursued by Natasha's murderous, spurned betrothed. The film takes an intentionally silly view of the pair's adventures including, robbery, gunplay and multiple car chases, all while extolling the values of a chaste, but challenging grab for romantic bliss. Against all odd this film pulls it off its cheeky attitude with fast-paced storytelling, appealing leads and a terrific score. DVD or Blu-ray features: Includes both the 91 minute "Remix," and the 131 minute original version of the film, English or Hindi language tracks, widescreen.

STAG NIGHT

(2008)

* * (C)

Directed by Peter A. Dowling

Starring Breckin Meyer, Vinessa Shaw, Kip Pardue, Scott Adkins

Lionsgate //Rated R//Horror//83 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

After a night of partying, a group of young adults is kicked off a subway train. As they wander the tunnels, the partiers are spotted by a cluster of cannibalistic hunters and forced to run for their lives. Lost and confused, members of the group are picked off one by one. The underground tunnels are a suitably claustrophobic setting, but the film, coming in at a terse 83 minutes, relies on cliché characters, gobs of gore, and a predictable storyline. From Lionsgate's "Ghost House Underground" series, we've seen it before and done better. DVD or Blu-ray features: Note: Making-of featurette, trailer gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. Blu-ray features:

LOVE AT FIRST KILL, aka The Box Collector

(2008)

* (D)

Director John Daly

Starring Margot Kidder, Noah Segan, Michael Bowen, Anna Moffat, Lyne Renee

Anchor Bay//Not Rated//Thriller//94 minutes

Available on: DVD

This unscary thriller casts Margot Kidder as Beth, a widowed, overprotective mother of her adult son Harry, still living at home. From their picturesque home, Harry paints portraits of cardboard boxes and becomes enamored by his new neighbor, pretty divorcee Marie Dupont (Renee). In her perpetually drunken state, Beth is determined that "No one take my son from me." While attempting to stand up to his mother, Harry is bedeviled by a cop smitten with Marie, and by Marie's crazy ex-husband. Lots of hollering but no real menace, release any thrills from this thriller. DVD features: "Flashbacks of a Fool" trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

HOODWINKED

(2005)

* * (C)

Directed by Corey Edwards, Tony Leech

Starring Glenn Close, Anne Hathaway, David Ogden Stiers, Patrick Warburton, James Belushi, Andy Dick, Xzibit

Weinstein Co//Rated PG-13//Comedy, Animated//81 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

This retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" uses a team of animal investigators to look into the home invasion at Granny's (Close). Hathaway voices a martial arts babe known as Red, Patrick Warburton intones The Wolf and James Belushi speaks for the dense Woodsman. The film aims for Shrek-ian heights, but is cut down by fractured storytelling and shaky pacing. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray.

BIG DADDY

(1999)

* (D)

Directed by Dennis Dugan

Starring Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Kristy Swanson, Josh Mostel, Jon Stewart, Leslie Mann, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse

Sony//Rated PG-13//Comedy//93 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

32-year-old Sonny (Adam Sandler) wastes his costly law degree working as a part-time, toll-booth operator. Sonny’s roommate, a practicing attorney who pays the bills until the roommate’s impending marriage ends Sonny’s free ride, makes his perpetually adolescent lifestyle possible. Sonny's next meal ticket appears on his doorstep, in the form of his girlfriend's fatherless, 5-year-old son. Sonny accepts the role of Dad, believing his girlfriend will support him. His parenting skills include proudly teaching the child to urinate on the sides of public buildings. Eventually, Sonny acts as his own attorney in a custody battle for the boy, whom he comes to care for, but doesn't deserve. Likewise, writer/producer/actor Sandler doesn't deserve a free ride for making this slop.



RAIN MAN

(1988)

* * * * (A)

Directed by Barry Levinson

Starring Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise

MGM//Rated R//Drama//134 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

Hoffman plays Raymond Babbit, an autistic idiot savant. Discovering that Raymond has inherited the family fortune, brother Charlie (Cruise) kidnaps him for a road trip to Vegas. Raymond calculates black jack odds like a super computer, but his routines include viewing "The People's Court" daily. An excellent screenplay perfectly suited to Hoffman and Cruise.



