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DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for September 25, 2015

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It’s yet another busy week with tons of releases both new and old that should pique anyone’s interest. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

Big New Releases!

Alleluia - An introverted nurse falls for a charming womanizer in this French/Belgian thriller. She’s soon convinced into helping the man target and murder wealthy, single woman, and stealing their goods. Inspired on the real life “Lonely Hearts Killers” of the 1940s, plenty of graphic violence ensues. Notices were very good for this picture - it was described by most as disturbing and not for the faint of heart, but beautifully shot and compelling is its brazen bizarreness. Lola Duenas and Laurent Lucas play the deranged pair.

Big Sky - This indie suspense flick follows an agoraphobic teenager in a van on her way to a treatment facility. Problems arise the vehicle is stolen by crooks, leaving escape as the only means of survival for the young woman. Despite the interesting concept, reviews were not particularly strong. It was described as a good-looking movie that ultimately doesn’t develop its characters enough to engage audiences. It stars Bella Thorne, Kyra Sedgwick, Frank Grillo and Aaron Tveit.

Blumenthal - Brain Cox leads the cast of this independent comedy as the grouchy and envious brother of a playwright, famous for writing satirical works about the family. When the irritable brother learns that his sibling has passed away, he must deal with the fallout. Critics were split on this effort, praising the performances but calling it uneven. Some felt that the jokes that worked were worth enduring the slow patches, while others felt that it was too derivative of the work of Woody Allen.

Chain of Command - In the mood for some B-movie action? This tale follows an ex-special ops agent who witnesses his brother’s murder and goes out for revenge, only to uncover a government conspiracy. The movie wasn’t shown to many critics, but the few write ups that have appeared online are very, very poor, calling it a dull and routine effort. If you want to take a chance, the cast includes Michael Jai White, Max Ryan and WWE wrestler Steve Austin.

The Great Museum - If you’re looking for an offbeat documentary, this German effort definitely offers something a little different. Without much (if any) narration, the filmmakers capture the tireless, detail-oriented work of an art restoration team at The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. Viewers simply witness them doing their daily jobs on several works of art as the camera moves around. The filmmaking approach split reviewers. Some found it to be an unbiased and fascinating show of the inner workings of a museum, but others found the lack of story disconcerting and couldn’t get involved in the movie.

Pitch Perfect 2 - The big release of the week is this follow-up to the 2012 sleeper hit. After winning the national a capella championship, the protagonists travel across the Ocean and complete for the world title. Reviews were decent for the comedy. Like most sequels, many admitted it didn’t have quite as many laughs or possess the same charm that the original did. However, they still felt that a few big laughs and a likable cast made it entertaining enough to recommend. It stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Stanfield, Brittney Snow and plenty of celebrity cameos.

Blasts From the Past!

There are so many classic (and not-so-classic) titles coming to high-definition that it’s going to take a bit of time to run through them all. But keep reading and rest assured that there’s something coming for everybody. Olive Films have a massive slate of Blu-rays. If you enjoyed Hackers from a few editions back, you might want to try the computer thriller Antitrust (2001), starring Ryan Phillippe, Rachael Lee Cook and Tim Robbins.

Black Caesar (1973) is a fun low-budget action flick with Fred Williamson as a criminal figure who goes toe-to-toe with the mafia.

On the comedy front, Dirty Work (1998) features a hilariously acerbic Norm MacDonald as a man who begins a revenge-for-hire business. His schemes are pretty silly but generate plenty of laughs. Fatal Instinct (1993) is a parody of Basic Instinct in the style of Zucker Brothers (Airplane!), throwing out hundreds ridiculous puns and bad jokes in a manic style. It isn’t the strongest title in the resume of director Carl Reiner (The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains, All of Me), but it may provide a few lowbrow chuckles.

There’s also the award winning Civil Rights TV movie, For Us, The Living: The Medgar Evans Story (1983). The cast includes Howard E. Rollins Jr., Irene Cara and Lawrence Fishburne. Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973) is a WWII drama with Alec Guinness about the title character’s final days locked deep within an underground bunker.

