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New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of May 13-19

View Harley Lond's Profile

By Harley Lond - 05/13/14 at 03:29 AM CT

THIS WEEK'S THEATRICAL RELEASE:

"Her": It would be an understatement to say that Spike Jonze is a quirky filmmaker; from "Being John Malkovich" through his many music videos and shorts and through even the dismal failure of "Where the Wild Things Are," the director has tackled on-the-edge themes and projects. Here he explores love in the age of the electronic machine by mating a depressed single man -- heartbroken after the end of a long relationship -- with a computer operating system that takes Joaquin Phoenix as a man in love with a machine in 2013 top romance film Her. on a life of its own. Joaquin Phoenix plays a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people; when he upgrades his computer to a new, advanced operating system he encounters "Samantha," a bright, female voiced (Scarlett Johansson) intuitive and unique entity that becomes his best friend and, eventually, his lover. Her is warm and fuzzy and imminently enjoyable, as the film explores the ups and downs of what we know will be a doomed relationship. Phoenix gives a cavalier performance. Extras include a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes. From Warner.

Also due this week: "I, Frankenstein," another B- project for the talented Aaron Eckhart who constantly plays his way through junk. This supernatural thriller has Dr. Frankenstein's creature playing footsies with demons and gargoyles in a battle to save human kind. Based on a graphic novel. Also along for the bumpy ride are Bill Nighy and Miranda Otto. From Lionsgate.

"That Awkward Moment," a male buddy rom-com about three best friends who vow to remain single after each has a failed relationship; naturally, all three enter new relationships that eventually fall apart and then come back together again. A typical soft comedy only notable for leading man Zac Efron's abs. Also stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis and Jessica Lucas. From Sony.

THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS:


"The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over" (2013) This two-hour long documentary celebrates the 50th anniversary of the British invasion of America (The Dave Clark Five was the first English group to tour America, in May 1964, thus spearheading the invasion) and features newly filmed interviews with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, Stevie Wonder, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Whoopi Goldberg, Dionne Warwick, 60s fashion icon Twiggy and Ian McKellen, all sharing their memories of how the music of the 60s and the cultural revolution of 1964 changed their DVD Cover for The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over lives. The Dave Clark Five was a joyous, hard-driving record-making machine with an incredible stomping beat driven by the signature drums of leader Dave Clark. The group recorded 24 albums with 30 charting singles from 1964 to 1970, when they disbanded because they wanted to go out at the peak of their powers. They achieved a record-breaking 15 consecutive Top-20 U.S. hit singles within a two-year period -- more than any other group in the world except The Beatles. They appeared a record-breaking 18 times on "The Ed Sullivan Show," with its weekly audience of 70 million viewers -- more than any other rock, pop or R&B artist. They took the world by storm and helped change the rock scene. Clark wrote all the songs with lead singer Mike Smith and -- unheard of for its time -- he owned all the masters, produced the group's records, and was one of the first to create music videos. He later studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, acted in West End plays, wrote, produced and directed a spectacular multi-media "space-travaganza" in 1986 with Ian McKellen, Laurence Olivier and Freddie Mercury, and bought the rights to the ultimate 1960s British pop culture show "Ready Steady Go," not to merchandise it but keep it intact for posterity. And, naturally, he wrote, produced and directed this documentary which, unfortunately, meanders a little too much through the group's history with little background on the members themselves or their musical inspiration (though Clark cites Buddy Rich, Elvis and soul music for his inspirations). Still, an enlightening film. On DVD, Blu-ray from PBS Distribution. Note: Surprisingly, all the DC5 albums are out of print and going for phenomenal prices online.

"Stalingrad" (2013), starring Thomas Kretschmann, Petr Fedorov, Sergey Bondarchuk, Mariya Smolnikova, Yanina Studilina. An epic look at the battle that turned the tide of World War II, "Stalingrad" was the highest-grossing Russian film of all time and Russia's official submission for Best Foreign-language Film to the 86th Academy Awards. The Battle of Stalingrad lasted five months from August 1942 to February 1943 and cost millions of lives on both sides Stalingrad Blu-Ray Cover -- the Soviets alone suffered a total of 1,129,619 casualties; it is estimated that anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 Soviet civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing by the Germans. The defeat of the German army at Stalingrad and the Eastern front was fatal for the Nazi, slowing its momentum and tieing up resources that allowed the Allies to slowly but surely mount successful forays into German occupied Europe, culminating in the D-Day invasion. The film contrasts the grand scale of the famous battle with the intimate human drama among the Russian soldiers, the few remaining civilians and the German soldiers who invaded the city. A band of determined Russian soldiers fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army, and in the process become deeply connected to a Russian woman who has been living there. The acting is, as to be expected, gallant and righteous; the battle scenes are realistic and gritty; and the special effects surprisingly good -- an attack by flame engulfed Soviet soldiers that overruns a German encampment is spectacular. A powerful outing. On DVD and in a 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray Combo from Sony.

