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More News: July-December 2009

This Week's Releases (December 29)

From the Big Screen:

"Jennifer's Body," "9," "Paranormal Activity" and "A Perfect Getaway." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

From TV to Video:

"Emily of New Moon, Season Two (2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "Glee: Season 1: Road To Sectionals" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "United States of Tara: Season One" (2009) features 12 episodes from the Showtime series, $42.99 from Paramount. (Posted December 29)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

photo "The Marine 2" (2009), inspired by a true story and shot on location in Phuket, Thailand, stars WWE superstar Ted DiBiase as Marine recon sniper Joe Linwood, whose vacation trip to paradise with his wife is suddenly shattered when guerillas take control of a secluded five-star resort asking and he must use his expert skills to save the everyone from certain death. From Fox ... "Gone to Texas" (1986) stars Sam Elliott,Claudia Christian, John Quade and Donald Moffat in a docudrama about Texas revolutionary Sam Houston, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "A Song From the Heart" (1999), a blind cellist falls in love with her next-door neighbor; stars Amy Grant and Keith Carradine, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "Carriers" (2009) stars Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp and Chris Melon in a post-apocalypic thriller about four teens who set out in search of an uncontaminated refuge from a deadly virus that has devastated the world. The film was released to rental Dec. 8 and is now available for sale; from Paramount. (Posted December 29)

For the Family:

In "Spaceballs: The Totally Warped Animated Adventures!" (2008). Mel Brooks lends his voice and writing talent to the hilarious re-imagination of the greatest "Star Wars" spoof of all time; features four episodes with intermission shorts, $19.98 from MGM. (Posted December 29)

'Avatar' Is AFI's 'Top Moment' of 2009

photo(December 28) The American Film Institute today announced the year's AFI Moments of Significance, eight noteworthy events determined to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during 2009. Each year, AFI documents the year's significant moments in film, Tv and the Web, and honors the talent and collaborative teams who have created the year's outstanding accomplishments. Ten AFI Movies of the Year and 10 AFI Television Programs of the Year were announced earlier this month. A complete list of the 2009 official selections and the 2009 juries can be found at AFI.com. This year's AFI Moments of Significance:

"Avatar": James Cameron's milepost in the evolution of the art form.
Twitter: The new watercooler
The Leno experiment and the loss of drama
Reality TV and the loss of boundaries
The end of analog and other signs of sea change
2009: A year of extraordinary animation
"This Is It": Death of Michael Jackson
Recession: The movies again prove a tonic for economic ails

Read the complete press release here.

'Avatar' Wins Boxoffice Wars Again

(December 27) According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Avatar" kept a strong grip on the Christmas weekend boxoffice with a $75 million take, upping its 10-day take to 212.3 million. in its second weekend. Xmas day winner "Sherlock Holmes" sleuthed $65.4 million, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel" debuted in third with $50.2 million, the romantic comedy "It's Complicated" came in fourth with a stronger-than-expected $22.1 million and "Up in the Air" finished fifth with $11.8 million.

No Mystery: 'Sherlock' Tops Xmas Boxoffice

photo (December 26) Guy Ritchie's big-screen take on "Sherlock Holmes," starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, sleuthed its way to No. 1 Christmas day, taking in an estimated $24.9 million at the country's theaters, making it the biggest opening ever for a film by the British action director, according to Variety. In second place was James Cameron's ground-breaking 'Avatar," with $23.5 million, followed by "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," with $14.5 million. Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy "It's Complicated," starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, opened in fourth with $7.1 million, while the Jason Reitman-George Clooney collaboration, "Up in the Air," soared to fifth with $3.7 million.

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Happy Holidays From OnVideo: Here's the Worst Christmas Movies of All Time

photo (December 24) It's Christmas Eve and after decking the halls and drinking some eggnogg, it's time to sit around the glow of the TV for your annual Christmas movie marathon. While classics like "A Christmas Carol" and "Miracle on 34th St." have become traditions, there are plenty of Christmas themed movies that should be avoided at all costs. With this in mind, the editors of Moviefone have just selected the 15 worst Christmas movies of all time. (Disclaimer: we also blog for Moviefone's Inside Movies) At No. 1, the editors selected "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000), "a loud, garish and obnoxious film, certainly a career low for director Ron Howard -- and it's not exactly Jim Carrey's finest hour, either." Also near the top: 2006's "Deck the Halls." 2008's "Four Christmases" and 2004's "Christmas With the Kranks." Check out the complete list of The Top 15 Worst Christmas Movies Ever.

This Week's Releases (December 22)

From the Big Screen:

"All About Steve," "District 9," "Extract," "(500) Days of Summer" and "It Might Get Loud." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

From TV to Video:

"Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Darkside" (2009) is a Family Guy animated "retelling" of "The Empire Strikes Back," from Fox ... "Kyle XY: The Complete Third and Final Season" (2009) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, with such extras as deleted scenes, commentaries, and "Kyle XY: Future Revealed," look at what would have happened in Season 4; $39.99 from Disney ... "The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Season Three" (2009) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $39.99, from Disney. (Posted December 22)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

Two films with big stars -- but no theatrical traction -- hit home video this week. Three lives intersect in the forgotten borough of New York City in "Staten Island" (2009), starring Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Seymour Cassel and Julianne Nicholson. photo Sully Halverson (Hawke) is a septic tank cleaner who is desperate to give his unborn son the chance he never had. Jasper Sabiano (Cassel) is a deaf-mute deli worker who wants to escape the mobsters that have infiltrated his life and business Parmie Tarzo (D'Onofrio) is a local mob boss who dreams of crushing the competition and achieving infamy any way he can. Once their lives intersect, nothing will ever be the same. From National Entertainment Media ... "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" (2009) is a remake of the 1956 film noir classic in which a writer's plan to expose a corrupt district attorney takes an unexpected turn. High profile District Attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) has an impeccable record putting criminals behind bars and is a shoo-in for governor in the upcoming election. But when ambitious rookie journalist C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) begins investigating Hunter for tampering with evidence to secure his convictions, the district attorney's perfect record is up for scrutiny. Though directed by Peter Hyams and starring Michael Douglas, Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Orlando Jones and Joel Moore, this film found little boxoffice appeal. From Anchor Bay Entertainment.

"Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging" (2009) is a comedy about a soon-to-be-15-year-old girl who creates a series of mad schemes in order to attract the attention of the new boy in school, directed by Gurinder Chadha and starring Georgia Groome, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aaron Johnson and Alan Davies, from Paramount ... "American Pie Presents: The Book of Love" (2009), starring Eugene Levy, Rosanna Arquette, Bug Hall, Kevin M. Horton and Curtis Armstrong in this latest direct-to-video chapter in the "American Pie" franchise. Three high school buddies discover a legendary guide to seduction -- written by some of the school's previous generations -- hidden in the school library. From Universal. (Posted December 22)

On the Indie Front:

photo There's three independent films due this week from Vanguard Cinema: "Chasing Butterflies" (2009) is a screwball comedy roller coaster, with one unexpected plot twist: Nina, a runaway bride, is unaware that her mother has married her fiance in her stead, and that the two have set out to bring her back ... "Loser" (1999) is the tragic tale of 23 year-old James Dean Ray, a small-time drug dealer bent on self-destruction, who spends his final hours hanging out and selling drugs, with, of course, an occasional robbery, oblivious and indifferent to his pending doom ... and "Off the Ledge" (2009), a comedy-drama that revolves around a New Years Eve Party where most of the partygoers are oblivious to the true atmosphere of pain amid their celebration of life and renewal. As off beat partygoers spontaneously ring in the New Year at a Hollywood Hills home, four hapless individuals intertwine as they do their best to survive the evening. (Posted December 22)

For the Family:

photo "Call of the Wild 3-D" (2009) stars Christopher Lloyd, Ariel Gade, Wes Studi, Aimee Teegarden, Devon Graye, Kameron Knox, Jaleel White, Joyce DeWitt, Veronica Cartwright and Timothy Bottoms in this modern-day adaptation of Jack London's classic. In this version, the story revolves around Ryan (Ariel Gade), a 9-year old girl visiting her grandfather (Christopher Lloyd) in Montana. When a wild hybrid wolf/dog shows up injured on the back porch one night, Ryan wants to take him back to Boston as a pet, but her grandfather knows the animal will eventually have to return to the wild. To help his granddaughter understand, he begins to read her Jack London's "Call of the Wild" each night ... but Ryan has ideas of her own, and helps a local boy train the magnificent animal to become a sled dog leader. In 3-D and 2-D versions. From Vivendi Entertainment. (Posted December 22)

Special Interest:

"In Search of Mozart" (2009), made to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, is the first feature-length documentary on the composer's life. Produced with the world's leading orchestras and musicians, it traces the composer's life through his music and extensive correspondence, dispelling the many common myths about Mozart's genius, health, relationships, death and character, to present a new image, very different from Milos Forman's "Amadeus." From Microcinema. (Posted December 22)

'Avatar' Takes Over the World

photo (December 20) According to The Hollywood reporter, James Cameron's "Avatar" linked into international circuits during the weekend, flying high above the fray with $159.2 million in its opening five days, making it No. 1 at the boxoffice, overshadowing the $10 million take of "Twilight: New Moon," which of course has been in the market for several weeks now. In North America, "Avatar" took in some $73 million (numbers could have been higher if the East hadn't been socked in with snow), making its worldwide total an estimated $232.2 million. According to distributor 20th Century Fox, "Avatar" ranks as the "highest-grossing nonfranchise, nonsequel opening ever." Top honors go to Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which set the current record in July, and Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which opened in May 2007 to $218.4 million over five days.