Mad Dog Time (1996) was an all-star crime caper about a mob family that comes under attack after its patriarch is put into an asylum. It never found an audience during its initial release, but features Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Richard Dreyfuss, Jeff Goldblum, Diane Lane, Burt Reynolds, Kyle MacLachlan, Angie Everhart, Gregory Hines, Billy Idol and many more. John Larroquette and Kirstie Alley star in the wacky comedy Madhouse (1990) about a yuppie couple whose home is invaded by unwanted guests. Despite receiving a wide release, this movie has never been made available on DVD, so it’s great to see it appearing on Blu-ray.

And there’s even more from Olive. Romance fans may find some enjoyment in the cheesy hit Mannequin (1987) featuring Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy as an artist who falls for a mannequin come to life (played by Kim Cattrall). It is very of its time, but has its share of fans. The flick also featured the radio hit, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” performed by Starship. Enthusiasts can follow it up with Mannequin: On the Move (1991) aka Mannequin Two: On the Move, featuring William Ragsdale as the man and Kristy Swanson as the store display dummy.

Also coming to Blu-ray from Olive is the well-regarded Denzel Washington action/thriller The Mighty Quinn (1995) - it’s about a cop in the Caribbean who finds himself a suspect in a murder investigation. The Mod Squad (1999) is a feature update of the old TV show. It’s about a group of young delinquents hired by cops to go undercover and infiltrate a drug organization within a high school. Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi star.

Shout! Factory have an old terror flick arriving on Blu-ray well. The Sentinel (1977) follows a fashion model who experiences odd events at her new apartment. Could it have something to do with the neighbors, or is there a more supernatural force at work. I never really cared for this film, but it does come full of great extras that include three commentary tracks and promotional materials. It also features tons on familiar faces onscreen - you’ll even see Christopher Walken in a bit part.

Fox are putting out a 40th Anniversary Blu-ray of the midnight cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1974). It comes with just about every extra that’s been added to previous editions (hours upon hours of stuff) as well as rubber gloves and a film soundtrack.

Also from the same company is a Blu-ray of another Beresford film, Mister Johnson (1990). Set in Nigeria, this one follows a local who takes a job as a civil servant to British authorities, only to soon find himself between the two worlds. Pierce Brosnan co-stars in this well reviewed drama. Besides the new transfers, the disc comes with recent interviews with the director, producer and two lead actors.

Finally, Criterion has a new edition of the Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) comedy, Moonrise Kingdom (2012). It’s a funny and beautifully shot effort about two young runaways on an island off the coast of New England. In addition to the excellent movie, the Blu-ray features loads of bonus material, including a documentary on its production, behind the scenes footage, interviews, home movies shot by actor Edward Norton and a commentary track featuring the director and many members of the cast. Sounds like a great release.

“Attica!” Warner Brothers are releasing a 40th Anniversary edition of the Al Pacino classic, Dog Day Afternoon (1975). In addition to the film and numerous making of extras, this edition also includes a full length documentary about the movie’s co-star John Cazale (who was also a big part of the first two Godfather films).

Speaking of anniversaries, Columbia are releasing special edition Blu-rays of two family titles celebrating their 10th and 20th years - The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) and Zathura (2005).

Anyone interested in knowing more about the late, great Dennis Hopper can now see a documentary about him. Etiquette Pictures have a Blu-ray/DVD combo of The American Dreamer (1971). It follows the actor as he prepares to helm the ill-fated 1971 flop, The Last Movie (which was the follow-up to his 1969 directorial debut, Easy Rider). Reportedly, it’s an up close and personal portrait that doesn’t shy away from presenting the actor at both his best and worst.

You Know, For Kids!

There are plenty of new arrivals for kids this week. Check them out below.

The Adventures of Spongebob Squarepants (includes all Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy Episodes) (Nickelodeon)

Bernstein Bears - Trick or Treat: Spooky Stories

Franklin and Friends - Trick or Treat: It’s Halloween Time

Gumby - The Gumby Show: The Complete 50s Series

Gumby - The Gumby Show: The Complete 50s Series (with Bendable Figures)

Really Wild Animals Collection (National Geographic)