Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Antonio Banderas, 
Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts 
and Pauline Collins
Narrated by Zak Orth
Sony/Rated R/Drama/99 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
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 and Blu-ray features English or French language tracks, widescreen. (2.5 stars out of 4)
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN
Directed by Davis Guggenheim
Paramount/Rated PG/Documentary/
102 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Documentary maker 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 teacher unions into focus. 
DVD and Blu-ray feature commentary by director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott, deleted scenes with four additional stories of real-life students and English, French and Spanish language tracks. Also includes Portuguese subtitles and widescreen. (3.5 stars out of 4)

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
MY SOUL TO TAKE
Directed by Wes Craven
Starring Max Thieriot, Emily Meade, John Magaro, Zena Grey, Nick Lashaway, Denzel Whitaker, Paulina Olszynski, Jeremy Chu, Raul Esparza and Shareeka Epps
Universal/Rated R/Horror/108 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Twenty-five years after his groundbreaking “Nightmare On Elm Street,” Wes Craven returns to the teen slasher genre. The film presents us with “The Ripper,” a serial killer possessed by a demon that could be linked to any of seven local children born in the minutes immediately following the serial killer’s death. As the seven teens approach their 16th birthdays in the small town of Riverton, they fear that the Ripper will possess one of them. Meaningless back stories consume much of the film, while a Native American legend, claiming the California Condor carries the souls of those it consumes, is thrown in to little effect. Craven leads viewers down blind alleys riddled with logic inconsistencies and fails to frighten us with poorly arranged killing scenes that are sometimes unintentionally funny.
 
DVD and Blu-ray features director commentary with actors Max Thierot, John Magaro and Emily Meade. Also included are an alternate opening, alternate endings, deleted and extended scenes, English, French or Spanish language tracks and widescreen. (1.5 stars out of 4)

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2
Directed by Tod Williams
Starring Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat
Paramount/Rated R or Unrated/Horror/
91 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
“Paranormal” and its sequel, “Paranormal 2,” are inexpensive films shot largely on low-resolution home video cameras and blue-toned surveillance systems. Unlike the first film, the sequel requires us to wait a long time for something noteworthy to happen. In “Paranormal,” Katie (Katie Featherston) claimed a demonic presence gained ever-increasing control over her as she slept. To disprove this, Katie’s boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), set up a video camera in their bedroom and was surprised when it captured frightening events. Chapter two is set in the home of Katie’s sister, Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden), where Kristi’s husband Daniel (Brian Boland), has security cameras installed throughout the house. The notion that an upscale, somewhat featureless suburban home is targeted by malevolent spirits is creepy, but the film’s clever ending doesn’t make up for 90 minutes of missing terror. 
DVD features director’s cut, English, French or Spanish language tracks and widescreen. (2 stars out of 4)

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
Directed by 
Steven R. Monroe
Starring Sarah Butler, Jeff Branson, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman, Chad Lindberg and Andrew Howard
Anchor Bay/Rated R or Unrated/Horror/
108 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This example of exploitation cinema seems calculated to attract both rape and revenge enthusiasts. It’s twisted perspective aside, the film is well acted and will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. While on a writing retreat in the Louisiana backwoods, novelist Jennifer (Sarah Butler) is terrorized and raped by four local rednecks and a corrupt sheriff. She fakes her death and returns to the scene of the crime to brutally exact her revenge. Though qualifying as torture porn, Jennifer’s revenge killings are creative and sometimes amusing. A remake of the 1978 film by Meir Zarchi (whose original version is being simultaneously released on Blu-ray), we can’t help thinking that both we and this fine cast, should be spending our time doing something worthwhile. 
 
DVD and Blu-ray features a filmmaker commentary track, a behind-the-scenes featurette, the original theatrical teaser and trailer, deleted scenes, English language tracks and widescreen. Blu-ray exclusive: all-new interview with Meir Zarchi about the making of his infamous cinematic landmark. (1.5 stars out of 4)

IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY
Directed by Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
Starring Zach Galifianakis, Viola Davis, Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zoe Kravitz
Universal/Rated PG-13/Drama/
102 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This examination of teen mental health and frustration, attempts to walk the line between poignancy and humor. Adapted from the semi-autobiographical account by novelist Ned Vizzini, we meet teen Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist), whose call to a suicide hotline lands him in Brooklyn’s Argenon Hospital in the adult wing because the youth ward is under renovation. Craig develops a crush on a pretty cutter (Emma Roberts) and is advised in matters of love by his self-appointed mentor (Zach Galifianakis), a middle-aged patient whose life is in tatters. Galifianakis is a treasure of both cautious optimism and despair, but he can’t rescue this film from the jaws of a television sitcom.
 
DVD and Blu-ray features deleted scenes, outtakes, clips of the New York premiere, English, French or Spanish language tracks and widescreen. (2 stars out of 4)

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
THE TILLMAN STORY
Directed by Amir Bar-Lev
Narrated by Josh Brolin
Starring Mary Tillman, Patrick Tillman, Sr., Richard Tillman, Dannie Tillman, Russell Baer, Stan Goff, Philip Kensinger, Bryan O’Neal and Jason Parsons
Sony/Rated R/Documentary/94 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
The tragic story of NFL star Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire is the tale of a family that would not give up in its search for the truth. Pat, a promising professional football rookie, abandoned his career for a tour of duty in the Middle East. Following his death by gunfire at age 27, Pat’s mom dug deep into 3,000 redacted pages that constituted the military’s investigation, which concluded Pat gave his life to protect his comrades. However, his family wondered why the military burned Pat’s uniform, body armor and diary, rather than returning these items to them. A vast propaganda machine constitutes the only logical explanation, but Pat’s family, and his widow, have yet to be given all the information that the survivors of a fallen soldier deserve 
to know. 
 
DVD and Blu-ray feature director’s 
commentary, English language tracks and widescreen. (3 stars out of 4)

LET ME IN
Directed by Matt Reeves
Starring Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas
Anchor Bay/Rated R/Horror/115 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
A remake of the 2008 Swedish horror “Let the Right One In,” the story of lonely 12-year-old Owen (Smit-McPhee) befriending Abby (Moretz), his mysterious 12-year-old neighbor, both moves and haunts. While Owen is picked on by bullies and neglected by his single, alcoholic mom, Abby struggles to hide a terrible secret. By the time Owen realizes she’s a vampire, the two have become inseparable friends. The American version stays true to the original’s tone, but it adds a police officer (Koteas), who investigates a series of strange murders, and several scenes that deepen the suspense.  
 
