Category Archives: DVD Triage

DVD Triage for March 6

New Release Pick of the Week

Game of Thrones: Season 1
Yep, I’m featuring a TV show this week. Game of Thrones quickly sped to the top of my list of must-see shows last year, and rewatching some of it this week has only solidified that. Both in terms of an adaptation from the books and taken on its own, this show is fantastic, a perfect combination of medieval-style court intrigue and menacing fantasy.
2011 USA. Starring: Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley.

Other New Releases

Catalog Pick of the Week

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Blu-ray
I’m not sure whether this film is worth the Blu-ray upgrade if you already have the DVD, but it’s certainly a movie worth owning in SOME format. Definitely one of my most-quoted movies, its sheer absurdity keeps me watching it over and over, and enjoying it every time.
1974 UK. Director: Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam. Starring: John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin.


Other Catalog Releases

Universal is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year with a new logo and a raft of DVD and Blu-ray releases tagged “Universal’s 100th Anniversary Collection.” Since there’s a fair chance that readers here are interested in the classic stuff, I’ve included the more notable Universal and Warner Archive releases below – see the full list at Row Three. Note: I probably would’ve featured Sullivan’s Travels, because that’s the best movie releasing this week, but it’s only a DVD release (not Blu-ray), and it’s already out from Criterion, so I’m not sure why you’d want this version.

The Blues Brothers DVD & BD (1980 USA, dir John Landis, stars John Belushi)
Charade DVD (1963 USA, dir Stanley Donen, stars Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn)
The Deer Hunter DVD & BD (1978 USA, dir Michael Cimino, stars Robert De Niro)
Destry Rides Again DVD (1939 USA, dir George Marshall, stars James Stewart)
The Egg and I DVD (1947 USA, dir Chester Erskine, stars Claudette Colbert)
Francis the Talking Mule DVD (1950 USA, dir Arthur Lubin, stars Donald O’Connor)
The Jerk DVD (1979 USA, dir Carl Reiner, stars Steve Martin)
The Last Temptation of Christ DVD (1986 USA, dir Martin Scorsese, stars Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel)
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life DVD (1983 UK, dir Terry Jones, stars John Cleese)
Out of Africa DVD & BD (1985 USA, dir Sydney Pollack, stars Meryl Streep)
Three Smart Girls DVD (1936 USA, dir Henry Koster, stars Deanna Durbin)
Screen Couples Spotlight Collection (Charade, Double Indemnity, Pillow Talk, My Little Chickadee)
Classic Monsters Spotlight Collection (Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon)
Hollywood Legends Spotlight Collection (Harvey, Spartacus, Touch of Evil)
Best Picture Winners Spotlight Collection (Out of Africa, A Beautiful Mind, All Quiet on the Western Front, Going My Way)
Westerns Spotlight Collection (High Plains Drifter, Destry Rides Again, Winchester ’73)

Balalaika (1939 USA, dir Reinhold Schünzel, stars Nelson Eddy, Ilona Massey)
Broadway Serenade (1939 USA, dir Robert Z. Leonard, stars Jeanette MacDonald)
The Firefly (1937 USA, dir Robert Z. Leonard, stars Jeanette MacDonald)
I Married an Angel (1942 USA, dir W.S. Van Dyke, stars Jeanette MacDonald)

Instant Watch Picks of the Week

One of my first exposures to the yakuza film, and I enjoyed it quite a lot – lots of twists and turns and double-crosses, and plenty of brutal and interestingly-shot kills. Definitely got me interested in more of Kitano’s work.
2010 Japan. Director: Takeshi Kitano. Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase.

The Adventures of Tintin
I haven’t sat down to watch this animated TV version of the Tintin comics yet, but I really want to after enjoying the Spielberg movie as much as I did. My husband grew up with them, and he was pretty excited at the opportunity to catch them again on Netflix.
1991-1992 France/Canada. Starring: Colin O’Meara, Thierry Wermuth, Christian Pellissier.

Other Instant Watch Releases

Oh, look, The Lady Eve and Bedazzled are back after their recent expirations. Thanks, Netflix! How about you just leave stuff on instead of expiring them for a week?

Expiring Picks of the Week

Le cercle rouge [3/15]
This was hands down my favorite movie of everything I watched last year, with a fantastic crime plot shown from every angle and one of the best heists ever on screen – it’s been on Netflix Instant for quite a while, but it’s expiring soon, so catch it while you can.
1967 France. Director: Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring: Alain Delon, Yves Montand, Bourvil.

