Top 5 DVD's of th week 6/29/10

PICK OF THE WEEKThe Crazies  (Blu-ray/DVD)

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When I saw this theatrically, I was quite enamored with it, though my opinion has cooled in some ways after rewatching the original. Breck Eisner’s remake of the minor George Romero film eschews the original’s politics or commentary in lieu of a streamlined thriller. Gone is any sort of subtext about the then (or now) war, or cultural insanity. That’s the benefit of Romero’s low to no budget thriller which was barely distributed. Here, working within the system, Eisner says nothing about anything. A disease is set loose on a small town’s drinking water, and it causes the inhabitants to go nuts if infected. As a thriller, with a number of perfunctory jump scares, the film is well put together, and has a very appealing cast, including Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, and Danielle Panabaker. But the standout performance is Joe Anderson as a deputy who may or may not be infected, and it’s a career-maker.

 

RETRO – The Leopard (Blu-ray)

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Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece is probably The Leopard. Starring Burt Lancaster as the aging baron of a fading villa, he watches as his era comes to an end as a war is fought and he is replaced by new government. This is another great movie championed by The Criterion Collection and is definitely worth seeing, and possibly upgrading for. It also features a ravishing Claudia Cardinale playing opposite Alan Delon, both when they were at their peak sexiness. Hugely influential on filmmakers like Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter is indebted to this film) and Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather is indebted to this film), this is a true epic where the scale and running time match the content.

 

NEW – Hot Tub Time Machine (Blu-ray/DVD)

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Imagine the world where this saved MGM? It was never going to, but it’s a fun fantasy. Hot Tub Time Machine was a high concept spring comedy that play for retro-laughs and smart-dumb comedy. A not terrible film with great comic performers, some were hoping this would be the next Hangover. Instead it was the next movie that people will rent because the title is stupid. Fair enough. Hopefully the unrated version will have more gratuitous nudity, but unrated cuts of comedies are one of the biggest scams going these days.

 

RETRO Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition (Blu-ray)

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The 1980’s brought on a series of films that don’t belong on the same shelf, with say, Visconti’s The Leopard, but are undeniable classics just the same. Predator is a perfect movie, with great action set pieces, memorable characters, and witty dialog. Though it was an early Blu-ray release, that version was shitty and offered none of the supplements of the already-on-DVD two-disc edition. Well, to get people excited about the upcoming Predators, Fox finally did the honorable thing and put out a special edition that looks and sounds that much better. I’m glad they did, but I also wish the system wasn’t set up to fuck early adopters. Hey Fox, while you’re at it, you guys should get to Robocop as well.

 

NEW –Percy Jackson and a really long Title (Blu-ray/DVD)

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This February release is the latest in a small line of titles that have sought to get at some of that Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings business. Few have succeeded (unless the Twilight franchise counts), and this is more of a base hit than home run, but we may yet see more. Star Logan Lerman keeps getting rumored for this and that project, so he’s a guy to keep an eye on and there’s a solid supporting cast here. Director Chris Colombus is one of those guys who’s done great work, but you never know what you’re going to get.

 

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