DVD includes director’s commentary and featurettes on the making of the film, special effects, a step-by-step car-crash sequence, plus deleted scenes, a trailer gallery, a poster gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles and widescreen. The 2-Disc Blu-ray features the same plus unrated deleted scenes and a digital copy of the film. (3.5 stars out of 4)

CONVICTION
Directed by Tony Goldwyn
Starring Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher, Juliette Lewis, Ari Graynor and Loren Dean 
Fox/Rated R/Drama/103 minutes
Available on DVD 
and Blu-ray
 
This amazing true story is dramatized by a dream cast that is stifled by a pedestrian script. Swank brings charismatic devotion to the role of Betty Anne Waters, loving sister of a man she believes is wrongly convicted of murder. Betty’s efforts to free Kenny (Sam Rockwell) would destroy a lesser person. She survives a troubled marriage, supporting herself and two daughters by working as a waitress at a bar, all while earning her law degree. Rockwell plays reckless Kenny with a full-bodied blend of charm, self-pity and hair-trigger temper, increasing our admiration for Betty, who sticks by him regardless of his behavior. Betty spent nearly 20 years in her effort to free Kenny, and while the screenplay doesn’t delve deeply into her emotional life, her story remains an extraordinary tale of devotion. 
 
DVD and Blu-ray feature a conversation with director Tony Goldwyn and Betty Anne Waters, English, French and Spanish language tracks and widescreen. (2.5 stars out of 4)

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?
Directed by Joe Winston
Starring Brittany Barden, Angel Dillard, Terry Fox and Donn Teske
Passion River Films/Not Rated/Documentary/
90 minutes
In this film by Joe Winston, inspired by the Thomas Frank book, the question is whether conservatives in Kansas are voting for or against their own interests when siding with Christian conservative politicians? The documentary follows three families and learns that two are determined to vote pro-life and against gay marriage, no matter the personal cost. Winston trusts viewers to fill in the blanks of his evenhanded documentary. To that end, he is respectful to his subjects, allowing them to say their piece on all matters. We can only hope that other documentary filmmakers will be inspired by this approach.  
 
DVD features commentary with Joe Winston, Laura Cohen and author Thomas Frank. Also included are extended and deleted scenes, a Q&A with the filmmakers, English language tracks and widescreen. (4 stars out of 4)

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
TOY STORY 3
Directed by Lee Unkrich and starring the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton and Jodi Benson
Disney/Rated G/Animation/103 minutes
Andy’s toys stick together when deprived of human companionship, but like dogs they happily abandon one another when human society returns. As Andy (John Morris) readies himself for college, his toys must consider life without him. Favorite toy, Woody (Tom Hanks) the cowboy, is gratified to learn he will go with Andy. The other toys — marked for safe haven in the attic — express misgivings that turn out to be well-founded. The most human toys — Woody (Tom Hanks), Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack) and Buzz Lightyear the astronaut (Tim Allen) — serve as de facto leaders of Andy’s toy box. Indeed, Pixar’s CGI animation makes their plasticine smooth faces virtually undistinguishable from ours. This ploy persuades us to invest in the trio, and it pays off when a mix-up lands Jesse, Buzz, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Rex the dinosaur (Wallace Shawn), Hamm the pig (John Ratzenberger), and Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), along with Barbie (Jodi Benson), at the Sunnyside Daycare Center. Here Barbie meets her Ken (Michael Keaton) and everyone is made to feel safe by the Daycare’s wise Teddy Bear Lotso (Ned Beatty). However, after spending a few days being abused in the toddler section, Andy’s toys realize they must escape, but their efforts to do so are hindered by security measures similar to those of a prison. HHHI

VAN GOGH: A BRUSH WITH GENIUS
Directed by Francois Bertrand and Peter Knapp and narrated by Jacques Gamblin
Image/Not Rated/Documentary/40 minutes/Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This intimate look at the tormented creator of some of the art world’s most exquisite works showcases Van Gogh’s remarkable canvases in the IMAX format. Jacques Gamblin narrates in the painter’s own words, reliving Van Gogh’s journey through his letters, discoveries and tragedies. DVD and Blu-ray features include: the making of the documentary; a Van Gogh art slide show; English, French, Spanish or Japanese language tracks; widescreen. 

LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER
Directed by Hal Ashby/Lionsgate/Documentary/87 minutes
Available on DVD
Filmmaker Hal Ashby was given a backstage pass to make this epic rockumentary featuring the Rolling Stones on tour in 1981. Now on DVD for the first time, the film was shot with 20 cameras that followed the rockers both on and off stage over the course of two performances — one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. Always a showman, Mick Jagger’s taboo choreography can be seen on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Start Me Up,” “Under My Thumb” and many other hits from their first 20 years. The DVD features a theatrical trailer, a stills gallery, English language tracks and widescreen. 

BING CROSBY COLLECTION
Universal/Not Rated/Comedy, Drama
B & W/506 minutes/Available on DVD
The six early Bing Crosby films included in this set are: “College Humor,” 1933; “We’re Not Dressing,” 1934; “Here Is My Heart,” 1934; “Mississippi,” 1935; “Sing You Sinners,” 1938; and “Welcome Stranger,” 1947. Songs include: “June 
in January,” “Swanee River” and “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams.” The three-disc DVD includes: English language tracks and widescreen. 

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
HARRY BROWN
Directed by Daniel Barber; Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, Liam Cunningham, 
Ben Drew
Sony/Rated R/Drama/103 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
After thugs kill his best friend, widower Harry Brown (Caine) doesn’t care whether he lives or dies, provided he gets his revenge. He’s a 77-year-old British pensioner stuck in a deteriorating neighborhood and knows his way around weaponry, thanks to a youthful stint in the Royal Marines. As Harry sets about cleaning up the neighborhood, it falls to an understanding police detective (Mortimer) to see past Harry’s apparent frailties. The story can be slow going, but Caine gives Harry his all, and it pays off. DVD and Blu-ray features: cast and filmmakers commentary, Harry Brown’s vigilante justice with deleted scenes, English language tracks, widescreen. (3 stars out of 4)
 