Another powerful films about World War II is "Overlord" (1975), arriving on Blu-ray this week from The Criterion Collection. Seamlessly interweaving archival war footage and a fictional narrative, this immersive account of life during wartime follows a 21-year-old man's induction into the British army, his stint during basic training, and his preparation as an The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray Cover of Overlord infantryman for the D-Day invasion at Normandy. Along the way he makes friends, falls in love, and has horrible dream-like premonitions of death. Directed by Stuart Cooper and shot by John Alcott (Stanley Kubrick's longtime cinematographer), the film is brings to life all the boredom, terror and isolation of war with jolting authenticity. Restored in a high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Stuart Cooper, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Stars Brian Stirner, Davyd Harries, Nicholas Ball, Julie Neesam and Sam Sewell. Extras include "Mining the Archive," a 2007 video piece featuring archivists from London's Imperial War Museum detailing the footage used in the film; "Capa Influences Cooper," a 2007 photo essay featuring Cooper on photographer Robert Capa; "Cameramen at War," the British Ministry of Information's 1943 film tribute to newsreel and service film unit cameramen; "A Test of Violence," Cooper's 1969 short film about the Spanish artist Juan Genoves; "Germany Calling," a 1941 Ministry of Information propaganda film, clips of which appear in "Overlord"; excerpts from the journals of two D-day soldiers, read by Stirner; more.

There's two horror Blu-ray debuts this week from Scream Factory/Shout! Factory: "Evilspeak" (1981), starring Clint Howard, R.G. Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Charles Tyner, Lenny Montana and Richard Moll, about a social outcast military cadet who finds a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer. Prior to its U.S. theatrical release, the distributor of the film requested that the graphic violence be cut to avoid an Evilspeak Blu-Ray Cover "X" rating from the MPAA. The film has been completely restored from a newly discovered 35mm inter-positive source including all of its long rumored scenes of bloody carnage. In a new 1080p high definition transfer supervised and approved by director Eric Weston ... and "Final Exam" (1981), about a psycho killer who shows up on a college campus to slash up pretty co-eds and dumb jocks. Stars Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice. In a new HD transfer from the original camera negative.

Olive Films has two classic 1940s hits on Blu-ray this week: "Flying Tigers" (1942), starring John Wayne, John Carroll, Anna Lee, Paul Kelly and Mae Clarke in an actioner that follows a small and daring band of American mercenaries who soared into battle against Japan in defense of Blu-Ray Cover for Flying Tigers China's freedom just prior to the invasion of Pearl Harbor. Remastered in high definition ... and "Home of the Brave" (1948), directed by Mark Robson and starring Frank Lovejoy, Lloyd Bridges, Douglas Dick, James Edwards, Steve Brodie and Jeff Corey. The melodrama recounts the story of a young black soldier who suffered a nervous breakdown and developed psychosomatic paralysis; crippled by rage and trauma, his condition was induced by experiences encountered during a reconnaissance mission combined with a lifetime of racial discrimination. One of Hollywood's first bold statements regarding the issue of race and the realities of war. Remastered in high definition.

BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:


"Deadly Code" (2013 -- Italy) stars Arnas Fedaravicius, Eleanor Tomlinson, Vilius Tumalavicus, John Malkovich and Peter Stormare in a drama based on a memoir about growing up as a member of the Urka community in the small republic of Transnistria. Grandfather Kuzya (Malkovich) is the leader of a Siberian criminal clan banished to live in the punishment town of Transnistria in 1985. There, he schools his grandson on the "honest criminal" code of their community, which must never be broken. From Lionsgate ... In "Special ID" DVD Cover for Deadly Code (2013 -- China), Donnie Yen takes on the role of "Dragon" Chen, a Hong Kong undercover police officer deep within the ranks of one of China’s most ruthless underworld gangs. When rivalries explode with the reappearance of an old enemy and a brutal murder, the Triads close ranks and unleash a series of executions -- with Chen at the top of the list. Undercover and under attack, he has no choice but to rely on a new partner (Jing Tian) and his knowledge of the streets to get out alive. Also stars Collin Chou, Tian Jing, Hanyu Zhang. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA ... "Daddy's Little Girl" (2012), starring Billi Baker, Michael Thomson and Allira Jaques, is an Australian revenge thriller about a father who vows to make the culprit who brutally murdered his daughter on the beach suffer for his actions, even if that person is "part of the family." With careful research into the history of torture, he prepares himself and his basement for a week of brutal tactics. From Breaking Glass Pictures ... A dream comes true for two young drifters when they illegally take residence in the upscale Pacific Palisades home of a vacationing family. But things start to spiral out of control when the rightful owners unexpectedly return from overseas, leading to a violent, inevitable confrontation between two very different worlds in "Squatters" (2014), starring Gabriella Wilde, Thomas Dekker, Luke Grimes and Richard Dreyfuss. From Sony ... When his beloved brother is brutally murdered, a shy, mild-mannered young man finds solace in Piggy, one of his brother's long-time friends, who takes the grieving Special ID Blu-Ray Cover brother under his wing and teaches him how to be a vigilante to seek revenge in "Piggy" (2012), starring Martin Compston, Paul Anderson, Josh Herdman, Ed Skrein and Louise Dylan. From Inception Media Group ... In "The Zombinator" (2012), starring Patrick Kilpatrick, Joseph Aviel, Lucia Brizzi and Justin Brown, a fashion blogger documentary turns into a zombie horror nightmare when college students come face to face with the undead, created by a serum developed by an evil corporation. Their only hope for survival is a former soldier turned zombie killer. From Inception Media Group ... "Compound Fracture" (2013) is a supernatural thriller about a broken family with a history of abuse and dementia that is forced to find a common ground to fight a greater supernatural threat. Stars Tyler Mane, Muse Watson and Derek Mears. From Level 33 Entertainment ... A small, secluded island off the coast of Belize suddenly finds itself terrorized by a deadly predator from the planet's distant past when deep-sea divers accidentally awaken an ancient evil that's been hibernating for over 60,000 years -- a rampaging behemoth of death and destruction not only at sea but also on land in "Poseidon Rex" (2013), starring Brian Krause, Anne McDaniels, Steven Helmkamp and Candice Nunes. From ITN Distribution.

ON THE INDIE FRONT:


In "Forev" (2013), starring Noel Wells, Matt Mider and Amanda Bauer, Sophie and Pete are kind of friends, but mostly they're just neighbors. On their way to pick up Pete's sister Jess from her sorority house -- a six hour drive through the desert -- a joke about getting married escalates and before they know it, they're engaged ... and stranded in the middle of the desert. Things only get more problematic when Jess disappears with a bearded drifter. From Mance Media/Gravitas Ventures.

FOREIGN:


A picturesque cruising spot in the countryside of France sets the scene between desire and murder in "Stranger by the Lake" (2013 -- France), starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d'Assumcao and Jerome Chappatte. Franck, a regular at the lake, meets the handsome Michel and soon falls in love with the mysterious stranger. When a body is discovered in the lake, Franck and Michel soon become primary suspects of the investigation. A unique, erotic thriller of seduction and sexual obsession that builds to an unforgettable and terrifying climax; described as a modern-day Hitchcockian suspenser. Winner of the Best Directing Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival and winner of the Queer Palm. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Strand Releasing.

FOR THE FAMILY:


"Arthur Makes a Movie" (2013) includes the title episode and three more adventures featuring eight-year-old Arthur -- the world’s most famous aardvark-- and his friends as they explore issues faced by real kids. $9.99 from PBS Kids ... Based on Lara Jones' hugely popular and award-winning "Poppy Cat" books (which have sold more than 2 million books to date), the DVD Cover for Poppy Cat: Birthday Treasures and Other Adventures animated series of the same name from the creators of "Olivia," "Mr. Men" and "Little Miss" follows the adventures of Poppy, a capable and endearing ginger tabby, who's also a dreamer and devoted friend to Zuzu, an energetic dog; Mo, an overly cautious mouse; Alma, the melodramatic, excitable rabbit; the knowledgeable owl and Egbert, the stout badger. Seen through the eyes of Poppy's imaginative young owner, a little girl named Lara. "Poppy Cat: Birthday Treasures and Other Adventures" (2013) sells for $12.98 from Entertainment One ... "Dinosaur Big City/Dinosaurs A to Z Double Feature" (2014) features 17 prehistoric adventures aimed at sparking an interest in science for children. $14.99 from PBS Kids ... "Martha's Superhero Adventures" (2014) includes six tales from the series based on the children's book by Susan Meddaugh. Aimed at viewers between the ages of four and seven, the series follows the adventures of Martha, a loveable dog whose appetite for alphabet soup gives her the power of human speech. Using her speaking abilities, Martha gets jobs, foils bad guys, wins contests, DVD Cover for Marvel Knights: Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today runs for office, and orders lots of pizza. $9.99 from PBS Kids ... ... "Marvel Knights: Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today" (2014) is the latest Marvel Animation animated comic book DVD highlights the brutal battle between Wolverine and the ruthless cyborg villain Deathlok the Demolisher as robots from the future embark on a Super hero killing spree. $14.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales: Field of Screams" (2014) showcases 13 action-packed, sports-related escapades featuring Scooby-Doo and his mystery-solving pals, including a brand-new 22-minute adventure, "Scooby-Doo! Ghastly Goals!" In a two-disc DVD, $19.98 from Warner ... There's plenty of summer fun adventures with Strawberry Shortcake and her berry best pals Blueberry and Orange Blossom in "Strawberry Shortcake: Fun Under the Sun" (2014), $14.98 from Fox.

