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New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of July 9-July 15

View Harley Lond's Profile

By Harley Lond - 07/08/13 at 09:36 PM CT

THIS WEEK'S TOP RELEASES:


Sometimes it's best not to expect anything in a movie -- avoid the reviews, skip the trailers, nix the pundits. Thankfully, that's what I did with "Spring Breakers" and I'm pretty happy I did. I'm not a fan of director Harmony Korine's much-touted "Gummo," but this phantasmagoria of a movie knocked me out. It's perverse, wild, crazy and a heck of a lot of fun; it's kind of a "Disney Girls Gone Wild" meets "Set It Off" and "Thelma and Louise" via "Enter the Void" and "El Topo." Korine takes four female stars with fairly clean filmic and TV reputations, throws them into the booze and dope bonging world of spring break in Florida, mixes in a nasty, silver-toothed pimp gangster, shakes the ingredients with a heavy dose of disjointed, hallucinatory camera work, and comes up with a sex-infused bad girl epic that harks back to the Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens in the breakout 2013 drama Spring Breakers bad girl and "women-in-prison" exploitation films of the 1950s and 60s, but with a 21st century mentality. Spring Breakers follows Brit (Ashley Benson of "Pretty Little Liars"), Faith (Selena Gomez, singer and star of the "Wizards of Waverly Place" and dating Justin Bieber), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens of the "High School Musicals") and Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director's wife) are college friends who don't have the money to cut loose for spring break so they hold up a restaurant with baseball bats and squirt guns. They steal a car, head out to Florida, get arrested during a motel party, and get bailed out by Alien (James Franco in an incredible performance), an infamous local thug, rapper, drug pusher and arms dealer, who takes them under his wing and introduces them to a seedy world that they could never have imagined -- but one that, finally, they can embrace. Be forewarned: there's a lot of boobs and butts, booze and drugs, violence and nasty behavior, highlighted by some glorious cinematic moments. Events repeat themselves from different camera perspectives, there's bizarre, almost psychedelic shots and scenes, and the bravura hold-up scene, shot in one take, seen from the front of the getaway car as it circles the restaurant being robbed -- all set to a propulsive electronic dance music, rap and hip-hop score. DVD and Blu-ray Bonus features include a very incisive three-part behind-the-scenes documentary, "Breaking It Down: Behind Spring Breakers"; a featurette on real-life spring break partying in Panama City Beach; and a surprising featurette on the film's ATL Twins (Franco's bad-ass sidekicks in the movie), silver-toothed Sidney and Thurman Sewell, assistants to a personal injury attorney in Atlanta and inveterate skateboaders and media darlings.

Tina Fey knows how to take chances -- witness her gigs on "SNL" and "30 Rock" -- but her choices in movie roles are pretty mainstream (take "Date Night," for example -- please). "Admission" is a middle-of-the-road light comedy in which she plays a straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer who reconnects with a former college classmate, a free-spirited teacher (Paul Rudd) at an alternative high school who persuades her to bend the rules for one of his very bright students. It's a by-the-book comedy with uninspired set-ups and gags and bogus plot lines (the student just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption). There's a lot of talent wasted here, including director Paul Weitz and co-stars Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, Gloria Reuben and Wallace Shawn. DVD and Blu-ray extras include "Early Admission With Tina Fey and Paul Rudd."

If you're a fan of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight Saga" novels and movies, you might like this adaptation of her 2008 novel "The Host," a rip-off of countless sci-fi stories about an alien presence that takes over the bodies and minds of human hosts (exemplified by John W. Campbell Jr.'s "Who Goes There?" sci-fi short story -- made into "The Thing" -- and innumerable "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" remakes and clones). Like the "Twilight Saga" films, there's more talk than action, but unlike that series, the characters are a heck of a lot less engaging. The plot: In the near future, the Earth has been invaded by an unseen enemy with humans becoming hosts for the invaders; one human, however, gives the invading "soul" a lot of trouble and refuses to relinquish possession of her mind. It's trite, slow and boring. Stars Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Frances Fisher, Jake Abel, Max Irons and William Hurt -- none of whom can save this outing. DVD and Blu-ray bonuses include deleted scenes, a "Bringing The Host to Life" behind-the-scenes featurette, and commentary with Meyer, screenwriter-director Andrew Niccol, and producer Nick Wechsler.

Also due this week: "Dead Man Down" and "Tyler Perry's Temptation," both of which were unavailable for review.