'Harry Potter' Bewitches DVD Sales

photo (December 16)Three high-profile new releases battled it out on the national home video charts this past week, as the flood of theatrical hits -- crammed into December to capture the impulse shopper -- continues. The biggest winner, by far, was Warner Home Video's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which topped the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart its first week in stores, outselling second-ranked Public Enemies, a fellow newcomer from Universal Studios, by a more than 4-to-1 margin. Read the complete story at Home Media Magazine.


This Week's Releases (December 15)

From the Big Screen:

"G-Force," "The Hangover," "Inglourious Basterds" and "Taking Woodstock." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

From TV to Video:

photo "Chris Angel: Mindfreak Collector's Edition Megaset" is a 15-disc set containing every astounding episode from Seasons 1-5 of the amazing series, including the Halloween Special and six "lost" episodes; it's 36 hours of mind-blowing magic, illusions and death-defying demonstrations, in collectible pop-up packaging, $99.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... A&E also has "The Five Lives of Criss Angel Mindfreak," a two-disc set with five episodes from the fifth season, $24.95. This set includes "White Death," in which Criss is buried under ice and snow; "death Field," in which he traverses a field of live explosives; "Terminal Velocity," in which Criss attempts to teleport himself; "Death Crash," in which spectators choose which of five coffins (one with Criss inside) are smashed to splinters; and "Mass :Levitation," an attempt to levitate an entire Las Vegas crowd ... "The Paper Chase: Season Two" (1983-84) is a six-disc set with 19 episodes, $49.99 from Shout! Factory. (Posted December 15)

On the Indie Front:

photo "The Other Man" (2009) stars Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Antonio Banderas in an intimate tale of a man who discovers his wife's infidelity and sets out to track down his rival. Driven to pursue the mystery surrounding his wife's adultery, he embarks on a global pursuit with a haunted passion that begins to probe the nature not simply of jealousy, but of loss and forgiveness. From Image Entertainment ... When filmmaker Nina Paley couldn't make her marriage work, she decided to use it as fodder for an ambitious project: a musical, animated and personal interpretation of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. "Sita Sings the Blues" (2009) tells two parallel stories: The ancient Hindu story of a god and goddess and Paley's 21st century break-up, woven together using flash animation, watercolor paintings, rotoscoping techniques and jazzy musical interludes that link the narrative 3,000 years apart. From Indiepix. (Posted December 15)

Foreign:

In "The Headless Woman" (2008 -- Argentina), a bourgeois woman, driving alone on a dirt road, becomes distracted, and runs over something. In the days following this jarring incident, she is dazed and emotionally disconnected from the people and events in her life as she becomes obsessed with the possibility that she may have killed someone. From Strand Releasing. (Posted December 15)

For the Family:

In "Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie Extended Edition (2009) the wizards-in-training go on vacation but an accidental spell threatens the family; Max tries to keep his parents together while Alex and Justin use every trick they know as they search for the Stone of Dreams to reverse the spell and save their family. From Disney. (Posted December 15)

Special Interest:

"Herb & Dorothy" (2009) is the extraordinary story of a postal clerk and a librarian -- Herb and Dorothy Vogel -- who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means. In the early 1960s, when very little attention was paid to Minimalist and Conceptual Art, the Vogels quietly began purchasing the works of unknown artists. photo Devoting all of Herb's salary to purchasing art they liked, they were guided by two rules: the piece had to be affordable, and it had to be small enough to fit in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. Within these limitations, they proved themselves curatorial visionaries; most of those they supported and befriended went on to become world-renowned artists; from New Video/Arthouse Films ... On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union reported the successful launch, orbit and reentry of the first man in space, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, pushing the cold war into a space duel. With the collapse of communism in the Russian Federation, recent access to documents in the Kremlin archives reveal a story intended to remain buried forever. Yuri Gagarin, the icon of triumphant communism known world over, was not the first man in space. He was preceded by Vladimir Ilyushin, an unsung hero and the man at the center of this decades old conspiracy, examined in "Fallen Idol: The Yuri Gagarin Conspiracy" (2009), narrated by Elliott Gould; from Indican Pictures ... "Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall" (2009) is a documentary that uses computer imagery to reconstruct how the Berlin Wall grew from a meager obstacle to a mighty barrier of seven concentric walls with ditches, fences, signal wires, tank-traps and a flood-lit death strip patrolled by half-starved dogs -- a nearly impenetrable barricade with a 96-mile circumference, 200-plus bunkers and 302 watchtowers -- the Cold War icon whose demise, beginning on Nov. 9, 1989, signaled the start of one of history's most dramatic political transformations; from A&E Home Entertainment ... "George Lopez: Tall, Dark & Chicano" (2009) is an HBO comedy special, $19.97 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "New York Yankees 2009: Season of Pride, Tradition & Glory" is a documentary on the Yankees' winning season, featuring a tour of the new Yankee Stadium, memorable moments and highlights from the '09 season, interviews, a Nick Swisher road trip, pre-game ceremonies, a season-ending recap and "Hope Week" features; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment. (Posted December 15)

AFI Picks Top 10 Films of 2009

photo (December 13) The American Film Institute announced its picks for top 10 films of the year and, surprisingly, the list skewed heavily to smaller independent productions. Included were Pixar/Disney's 3D-animated "Up," "The Hangover," "Coraline,"; "The Hurt Locker," "The Messenger," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "A Single Man," "Sugar" and "Up in the Air." Read more about the AFI winners at The Hollywood Reporter.

10 Years of Bad Films: The 40 Worst of the Decade

photo (December 9) It's the end of 2009 and it's time for the best and worst lists of the year -- and, since it's the end of a decade, some people are putting together best and worst of the decade lists. The folks at Moviefone (disclaimer: we also blog for Moviefone's Inside Movies) have put together their take on the 40 worst films of the decade. The list includes films from big stars like Eddie Murphy ("Norbit"), Mike Myers ("Love Guru"), Al Pacino ("88 Minutes") and Halle Berry ("Catwoman") to needless sequels like "Basic Instinct 2" and "Son of the Mask." The No. 1 worst film of the decade started it: John Travolta's 2000 "Battlefield Earth." For more, check out Moviefone's "The 40 Biggest Stinkers of the Decade."

This Week's Releases (December 8)

From the Big Screen:

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "Julie & Julia" and "Public Enemies." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

The creator of such timeless masterpieces as "Rashomon," "Ikiru," "Seven Samurai," "Yojimbo" and "High and Low," Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential and beloved filmmakers who ever lived. Now, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, The Criterion Collection has released the massive "AK 100: 25 Films By Akira Kurosawa," photo a boxed set featuring 25 of the films Kurosawa made over the course of his 50 years in movies, ­from samurai epics to postwar noirs to Shakespeare adaptations. Includes four rare films that have never been available on DVD. Housed in a deluxe, linen-bound collector's set that also includes an illustrated book featuring an introduction and notes on each of the films by Stephen Prince ("The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa") and a remembrance by Donald Richie ("Films of Akira Kurosawa"). Titles: "The Bad Sleep Well "(1960), "Dodes'ka-den" (1970), "Drunken Angel" (1948), "The Hidden Fortress" (1958), "High and Low" (1963), "I Live in Fear" (1955), "The Idiot" (1951), "Ikiru" (1952), "Kagemusha" (1980), "The Lower Depths" (1957), "Madadayo" (1993), "The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail" (1945)(first time on DVD), "The Most Beautiful" (1944)(first time on DVD), "No Regrets for Our Youth" (1946), "One Wonderful Sunday" (1947), "Rashomon" (1951), "Red Beard" (1965), "Sanjuro" (1962), "Sanshiro Sugata" (1943)(first time on DVD), "Sanshiro Sugata, Part II" (1944) (first time on DVD), "Scandal" (1950), "Seven Samurai" (1954), "Stray Dog" (1949), "Throne of Blood" (1957) and "Yojimbo" (1961).

