Category Archives: DVDs

Sky King

Liam Neeson takes charge on a ticking time bomb with wings

NonStop

Non-Stop

Blu-ray $34.98, DVD $29.98 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

If I’m trapped on a plane about to blow, Liam Neeson is someone I’d want nearby—especially after seeing how he handles that exact scenario in this action-packed thriller, playing a federal air marshal with more than his hands full trying to save his fellow passengers, find the hidden bomb, discover who on board who put it there, and why. Everyone’s a suspect (even Liam!), including Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey, and Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years a Slave. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes look at shooting the stunts and staging the gripping drama inside a 20’ by 30’ set the shape of a tube.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Hillybilly Haven

Fascinating documentary pulls back the curtain on Branson

27.5x40

We Always Lie to Strangers

DVD $19.95 (Virgil Films)

The tourism Mecca of Branson, Mo., with a visitor-to-resident ratio of nearly 900 to 1, is a conservative town with widespread traditional, patriotic, evangelical Christian values often reflected in its many “hillbilly” entertainment offerings. That’s what makes this eye-opening documentary, a film festival favorite five years in the making, so engrossing, as it peels back the curtain on a central cast of characters—performers, the city’s female mayor, and others—whose diversity (and humanity) reveal a town that defies easy local-yokel stereotypes. (And the title, if you’re wondering, comes from an age-old Ozarks expression about tall tales.)

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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The Russians Are Humming

Billy Joel rock ‘n’ rolls back the Iron Curtain

SONY DSCA Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia

Billy Joel

2-CD/Blu-ray, $34.88 (Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings)

In 1987, piano-man superstar Billy Joel was invited to take his show on the road—to Russia, becoming the first American act ever to bring a full-fledged rock ’n’ roll tour to the Soviet Union. His tour, regarded as playing a major role in helping thaw once-chilly international relationships, was documented by a film crew, recorded and widely reported a worldwide news event. Now all the elements of that historic excursion have been remastered and reassembled into one dynamic package: a full-length film of one of the concerts; two live audio CDs of the music; plus the recent two-hour Showtime documentary about the tour, and a book with photos and notes from writers and journalists who were there.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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More Lies

Secrets, scandals and surprises abound in ‘Pretty Little Liars’

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Fourth Season

DVD $59.98 (Warner Home Entertainment)

 

A clique of teenage girls (Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Tyler Blackburn and Lucy Hale) falls apart after the death of their “queen bee” leader. But is she really dead? Who is “Red Coat”? And is that really actress-singer Nia Peeples making a guest appearance? (Yes!) Welcome to the secrets, scandals and surprises in the fictional Pennsylvania hamlet of Rosewood and Pretty Little Liars, the hit ABC Family TV drama based on the popular young-adult fiction series by Sara Shepard. Now you can binge watch all 24 episodes of last season—just before the new one begins June 10—and catch up on all the lies, lies, lies!

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Love Bytes

‘Her’ raises questions about our connections to technology

Her

Her

Blu-ray Combo Pack $35.99 / DVD $28.98 (Warner Bros. Home Entetainment)

 

What does it mean to be in love? What senses are involved? Is it possible to love someone who isn’t there—who isn’t really “someone” at all? Director Spike Jonze’s provocative, critically acclaimed futuristic tale of a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer’s new artificially intelligent operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), raises all sorts of questions about technology and our growing relationship to it—and also becomes a surprisingly sweet, sensitive ode to the basic, timeless human need to connect. It also features Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde, an Oscar-winning original screenplay, and a captivating Oscar-nominated song by Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Clooney & Co.

WWII ‘mission’ movie has a modern-day message

Monuments Men

The Monuments Men

Blu-ray $40.99, DVD $30.99 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

 

Co-writer, director and star George Clooney’s tribute to the real-life men and women who put their lives on the line to recover and return the cultural treasures stolen by Nazis during World War II is a rollicking, Hollywood actor-packed mash-up of old-fashioned combat “mission” movie crossed with a modern-day message about the casualties of war that extend far beyond the battlefield. Based on a book of the same name by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter, it comes with behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film, the real Monuments Men, and the cast, which also includes Bill Murray, Matt Damon, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Sweet!!!

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ celebrates 10th anniversary

Napoleon Dynamite 10th

Napoleon Dynamite: 10th Anniversary Edition

Blu-ray $19.98 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

 

The quirky cult-classic comedy about a socially awkward Idaho teen with a tight ’fro, a fondness for tots (tater), a pet llama named Tina and a lamentable lack of “skills” (e.g., numchuck, bow hunting, computer hacking) celebrates “10 sweet years” with a Blu-ray + DVD combo (packaged in faux “liger”—lion plus tiger—fur) and a load of bonus features, including commentary with actor Jon Heder and director/writer Jared Hess, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette. And hey, don’t forget: Vote for Pedro!

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Life on ‘Mars’

Fan fervor revives cult favorite on big screen

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars

Blu-ray $29.98, DVD $28.98 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

 

Veronica Mars, a young super sleuth played by Kristen Bell, had many a prime-time close call and built up a sizeable TV following before the network bid her farewell in 2007. Earlier this year, however, due to fan clamor, Bell and the show’s creator, Rob Thomas, brought Veronica back in a full-length movie that also featured most of the series’ other original cast members. A selection of Blu-ray features, including a making-of doc, gag reel and on-set shenanigans with the actors and crew, make this home release a must-have for the Veronica faithful.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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‘Sorcerer’ Returns

Roy Scheider stars in director William Friedkin’s ’70s cult thriller

Sorcerer

Sorcerer

Blu-ray $27.95 / DVD $12.96 (Warner Home Video)

 

This 1977 thriller from director William Friedkin, who was coming off an Oscar-winning hot streak of The French Connection and The Exorcist, wove together four desperate characters in a suspenseful saga about international refugees in a South American jungle hellhole who take on a dangerous job for hire because each of them had nothing else to lose. It was never a big hit, maybe because it only had one recognizable star (Roy Jaws Scheider), possibly because audiences were misled by the title to expect something “supernatural” from the director who’d just made a film about the devil. It did go on, however, to find a cult following, and this new Blu-ray restoration—which comes with a 40-page book of color photos from the production—brings it back to all its grungy glory and sweat-soaked ’70s splendor.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Dreaming & Doing

Ben Stiller directs & stars in charming rom-com-adventure remake

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Blu-ray $39.98, DVD $29.98 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

 

Most modern-day viewers are too young to remember the original movie with this title, a 1947 adventure-comedy romp starring Danny Kaye. Here Ben Stiller takes the same basic premise and runs with it, directing and starring in this delightful and fanciful tale of a timid LIFE magazine photo editor who gets a little too caught up in his daydreams—until his daydreams become an amazing, life-changing real adventure. Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn round out the cast, and the bounty of bonus content includes several deleted and alternate scenes and behind-the-scenes mini-features about the making of the movie.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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