This Week On DVD and Blu-ray: March 31, 2009

As I am typing this up I am completing my tour of the five most recent James Bond Blu-rays released last week. I have already watched Goldfinger, Moonraker, The World is Not Enough and Quantum of Solace and I am watching Never Say Never Again for the first time with plans of watching Thunderball immediately afterward. I am sure many of you know the story and why I will be watching Thunderball, but for those that don’t, stay tuned as it will certainly be part of my Bond Blu-ray Round-Up Part Two. If you missed the first one you can read it here.

As for what else is on my plate I just received the new Blu-ray copy of No Country for Old Men as well as Doubt. I am also interested in taking a peek at Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra, which just arrived on DVD along with a collection of six films as part of Universal’s Pre-Code Hollywood Backlot series. Universal also sent over the Blu-ray for The Tale of Despereaux, but I am not too sure how interested I am in checking it out.

Last week I rented Europa and Kagemusha from NetFlix, a pair of films from Lars von Trier and Akira Kurosawa I definitely recommend everyone check out. I would actually consider buying both of them if I didn’t think they would soon end up as Blu-ray releases from Criterion… I need to get in touch with some of the head honchos over there and discuss how they make their selections.

As for this week’s releases we have the Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire, a couple of lesser known Criterion releases and a host of other roundabout releases including Riddick’s first appearance on Blu-ray. Let’s get into it.

Slumdog Millionaire
Fox hasn’t sent me this one for review yet and quite honestly I really don’t care either way as I don’t have much interest in seeing it again. In thinking about this film and what to say I also got to thinking about the Criterion Collection and wondering if this one would make the cut. As we all know The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is heading straight to Criterion, but will Fox make an effort to get their top dog of 2008 in there?

While I am not interested in seeing it again I do think it was a good film, and its ability to capture the attention of so many people is certainly worthy of calling it an instant classic. I fully expect it to make a Criterion debut one of these years, but not until Fox has completely taken advantage of its double-dip potential.

Buy Slumdog Millionaire
The Matrix (10th Anniversary Special Edition)
This, to me, is such a strange release only because I can’t imagine anyone out there not already owning a copy of this film they are happy with. I have reviewed the Matrix collection so many times I can’t even keep track and the entire collection was just recently released on Blu-ray, but I guess those that skipped it in hopes of only picking up the original film will enjoy snatching up the single film edition and not have to worry about also paying for Reloaded and Revolutions. Even though I agree the first film is the best of the bunch I still get some satisfaction out of the complete trilogy even though it gets progressively worse and worse.
Buy The Matrix (10th Anniversar Special Edition)
Tell No One
I am including this one because I have been told by so many people how good it is. I actually have a screener copy of it that I have had for what feels like a year now, but haven’t taken the time to watch it. The film stars Kristin Scott-Thomas and François Berléand and carries the tagline “8 years ago, Alex’s wife was MURDERED. Today… She e-mailed him.” Just reading that along with knowing who is in it makes me want to watch it right now. Perhaps one to add to the Netflix queue?
Buy Tell No One
Chronicles of Riddick & Pitch Black
Universal sent these over and I haven’t watched them yet only because I already reviewed both of these when they were released on HD DVD (get that review here). However, there are a few new high-def goodies on both of these releases worth a once over.

Pitch Black comes with a pair of U-Control in-movie features, one is called “Pitch Black Raw” and takes a side-by-side look at green screen footage and raw dailies in conjunction with the scene playing on screen. I always love when they do this and actually can’t wait to give this a peek. It is really the coolest way to look at the making of CG-effect driven action films. This one also includes a picture-in-picture feature that includes interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff that plays along with the movie.

Chronicles of Riddick also includes a pair of U-Control features starting with “Anatomy of a Fight” which looks at the real-life science of Riddick’s fighting style. The other is called “Complete Chronicles” and takes a look at the mythology and history of the Riddick franchise.

I am personally a fan of both these films, Pitch Black especially, and am also interested as talk of another Riddick film has started once again. Who knows, perhaps that trilogy will actually get made.

Buy Pitch Black
Gigi & An American in Paris [Blu-ray]
I watched both of these films on a Saturday morning earlier this year. Both star Leslie Caron and between the two they won 15 Oscars including both of them winning Best Picture. Not too bad I would say. The colors on display make them a solid Blu-ray purchase for fans as they are both easy films to watch and perfect for weekend morning viewing.
Buy Gigi
Marley and Me
I have heard nothing but bad things about this film. I haven’t seen it so I can’t confirm anything I have heard, but negative chatter is the word on the street.
Buy Marley and Me
Seven Pounds
This film got an unnecessary walloping from just about everyone and the unfortunate thing is that the performance from Rosario Dawson was completely overlooked as a result. At the very least, if you have not seen this film, give it a rent just for Dawson’s performance alone.
Buy Seven Pounds
Danton (Criterion Collection)
Reviewing a Criterion title takes a lot of work, which makes requesting all of them a tricky proposition. I chose not to request Danton in favor of the title below, but I have heard this Gerard Depardieu starrer from Andrzej Wajda is quite the film. I have only seen (and own) one of Wajda’s films, Ashes and Diamonds, and it was fantastic and regret not having the time to review this one. I already have it set up in my Netflix queue and will give it a chance and see if it is worth the purchase.
Buy Danton (Criterion Collection)
Il Generale Della Rovere (Criterion Collection)
I chose to review this one over Danton simply because of my growing infatuation with Italian cinema and while it was a good film and one I recommend everyone take some time to watch one day I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a must own. You can get my full review right here.
Buy Il Generale Della Rovere (Criterion Collection)



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