DVD Update for week of Aug. 3

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., August 3:


    “Scalene,” is Zack Parker’s enigmatic, edgy thriller, starring Emmy Award-winner Margo Martindale (“Justified,” “A Gifted Man”) as a mother with a mentally handicapped son (Adam Scarimbolo) and his caregiver (Hanna Hall).

    Morgan Spurlock’s witty, comedic documentary, “Mansome,” looks at men’s self-image and identity through the exploration of their idiosyncratic grooming habits, while “Gone: The Disappearance of Aeryn Gillern” focuses on a mother desperate search for a former Mr. Gay Australia and why the Viennese police will not assist her.

    In “Mysteria,” a washed-up, whiskey-soaked screenwriter (Robert Miano) finds himself the center of a police inquiry into the murder of a prominent politician’s wife by hard-nosed investigators (Danny Glover, Michael Rooker).

    Can reality television save the marriage of a bickering couple (Christy Scott Cashman. Jay Harrington) counseled by “The Love Guide,” a hippie-yogi, personal growth TV guru (Parker Posey) who lives in the moment with only the slightest grasp of reality? You guess.

    And sci-fi fans will enjoy “Extraterrestrial,” a dark romantic comedy by the Spanish director Nacho Viglondo.

    For pre-schoolers, “Timmy Time: Happy Birthday Timmy” finds the mischievous lamb celebrating in the barnyard.

    PICK OF THE WEEK:  Set in the titular French port, legendary Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki’s uplifting, warm-hearted “Le Havre” is revolves around a down-on-his-luck shoeshine man (Andre Wilms) and his ailing wife (Kati Outinen) who befriend an African lad (Blondin Miguel) who’s being hunted by the police for deportation after escaping from a ship container filled with illegal immigrants from Gabon.

DVD Update: week of July 27

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., July 27:


   Considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef, 85 year-old Jiro Ono is the focus of David Gelb’s savory documentary, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”  And concentrating on New Mexico’s iconic chile pepper, “Genetic Chile” is Chris Dudley’s in-depth look at the dangers of genetically modified food and the corporate takeover of the world’s food supply, causing increases in hunger and poverty, while “Patriocracy” is Brian Malone’s non-partisan examination of Congress’s dysfunctional polarization.

    Adapted from Mark Ethridge’s novel “Grievances,” the whodunit “Deadline” details the true story of an investigative journalist (Steve Talley) who uncovers the murder of a young African-American boy in rural Alabama that has gone uninvestigated, unsolved and unpunished for almost 20 years.

    Elizabeth Olsen stars in the frightfully forced, single-take horror thriller “Silent House” as a troubled young woman whose visit to her father’s isolated lake house is haunted by memories. And in the action-thriller “Deserter,” an Englishman in the French Foreign Legion learns that you can desert everything and everyone but yourself.

    Rick Faugano from the hit musical “The Jersey Boys” stars in the comedy “Virgin Alexander,” playing an aimless 26 year-old scrap hauler who has 10 days to come up with $125,000 to save a house left to him by his grandfather and decides to operate it as a brothel, even though he’s still a virgin.

    Joseph Cedar’s Israeli film “Footnote” – in Hebrew with English subtitles – centers on a curmudgeonly Talmudic scholar who is erroneously announced as winner of the Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor for academics, while Paul Van der Oest’s “Black Butterflies” is the story of South African poet Ingrid Jonker.

    Collectors will enjoy three new, affordably priced editions to TCM’s “Classic Legends” collection: Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart, along with “Greatest Gangster Films” with Humphrey Bogart.

    PICK OF THE WEEK:  Adapted from Terence Rattigan’s play, Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea” stars Rachel Weisz as an unhappily married, upper class British woman whose obsessive, passionate affair with a Royal Air Force pilot (Tom Hiddleston) may be her undoing.

DVD Update: July 20

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., July 20:


    Edgy and amusing, Jennifer Westfeldt’s “Friends With Kids” is filled with timely, perceptive observations about the nature of friendship and the definition of 21st century family.

