Edition PREDATOR, JASON & THE ARGONAUTS
on Blu Plus:
Sometimes certain movies just have a track record of bad luck on video.
Such is the case with the original PREDATOR
(***½, 107 mins., 1987, R; Fox), which has now gone
through two different releases on Blu-Ray, including a would-be
“Ultimate Hunter Edition” that was meant to rectify its previous
As a movie, this slam-bang extraterrestrial brawlfest is still one of
the best outings for both star Arnold Schwarzenegger and director John
McTiernan, offering tense, well- choreographed action, superb effects,
and a rousing story line encompassing the best of '80s action
Alas, Fox’s original Blu-Ray disc was more in line with their first
wave of BD catalog titles than some of their better efforts, offering
only a very basic presentation of the movie -- on a single-layer 25GB
disc no less -- with an okay MPEG-2 transfer and DTS Master Audio
soundtrack. The film has always looked grainy and while it goes without
saying that disc was the “best the film has ever looked” on video, the
film still appeared “dirty” at times, as if the BD release was derived
from an older HD master.
Unfortunately, the drawbacks from the original Blu-Ray seem tame
compared to the new AVC-encode on the “Ultimate Hunter Edition,” which
trades in grain for an overly processed, detail-free transfer that’s
simply crushing for fans of the film. The image has been soiled with an
excessive amount of digital noise reduction, resulting in the
“cleanest” looking “Predator” you’ve ever seen -- so much that there’s
seldom any grain, or HD detail, in the image at all!
The disappointment is accentuated when you consider this BD offers all
the special features Fox inexplicably left off the first Blu-Ray,
including commentary from McTiernan, an on-screen text commentary by
historian Eric Lichtenfeld, a half-hour featurette on the creation of
the film, a vintage promo featurette from 1987, the original trailer, a
deleted scene in workprint form, special effects featurettes, and other
Fans will now have to choose between the original Blu-Ray’s flawed but
at least far superior transfer, or the generous extras on this new
release -- or own them both for a “complete” package. Did it have to be
Thankfully no such issues exist with Sony’s Blu-Ray of the Charles H.
Schneer-Ray Harryhausen fantasy classic JASON AND THE
ARGONAUTS (***½, 104 mins., 1963), which streets this
A textbook example of how to treat a catalog title, this AVC-encoded
1080p transfer preserves the film’s 1.66 aspect ratio (meaning most
HDTV sets will display black borders on the left and right hand edges
of the frame) in a crisp, fully detailed image that fans of this
magnificent genre adventure ought to be thrilled with. Unlike
“Predator,” grain is preserved throughout, so the use of optical
effects means some sequences of the picture naturally appear with more
of their imperfections exposed than in prior standard-definition
renditions. Overall, the image is marvelous, though I’m sure die-hard
fans may want to compare some of the day-for-night sequences (a
sticking point in prior video releases) with earlier DVDs and
Criterion’s laserdisc release from way back when to see how faithful
they are to the intended theatrical experience.
The audio fares well, representing Bernard Herrmann’s majestic score in
both its original mono mix as well as a DTS Master Audio 5.1 track that
only gives a bit of depth to the music and effects, with most of its
activity confined to the center channel.
In addition to the expected supplements (John Landis’ old interviews
with Harryhausen, the “Ray Harryhausen Chronicles” and “Harryhausen
Legacy” featurettes, skeleton fight storyboards), a pair of new
commentaries are on-hand. One track offers Harryhausen and his
archivist, historian Tony Dalton, discussing the picture, with Dalton
doing a good job prompting the legendary effects master to divulge
technical details of his F/X and the challenges involved in shooting
the picture. Another track is a quite interesting discussion with Peter
Jackson and one of his “Lord of the Rings” special effects supervisors,
Randall William Cook, which engagingly dissects the film’s technical
and narrative attributes in a nice contrast to the more “scholarly”
A slew of trailers and TV spots rounds out a disc that remains one of
the most enjoyable of all of Harryhausen’s productions, from its
entertaining story (penned by Jan Read and Beverly Cross) to colorful
action, memorable creatures and unforgettable set-pieces. A must for
all genre fans! New From Criterion and
Kino: Golden Age Classics
Continuing on with more exquisite “Golden Age” entertainment in
high-definition, Criterion delivers a bullseye this month with
outstanding Blu-Ray presentations of Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger
NARCISSUS (****, 101 mins., 1947) and THE RED SHOES (****,
134 mins., 1948).
