By Harley Lond - 09/02/13 at 07:19 PM CT
THIS WEEK'S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
"Stories We Tell": In this inspired film, Oscar-nominated actor-writer-director Sarah Polley investigates the secrets kept by her family of "storytellers" -- an investigation mounted after she discovers that her mother had had several extramarital affairs and that her dad was not her biological father. To uncover the truth of her mom's life -- and her family -- she interviews her relatives (including her four siblings) and friends of her parents and discovers differing versions of the family mythology. Present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of her mother (who died when Sarah was 11). Though "Stories We Tell" attempts to explore the elusive nature of truth and memory, and how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, the film gets tedious after awhile, with too many repetitive clips, and interviews that sorely needed to be edited down. And as the narrative unfolds, it becomes difficult to determine who is being interviewed and who is acting: While Polley uses actual home movie footage, she also uses reconstructions (with actors) on Super-8 film. Interesting but disappointing. From Lionsgate.
"Now You See Me": A sleeper hit with fine acting and a fast-moving story line with plenty of twists and turns. "The Four Horsemen" (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco) are a super-team of the world's greatest illusionists, brought together by a mysterious "patron" and booked into Las Vegas, where they put on astonishing shows of magic. They first amaze audiences by remotely robbing a Paris bank, and then expose a white-collar criminal and funnel his millions into the audience members' bank accounts. But FBI Special Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on their trail, desperately trying to catch the magicians and make them pay for their crimes -- and to stop them before they pull off what promises to be an even more audacious heist. Add in an Interpol detective (Melanie Laurent) about whom he is instantly suspicious, and a famed magic debunker (Morgan Freeman), who claims the Paris bank trick was actually a meticulously planned illusion, and reality begins to change faster than you can say "Abracadabra." A fun outing. Extras include commentary with producer Bobby Cohen and director Louis Leterrier and a "Now You See Me Revealed" featurette. The Blu-ray includes the extended director's cut featuring 16 minutes of never-before-seen footage, "A Brief History of Magic" featurette, and deleted scenes. From Lionsgate.
"From Up on Poppy Hill": From the legendary and highly celebrated Studio Ghibli comes a pleasant coming-of-age story from Goro Miyazaki and Hayao Miyazaki. Set in Yokohama in 1963, as Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics, the hand-drawn film centers on Umi (voiced by Sarah Bolger) and Shun (voiced by Anton Yelchin) and the budding romance that develops as they join forces to save their high school's ramshackle clubhouse from demolition. A warm, loving film for kids of all ages -- but definitely not as edgy as previous Studio Ghibli outings. Extras include a celebrity cast recording featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, an interview with Goro Miyazaki, and a featurette about Yokohama, exploring the history of the seaside setting where the film takes place. The Blu-ray adds a staff speech and press conference by Hayao Miyazaki days after the Fukushima earthquake; and a 20-page booklet containing the original project proposal by Hayao Miyazaki. From Disney.
Also due this week: "The Iceman," a gripping, true-life drama about notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), who led a normal family life with a wife and daughters while murdering more than 100 men for the mob. Co-stars Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Robert Davi, Danny Abeckaser, Stephen Dorff and James Franco. From Millennium Films.
For collectors of old TV series, the folks over at StarVista Entertainment/Time Life have just released "Mama's Family: The Complete Series." From the first time the wildly-popular sketch "The Family" aired on "The Carol Burnett Show" in 1974, Vicki Lawrence has been followed by a buxom, blue-haired, purse-lipped, 65-year-old widow. This is, of course, Thelma Mae Crowley Harper, Lawrence's indelible, abrasive and smart alecky alter ego who would eventually be spun-off into her own delightfully offbeat sitcom "Mama's Family," which debuted on NBC on January 22, 1983 and ran for six seasons (until 1990). Set in the fictional city of Raytown, "Mama's Family" revolves around the eye-opening escapades of the Harper clan, headed by formidable matriarch, Mama Harper, a fiery-tempered no-nonsense woman who does not suffer fools gladly. In fact, she makes everybody suffer a little with her patented snappy retorts that truly put the "diss" in dysfunction. Across 130 30-minute episodes spanning six seasons, viewers were treated to hilarious -- and sometimes heart-warming -- family comedy. Adding to the mix were Mama's journalist sister, Fran (Rue McClanahan), who lives with her; her youngest son, Vint (Ken Berry), who moves in with his two teenagers after he's evicted; and Naomi (Dorothy Lyman), who marries Vint by Episode 4. Mama's extended family includes her two daughters, highfalutin' Ellen (Betty White) and high-strung Eunice (Carol Burnett), as well as Eunice's husband, Ed (Harvey Korman). The set is comprised of 130 episodes across 24 DVDs in a collector's set with an introductory note from Vicki Lawrence. On DVD for $199.95 from MamasFamilyDVDs.com. The set includes a collectible "Mama's Family" album featuring character bios, a "Mama's Family" tree, and interviews and anecdotes from cast members; 10 hours of specially-created bonus material including interviews, featurettes and much, much more.