This is the week of Harry Potter, with Warner Home Video not only releasing the sixth outing in the franchise, but Ultimate Editions (standard and Blu-ray disc) of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" as well as the "Harry Potter Years 1-6 Giftset," a six-disc set with all six Harry Potter films, in standard DVD and Blu-ray Disc configurations ... It's a far cry from Harry Potter and Kurosawa, but you can also add to this week's interesting mix Image Entertainment's "Brigitte Bardo Classic Collection," featuring three of the sex kitten's less well-know films: "The Night Heaven Fell," "Plucking the Daisy" and "Don Juan." (Posted December 8)

From TV to Video:

"Get Smart Season 5" (1969-70) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $24.98 from HBO Home Video ... photo "The Judy Garland Show Collection" includes three of the best episodes from the classic 1963-64 "The Judy Garland Show." Features guests Mickey Rooney, Bobby Darin, George Maharis Bob Newhart, Jack Carter, Leo Durocher, The Dillards; $29.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... "Lost: The Complete Fifth Season" (2009) is a five-disc set with 17 episodes, $59.99 from Disney ... "Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume Two" (2009) is a three-disc set with 11 episodes from the second half of the fifth season; from Sony ... "The Sherlock Holmes Collection": Only five episodes of the BBC's celebrated -- and long sought after -- 1960s Sherlock Holmes series survive. Coincidentally, all five star the inimitable Peter Cushing as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective, with Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson. All five have been made available in this $29.95 three-disc set from A&E Home Entertainment. (Posted December 8)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

"World's Greatest Dad" (2009), directed by Bob Goldthwait and starring Robin Williams, Alexie Gilmore, Daryl Sabara, Geoff Pierson, Henry Simmons and Mitzi McCall, is a thoughtful but outrageous comedy about a man who learns the things you want most may not be the things that make you happy, and that being lonely is not necessarily the same as being alone. Robin Williams plays a high school poetry teacher who copes with his son's death from a freak masturbation accident by faking a suicide note to spare the family shame. The note, published without his permission, ends up becoming a sensation, and Lance reignites his writing career by penning a personal journal he claims was written by his son. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... In "The Skeptic" (2009), starring Timothy Daly and Zoe Saldana, a stubbornly rational lawyer and control freak who is about to have his disbelief in the paranormal challenged big-time when he goes to stay in his late aunt's big, creepy Victorian mansion while he contests her will; from IFC Films ... photo "Home Movie" (2008), starring Adrian Pasdar and Cady McClain, documents one family's descent into darkness, using a compilation of "found" home-made footage. To outward appearances, they are the all-American family. Dad is a minister in their idyllic upstate New York town, mom is a psychologist, and 10-year-old twins Emily and Jack seem to be the perfect little children. That is, when they're not stapling frogs to trees. From IFC Films ... The relationships of three girls and four guys, all living in an affluent, adolescent suburban reality, intersect through the topsy-turvy world of love, power and "Hooking Up" (2008), starring Corey Feldman, Bronson Pinchot and Brian O'Halloran; from MTI Home Video) ... Set in the exotic terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula, a group of tomb-raiders steal precious Mayan artifacts and come up against evil forces greater than they ever anticipated in "Lost Treasure of the Maya" (2008), starring Michael Madsen, Protasio, Heather Storm, Richard Tyson, Declan Joyce and Keith David; from MTI Home Video.

Don and Janna, a married couple struggling to reconnect after the death of their daughter, answer each other's phony classified ads to begin an elaborate game of pretend blind dates, hoping this ruse will allow them finally to talk openly about the demise of their relationship in the wake of tragedy in "Blind Date" (2007), starring Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson; from E1 Entertainment ..."McLeod's Daughters: The Original Movie" (1996) stars Jack Thompson, Sonia Todd, Lisa Chappell and Bridie Carter in the feature film behind the popular TV series; from E1 Entertainment ... photo In "Moonlight Serenade" (2009), starring Amy Adams and Alec Newman, a hat check girl at a local jazz club and a successful financial manager who aspires to be a musician team up for an act that soon turns romantic; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "Runaway" (2005) is a psychological thriller about a young man and his brother who hide out in a small town, on the run from an abusive relationship; stars Aaron Stanford, Robin Tunney and Zack Savage; from E1 Entertainment ... When a fatal kidnapping ignites a firestorm of suspicion and rage in idyllic 1933 San Jose, California, a hard-nosed young reporter takes on the powers-that-be to prevent the lynching of two men he believes are innocent in "Valley of the Heart's Delight" (2006), starring Gabriel Mann, Pete Postlethwaite, Emily Harrison, Diana Scarwid, Bruce McGill and Tom Bower; from Indican Pictures ... "Carriers" (2009) stars Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp and Chris Melon in a post-apocalyptic saga about four teens who, determined to escape a deadly virus, set out in search of an uncontaminated refuge, encountering a truth far more horrifying than the virus they are trying to survive. For rental only; from Paramount. (Posted December 8)

Foreign:

When two fed-up, underpaid street soldiers decide to double-cross their boss on a cash-collection shakedown -- and gun down his beloved godson -- the crime lord dispatches every murderous gangster and merciless thug in the city, and even a voodoo priestess, to eliminate the desperate duo in "Dog Eat Dog" (2008 -- Columbia), from IFC Films ... "Ghosted" (2009 -- Mandarin) is a mysterious love story set in Taiwan and Germany. German artist Sophie is trying to come to terms with the unsolved murder of her Taiwanese lover Ai-Ling. After a run-in with the seductive Mei-Li, a journalist investigating Ai-Ling's death, Sophie flees back to Germany. But when Mei-Li turns up on her Hamburg doorstep, the mystery deepens; from First Run Features). (Posted December 8)

For the Family:

"The Night Before Christmas: Special Edition" is a two-disc set featuring a dozen favorite heartwarming holiday chestnuts that celebrate the winter holiday season, with stories about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other family celebrations; $19.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "Treasury of 50 Storybook Classics: Animal Antics and More" is a seven-disc set that brings to life 50 award-winning and classic children's stories; $49.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 6, Volume 1 " (2009) is a two-disc set with 24 epiosdes, $26.98 from Nickelodeon/Paramount. (Posted December 8)

Special Interest:

photo "Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me" (2009) is a profile of the Georgia-born lyricist, singer and composer whose solo and collaborative efforts have kept the world singing for more than eight decades with such songs as "Hooray for Hollywood," "Jeepers Creepers," "That Old Black Magic," "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," "Skylark," "Blues in the Night," "Moon River," "The Days of Wine and Roses" and many, many more. The documentary features rare interviews and performances by Mercer himself and includes movie and television clips of Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Fred Astaire, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Tony Bennett, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and others. Produced by Clint Eastwood. Two-disc set, $29.98 from Warner ... "Crime Wave: 18 Months of Mayhem" (2009) is a History Channel documentary revealing the real people behind some of America's most notorious criminals: John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Babyface Nelson and Bonnie and Clyde; from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Cove" (2009) is a documentary on the fishermen of Taiji, a town along the Japanese coast, where hunting dolphins is a major part of the local economy; a few dolphins are saved during hunting season and sold off to aquariums for water shows, and the rest are crowded together and -- away from prying eyes -- stabbed to death, their meat sold as food; from Lionsgate ... "The Life and Times of the King of Pop 1958-2009" (2009) is a documentary on Michael Jackson's last days and his memorial service; from MVD Entertainment Group. (Posted December 8)

Warners Salutes Eastwood With Massive DVD Set

photo (November 6) Clint Eastwood is one of a kind in Hollywood, and Warner Home Video will offer a DVD collection Feb. 16 that proves it. Packed with 34 of his films and a brand new documentary, "Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros." celebrates the actor-director's long association with the studio. The collection opens with "Where Eagles Dare" (1968) and "Kelly's Heroes" (1970) and closes with 2008's "Gran Torino." In between are "The Outlaw Josey Wales," all the Dirty Harry movies, Oscar winners "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby" and recent selections "Letters from Iwo Jima." "The Eastwood Factor" documentary is by film historian Richard Schickel. For more information, see Home Media Magazine. Eastwood's 'Invictus,' about Nelson Mandela, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, opens Dec. 11.

Uni 'Flippers' Out for DVD/Blu-ray Combo

photo (December 2) According to a report in Video Business, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has taken an old idea and made it new: Beginning with the Jan. 19 re-releases of single discs of "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," the studio will take the popular DVD/Blu-ray Disc combo concept further by including both formats on opposite sides of a single disc. Similar hybrid discs have been around for awhile: widescreen/full screen discs were a staple at the dawn of DVD, and high-definition/standard discs rolled out a couple years ago, but with an HD DVD on one side and a DVD on the other. The 'flipper discs' by Universal would mark the first time that Blu-ray and standard DVD formats were offered on one disc. Each Bourne flipper disc will be offered separately for $29.98.

This Week's Releases (December 1)

From the Big Screen:

"Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," "Paper Heart" and "Terminator Salvation." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

There's two completely opposite releases this week from the folks at The Criterion Collection. First up is "A Christmas Tale" (2008 -- French), starring Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric and Melvil Poupaud in a beguiling holiday melodrama that has the troubled Vuillard family photo coming together at Christmas after family matriarch Deneuve learns she needs a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative. The simple family reunion setup, however, can't begin to describe the unpredictable experience of this film, an inventive, magical drama that deals with unrequited childhood loves and blinding grudges, brutal outbursts and sudden slapstick, music, movies, and poetry, all tied together in a marvelously messy package. At the other extreme is Criterion's Blu-ray Disc edition of "Gimme Shelter" (1970), a film that has been called the greatest rock film ever made. This landmark documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their notorious 1969 U.S. tour that culminated in a free concert at Northern California's Altamont Speedway, where the Love Generation collided with a few dozen Hells Angels, resulting in uncharacteristic brutality and murder. On hand were cinema verite pioneers David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, who immortalized on film the bloody clash that transformed a decade's dreams into disillusionment. (Posted December 1)