    Set in 2079, the sinister sci-fi thriller “Lockout” finds Guy Pearce as a falsely convicted government agent who’s promised freedom if he can rescue the President’s daughter (Maggie Grace) trapped by ferocious killers in an outer-space maximum-security prison.

    Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games”) is “The Forger,” a troubled, homeless 15 year-old who lands in Carmel-by-the-Sea, an art community where he’s lured into the underground world of forgery, and Michael Sheen stars in “Jesus Henry Christ” revolving around a misfit 10 year-old genius and his fervently left-wing mother (Toni Collette).

    In TinselTown, some people take the ride, others have to drive – as David Arquette and Bijou Phillips discover in the surreal “Black Limousine.”

    A low-budget vanity project set in Mexico, Will Ferrell’s ridiculous “Casa de mi Padre” is a racist, repulsive spoof on Spanish telenovas, while “The Three Stooges” is the Farrelly brothers’ frantic, foolishly funny re-creation of the manic trio and their characteristic slapstick comedy. And for authenticity, “Three Stooges Celebration” features the original Larry, Moe and Curly in a 2-DVD collection.

    “Forbidden Hollywood” revives many sexy, provocative, uncensored films from the pre-Production Code era (1929-34), and Volumes 4 & 5 includes Jimmy Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck and William Powell, among others.

    Lutz Hachmeister’s documentary “Three Stars” reveals the drama and rituals of 10 esteemed chefs who have earned the coveted Michelin three-star rating.

    In English and Armenian, “Here” chronicles a brief but intense relationship between an American satellite-mapping engineer and an expatriate photographer who travel into uncharted territory.

    “Kids Get Movin’” is the newest title in children’s yoga series, and “Scooby-Doo! Laff-A-Lympics: Spooky Games” invents wacky sporting events.

    PICK OF THE WEEK: Lasse Halstrom’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor), is a whimsical, offbeat comedy that surprises and delights, as a visionary Yemeni sheik persuades a skeptical British bureaucrat to bring his favorite sport to his Middle Eastern country.


DVD Update for week of July 13

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., July 13:


    Each summer, fantasy fans gather in San Diego at what started as a comic book convention and has grown into a major pop culture event, chronicled in Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fans’ Hope,” following five attendees as they descended upon the ultimate geek mecca in 2010.

    The libidinous high school gang (Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari) reconnects in “American Reunion” with Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy supplying laughs.

    From the producers of “Animal Kingdom,” Willem Dafoe is “The Hunter,” a mercenary hired by a secretive European biotech company to stalk the last surviving Tasmanian tiger, while “Fightville” is a revealing look at what it takes to be a champion in the World of Mixed Martial Arts.

    Set during Japan’s 1937 invasion of China, “Flowers of War” stars Christian Bale as an opportunistic American who takes shelter in a Roman Catholic convent school called Winchester Cathedral.

    Steve Balderson’s “The Casserole Club” focuses on a neighborly yet competitive group of 1960s housewives determined to be ‘the hostess with the moistest.’

    In Japanese with English subtitles, “Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog” is based on the true story of a golden Labrador retriever who became a dedicated seeing-eye dog for the blind.

    Baseball enthusiasts can re-live Johan Santana’s no-hitter with “Baseball’s Greatest Games: New York Mets First No-Hitter,” featuring the original broadcast – in English or Spanish.

    For preschoolers, there are lessons to be learned in “Barney: All About Opposites,” “Timmy Time: Happy Birthday” and “Thomas & Friends: Schoolhouse Delivery,” along with “Sesame Street: Elmo’s Magic Numbers.”

    PICK OF THE WEEK:  After the success of “You Can Count On Me, writer/director Kenneth Lonergan made “Margaret” with Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo and Matthew Broderick – but it was shelved because of a battle between art and money, a clash of creative visions. This new DVD contains two different cuts of the film – Lonergan’s theatrical cut and a longer, three-hour-plus extended version.  Whether it’s a curiosity or a masterpiece is in the eye of the beholder.

DVD Update: July 6

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., July 6:


    Timed to the upcoming release of “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Christopher Nolan Blu-Ray Collection” includes five of the director’s most defining films, along with a premium book of production stills.