FUGITIVE: Season Four, Volume Two

(1967)

* * (C)

Created by Roy Huggins

Starring David Janssen, Barry Morse, Bill Raisch

Paramount//Not Rated//Drama//772 minutes

Dr. Richard Kimble is a fugitive from justice as he attempts to identify his wife's real killer and prove himself innocent of her murder. This set brings his efforts to a conclusion, but not before the episodes tackle racial, social and moral issues. The fourth season was the only one filmed in color, with this set comprising season's final half. Unlike the action-soaked treatment of this story in the 1993 feature film starring Harrison Ford, this heavy-handed drama proves slow going. Playing Kimble, David Janssen smolders for various female characters who swoon for him, but the actor lacks Ford's vitality. 4-Disc DVD Set features: DD 1.0 English, full-screen.

Also Out This Week

WHITE LION DVD

(2009)

Directed by Michael Swan

Starring John Kani, Jamie Bartlett, David Clatworthy, Brendan Grealy, Ayrton Loureiro, Thabo Malema, Jennifer Steyn, A.J. Vandermerwe

Screen Media Films//Rated PG//Drama//88 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

A family film set in the African wilderness, White Lion is told from the perspective of African teen Gisani, self-appointed protector of a white lion said to bring Gisani's people good fortune. Footage of gorgeous African wildlife accompanies the white lion's struggle to survive after he is cast from his pride as a juvenile. Gisani bravely keeps hyenas from killing the young lion, whom he watches while working as a hunter's guide. Gisani's mission becomes complicated when he learns that his latest client is determined to kill the magnificent creature. DVD or Blu-ray features: Behind the Scenes, English language tracks, widescreen.



AIRWOLF: Season Four DVD

(1987)

Created by Donald P. Bellisario

Starring Geraint Wyn Davies, Michele Scarabelli, Barry Van Dyke, Anthony Sherwood

Universal//Not Rated//Drama//1117 minutes

Available on: DVD

The final season of "Airwolf" was made for the USA network after CBS dropped it. In addition to a greatly reduced budget, the producers were hampered by losing the rights to film the actual chopper, so were compelled to either recycle previous "Airwolf" footage or to use inferior CGI effects. Stars of the series, Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, Alex Cord, Michael Coldsmith Briggs III and Jean Bruce Scott, were long gone, so a new crop of lesser actors stepped in. According the Internet Movie Database, the chopper came to a bad end when it was purchased by a German firm to serve as an air ambulance and crashed in 1992, killing all three crew members. 5-Disc DVD features: English language tracks.



THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Season 3

(1962)

Created by Rod Serling

Image//Not Rated//Sci-Fi - B&W//960 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

Another season of the influential science fiction television series is released to Blu-ray and loaded with special features sure to please fans of classic science fiction. 5-Disc Blu-ray features: 19 New Audio Commentaries, featuring The Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, authors and film historians, Interview with actor Edson Stroll, Original Laugh Track for Cavender Is Coming, Vintage Audio Interview with director of photography George T. Clemens, 19 Radio Dramas featuring Don Johnson, Blair Underwood, Ernie Hudson, Morgan Brittany, Adam West, Ed Begley, Jr., Jason Alexander, Shelley Berman, Michael York, Bruno Kirby and others, Isolated Scores for all 37 episodes featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann, Van Cleave, Fred Steiner and others, Commentaries by actors Bill Mumy, Lois Nettleton, William Windom, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Cornthwaite and Cliff Robertson, Commentary by Jonathan Winters for A Game of Pool, plus Winters reads the Alternate Ending from the original script, Clip from the 1989 remake of A Game of Pool, featuring George Clayton, Johnson's original ending Clip from the 1985 remake of Dead Man's Shoes, featuring Helen Mirren in Dead Woman's Shoes, Vintage Audio Recollections with Buzz Kulik, Buck Houghton, Richard L. Bare, Lamont Johnson and Earl Hamner, Rare Rod Serling appearances as a guest on The Garry Moore Show and Tell It to Groucho and as host of the popular game show Liar's Club, English language tracks.