News Column

New on Dvd

October 4, 2013

YellowBrix

In stores

THIS IS THE END (2013, Sony, R, $30) -- Startlingly original, this head trip of comedy, written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, ponders what would happen to a handful of celebs (Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson) in the aftermath of the Rapture. Los Angelinos are being sucked into fiery sinkholes right and left but back at Franco's house, Rogen and company are still ribbing each other mercilessly. It's self- indulgent but the cameos (Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Michael Cera) are a hoot, the snarky humor is laugh-out-loud-funny, and the anything- goes vibe is irresistible. Extras: deleted scenes, featurettes, outtakes and commentaries by Rogen and Goldberg.

THE CROODS (2013, DreamWorks, PG, $30) -- In this funny if overly broad cartoon, Nicolas Cage stars as prehistoric father named Grug, who, along with his wife (Catherine Keener) and kids (Clark Duke, Emma Stone) embarks on a big move after an earthquake destroys their home. Grug, who hates change, eventually embraces adventure and even tolerates his daughter Eep's new boyfriend (Ryan Reynolds), a caveboy so advanced he wears shoes and makes fire. Meanwhile Eep learns to appreciate the importance of family. Despite some lapses into gooeyness, "The Croods" is solid entertainment. Extras: featurettes.

PHIL SPECTOR (2013, HBO, unrated, $20) -- Don't check out David Mamet's docudrama about the murder trial of the famed record producer expecting a definitive account of the crime. Mamet can't seem to decide whether Spector is innocent or guilty of the murder of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson. In fact, the movie is less about Spector and more about defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden (Helen Mirren) who worked through pneumonia in hopes of getting her client off. Even though "Phil Spector" feels strangely inconsequential, you'll be mesmerized by the superb performances and the clever legal maneuverings. Extras: featurette.

THE FROZEN GROUND (2013, Lionsgate, R, $20) -- For this eerie cat- and-mouse thriller, Nicolas Cage stars as an Alaska State Trooper who struggles to find enough evidence to arrest Robert Hansen (John Cusack), a serial killer who stalks young women, rapes them and then transports them to the wilderness where he hunts them like game. "The Frozen Ground" is about as original as an episode of "Law and Order." But thanks to the unshowy performances (including a turn by Vanessa Hudgens as one of Hansen's victims) and the shots of the wintry Alaskan landscapes, "The Frozen Ground" is good enough to make you feel the chill. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and commentary by Walker.

THE EAST (2013, Fox, PG-13, $30) -- The ethereal Brit Marling stars as a private security firm operative whose first assignment is to infiltrate a band of eco-terrorists hell-bent on turning the tables on Big Oil and Big Pharma. Soon, Marling (who co-wrote the screenplay with director Zal Batmanglj) is identifying more with the members of the collective (Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Shiloh Fernandez) than with her boss (Patricia Clarkson) and boyfriend (Jason Ritter) back home. Marling makes her identify crisis very moving while Batmanglj ratchets up the tension with each passing scene. Extras: featurette.

100 BLOODY ACRES (2013, Doppelganger Releasing, R, $20) -- Damon Herriman (TV's "Justified") and Angus Sampson star in this deviously funny horror comedy about two backwoods brothers struggling to keep their organic blood and bone fertilizer business afloat. You can probably guess what happens when the small business owners spot three stranded tourists (Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian) by the side of the road. The Melbourne-based brothers Colin and Cameron Cairnes blend gore and guffaws with deadpan brilliance. Hollywood will snap these talented Aussies up fast. Extras: featurettes and gag reel.

IN THE HOUSE (2012, Cohen, R, $30) -- Something of a cautionary tale about the dangers of voyeurism, the latest from Francois Ozon ("Swimming Pool") centers on a high-schooler (Ernst Umhauer) whose titillating essays about a fellow student (Bastien Ughetto) and his gorgeous mother (Emmanuelle Seigner) capture the imagination of a literature professor (Fabrice Luchini) and his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas). Sure, it's a wee bit convoluted but when the melancholy starts taking over, "In The House" becomes unlike anything you've ever seen before. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and bloopers.