    In Bobcat Goldthwait’s “God Bless America,” desperate Joel Murray pairs up with teenage Tara Lynne Barr who shares his rage and disenfranchisement, embarking on a nation-wide assault on our country’s dumbest, most irritating celebrities.

    A teenage girl must begin a new life while keeping her dark past a secret in “Hiding,” a thriller revolving around the Witness Protection Program, while “Almost Kings” is an edgy drama centered on a young man’s following in his destructive brother’s footsteps.

    A glamorous American movie star who wants to keep the press away from her wedding decides to hold the event on the remote Scottish island of Hegg in “The Decoy Bride,” a romantic comedy featuring Alice Eve and David Tennant.

    “My Reincarnation” is a unique father/son epic, revolving around Namkhai Norbyu Rinpoche, a high Tibetan Buddhist Master whose son Yeshi was recognized as the reincarnation of Rinpoche’s uncle, a famous Dzogchen master, and Yeshi’s period of rebellion before accepting his spiritual destiny.

    Families can join Sam-I-Am for “Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories: Deluxe Edition” on Blu-ray, and cat lovers may enjoy “Miss Minoes,” based on Annie M.G. Schmidt’s fable starring TV’s “Game of Thrones” priestess Carice Van Houton. 

    For foreign film aficionados, there’s “Attenberg,” Athina Rachel Tsangari’s humorous and touching Greek coming-of-age story, starring Ariane Labed, who won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.

    And for those with long memories, Roy Rogers and his faithful horse Trigger save the day with guts, gusto and song in the classic Western “Springtime in the Sierras.”

    PICK OF THE WEEK: Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham star in “Oranges and Sunshine,” Jim Loach’s deeply moving study of emotionally scarred adults who were kidnapped and illegally deported as children from Britain to Australia in the 1940s and 1950s, delving into their poignant, plaintive quest to find out “who I am.”

DVD Update for week of June 29

Susan Granger’s DVD UPDATE FOR WEEK OF June 29:


    Reviving and re-inventing the 1987 action-comedy franchise, “21 Jump Street” introduces Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as recent Police Academy grads assigned to go undercover in high school.

    “Mirror, Mirror” is Tarsem Singh’s campy, revisionist take on the Snow White tale, featuring flamboyant Julia Roberts as the subversively Evil Queen and Lily Collins as the fabled heroine.

    The demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) faces his heroic destiny in the action-packed “Wrath of the Titans,” emerging as tediously bland and banal, lacking the excitement and suspense one would expect when the dangerous Titans rise up and threaten to overthrow the gods of Olympus.

    Righteous Kathleen Turner vies for her parish’s Catholic Woman of the Year in the quirky, crackling dramedy “The Perfect Family,” as faith triumphs over religion.

    Strange characters hide from 1930s gangsters and get lost in their own mania in Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s surreal “Keyhole” with Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier.

    In Eddie Murphy’s lame comedy “A Thousand Words,” he plays a self-absorbed literary agent who is spiritually cursed because of his shallow foibles.

    For history buffs, “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded: Season Two” explores the hidden codes and symbols that surround us – from the Declaration of Independence to Mt. Rushmore to Fort Knox.

    If you enjoy “Game of Thrones,” consider “Arn: The Complete Series,” an epic tale of war and intrigue, friendship and betrayal set in Sweden and the Middle East, filled with brave knights, powerful queens and treacherous kings.

    An Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film, “Bullhead” stars Matthias Schoenaerts as a bulked-up Belgian cattleman who gets involved with the underworld of chemically enhanced farming, combining meat with machismo. The lighthearted French comedy “Queen of Hearts” marks the directorial debut of actress Valerie Donzelli, who about a thirtysomething woman who is recovering from a painful romantic breakup.

    PICK OF THE WEEK: This year’s Oscar-winning “The Artist” is Michel Hazanavicius’ imaginative, inventive fantasy about the advent of talking pictures (1927-1931), starring Jean Dujardin as a flamboyant silent-pictures matinee idol who falls in love with a fun-loving flapper (Berenice Bejo).

DVD Update for week of June 22

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., June 22:

    Chaos reigns in “Project X,” a crude teen comedy about an unsupervised 17th birthday celebration filled with reckless revelers, a party that was unwittingly initiated by sex-starved Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown.