DVD COLLECTIBLES:


There's a trio of interesting collectible releases this week, headed up by "The Life of Oharu" (1952 -- Japan) from The Criterion Collection. A peerless chronicler of the soul who specialized in supremely emotional, visually exquisite films about the circumstances of women in Japanese society throughout its history, Kenji Mizoguchi had already been directing movies for decades when he made "The Life of Oharu" in 1952. But this epic portrait of an inexorable fall from Blood and Sand Blu-Ray Cover grace, starring the incredibly talented Kinuyo Tanaka as an imperial lady-in-waiting who gradually descends to street prostitution, was the movie that gained its director international attention, ushering in a new golden period for him. In Japanese with English subtitles. New high-definition digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. Next there's the Blu-ray debut of Rouben Mamoulian's action-romance "Blood and Sand" (1941), starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn, J. Carrol Naish and John Carradine. In this Academy Award-winning classic, Juan Gallardo (Power) returns home to claim the hand of his childhood love and continue his rise toward becoming Spain's greatest matador. But when he catches the eye of a beautiful seductress (Hayworth), Juan will learn that the battles that matter most are fought outside the ring. From Fox. And from Shout! Factory comes the Blu-ray debut of "Cohen & Tate" (1988), starring Roy Scheider, Adam Baldwin and Harley Cross. Two mismatched hitmen kidnap a 9-year-old boy -- an eyewitness to a recent mob rub-out -- and endeavor to deliver him to Houston where he'll be eliminated. Extras include commentary with writer-director Eric Red.

BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:


When the mayor of a crime-ridden city and his opponent are both assassinated while seeking election, two FBI agents reluctantly join forces to investigate the murder ... only to discover that City Hall holds more secrets than the identity of the killer in "Dark Power" (2013), starring Sean Patrick Flanery and Kristanna Loken. From Green Apple Entertainment ... In "Would You Rather" (2012), starring Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, Sasha Grey, John Heard, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Eddie Steeples and Charlie Hofheimer, a seemingly philanthropic aristocrat offers a group of desperate Would You Rather Blu-Ray Cover individuals all looking to make some easy money a chance at untold riches. But the guests soon find themselves trapped in the man's mansion and forced to play a sadistic parlor game of Would You Rather, where one is faced with two grim, violent choices and where only the winner will get out alive. On DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group ... The monster possessed by the spirit of a biblical demon goes on a killing spree in a high school and it's up to two buddies to hunt and kill the creature -- at night, alone in the school building in "Killing Twice" (2007), starring Julian Lara, Jose Manuel Gomen and Jesus Gallardo. On DVD and Blu-ray from Troma ... The menu at a late-night backwood's restaurant includes horror, cannibalism, sex and violence in "Open 24/7" (2010), starring Philippe Beun-Garbe, Emilie Brunner and Veronique Caldarola. From Troma ... "Drive-in Collection: Vixens of Kung Fu and Oriental Blue" is a 1975 double bill with" Vixens of Kung Fu," about a young prostitute who, after being brutally assaulted by a group of men, is in taken in by a secret sect of beautiful female kung-fu masters who teach her about the erotic side of martial arts; and "Oriental Blue," about an underground white slave trade operation in a hidden apartment beneath a Chinese restaurant. From Vinegar Syndrome ... "Street Trash -- Special Meltdown Edition" (1987) is a subversive cult classic/horror comedy about homeless men living in a junkyard, a stash of 40-year-old wine (Tenafly Viper) that's gone so bad it melts anyone who drinks Street Trash Blu-Ray Cover it, and an insane Vietnam War veteran who goes after a young runaway who falls for his secretary. A classic of the genre, with self-referential humor that makes it a fun gore outing. In a high-definition transfer from the original camera negative with 5.1 Surround remix created specifically for home theater environments. From Synapse Films/CAV Distributing ... In "Hands Of The Ripper" (1971), starring Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow and Keith Bell, the daughter of Jack the Ripper -- who watched in horror as an infant when he brutally murdered her mother -- channels her dead father's spirit and continues his murderous spree. Completely restored in high-definition and released uncut for the first time on Blu-ray in the U.S.; considered one of the most gruesome Hammer horror films ever made. In a DVD/Blue-ray Combo from Synapse Films ... A peaceful California town is shaken after the brutal murder of diner owner by a gang of vicious punks, and when the daughter of the slain man attempts to avenge her father's death, she's held hostage by the gang, resulting in an epic battle between punks and rednecks in "Punk Vacation" (1987), starring Stephen Fiachi, Sandra Bogan, Roxanne Rogers and Rob Garrison. From Vinegar Syndrome.