MARMADUKE
Directed by Tom Dey; Voices of Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Kiefer Sutherland, Damon Wayans and Marlon Wayans
Starring Judy Greer, Caroline Sunshine and Finley Jacobsen
Fox/Rated PG/Comedy/88 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
When the Winslow family moves cross-country to an upscale neighborhood, they entrust their Great Dane Marmaduke (voiced by Wilson) to a pet-shipping company. Marmaduke’s journey is harrowing, but it all seems worthwhile when he finally arrives at his new home to discover a spacious backyard, swimming pool and nearby dog-friendly park, where he makes many new friends. Marmaduke’s head swells after he wins a surfing competition, setting him up to learn important lessons about friendship and family. DVD features: Cowabarka! More Surfing Dogs; canine casting, deleted scenes, English, French or Spanish language tracks; widescreen; Two-Disc Blu-ray features same plus gag reel, puppy Marmaduke & Kitty Carlos home videos. (1.5 stars out of 4)
FLASHFORWARD: The Complete Series
Created by David S. Goyer, Brannon Braga; Starring Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Courtney B. Vance, Brian F. O’Byrne, Sonya Walger, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List and Christine Woods
Buena Vista//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//989 minutes
Available on DVD
At 11 a.m. PST, everyone on earth falls unconscious for two minutes. During the global blackout, each person glimpses his life six months from now. This shared experience becomes everyone’s focus in a story unfolding week by week. With 10 episodes in the can and declining viewership, ABC took a 3-month break, issuing this group of episodes on DVD, a strategy allowing viewers to catch up. Joseph Fiennes appears as an FBI Agent investigating the mystery with his partner (John Cho) as they hurtle toward their unsettling, future visions. Overall, the well-written series reflects its science fiction source, a novel by Robert J. Sawyer. What was planned as a multi-season story is compacted into an abbreviated ending that squeezes too much information into the last few episodes. That’s too bad. It was good while it lasted. Five-Disc DVD features: Commentaries on selected episodes; examination of the series from the filming the pilot to the final episode; Yuko Takeuchi on the Flashforward set; Keiko’s first role on American TV; creating the freeway disaster; a look ahead; bloopers; deleted scenes; English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles; widescreen. (3 stars out of 4)
 
HOUSE, MD: Season Six
Created by David Shore; Starring Omar Epps, Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison, Peter Jacobson, Jesse Spencer and Olivia Wilde
Universal/Not Rated/Drama, Comedy/969 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Dr. Gregory House (Laurie) is a diagnostician at New Jersey’s Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital. He’s anti-social, arrogant and addicted to painkillers. As the season opens, House is compelled to remain in rehab or lose his medical license. He’s eventually released into the custody of his best friend Wilson (Leonard), and continues to lust after his boss, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Edelstein), though she is otherwise romantically involved. More than a dramadey featuring incisive dialogue and great characters, the series follows House’s extraordinary efforts, along with a team of young specialists, to diagnose and treat life-threatening illnesses. Five-Disc DVD or Blu-ray set features: Before Broken: an original short featuring Hugh Laurie; A short featuring House’s emotional journey at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital with director/executive producer Katie Jacobs; A different POV: Hugh Laurie directs a new house for House; new faces in a new house, Episode commentaries; DD 5.1 English language tracks, Spanish subtitles; widescreen. (3.5 stars out of 4)
WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO?
Directed by Tyler Perry; Starring Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White, Tasha Smith, Tyler Perry and 
Louis Gossett
Lionsgate/Rated PG-13/Drama/121 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In the sequel to Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married,” the same four couples reunite for their annual vacation — a retreat intended to improve their marriages while strengthening the bonds of friendship between the couples. One recently remarried woman is stunned by the arrival of her ex, and his determination to win her back. As usual per Tyler Perry dramas, each character’s flaws are exposed as the couples struggle with issues of trust and faith, career changes and family. (2 stars out of 4)

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video

TEMPLE GRANDIN
(2010)
(4 stars out of 4)

Directed by Mick Jackson and starring Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, Catherine O’Hara and David Strathairn
HBO//Drama//109 minutes

One look at the cover art of HBO’s “Temple Grandin” is enough to either put you off, or pique your interest. It depicts Claire Danes in a moptop and a cowgirl shirt straight out of the ’40s. The retro getup replicates real-life Temple Grandin’s favored wear, and seems to belie her heroism to those stricken with autism, while correctly signaling Grandin’s unsung achievements to meat lovers.

Born in 1947, Temple did not speak until age 4. Her mother, portrayed by Julia Ormond, defied medical advice she should institutionalize Temple, dedicating herself to helping her autistic daughter find her way. When we meet Temple, she’s defied the odds by winning acceptance to an Arizona University. While summering on her aunt’s (Catherine O’Hara) cattle ranch, Temple discovers an ability to understand bovine creatures that experience the world much as she does. Based on this insight, Temple believes only she can redesign slaughter houses to make the process both more efficient and humane. She is constantly challenged to decipher human behavior, but the struggle proves to be an invaluable training ground when cattlemen deny her entry to their inner sanctum. Danes’ award-worthy performance illustrates Grandin’s confusion and her triumphs in this not-to-be-missed biopic. DVD features: commentary with director, Dr. Temple Grandin, and screenwriter Christopher Monger, Making-of featurette, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.


COUGAR TOWN: Season One
(2009 – 2010)
(2 stars out of 4)

Created by Bill Lawrence and  Kevin Biegel and starring Courteney Cox, Brian Van Holt, Christa Miller, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins and Ian Gomez

Buena Vista//Rated TV-14//Comedy//520 minutes
Available on DVD

The idea is loaded with merit. What’s a successful, 40-year-old divorcee to do about men? Successful Florida real estate broker Jules Cobb (Cox), decides to emulate divorced men in her age group by bedding younger men. Though insecure about her aging body, she feels superior to her quarry in other ways, and is only mildly embarrassed about flaunting her proclivities in front of 17-year-old son Travis (Byrd). Jules’ ubiquitous ex Bobby (Van Holt), a failed musician turned landscaper, is a regular presence at her house, and functions as a measuring stick of Jules’ poor judgment regarding men. She is caught between two best friends, married neighbor Ellie (Miller) and Jules’ younger, hot-to-trot employee Laurie (Busy). The series could make a point about the netherworld occupied by divorced women over 35, but improbably Jules gets to have her cake and eat it too. Three-Disc DVD features: Bloopers, deleted scenes, Taming Cougar Town – Discover How Cougar Town Has Evolved, From Its Initial Comedy Pilot Into Today’s More Subtly Sexy ABC Hit, Jimmy Kimmel Live: Saber-Tooth Tiger Town, Ask Barb – The Ultimate Cougar Answers Your Questions, Stroking It With Bobby Cobb, DD 5.1 English language tracks, widescreen.