    In the silly rom-com “Wanderlust,” Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd are a stressed-out Manhattan couple who, en route to Atlanta, stumble on Elysium, a seemingly idyllic, rural Utopia, run by a resident guru (Justin Theroux) and filled with colorful, carefree eccentrics.

    Two good-natured slackers (Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig) are forced to grow up in “A Bag of Hammers” when parenthood is thrust upon them in the form of an abandoned 12 year-old (Chandler Canterbury).

    Nicolas Cage stars in “Seeking Justice” as a happily married man whose life is turned upside-down when his wife (January Jones) is brutally attacked one night and he’s approached by a stranger (Guy Pearce) offering to arrange to have a complete stranger exact vengeance – for a price.

    Set in snowy Kenosha, Wisconsin, “Thin Ice” is a crime saga about a shady insurance agent (Greg Kinnear) whose scheme to steal a valuable violin from an unsuspecting old geezer (Alan Arkin) gets derailed by a volatile burglar-alarm installer (Billy Crudup).

    The Duplass brothers’  “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is an absurdist art-house comedy, detailing a cosmic incident in the drab life of a stoner (Jason Segel).

    Paralleling the life of a legend and the birth of cinema, “Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies” chronicles how she became the first and only movie star ever to command 50% of a film’s revenue.

    For French film aficionados, “My Afternoons With Margueritte” relates the subtly compassionate relationship between a lonely, illiterate construction worker (Gerard Depardieu) and a fragile, elderly lady (Gisele Casadesus) who reads aloud to him on a park bench.

    PICK OF THE WEEK: As told by a young Inuit boy, the family-friendly, feel-good “Big Miracle” reveals the real-life rescue by a local TV newscaster (John Krasinski) and an avid Greenpeace organizer (Drew Barrymore) of three stranded gray whales, trapped under the ice near Barrow, Alaska.

DVD Update for week of June 15

Susan Granger’s DVD UPDATE for week of June 15:


    Picking up where the last film left off, the sassy, stylish “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” finds Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) recalling his 1891 “last case” with genius detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.), whose manic, eccentric behavior verges on psychotic.

    Set in New Orleans, “A Little Bit of Heaven” is a romantic comedy in which a fatally ill, yet relentlessly cheery advertising exec (Kate Hudson) falls in love with her Mexican/Jewish oncologist (Gael Garcia Bernal).

    Gleefully over-the-top tasteless, Troma’s “Father’s Day” follows a boy who, after watching his father raped and murdered, grows into a vengeful killer, while Vincent D’Onofrio’s “Don’t Go in the Woods” is a twisted hybrid slasher-musical, co-written by veteran singer/songwriter Sam Bishee.

    Narrated by Ewan McGregor, “Fastest” is the highly anticipated documentary sequel to “Faster,” capturing the thrilling, terrifying world of competitive motorcycle racing.

    In “Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance,” Mandy Patinkin reveals how visionary choreographers challenged convention and founded one of the world’s most exciting and prominent ballet companies. And “Give Me the Banjo” is a musical odyssey through 200 years of American banjo history and culture, highlighted by performances from Earl Scruggs, bela Fleck, Pete Seeger and Steve Martin.

    Another documentary, “Something’s Gonna Live,” is Daniel Raim’s intimate portrait of the last generation of production designers, cinematographers and storyboard illustrators whose techniques and wisdom constitute a “master class” for today’s filmmakers.

    Foreign film aficionados should find Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness,” a harrowing, intense true story about a brave Polish sewer inspector who repeatedly risked his life to hide a small group of Jews in the dank, rat-infested subterranean tunnels of Lvov during W.W. II.

    For preschoolers, there’s “Awesome Adventures: Races, Chases & Fun” with Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder, plus “Angelina Ballerina: Musical Moves,” “Babar: the Classic Series: The Complete First Season,” and “My First Collection, Vol. 3, Featuring Chicken Little.”

    PICK OF THE WEEK: Doug Tirola’s intriguing “All In- The Poker Movie,” celebrates the worldwide poker renaissance and documents a popular way to chase the American Dream.