ON THE INDIE FRONT:


In "The Power of Few" (2012), set in New Orleans, a smuggling ring's efforts to steal a The Power of Few DVD Cover priceless artifact unfold through the perspective of five sets of characters, each with overlapping story lines. What begins as the tale of a store heist becomes a much bigger exploration of urban existence, religious conspiracy and the interconnectedness of life. Stars Christopher Walken, Christian Slater, Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford, Moon Bloodgood, Nicky Whelan, Q'orianka Kilcher and Juvenile. On DVD and Blu-ray from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... "My Best Enemy" (2011 -- Austria), starring Moritz Bleibtreu, Georg Friedrich, Ursula Strauss, Uwe Bohm and Marthe Keller, is a comedy-drama full of twists and turns about two friends in pre-war Vienna -- Victor, the son of wealthy Jewish art gallery owners, and Rudi, the son of their servants, whose lives are changed when the Nazis take over: Rudi becomes a Nazi and Victor is sent to a concentration camp. When the Nazi want a priceless Michelangelo sketch, Victor is taken out of the concentration camp to produce the genuine article, but a dramatic plane crash, switched identities and an elaborate scheme engender a complicated game of cat and mouse. From IFC Films.

Foreign:


Poster for Combat Girls "Combat Girls" (2011 -- Germany), starring Alina Levshin and Jella Haase, is a searing coming-of-age drama follows two suburban girls from vastly different backgrounds who become ensnared in the Neo-Nazi youth movement. Twenty-year-old Marisa is a hard-core believer, a semi-skinhead who is adorned with Nazi tattoos. Fourteen-year-old Svenja is a sheltered, spoiled, straight A student who becomes fascinated with the group because of her Neo-Nazi boyfriend. They began as adversaries but soon become best friends though their loyalty to each other is shaken when Marisa decides she wants to leave the group. Extras include an interview with Alina Levshin and an eight-page booklet. From Artsploitation Films.

FOR THE FAMILY:


In "Our Wild Hearts" (2013), starring Cambrie Schroder and Ricky Schroder, a wealthy teenage girl from Malibu falls in love with a beautiful wild mustang, adventure, and the father she has never known in the wild Sierra Nevada Mountains. From ARC Entertainment ... "The Legend of Korra: Book One: Air" (2012) is a Nickelodeon CGI series that follows a 17-year-old headstrong and rebellious girl who continually challenges tradition on her quest to become a fully realized Avatar Ben 10 Omniverse: Heroes Rise 2 DVD Cover in a world where benders are under attack. From the creators of the "Avatar: The Last Airbender." On DVD and Blu-ray from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder" (2012) contains seven episodes of the Nick CGI-animated series, $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Ben 10 Omniverse: Heroes Rise 2" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes of the new season in which Ben faces all-new Omnitrix aliens, gets a new partner and enters an underground world filled with intergalactic life. $19.97 from Cartoon Network/Warner ... "Best of Daizy" (2013), the fourth and final title in the "Best of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" DVD collection, is a compilation of seven entertaining and charming episodes starring Wubbzy's independent next door neighbor and gal pal. $14.98 from Anchor Bay ... "Wolverine: Origin" (2012) is an animated motion comic that reveals the secret history of Wolverine that changed the Marvel Universe forever. Written by Eisner Award winner Paul Jenkins from a story by Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins and Bill Jemas, with artwork by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove. The adventures of Wolverine's early days and the startling revelation of his true origins are brought to life by Marvel Knights Animation. Extras include interviews with the creators and illustrators. From Shout! Factory.

SPECIAL INTEREST:



  • "The Gatekeepers" (2012) Charged with overseeing Israel's war on terror -- both Palestinian and Jewish -- the head of the Shin Bet, Israel's secret service is present at the crossroad of every decision made. For the first time ever, six former heads of the agency agreed to share their insights and reflect publicly on their actions and decisions. The documentary offers an account of the sum of their success and failures, and validates the reasons that each man individually and the six as a group came to reconsider their hard-line positions and advocate a conciliatory approach toward their enemies based on a two-state solution. On DVD and Blu-ray from Sony.

  • The Gatekeepers Blu-Ray Cover
  • "Arthur C. Clarke: The Complete Collection" (2012) An eight-disc special collector's set with 52 episodes of the series that explored the universe's most bizarre and seemingly inexplicable mysteries, hosted by Arthur C. Clarke. Includes episodes from "Mysterious World" (1980), narrated by author, actor and newscaster Gordon Honeycomb, "World of Strange Powers" (1985), narrated by English journalist Anna Ford, and "Mysterious Universe" (1995), narrated by British TV personality Carol Vorderman. $59.99 from Visual Entertainment.

  • "After Newtown: Guns in America" (2013) Explores the evolution of guns in America, their frequent links to violence and the clash of cultures that reflect competing visions of our national identity. There are more than 300 million personal firearms in America -- representing nearly one third of all personal firearms on the planet. But how did the U.S.s become awash in guns? With every new mass shooting, the battle lines seem to be drawn sharper between those who argue for little or no regulation of firearms and those who advocate for strict gun control. $24.99 from PBS Distribution.