From TV to Video:

photo "Better Off Ted Season One" (2009) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.98 from Fox ... "The Donna Reed Show: Season Three" (1960-61) is a four-disc set with 38 episodes, $39.95 from Virgil Films & Entertainment ... "Into the Storm" (2009) stars Brendan Gleeson, Janet McTeer, James D'Arcy and Patrick Malahide in the TV biodrama about Winston Churchill as he leads Britain into World War II; sequel to the 2002 TV movie "The Gathering Storm"; from HBO Home Video ... "Mental Season One" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "Saturday Night Live: The Complete Fifth Season" (1979-80) is a seven-disc set with 20 episodes, $69.98 from Universal. (Posted December 1)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "All Hell Broke Loose" (2009), a former Civil War sharpshooter becomes an assassin until a change of heart drives him to take up ranching ... until a U.S. Marshall asks him to pick up his gun again to go after the gang he once rode with; stares Jim Hilton and David Carradine; from North American Motion Pictures. (Posted December 1)

For the Family:

Disney has two animated outings this week: "Handy Manny: Manny's Motorcycle Adventure" (2009) photo is the character's first-ever full-length animated feature; Manny brings his friends and tools along for a cross-country ride for a host of adventures; features an original song by Latin-rock band Los Lobos; and "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo Choo Express" (2009), starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy in a feature-length adventure revolving around Professor Von Drake's creation of a snow that never melts; features an original song by alt-rock band They Might Be Giants. Both DVDs feature two interactive viewing modes: "Adventure mode 1 (ages 2-3) uses the remote to answer fun questions about colors, shapes and sizes, Adventure mode 2 (ages 4-5) moves to a higher level with more challenging questions using the remote. $26.99 each from Disney ... "Ben 10: Alien Swarm" (2009) is the fourth edition of the Cartoon Network series, $19.97 from Warner. (Posted December 1)

Special Interest:

"Ride Around the World" (2006) is a documentary that takes a journey across Morocco, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Patagonia, Texas and British Columbia to meet vaqueros, gauchos, baqueanos and cowboys -- all part of a single global horse culture, an unbroken trail stretching back 1,200 years. Winner of the 2007 Best Documentary Award at the Western Heritage Awards and a Gold Medal winner at the 2007 Park City Film Music festival; from Image Entertainment ... photo "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVI" is a limited edition four-disc set with "The Corpse Vanishes," "Warrior of the Lost World," "Santa Claus" and "Night of the Blood Beast," with such extras as a new interview with "Warrior of the Lost World" director David Worth, "Santa Claus Conquers the Devil: A 50-Year Retrospective," "Night of the Blood Beast" (Turkey Day Version), Turkey Day '95 intros, four exclusive MST3K mini-posters by artist Steve Vance, and a collectible Tom Servo figurine. $64.99 from Shout! Factory ... "WWE: History of the World Heavyweight Championship" is a three-disc set that highlights the story of the World Heavyweight Championship, from the early National Wrestling Alliance, to World Class Wrestling through its current home at WWE; includes more than 20 championship matches; $34.95 from WWE Entertainment. (Posted December 1)

'This Is It' Tours DVD, Blu-ray on Jan.6

photo (November 30) Sony will offer music lovers a backstage pass to witness the King of Pop plan and create what would have been his electrifying and triumphant return to the stage when "Michael Jackson's This Is It" debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and PSP January 26. Directed by Kenny Ortega, the Blu-ray and DVD release will allow fans to go beyond the theatrical experience of the film with two documentaries "Staging The Return: Beyond The Show" and "Staging The Return: The Adventure Begins," in which Michael Jackson is shown developing, creating and rehearsing for the tour. Also available are a series of illuminating featurettes, including "The Gloved One," a costume themed featurette; "Memories of Michael," in which cast and crew pay tribute to the legacy of Jackson; "Auditions: Searching for the World's Best Dancers," spotlighting the search for the show’s incredibly talented backup dancers; and much much more.

New Reality for 'Avatar' Merchandising

photo (November 22) This is cool: Instead of firing up your webcam and chatting with friends online, how about transporting yourself to Pandora, the world at the center of James Cameron's 'Avatar'? Well, you'll be able to do just that soon using a new technology called "augmented reality," which launches movable 3-D images or games on computer screens when an item is held up to a webcam. And while some movie studios have used the augmented reality for some of their home video releases -- most notably Paramount for 'Star Trek,' which offered a 3-D holographic tour of the U.S.S. Enterprise when viewers held the disc packaging up to a webcam -- the technology is getting a gigantic multi-million dollar consumer push with 'Avatar,' which opens Dec. 18. Read the complete story at Moviefone Inside Movies.

The Best Movie Vampires: The Top 10 Big-Screen Bloodsuckers

photo (November 18) With "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" set to take a big bite out of the boxoffice this weekend, the editors of Moviefone have named the 10 best Hollywood vampires of all time. The list ranges from the gothic and the grisly to flat out romantic. Topping the list is Bela Lugosi, followed by Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, Kate Beckinsale ("Underworld"), Kiefer Sutherland ("The Lost Boys"), Robert Pattinson, Tom Cruise, John Carradine, Gary Oldman ("Bram Stoker's Dracula") and George Hamilton ("Love at First Bite"). Read the complete story here.

This Week's Releases (November 24)

From the Big Screen:

"Angels & Demons," "Four Christmases," "Funny People" and "Shorts." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

There's three interesting box sets due this week: Shout! Factory will release "The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History." Newly remastered for the 50th anniversary of the birth of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks' "The 2000 Year Old Man," this three-CD/one-DVD box set contains all five legendary comedy albums released by the duo, including "The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000," for which they received a Grammy Award in 1998. Plus extras. photo From The Criterion Collection comes "The Golden Age of Television" (1953-58) contains eight hugely popular live American television plays of the 1950s that have become the stuff of legend. Combining elements of theater, radio, and filmmaking, they were produced at a moment when TV technology was advancing and making art accessible to a newly suburban postwar demographic. The three-disc set includes live kinescope broadcasts of "Marty" (1953), "Patterns" (1955), "No Time for Sergeants" (1955)," A Wind From the South"" (1955), Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956), "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1956), "The Comedian" (1957) and "Days of Wine and Roses" (1958). "Superman: The Complete Animated Series" (1996-2000) is a long-awaited seven-disc set with all 54 episodes that follows the entire history of Superman from start to finish; loaded with extras from Warner. (Posted November 24)

From TV to Video:

photo "Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Four" (1958-58), a four-disc set with 36 episodes, $39.98 from Universal ... "Beverly Hills 90210: The Eighth Season" (1997-98), a seven-disc set with 32 episodes, $45.99 from Paramount ... "The Jerry Lewis Show Collection," a two-disc set with 13 episodes of the NBC series that ran from 1967-69, $29.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... "Law & Order: Criminal Intent -- The Fourth Year" (2004-05), a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "Life on Mars, Series 2" (2007), a four-disc set with eight episodes of the original BBC series, concluding the brilliant time-warping detective series starring John Simm and Philip Glenister, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Melrose Place: The Fifth Season, Volume Two" (1996-97), a three-disc set with 34 episodes, $36.99 from Paramount. (Posted November 24)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

photo A retired special forces officer and an journalist investigate a mysterious island off the Pacific Northwest where they meet a mad scientist and inadvertently unleash the genetically engineered beasts that he's created in "Far Cry" (2008), starring Til Schwiger, Udo Kier and Emmanuelle Vaugier; from Vivendi Entertainment ... "Megafault" (2009) stars Brittany Murphy, Eriq LaSalle, Justin Hartley and Bruce Davison in a SyFy Channel thriller about a massive global earthquake that triggers a potentially catastrophic crack in the Earth's crust; from The Asylum ... A secret government agency brings a young woman back from the brink of death, transforms her into a genetically engineered vampire and sends her on a mission to stop the Souls of the Damned being unleashed into our dimension in "The Witches Hammer" (2006), starring Claudia Coulter, Stephanie Beacham and Jason Tompkins, from MTI Home Video... A tough-as-nails collector for a mob boss one fateful day gets caught in the middle of a double-cross involving the biggest drug lord in the business and when revenge becomes the collector's sole purpose, his life takes a series of very wrong turns in "Wrong Turn at Tahoe (2009), starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Miguel Ferrer and Harvey Keitel; for rental only from Paramount. (Posted November 24)

On the Indie Front:

Inspired by a true story, sparks fly when a Jew and a Muslim fall in love in New York in "David & Layla" (2005), starring David Moscow and Shiva Rose; from Vanguard Cinema ... When a wealthy California family's son is kidnapped it ignites a firestorm of suspicion and rage in idyllic 1933 San Jose, California in "Valley of the Heart's Delight" (2006), starring Pete Postlethwaite, Diana Scarwid and Gabriel Mann; Based on the true story of the last lynch mob in California; from Indican Pictures ... A young woman on vacation in Venice -- engaged to be married -- has an affair with a war correspondent that causes her to rethink her upcoming nuptials in "A Secret Affair" (1999), starring Janine Turner, Fionnula Flanagan, Paudge Behan, Robert Mailhouse and Gia Carides; from Vanguard Cinema. (Posted November 24)

Foreign:

"Island Etude" (2007 -- Taiwan) is a beautifully photographed coming-of-age road movie that tells the story of a handsome young, hearing-impaired man, who before graduating from college, decides to carry his guitar on his back and ride a bike along the Taiwanese coastline, embarking on a seven-day round-island trip; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Toi & Moi" (2006 -- French)is a romantic comedy about two love-struck sisters -- one a demure cellist, the other who uses her love life for inspiration for the cheesy romantic photo-novels she writes -- and their commitment-phobic boyfriends, starring Marion Cotillard, Julie Depardieu, Tomer Sisley, Eric Berger, Sergio Peris-Mencheta amd Jonathan Zaccai; from Koch Lorber Films. (Posted November 24)