Shot back-to-back, the tandem celebrate the power of art and the glory
of cinema, particularly since movies don’t get more vivid than Jack
Cardiff’s sensuous Technicolor pallet that’s on-display throughout both
movies. And cinephiles don’t need much of an analysis of these pictures
either, except to say few filmmakers have ever produced a consecutive
pair of works in their respective careers as brilliant as these two
The 1947 “Black Narcissus,” with its tale of repression, madness,
devout faith and obstacles both environmental and psychological, is
nothing short of a magnificent visual experience. Deborah Kerr is
terrific here as a young Mother Superior struggling to keep things
together in a nunnery set atop the Himalayan mountains; Flora Robson,
Sabu, David Farrar and Jean Simmons co-star in a film where Cardiff’s
photography and Alfred Junge’s production design (almost entirely
realized on Pinewood Studios sets) play as large a role in the drama as
the actors themselves.
“Black Narcissus” becomes all the more satisfying when viewed in
Criterion’s Blu-Ray edition. Colors are warmer, details clearer -- for
a film that relies so heavily on its photography and production design,
it’s not a stretch to suggest that this is one of those films that can
only be fully appreciated when seen either in a theater or here in HD.
Cardiff and Michael Powell’s widow, Thelma Schoonmaker Powell,
participated in the creation of Criterion’s new transfer, which is
further graced with an uncompressed mono soundtrack and numerous
extras, including an older commentary from Michael Powell and Martin
Scorsese; a video intro from filmmaker Bernard Tavernier; a video piece
where Tavernier discusses the film and Powell’s works; a documentary on
the production; the terrific Cardiff documentary “Painting with Light”;
and the original trailer.
Powell and Pressburger followed up their “Black Narcissus” triumph with
another film that was ahead of its time.
In “The Red Shoes,” the duo didn’t just captivate viewers with its
dream-like examination of life on and off the stage – following a young
ballerina (Moira Shearer) caught in a romantic triangle – but blurred
the lines between fantasy and reality in a way no prior film had done
before. This dark fairy tale captures the beauty, struggle and
obsession with art to a degree that influenced generations of
filmmakers, and can be appreciated on any number of levels – for its
strong thematic messages; its sheer, gorgeous ballet sequences; and
once again, Jack Cardiff’s unforgettable cinematography.
The UCLA Film & Television Archive worked with the Film Foundation
for nearly three years on a restoration of “The Red Shoes,”
painstakingly preserving the picture in high-definition for generations
to come. Their efforts are breathtaking to behold on Blu-Ray, where
once again, Criterion has packaged a lush, enormously satisfying image
(with uncompressed mono sound) that breathes new life into this
Extras are in abundance yet again, highlighted by a new demonstration
on the restoration with Martin Scorsese; an older audio commentary with
Ian Christie and assorted crew members (Cardiff, composer Brian
Easdale, Shearer, co-star Marius Goring) and admirers (Scorsese);
Jeremy Irons reading portions of both the original Hans Christian
Andersen fairy tale as well as excerpts from Powell and Pressburger’s
novelization; a documentary on the movie’s production; an interview
with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell from the 2009 Cannes Film Festival;
galleries of publicity stills and behind-the-scenes photos, including
Scorsese’s personal collection of movie memorabilia; an animated film
of Hein Heckroth’s painted storyboards; the trailer; and booklet notes
with comments from UCLA film archivist Robert Gitt on the restoration
Also new on DVD this month from Criterion are a pair of films from
Yasujiro Ozu, THE
ONLY SON and THERE WAS A FATHER.
Shot in 1936 and 1942, these early Ozu works will be of interest for
Japanese film scholars, one film having been shot during an economic
depression in the country, while “There Was a Father,” portraying a
schoolteacher who drifts apart from his son, was produced in the middle
Supplements include new full-screen digital transfers, naturally in
Japanese with optional English subtitles (newly re-translated);
interviews with film scholars Tadao Sato, David Bordwell and Kristin
Thompson; plus extensive essays and booklet notes.
