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DVD Releases for July 5, 2005

July 4th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases, classics and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. Usually the first week of the month is the busiest, but not this month. However, just because it's a slow week doesn't mean there isn't a well deserving film for the DVD pick of the week, namely Bride and Prejudice - Buy from Amazon.

5 Children and It - Buy from Amazon
A British film that really struggled in its home market and is only getting a direct-to-DVD release here. There's not much going for the film, especially since it is based on a book that most people here will have never read. It does star Freddie Highmore of Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame, but just makes it a curiosity more than anything else.

Bride and Prejudice - Buy from Amazon
Director Gurinder Chadha's attempt to bring the Bollywood musical to mainstream audiences. And while it didn't do as well as her previous film, both at the box office and with the critics, it still advanced her cause admirably. Special features are impressive for a limited release, audio commentary, interviews, and deleted scenes, including several more dance numbers. India is the largest producer of movies, but very few of them are even released domestically, so this is probably the best chance for most people to become acquainted with their movie traditions. Also, if you enjoy this movie you should check out the Canadian film, Bollywood Hollywood - Buy from Amazon

Dear Frankie - Buy from Amazon
The film did well for a limited release hitting $1 million despite never playing in a 100 theatre or more, this was mostly thanks to excellent reviews. But unlike many limited releases, film released isn't being dumped on the home market on a featureless disc. In fact, it has the same level of special features as many first run releases including audio commentary, deleted and extended scenes (also with audio commentary), interviews and more.

Fantastic Four - The Complete Animated Series - Buy from Amazon
Just in time for the movie all 26 episodes of this 1994 animated series is hitting DVD. I think most fans of the comic would agree that the first season of the show was terrible, and while the second season was a great improvement, it was too little too late. Special features focus on Stan Lee and help the overall value, but not enough to warrant a recommendation.

Film Noir Classic Collection - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
As expected, Volume 2 is a step down from Volume 1, after all, it's easier to find five great films than five more great films. Volume 1 contained no filler with a couple of films that could easily be called classic, (although one of the movies was only marginally connected with the genre.) This set has four strong films, and one so-so addition that feel like filler. Still, overall the set is a good introduction to the genre, or a continuing education for those who bought Volume 1. Can also be purchased separately, (Born to Kill, Clash by Night, Crossfire, Dillinger, and The Narrow Margin) but the box set is half the cost and really the much better deal.

Forever, Lulu - Buy from Amazon
Also known as, Crazy Streets, this film is the first movie with Alec Baldwin, and that's probably the only thing noteworthy about the film. That and it has Deborah Harry in it.

Georgy Girl - Buy from Amazon
Lynn Redgrave stars as Georgy, an ugly duckling who takes care of her beautiful roommates unwanted child while having affairs with both a wealthy widower and the boyfriend of said beautiful roommate. The movie is definitely a product of the 60s, which is not a bad thing, but one must keep that in mind when watching the film.

Going the Distance - Buy from Amazon
A typical lowbrow road trip comedy that's marginally amusing but certainly not high art. It was actually a co-production of Much Music, which is like the Canadian version of MTV, except Much Music still plays music videos. It's part of a new trend in Canadian filmmaking; instead of making highbrow, intellectual, art house movies that nobody watches, the Canadian movie industry is trying to make populous comedies... that nobody watches.

The Good Father - Buy from Amazon
Anthony Hopkins plays Bill Hooper, a man who marriage has failed and whose time with is only son is limited. Bitter and convinced he is the victim of a feminist plot, he turns is failed marriage into war and uses every dirty trick to get his son back. Anthony Hopkins' performance is the best part of the film but the DVD lacks any real special features.

Hexed - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those films that most people have never heard of, but is a guilty pleasure for some. I'm not one of those people, but considering some of the DVDs I own, I'm not one to judge.

Hide and Seek - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Despite earning awful reviews, this was one several films that beat expectations earlier in the week. Some movies get bad reviews because the movie wasn't made to please critics but for popular appeal. This is not one of those films; it really deserved the poor reviews. One of the problems is actually immortalized in the special features. There were five endings filmed for the movie, which makes me think they were unsure how to end the movie and that's the surest was to failure. Special features are not bad, but not nearly good enough to make up for the quality of the movie.

In My Country - Buy from Amazon
The film deals with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that were supposed to help South Africa heal from the wounds of the Apartheid. This really should have been a much better film than it was, compelling story, great cast, etc. but very little works. Special features are good for a limited release, audio commentary, deleted scenes, interviews, etc. However, the overall package doesn't even rate a rental. Fans of director John Boorman would be better off picking up Point Blank, which is discussed below.

Maiku Hama Private Eye Trilogy - Buy from Amazon
Japanese director Kaizo Hayashi's tribute to the American P.I. films that dominated Film Noir. Starting with the previously released The Most Terrible Time in My Life, Kaizo Hayashi infuses this film with a mix of humor and grim situations, usually directed at luckless P.I., Maiku "Mike" Hama. The humorous element is lessened in the next film, Trap and practically gone in The Stairway to the Distant Past, but the Film Noir style is still there. If you already own The Most Terrible Time in My Life, getting the other two films separately is cheaper, otherwise the box set is the better deal.

