Jai Ho it up with the DVD debut of Danny Boyle’s multiple Oscar-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire! It’s also your week to catch films you might have missed in theaters, from Jennifer Aniston’s tale of puppy love (Marley & Me) to the latest heart-wrencher from Will Smith (Seven Pounds). Those who dare to go foreign will be justly rewarded with two well-reviewed imports (the French thriller Tell No One and the Spanish sci-fi Timecrimes), while art-house devotees have two remastered Wong Kar-Wai films to choose from (Happy Together and Fallen Angels). Horror fans have an octet of new flicks to check out (After Dark Horror Fest 8 Films to Die For)…and did we mention the sweet new Blu-ray that should be on the top of any philosophical cyberpunk’s wishlist (The Matrix 10th Anniversary Blu-ray Digibook)?
Jai Ho it up this week with the multiple Oscar-winning feel-good hit, Slumdog Millionaire! Danny Boyle‘s Dickensian Best Picture-winner, about an Indian working-class hero who competes on the Hindi version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, won over audiences and critics last year thanks to energetic filmmaking, a sweetly romantic story, and its exotic, catchy soundtrack. (That end-sequence Bollywood number, set to composer A.R. Rahman’s Oscar-winning song, “Jai Ho,” didn’t hurt either; even Ellen DeGeneres couldn’t resist recreating the dance on her daytime talk show.) If you missed the Little Film That Could in theaters (it narrowly avoided the ignominy of a direct-to-video release), you can bring it home today and relive all the feel-goodness of our most recent Oscar season.
Slumdog Millionaire comes to DVD in single-disc and Blu-ray releases. I know, single-disc; these days getting just one disc in a new release seems a bit skimpy, but Fox Home Entertainment has actually packed a decent host of extras here, including a commentary track by Best Director Boyle and star Dev Patel and a second commentary with writer Simon Beaufoy and producer Christian Colson (both of whom won Oscars for their work). The DVD also includes a dozen deleted scenes. On Blu-ray you’ll get the above, plus additional behind-the-scenes featurettes, a music video, and a short film by newbie Rahi Anil Bharve (Manjha) which was hand-picked by Boyle.
Want more of the Bollywood-meets-Hollywood genre? Check out Desperate Housewives hottie Jesse Metcalfe in the cross-global romance The Other End of the Line (27%), in which he romances Bollywood star Shriya Saran.
Below, watch an exclusive deleted scene from Slumdog Millionaire.
Next: Aniston, Wilson, and Marley & Me
Everyone knows there’s nothing cuter than a puppy, a fact well-exploited by the filmmakers behind Marley & Me. (If you haven’t seen it yet, we recommend you do your best to avoid spoilers.) Based on the non-fiction bestseller by John Grogan, Marley & Me follows a couple (Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson) and their adventures with their beloved-but-rambunctious yellow Labrador, Marley. Though critics called it only sporadically funny, this sentimental flick is a must-see for pet owners and animal-lovers — especially the kind that lets their dogs kiss them on the mouth. (It’s really unsanitary, people.) Pick up the 2-Disc Bad Dog Edition for a ton of extended/deleted scenes, a director commentary, making-of featurettes, a PSA for animal adoption, a gag reel, and more.
Next: Will Smith in Seven Pounds
Superstar Will Smith has got range to rival any working actor in Hollywood (Six Degrees of Separation — drama! Independence Day — action! Ali — boxing!) and part of what’s impressive about him is his ever-varying career path. Unfortunately for Smith, he decided to follow up his blockbuster flicks I Am Legend and Hancock with Seven Pounds, a gimmicky thriller about an auditor on a secret mission involving seven strangers — a twisty, complicated schmaltz fest that critics tore to pieces. Deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes (including one on a particularly deadly species of jellyfish) and a commentary by director Gabriele Muccino (who directed Smith in the superior Pursuit of Happyness) accompany the film.
Next: French thrills in Tell No One
You may not have heard of this French import thriller, but the fact that it made numerous critics’ Top Ten lists last year should be reason to check it out this week on DVD. Eight years after his wife’s murder, a doctor (Francoise Cluzet) is pulled into a web of intrigue when his dead wife resurfaces, alive and well. Actor-director Guillaume Canet helms this twisty thriller, with a supporting cast led by Kristin Scott Thomas, Francois Berleand (the Transporter trilogy), and Marie-Josée Croze (Munich‘s Dutch assassin).