Special Interest:

"Gotta Dance -- The Movie" (2009) is the award-winning documentary that captures the adventures of the New Jersey NETSationals, the first-ever, seniors hip-hop dance team that, despite swollen ankles, challenges from their 20-something Nets Dancer coaches, exhausting rehearsals, fashion crises, radical personality transformations and seemingly impossible dance steps, hip-hop their way into the hearts of Nets fans and beyond; from Dramatic Forces ... photo "Angels & Demons Decoded" (2009) is a History Channel documentary that examines religious conspiracies, secret "codes" hidden in Roman architecture and artwork, and controversial theories that pit science against faith -- with life or death consequences; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Magic of Illusion" (2009) is a documentary about how we see, what we see, or what it is we think we see. Al Roker guides viewers on a journey into the secrets of illusion, using special effects to illustrate the artistic and visionary discoveries of the Renaissance; $19.99 from Microcinema International ... Fastwalker is a code word created by NORAD (North American Air Defense Command) to classify unidentified flying objects which approach our Earth from space and enter our atmosphere. It has been reported that from its subterranean facility deep inside Cheyenne Mountain Colorado, USA, the Air Force NORAD facility tracks a rough average of 500 of these Fastwalkers each year. "Fastwalkers" (2006) is a documentary that provides astounding revelations by some of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of UFOs; from Vanguard Cinema. (Posted November 24)

This Week's Releases (November 17)

From the Big Screen:

"Star Trek," "Bruno," "Is Anybody There?" and "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

Highlight of the week is clearly the release of three 70th Anniversary editions of the greatest movie of all time, 1939's "Gone With the Wind" (1939). photo Warner Home Video has pulled out all the stops for this one: There's a two-disc standard DVD set, a five-disc standard DVD Ultimate Collector's Edition (with 12 hours of bonus features) and a two-disc Blu-ray Ultimate Collector's Edition with 18 hours of bonus features. The Ultimate Collector's Editions will also contain collectible memorabilia including a 20-page reproduction of the original and complete 1939 Souvenir Program; a 40-page Production History Book with photos and production notes; eight Frameable 5x7 art prints; CD soundtrack sampler featuring eight tracks (Main Title, Tara, The Barbecue, Escape From Atlanta, I'll Never Be Hungry Again! Paddock Scene, Scarlett In The Mist/Rhett Leaves, Flashback/Finale). Pricing: Two-disc special edition: $24.98; Standard DVD: $69.92; Blu-ray: $84.99.

"Farscape" was one of our favorite SciFi channel space operas, one that always threw a surprise at us when we least expected it. The story followed the adventures of an American astronaut mysteriously transported to a strange universe where he encountered even stranger beings and outlandish situations. A&E Home Entertainment has put together" Farscape: The Complete Series Megaset" (1999-2003), a 25-five disc set with all 88 episodes for $149.95. Extras include commentaries; multiple featurettes and documentaries including "In the Beginning: A Look Back With Brian Henson," "Making of a Space Opera" and "Inside Farscape: Save Farscape"; multiple video profiles featuring archival clips and cast and crew discussing their characters and roles; more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes; and much, much more ... "Betty Blue: Director's Cut" (1986 -- French) Jean-Jacques Beineix's shocking and offbeat story of two French lovers, Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a simple repairman, and Betty (Beatrice Dalle), a sexy, mercurial younger woman whose mental illness becomes more apparent as time goes on; from Cinema Libre Studio. (Posted November 17)

From TV to Video:

"Andy Barker, P.I.: The Complete Series" (2007) is a two-disc set with all six episodes of the series about an accountant (Andy Richter) turned accidental gumshoe; $24.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Best of Monk" is a two-disc set with eight episodes, $19.98 from Universal ... "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas" (2009)is a Christmas-themed special with the cast of the FX series, from Fox ... "Rome" (2005-2007) is a 10-disc set of the HBO series that follows the lives of two soldiers during the "fall of the Roman Empire," $99.98 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "7th Heaven: The Ninth Season" (2004-05) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $34.99 from Paramount ... "The Sopranos: The Complete Series" is a 30-disk set with all 86 episodes, $299.95 from HBO Home Video. (Posted November 17)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

"The Limits of Control" (2009) is a stylish and sexy thriller about a mysterious loner and hit man who arrives in Spain with instructions to meet various strangers, each one a part of his dangerous mission; from director Jim Jarmusch and starring Isaach de Bankole, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal and Bill Murray; from Universal ... From Chan-wook Park, the acclaimed director of the global hit "Old Boy," comes"Thirst" (2009 -- South Korea) an original vampire story with a chilling, erotic style. A blood transfusion saves the life of a priest, but also transforms him into a vampire. He struggles to control his insatiable thirst for blood until a love affair unleashes his darkest desires in deadly new ways; from Universal ... photo In "Penance (aka The Devil's Dungeon)" (2008), a single-mother-turned stripper falls into the hands of a sadistic surgeon intent on purifying her -- as well as other women he has incarcerated, starring Marieh Delfino, Graham McTavish, Eve Mauro, Tracy Coogan, Garrett Jones, Jason Connery, Allison Lange, James Duval; from IMD Films and MVD Visual ... In "Prisoner" (2007), starring Julian McMahon and Elias Koteas, an egotistical Hollywood director -- whose take-no-prisoners philosophy of life and work has earned him countless enemies in Hollywood -- picks a violent prison drama as his next production. But while scouting locations at an abandoned prison, he's taken captive by a mysterious jailer; from IFC Films ... In "Wrong Turn at Tahoe" (2009), starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Miguel Ferrer and Harvey Keitel, a tough-as-nails collector for a mob boss one fateful day gets caught in the middle of a double-cross involving the biggest drug lord in the business. When revenge becomes the collector's sole purpose, his life takes a series of very wrong turns; from Paramount ... "Route 30" (2008) stars David DeLuise and Dana Delany in three comedic stories that intertwine on Pennsylvania's Route 30, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "Vampire Party" (2008 -- France), starring Patrick Mille, Frederique Bel, Julie Fournier and Tcheky Karyo, three hardcore partiers get more than they bargained for when they join a wild party hosted by an elite race of lusty vampires; from Dark Sky Films. (Posted November 17)

On the Indie Front:

Rebecca De Mornay plays an irrational mother pushing her figure-skating daughter toward an Olympic gold medal in "American Venus" (2007). But when the girl gets fed up and runs away to Vancouver, mom straps on a pistol and goes looking for her; from IFC Films ... photo "Emerald Cowboy" (2002) is the true story of the rise of a Japanese businessman from Los Angeles named Eishy Hayata who transformed himself from an Airline engineer into a legend in the world of emeralds by moving to Columbia in the 70's and -- with six guns at his side -- becoming the czar of emeralds in that country -- the Emerald Cowboy; from Indican Pictures ... The adult son of a baseball legend embarks on a road trip with his girlfriend and his estranged father in "The Open Road" (2009), starring Justin Timberlake, Jeff Bridges, Mary Steenburgen and Kate Mara; from Anchor Bay ... A struggling young musician having an existential crisis convinces a Canadian self-help guru to come to London and live with his parents as his personal life coach in "How to Be" (2008), starring Robert Pattinson, Rebecca Pidgeon and Jeremy Hardy; from IFC Films. (Posted November 17)

Foreign:

Tian Yuan. In the award-winning drama "Luxury Car" (2006 -- Chinese), an old schoolteacher travels from his small village to the city of Wuhan in search of his missing son, who his dying wife wants to see one last time. But instead of finding their son, he discovers his daughter working as a karaoke bar escort, and her mobster boyfriend might be linked to his son's disappearance; from First Run Features. (Posted November 17)

Special Interest:

photo "Elvis Costello -- Spectacle: Season 1" (2009) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes of the show that features intimate one-on-one conversations and live performances with legendary artists and notable newcomers. Each of the thirteen one-hour episodes exposes the essence of iconic and influential figures who are given the rare opportunity to speak intelligently and in-depth about music and their careers; includes Elton John, president Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, Lou Reed, Julian Schnabel The Police, Smokey Robinson, Rufus Wainwright, Jakob Dylan, Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock, Kris Kristofferson, Roseanne Cash, Norah Jones, John Mellencamp, James Taylor and more; $49.95 from MVD Entertainment Group ... "Gettysburg" is a three-disc set with 13 documentaries that examine The Battle of Gettysburg and its lasting legacy; $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... "The Greatest Battles of the Civil War" is a three-disc set with eight documentaries that give an in-depth look at the hugely important clashes of the Civil War; $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Moonshot" (2009) is a History Channel documentary that relives the breathtaking story of Apollo 11 and the first manned landing on the Moon; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's seminal work "On the Origin of Species" and the 200th anniversary of his birth, National Geographic Home Entertainment will release this NOVA feature, "Darwin's Darkest Hour" (2009), depicting the professional and personal trauma Darwin endured the year before the publication of his work that became the foundation for evolutionary biology and changed the way the world thought about the origin of mankind; $19.98 from National Geographic Home Entertainment.

