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This week on DVD, Ryan Gosling stars as a getaway driver in the atmospheric Drive, while Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz explore a chilling mystery in Dream House
Ryan Gosling gives a stunning performance in ‘Drive’
Pick of the Week
Based on the novel by James Sallis, this modern-day film noir stars Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver known only as Driver, who makes a little money on the side as a getaway driver. When a heist involving the ex-con husband of his beautiful neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) goes wrong, Driver ends up on the death list of a ruthless mobster (played by legendary comedian Albert Brooks, in a rare dramatic role). Although the SPECIAL FEATURES include a few short insider pieces, it’s films like this one that benefit from a director’s commentary. (Sony)
After the Atenton family (headed up by parents played by Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz) move into a new house in New England, they discover that the previous family that owned the house were murdered there. As they begin to dig deeper into the horrific mystery, strange things begin to tie them to the case. As is often the case in these psycholgical thrillers, there’s the twists pile up on top of each other, but director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) could have pushed the glacially paced plot, which unfortunately gives the viewer plenty of opportunity to figure out what’s really going on before the big reveal. (eOne)
Every year, birdwatchers gather to compete to see who can spot the most species of bird within a given amount of time as they travel all over North America. Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black star as three overly-competitive entrants who will stop at nothing to outdo each other in this Vancouver-shot comedy which co-stars The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and Community’s Joel McHale.
In this chilling prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter cult classic (itself a remake of the 1951 sci-fi film The Thing From Another World), scientists at a remote Arctic base uncover an alien spacecraft whose passengers turn out to be far from friendly.
When a U.S. senator is murdered, the style of killing points to a mysterious Soviet assassin known as Cassius, who is believed to have died years earlier. The government brings retired agent Paul Sheperdson (Richard Gere) back into action and teams up with a wet-behind-the-ears rookie (Topher Grace) whose obsession with Cassius may help them solve the case.
Justin Timberlake plays Will Salasin this futuristic thriller where no one ages past 25 and time itself is the currency. Will finds himself the recipient of a fortune of “time” and along with a hostage (Amanda Seyfried) flees from the shady police who are known as “time keepers”.
During a horrific riot in a Spanish prison, a young guard disguises himself as a prisoner and trying to befriend the leader of the riot when he finds himself trapped inside. (eOne)
This is a low-budget, but highly original musical about a teenage outcast with a secret nicknamed Spork, and how she survives amid the high-school cliques that feel compelled to define her. (eOne)
In this controversial drama from 1982, Christopher Reeve (Superman) stars as a young priest rising in the church’s ranks after the Second World War and how he is tempted by both the power and the flesh (portrayed here by Genevieve Bujold as a hot nun). (Fox)
If you went to school in North America over the past few decades, then you’ve probably had to read the novel by Harper Lee that this film is based on. If you were lucky, they wheeled in the clunky TV and VCR and let you see this film on a grainy and washed-out print. It deserves better and now Universal has done just that with this anniversary blu-ray release. For the uninitiated, this 1962 drama stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a small-town lawyer who teaches his children about prejudice and tolerance when he takes on the case of a black man accused of rape. This set features a 44-page booklet, two feature-length documentaries – one on the sociological background of the film and the other on Peck himself; as well as audio commentary from director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula as well as much more. (Universal)
Rising young businessman C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) sees an easy opportunity to climb the corporate ladder when he begins lending out his downtown apartment to the executives in his company (including My Three Sons’ Fred MacMurray) for their secret extramarital affairs. Things get complicated when he develops feelings for one of the mistresses (Shirley MacLaine).
These three films from director Alfred Hitchcock get the high-def treatment for their latest re-release. In Spellbound from 1945, Ingrid Bergman plays a psychiatrist who begins working alongside a new doctor (Gregory Peck) whose amnesia may be masking the fact that he’s a killer. SPECIAL FEATURES include commentary from film historians and other short features including one on Hitchcock’s legendary collaboration on this film with artist Salvador Dali, who designed the dream sequences.
Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine star in the 1940 thriller Rebecca, about a newly-married young woman who is haunted by the memory of her husband’s first wife. SPECIAL FEATURES include commentary by critic Richard Schickel as well as three radio play versions of the film with different casts.