Monk - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This is almost like two seasons in one, and not just because there was a five-month break in the middle of the season. During the first half of season three something went wrong, the writing wasn't as sharp, the comedy elements weren't as funny, and even Monk didn't seem as smart. It was obvious something was wrong and there needed to be changes made but when the change came in the form of firing Bitty Schram, a.k.a. Sharona Fleming I thought they made a huge mistake. Granted, the second half of the season the show really improved, but I contend that was a coincidence. Special features on the 4-disc set are on par with the rest of the series and include a couple of character profiles, background information and interviews. These are not bad, but I'd like to see some audio commentary on season 4. Speaking of which season 4 begins on Friday on the USA Network. Overall the third season is strong enough to warrant a recommendation, but the first half is just weak enough that it doesn't become the DVD pick of the week.

Nadine - Buy from Amazon
Kim Bassinger stars as Nadine Hightower, who teams up with her soon to be ex-husband, Jeff Bridges to retrieve some... art photos, only to be caught up in illegal land deals involving a new Texas highway. There is some chemistry between the leads, but the plot is way too predictable and the featureless disc doesn't even rate a rental.

Offspring: Complete Music Video Collection - Buy from Amazon
According to their official site, this set has a July 19th release date. Whenever the DVD comes out, it will contain all of the band's videos, plus audio commentary, liver performances and even an interview with Guy Cohen, the actor who played the Wannabe in the Pretty Fly For A White Guy music video. A must have for fans of The Offpring.

Point Blank - Buy from Amazon
Classic film starring Lee Marvin as Walker, a man shot and left for dead by his friend and his wife, who are lovers. Two years later he returns for one reason, revenge. But it's not just a revenge flick; the film has a style that was very influential and a metaphysical touch that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Special features on the disc include audio commentary by director John Boorman and Steven Soderbergh plus two featurettes, both on Alcatraz.

Premonition - Buy from Amazon
Yet another Japanese horror film that will undoubtedly be remade by Hollywood. Hideki can predict the future, but he is powerless to stop the tragedies he sees. But when he sees his daughter will die in a train wreck he enlists the help of others with his powers to try and stop it. This is the second film in the trilogy with Infection already on DVD and Rinne in production, (there's no English title yet, but my educated guess would be Transition.) Infection is the better of the two films but the two stories are not related enough to one would need to watch the movies in order to understand them.

Prozac Nation - Buy from Amazon
One of many Miramax films that were stuck on a shelf and were only released after Bob and Harvey Weinstein left. Given the film's critical reception, and the nearly total lack of special features, it might have been better off left on that shelf.

Roughnecks - The Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Complete Campaigns - Buy from Amazon
Good show, bad DVDs. Almost all of the episodes on these DVD have already been release, and release on DVDs that had substantially more special features than this 4-disc set. Is the box set worth picking up for the four extra episodes? If you already own the previous releases, then it is only worth it for the most diehard fans. If you don't, and you don't care about special features, then this is certainly the cheaper way to go. But I've always been a proponent of spending the extra bucks and getting the special features.

Tour of Duty - Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The first US TV series about the Vietnam War, it is also one of the more realistic. The DVD releases have not been well received among fans of the show since licensing difficulties have resulted in much of the original music being released by generic, repetitive muzak. Further reducing the value of the set is the lack of special features, which is no change from the previous releases.

Twenty Bucks - Buy from Amazon
The setup of this film is quite simple, the movie follows a $20 bill as is travels from person to person. There's no real overall plot as this setup is used merely to tell a series of vignettes. Some of these are very well done and entertaining, but not enough of them are for an overall positive review. Given how old the film is and its incredibly short theatrical run, it would have been understandable if the film had just been dumped on the home market on a featureless DVD. But that is not the case; the DVD contains 2 audio commentary tracks and 2 featurettes on the production.

Werner Herzog Doubleshot - Buy from Amazon: Signs of Life and Land of Silence and Darkness
Two early films by German Director, Werner Herzon, are coming out on DVD. Signs of Life is the first film of his and it is an amazing work, not just as a debut effort, but a debut effort that cost in the neighborhood of $20,000. The film tells the story of Stroszek, a wounded German soldier sent to Crete all with his wife and some other soldiers who are also nursing minor wounds. There job is to guard a munitions dump and at first the island seems like paradise, but slowly the situations eats away at his sanity. Land of Silence and Darkness is a documentary about Fini Straubinger, a woman who has been deaf and blind since her teens and who works on behalf of others who are deaf and blind. The first film has a feature length audio commentary with Werner Herzog and moderator, Norm Hill, while the second disc is featureless, but there is an insert with quotes from books by Dr. Oliver Sacks and Helen Keller.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Hide and Seek, Bride & Prejudice, Bollywood/Hollywood, Dear Frankie, In My Country, National Lampoon's Going the Distance