 
NANNY McPHEE
(2006)
(2 stars out of 4)

Directed by Kirk Jones and starring Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Kelly MacDonald, Derek Jacobi, Celia Imrie, Angela Lansbury, Imelda Staunton, Phyllida Law and Eliza Bennett
Universal//Rated PG//Comedy, Family//99 minutes
Available on Blu-Ray

The screenplay for “Nanny McPhee” was written by its star, Emma Thompson, who portrays the all-knowing Nanny McPhee with admirable restraint. Sadly, the film’s production design consists of a visually painful salad of colors. After a series of nannies are bounced by the unruly Brown children, their widowed father, Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) hears a voice in his head saying, “Nanny McPhee is the person you need,” and shortly thereafter, she appears at his front door. Despite her hairy moles and bulbous nose, McPhee quickly makes peace with Simon, the oldest and brightest of Brown’s seven brats. Like “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” before her, McPhee teaches the children to carefully consider what they wish for by conjuring worst-case scenarios. Angela Lansbury plays a wealthy aunt poised to withdraw Brown’s allowance unless he marries within 30 days. He ought to choose his lovely and loyal scullery maid (Kelly Macdonald), but that would needlessly shorten the film’s length. Christianna Brand’s books put some difficult social issues worth consideration into a child-friendly context. However the story’s chaotic mess of screaming kids will have you wishing Thompson had hired a script doctor. Blu-Ray features: commentary with director and the children, Casting The Children, Village Life, Nanny McPhee Makeover, deleted scenes, Gag Reel, How Nanny McPhee Came To Be, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish language tracks, widescreen.


ORLANDO
(1992)
(2.5 stars out of 4)

Directed by Sally Potter and starring Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Lothaire Bluteau, John Wood, Heathcote Williams, Quentin Crisp and Charlotte Valandrey
Sony//Rated PG-13//Comedy//94 minutes
Special Edition available on DVD

Director Sally Potter adapts Virginian Woolf’s 1928 gender-bending novel for the screen. A young Tilda Swinton plays Orlando, mysteriously transformed from a 17th-century youth, and Queen Elizabeth’s favorite boy-toy, into a woman. Aging more slowly than usual, by the time Orlando reaches the early 20th century she rides a motorbike, her small daughter ensconced in a sidecar. Woolf’s novel sought to examine the differences and similarities between the sexes over the past few centuries, as well as defining the ideal man or woman. Likewise, via Orlando’s career as a poet, literary fashions are skewered. The film succeeds — to an extent — in illuminating its complex subjects. However, it’s an oddly stiff script, requiring much narration and onscreen descriptions that grow wearisome. The film won numerous international awards, including a Felix for best picture, while garnering two Academy Award nominations. DVD features: Orlando goes to Russia, Orlando in Uzbekistan, Jimmy was an angel, Venice Film Festival press conference, director interview, select scenes director commentary, English language tracks, widescreen.


THE LAST SONG

(2010)
(1.5 stars out of 4)

Directed by Julie Anne Robinson and starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston, Nick Lashaway, Carly Chaikin and Nick Searcy
Disney//Rated PG//Drama//107 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

It isn’t easy to make Miley Cyrus unappealing, but the popular singer/actress is ill-served by her role of Ronnie, a troubled teen who, along her younger brother (Coleman), is sent by her mom (Preston) to stay with their estranged father (Kinnear). Musically talented like her father, city-girl Ronnie refuses to play the piano or sing, preferring to sulk about summering in Dad’s seaside town.

Then Ronnie falls for local dreamboat Will (Hemsworth), a spoiled rich boy with baggage of his own, and she begins to realize that no family is perfect. Written by tearmeister Nicholas Sparks, the film’s success or failure rests on the faithfulness of Miley’s youthful fanbase. DVD features: commentary By Director Julie Anne Robinson and Producer Jennifer Gibgot, Set Tour With Bobby Coleman: Behind The Scenes making of, Miley Cyrus Music Video: “When I Look At You,” Making Of Music Video With Miley Cyrus, An Inside-the-Recording-featurette includes Interviews with Miley and Crew, English or French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack features same plus: alternate opening sequence, deleted scenes, includes DVD of the film with bonus features.


 
MY NAME IS KHAN
(2010)
(2.5 stars out of 4)

Directed by Karan Johar and starring Kajol, Tanay Chheda, Shahrukh Khan and Jimmy Shergill
Fox//Rated PG-13//Hindi and English, with English subtitles//161 minutes
Available on DVD

Shah Rukh Khan appears as Rizvan Khan, an Indian man migrating to San Francisco following the death of his mother. He’s a Muslim and a virgin stricken with Asperger’s syndrome, but is functioning well in his job as a cosmetics salesman when he meets and marries Hindu salon owner Mandira (Devgan). In the wake of 9/11 and anti-Muslim sentiment, Mandira tells Khan to leave her home, setting him on a quest to win her back. While the film’s Bollywood roots all but guarantee it will veer into both improbability and melodrama, Khan is a winsome character and the story is surprisingly affecting. DVD features: Changing the Face Of Bollywood, Working Together, The Music, The Story, Sajda Music Promo, Tere Naina Music Promo, English and Hindi language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.


 
FURRY VENGEANCE
(2010)
(1 star out of 4)

Directed by Roger Kumble and starring Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Ken Jeong, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Kinsey
Summit Entertainment//Rated PG//Comedy//92 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray

In this family movie, a real estate developer (Fraser), his wife (Shields) and a construction crew seek to develop a pristine wilderness into an exclusive community of McMansions. These hapless humans soon find their project sabotaged by clever woodland creatures which attack them in surprising ways — most surprising is that each comeuppance consists of a vulgar sight gag. Seemingly lost without his “Mummy” movies, Fraser contends with a series of crotch jokes that fail to amuse. Uneven CGI effects hold up poorly next to real-life critters, all of whom ought to creep down from the Hollywood Hills to avenge themselves. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Director and Cast commentary, deleted scenes, The Pitfalls of Pratfalls, Working with Animals, Gag Reel, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.


BLACK SNAKE MOAN

(2007)

(1.5 stars out of 4)

Directed by Craig Brewer and starring Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson and John Cothran, Jr.
Paramount//Rated R//Drama//115 minutes
Available on DVD

Christina Ricci appears as Rae, a backwoods nymphomaniac found beaten and near death by old blues player Lazarus (Jackson). Determined to drive the devil from Rae, Lazarus chains her to an old radiator and reads scripture to her. His bizarre therapy helps, but Rae is a lost soul without her boyfriend (Timberlake), gone off to join the army. A strange plan has Jackson sing the titular song while pop star Timberlake remains noteless. The excellent score and the cast’s enthusiasm for this dark material may cause you to moan for missed opportunities. DVD features: directory commentary, deleted scenes, Making of documentary, Rooted in the Blues featurette, English, French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.