SPECIAL INTEREST:


"Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?" (2013) is a series of interviews featuring linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky done in hand-drawn animation. From Michel Gondry, the innovative director of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," comes this unlikely and unique intellectual feast, an animated documentary on the life and ideas of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry DVD Cover for Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? himself that make Chomsky's ideas more accessible, the filmmaker reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his groundbreaking theories on the emergence of language. The result is not only a dazzling, vital portrait of one of the foremost thinkers of our age, but also a beautifully animated work of art. From IFC Films ... "God Loves Uganda" (2013) is a documentary that investigates the troubling influence of American evangelicals on human rights in Africa. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda's terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that promote them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them aren't DVD Cover for American Jesus coming from Africa; they're being imported from some of America's largest megachurches. From First Run Features ... The documentary "Generation Iron" (2013) takes an honest and in-depth look at the professional sport of bodybuilding today, giving audiences front-row access to the lives of the top seven bodybuilders as they fight to bring home the coveted Mr. Olympia title. Narrated by Mickey Rourke. From Starz Digital Media ... "American Jesus" (2013) is an exploration of Christianity in every faction of American life, from the bread line to the yoga studio, from the humble churches of snake handlers to the mega churches of the ex-urbs. Director Aram Garriga travels from his native Barcelona to the politically divided United States to chronicle the sometimes bizarre relationship between faith, materialism, politics and personal passions in this uniquely American tableaux. Populated by an array of religious and secular characters offering candid, often illuminating testimonials -- from Christian pop culture and music specialists, secular analysts, Apocalyptic preachers, Prosperity Pastors to Christian bikers, cage fighters, surfers comedians and cowboys -- this documentary is a vivid mosaic of personalities and conflicting points of view. From TDC Entertainment ... Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, there are only four American doctors left who After Tiller DVD Cover openly provide third-trimester abortions: Dr. LeRoy Carhart, Dr. Warren Hern, Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella. The documentary "After Tiller" (2013) paints a complex, compassionate portrait of these physicians who have become the new, No. 1 targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work that they believe is profoundly important for their patients' lives. The film weaves together revealing interviews with the doctors with intimate scenes from inside their clinics, where they counsel and care for patients at an important crossroads in their lives, and illuminates the experiences of women who seek later abortions and their reasons why. From Oscilloscope Laboratories ... "One Direction: Reaching for the Stars Part 2: The Next Chapter" (2014) is an unofficial biography that goes behind the scenes on the group's second world tour and dishes all the latest One D news and gossip ... including the truth behind their romantic escapades. From Inception Media Group.

FROM TV TO DVD:


"Afterlife: Season One" (2005) is a two-disc set with six episodes of the series in which university lecturer Robert Bridge (Andrew Lincoln) becomes involved in a series of supernatural events surrounding medium Alison Mundy (Lesley Sharp). $24.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Eastbound & Down: The Complete Fourth and Final Season" DVD Cover for Eastbound & Down: The Complete Fourth and Final Season (2013) is a two-disc set with eight episodes. Life has thrown a lot of curve balls to washed-up former major-league pitching ace Kenny Powers. After a disgraceful return to his hometown, a failed attempt at coaching, a soul-searching season in Mexico, a successful return to the minor leagues and a not-so-successful attempt at single fatherhood, Kenny finally hung up his cap to become a full-time family man. But can he ever truly say goodbye to the fame and fortune afforded by his baseball career? DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray Disc: $39.98 from HBO ... "Orange is the New Black – Season One" (2013) contains all 13 episodes of the dark comedy about engaged Brooklynite Piper Chapman, whose wild past comes back to haunt her and results in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary, where she trades her comfortable DVD Cover for The Perry Mason Movie Collection - Volume 2 New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates. Four-disc DVD, $39.97; three-disc Blu-ray, $39.98 from Lionsgate ... "Perry Mason Movie Collection - Volume 2" features six made-for-TV movies that originally aired between 1987-1989: "The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel," "The Case of the Avenging Ace," "The Case of the Lady in the Lake," "The Case of the Lethal Lesson," "The Case of the Musical Murder" and "The Case of the All-Star Assassin." $59.99 from CBS/Paramount.

Check out other May 13-19 DVD releases and reviews at OnVideo.

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