"The Exiles" chronicles one night in the lives of young Native American men and women living in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles. Based entirely on interviews with the participants and their friends, the film follows a group of exiles -- transplants from Southwest reservations -- as they flirt, drink, party, fight, and dance. "The Exiles" was completed in 1961 and though well received at a few festivals, it was never theatrically release and rarely seen for nearly 50 years. With UCLA Film & Television Archive's magnificent restoration and Milestone's 2008 release, the film stunned the film world. From Milestone Film & Video ... One of the classics of Latin American cinema, "The Battle of Chile" (1976-78 -- Spanish) is an epic documentary that chronicles Chile's peaceful socialist revolution, led by Salvador Allende, and the violent counterrevolution and military coup against it, led by Augusto Pinochet; $39.98 from Icarus Films Home Video ... "Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution" (2008) is a documentary revealing the abuses of the food industry, the competing interests of agribusiness and public health, the challenges and rewards of safe food production, and the practical solutions that we all can take part in; from First Run Features ... "A Wink and a Smile " (2009) is a documentary that follows 10 "ordinary" women -- among them a homemaker, a doctor, an opera singer, a taxidermist, a college student -- who do something extraordinary: They learn the art of burlesque dancing and striptease. Features burlesque star Indigo Blue; from First Run Features.

Hulk Hogan is an enduring name in sports entertainment, crossing over from the world of wrestling to pop culture: he headlined the first nine Wrestlemania events, in the process becoming a global icon. Hulkmaniacs can add to their collection "WWE: Hulk Hogan's Unreleased Collector's Series" (2009), a three-disc set featuring 27 never-before-released-to-DVD matches. $34.95 from WWE Entertainment. (Posted November 17)

Best Buy, Target Battle Over Blu-ray Prices

photo (November 13) More proof that the recession is still here (despite government pronouncements that it's over and we're rebounding): Best Buy stores and Target are engaing in a price war over Blu-ray and DVD prices in an effort to lure customers into their stores. According to a report in Video Business magazine, "the price wars continue to heat up, with a leaked Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving sales) ad for Best Buy showing the retailer will offer such catalog Blu-ray titles as 'The Departed,' 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Dirty Dancing' for $7.99, undercutting Target's $8.99 price for older movies on high-definition. Best Buy also plans to make doorbusters out of recent new releases 'Monsters vs. Aliens,' 'X-Men Origins: Wolverin' and 'Fast & Furious,' dropping their Blu-ray price to a new low of $9.99." Read the complete story here.

Blu-ray Prices to Drop

photo (November 11) Premium pricing for new Blu-ray Disc releases appears to be falling by the wayside as the format becomes more popular and the studios are anxious to bring the high-definition format to more of the masses. According to a report at Home Media Magazine Wal-Mart and several other mass merchant retailers have begun to sell certain new Blu-ray Discs at less than $20, practically the same price as a new DVD. The studios initially saw Blu-ray as a way to get consumers to pay more for movies after years of steady price erosion on DVD, but the troubled economy has changed that thinking. Read more here.

This Week's Releases (November 10)

From the Big Screen:

"The Ugly Truth" and "Up." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

photo "The Three Stooges Collection Volume Seven: 1952-1954" is a two-disc set with 22 digitally remastered shorts that continue the Stooges legacy with the return of the original Stooge, Shemp. These were made during a tumultuous time for The Three Stooges. In 1952 Curly succumbed to the illness brought on by his stroke six years earlier; he was only 48 when he died. Shemp had really hit his stride by this time and he is at the top of his game in the new shorts from this period, but budget cutbacks at Columbia forced director Jules White to recycle some old footage. Included are such classics as the Stooges' 3D shorts: "Spooks" and Pardon My Backfire," presented for the first time in both 3D and 2D, as well as "Shot in the Frontier," a parody of "High Noon." This compilation also marks the first time many of the shorts will be available in widescreen versions since their original theatrical presentations. $24.96 from Sony.

"Mamma Mia! The Movie Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! More Gift Set" photo (2008) is a two-disc Special Edition with the complete CD soundtrack and an exclusive 32-page book (with photos and details about the making of the film) in collectible packaging. Extras include "Sing-Along" on-screen lyrics for 22 musical numbers; deleted musical number "The Name of the Game"; commentary by director Phyllida Lloyd; "The Making of Mamma Mia! The Movie"; "Anatomy of a Musical Number: 'Lay All Your Love on Me'": "Becoming a Singer" featurette; "Behind the Scenes With Amanda"; "On Location in Greece"; "A Look Inside Mamma Mia! The Movie"; "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Music Video; Bjorn Ulvaeus cameo; deleted scenes and outtakes. From Universal. (Posted November 10)

From TV to Video:

"Dawson's Creek: The Complete Series" (1998-2007) is a collectible book-style packaging with all 127 episodes, $119.95 from Sony ... "The Gambler, the Girl and the Gunslinger" (2009) stars Dean Cain, James Tupper, Allison Hossach in a Hallmark Channel Western about two rivals -- co-owners of a ranch and feuding over a local beauty -- team up to fend off a gang of bandits; from E1 Entertainment ... "Heartland: Season 1, Part 2" (2008) is a two-disc set with six episodes, $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ... photo "JAG: The Ninth Season" (2003-04) is a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $55.98 from Paramount ... "Nash Bridges: The Third Season" (1997-98) is a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount ... "Natalee Holloway" (2009) is a Lifetime movie based on the disappearance of Alabama high school student Natalee Holloway during a graduation trip to Aruba; stars Tracy Pollan, Grant Show and Catherine Dent; from Sony ... "Show Me Yours: The Complete Series" (2004-05) is a two-disc set with all 16 episodes -- unedited and uncensored -- of the racy Canadian dramedy about a reserved psychologist turned sex expert; $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "The Untouchables: Season Three, Volume Two" (1961-62) is a three-disc set, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Would Be Kings" (2008), starring Robert Forster, Patrick Lahane, Natasha Henstridge and Jaimie Collins, is a Canadian TV miniseries about two drug-squad cops who are both cousins and best friends whose relationships and families are threatened by police corruption within their force; from E1 Entertainment. (Posted November 10)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "Spread" (2009), starring Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche, Margarita Levieva, Sonia Rockwell, Maria Conchita Alonso, Hart Bochner, Kutcher plays a sexual grifter, a fun-loving, freeloading hipster who understands that his greatest assets are his looks and sexual prowess, both of which he uses to charm his way into the hearts of Los Angeles' richest women and enjoy their lifestyle ... until one day he's forced to decide between love and money in the hopes of finding something real. From Anchor Bay ... In "The Accidental Husband" (2009), a firefighter finds his life turned upside-down when his fiancee suddenly calls off their pending nuptials per the recommendation of a radio love guru. Determined to get back at the "love doctor," Sullivan forges a fake marriage license, "accidentally" marrying him to the radio doctor, who's already engaged to someone else. Directed by Griffin Dunne and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Uma Thurman, Colin Firth, Sam Shepard, Isabella Rossellini and Justina Machado; from Sony ... photo A young woman gets involved with a hit man who hates himself and is bent on committing suicide in "The Merry Gentleman" (2008), directed by and starring Michael Keaton; co-stars: Kelly Macdonald and Tom Bastounes, from Genius Entertainment ... In "American Virgin" (2009), starring Jenna Dewan, Rob Schneider and Brianne Davis, a virginal college freshman on scholarship from an abstinence group embarks on a cross-country trip after she ruins her squeaky-clean reputation in front of the "Chicks Go Crazy" cameras; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "The Christmas Clause (aka The Mrs. Clause)" (2008), starring Lea Thompson, Andrew Airlie and Laura Mennell, a stressed-out lawyer and mother of three gets her yuletide wish when she asks a department store Santa to see what her life would be like if she were single; from MTI Home Video. (Posted November 10)

On the Indie Front:

A young girl seduced by a boy's affluent, seemingly idyllic family, goes to extremes to gain acceptance and escape her poverty-stricken home life in "Evergreen" (2009), starring Cara Seymour, Addie Land, Mary Kay Place, Noah Fleiss, Gary Farmer, Lynn Cohen and Bruce Davison, from IndiePix Films. (Posted November 10)

Foreign:

In "A Woman in Berlin" (2009 -- Germany), starring Nina Hoss, Yevgeni Sidikhin, Irm Hermann and Rüdiger Vogler, a woman tries to survive the invasion of Berlin by the Soviet troops during the last days of World War II; from Strand. (Posted November 10)

For the Family:

"SpongeBob SquarePants: Truth or Square" (2009) features the Special Extended Director's Cut of the "Truth or Square" TV Movie with celebrity appearances; from Paramount/Nickelodeon ... "Sesame Street: 40 Years Of Sunny Days" (2009) is a two-disc set that spans the renowned show's four decades, including never-before-seen archival footage and a limited-edition hard covered commemorative book; $29.93 from Sesame Workshop/Genius Products ... "Justice League: The Complete Series" (2001-06) is a 15-disc set with 91 animated episodes, $99.98 from Warner. (Posted November 10)

Special Interest:

"Doomsday 2012" (2008) is a History Channel documentary that cuts through the myths and offers a fact-based examination of the doomsday prophecy that the world will end December 21, 2012. Released to coincide with Roland Emmerich's mega-budget, mega-disaster movie "2012" opening this Friday; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... photo "The Official Major League Baseball World Series Film Collection" (2009) is a 20-disc set that preserves more than six decades of iconic moments, featuring 65 World Series films (covering the years 1943 to 2008) in 50 hours -- with a 58-page commemorative book spanning baseball’s 105 year history; $229.00 from MLB/A&E Home Video.

