DVD Picks of the Week: August 25th, 2009

August is coming to a close and school is starting up, so check out a few ways you can spend your last week of total freedom. That is, if you have enough money left over after buying all those books you probably will never use.

Adventureland [DVD][Blu-ray]


Some weeks I struggle deciding which film to feature first, but I had no trouble spotting Adventureland number one today. The film came out back in April but still reigns as one of the best films I’ve seen all year, after titles like In the Loop, The Hurt Locker and District 9 (*Note: I haven’t seen Inglourious Basterds yet). Greg Mottola’s self-reflective 1980’s time piece plays more like Dazed and Confused for a different generation and less like Superbad, the way it was falsely advertised as, since Mottola directed both films. All for the better, I say. The film is extremely rewatchable, charming and enjoyable. It also let Kristen Stewart give a genuinely good and emotional performance outside of her Twilight spotlight. Give Adventureland a chance.

The Last Days of Disco [Criterion DVD]


By now you should know that I never let a Criterion Collection release slip past me. And why should I? With all I have to owe to the company for helping me expand my film library and knowledge with their additions to their ever-increasing collection of previously hard to find classics and under-the-radar gems, I can’t afford to let a title slip by me. This week they released The Last Days of Disco, a film by Whit Stillman. Made in the late 1990’s, the film focuses on highly educated young people living in Manhattan, just like in Stillman’s previous film Metropolitan. The comedy-drama has performances from Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale.

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir [Criterion DVD]


Criterion’s sister project falls under the moniker “Eclipse Series” and is the company’s attempt at bundling important films by important artists at a cheaper price. Of course, this comes sans extras, something that many Criterion fanatics crave. But still, this lowers the price, and makes for an affordable package for all those interested. The series began with a collection of early Ingmar Bergman films and has stayed strong and popular ever since. Up this time around is a selection of film noir from the Nikkatsui film production company in Japan, the oldest film studio in the country. These titles all came out in the 1950’s and 1960’s, so the influence from American film noir can be found in heavy coats. I haven’t seen any of the titles yet, but I already have a few ready to go on the trusty Netflix queue. I’m most interested in seeing how the Japanese translate the typical American film noir mythos into their own yakuza-blended spellbinders. Keep on reading the blog and I’m sure you’ll find out what I thought.

Red Velvet [Amazon.com Exclusive]


I saw a trailer for this film months ago. It actually might have been over a year ago. Regardless, the film looked so intriguingly original and so downright strange that my interest was invested in the title. The film really had no release information as it was pretty low on the food chain. Just now I’ve discovered that the title is being released via Amazon’s DVD-R service, in which they do a legal burning of the film, in good quality and complete with artwork, after you order it. Now I’m not sure if I’m sold on spending $14 for a DVD-R of a film I’ve never seen before (and one that has hardly been reviewed at that), but damn do I ever want to see this film. Check out the trailer below and tell me, as a fan of original horror you have the same urge.

What else comes out this week: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles- Criterion Collection, House, M.D. – Season Five, NCIS: The Complete Sixth Season, Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season, One Tree Hill: The Complete Sixth Season, Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season, Californication : The Complete Second Season, Duplicity, Sunshine Cleaning, Lie to Me: Season One, Fighting, The Informers, Wanted Dead or Alive: The Complete Series, The Complete Billy Jack Collection, Children of the Corn [Blu-ray], Rudo Y Cursi, Goodbye Solo.

What to stay away from: Fighting. There were a lot of stupid films released this week. I’ve heard terrible things about The Informers but can anything really stop a god damn film starring Channing Tatum about fighting simply named Fighting? If only all studios were this clever. Too bad Fast and Furious wasn’t simply called Illegal Street Racing. Maybe the world would be a better place.

Catch you later.

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