Fans of Buster Keaton, meanwhile, have cause for celebration this month
as well with the release of STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (
70 mins., 1928; Kino), the legendary comic’s final independent
In this follow-up to the classic “The General,” Keaton plays a
college-age young man who heads back south and reunites with his
father, a riverboat captain dueling with a rival riverboat king who’s
also the father of Keaton’s beloved (Marion Byron).
Fully restored in high-def, Kino’s Special Edition of the film offers
an abundance of interesting archival materials, not the least of which
includes two different versions of the film: one from the Buster Keaton
Estate, and another from the Killiam Shows Archive (it was reportedly
standard practice during the era for filmakers to create separate
negatives, each with their own takes and camera angles). There are
three different soundtracks on-hand, from an organ score by Lee Erwin
to William Perry’s piano score, as well as music from the Biograph
Players presented in full 5.1 DTS Master Audio. A documentary on the
making of the film, a still gallery, two vintage recordings of the folk
tune “Steamboat Bill,” and a musical montage of Keaton gags rounds out
a disc that ought to enchant silent-film and Keaton fanatics – another
excellent vintage package from Kino. New From Shout!
Growing up, my main exposure to “Dragnet” was the funny Dan Aykroyd-Tom
Hanks comedy from the summer of ‘87, so it has been a pleasure to watch
not just my copy of the “Dragnet 1967" box-set (which I bought on the
cheap a few weeks back), but also DRAGNET 1968,
which makes its overdue debut on DVD this month courtesy of Shout!
This full-color updating of Jack Webb’s ‘50s TV series/radio drama
makes for irresistible entertainment, with Webb’s Joe Friday and Harry
Morgan’s Bill Gannon serving the LAPD circa 1968 with no-nonsense,
by-the-book investigations. Their interplay, along with a litany of
cases that range from the typical to period-centric (teens dropping
acid, spiritual leaders peddling LSD), is what distinguished “Dragnet”
as one of the most entertaining and influential shows of its era, and
its 30-minute format makes the episodes just as snappy and fast-paced
as they were back then -- and more durable today than many of its
Universal released Season 1 (“Dragnet 1967") on DVD several years ago
so fans have had to wait patiently for Shout! to pick up the rights and
at last release a terrific box-set of “Dragnet 1968,” which streets on
DVD this week.
This package not just includes the entire “‘68" season but also the
original, feature-length TV-pilot movie, “Dragnet 1966,” along with a
remembrance from Webb’s daughter Stacy and Webb background notes from
his authorized biography. Other extras include a vintage “Dragnet 1969"
trailer and a featurette on Webb, offering comments from Peggy Webber,
Tom Williams, Jackie Loughery, Herb Ellis and others.
Also new from Shout! and Fabulous Films this month is the entertaining STREET HAWK (1984,
690 mins.), a short-lived but fondly remembered Universal-TV
series with Rex Smith starring as the immortal “Jesse Mach,” a cop
injured in the line of duty who’s recruited for a top-secret government
mission: riding the ultimate motorcycle, Street Hawk, with speeds up to
300 mph and an arsenal of weaponry that would only be rivaled by Kit in
“Knight Rider” (or “Air Wolf,” or “Blue Thunder,” or any other ‘80s
movie/TV series with “high tech” mech).
In fact, it’s the “Knight Rider” influence that can be felt the most
strongly in this 13-episode series, which offered music from Tangerine
Dream and “Moody Blues” keyboardist Paul Bliss, along with guest stars
including George Clooney.
This second collaboration between Shout and Fabulous Films in the last
month is at least more satisfying than “Tales of the Gold Monkey” in
terms of its audio/visual components. The transfers are improved over
that release, while extras include an unbroadcasted pilot “featuring
different Street Hawk firepower,” a 41-minute look at the series, still
galleries, bios, episode and series notes, and an eight-page booklet.
