“Let” Them Entertain You and More New DVDs

“Let” Them Entertain You and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Let Me In” (2010)
Directed by Matt Reeves
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

“Never Let Me Go” (2010)
Directed by Mark Romanek
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Two of 2010’s most underrated films that approach their respective genres from radically different perspectives than most, “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In” and Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go” will finally have the opportunity to stand out on home video. In “Let Me In,” Reeves applies some of his own biographical touchstones for this remake of Tomas Alfredson’s horror film about the unlikely friendship between a vampire (Chloe Moretz) and a lonely young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s much-beloved sci-fi novel about a group of children raised apart from the rest of society for purposes that are unknown to them. (Alison Willmore’s reviews for “Let Me In” and “Never Let Me Go” and her interview with Romanek and Matt Singer’s interview with “Let Me In” composer Michael Giacchino can be found here.)

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2” (2011)
Directed by Alex Zamm
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

Yes, there’s a direct-to-video sequel featuring the George Lopez-voiced tough-talking pooch who must save his owner’s home from foreclosure by entering into a dog show.

“Chain Letter” (2010)
Directed by Deon Taylor
Released by Image Entertainment

“Thirteen” star Nikki Reed and the gruff-voiced Keith David and Brad Dourif star in this horror flick about a high school circle of friends who are killed off one-by-one if they decide against passing along a threatening letter to each other.

“Conviction” (2010)
Directed by Tony Goldwyn
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Hilary Swank stars as Betty Anne Waters, the real-life attorney who went to law school solely to free her brother (a scene-stealing Sam Rockwell) who she believes has been wrongly accused in this drama directed by Tony Goldwyn. (Matt Singer’s interview with Rockwell and my interview with Goldwyn can be found here.)

“Death Tube 2” (2010)
Directed by Yohei Fukuda
Released by Cinema Epoch

Yohei Fukuda directed this second installment in the J-horror series about a group of killers who prey on each other online.

01282011_ElenaUndone.jpg“Elena Undone” (2010)
Directed by Nicole Conn
Released by Wolfe Video

Already noted for breaking the record for the longest onscreen kiss, Nicole Conn’s romantic drama concerns a lesbian author who finds love with the wife of a pastor.

“11 Harrowhouse” (1974)
Directed by Aram Avakian
Released by Shout! Factory

Charles Grodin and Candice Bergen star in this comedy where Grodin plays a diamond cutter whose job divided a top-grade rock turns into his inadvertent involvement in a jewelry heist.

“Farm Girl in New York” (2010)
Directed by J. Robert Spencer
Released by Maverick Entertainment Group

Not surprisingly a favorite of the upstate New York festival circuit in 2008, J. Robert Spencer’s romantic comedy centers on two smalltown guys who take off for the big city and soon find themselves writing a play about their experience as a way to meet women who audition for it.

“Forgotten Pills” (2009)
Directed by David Hefner
Released by Synkronized USA

A winner at last year’s Dances With Films festival, “Hell Ride”‘s Larry Bishop stars in David Hefner’s thriller about a group of friends who decide to raise hell when they have a vial of pills that erases their memory from the night before, though unfortunately it won’t erase the memories of who they harm in the process.

“Giulia Doesn’t Date at Night” (2009)
Directed by Giuseppe Piccioni
Released by Entertainment One

This Valeria Golino romantic drama from Italy about a man whose interest is piqued by his daughter’s mysterious swim teacher (Golino) was originally intended to get a U.S. theatrical release that never came, so this will be the first opportunity for Americans to see the multiple David Di Donatello nominee.

01282011_Hatchet2.jpg“Hatchet II” (2010)
Directed by Adam Green
Released by Dark Sky Films

Since Adam Green’s unrated slasher thriller controversially played less than a week in theaters, it’s fair to say this will also be the first chance for horror fans to see Danielle Harris’ Marybeth take revenge on the swampbound serial killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), with additional creepiness thrown in by Tony Todd’s Reverend Zombie.

“Lucky Lady” (1975)
Directed by Stanley Donen
Released by Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory unearths this 1975 prohibition-set comedy that pits moonshine-runners Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman against each other for the love of Liza Minnelli. Stanley Donen directs from a script by George Lucas collaborators William Huyck and Gloria Katz.

