Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 2/25/14

In case you need to catch up with the Oscar nominated movies before the big broadcast of the 86th Annual Academy Awards this coming Sunday (my predictions will be posted this Friday), you’re in luck today as two of the Best Picture nominees release today on home video. First up, there’s Alfonso Cuarón’s GRAVITY, which is nominated for 10 Oscars, available this week in 3-disc Blu-ray, and 2-disc DVD editions. The extremely entertaining film, which concerns two A-list stars (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) as astronauts stranded in space, comes packaged with such Special Features as a 107 minute documentary (longer than the film!) “GRAVITY: Mission Control,” 37 minutes of Shot Breakdowns, “Aningaaq: A Short Film by Jonás Cuarón” (10 minutes), and a 22 minute mini-doc narrated by Ed Harris entitled “Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space.”

The second release competing for the big award is Alexander Payne’ s NEBRASKA, which is also up for Best Actor (Bruce Dern) and Best Supporting Actor (June Squibb) Oscars. It drops today on Blu ray and DVD, but both only have one bonus feature: an almost half an hour “making of” documentary. Though I doubt it’ll win any Oscars (Squibb could be an upsetter – you never know), it’s a fine film that deserves to be seen by a lot more film loving folks. Read my review here.

Nominated for no Oscars (for good reason), Alan Taylor’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD, which I called a Marvel Mess Of A Sorry Super Hero Sequel on this very blog last November, is also out today on Blu ray and DVD. It comes with many Special Features including a 14-minute short “Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King” by IRON MAN 3 co-writer Drew Pearce featuring Ben Kingsley, Commentary (with Director Taylor, cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau, producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and Tom Hiddleston), 32-minute Marvel Cinematic Universe documentary “A Brother's Journey: Thor & Loki,” 8 minutes of Deleted & Extended Scenes, Scoring Thor: The Dark World with Brian Tyler, (5 minutes), CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER Exclusive Look (4 minutes), and a Gag Reel (also 4 minutes).

Oscar nominee Jared Leto (Best Supporting for DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB) stars in Jaco Van Dormael’s epically weird MR. NOBODY, a 2009 sci-fi drama making its first U.S. appearance on Blu ray and DVD today. It’s a visually stunning film that blends elements of DONNIE DARKO and INCEPTION with Philip K. Dick-style invention that resembles a one-character CLOUD ATLAS at times, but it’s a long exhausting watch (the Blu ray features 2 versions – the 139 minute theatrical release and the 157 minute Director’s Cut). A terrific Leto stars as the title character, Nemo Nobody, who as an 118-year old man looks back at his life (or alternate lives), involving a cast including Sarah Polley, Rhys Ifans, and Juno Temple. Special Features: “The Making of MR. NOBODY” (45 min), Deleted Scenes 97 min), “AXS TV: A Look at How I Live Now,” and the trailer.

Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier’s excellent documentary MUSCLE SHOALS, which I saw last year at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is also available this week. As I wrote back then, “The legendary ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ gets its doc due in this rock, rhythm, and soul packed film that tells the story of two studios in the small Alabama town and the iconic artists who recorded there.” Special Features: Additional Scenes and interviews, 2 commentary tracks (one with Director Camalier; the other with Rick Hall, Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, and Spooner Oldham), and the trailer.

The Criterion Collection has a bunch of choice titles debuting on Blu ray this week: Abdellatif Kechiche's 2013 lesbian love story BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, Steven Soderbergh's Depression-era drama KING OF THE HILL, Jean Luc-Godard's 1960 French New Wave classic BREATHLESS, and Roman Polanski's 1979 Oscar winner TESS (it won for Best Cinematography, Art Direction, and Costume Design). Note: BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR and KING OF THE HILL are available streaming on Netflix Instant.

The final new release I'm highlighting today is Bob Dylan - 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, a re-mastered re-release of the all-star tribute concert that went down at Madison Square Garden on October 16th, 1992, appearing on Blu ray for the first time in a Deluxe Edition. It's a colossal collection of music including three rock icons who are no longer with us, George Harrison (who would've celebrated his 71st Birthday today), Lou Reed, and Johnny Cash, who join an amazing roster of artists including Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Roger McQuinn, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young to perform a showcase of the music of the greatest songwriter ever (imho). The man being honored himself performs a few songs at the end including ensemble versions of “My Back Pages” and “Knockin' on Heaven's Door.” Special Features: 40 minutes of previously unreleased material including behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage, and interviews. This might be the most rewarding release this week.

More later...

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