Also new this month from Shout!:
THEATER 3000 - VOLUME XVIII DVD: More classic episodes from
MST3K include the hilarious “Crash of the Moons,” uproarious “Jack
Frost,” amusing “Lost Continent” and fitfully funny “The Beast of Yucca
Flats.” Special intros from MST3K cast members Frank Conniff and Kevin
Murphy, plus original MST3K episode wraps, trailers, four exclusive
mini-posters from artist Steve Vance, and a Look Back at “Yucca Flats”
comprises this latest must-have edition for MSTies everywhere.
SQUAD SHOW Volume 1 DVD: Marvel animated series for young
viewers offers Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Iron Fist and Iron
Man, along with Storm, Silver Surfer, and the Hulk, teaming up to take
down Dr. Doom and his allies. “The Superhero Squad” is clearly aimed at
kids with its colorful, blocky character designs, and Shout!’s DVD
offers the first batch of episodes, over two-and-a-half hours total, in
full-screen transfers with stereo audio.
TERROR (81 mins., 1981, R) FORBIDDEN WORLD
(85 mins., 1982, R): More vintage Roger Corman goodness arrives
from Shout! this month on DVD and Blu-Ray, with a pair of early ‘80s
sci-fi horrors recalling “Alien” and other genre films of the era.
“Galaxy of Terror” offered production design from James Cameron along
with a cast including Edward Albert, Erin Moran (Joanie from “Happy
Days”!), Ray Walston and Robert Englund. It’s a basic “Alien” ripoff
but fairly amusing for what it is, with a superlative collection of
supplements including commentary with cast and crew members, Making Of
featurettes, remembrances of working with Cameron, trailers, the
screenplay in PDF format and more.
“Forbidden World” followed shortly thereafter and is more entertaining,
with bounty hunter Jessie Vint called into investigate a series of
deaths on a far-off planet. Both the movie’s original theatrical cut
and a 82-minute Director’s Edition are on-hand here (though only the
theatrical version is in newly remastered 16:9 widescreen), plus
commentary with director Allan Holzman, a Corman interview, other
conversations with crew members including composer Susan Justin,
special effects profiles with the Skotak and Buechler brothers,
trailers and other extras.
G.I. JOE THE
MOVIE DVD (93 mins., 1987): Fans loved this feature-length
conclusion (kind of) to Marvel’s classic ‘80s “G.I. Joe” cartoon,
boasting a few celebrity voices (including Don Johnson’s Lt. Falcon)
and PG-level violence that’s a bit more intense than its small-screen
predecessor. Shout’s remastered DVD has been sourced from a brand-new
high-def source and includes commentary with writer Buzz Dixon plus
more of those classic Public Service Announcements, a printable script
and art gallery.
BARUGON (100 mins., 1965): Gamera bursts back onto the screen –
this time out in full color -- in this first sequel to the original
turtle-kaiju featuring Godzilla’s favorite ‘60s rival battling the big
horn of Barugon. An informative commentary from August Ragone and Jason
Varney highlights the special features, which also include publicity
galleries and the original movie program. Technically, the film looks
spectacular in its fully restored 16:9 DVD transfer with English
subtitles running under the frame. Also New on Blu-Ray
HOT TUB TIME
MACHINE Blu-Ray (**, 99 mins., 2010, R/Unrated; MGM/Fox): What
could have been a breezy, silly comedy about a group of friends who
improbably end up back in 1986 becomes a misfired lark for star John
Cusack where the missed comedic opportunities end up dwarfing the jokes
that actually hit the mark.
Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson (“The Office”) and “Greek”’s Clark
Duke are the time-traveling quartet who end up reliving (or in Duke’s
case, just living) a lost weekend from their youth, after they end up
at a broken-down ski resort with a magical hot tub that sends them back
in time. Other than a couple of minor laughs involving bellhop Crispin
Glover, “Hot Tub Time Machine” never gels, offering no female leads of
any interest (as well as a pointless cameo for Chevy Chase), while the
movie’s threadbare production values seem appalling for a film that
reportedly cost upwards of $40 million.
MGM’s Blu-Ray disc offers an acceptable AVC encoded 1080p transfer with
DTS Master Audio sound. Extras include both the R-rated theatrical cut
and an Unrated version of the movie, along with deleted scenes, the
trailer, a group of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a digital copy
for portable media players.
AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF Blu-Ray (**½, 118 mins.,
2010, PG; Fox): Director Chris Columbus tries his hand at
adapting yet another youth book franchise with this watchable but
mostly unremarkable adaptation of Rick Riordan’s popular series.
Bearing more than a few similarities to “Harry Potter,” “Percy Jackson”
follows a young American teen who’s really the son of Zeus himself.
Unaware of his heritage, young Percy (Logan Lerman, supposedly under
consideration for the Spider-Man role in the next sequel) sets out on a
journey to return Zeus’ coveted lightning bolt before a feud between
dad (Sean Bean) and Hades (Steve Coogan) threatens to exterminate
mankind. A big-time supporting cast includes Pierce Brosnan, Rosario
Dawson, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano and Uma Thurman,
but it’s Brandon T. Jackson who engages the viewer more than any of the
stars with his amusing performance as Percy’s satyr companion Grover.
The film is probably best left for younger viewers, who won’t mind the
conceptual similarities between this and the Potter films, or the fact
that, artistically, “Percy Jackson” pales in comparison with Columbus’
underrated work on that series. Neither Stephen Goldblatt’s
cinematography captivates the senses the way that the first two Harry
Potter films did, nor does Christophe Beck’s score come close to
matching the thematic bounty of John Williams’ HP offerings. It’s
pleasant and lightly entertaining, with the requisite special effects
thrown in for good measure, but it often feels like Potter’s leftovers,
and a comedown for Columbus given his participation in that series.
Only a modest performer at the box-office, “Percy Jackson” comes to
Blu-Ray in an impressive package from Fox. The AVC encoded 1080p
transfer and DTS Master Audio soundtrack are each exceptional, while a
fair amount of extras includes 10 deleted scenes, interactive content
and a number of featurettes. A DVD and digital copy round out the
Also New on
Blu-Ray and DVD
FINEST Blu-Ray (***, 132 mins., 2010, R; Anchor Bay): Compelling,
bit derivative, new film from “Training Day” director Antoine
Fuqua examines life in Brooklyn’s 65th Precinct, including
about-to-retire cop Richard Gere, who’s seen it all; undercover officer
Don Cheadle, whose motives are possibly being compromised by groups
he’s become a part of; and Ethan Hawke, whose motives have completely
gone over the hill as he tries to provide for his ailing, and
Fuqua has packaged a compelling effort backed by a tremendous cast; in
addition to Gere, Cheadle and Hawke, there are equally strong
supporting turns from Will Patton, Ellen Barkin, and Wesley Snipes as
Cheadle’s gangster friend. Marcelo Zarvos’ fine score and Patrick
Murguia’s cinematography add the icing on the cake to a movie that
keeps you engaged throughout, even if it ends up hitting many of the
same thematic beats past genre films have tackled.
Anchor Bay’s Blu-Ray disc of “Brooklyn’s Finest” is a top-notch
package, including an excellent 1080p transfer and PCM 5.1 soundtrack,
plus commentary from the director, deleted scenes, and several
featurettes profiling the film and providing background to its
HUNTER Blu-Ray (**, 110 mins., 2010, PG-13; Sony): Jennifer
Aniston is a reporter who skips bail in pursuit of a hot story; Gerald
Butler is her ex-husband bounty hunter who just happens to have Aniston
as his new quarry in this predictable, lightweight romantic comedy from
director Andy Tennant.
Aniston and Butler fail to generate a lot of chemistry in “The Bounty
Hunter,” which follows a standard romantic comedy/road trip framework
and tries to pepper its tired script (credited to Sarah Thorp) with
appearances from a solid array of supporting character actors including
Christine Baranski, Cathy Moriarty, Carol Kane and Jeff Garlin. Alas,
the results even for genre fans are tepid at best, making this another
failed star vehicle from Andy Tennant following the lackluster “Fool’s
Gold” (that said, the movie did manage to rake in $66 million at the
box-office, so perhaps audiences were more tolerant of it than
Sony’s Blu-Ray of “The Bounty Hunter” looks as crisp as you’d
anticipate with its AVC encoded 1080p transfer, while DTS Master Audio
sound offers an alright score from the ever-underrated George Fenton.