THE CONVERSATION

(1974)
(3.5 stars out of 4)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Teri Garr, Frederic Forrest and Cindy Williams
Lionsgate//Rated PG//Thriller//113 minutes
Available on DVD

Director Francis Ford Coppola authored this knowing thriller casting Hackman as nerdy wiretapper Harry Caul, a precursor to his later role in "Enemy of the State." For once, Caul’s paranoia is justified for having recorded the wrong conversation. The action is tense, thoughtful and even more relevant in a society defined by our increasingly public lives. DVD features: Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola or commentary by Film Editor Walter Murch, “Close-Up On The Conversation” featurette, theatrical trailer, English or French language tracks, widescreen.

 

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
REPO MEN
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Starring Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber, RZA, Carice van Houten
Universal//Rated R//Sci-Fi//112 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray
In the near future, the rich extend their lives using robotic spare parts sold by a corporation calling itself "The Union." Organs cost upwards of $600,000 and are financed at 19% interest. Pitchman Frank (Liev Schreiber) persuades the reluctant to sign on the dotted line. The corporation uses repo men to reclaim organs from delinquent borrowers at the point of a scalpel. Repo men Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) partner-up on difficult cases. Though they play their roles straight and serious, Schreiber wades knee-deep in camp. After suffering an on-the-job accident, Remy awakens to learn he has received a company heart transplant, and that he no longer has the spirit to repo organs. Though unable to pay the freight on his own new ticker, Remy attempts to save drug- addicted Beth (Alice Braga) from over-zealous repo men. Based on "The Repossession Mambo," a novel by Eric Garcia, the film sags before reviving its story with a clever last-minute twist. DVD and Blu-Ray features: commentary with Director and Writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, deleted scenes, The Union Commercials, Inside the Visual Effects, English, French, or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. (1 ½ stars out of 4) 
 
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Starring Sam Worthington, Mads Mikkelsen, Alexa Davalos, Jason Flemyng, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Gemma Arterton, Danny Huston, Polly Walker, Luke Evans
Warner//Rated PG-13//Fantasy//118 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray
The latest toga and sandals fantasy loosely remakes 1981’s "Clash Of The Titans." The saga depicts meddlesome Greek Gods unleashing an underlord and his monsters against men and demigods. Ralph Fiennes whispers much of his dialogue as Hades, while hero Perseus is embodied by a bland Sam Worthington. Zeus (Liam Neeson) is the moody ruler of Olympus, while Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) remains a steadfastly passive and saintly human princess. The most memorable characters are man-hating Medusa and Polly Walker as the scene-chewing Queen Cassiopeia. Joining Perseus in his quest to slay Hades, Mads Mikkelsen brings subtle suffering to Draco’s heroic determination. Not only can Mikkelsen act rings around Worthington, his charisma virtually erases everyone else from the screen. Calibos is a monster whose tragic past earns our sympathy, heightened by the primal hate Jason Flemyng emotes in the role. While the post-production 3-D looks boxy, the updated special effects are a blast. DVD features: deleted scenes, English, French, or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-Ray/Combo pack features same plus: DVD, digital copy, alternate ending, picture-in-picture commentary, Maximum Movie Mode: Harnessing the Gods, Sam Worthington: An Action Hero for the Ages.
 
RAMBO
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Starring, Sylvester Stallone Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Ken Howard, Rey Gallegos, Tim Kang, Jake LaBotz, Graham McTavish
Lionsgate//Rated R (Extended Version Unrated)//Action//99 minutes 
Available on: Blu-Ray, Extended Cut
Believing himself to be long past fighting for lost causes, John Rambo now lives rustically on the Thai side of the Salween River that defines the Burmese border. He is hired by idealistic American missionaries, toting medicine and bibles to Christians targeted for ethnic cleansing by the Burmese militia. Cowriter, star, and director of this fourth installment, Stallone conveys the bloodiness of jungle warfare. Several sequences glorify Stallone, a forgivable misstep since the film spotlights a great injustice. An aging Clint Eastwood may be content to substitute clever thinking for youth and vigor, but Stallone pumps up, bronzes his skin, and bandanas his luxurious mop to squash any doubt regarding his iconic status. Never say die. Blu-ray features: Rambo: to hell & back director’s production diary, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. (3 stars out of 4) 
 
STARGATE UNIVERSE: 1.5
Created by 
Starring Robert Carlyle, Justin Louis, Brian J. Smith, David Blue
MGM//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//438 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray
This darker "Stargate" spin-off is calculated to appeal to "Battlestar Galactica" fans. The first season’s home video release was split into two halves, this being the second half containing its final 10 episodes. The drama follows a group of scientists, soldiers, and ordinary people who travel through a stargate to save themselves from attack. They emerge aboard a spaceship built by the ancients, its predetermined course putting earth ever further in its rear view mirror. While attempting to gain an understanding of the ship, tensions build between the military and civilian camps. Making matters worse they are pursued by extraterrestrials determined to capture the ship. The story mixes wildly disparate characters as it searches for those that will resonate most with the audience. 3-Disc DVD features: commentaries on all episodes, chatting with the Cast, Featurettes: Designing a New Race: Space Aliens, Tanked! Elyse Levesque Goes for a swim, Kino Video Diaries, English or Spanish language tracks, French subtitles, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: SGU: Survival Instinct game. (2 ½ stars out of 4) 

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video
THE BOOK OF ELI
Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes
Starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis,  Jennifer Beals, Ray Stevenson, Evan Jones, Michael Gambon, Tom Waits and Frances de la Tour
Warner/Rated R/Sci-Fi/118 minutes
Available on DVD or Blu-Ray
Thirty years after the final war, solitary Eli is the ultimate survivor. Portrayed by a graying Denzel Washington, Eli possesses a rare remaining copy of the Bible and carries a machete — wielded against anyone foolish enough to try and take it. When he stops at a settlement for water and to recharge his iPod battery, Eli keeps the Bible hidden because he believes the tome is necessary to rebuild civilization. Running the settlement, Carnegie (Gary Oldman) scours the land for a Bible because he believes its scripture can be used to cement his rule. Carnegie’s plaything is beautiful, blind Claudia (Jennifer Beals), who, having taken Eli’s measure, instructs her daughter (Mila Kunis) to leave with him. The film dares to takes itself seriously, except when Oldman’s comic book villain is in play and during a brief sequence that introduces an elderly pair (Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon) employing a daring survival strategy. Bleached film stock gives the effect of watching the movie with the sun in your eyes, but you don’t mind until the final twist, which reads poorly. DVD features: Additional scenes, Lost Tales: Chapter 1 – animated, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack same plus: Digital Copy, featurettes: Starting Over, Soundtrack, Eli’s Journey, 40 minutes of PIP commentary with Denzel Washington and the Hughes Brothers, and 10 Focus Points. (2 starst out of 4)