“Mean Girls 2” (2011)
Directed by Melanie Mayron
Released by Paramount Home Video

Although Lindsay Lohan might’ve been up for reprising her role as Cady Heron, only Tim Meadows will be returning for this DTV sequel to the 2004 comedy, which presumably will keep the meanness of high school cliques without neccessarily the wit of Tina Fey. (trailer)

“Monsters” (2010)
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

Now that he’s been tapped to direct a new version of “Godzilla,” it’s high time audiences get familiar with this low-budget sci-fi wonder about a journalist (Scoot McNairy) and his boss’ daughter (Whitney Able) as they travel across Mexico after an alien invasion to a supposedly safe zone just across the U.S. border. (My interview with Edwards and Matt Singer’s consideration of the film is here.)

“Night Catches Us” (2010)
Directed by Tanya Hamilton
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

Tanya Hamilton’s labor of love about stars Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington as Marcus and Pat, two ex-Black Panthers whose romantic reunion in Philadelphia after being apart for the better part of a decade is short-lived, thanks to a current Panther (“The Wire”‘s Jamie Hector) who wants Marcus’ head, a detective (Wendell Pierce) who wants to blackmail him and an unpredictable client (Amari Cheatom) of Pat’s pro bono law practice.

Pre-Code: “Hell Harbor”/”Jungle Bride” (1930/1933)
Directed by Henry King/Harry O. Hoyt
Released by VCI Entertainment

A double bill of uncensored tales of murder and mayhem with a foreign flavor, this set includes “Hell Harbor,” the story of a woman who flees an arranged marriage with an eye toward Havana with an American she falls for, though he’s targeted for murder. “Jungle Bride” also takes place in a tropical locale as a woman convinced of her imprisoned brother’s innocence in a murder takes her fiancé on a hunt to find the real killer and winds up deserted on an island off of South America.

“The Prowler” (1951)
Directed by Joseph Losey
Released by VCI Entertainment

Then-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo helped write the script without credit for this favorite noir of Manny Farber and James Ellroy about a policeman called to the residence of a deejay and his wife and becomes infatuated with the missus while plotting to murder the husband. Matt Zoller Seitz’s video essay gives a taste.

“Quantum Apocalypse” (2010)
Directed by Justin Jones
Released by First Look Pictures

A comet is on a collision course towards Earth and it’s up to four scientists to stop it in this low-budget sci-fi flick.

“Red River” (2010)
Directed by Jacob Ennis
Released by Bloody Earth Films

Not to be confused with the John Wayne classic, Jacob Ennis’ horror film tells the story of Roland Thatcher, a private man in Kentucky who really doesn’t like it when a group of kids begin to encroach on his property.

“Rhineland” (2007)
Directed by Chris Grega
Released by VCI Entertainment

Chris Grega’s 2007 World War II drama focuses on a soldier who is thrust into the heat of conflict and comes to rely on a lieutenant and sergeant who have long since lost the desire to be on the battlefield.

01282011_Skin.jpg“Skin” (2008)
Directed by Anthony Fabian
Released by Entertainment One

A festival favorite, “Hotel Rwanda”‘s Sophie Okonedo stars as Sandra Laing, a black South African born to white parents (Alice Krige and Sam Neill), causing upheaval in her community and her family during apartheid in this true-life drama.

“The Tillman Story” (2010)
Directed by Amir Bar-Lev
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“My Kid Could Paint That” documentarian Bar-Lev demystifies the 2004 death of the NFL star-turned-soldier in Afghanistan. Through interviews with Pat Tillman’s mother Dannie and his widow Marie, as well as friends and fellow soldiers, the film goes into the U.S. military’s cover-up of his death caused by friendly fire and the true heroism of the former Arizona Cardinal that far exceeded the image cultivated by the government in his wake. (Aaron Hillis’ interview with Bar-Lev and my review are here.)

“Welcome to the Rileys” (2010)
Directed by Jake Scott
Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films

This drama stars James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo as Doug and Lois Riley, an Indiana married couple that’s still struggling with the death of their daughter eight years earlier when Doug is shaken out of his stupor by his nonsexual encounter with Kristen Stewart’s lady of the night during a business trip to New Orleans. (Coverage of the film’s premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.)

“A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop” (2010)
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“Hero” director Yimou helmed this rare Chinese remake of an American film with his own spin on the Coen brothers’ “Blood Simple” where the humble owner of a the titular noodle shop in Imperial China plots to murder his unfaithful (and neglected) wife and her lover.

New to Blu-ray: Blake Edwards’ “10”, “An Affair to Remember”, Disney’s 1960 animated classic “Alice in Wonderland”, “All About Eve”, Sean Penn’s “Bad Boys”, “Boys Don’t Cry”, “The Double Life of Veronique” (Criterion), the Forest Whitaker basketball drama “Hurricane Season”, “Pleasantville”, “Ray”, Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Shopping”, “You’ve Got Mail”

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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