Welcome to Cinematical's revamped but still opinionated guide to movies on disc, whether new-fangled Blu-ray or good old fashioned DVD, Hollywood blockbusters or indie wonders, direct to video debuts or refurbished classics.
Buy: The Fall
Rent: Baby Mama, The Forbidden Kingdom, How the West Was Won
Pass: Foreign Exchange, Seed, Sarah Landon & The Paranormal Hour, Then She Found Me
Blu-ray Spotlight: Exiled, Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2, Jerry Maguire, Cool Hand Luke, Rudy
Indies on DVD: Heckler, The Last Days of Left Eye, Last House on the Beach
Collector's Corner: The Big Lebowski, Child's Play, Pumpkinhead
Directed by Tarsem (The Cell), this incredible visual feast, filmed over four years, imagines the fantastical, far-flung stories told to a little girl recovering from a fall in a hospital. A wild, weird trip of a flick that cries out to be replayed time and again. Extras include deleted scenes, featurettes, and audio commentaries. Of the Blu-ray edition, DVD Talk said: "Easily ranks as reference quality." Buy.
The "must rent" of the week, just to luxuriate in the comedic stylings of
Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin SNL vet Tina Fey as she learns about compromise with baby surrogage Amy Poehler. Extras include an audio commentary with Fey, Poehler, director Michael McCullers and SNL's Lorne Michaels. Also available on Blu-ray. Rent.
Read on for many more details on this week's highlighted releases.
The Forbidden Kingdom
This barely edges into above average territory as family entertainment. Not nearly as good as it should have been, the first-ever teaming of Jackie Chan and Jet Li relegates them to supporting roles as Michael Angarano struggles to carry the load of the lead role. Single disk edition has no extras, double-disk version includes an audio commentary by director Rob Minkoff and a multitude of features and a digital copy. Also available on Blu-ray with the same extras as the two-disk DVD edition. Rent.
How the West Was Won
Blu-ray fans may want to pick this up especially for the "Smilebox" presentation, exclusive to Blu-ray, that simulates the curved Cinerama screen. Glenn Kenney gives a great overview of the film and the disc, which made up my mind for me. Available on Blu-ray for the first time, plus new editions on DVD. Rent.
Ignore the young woman in a bikini on the cover. It's another, likely to be lame, direct to video "comedy" about high school students. Enough, already. Pass.
I kinda dug Postal, but a mass murderer coming back to life and ... zzzz. Give it up, Uwe Boll, please. Pass.
Sarah Landon & The Paranormal Hour
A PG-rated ghost story might work today from great filmmakers, but nothing suggests we have that here. Pass.
Then She Found Me
I loved you ever since you were a Quarterback Princess, Helen Hunt, yet I suspect this will play equally well on basic cable in the coming months. Pass.
Blu-ray Spotlight (titles previously available only on DVD):
Exiled. Johnny To's ultra-cool modern-day Western stands up very well to repeat viewings -- I've seen it five times. Buy.
Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. QT's long-fabled compilation, The Whole Bloody Affair, combining both films into one smooth narrative, may never happen. What to do instead, what to do instead?? Rent.
Jerry Maguire. Timed for football season. Renee Zellweger, of course, steals the movie. Rent.
Cool Hand Luke. Put aside thoughts of mortality and enjoy Paul Newman and George Kenndy gloriously overacting as prisoners on a Southern chain gang. Those blue eyes will look right through you. Rent.
Day Watch / Night Watch. See the head-spinning (or head-hurting) "everything and the kitchen sink," "I've never seen that before!" films from the mad Russian director of Wanted. Rent.
Rudy. Only for those who must indulge their inner sports underdog and/or re-watch an early performance by the Ring Guy's BFF from Peter Jackson's magnum opus. Pass.
Indies on DVD (independent films, docs, world cinema, cult flicks):
Last House on the Beach. Italian horror from 1978 crosses "nunsploitation" with "sicko-psycho terror." From the company that brought us the vastly entertaining Inglorious Bastards. Buy, you sick bastards, buy!
The Last Days of Left Eye. Music doc on rapper Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC. This premiered on VH1 last year, but I missed it and I'd like to know her story. Rent.
Heckler. Scott's already commented on the "amusing hypocrisy" of the cover of Jamie Kennedy's doc. I'd say "pass" but then Jamie might heckle me. Oh, what the hell. Pass.
Collectors Corner (with reissues like these, there is no middle ground -- buy or pass):
The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition. The bowling ball is the decider. Buy.
Child's Play - Chucky's 20th Birthday Edition. Finally freed from the pan & scan hell of its first edition, with a better transfer, new audio commentaries, multiple new featurettes, original trailer, etc., making this one of the best horror DVDs of the year, per a reliable nut case at Fearnet. Buy.
Pumpkinhead - Collector's Edition. A slew of new extras and, presumably, a new transfer (the original DVD featured a full-frame presentation). Buy.