Extras are slim, comprised of standard-issue Making Of featurettes
along with a digital copy for portable media players.
Blu-Ray and DVD (**½, 101 mins., 2010, R; Anchor Bay): Competently-made
ho-hum remake of George Romero’s original film, with
small-town sheriff Timothy Olyphant trying to get his pregnant wife
Radha Mitchell out of Dodge after his neighbors start turning into
Director Breck Eisner (“Sahara”) has fashioned a movie that’s likely to
appeal to genre enthusiasts with its slick visuals and few,
intermittent scares, but outside of the conviction of the performances,
there’s not a whole lot to recommend here, and the well-worn plot
(adapted by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright from its predecessor) adds
nothing new when all is said and done.
Anchor Bay’s Blu-Ray disc does sport a good-looking 1080p transfer with
“lossless” PCM audio and extras including director commentary,
storyboards, a motion comic and other behind-the-scenes extras, along
with a digital copy disc. The DVD sports the same extras (sans the
digital copy) on a standard-def disc in 16:9 (2.40) widescreen with 5.1
PRETTY BIRD DVD
(***, 98 mins., 2008, R; Paramount): Now here’s a surprise: an
unreleased sleeper comedy that premiered at Sundance a couple of years
ago but only now is making its debut on video.
Billy Crudup plays an inventor who comes up with an idea for a “rocket
belt,” enlisting the help of pal David Hornsby and eccentric scientist
Paul Giamatti (who also produced the film), in an odd but amusing,
offbeat debut feature from writer-director Paul Schneider. The actors
are all terrific as the story takes all kinds of turns, while Kristen
Wiig also puts in one of her stronger performances on-screen to date.
“Pretty Bird” has a bizarre title (that has nothing to do with the film
itself) and an unevenness to it, but provides, overall, a refreshing
tonic to the summer we’ve endured so far at the movies.
Paramount’s DVD of “Pretty Bird” includes a 16:9 (1.85) transfer with
5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
LIVE: THE BEST OF TRACY MORGAN DVD (128 mins., Lionsgate) SATURDAY NIGHT
LIVE: THE BEST OF WILL FERRELL DVD (144 mins., Lionsgate): More
vintage SNL compilations hit DVD courtesy of Lionsgate. Both single
disc releases salute a bevy of sketches from the Will Ferrell and Tracy
Morgan era, with some choice cuts included on each. Some of my
favorites: the “Jeopardy” sketches with Ferrell as Alex Trebek, not so
amusing for Ferrell but rather Darrell Hammond’s uproarious Sean
Connery; Ferrell’s James Lipton parody on “Inside the Actors Studio”;
Morgan doing Star Jones in a memorable “View” spoof and “Uncle Jemima’s
Mash Liquor.” Each disc runs over two hours and ought to give fans a
memorable trip back to when SNL may not have been must-viewing, but at
least was much funnier than it is today.
CAUGHT IN THE
CROSSFIRE Blu-Ray (85 mins., 2010, R; Lionsgate): Adam
Rodriguez and Chris Klein (remember him?) find out they’re on the wrong
side of gangs and cops on the take in this independent thriller from
writer-director Brian Miller, co-starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray offering of this adequate direct-to-video outing
includes outtakes, a 1080p AVC encoded transfer and DTS Master Audio
DVD (90 mins., PG-13; Lionsgate): A royal soldier is sent to
protect a princess, the last heir to the Himalayan Kingdom, in this
direct-to-vid thriller from writer-director Babar Ahmed. Nobody will
remember “Ninja’s Creed” as anything but a footnote for its final
appearance of co-star Pat Morita, who passed away before filming
concluded. Lionsgate’s DVD includes several featurettes, deleted scenes
and outtakes, along with a 16:9 (1.78) transfer and 5.1 soundtrack.