Warner has released a new Blu-ray version of Andrew Davis's 1993 "The Fugitive," starring Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Julianne Moore, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbe. Dubbed "The Fugitive 20th Anniversary Blu-ray," the release features a new featurette, "The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase," with Andrew Davis, Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and others. The original extras include an introduction by Davis and Ford; commentary by Davis and Jones; "On the Run With the Fugitive" behind-the-scenes featurette; "Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck" behind-the-scenes featurette; "The Fugitive" (2000 WB Pilot); and the theatrical trailer.
BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:
When some down-on-their-luck old-timers are at risk of losing their home to developers, a group of young, inept criminals decide to take matters into their own hands. The only thing standing in their way? A zombie outbreak in London. Now, it's up to a bunch of East-enders to fight their way out of the zombie-infested city, led by an unlikely gang of amateur bank robbers and foul-mouthed, plucky pensioners in "Cockneys vs Zombies" (2012 -- U.K.), starring Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan, Georgia King, Richard Brier, Honor Blackman and Alan Ford. From Shout! Factory ... In "Empire State" (2012), starring Liam Hemsworth, Emma Roberts, Dwayne Johnson and Nikki Reed, a security guard job with the Empire State Armored Truck Company is unwittingly drawn into an elaborate scheme to rob the company, resulting in the largest cash heist in U.S. history. Hot on their trail is a veteran NYPD Detective, as well as the local crime bosses who want to know who pulled a job on their turf. On DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate ... "The Stranger Within" (2012), starring Billy Baldwin, Estella Warren and Sarah Butler, is a psychological thriller about a young married couple whose vacation on a remote Mediterranean island becomes a living nightmare when they meet a mysterious woman with blood on her hands and a penchant for mind games.From Sony.
ON THE INDIE FRONT:
In "The English Teacher" (2013), Linda (Julianne Moore) is a 40-year-old unmarried high school English teacher in a small town where she shares a small apartment with two cats and her rich collection of great literature. She maintains no close personal relationships aside from those she has with her favorite authors. But her simple life changes when former star pupil Jason (Michael Angarano) returns to town after failing as a playwright in New York. Pressured by his overbearing father (Greg Kinnear), Jason may be forced to give up his dreams and go to law school. Unwilling to let that happen, Linda mounts his play at her school with flamboyant drama teacher Carl (Nathan Lane) directing, and puts her own reputation and teaching career on the line. On DVD, Blu-ray from Cinedigm ... In "Slightly Single in L.A." (2013), starring Lacey Chabert, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Kip Pardue, Haylie Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Simon Rex, Mircea Monroe and Chris Kattan, a hip, quirky, independent single gal living in the glossy city of Los Angeles can't seem to make things work -- at her job, with her friends, and definitely not with men. In a city where hype, hookups, and heartbreak are as common as reality shows, it's hard for her to find something real ... until she gets caught in the middle of a love triangle with her best friend and a guy from her past. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA ... An off-beat family of New Yorkers must come to terms with their own misgivings about life, relationships and the sheer unpredictability of love itself in "Petunia" (2012). The comedy weaves together the lives of three brothers as they unlearn everything their psychoanalyst parents have taught them; it's is a film about a dysfunctional family unit on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Stars Thora Birch, Brittany Snow, Tobias Segal, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Christine Lahti and Michael Urie. From Wolfe Video).