  • Women Who Kill DVD Cover
  • "Women Who Kill" (2012) Top comediennes and close friends Amy Schumer, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Marina Franklin come together in New York City for a special evening of killer comedy that aired March, 2013, on Showtime. Extras include "The Slumber Party," "Photo Shoot," "Gossip in the Make-Up Room" and "The Jist of Rachel." From Entertainment One.

  • "Frontline: Never Forget to Lie" (2013) Over the course of his 50-year career, filmmaker Marian Marzynski has occasionally turned his cameras on himself and his story of surviving the Holocaust, which claimed the life of his father and millions of other European Jews. In his latest film, Marzynski returns to Poland and the Jewish ghettos of his childhood. But this time, he is not alone. The film chronicles the poignant, painful recollections of other child survivors and rescues haunting pieces of the past while exploring the conflicting feelings about national, cultural, and religious identity that mark many survivors. $24.99 from PBS Distribution.


FROM TV TO DVD:


photo for Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season "Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season, Volume One and Two DVD Cover" (1964-65) is a five-disc set with 19 episodes, $46.99. Extras include special cast promos with restored visual elements accompanied by original narrations from the cast on several fan-favorite episodes, including "Old Sheba," "Invention of a Gunfighter" and "The Wild One"; commentaries on select episodes; photo galleries; more. From CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season, Volume Two" (1964-65) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $46.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Dynasty: The Seventh Season, Volume One" (1986-87) is a four-disc set with the first 17 episodes of the seventh season of the primetime soap opera that follows the exploits of the Carringtons and Colbys, both "oil-rich" family dynasties in Denver, as they accrue and manipulate power and wealth. $39.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Dynasty: The Seventh Season, Volume Two" (1986-87) is a three-disc set with the last 12 episodes of the seventh season of the primetime soap. $39.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... In "For Richer or Poorer" (2012), a spoiled prima donna with a taste for the finer things in life has to kiss her expensive  How the West Was Won: The Complete First Season DVD Cover fashions goodbye when her handsome, doting husband -- who indulges her every whim -- loses his well-paying job and has to flip burgers to pay the bills. Stars Rockmond Dunbar, LeToya Luckett, Angell Conwell and Jackee Harry, and originally aired on the Gospel Music Channel. From Image Entertainment ... "How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 2" (2012) is a three-disc set with 19 episodes, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "How the West Was Won: The Complete First Season" (1977) is based on the 1962 film of the same name and features an all-star cast including James Arness, Eva Marie Saint and Bruce Boxleitner. The two-disc set contains the entire first season, told in three 90-minute segments. As an added bonus, the release includes the "The Macahans," the 1976 TV movie about the Unforgettable: The First Season DVD Cover Macahan family's initial journey out West to escape the Civil War. $19.98 from Warner ... "Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1999" (1999) is the world's longest-running sitcom, with more antics from everyone's favorite elder delinquents. In a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Portlandia Season Three" (2013) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes. On DVD, $19.95; Blu-ray Disc, $24.95. Extras include a "Winter in Portlandia" special episode, Portland tours led by Kumail Nanjiani featuring locations like the Feminist Book store and a vegan strip club, deleted scenes. From VSC ... "The Twilight Zone: The Complete Third Season" (1961-62) is a five-disc set with 37 episodes, $29.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Unforgettable: The First Season" (2011-12) Six-disc set with 22 episodes, $61.99. Poppy Montgomery stars as NYC Queen's homicide Det. Warehouse 13: Season Four DVD Cover Carrie Wells, a cop with hyperthymesia, which means she visually remembers everything; in her case, however, that means everything except remembering what happened on the day her sister was murdered. CBS had cancelled the series last summer but reconsidered and will bring it back for 13 episodes beginning Sunday, July 28. Extras include deleted scenes; commentary; "The Rememberers," a featurette that explores the fascinating world of those with a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) with real-life HSAMer Marilu Henner and neurobiologist Dr. James McGaugh; more. From CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Warehouse 13: Season Four" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 20 episodes of the SyFy series about secret service agents assigned to a warehouse in South Dakota that houses supernatural artifacts. Prepare for more paranormal thrills, chills, excitement and steampunk action. After the destruction of the Warehouse, the agents risk the use of a mythical artifact in an attempt to restore all they've lost. But the use of this dangerous artifact could change the Warehouse team and the world forever. Featuring guest appearances by Brent Spiner, Sam Huntington and other sci-fi favorites. Extras include deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, episode podcasts with cast and crew, a 10-part animated web series "Grand Design." From Universal.

Check out other new July 9-July 15 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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