PEOPLE Season 2 Blu-Ray (aprx. 8 hours, 2010; History/NewVideo):
Popular History Channel series utilizes historian interviews and
special effects to chronicle what might happen if all of us vanish off
the face of the Earth (nobody will be around to buy Blu-Rays, that’s
This second-season for the series, which began its life as a one-shot
History Channel special, hits Blu-Ray later on this month in a nice
package offering vivid 1080p transfers and DTS Master Audio 2.0 stereo
DOG THE BOUNTY
HUNTER: CRIME IS ON THE RUN DVD (176 mins., 2009-2010;
A&E/Newvideo): “I am the
dog....the big bad dog!” More new episodes from the popular
A&E reality series follows Dog and his team back in Denver, hunting
down more fugitives from the law in his own, unmistakable style.
Episodes include “Nice Guys Finish Last,” “No Fly Zone,” “Save the
Dogs,” “All in the Family,” “Call Waiting,” “Kid Stuff,” “Easy Does
It,” and “Ghost Rider.” Available July 27. SQUIDBILLIES
Volume 3 DVD (101 mins., Warner): Utterly bizarre, surreal
Cartoon Network series follows a group of “redneck squids” in northern
Georgia. Weird is just the first word that comes to mind when watching
a dose of this Adult Swim offering, but fans of “Squidbillies” will be
excited to check out this third volume of episodes from the series,
running just over 100 minutes with a few extra features (Dragon Con
2009 footage, bumps, etc.) thrown in for good measure.
NOWHERE Blu-Ray (***, 95 mins., 2008, R; Image): Colorful,
engaging indie comedy-drama from director John Stockwell (“Blue Crush”)
follows young Eva Amurri, an aspiring college student who finds out her
mother (Susan Sarandon) maxed out her credit cards and therefore can’t
get a student loan. While working at a waterpark, hoping to earn enough
for school, Amurri meets a 17-year old pot dealer (Anton Yelchin) who
wants to leave town by selling drugs to rich kids, and offers for
Amurri to assist in his financial endeavors.
A well-written script by Michelle Morgan and likeable performances make
“Middle of Nowhere” an underrated character study well worth checking
out. Image’s Blu-Ray disc includes a 1080p transfer with DTS Master
Audio 5.1 sound and extras including deleted scenes, a
behind-the-scenes segment, cast/crew interviews and the trailer.
New From IFC
GIRL BY THE
LAKE DVD (96 mins., 2008, Not Rated; IFC): Taut Italian
thriller follows the investigation of a detective (Toni Servillo) into
the death of a young local girl in Northern Italy. This first
adaptation of Karin Fossum’s novels was a big hit and multiple
award-winner in its native land, with IFC’s DVD boasting a clear 16:9
transfer with 5.1 Italian audio and English subtitles.
DVD (97 mins., 2008; IFC): Marguerite Moreau plays a young woman
who’s recovered from a rare illness that makes her freak out if left
between open spaces. This bizarre ailment, however, poses new
complications once she and husband Colin Hay move into a new home where
Satanic forces are at work.
Obviously, this indie horror bears no resemblance to either the 1944
“Uninvited” (still, inexplicably, not on video) or the Elizabeth Banks
“Uninvited” from a couple of years ago, but it’s not half-bad, with a
good performance from the underrated Moreau in the lead. IFC’s DVD
offers a 16:9 (1.85) transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
2:37 DVD (95
mins., 2006; IFC): Effective Australian tale begins with a high
school suicide and then flashes back to profile six high school
students, their dark secrets and relationships with one another, before
revealing which one opted to take their own life.
Maurali K. Thalluri wrote and directed “2:37,” which is an atmospheric,
“realistic” portrayal of the downside of modern high school life,
vividly acted and visually realized. IFC’s DVD of this film-festival
favorite offers a Making Of and the trailer, plus a 16:9 transfer and
ZIFT DVD (94
mins., 2008; IFC): Zahary Baharov plays “The Moth,” freed after
spending two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, who
navigates through killers, ex-cons, and even his former girlfriend in
this atmospheric Bulgarian film noir which won raves on the festival
circuit over the last couple of years. Part of the reason is due to
Javor Gardev’s direction, which recycles formulaic elements from the
genre in a new, interesting manner, crafting a great deal of tension
and atmosphere throughout its tidy 90-minute running time. IFC’s DVD
includes the trailer along with a 16:9 black-and-white transfer with
5.1 Bulgarian audio.
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