"What If...? (Notre univers impitoyable)" (2007 -- France) is an interesting concept bogged down by slow pacing and predictable actions. Victor and Margot are two lawyers on the fast track to success at a major law firm ... and also a loving couple. After a senior partner at the firm dies unexpectedly, it's decided that either Margot or Victor will be promoted to the important position. The other will have to settle for a supporting role. The romantic comedy delves into both scenarios: Margot as the new senior partner, breaking down gender barriers and becoming the glamorous new star of the firm, while Victor labors in her shadow; or Victor as the gung-ho, hard-driving new partner, with Margot relegated to serving coffee at the office and caring for their children. In both scenarios, the couple's relationship is rocked by infidelity, family versus career conflicts, and questions about true values. From First Run features ... "Blancanieves" (2013 -- Spain) is a twist on the "Snow White" fairy tale, set in southern Spain in the 1920s; it's director Pablo Berger's tribute to silent films. Once upon a time there was a little girl who had never known her mother. She learned the art of her father, a famous bullfighter, but was hated by her evil stepmother. One day she ran away with a troupe of dwarves, and became a legend. Winner of the 2013 Goya Award for best Picture. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Cohen Media Group.
FOR THE FAMILY:
"Power Rangers Megaforce: Ultimate Team Power -- Volume 1 " (2012) includes the first four episodes of Power Rangers Megaforce with five new Power Rangers protecting the Earth from the evil Warstar aliens and their massive invasion, $14.98 from Lionsgate ... "Wild Kratts: Wildest Animal Adventures" (2013) is a five-disc set with 20 episodes of the kids series that transforms Martin and Chris Kratt into animated versions of themselves, allowing the real-life zoologists to visit wild animals in their little-seen habitats and to showcase key science concepts along the way. $39.99 from PBS Distribution ... As the annual Halloween Boo Festival approaches in "Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest" (2013), George the inquisitive monkey and his friends hear about a legendary scarecrow who steals hats, and they set out to find him. $14.98 from Universal.
"Duane Allman -- Song of the South: Duane Allman and the Rise of The Allman Brothers" (2013): In the early to mid 1970s a handful of bands from the Deep South reinvigorated American popular music by fusing blues, country, and rock 'n' roll styles into a new and unique form. But the man who had sparked this renaissance and who had struggled to gain acceptance in an industry firmly established in the North and out West, was by then just a memory. Duane Allman, the lead guitarist and driving force behind Southern Rock pioneers The Allman Brothers Band, lived a tragically short life, but during his brief career he changed music forever. This documentary looks at Allman's life, work and musical output, from his early days in Florida to his influential session work in Muscle Shoals, his monumental collaboration with Eric Clapton in Derek & The Dominos and the inimitable virtuosity with which he set The Allman Brothers Band alight. On DVD from MVD Visual ... "Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie" (2012): Morton Downey Jr. earned his name as "Father of Trash Television" by tearing apart the traditional TV talk format and turning the debate of current issues into a gladiator pit. His blow-smoke-in-your-face style drew a rabid cult following in the late 1980s. The documentary includes archival footage of Downey (who also was a successful songwriter, penning such tunes as "Because We're Young" and "Hearts Are Wild") and bizarre animation. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.