Other Instant Watch Expirations

Not too many expirations this week, which is a good thing; still some very good films, with most of the notable ones coming from the French, British, and American New Waves of the 1960s and 1970s.

DVD Triage: Feb 28, 2012

Posting hasn’t been as frequent as I intended the past week or so, and I’ve got several things sitting on the back burner, but this time I have a fairly decent excuse. My site got hacked sometime last week, with some bad code inserted into a bunch of php files. I *think* I’ve gotten everything on this site cleared up, though I’m still working on a few of my other sites (thankfully most of them aren’t really in use right now – abandoned test sites and whatnot). If you clicked a link here and ended up redirected to a weird URL, I deeply apologize. Hopefully that doesn’t happen anymore. If you do notice anything weird going on, please let me know. In the meantime, here’s what’s out on DVD and Netflix Instant this week. As always, click through to Row Three for more detailed lists.

New Release Pick of the Week

The Myth of the American Sleepover
Of course Hugo is the obvious pick of the week, an excellent film to be sure, but why be obvious? You all know about that one already. I saw The Myth of the American Sleepover on a whim at a festival over a year ago, and it crept its little way right into my heart. An unassuming coming of age drama that utilizes its ensemble cast perfectly, the film has been on Instant Watch for a few months now, but if you don’t have Netflix or want a hard copy, here it is. Give it a chance.
2010 USA. Director: David Robert Mitchell. Starring: Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen.

Other New Releases

Catalog Pick of the Week

Scarlet Street Blu-ray
After the success of 1944’s film noir The Woman in the Window, Lang reunited with the cast from that film to make Scarlet Street, which I actually like a little bit better, if you force me to choose. Robinson is always solid, never more so than here, as a henpecked husband who sees Joan Bennett as a way to rejuvenate himself a bit, but she’s only playing him for the money she thinks he has.
1945 USA. Director: Fritz Lang. Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea.


Instant Watch Pick of the Week

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
Now an Academy Award-winning actor-director team, Michel Hazanavicius, Jean Dujardin, and Bérénice Bejo are no strangers to each other – they’re best known in France for their collaboration on a pair of spy parodies, of which this is the first. I haven’t seen these, but after the success of The Artist, I’m sure I’m not the only one curious to check them out. OSS 117: Lost in Rio is due to expire from Instant on 3/15, so for a couple of weeks, you can see them both.
2006 France. Director: Michel Hazanavicius. Starring: François Damiens, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo.

Expiring Picks of the Week

Pictured films all expire on 3/1. Which is tomorrow.

DVD Triage: Feb 21, 2012

Here are the highlights of this week’s DVD and Netflix Instant releases. I’ve only included the ones that I chose as “picks of the week”; you can click over to Row Three to see everything – including a disheartening number of Netflix Instant expirations. Looks like the expiring Starz contract is being felt quite hard this month.

New Release Pick of the Week

Martha Marcy May Marlene
I didn’t make it out to see the Sundance darling psychological thriller about a woman struggling after leaving a cult, and I know it inspired some heated debates on the Cinecast, but I’m definitely still very interested in checking it out. Not only to see what the Olsen twins’ little sister can do (apparently a lot), but anytime John Hawkes is on screen seems like a good thing to me.
2011 USA. Director: Sean Durkin. Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes.

Other New Releases

Catalog Pick of the Week

Anatomy of a Murder: Criterion Collection
I often throw Criterion releases up here out of habit, because it’s usually worthwhile trusting Criterion, but in this case, I can actually wholeheartedly recommend this film – one of the best courtroom dramas ever made, with James Stewart going toe-to-toe with George C. Scott over a murder case with a self-defense plea. Oh yeah, there’s rape in there, too. Director Preminger was known for pushing the Hays Code buttons, and this is no different. Some great performances all around backed up by a fantastic Duke Ellington jazz score.
1959 USA. Director: Otto Preminger. Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott.