DVD Update for week of June 8

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., June 8:


    In “Safe House,” Denzel Washington plays a rogue CIA agent-turned-traitor on the loose in Cape Town, South Africa, playing an explosive cat-and-mouse game with an ambitious rookie (Ryan Reynolds).

    Surprisingly humorless “John Carter” is a sci-fi fantasy about a battle-scarred Civil War veteran (Taylor Kitsch) who winds up battling evil forces on Mars.

    Based on a true story, Mark Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher” stars Gerard Butler as an ex-biker-gang member who winds up saving hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children in East Africa.

    Made with the cooperation of Navy SEALS in order to build their enlistment ranks, “Act of Valor” is a true-to-life action documentary, demonstrating how the secretive commando forces work and the sacrifices they make to combat global terrorism.

    “John Mellencamp: It’s About You” follows the singer on tour and in the recording studio, giving a perceptive, inside look at the man behind the beloved songs.

    Narrated by Alan Cumming and featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Norman Mailer and Michael Cunningham, “PTown Diaries” profiles provocative Provincetown, Massachusetts, known for being the “freest place in America.”

    Mark Wexler’s intriguing “How to Live Forever” investigates what it means to grow old as it unlocks the secrets of a long and meaningful life, complete with tips from exercise gurus to insights of funeral directors and food critics.

    When the 76th Masters ended on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, a 33 year-old Bubba Watson triumphed; see it all on the commemorative “Highlights of the 2012 Masters Tournament.”

    Before Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy,” there was a homicide detective, stationed in the small city of Ystad on the Southern coast of Sweden by the name of Kurt Wallander – and his fascinating exploits are chronicled in “Henning Mankell’s Wallander,” direct from Swedish television.

        PICK OF THE WEEK:  Combining imaginative elements of Jules Verne, Jonathan Swift and Robert Louis Stevenson, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”  chronicles the adventure of a lifetime as a Midwestern teen (Josh Hutcherson) and his stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) trace a coded radio message to find the boy’s long-lost grandfather (Michael Caine) in the South Pacific.



DVD Update for week of June 1

Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of Fri., June 1:


    “Gone” is a psychological thriller, positioning Amanda Seyfried as a waitress who seems all too familiar with the maniac who abducted her sister in the Pacific Northwest.

    On the other hand, “Goon” is a dramedy, starring “American Pie’s” Seann William Scott as an amiable, mild-mannered minor-league hockey enforcer.

    “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a ponderously sinister story about the relationship between a guilt-ridden mother (Tilda Swinton) and her malevolent teenage son (Ezra Miller), exploring nature vs. nurture, suggesting neither parents nor society is to blame when a child is – quite simply – born evil.

    Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut in a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” starring as the arrogant, disdainful Roman General at odds with the city of Rome and his fellow citizens when he’s pushed by his controlling, ambitious mother (Vanessa Redgrave).

    Like biopics? William Sudler-Smith’s “Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston” peeks inside the life and times of Roy Halston Frowick, America’s first celebrity designer, while “Worried About the Boy” is Julian Jarrold’s biopic of George O’Dowd, better known as Boy George.

    “Dawn of the Dead” analyzes the rise of the San Francisco psychedelic underground and its definitive band, The Grateful Dead, while Susanne Rostock’s  “Harry Balafonte: Sing Your Song” reveals the beloved calypso singer, actor and activist.

     On the lighter side: “History of the World in Two Hours” condenses 13.7 billion years in a rapid-fire view of history; it’s an epic story that reveals surprising connections to our daily lives.

    From Troma, “Purge” goes to a utilitarian, genetically engineered parallel universe; “Kill” six strangers, winners of a dream vacation contest, wake up to unspeakable terror; and “Where Evil Lives” presents three 30-minute horror stories, as told by Jack Devlin (Claude Akins).

    Looking ahead to Father’s Day, “The Lethal Weapon Collection” has five-discs, comprising all four films, along with documentaries and music videos.

    PICK OF THE WEEK: American history meets fantasy in “Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island,” a newly updated version, as five northern Civil War POWs hijack a hot-air balloon in Richmond, Virginia, and wake up marooned on a desert island, filled with survivors who have been lost in space and time.