"MoveOn: The Movie" (2009) is a documentary on MoveOn. org, the political group born out of a single email that has spread through the Net to become one of the most powerful progressive players in American politics. With no central office and a small staff working from their homes, MoveOn.org has grown to an organization with over 5 million members. Features behind-the-scenes footage with MoveOn staff and members, home movies, archival footage, and interviews with political figures and celebrities both in support and opposition to the group; from The Disinformation Company ... "Rethink Afghanistan" (2009) is a hard-hitting, feature-length documentary about the United States' escalating military involvement in Afghanistan; raises hard questions about the war; $19.98 from The Disinformation Company.

There's a veritable ring full of World Wrestling Entertainment releases this week: "WWE: Breaking Point 2009" featuring the biggest stars in the WWE battling it out in a series of submission matches; $25.00 ... "WWE: Summerslam 2009" featuring the 22nd consecutive year of SummerSlam with intense rivalries Randy Orton vs. John Cena, Chris Jericho & Big Show vs. Cryme Tyme, MVP vs. Jack Swagger, five more; $25.00 ... "WWE: Batista -- I Walk Alone," a three-disc set that takes a look at wrestling superstar Batista, nicknamed the Animal; $35.00 ... photo "WWE: Hell in a Cell 2009" in which WWE champs face off in a caged in ring; features United States Championship Triple Threat Match Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. The Miz, World Heavyweight Championship Hell in a Cell Match CM Punk vs. Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibias, five more. $24.95 ... "WWE: Survivor Series Anthology, Vol. 1 -- 1987-1991" and "WWE: Survivor Series Anthology, Vol. 2 -- 1992-1996," in which the Superstars of Raw, SmackDown and ECW battle to be the ultimate survivors each year in the Survivor events; the unique 5-on-5 elimination matches have always been favorites with WWE fans. Each five-disc set features 30 matches; $59.95. (Posted November 10)

Fox Adds iPhone, Computer Synch to DVDs

Knowing
"Smithsonian" is home to new DVD technology.

(November 8) 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has a new DVD/Blu-ray Disc technology aimed at keeping you glued to the screen, according to a report at Home Media Magazine. Debuting on Fox's "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," the "Foxpop" technology allows viewers to sync up their iPhone or computer with the film. A downloaded program "hears" what point the film as at and automatically starts feeding information to the viewer based on those scenes. For example, trivia, film and song facts, and even Facebook or Twitter notes from others watching the movie, appear on the phone or computer screen in conjunction with the movie. When Amelia Earhart's character appears, trivia about her life shows up. When Ben Stiller is seen, background on the actor shows up. When a song plays in the background, info on the music shows up. Talk about keeping you in your seat.

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'New Moon' Rises at Blockbuster

(November 4) Blockbuster Inc. is giving away tickets to advance theatrical screenings of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," the highly anticipated sequel to the teen vampire hit "Twilight," according to a report at Home Media Magazine. Blockbuster stores in 20 select markets will give away free tickets Nov. 13 for the Nov. 19 screening. The cities include Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

This Week's Releases (November 3)

From the Big Screen:

"Aliens in the Attic," "Food, Inc.," "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," "I Love You, Beth Cooper" and "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas ... and Chanukah and Kwanza ... as the studios start releasing gift sets and special editions to tickle buyers' fancies. Up this week:
For its 50th anniversary, Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" (1959) has received a meticulous restoration and remastering with Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging scanning the original VistaVision production elements in 8K resolution. photo The film, which starred Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau, will be available as a Special Edition DVD, retailing for $24.98, and in premium Blu-ray Book packaging, selling for $34.99. Extras include "The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style," a featurette that consists of interviews, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage that examines the unmistakable Hitchcock style; "North by Northwest: One for the Ages," featuring Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, Curtis Hanson and Francis Lawrence sharing their interpretations on the film's importance and its influence on their own work. The Blu-ray Book also contains 44 pages full of photos, film facts and "insider information."

"Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I" is a five-disc set of restored and digitally re-mastered Film Noir classics from the 1950s: Edward Dmytryk's "The Sniper" (1952), one of the earliest studies of a murderous psychopath who kills randomly and without motive, filmed in San Francisco; "The Big Heat"" (1953), photo Fritz Lang's policier that stars Glenn Ford as a loving husband and father driven by grief to conduct a relentless vendetta against mobster Alexander Scourby and his brutal henchman, Lee Marvin (featuring the famous disfiguring of Gloria Grahame's face by a cup of hot coffee); "5 Against the House" (1955), a thriller about a quartet of Korean war vets -- aided by a sizzling Kim Novak -- who plan a "perfect" crime -- robbing a casino in Reno, Nevada; "Murder by Contract" (1958), starring Vince Edwards as a hired assassin whose latest "assignment" is about to testify against the mob; and Don Siegel's"The Lineup" (1958), a double narrative that follows two criminals involved in a dope smuggling scheme and the police who follow their trail of violence and death across San Francisco. Bonus features include authors Eddie Muller and James Ellroy on "The Lineup," Muller on "The Sniper," Martin Scorsese on "Murder by Contract," "The Sniper" and "The Big Heat," Michael Mann on "The Big Heat," and "The Influence of Noir With Christopher Nolan" on "The Lineup." $59.95 from Sony.

Gift sets due this week include:
"March of the Penguins Limited Edition Giftset" featuring the 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary with "On the Wings of a Penguin" new documentary revealing the lives and adventures of the African penguin, featurettes, a plush African penguin toy and collectible postcards; $39.92 from Warner ... photo "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Ultimate Collector's Edition" with the 1989 comedy packed in a collectibles gift tin that includes a replica of Clark Griswold's holiday Santa hat, a set of holiday themed drink coasters with memorable quotes from the film, a box of faux snow, and an "I survived a Griswold Family Christmas" button, from Warner ... "It's a Wonderful Life DVD Gift Set," yet another version of the 1946 holiday season chestnut in a new two-disc DVD Shadow Box, from Paramount ... "Irving Berlin's White Christmas Anniversary Edition" (1954), in a two-disc set featuring new commentary and featurettes, from Paramount ... "Forrest Gump Box of Chocolates" featuring a special edition of the 1994 film packaged in a "chocolate box" with chocolate scent, a commemorative booklet and a replica "Forrest Gump" feather bookmark, also from Paramount ... Four more sets in the "TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection": Holiday Classics: "A Christmas Carol," "Christmas in Connecticut," "The Shop Around the Corner" and "It Happened on 5th Avenue"; Comedy Classics: "Arsenic and Old Lace," "A Night at the Opera," "The Long, Long Trailer" and "Father of the Bride"; Family Classics: "National Velvet," "Lassie Come Home," "Flipper" and "The Incredible Mr. Limpet"; Hitchcock Thrillers: "Suspicion," "Strangers on a Train," "I Confess" and "The Wrong Man"; $27.92 per set from Warner.

Also out this week: "Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut," a five-disc set that weaves together the "Tales of the Black Freighter" with the "Watchmen: Director's Cut" and including all 12 episodes of "Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic," $43.87 from Warner ... "Say Anything 20th Anniversary Edition" (1989), starring John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor, Joan Cusack and Jeremy Piven, with such bonus features as "A Conversation With Cameron Crowe" featurette, "I Love Say Anything ...! featurette, intro and commentary by Cameron Crowe, John Cusack and Ione Skye; alternate, deleted and extended scenes, and more; from Fox ... and The Criterion Collection edition of Wim Wenders "Wings of Desire" (1987), which we reported on two weeks ago. (Posted November 3)

From TV to Video:

"Here's Lucy: Season Two" (1969-70) is a four-disc set with 24 episodes, $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... "The Rockford Files: Movie Collection -- Volume 1," a two-disc set with four Rockford TV movies, $26.98 from Universal ... "The Shield: The Complete Series Collection" (2002-08), a 28-disc set with 88 episodes presented in a collectible 34-page bound anthology book, $159.95 from Sony ... "Spin City: Season Three" (1998-99), a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $39.99 from Shout! Factory. (Posted November 3)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

photo In the futuristic thriller "Hardwired" (2009), Cuba Gooding Jr. become the unwitting target of a dangerous corporation hell-bent on controlling mankind through brain implants and mind manipulation; co-stars Michael Ironside and Val Kilmer; from Sony ... A man and his wife must face their tortured pasts in order to save their kidnapped daughter in a Texas border town hell of barrios and bordellos in "Not Forgotten" (2009), starring Simon Baker, Paz Vega, Michael DeLorenzo, Ken Davitian and Claire Forlani; from (Anchor Bay Entertainment ...A group of friends at a dinner party at an isolated mansion must fend off a hoard of contagiously infected birds in "Beast Within (aka Virus Undead) (2008), from Barnholtz Entertainment/Lionsgate ... A company's plan to create the most addictive food additive goes awry and the substance transforms humans into savage, bloodthirsty creatures in "Mutants (2008), starring Michael Ironside and Steven Bauer; from North American Motion Pictures ... In "Dark Mirror" (2007), staring Lisa Vidal, David Chisum and Joshua Pelegrin, a former photographer turned stay-at-home mom discovers that the people she photographs die and are reflected in the cut-glass windows and beveled mirrors in her strange new house; from IFC Films. (Posted November 3)

