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You are here: Community Film DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for August 28, 2015

DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for August 28, 2015

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Alright folks, it’s a really busy week with some great Blu-ray and DVD coming your way, both new and old. That means we should get right to it. So if you can’t go out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

Big New Releases!

6 Ways to Die - This small, action B-movie follows a man beaten by a notorious drug kingpin. Yearning for revenge, the protagonist comes up with an elaborate plan and hires 6 assassins to help him destroy the life of his nemesis. Reviews were mixed - some called it an acceptable if unremarkable genre picture, while others found it too weak and derivative to recommend. The cast includes Vinnie Jones, Dominique Swain, Vivica A. Fox, Tom Sizemore and Bai Ling.

After the Ball - Based very loosely on Cinderella, this independent comedy tells the tale of a young woman who wants to work for an important fashion designer, but can’t get hired because she is the daughter of a knock-off label owner (run by a wicked stepmother and stepsisters). It garnered a very mixed reaction, with more writers taking a negative view of the film. While all seemed to enjoy the work of the cast and found it generally cute, the majority believed that the film was too bland to truly recommend. Portia Doubleday, Marc-Andre Grondin, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly and Colin Mochrie have featured roles.

Aloha - The latest romantic comedy from usually reliable writer/director Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry McGuire, Almost Famous) didn’t make much of an impact this summer. Set in Hawaii, the story involves a military contractor attempting to secure a deal with the island’s indigenous people. He also has to contend with an ex-girlfriend and an overly enthusiast military escort. As mentioned, the press didn’t care for it, calling the final cut a choppy mishmash with little in the way of witty dialogue or sparks between its leads. The movie stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride and Alec Baldwin.

Big Game - Here’s a wild concept... a Finnish teenager camping in the woods witnesses Air Force One’s plane being taken down by terrorists, and steps in to help save the President from the threat. Did I mention the President is played by Samuel L. Jackson?  This English-language Finland/Germany/UK co-production actually got solid reviews in the trades, with the majority calling the two leads fun to watch together. Overall, they summarized the film as an entertaining throwback to action films from the 80s. They also praised the impressive outdoor photography. Onni Tommila plays the kid, while Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman and Jim Broadbent take on supporting roles.

Citizenfour - Those looking to learn more about Edward Snowden should catch up with this Oscar-winning documentary. In it, the filmmakers travel to Hong Kong for a series of interviews with the fugitive, in which he details his part as a whistleblower revealing the US government’s illegal surveillance activities. Notices were phenomenal for the picture. Reportedly, the movie presents its story in a manner not unlike a 70s political thriller, and the end result for viewers is both enlightening and disturbing. For interested parties, this sounds like a can’t miss portrait of an important figure.

Pernicious - Three young women decide to travel to Thailand for the summer in this low-budget horror effort. Bad idea! They’re soon terrorized by an evil spirit that stalks the trio and frightens them with bizarre visions. There aren’t many reviews currently available for this title, although the few that have popped up online haven’t been very complimentary. They suggest that poor dialogue and inconsistent performances ruin the potential for scares. It stars Ciara Hanna, Emily O’Brien and Jackie Moore.

The Runner - Using the 2010 BP Oil Spill as a jumping off point, this independent political thriller involves a Louisiana Congressman whose life begins to unravel after a sex scandal comes to light. Unfortunately, write-ups about the movie from real press members were just as harsh. While many admired the work of the cast and the dark ending, most claimed that the story plods along too slowly and never becomes as gripping as it should. Nicolas Cage, Connie Nielson, Sarah Paulson and Peter Fonda take on the lead roles.

Two Days, One Night - Shockingly, this critical darling from France didn’t get a lot of attention from the general public during its theatrical run last year (although it did land actress Marion Cotillard an Academy Award nomination). She plays a depressed mom on medical leave from work, who learns from a friend that their boss has hatched a downsizing plan and left employees with the final decision. Either give up their annual bonus checks, or allow the protagonist to be fired. The desperate heroine must hurry and convince each individual to give up their money and allow her to keep her job. Reviews have called it a gripping, tense and bleak drama that doesn’t resort to Hollywood tactics and deftly explores the daily life struggles of regular people.

Blasts From the Past!

It’s an incredible week for Olive Films, who are putting out some really fun older titles in high definition. The Sender (1982) is an excellent psychological thriller in the vein of Scanners and Carrie. Student Bodies (1981) is parody of Halloween and the Friday the 13th films of the era.

And they have even more coming your way. The Babysitter (1995) is a cheesy little thriller starring Alicia Silverstone as a young babysitter who is stalked pursued not only by a couple of young men, but also a father. It features Jeremy London, J.T. Walsh, Nicky Katt and George Segal in supporting roles. Daniel (1983) is a well-regarded Sidney Lumet drama about the struggles of an anti-war protester who happens to be the son of spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

The Last American Virgin (1982) also comes recommended. It’s a teen sex comedy with a dark and bittersweet edge - the final scene will come as a surprise to many viewers. It also has a great 80s soundtrack featuring Blondie, The Cars, Devo and The Police (among many others). Finally, The Singing Detective (2003) is a feature film take on the famed Dennis Potter BBC television miniseries. This indie film attracted an all-star cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Robin Wright, Mel Gibson, Katie Holmes, Adrian Brody and Alfre Woodard.

Kino Lorber are delivering a Blu-ray of the Steve McQueen period comedy/drama The Reivers (1969). It’s about a handyman who borrows a car to drive cross country with his friend, and the young kid who comes of age while traveling with him. The Revengers (1972) is a western about a rancher who amasses a group of friends to help him wipe out the marauders who murdered his family. William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Woody Strode are prominently featured.

Sony are releasing a 30th Anniversary edition Blu-ray of the fun 80s urban kung fu epic, The Last Dragon (1985). It follows a young New Yorker who abides by an ancient martial arts code (he even goes so far as to wear a large straw hat while wandering through Manhattan). In the process, he saves an attractive singer from a nasty music producer. He must also face off against an entertainingly over-the-top villain who not only wants to beat the hero senseless but also chew as much scenery as humanly possible. It’s a really enjoyable effort with a great sense of humor and plenty of style (in an exaggerated, 80s sort of way).

Not to be outdone, Shout! Factory have a couple of noteworthy Double Feature Blu-rays arriving. The first features a couple of features that have become staples of cable TV through the 90s. It includes the Rodney Dangerfield/Joe Pesci comedy Easy Money (1983) and Men at Work (1990), in which two garbage men (played by real life brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen) accidentally involve  themselves in a neighborhood murder. The second Double Feature contains two Italian horror pictures that fall under the banner of so-bad-it’s-good (one of them was directed by Troll 2’s Claudio Fragasso). The Blu-ray includes Metamorphosis (1990) and Beyond Darkness (1990).

This also marks the day that Arrow are releasing a Blu-ray of Blood Rage (1987). It’s a gruesome slasher featuring Louise Lasser and Ted Raimi about a set of identical twins. One is normal, while the other is a homicidal maniac. As always, the company are putting a great deal of effort into this disc. It includes three versions of the film (including the much sought-after uncut version), a director’s audio commentary and numerous interviews with cast and crew members.

Finally, Criterion have the Akira Kurosawa classic, Throne of Blood (1957). This Macbeth adaptation features a new digital restoration and transfer of the film, improved subtitles and an extensive making-of documentary. Sounds like there’s some great stuff out there this week.

You Know, For Kids!

Seems like it’s unusually slim pickings for the kids, but here’s what is coming your way.

LEGO DC Superheroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom!

Nickelodeon Favorites: Puppy Palooza!