THE WIZARD OF OZ 3D: 75th ANNIVERSARY LIMITED COLLECTOR'S EDITION (1939, Warner, G, $105) -- It's time to go off to see the "Wizard" again. One of MGM's best musicals turns 75 and you can celebrate by checking out this five-disc set, which includes the Blu-ray 3D as well as the Blu-ray and DVD. Judy Garland is electrifying as the Kansas farm girl who travels to Oz via twister only to realize there's no place like home. The highlights are many and include Garland's crooning of "Over the Rainbow," an eye-popping visit to Munchkinland and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch. Extras: a book, shorts, featurettes and a new making-of documentary.

COLUMBIA PICTURES FILM NOIR CLASSICS IV (1946-1952, TCM, unrated, $45) -- A pair of films ("Walk A Crooked Mile," "Walk East on Beacon") in this superb, Martin-Scorsese-curated boxed set deal with Communist spy rings but it's the two thrillers ("So Dark the Night," "Johnny O'Clock") shot by the genius cinematographer Burnett Guffey ("From Here to Eternity") which make this five-disc collection essential viewing. "So Dark the Night" has the creepy vibe (and twist ending) of a really good "Twilight Zone" episode while "Johnny O'Clock" starring Dick Powell nails the darkness, ambiguity and moral corruption of the best noirs. Extras: intros by Scorsese.

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953, Columbia, unrated, $20) -- Thanks to director Fred Zinneman and cinematographer Burnett Guffey, this best picture Oscar winner is one of the most stunning-looking black-and- white films of the '50s. And it dazzles even more in high- definition. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr's love scene on a deserted Hawaiian beach is still sexy and romantic. Frank Sinatra's turn as the ill-fated Maggio remains strong stuff. But it's Montgomery Clift who holds the film together with a towering turn as a soldier too "hard-headed" to be broken. Extras: featurettes and Zinneman commentary.

GLEE: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (2012, Fox, unrated, $60) -- Creator Ryan Murphy took a big chance splitting the focus of the show between New York, where Rachel (Tenafly's Lea Michele) has moved following graduation, and Lima, Ohio, where members of the old McKinley High glee club are still hitting the high notes. Amazingly, the new format seems to re-invigorate the series. The fourth season gets off to a great start with a storyline about how the kids in New Directions are searching for the "new Rachel" just as the old Rachel comes up against a dance instructor (Kate Hudson) seemingly intent on knocking her down to size. Extras: featurettes.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON (2012, Fox, unrated, $40) -- The best way to prepare for the final season of "HIMYM" is to check out this set which finally reveals who the title character is -- a brunette (Cristin Milloti) with the significant yellow umbrella, asking for "a one way ticket to Farhampton." There's also a great episode about Ted (Josh Radnor) helping Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) with his proposal plans, and a classic two- parter guest-starring Peter Gallagher and Seth Green. Extras: deleted scenes, commentaries, gag reel and featurettes.

CHINA BEACH: THE COMPLETE SERIES (1988, TimeLife, unrated, $199) - - Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this groundbreaking series with a 21-disc, 62-episode set. After so many testosterone-driven Vietnam movies like "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket," this show broke new ground by looking at the war from the perspective of the women (Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger) who worked in and around the 510th Evacuation Hospital. The series, which has never been available on DVD before, feels authentic thanks to so many episodes derived from the real-life tales of those who served. Available exclusively at ChinaBeachonDVD.com. Extras: deleted scenes, commentaries and featurettes, including cast reunion footage.

ARROW: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (2012, Warner, unrated, $60) -- A dynamite Stephen Arnell stars as playboy Oliver Queen who, as the show begins, is being rescued from an island where he's been marooned for five years. After returning to his hometown of Starling City, Oliver vows to fight corruption as the bow-wielding Green Arrow. There are flashes of humor as well as some terrific sequences that sweep you headlong into the action. Extras: featurettes, unaired scenes and gag reel.

-- Amy Longsdorf

Sidebar:

Upcoming

Tuesday -- "After Earth," "Centennial: The Complete Series," "The Borrowers," "The Hangover Part III," "Monster High: 13 Wishes," "Psych: The Complete Seventh Season," "Much Ado About Nothing," "The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 4."

Oct. 15-- "Bewitched: The Complete Series," "Defiance: Season One," "The Heat," "I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Series," "Pacific Rim," "The Partridge Family: The Complete Series."

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