Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 3/11/14

The Coen brothers’ excellently icy INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (my #2 favorite film of 2013) is today’s most notable release on home video, in single disc Blu ray and DVD editions that only have one Special Feature: the 43-minute behind-the-scenes “Inside INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS” mini-doc that’s been showing on HBO the last few months. It’s good stuff with interviews with Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, T. Bone Burnett, and the filmmakers, but some other bonus material would’ve been nice. However, fans who've collected the Coen bros. work on DVD/Blu ray will know this is par for the course.

Next up, Brian Percival’s THE BOOK THIEF, a World War II drama that I didn't care for when it was released last December, is also available today in 1-disc Blu ray/DVD editions. The film, concerning Sophie Nélisse bonding with her kindly German foster parent Geoffrey Rush over stealing books from being burned by the Nazis, has about 40 minutes of Extras including the half hour doc “A Hidden Truth: Bringing THE BOOK THIEF to Life,” almost 7 minutes of Deleted Scenes, and the Theatrical Trailer.

Despite its stellar cast including Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Casey Affleck, and Forest Whitaker, OUT OF THE FURNACE, Scott Cooper's followup to his acclaimed country music drama CRAZY HEART (you know, the movie that won Jeff Bridges an Oscar), was largely ignored last fall. Now its out on Blu ray and DVD so it can be ignored all over again. No, just kidding - it's a not bad Rust Belt drama thriller about Bale as an ex-con whose younger brother (Affleck) goes missing after taking part in an illegal bare-knuckle fight run by the beyond evil Harrelson. It may not be as good as any random episode of True Detective, but it's not a waste of time either. Special Features: Four featurettes (“Inspiration,” “Scott Cooper,” “Crafting the Fight Scenes,” “The Music of OUT OF THE FURNACE,” and the Theatrical Trailer.

Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (it lost to THE GREAT BEAUTY) Felix van Groeningen's THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN also hits home video this week, but only on DVD. It's a tunefully sad drama which examines the relationship of tattoo artist Veerle Baetens and banjo player Johan Heldenbergh who fall in bluegrass soaked love, but that's put to the test by their terminally ill 6-year old daughter (Nell Cattrysse). Only one Special Feature is included: Interview with Director Felix van Groeningen.

Do we really need another documentary about the JFK assassination? Not really, but Malcolm McDonald's JFK: THE SMOKING GUN, releasing today only on DVD, is at least about one of the lesser known theories concerning the 50-year old event. It puts forth that the fatal head shot didn't come from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository or the grassy knoll; it came from one of the cars full of Secret Service agents following Kennedy. 

With testimony from witnesses, that, of course, were ignored by the Warren Commission, and computer graphic breakdowns, McDonald's thriller-emulating doc isn't without points of major plausibility, but its way too padded with reenacted bits with stiff actors playing out scenes that have already been recreated dozens, if not hundreds of times before - i.e. the doctor unsuccessfully trying to stop the Secret Service from taking JFK's body from Parkland Hospital, the overcrowded Bethesda operating room, etc. Bonus Features: Forensic Evidence Gallery, Behind the Scenes Clips.

Also out today: Gary Fleder's action thriller HOMEFRONT, starring James Franco, Jason Stratham, Winona Ryder, and Kate Bosworth;  Takeshi Kitano's Japanese mafia thriller BEYOND OUTRAGE; Victor Salva's latest horror flick DARK HOUSE; Fabien Constant's documentary MADEMOISELLE C, about former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and fashion stylist Carine Roitfeld; and the Criterion Collection release of David Gordon Green’s 2000 directorial debut GEORGE WASHINGTON.

More later...

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