FROM TV TO DVD:
"Ancient Aliens: Season 5 -- Volume 1" (2012) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "Criminal Minds -- The Eighth Season" (2012) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes of the series that revolves around an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze the country's most twisted criminal minds, anticipating their next moves before they strike again. The Behavioral Analysis Unit's most prominent agent is David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), a founding member of the BAU, who returns to help the team solve new cases, while pursuing some unfinished business of his own. Each member brings his or her own area of expertise to the table as they pinpoint predators' motivations and identify their emotional triggers in the attempt to stop them. $64.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Da Vinci's Demons -- The Complete First Season" (2013) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes of the Starz Original series that follows the "untold" story of Leonardo Da Vinci during his early years in Renaissance Florence, using only his genius to fight against those who use history, religion and politics to suppress the truth. On DVD, $44.98; Blu-ray Disc, $54.99; from Anchor Bay ... Stephen Tompkinson and Andrea Lowe star as the tenacious and stubborn Chief Inspector Alan Banks and the feisty and headstrong Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot in "DCI Banks: Aftermath" (2010), a chilling crime story based on the hugely successful novel from award-winning international crime writer Peter Robinson. A young woman is unconscious, bleeding from a head wound. Her husband is hiding in the cellar, ready to wield a knife at anyone who tries to enter and desperate to protect his secret. What happens next leaves one of the officers dead, the other fighting for her career and Banks with a chilling murder investigation that will test him to the limit. $19.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Haven: The Complete Third Season" (2012) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes. When FBI Agent Audrey Parker arrives in Haven, Maine on a routine case, she quickly finds herself involved in the return of the Troubles, a series of supernatural afflictions that have long cursed the seaside town and its residents. Joining the Haven Police Department, Audrey began to realize that it was fate -- not luck -- that brought her to this place and that she is inexplicably linked to the mysteries of Haven. This season picks up immediately after the end of Season 2, with Audrey having been brutally kidnapped, Nathan warned against pursuing a relationship with Audrey, and Duke seemingly engaged in a fight to death with Nathan after he discover his family lineage is to kill Haven citizens with Troubles. On DVD and Blu-ray from Entertainment Ones ... "The Jesse Stone Collection" is an eight-disc set with all the installments of the Tom Selleck-starring crime drama, packed in a box with a collectable Paradise Police Department baseball hat. $95.99 from Sony ... "The Office Season Nine" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 23 episodes. Join the Scranton gang for the ninth and final season of the groundbreaking Emmy Award-winning hit series. Andy's back in charge as regional manager at Dunder Mifflin, but a journey of self-discovery leads to unexpected consequences. Jim lands the job of his dreams, but he and Pam must now adjust to a long-distance relationship. Meanwhile, Dwight steps up on the family farm; Darrel looks at new career opportunities; and Erin struggles with matters of the heart. And ... everyone is excited to finally see the long awaited documentary about their lives in the office, an event nine years in the making. On DVD, $49.99; Blu-ray Disc, $59.98; from Universal ... "Parks and Recreation: Season Five" (2012-13) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $39.98. from Universal ... "Person of Interest: The Complete Second Season" (2012-13) contains all 22 episodes of the series about investigators who save potential criminal targets and prevent violent crimes before they happen. On Five-disc DVD, $59.98; Blu-ray/DVD Combo with five DVDs, five Blu-rays, $69.97; from Warner ... "Regular Show: Fright Pack" (2013) features 14 scary stories from Cartoon Network's Emmy Award-winning hit animated comedy series. $19.82 from Warner ... "Revolution: The Complete First Season" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 20 episodes, $59.98. Also available as a nine-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo with UltraViolet digital copies, $69.97; from Warner ... "Scandal: The Complete Second Season" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $45.99 from Disney ... "Sinbad: The Complete First Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes of the SyFy series. On DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray Disc, $34.98; from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Spartacus: War of the Damned -- The Complete Third Season" (2013) Three- disc set with all 10 episodes. Following the defeat of Roman commander Gaius Claudius Glaber, Spartacus and his men have amassed major victories against the Romans after the battle of Vesuvius. These victories have not only forged the legend of Spartacus, they have greatly increased the ranks of the rebellion slaves to more than 30,000. The Roman Senate turns to Marcus Crassus, a wealthy, strategic politician, for aid. He respects his opponent and refuses to make the same mistakes Glaber and his predecessors have. With a young and fiercely competitive Julius Caesar as an ally, Crassus is determined to crush Spartacus and his rebellion. On DVD, $49.98; Blu-ray Disc, $59.99; from Anchor Bay ... "The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fourth Season" (2012-13) (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $59.98. This season starts off with everything in transition. Senior year is finally here, and Elena should be having the time of her life. Instead, she faces her worst nightmare, struggling with the painful transformation from human to vampire. As Damon mentors Elena into a supernatural life, their repressed passions explode, causing Stefan to undertake a desperate quest to restore humanity to the girl he adores. But as Elena ruthlessly quenches her newfound thirst for blood, and her friends race to find a vampire cure based on clues inked onto Jeremy's flesh, the world around them falls prey to a host of sinister forces. Also available as a nine-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo with UltraViolet digital copies, $69.97. From Warner.
Check out other new September 3-9 DVD releases at OnVideo.