Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 5/21/13

Today’s releases feature a plethora of titles that I missed when they were released theatrically early this year. 

First up, former California Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first starring role in a decade (THE EXPENDABLES movies? Consider those cameos.), Kim Ji-woon’s THE LAST STAND comes out in single disc Blu ray and DVD editions. The action flick about Schwarzenegger as a small town Sherriff battling a Mexican drug lord, which looks like it could possibly be big dumb fun, comes with a smattering of Special Features including a nearly half hour featurette entitled “Not In My Town: Making THE LAST STAND,” a few shorter featurettes (“Cornfield Chaos: Scene Breakdown,” “The Dinkum Firearm & Historic Weaponry Museum Tour”), Actor-Cam Anarchy: with Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander, and over 20 minutes of deleted and extended scenes.

Another I missed, and barely noticed the existence of, Richard LaGravenese’s TWILIGHT-wannabe BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, starring Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert, hits the shelves in a double disc Blu ray package and in a single disc DVD. Special Features a 24-minute collection of behind-the-scenes Featurettes, 8 minutes of deleted scenes, trailers, and a TV spot. I seriously doubt I’ll be queuing this up.

A few films I’m actually interested also drop on Blu ray and DVD today: Fisher Stevens’ STAND UP GUYS and Steven Soderbergh’s SIDE EFFECTS

Available in 1-disc Blu ray and DVD editions, STAND UP GUYS stars the awesome trio of Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin as old school gangsters who get together to pull off one last job. Sure, it sounds clichéd as Hell, but I heard good things here and there and will likely give it a whirl this week. Stevens provides a director’s commentary, and other extras include a few featurettes, and a few minutes of deleted scenes. 

Soderbergh’s psychological thriller SIDE EFFECTS, available in a double disc Blu ray set or a single disc DVD package, once said to be one of the director’s final projects before retiring (he’s since said he’s only taking a film-making sabbatical), stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum in a tale about a young woman (Mara) who gets prescribed an experimental new medication called Ablixa. Special Features are pretty paltry: a 3 minute behind the scenes featurette, and a couple minutes of fake commercials for the fictional drugs depicted in the film. 

True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season, right in time for the upcoming 6th season of the wildly popular HBO series (premiering on June 16th) is also out today in a spiffy (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) box set. I’ve not been a regular view of the show before, but the fine folks at HBO sent me a review copy of the nicely packaged season so I’ve been making my way through it. I usually like to watch shows from the very beginning, but I’ve gathered bits and pieces about what’s been going on in the Southern sometimes ultra-trashy world of Sookie Stackhouse, played with punchy energy by Anna Paquin. Since I don’t know all the back stories, and my grasp on the mythology is far from formed, I can get a bit lost, but the show moves fast and has a lot of sordid sex scenes so it’s pretty damn watchable. 

5 commentaries featuring cast and crew members are included, as are such extras as something called “advanced viewing mode,” in which gives viewers the options of getting 4 different angles on each episode along with trivia, production notes, character bios, and histories (hmm, maybe that’ll help me get up to date). There’s also an “Autopsy” of episode Six “Hopeless,” “Authority Confessionals,” and a few more featurettes.

Also from HBO, a film I reviewed when it premiered on the premium cable channel last November, Brett Morgen’s Rolling Stones documentary CROSSFIRE HURRICANE is now out in single disc Blu ray and DVD editions. The doc, which I considered a “purposeful primer of their formative years” although it adds little new for long-time fans, is enhanced by bonus material made up of of live and TV performances from the mid ‘60s (9 songs in all), an interview with director Morgen, and the theatrical trailer.

Notable retro-tinged releases today are PBS’s American Masters documentary about the legendary comic actor/writer/director Mel Brooks (Robert Trachtenberg's “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise”), the Criterion Collection edition of Haskell Wexler’s 1969 cult classic MEDIUM COOL, and Warner Bros. celebrates the 30th anniversary of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION with a new special edition Blu ray (also 1997’s VEGAS VACATION, which wasn’t from National Lampoon incidentally, makes its Blu ray debut today).

Paul Borghese’s gritty crime drama ONCE UPON A TIME IN BROOKLYN, starring Armand Assante William DeMeo, Cathy Moriarty, and Ice T comes out on DVD today. Its plot sounds a bit like STAND UP GUYS – guy gets out of prison and gets back into illegal activities – but I bet that there’s a distinctly different tone happening. Director’s commentary, interview with Borghese and DeMeo, and deleted scenes. 

Lastly, a few horror titles drop on DVD this week: H.P. LOVECRAFT’S COOL AIR, directed by Albert Pyun is out now only on DVD with no Special Features other than a trailer gallery, and AFTER DARK ORIGINALS: DARK CIRCLES, the full length directorial debut of Paul Soter, one of the Broken Lizard comedy team who brought you SUPER TROOPERS and CLUB DREAD. Soter appears with actor Johnathon Schaech, and blogger Ryan Turek on an audio commentary, and the sole other extra is a DARK CIRCLES behind-the-scenes featurette.

More later...

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