News Column

New on Dvd

October 25, 2013


In stores:

THE CONJURING (2013, Warner, R, $29) -- No scary movie this year will give you more goose bumps than "The Conjuring," a paranormal thriller which, thanks to director James Wan ("Insidious"), takes its good, sweet time ratcheting up the suspense. Reportedly based on a true story, the flick focuses on Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), a pair of supernatural sleuths who help a Jersey couple named the Perrons (Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston) rid their new Rhode Island home of an evil force. "The Conjuring" isn't terribly original but you won't mind once it sinks its teeth into you. Watch with the lights on. Extras: featurettes.

THE INTERNSHIP (2013, Fox, PG-13, $30) Nine years after "Wedding Crashers," Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are back together again in a comedy that gives them plenty of chances to shine. Yes, "The Internship" does double as an advertisement for Google but if you can get past that you'll discover a film that has a lot to say about growing older in an uncertain economy. Vaughn and Wilson play laid- off watch salesmen who wind up as interns at Google where they must compete against young whippersnappers for permanent jobs. It's an underdog comedy with plenty of heart. Extras: deleted scenes and commentary by director Shawn Levy.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013, Sony, R, $30) -- Richard Linklater's latest is the third but hopefully not the last in an entrancing series which began with "Before Sunrise" (1995) and "Before Sunset" (2004). Now a couple raising twins, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) spend most of a vacation night in Greece digging deep into what commitment and parenthood means to them. It's not all lovey-dovey as the pair address disappointments, regrets and resentments. A miracle of a movie, "Before Midnight" is both funny and unexpectedly moving. Extras: commentaries by Linklater, Delpy and Hawke.

THE WAY WAY BACK (2013, Fox, PG-13, $30) -- "Descendents" scripters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash make their directorial debuts with a rollicking rite-of-passage comedy starring Liam James as Duncan, a shy teenager who tries to avoid his mom (Toni Collette) and bullying stepdad (Steve Carell) by going to work at a water park. As soon as Duncan bonds with a bunch of oddballs (Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph), he finds his self-confidence growing. "Way Way" doesn't break any new ground but there's much to recommend it, including its endearing celebration of eccentricity and a superb supporting turn by Allison Janney. Extras: deleted scenes and featurettes.

FALL TO GRACE (2013, Warner Archive, unrated, $20) -- On Aug. 12, 2004, Gov. Jim McGreevey declared himself a "gay American" and resigned from office. It was a period of his life he describes as "a train wreck." But, as Alexandra Pelosi's documentary depicts, McGreevey doesn't want to be defined by his political downfall. In the years that followed, he studied to be an Episcopal priest and worked with women in prison. Even though Pelosi doesn't spend nearly enough time on McGreevey's pre-scandal life, "Fall to Grace" manages to be a fascinating look at a man whose story is all about second chances, not only for himself but for the hard-luck inmates he befriends. Extras: none.

JUST LIKE A WOMAN (2013, Cohen, R, $30) -- In this English- language debut from Rachid Bouchareb ("Days of Glory"), two unhappily married women hit the road together "Thelma & Louise"- style. Marilyn (Sienna Miller) is headed to Santa Fe to enter a belly-dancing contest while Egyptian immigrant Mona (Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani) is escaping the law back home in Chicago. It melts from memory as soon as its over but "Just Like a Woman" has its modest delights, including the sumptuous Southwestern scenery and Miller's earthy performance. Extras: none.