THE HORSEMAN
Directed by Steven Kastrissios
Starring Peter Marshall, Caroline Marohasy, Brad McMurray, Evert McQueen and Christopher Sommers
Screen Media Films/Rated R/Action/95 minutes
Available on DVD or Blu-Ray
After learning his deceased daughter was drugged and raped while making a pornographic film, Christian Forteski (Peter Marshall) goes on a killing spree of unparalleled violence. A father frustrated by the failure of his marriage and his inability to protect his daughter, Forteski delivers a comeuppance to her persecutors at close quarters using crowbars, fish hooks and other commonly available items. Though bloodied and battered in the process, he cannot stop. While heading north to Queensland, Christian picks up reckless teen hitchhiker Alice (Caroline Marohasy). He senses she needs help and signs on as her protector. Considering the maiming and torture on display, the film’s R rating is generous, but the hideous violence, realistically depicted, is the outward manifestation of Forteski’s anger and self-loathing. From a screenplay penned by director Steven Kastrissios, this disturbing Australian sleeper should leave you queasy, but it certainly won’t bore you. DVD or Blu-Ray features: commentary, making of featurette, English language tracks, widescreen. (3 starst out of 4)

SHOWGIRLS: 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Starring Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan, Elizabeth Berkley, Robert Davi, Glenn Plummer, Gina Ravera and Alan Rachins 
MGM//Rated NC-17/Drama/131 minutes
Available on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack
Berkley appears as Nomi Malone, the new girl in Las Vegas determined to work her way up from stripper to lead showgirl. She’ll do anything with or to anyone to achieve her dream. Spending much of the film naked and surrounded by a sea of flesh, Berkley’s meager acting skills and the thin story soon dull the senses. One of the first big-budget Hollywood movies to be released under an NC-17 rating, its box office failure was an important lesson for studios. 2-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Commentary by David Schmader, Pole Dancing: Finding Your Inner Stripper, Lap Dance Tutorial, Showgirls Fact-Up Trivia, A Showgirls Diary, English, Spanish or French language tracks, widescreen.
(3 starst out of 4)

SISTER’S KEEPER
Directed by Kent Faulcon
Starring Kent Faulcon, Denise Boutte 
and Eric Roberts
MTI/Rated R/Action/101 minutes
Available on DVD
Beautiful small town teacher Diane (Boutte) mistakes Jacob for her long lost brother, unaware he’s been hired to kill her. Jacob plays into Diane’s assumptions then finds himself falling in love rather than seeking the best time and place to kill her. When a second group of assassins is sent to do the job, Jacob decides to protect her and to find out who wants Diane dead and why. A shaggy-haired Eric Roberts, appearing in a small role, does little to help this low budget effort overcome its shopworn story. DVD Extras include: director commentary, deleted scenes, cast auditions, cast and crew biographies, trailers, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. (1.5 starst out of 4)

SUPERNATURAL: Season One
Created by Eric Kripke
Starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles 
Warner/Rating NR/Horror/936 minutes
Available on Blu-Ray
Combing news stories for clues to activated evil entities and the walking dead, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Padalecki and Ackles) hunt demons while crisscrossing the country in their ’67 Chevy Impala, silver bullets and wooden stakes piled into the car’s trunk. They also hope to find their demon-hunting dad. The concept mines various urban and cultural myths, while exploring the ever-changing dynamics between a pair of headstrong siblings. 4-Disc Blu-Ray features: Interactive US Devil’s Road Map to urban legends and factoids featured in this episode set, Paley Festival panel discussion with cast and creators, unaired and extended scenes, pilot commentary with creator Eric Kripke, director David Nutter and producer Peter Johnson, Commentary on Phantom Traveler by costars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, 2 featurettes: Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen, Tales From the Edge of Darkness, Gag reel, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. (2 starst out of 4)

YOUTH IN REVOLT
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Justin Long, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Ari Graynor, Zach Galifianakis, Eric Knudsen and M. Emmet Walsh
Sony/Rated R/Comedy/90 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Michael Cera plays both 16-year-old Nick and Nick’s imaginary alter ego, the bold, mustached Francois Dillinger. Hormonal Nick watches his divorced parents (Buscemi and Smart) indulge in sexual flings, a frustrating situation for Nick who is unable to connect with a girl. Then Nick hits it off with Sheeni (Doubleday) and contrives to move his mother to Sheeni’s hometown. Absurd plot twists emanate from Nick’s alter-ego Francois — determined to get Nick a girlfriend at any cost. Gifted with a topnotch cast and the sassy narrative of C.D. Payne’s 1993 novel, this comedic cocktail mixes a full dose of libido with a dash of intellect. DVD features: Director and Michael Cera’s Commentary, deleted scenes, deleted and extended animated sequences, Audition Footage, English language tracks, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: movieIQ + sync connection to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie. (2.5 starst out of 4)

WHEN IN ROME 
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Alexis Dziena, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Danny DeVito, Kate Micucci and Bobby Moynihan
Touchstone/Rated PG-13/Comedy/91 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Unlucky in love, young, ambitious New Yorker Beth (Bell), plays by her own rules when visiting Rome. Instead of tossing her coin into the Fountain of Love as the Romans do, Beth steals the coins tossed in by others, inadvertently casting a spell over the coins’ owners (DeVito, Heder, Shepard, and Arnett) who become uncontrollably attracted to her. Hearing of Beth’s plight, a journalist (Duhamel) interviews her and romantic sparks fly. Meant to be Bell’s big screen breakout, the actress tries to hold her own opposite a fleet of comic veterans, but can’t survive the film’s awful script. Hopefully, fans of Bell’s roles on “Heroes” and “Veronica Mars” are willing to take her back. (1.5 starst out of 4)

Out on Home Video

Out on Home Video

LEVERAGE: Season Two
(2009-2010)
(2 stars out of 4)
Created by John Rogers and Chris Downey
Starring Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge
Paramount/Not Rated/Drama/707 minutes
Available on: DVD
Timothy Hutton stars as Nathan Ford, leading a small band of vigilantes. It’s tempting to compare the elaborate con at the heart of each episode to that of Britain’s “Hustle,” but the American heroes do not profit from their schemes. Each episode opens with an innocent person being victimized by a greedy individual. The wronged party persuades Nathan and his team of leveragers to take their case. Nathan identifies the wrongdoer’s weakness and uses it to devise a means of bringing the miscreant down. In “The Three Days of the Hunter Job,” the team provides a false scoop to a Nancy Grace-like journalist (Beth Broderick) whose inaccurate reporting has ruined many lives. Nathan is motivated by a tragedy from his past, but the other young team members — a hacker, an acrobat, a martial arts expert and a con game expert — risk jail and worse simply because they enjoy their work. Four-Disc DVD features: John Rogers set tour, Behind the boom featurette, The Creators of Leverage Q&A, “The Hand Job” spoof video, Andy Lange music featurette, Season 2 wrap party gag reel, commentaries on each episode, English language tracks, widescreen.
 