Other Catalog Releases

Instant Watch Picks of the Week

Pretty slow week for new Instant Watches, so you might want to drop down and get in some of the expiring ones before they, well, expire. There’s a bunch down there that are well worth watching.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
I wasn’t too big a fan of this film (currently Brazil’s number one box office hit) when I saw it, but I think it would improve for me on rewatch. The all-out action I was expecting based on descriptions of the first Elite Squad film, which I still haven’t seen, is muted here, as the film focuses in on corruption in the police force. It still has its moments of quick-cut intensity, but the measured parts of the film probably deserve more credit than I originally gave them.
2010 Brazil. Director: José Padilha. Starring: Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, André Ramiro

There’s no comparison between this film and the fantastic and extremely literary novel it’s based on, but that’s not how we judge movies, and after rewatching this not too long ago, I appreciated it for what it is on its own. Its dual story between academics and the Victorian poets they study doesn’t balance quite as well as it should, but Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam impress enough to overcome the rather bland turns by Paltrow and Eckhart.
2002 USA. Director: Neil LaBute. Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle.

Expiring Picks of the Week

Looks like we’re feeling the heat of Starz! departure from Netflix this month, as a whole bunch of stuff expires on the 29th, most of it Starz! content. There are also a bunch leaving on March 1st, so keep an eye out.

The Lady Eve (expires 2/28)
One of the few films I can rewatch over and over again (and easily my favorite of Preston Sturges’ comedies); I simply never get tired of Barbara Stanwyck’s dual performance as card sharp Jean and her refined alter-ego Eve Sidwich. Add in a hapless Henry Fonda, a cunning Charles Coburn, a suspicious William Demarest, and an exasperated Eugene Pallette, and more, and you’ve got one of the finest casts in classic comedy all at the height of their powers, and with a script to match them.
1941 USA. Director: Preston Sturges. Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, William Demarest, Eugene Pallette, Eric Blore.

Bedazzled (expires 2/28)
Not to be confused with the terrible remake with Brendan Fraser, the original Bedazzled is a delightful slice out of London’s Swinging Sixties, with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook making a hilarious dry comedy team as the put-upon everyman Stanley and the Devil who gives him a Faustian bargain to get the woman of his dreams. Director Stanley Donen had a number of finest hours, and this is definitely one of them.
1967 UK. Director: Stanley Donen. Starring: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch.

In the Mood for Love (expires 2/29)
Director Wong Kar Wai has made a number of gorgeous-looking, wistfully romantic films, and none more so than this quiet tale of forbidden love between two people in adjoining apartments who gradually spend more and more time together while their respective spouses are away from home for long periods of time. It’s one of the most understated romances ever, so subtle at first it’s easy to miss what’s going on. But it’s achingly real and true. One of those films that when you watch it, you know it’s going to be with you for a long time.
2000 Hong Kong. Director: Wong Kar Wai. Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Ping Lam Siu, Tung Cho ‘Joe’ Cheung, Rebecca Pan.

Party Down (expires 2/29)
You might not expect Starz! to have hosted one of the best sitcoms on TV, but there it is. Underseen and canceled too soon, Party Down‘s milieu of a Hollywood catering company filled with managers dreaming of bigger things and aspiring actors waiting for the next big thing is ripe for comedy, and showrunner Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars) has the writing and cast to pull it off. Definitely check it out before it expires.
2009-2010 USA. Creator: Rob Thomas. Starring: Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Ryan Hansen,Martin Starr, Megan Mullally, Jane Lynch, Kristen Bell.

Black Snake Moan (expires 3/1)
A blues-singing black man chains up a nubile white girl to prevent her from satisfying her nymphomaniac urges. Sounds like prime material for an exploitation film, right? Yet while this film definitely skirts those waters, it’s much, much better than you’d expect given the premise. It’s Southern Gothic through and through, but with a depth of character, emotion, and even story that sets it apart as one of the best surprises of its year.
2006 USA. Director: Craig Brewer. Starring: Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran Jr.

DVD Triage: Feb 14, 2012

Trying a slightly different format here, as I come back from a much-longer-than-intended hiatus from this column. I’m sorry about that. Apparently getting married takes up some significant time. Who knew? Anyway. I’m also moving the bulk of this post over to Row Three, with just highlights here. So click here to read the full post, though I will warn you, in the interest of time, I’ve had to cut down the amount of obscure films I include as well as some of the links.

New Release Pick of the Week

Take Shelter
A man starts having premonitions, vision, and dreams of an impending storm and begins going to great lengths to prepare for what he senses is coming. His family is already fragile; will they be able to withstand what his paranoia does to them, or is he perhaps right in his fears? A striking central performance from Michael Shannon grounds this film, both a devastating depiction of depression and a legitimately intense impending doom film. An impressive second film from Jeff Nichols, with yet another solid turn from Chastain.
2011 USA. Director: Jeff Nichols. Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain.