THE WALL (2013, Music Box, unrated, $30) -- Is this mesmerizing German film a survivalist saga or an allegory about the human condition? It's a little bit of both, with a smidge of sci-fi suspenser thrown in for good measure. Martina Gedeck stars as a woman who, while on vacation at a remote mountain cabin, finds herself inexplicably cut off from all human contact by an invisible wall. With a cow, a couple of cats and a loyal dog named Lynx for company, she learns to survive by harvesting vegetables and hunting animals. Even though "The Wall" is downbeat, there are moments of great beauty and mystery along the way. Extras: booklet.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013, Anchor Bay, R, $30) -- Ryan Gosling reunites with his "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn for an ultraviolent thriller about a pair of brothers (Gosling, Tom Burke) who run a boxing gym in Bangkok as a cover for their drug operation. After Burke's character rapes and murders a 16-year-old girl and is then murdered himself, the brothers' mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives from the U.S. demanding Gosling seek vengeance. Standing in his way is a mysterious figure of divine justice (Vithaya Pansringarm). "Only God" is pretentious and slowly paced but so stylishly directed that it occasionally manages to cast a mesmerizing spell. Extras: featurettes and Refn commentary.

THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION (1960-1971, Shout Factory, PG, $80) - - What a Halloween treat! Shout Factory gives the Blu-ray treatment to six of Price's signature features for AIP, including "The House of Usher" (1960), "The Pit & The Pendulum" (1961) and "Witchfinder General" (1968). Along with the recently issued Blu-rays of "House of Wax" (1953) and "The Fly" (1958), these films represent the best work of the horror icon's long career. Expect Price at his most sinister. Extras: rare intros, featurettes and film historian commentaries.

THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE (1946, Fox Cinema Archives, unrated, $20) -- Set primarily in Atlantic City, this charmingly unpretentious musical is practically a valentine to the Garden State. June Haver, Vivian Blaine and Vera-Ellen are terrific as three sisters from Red Bank who, in 1902, travel to the Jersey Shore to land themselves wealthy husbands. It's silly fun with a scene- stealing turn by Celeste Holm in her screen debut. Extras: none.

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (1977, Shout Factory, PG, $25) -- A huge hit when it was first released, this underrated action gem from John Sturges ("The Great Escape") follows a handful of Nazi spies (Donald Sutherland, Michael Caine) as they attempt to kidnap Winston Churchill in the waning days of World War II. The early, putting- the-team-together scenes lack momentum but once the Nazis arrive in the peaceful English village where Churchill is vacationing, the film grows tense and exciting, particularly a lengthy shoot-out between the Germans and a company of American rangers (Larry Hagman, Treat Williams). Extras: featurettes.

I MARRIED A WITCH (1942, Criterion, unrated, $30) -- Tired of watching horror movies on Halloween but still looking for a splash of the supernatural? Check out this delightful screwball comedy about a witch (Veronica Lake) who returns to haunt the ancestor (Frederic March) of the Puritan who sent her to the stake. Of course, the pair wind up head over heels in love despite the fact that he's a gubernatorial candidate about to marry a spoiled socialite (Susan Hayward). Extras: audio interview with director Rene Clair.

IN THE FLESH (2013, BBC, unrated, $20) -- Hats off to the BBC for realizing that there's life left in the zombie genre. In this inventive miniseries set a few years after the flesh-eaters tried and failed to take over the world, a cure has been found for zombies -- or, as the show calls them, people suffering from PDS (Partially Dead Syndrome). Kieren (a terrific Luke Newberry) is one such survivor who, following his suicide and stint as an undead foot solider, is returned to his parents' home in suburbia. Extras: none.

UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES (2012, Warner, unrated, $50) - - In this dense yet riveting Showtime series, Oliver Stone looks back at the last 75 years of American foreign policy, picking apart such key events as the beginnings of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Khrushchev's attempts at peace and the Vietnam War. The 10- episode series, which is jam-packed with well-researched facts and little-seen newsreel footage, attempts to illuminate the episodes which shaped the world as it is today. Definitely worth a look. Extras: two bonus episodes.

-- Amy Longsdorf



Tuesday -- "Damages: The Complete Series," "Monsters University," "R.I.P.D."

Nov. 5 -- "Girl Most Likely," "Grown Ups 2," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition," "Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga," "White House Down."

Nov. 12 -- "Blackfish," "Man of Steel," "Prince Avalanche," "Turbo."

-- Caitlin Callons

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