DEAR JOHN
(2010)
(2 stars out of 4)
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Starring Richard Jenkins, Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum, Henry Thomas and D.J. Cotrona
Sony/Rated PG-13/Drama/109 minutes
Available on: DVD or Blu-Ray
The adaptation of yet another weepy Nicholas Sparks romance casts Channing Tatum as John Tyree, a US Special Forces soldier on leave when he falls hard for Savannah Curtis (Seyfried) in scenic Charleston, SC. She’s passionate, sweet and adorable. He’s loyal to a fault and off to serve in Iraq while Savannah languishes at home. Largely told through the pair’s love letters, the film offers excellent supporting turns by Jenkins as John’s socially inept father, and by Thomas who plays a single parent raising an autistic son. Determined to pluck our heart strings, “Dear John” aims squarely for the author’s cry-hard fans. DVD or Blu-Ray features: Deleted and Alternate Scenes, Alternate Ending, Outtakes, A Conversation with Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried and Lasse Hallstrom, Transforming Charleston, Military in Movies: Dear John’s Military Advisors, Mr. Tyree, The Mule, and Benny Dietz, The Story of Braeden Reed, English language tracks, widescreen. Exclusive Blu-Ray features: movieIQ™+sync and BD-Live for real-time info while watching the movie.
 
7 ADVENTURES OF SINBAD
(2010)
(1.5 stars out of 4)
Directed by Ben Hayflick, Adam Silver
Starring Patrick Muldoon, Sarah Desage and Bo Svenson
Asylum/Not Rated/Fantasy/90 minutes
Available on: DVD
Another direct-to-video Asylum motion picture, “Sinbad” sports the tagline “The Original Prince of Persia,” and is timed for a concurrent release with the major motion picture bearing that title. Shot in just 13 days on a $500,000 budget, the film depicts an appealing array of giants that include: an octopus, a crab, a squid, a whale, flying prehistoric dinosaurs and a two creatures cribbed from “Lord of the Rings,” a Cyclops and a lava demon. The film goes awry when focusing on billionaire industrialist Adrian Sinbad (Muldoon), fleeing with a handful of others, after his oil tanker is attacked. They become marooned on a desert island where local warrior Loa (Desage) persuades them to prevent an impending apocalypse by undertaking a daring quest. DVD features: Making of featurette, deleted scenes, bloopers, trailer, English language tracks, widescreen.
 
THE ROAD
(2009)
(1.5 stars out of 4)
Directed by John Hillcoat
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker and Garret Dillahunt
Dimension/Rated R/Sci-Fi/119 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray
A widower (Mortensen) sustained only by love for his young son (Smit-McPhee), leads the boy on a forced march through an apocalyptic world. A decade after terrible earthquakes and fires ravage the planet, few people remain and nothing can grow in the smoggy atmosphere. Sustained by memories of his loving wife (Theron), the man searches for a place where his son will be safe, but first he must fight off cannibals and thieves. The film is adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, a Pulitzer Prize winner that comes across as preachy on film. DVD or Blu-Ray features: Making-of featurette, Deleted Scenes, director commentary, Blu-Ray Exclusive features: movieIQ™+sync and BD-Live for real-time info while watching the movie.
 
FLASHPOINT: Season Two
(2009)
(2 stars out of 4)
Created by Mark Ellis, Stephanie Morgenstern
Starring Enrico Colantoni, Amy Jo Johnson, Hugh Dillon, David Paetkau, Michael Cram, Sergio Di Zio and Mark Taylor
Paramount/Not Rated/Drama/338 minutes
Available on: DVD
Toronto’s Emergency Task Force defuses bombs, climbs the sides of skyscrapers and fields trained negotiators, who are also capable of rescuing hostages by force. Plenty goes wrong for team members, both in the line of duty and their personal lives. Though the characters’ workaday struggles are credibly depicted, the show’s soft storytelling technique blunts its edgy subject matter. Two-disc DVD features: featurettes: Stunts, Weapons, Hugh Dillon works well with others, English language tracks, widescreen.
 
MALICE IN WONDERLAND
(2009)
-Bomb- 
Directed by Simon Fellows
Starring Maggie Grace, Matt King, Danny Dyer, Nathaniel Parker, Bronagh Gallagher, Anthony Higgins, Steve Haze and Dave Lynn
Magnolia/Rated R/Fantasy/87 minutes
Available on: DVD
Lewis Carroll’s tale is re-imagined and set in present day London. While escaping a dull German fiancee, American socialite Alice (Grace) is hit by a London cab. The driver, named Whitey (a stand-in for the white rabbit), takes Alice to a party after he learns she is suffering from amnesia. While she tries to make sense of her circumstances, Whitey (Dyer) attempts to befriend a crook because Whitey wants in on the major heist he is said to be planning. The truth of Alice’s situation turns out to be as tired as the film’s lazy dialogue and lackluster action. “Off with its head.” DVD features: Making of featurette, Behind the scenes, Photo gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.
 
RAIN FALL
(2009)
(2 stars out of 4)
Directed by Max Mannix
Starring Gary Oldman, Hasegawa Kyoko, Kippei Shiina, Max Mannix and Akira Emoto
Lionsgate/Rated R/Action/111 minutes
Available on: DVD
Release Date May 25, 2010 
John Rain (Shiina) is an assassin working in Tokyo when he learns his CIA handler (Oldman) is determined to kill both Rain and Midori (Hasegawa), the innocent daughter of Rain’s most recent target. Together, Rain and Midori go on the run, though they mostly stroll because a slew of government killers can’t seem to track them down. Despite the exotic locations and adequate acting, this momentum-challenged actioner is soon all wrung out. DVD features: Cast and crew interviews, Trailer gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 
 
MERLIN AND THE BOOK OF BEASTS
(2009)
(1 star out of 4)
Directed by Warren P. Sonoda, Jesse Moss 
Starring James Callis, Laura Harris, Monique Ganderton, Donald Adams, Patrick Sabongui, Maja Stace-Smith and Jim Thorburn
Anchor Bay/Not Rated/Fantasy/92 minutes
Available on: Blu-Ray
When the evil sorcerer Mordred unleashes the Medusa twins and a plague of homicidal insects on the kingdom, Merlin must save the day with help from deceased King Arthur’’ daughter, Avlynn. She alone can wield Excalibur against Mordred, but can do nothing to enliven lifeless special effects or to invigorate this poorly paced screenplay. Merlin should zap this mangled Sci-Fi Channel effort into oblivion.
 