Next: A time-travel movie that actually makes sense!
First time director Nacho Vigalondo (who earned an Oscar nomination for his 2003 short film, 7:35 de la Mañana) makes an impressive feature-length debut with Timecrimes, a Spanish-language science-fiction black comedy about one ordinary man who, thanks to a fateful encounter with a time travel machine, must contend with and battle alternate versions of himself. Critics loved the lo-fi thriller, noting that — against all odds — its sci-fi logic just might make the most sense of any time travel movie ever made. Hollywood liked Timecrimes, too — an English-language remake is already in the works. See the original this week and get a jump on your fellow movie geeks.
Next: Don’t even try to pronounce it – Cthulhu
Based on the H.P. Lovecraft novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth, this indie horror pic follows a history professor (Jason Cottle) to his Pacific Northwest home town, where he becomes embroiled in a local New Age cult who he believes plans a mass human sacrifice. The townsfolk are a weird bunch — Tori Spelling plays one, for example (and sexually assaults our hero to boot, blech) — who worship a fabled sea creature. While more gay panic allegory than straight up science fiction, Cthulhu will find its own cult audience among Lovecraft geeks, who incidentally are the only ones with any clue as to how you pronounce “Cthulhu.”
Next: Two classic Vincente Minnelli musicals come to Blu-ray
It’s hard to say what portion of the Blu-ray audience will overlap with the demographic for these classic musicals, but if you’re a Playstation 3-owning grandma, have we got the new releases for you! Golden Age auteur Vincente Minnelli directed actress Leslie Caron in both films (both also written by the writing team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe), which have been given the Blu-ray treatment in honor of Warner Bros.’ 85th Anniversary. In An American in Paris (1951), Caron gets wooed by American expatriate Gene Kelly to Gershwin tunes like “I Got Rhythm,” “S’Wonderful,” and “Our Love is Here To Stay.” In Gigi (1958), Caron is a turn-of-the-century Parisian girl being groomed as a courtesan who falls for Louis Jordan (AKA Kamal Khan from Octopussy). Both Blu-ray releases include extras ported over from their previous 2-Disc Special Editions, which are great for fans of Old Hollywood.
Next: A Wong Kar-Wai double bill — Happy Together and Fallen Angels
Lyrical filmmaker Wong-Kar Wai made his international breakthrough with this tragic romance about an on-and-off gay Chinese couple living as expatriates in Argentina. Working with the late Hong Kong pop star Leslie Cheung (who had previously starred in Wong’s Days of Being Wild and Ashes of Time) as the promiscuous Po-Wing, and fellow Wong collaborator Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Ashes of Time, In the Mood For Love, 2046) as his lover, Lai Yiu-Fai, Wong won the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The new Kino Special Edition offers a remastered cut of the film, a previously-released making-of documentary, trailers and stills, and a 2008 feature from Wong Kar-Wai’s career retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image.
The director’s 1995 film about a Hong Kong hitman and his agent, Fallen Angels (95%), is also available on a new Special Edition this week.
Next: The After Dark HorrorFest III collection
Horror fans have eight new titles to look forward to, as the third annual After Dark HorrorFest slate comes to DVD. Horrors range from cannibals (Slaughter) to cults (Perkins’ 14), to unnecessary sequels (The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations), and include Korean horror (Voices) and pics with familiar faces (Autopsy, starring Robert Patrick , Michael Bowen, and 90210’s Jessica Lowndes). Rounding out the octet are an Australian outback flick (Dying Breed, starring Saw scribe Leigh Whannell), a suicide thriller (From Within, featuring Rumer Willis and The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ Thomas Dekker), and the Lena Headey vehicle The Broken, which is surprisingly helmed by Brit newcomer Sean Ellis (Cashback).
Next: Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The Matrix!
There may be no spoon, but this week, there is a must-have Blu-ray: The Matrix 10th Anniversary Blu-ray Book, which brings the essential existential sci-fi adventure to Blu-ray for the first time as a single-film release. Of course, if you already own either the Matrix Trilogy or Ultimate Matrix Collections on Blu-ray, this will be an unnecessary addition to your library — but if not, take advantage of this title, which comes in digibook packaging that includes a 47-page booklet crammed with Matrix trivia. Special features on the Blu-ray are plentiful and include a digital copy of the film, four expert commentary tracks, a feature-length documentary and much more.
Until next week, happy renting!