It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means. New DVD releases! This week we have 2007’s Best Foreign Oscar winner The Lives of Others, a Serenity Collector’s Edition, and other good bets. Read on to see what’s hot (and what’s not) this week in stores.
The Lives of Others (Sony)
If you’re in the mood for a smart, tense drama, you could do much worse than 2007’s best Foreign Oscar winner, The Lives of Others. Yeah, it’s in German, but reading subtitles is a small price to pay for good entertainment these days. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck‘s tale of an East German surveillance operator and the playwright he’s charged to monitor earned an impressive 95 percent on the Tomatometer, making it this week’s best-reviewed new release.
Have you been anxiously awaiting the latest installment of R. Kelly‘s infamous hip-hopera as much as we have? Well, wait no longer — Chapters 13 to 22 of the genre-defying Trapped in the Closet serial are now yours for the taking. Kelly’s bizarre music video saga defies description, so suffice to say that Chapters 1 through 12 involved a host of interconnected characters (many of which are played by Kelly himself), lots of extramarital intrigue, guns, cherry pies, and a midget (“…midget…midget…”), all produced and co-directed by (guess who?) Kelly. Did I mention he was Grammy-nominated for the first five chapters? We can’t wait to see what melodramatic delights are in store for us next.
House of Games (Criterion)
Fans of writer David Mamet‘s critically-acclaimed directing debut, rejoice! House of Games is getting the Criterion treatment. The 1987 psychological thriller stars Lindsay Crouse as an ice-cold shrink and Joe Mantegna as a devious con man, between whom a dangerous cat-and-mouse game unfolds. The folks over at Criterion have a host of special features, including interviews with Crouse and Mantegna, audio commentary with Mamet and co-star (and card magician extraordinaire) Ricky Jay, and a behind the scenes doc filmed during the original production.
Add this one to the Must-Have list. This version of what’s arguably one of director Paul Verhoeven‘s best efforts boasts two discs full of extended cuts and special features, all in an impenetrable steel case. Well, maybe it’s not impenetrable, but it’ll look awesome on your DVD shelf! Bonus features include a commentary track by Verhoeven, writer Ed Neumeier and exec producer Jon Davison; four deleted scenes; cast, crew, behind-the-scenes, and design photo galleries; storyboard commentary by special effects whiz Phil Tippett; the extended widescreen cut of the film; and loads more featurettes. Grab this unrated collector’s edition and have yourself a RoboParty.
Serenity Collector’s Edition (Universal Studios)
Firefly fans waited with bated breath for the feature-length Serenity to come out in 2005, and bought the first DVD edition in droves. So why give this new Collector’s Edition a look, when many of the special features were available on the first? Two discs, new bonus features, and gorgeous layered packaging, that’s why! Hardcore browncoats and sci-fi fantasy enthusiasts should enjoy features like the “Take A Walk on Serenity” set tour, the “Sci-Fi Inside: Serenity” retrospective, and Joss Whedon‘s account of adapting Firefly from TV-to-film in “A Filmmaker’s Journey,” but they’ll really love the “Session 416” internet episodes and an all-new commentary track by Whedon, and his stars Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Ron Glass.
Other Safe Bets This Week
The foul-mouthed little boys of South Park invade home theaters with Season 10, taking cracks at the Nintendo Wii, World of Warcraft, and Family Guy.
ABC’s award-winning serio-comedy about the world’s mousiest personal assistant (America Ferrera) and the cutthroat “beautiful” people at the fashion magazine she works at is now out on DVD.
This collection gathers four films from the Austrian director’s career — The Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video, 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, and Funny Games — for an alternative to the usual Hollywood offerings.
It’s a 1960s science fiction spectacular! Japan’s Toho Studios bring you not one, not two, but three creature features from the golden age of monster movies and the land of Godzilla: Varan the Unbelievable, The Mysterians, and Matango: The Curse of the Mushroom People!
Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You…
This independently financed actioner cost a reported $26 million to make, smashed countless priceless sports cars during production (including the Enzo Ferrari crashed by star Eddie Griffin during a promotional event) and bombed at the box office. Of the 23 critics who reviewed it, guess how many recommend Redline? That’s right. Zero.
Faring ever so slightly better than Redline, this Bruce Willis–Halle Berry stinker was too chock full of inane twists and turns for most critics. If the allure of watching the “Virtual Lives: The Making of Perfect Stranger” special feature appeals to you, then good; it’s pretty much the only bonus feature on the disc.
Separately, Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, and Jason Bateman are all arguably funny performers; thrown together in this third-wheel rom-com, critics found them not only unfunny but largely unlikeable. But hey, that’s why we have the term “wait until DVD.”
This most recent offering from Christian shingle Fox Faith follows a spoiled young man (Drew Fuller) who has to perform a series of spiritual character-building tests in order to receive his inheritance. Cute little pipsqueak Abigail Breslin co-stars. This might be a bit saccharine, but it’s family friendly.
Until next week, happy renting!