In this week’s edition of Spins and Streams, it’s all about the biggest movie event of the Spring of 2012 – The Hunger Games. Studios backed away from releasing a lot of high profile titles this week largely because all attention and dollars will be spent on revisiting one of the year’s biggest grossing and, in my estimation, best films of 2012 thus far. Lots of classic and catalog titles are available as well, however, so check out our weekly look at new arrivals on Blu-Ray, DVD, and home video.
More than just another column about new home video releases, we will link to reviews, summarize the film, drop in some factual tidbits, and (naturally) offer you a chance to purchase the film (and support the site in the process!).
Consider it your weekly trip through the video store, both virtual and physical, scouring the shelves and combing the racks to find something you can enjoy at home, no matter what your personal preferences…
“Director Gary Ross paints many of his opening moments with a colorless gray, which is staggering in hindsight when compared to the bold blasts of color which punctuate the outlandish Capitol characters and set design. Lawrence almost immediately proves to be a perfect choice for Katniss – a female character who must embody a beauty that makes her attractive to others, while always exhibiting a compassionate but intense persona that makes her a worrisome threat and a galvanizing protagonist. Lawrence nails the role perfectly, pegging every beat, every emotion, every pulse in a role which will likely define her career for years and years to come…
As someone who brought no preconceived notions to The Hunger Games, I am relieved and thrilled to report that Gary Ross has concocted a fantastic film. I simply cannot fathom why any fan of the novels would be upset in any way by what has been done here. Ross and his screenwriting team, which includes source novelist Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray, bucks conventions in delivering a refreshingly non-conformist, edgy, and distinctive film, unlike any comparable predecessors.” Science Fiction, PG-13, 142 Mins, Dir: Gary Ross
See what else arrives in stores and via streaming services…after the cut!
Steven Spielberg’s iconic and genre-defining horror film finally arrives on a glorious Blu-Ray transfer, which has received rave reviews. Included with the film is a 75-minute documentary on the film’s legacy, deleted scenes, a featurette on the making of the film and the restoration of the film for its Blu-Ray release. Fans of the film have been waiting for this classic to be given this kind of treatment and this shapes up to be one of the year’s finest home video releases. Horror, R, 125 mins, Dir: Steven Spielberg
Director Ben Wheatley’s second film is a present-day horror film about a soldier who has returned home from war and turns to contract killing when he cannot land a job. When the soldier and his friend and fellow contract killer are contacted by a secretive figure, they systematically target three seemingly vile individuals. Things take a crazy turn and although I have not seen the film, I have heard that it brings about one shocking and surprising twist ending. Hmmm… Horror, Unrated, 95 mins, Dir: Ben Wheatley
From Indonesia, The Raid: Redemption received a fairly significant North American box office release in February 2012 and grossed a decent $4.1 million. A frenetic and unrelentingly violent action film wrapped around a story involving a Jakartan SWAT team attempting to take out a ruthless drug lord, critics largely applauded the film’s audacity and chroeographed fight sequences. Indonesian/Action, UR, 101 mins, Dir: Gareth Evans
Cinephiles swoon, and deservedly so, when Criterion Collection titles are released, and especially on Blu-Ray. For those uninitiated with the Criterion Collection, they select acclaimed films and provide extraordinary insight into how the films were created, with extensive commentaries, featurettes, and booklets (remember when DVDs had those?).
Directed by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, La Promesse deals with a 15-year old son who finds himself having to choose between a father he is loyal to and a promise he made to someone else. Also directed by the Dardennes, Rosetta follows a 18-year old girl desperately looking to leave behind a poverty-stricken environment with her mother. The Dardennes are known for their handheld and documentary-style approach to filmmaking and these films are among their finest of their works.
Following the re-emergence of Wes Anderson with the success of this year’s Moonrise Kingdom, his awesomely wonderful and quotable The Royal Tenenbaums gets the Criterion treatment with interviews, making of featurettes, and an essay by noted film critic, Kent Jones.
Landing a well-deserved Oscar nomination this past year for Best Documentary Feature, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is a stunning and masterful conclusion to a documentary trilogy that essentially overturned the wrongful convictions of three teenagers, now grown men, accused of murdering three young West Memphis, Arkansas boys in the early 1990s. For directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, freeing the West Memphis 3 became an effort which defined their careers for nearly 20 years. You need not see the first two films to experience the power and extraordinary stories told in Paradise Lost 3, but be mindful that the film is an unflinching and uncensored look at the crimes, the accusations, the trials, and eventual release of these three innocent men. Documentary, TV-MA/R, 121 mins, Dir: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky.
Likewise an Oscar nominee for 2011, In Tahrir Square… is a 36 minute documentary short that delivers a visceral, on-site look at the Egyptian uprising of 2011 from the beginning of the protest asking for President Hosni Mubarak to step down after a 30-year reign through conflict, clashes, and eventually the triumphant announcement that Mubarak was ceding his presidency. Documentary Short, Unrated, 36 mins, Dir: Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill.
From Australia, Snowtown, here renamed as The Snowtown Murders, documents the harrowing true story of a series of killings which occurred over much of the 1990s, where a number of bodies and remains were found in a abandoned bank vault, stored in barrels containing acid. The film has been both praised and condemned for its graphic and gruesome violent content, but has also been singled out for its artistry, landing Special Mentions at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and branding director Justin Kurzel as someone to keep an eye on. Crime Drama, Unrated, 120 mins, Dir: Justin Kurzel.
Originally titled You, Instead, this small budget, 80-minute romantic comedy documents two fledgling rockers who meet after being handcuffed at a Scottish music festival and fall in love. Shot over the course of 5 days at Scotland’s T In The Park music festival, the film was met with mediocre at best reviews, but has some passionate supporters. Barely got a sniff in domestic theaters. Romantic Comedy, R, 80 mins, Dir: David Mackenzie.
ADDITIONAL CATALOG AND NOTEWORTHY BLU-RAY/DVD RELEASES