SPARTACUS
(1960)
(1.5 stars out of 4)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Kirk Douglas, Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Tony Curtis, Charles Laughton, John Gavin and Nina Foch
Universal/Rated PG-13/180 minutes
50th Anniversary Edition Available on: Blu-Ray
Douglas appears as a gladiator leading a slave revolt against Rome, but the stagy toga-and-sandals production is made corny by a self-aggrandizing score. Charismatic Douglas produced and wrangled Simmons to play his love interest, Olivier for the role of Crassus, Laughton to portray a curmudgeonly senator, John Gavin as young Julius Caesar, Peter Ustinov to portray greedy businessman Batiatus, and best of all, Tony Curtis — replete with a New York accent  — as Antoninus. Restored in 1991, Anthony Hopkins dubbed Olivier’s voice in the “snails and oysters” scene while Curtis dubbed his own voice, because the original soundtrack could not be salvaged. Blu-Ray features: Deleted Scenes, Behind-the-scenes Footage, Archival Interviews with Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons, 5 Vintage Newsreels, Image Galleries, including Production Stills, Concept Art, Costume Designs, Storyboards, Posters, Print Ads, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles.
 
Also Out This Week
HARD RIDE TO HELL
(2010)
Directed by Penelope Buitenhuis
Starring Miguel Ferrer, Katherine Isabelle, Laura Mennel and Brendan Penny
Vivendi/Not Rated/Horror/94 minutes
Available on: DVD
A band of immortal, devil-worshipping bikers terrorize a group of campers after the interlopers unwittingly observe a gruesome blood sacrifice. Fleeing to a ghost town, the campers take shelter in a church that harbors a malevolent priest and a strange boy burdened by a terrible secret. A cutlery salesman (Brent Stait) squares off against the cannibalistic biker leader (Ferrer), but the film’s real goal is to create a heap of chopped and chain-sawed body parts. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

OUT ON HOME VIDEO

OUT ON HOME VIDEO
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN
Directed by F. Gary Gray and starring Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Colm Meaney, Viola Davis, Regina Hall and Michael Irby
Achor Bay/Rated R/Thriller/109 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray
(2.5 stars out of 4) 
 
The thrills associated with the sadistic murders of “Law Abiding Citizen” are debatable. An imperfect judicial system disappoints Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler), whose wife and daughter were murdered by a pair of home invaders. Against Shelton’s wishes, Assistant District Attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) gives one perpetrator a short prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against the other. Rice doesn’t know that Shelton possesses the skills to punish Rice and everyone else connected with the plea bargain. Following the botched execution of the other killer, the second killer — freed by Rice’s deal — is found murdered in Shelton’s warehouse. While looking into Shelton’s background, Rice’s assistant (Leslie Bibb) learns he’s a government contractor who’s become wealthy by designing devices that kill from afar. Whether or not Rice learns the lesson Shelton intends to teach him, both the legal system and films would be better off without these pointless revenge fantasies. 

PHANTOM RACER
Directed by Terry Ingram and starring Greg Evigan and Nicole Eggert
Rhino/Rated TV-14/Horror/87 minutes
Available on: DVD
(1 star out of 4)  
 
Twenty years after a race car crash kills JJ Sawyer’s (Evigan) rival, the dead man’s car goes on a killing spree. This attempt to channel Stephen King culminates in face-slicing windshield wipers, a trunk-door cleaving a victim in two and self-tightening seat belts stronger than boa constrictors. Gotta love those vintage hot rods! No special DVD features. 

NOVA: BECOMING HUMAN
Created by Graham Townsley
PBS Video/Not Rated/Documentary/
180 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray
(4 stars out of 4)  
 
Archaeologists continue the long search for fossils marking the emergence of hominids. In the first of three programs, a 4-million-year-old skull takes us further back along the human branch. In the second episode, DNA research discloses more about our origins. In the third episode we trace threats to our young species. The programs combine current scientific theory with known facts and stunning computer-generated animation to bring early hominids to life. Strategies used to find fossils and the cutting-edge methods used to examine them are depicted, while renowned scientists illuminate the small differences that brought us to our present form. Good family viewing. DVD and Blu-Ray features described video for the sight impaired. 

FROM MEXICO WITH LOVE
Directed by Jimmy Nickerson and starring Stephen Lang, Bruce McGill, Steven Bauer, Kuno Becker, Danay Garcia, Alex Nesic, Michael Klesic and Gene LeBell
Lionsgate/Rated PG-13/Drama/98 minutes
Available on DVD
(2 stars out of 4)  
 
Hector (Becker), an illegal migrant farm worker in Texas, boxes in barnyards and bars for extra money. His talent gets noticed by Big Al (Lang), a local ranch owner determined to keep his son Robert atop the underground boxing heap. One night, Big Al’s ranch hands beat Hector and leave him for dead in the desert. After he recovers, Hector persuades ex-boxer Billy Jenks to train him to fight a grudge match against Robert. Gritty boxing action and a unique perspective keep up the momentum in this low-budget drama that often slides into melodrama. DVD features: Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 

CABIN FEVER: Director’s Cut
Directed by Eli Roth and starring Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd and Joey Kern
Lionsgate/Rated R/Horror/98 min
Available on Blu-Ray
(3 stars out of 4)  
 
Reissued to coincide with the release of its direct-to-video sequel, this grisly horror is surprisingly thoughtful. While staying at a cabin in the woods, five high school grads kill a man infected with an Ebola-like virus. One after another the kids fall ill with the same symptoms and begin to turn on one another, proof that we never fully understand what we’re capable of until our lives are on the line.

SHAUN THE SHEEP: A Woolly Good Time
Created by Nick Park
Lionsgate/Not Rated/Animated/40 minutes
Available on DVD
(4 stars out of 4)  
 
“Shaun The Sheep,” a spin-off by Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, appears in five-minute episodes on the Disney Channel. Dialog-free action revolves around a barnyard of sheep (led by Shaun), pigs, chickens and a super smart dog — all belonging to a nearsighted farmer.
 

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