If you’ve been itching for a good rental, you’re in luck — even the gambles this week are near Fresh on the Tomatometer! Quentin Tarantino fans already know to look for his Death Proof on shelves today; you’re also in store for a wide variety of new discs, from a director-approved epic (Troy) to a critically-lauded Hong Kong gangster pic (Triad Election), with a British horror-comedy (Severance) and a landmark documentary box set (The Up Series ) to boot.
The day has come! Quentin Tarantino‘s diesel-fueled half of Grindhouse is the first of the two to be released in extended versions (look for Robert Rodriguez‘s zombie outbreak film Planet Terror in October), making this our most anticipated DVD release of the week. Watch 25 additional minutes of the scarred and psychotic Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalking two set of lovely ladies in his “death proof” muscle car; this extended version screened in competition at Cannes and includes more of QT’s signature snappy dialogue, plus Arlene’s (Vanessa Ferlito) full lapdance scene set to the smoky sounds of the Coasters’ “Down in Mexico.” Although we’ll have to wait for an inevitable super-duper Grindhouse DVD edition to peep all those awesome fake trailers, this one’s got a second disc full of behind-the-scenes featurettes (Stunts on Wheels, Finding Quentin’s Girls, Introducing Zoe Bell, and more).
Wolfgang Peterson‘s $180 million epic aimed to bring Homer’s battle tome The Iliad to the big screen in grand measure, and it certainly did so with sweeping combat scenes and plenty of good old fashioned Trojan intrigue. But critics wanted more heart to go with the beautiful beefcake landscape of Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana; accordingly, emotional resonance is one improvement that Peterson claims to have added to his unrated director’s cut. In a brief introduction to the new edition, the director also promises over 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage and hints at more sex and violence. While this does extend the original runtime of two hours and 43 minutes to a whopping 201-minute marathon, sword-and-sandal enthusiasts should appreciate the TLC Peterson’s shoved into the version of Troy that he’d “always envisioned.”
A corporate team-building getaway turns into a deliciously funny nightmare when the Palisades Defense sales team starts getting killed one by one; critics call the Brit horror-comedy a mix between The Office and Hostel!
Hong Kong director Johnnie To serves up Godfather-esque gangster drama with his continuation of 2005’s Election. This time, new Triad boss Lok is plotting his own sly re-election, but a new rival wants to set the family towards legit business; bloody double-crossings ensue. While many critics thoroughly enjoyed the film’s prequel, most praise Triad Election as an equal, if not better, film.
Fans of Michael Apted‘s Up series should salivate at the chance to own all seven installments of the remarkable documentary series in one box set. What started in 1964 to track the socio-economic paths of young Britons (checking in on the same set of kids every seven years) has now taken viewers into the middle ages of its subjects. Special features include a 42 Up commentary track and an exclusive interview by Roger Ebert of Apted (who has continued to film the series between directing Hollywood flicks like Gorillas in the Mist, Nell, and the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
Other Safe Bets This Week
Controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville) gets considerably more accessible with this comedy about a company owner who hires an actor to play his firm’s nonexistent boss. Also interesting is von Trier’s pioneering use of the “Automavision” system to film, in which he set only the camera position and then let a computer select framing settings (“tilt, pan, and zoom”) at random. Oh, that Lars!
The 1972 cautionary camping classic is given the deluxe treatment with this new edition, rife with newly filmed cast and crew interviews, a “vintage” 1972 behind-the-scenes featurette titled The Dangerous World of Deliverance, and a new commentary by director John Boorman.
Beside being the first writing credit of Heroes co-exec producer Jeph Loeb, 1985’s Commando starred California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger the first of many gun-toting brawn-fests. As the improbably-named John Matrix, Ahnuld smells bad guys coming, wields circular saws like Frisbees, and delivers so-bad-its-good puns left and right. A thirteen-year-old Alyssa Milano stars as his feisty kidnapped daughter. Theme song by Power Station.
Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones (This Boy’s Life, Basic Instinct 2) shot on location to film this fictionalized account of an English teacher (Hugh Dancy) and a priest (John Hurt) trying to protect refugees during the Rwandan genocide.
Besides giving you another look at Michael Douglas‘s Oscar-winning performance as the venomous, utterly quotable corporate raider Gordon Gekko, this 20th anniversary edition boasts a new commentary (and deleted scene commentaries) by director Oliver Stone and two featurettes (Greed is Good and Money Never Sleeps – The Making of Wall Street).
If you don’t already know what this experimental doc is about (or haven’t heard of the infamous real-life incident on which it is based), suffice to say this film gives a whole new meaning to being an animal lover…
This feel-bad, then feel-good Matthew McConaughey football pic is fine, but can a little pigskin drama make the grief of tragedy go away?
Until next week, happy renting!