Catalog Pick of the Week

All Quiet on the Western Front Collector’s Series
One of the greatest anti-war films ever made, and only showing its age a little bit around the edges. The story of an idealistic German schoolboy who enthusiastically joins the army (along with his classmates) at the beginning of WWI discovers that war is not glory, it’s hell. This collector’s edition includes a brand-new restoration of the film on both DVD and Blu-ray and a 40-page hardcover book with reproductions of rare memorabilia, posters, promo materials, and stills. Special features also include an introduction by Robert Osborne, a rare silent version presented by Library of Congress, and two Universal featurettes.
1930 USA. Director: Lewis Milestone. Starring: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim.

Netflix Instant Catchup

On Row Three, I’ve included highlights from the past several weeks, since DVD Triage went on hiatus. Here’s just the top two rows of those. Lots of good stuff.

DVD Triage: Week of December 6

A bunch of summer release movies out this week that I…didn’t see. Seriously, I haven’t seen any of the new releases this week. Except the Dragon Tattoo films, and those are extended from the versions I saw. So there’s a lot of “I’m hoping to see this sometime…” in this post. Thankfully, I HAVE seen the two Criterion releases and I can recommend them wholeheartedly, and there are also some very excellent choices coming on Instant Watch, including all the James Bond films. Again.

New Release Picks of the Week

The Help
This seemingly innocuous little film about domestic race relations in the 1950s gathered a fair bit of critical controversy over the summer, but audiences generally loved it. I’m curious to check out the hullabaloo myself.
2011 USA. Director: Tate Taylor. Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Cowboys & Aliens
Across the board negative reviews or not, I can’t shake my interest in checking this out, at the very least to see how bad a trainwreck it is. Are we talking Wild Wild West level horrific here?
2011 USA. Director: Jon Favreau. Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

The Debt
The second film out this week with Jessica Chastain, who was in eleventy billion movies this year, a flashback structured spy film that got a mixed reaction, but I’m still down to give it a shot.
2010 USA. Director: John Madden. Starring: Sam Worthington, Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition
Now this sounds interesting. The second and third Dragon Tattoo films were apparently chopped down for theatrical release here, and these are the full versions that were on Swedish TV – 30-50 minutes longer. Here the whole trilogy is split into six segments, like a miniseries. Curious if this improves parts 2 and 3.
2009 Sweden. Director: Niels Arden Oplev, et al. Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray

The Hangover Part II (2011 USA, dir Todd Phillips, stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011 USA, dir Mark Waters, stars Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Point Blank (2011 France, dir Fred Cavayé, stars Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem; Blu-ray/Netflix)
A Christmas Wedding Tail (2011 USA, dir Michael Feifer, stars Jennie Garth, Brad Rowe; Netflix)
A Christmas Wish (2010 USA, dir Craig Clyde, stars Edward Herrmann, Kristy Swanson)
The Love We Make (2011 USA, dir Albert Maysles, stars Paul McCartney; Blu-ray/Netflix)

Classic Picks of the Week

Design for Living
One of Ernst Lubitsch’s best films, a late pre-Code about a love triangle that the participants try to resolve by simply all living together as “friends.” A bit scandalous for the time, carried off with wit, sophistication, and a bit of naughtiness by the sparkling cast.
1933 USA. Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Starring: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Histoire(s) du Cinema
Jean-Luc Godard’s extended documentary about the history of cinema – something I’ve wanted to get my hands on for a long time. I’m sure it will be just as biased and idiosyncratic as the rest of his work, which for me will probably increase my enjoyment of it. :)
1997-2004 France. Director: Jean-Luc Godard.
Amazon DVD | Netflix

The Falcon Mystery Movie Collection Vol. 1 (1943 USA, dir Irving Reis, et al, stars George Sanders)
Reach for the Sky (1956 USA, dir Lewis Gilbert, stars Kenneth More, Muriel Pavlow; Netflix)

Blu-ray Picks of the Week

The Lady Vanishes Criterion
One of Hitchcock’s finest British films (pretty near the top of all his films, to be honest) gets the Blu-ray upgrade treatment. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it; this is definitely a tempting release.
1938 UK. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas.
Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970 USA, dir Richard Fleischer, et al, stars Jason Robards, Joseph Cotten; Netflix)