In 1946’s Notorious, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman play two spies during the Second World War who fall in love, but find themselves separated and in danger when she must marry a German officer to infiltrate the enemy. This comes with two different audio commentaries from film historians and more.
Music on DVD
Seventies prog-rock giants Styx reunited in 2010 to perform live two of their biggest selling albums in their entirety – The Grand Illusion (1977) and Pieces of Eight (1978) which included the hit songs “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade”. This concert, filmed in Memphis, Tennessee , captures the entire concert in HD. (Eagle Rock)
Richard Thompson has been surviving on the edges of fame since he began with the folk-rock band Fairport Convention back in the late 1960s. He continued to produce albums with them, with his wife Linda and later solo for the next five decades (including 2010’s Dream Attic), gathering fans and accolades like being called one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” from Rolling Stone magazine. This concert, filmed at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow in January 2011, features not only his recent work, but a superb sampling of his recording career including versions of “Tear Stained :Letter” and “The Angels Took My Racehorse Away” from his debut solo album in 1972. (Eagle Rock)
TV on DVD
For fans of British comedy, the year 1980 should be regarded as an important one for fans of British rock music. It was the year that Peter Richardson, a performer with dreams of producing, began a cabaret night in London with fellow performers Nigel Planer, Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Alexei Sayle (names that would go on to be the bedrock of the “alternative comedy” movement in the UK and whose later work includes The Young Ones, Absolutely Fabulous, Bottom, The Vicar of Dibley and much more).
With their immediate succcess they managed to secure a contract with Channel 4 for a series of half-hour comedies they would continue to produce off and on even up until today.
Now, almost all of these programs are available for the first time in North America in this 9-disc DVD set (the feature film Eat the Rich and the 2005 and 2011 specials are the only things not included). While the outrageous humour is uneven throughout these episodes, certain ones stand out as classics for different reasons: Peter Cook’s appearance in “Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door”; the Spinal Tap-like mockumentary “More Bad News”; the award-winning satire “The Strike” and more.
This set also includes retrospective documentaries of the series (from both 1998 and 2005) as well as director Julian Temple’s film about the shows from 1981, making this a must for any collection of British comedy. (eOne)
The surprise hit comedy returns for a second season with this 22-episode 3-disc set and it gets off to a rousing start. When last season ended, Elka (Betty White) was arrested for having a house full of stolen goods, which had belonged to her late husband. While the girls (Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick and Jane Leeves) try to find a way to raise her bail money, Elka gets to know her new cellmate Diane (the legendary Mary Tyler Moore, with whom White co-starred in The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Other veteran TV stars appear throughout this season including One Day at a Time’s Bonnie Franklin; All My Children’s Susan Lucci; Trapper John, M.D.’s Gregory Harrison and many others. (eOne)
This Nickelodeon series aimed at the teenage audience followed the adventures of the owners and young employees (including the future Mrs. Ben Stiller Christine Taylor, who co-starred with him in Dodgeball and Zoolander) at the Bar None Dude Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. All 13 episodes from the 1989-1990 seasons are included here on this 2-DVD set. (Shout Factory)
This historically romantic TV series ran on the BBC from 1975 to 1977 and then later in North America on PBS where it has gained a cult following. Robin Ellis starred as Ross Poldark, a struggling tin mine owner who pines for the love of his life (Jill Townsend), who ran off and married his cousin (Clive Francis). Now, all 29 episodes of this series are available on 8 DVDs. (Acorn)
Now available for the first time on blu-ray, the first two seasons of Agatha Christie’s Poirot series (sold separately and also available in DVD format) starring David Suchet as the Belgian sleuth. Series One features all 10 episodes from 1989, while Series Two from 1990 features all 9 episodes, all of which are in the order they originally aired in the UK. (Acorn)
George Stroumboulopoulos hosts this 6-part documentary series about the unarmed battle between the Capitalist West and the Communist East during the post-Second World War years through the politically turbulent 1960s and the important role that propaganda played in it. (eOne)
In preparation for the release of the entire series over the next few years in high-def, Paramount has released this sampling of three classic episodes from the series – “Encounter at Farpoint”, the pilot episode; “The Sins of the Father”; and the Hugo Award-winning “Inner Light” – all designed to show off the blu-ray picture and sound of what fans can look forward to in the future. (Paramount)