On the Indie Front:

photo "Who Is KK Downey?" (2008) is the feature-length debut from Canada's Kidnapper Films comedy troupe, poking fun at recent literary hoaxes in the media; two wannabes -- one a musician, the other a writer -- hatch a plan to turn the writer's fictional book into an autobiography by having the rocker dress up as the story's protagonist, KK Downey, and claim all the events as having happened to him. All of a sudden the book nobody wanted becomes an overnight literary sensation; from IndiePix Films ... In "Where God Left His Shoes" (2007) John Leguizamo stars as Gulf War veteran and washed-up prizefighter -- evicted from his New York City home -- who tries to find a job to get his family into an apartment in a housing project ... on Christmas eve; from IFC films. (Posted November 3)

Foreign:

"Lemon Tree" (2008 -- Israel-Germany-France) offers a unique, personal look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: It's the story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemon tree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have the grove torn down for security reasons; from IFC Films ... With just 72 hours left before the Earth is destroyed by a giant meteorite, a Spanish villager must defend his family against a notorious, brutal serial killer who has escaped from prison in "Before the Fall" (2008 -- Spain); from IFC Films. (Posted November 3)

For the Family:

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One" (2008) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes of the hit TV series for kids, $44.98 from Warner ... "Ruby-Spears Superman" (2008) is a two-disc set with all 13 episodes of the Saturday morning animated Superman episodes created by veteran writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, $26.99 from Warner ... photo In "Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House Of Mouse" (2001), Mickey and friends get snowed in at the house of mouse and learn about the true meaning of Christmas in this full-length adventure, $26.99 from Disney ... "Walt Disney Treasures Wave IX: Zorro: The Complete First and Second Season" (1957-59) are two six-disc sets housed in numbered, collectible black tin cases with all 78 episodes of the 1950s action series, $59.99 each; each limited edition, individually numbered volume includes a Zorro pin, an authenticity certificate and exclusive lithograph; from Disney ... "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Christmas Carol" (2009) is an animated Christmas adventure that has Dora helping her friend Swiper get back on Santa's nice list after being naughty; $19.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount. (Posted November 3)

Special Interest:

"Ancient Lives" (2008) is a four-part documentary that reveals the daily lives of ancient Egyptians, focusing on a village of royal tomb makers outside Thebes, told through their 3,000-year-old manuscripts, artwork, and other relics; $49.99 from Athena ... "Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs" (2007) uses sophisticated computer graphics and dramatic reconstructions to tell the story of one of the greatest archaeological finds: the late-19th century discovery of a cache of 40 mummies, including 12 kings of Egypt, among them the legendary Rameses the Great; narrated by Christopher Lee; $19.98 from Image Entertainment ... "The Christians" is a five-disc set of the 13-part documentary that examines Christianity not as a religious faith, but as a historical and cultural force that has inspired benevolence and conquest, sublime art and barbaric warfare through the centuries; $99.99 from Athena ... Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of "On the Origin of Species's" publication and the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, the three-part series "The Genius of Charles Darwin" (2009) examines evolution and its legacy; $49.99 from Athena ... "Earth 2100" (2009) is a powerful documentary that addresses head-on what most of us would prefer not to think about: that by the end of this century, life as we know it could come to an end. Emmy-winning broadcast journalist Bob Woodruff hosts this special that examines how, due to man-made climate change and other factors, civilization could crumble, leaving only faint traces of human existence behind; $14.98 from MPI Home Video ... photo "The Botany of Desire" (2009), based on Michael Pollan's best-selling book, shows how human desires are an essential, intricate part of natural history. The documentary explores the natural history of four plants -- the apple, the tulip, marijuana,and the potato -- and the corresponding human desires -- "sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and controlling nature" -- that link the plants' destinies to our own; $24.99 from PBS ... In "Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush" (2009), comedian-actor Will Ferrell takes viewers on a sentimental journey through the life, legend, and legacy of the 43rd U.S President, portraying George W. Bush in this live performance from Broadway's Cort Theater; $19.97 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "G.I. Joe: Resolute" (2009) is an 11-part series that features a more sophisticated animation style and story than prior G.I. Joe outings; it's intended for the adult fan who grew up with the brand in the 80s; from Paramount. (Posted November 3)

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'Twilight' Comes Back to Life on VOD

(November 1) Just days after Warner Bros. and sales/rental tracking firm Rentrak announced that Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" had unseated "Twilight" as the No. 1 VOD title for the year, later data shows that the Oct. 1 re-release of "Twilight" on video-on-demand rental helped Summit Home Entertainment's teen vampire reclaim the No. 1 title. "Twilight" was released on cable VOD through Nov. 1 with additional footage aimed at promoting the theatrical release of the sequel, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," on Nov. 20.

'Gran Torino' Drives Over 'Twilight'

photo (October 29) Can a grumpy old man beat out a hot young vampire? Well he can if he's Clint Eastwood. According to a report in Video Business, Eastwood's "Gran Torino" has bested "Twilight" to become the top-renting video-on-demand movie this year, according to Warner Home Video and Rentrak. "Gran Torino" has generated $30 million in consumer VOD spending worldwide on cable and satellite; that doesn't include rentals through iTunes, Amazon Video On Demand, Xbox 360 or other digital platforms. "Twilight" was the top VOD title for the first six months of the year.

This Week's Releases (November 3)

From the Big Screen:

"Ice Age 3 Dawn of the Dinosaurs," "Orphan" and "Whatever Works." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

There's a wealth of collectible DVDs hitting the shelves this week. First up is photo "The Collector's Choice: Samuel Fuller Collection," a seven-disc set featuring two of acclaimed auteur Fuller's best films making their DVD debuts: "The Crimson Kimono" (1959) and "Underworld U.S.A." (1961), both directed by Fuller, in addition to five films written by Fuller: "It Happened in Hollywood" (1937, directed by Harry Lachman), "Adventure in Sahara" (1938, directed by D. Ross Lederman), "Power of the Press" (1943, directed by Lew Landers), "Shockproof" (1949, directed by Douglas Sirk) and "Scandal Sheet" (1952, directed by Phil Karlson). All seven have been restored and remastered and are being released on DVD for the first time. The set -- selling for $79.95 -- includes a host of extras; from Sony.

Director Costa-Gavras's "Z" shook up the film establishment when it was released in 1969. In this pulse-pounding political thriller, loosely based on the 1963 assassination of Greek left-wing activist Gregoris Lambrakis Yves Montand stars as a prominent politician and doctor whose public murder amid a violent demonstration is covered up by military and government officials; Jean-Louis Trintignant is the tenacious magistrate who's determined not to let them get away with it. photo Featuring kinetic, rhythmic editing, Raoul Coutard's expressive verite photography, and Mikis Theodorakis's unforgettable, propulsive score, "Z" is a technically audacious and emotionally gripping masterpiece that set the standard for political films. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard; from The Criterion Collection ... "Death in the Garden (La mort en ce jardin)" (1956) is a long-unseen Luis Bunuel masterpiece, available for the first time on DVD, in a new, restored print. Amid a revolution in a South American mining outpost, a band of fugitives -- a roguish adventurer (Georges Marchal), a local hooker (Simone Signoret), a priest (Michel Piccoli), an aging diamond miner (Charles Vanel) and his deaf-mute daughter -- are forced to flee for their lives into the jungle. Starving, exhausted and stripped of their old identities, they wander desperately, lured by one deceptive promise of salvation after another. It's pure Bunuel at his Surrealist best; from Microcinema International.

The Golden Age of Television's "The Barbara Stanwyck Show" anthology series began 50 years ago on NBC, airing 36 episodes from 1960-61, and starred multi-talented actress Barbara Stanwyck, the American Film Institute's "11th Greatest Female Star of All Time." photo This three-DVD set features 15 of the series' most memorable half-hour dramas, including "The Key to a Killer" with Vic Morrow, "Dear Charlie" with Milton Berle and "Confession" with Lee Marvin. As a bonus, the set also includes the never-before-seen pilot episode "Sponsor's Table." $39.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "The Different Cinema Volume 3" features nine films selected for the 10th anniversary of the Festival des Cinemas Differents de Paris, all linked to the heritage of experimental film and the eternal quest for renewal, causes espoused by the festival. From the historical film "Cesaree" by Marguerite Duras to more contemporary creations, this ensemble of films showcases a variety of innovative work; from Microcinema International.

For more modern fare there's "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan" (2009) is an uncensored 90-minute feature (reuniting the series' original TV cast) that follows the evolution of the Cylons (built to serve humanity) from metal robots to humanoids, their attempt (and failure) to destroy the human race, and the flight of humanity to survive; told from the Cylon point of view. From Universal ... He's been called the Prince of Darkness, the Black Pope, the Fox, the Sphinx and the Hunchback, but the nickname Il Divo -- the God -- perhaps best fits the persona of Italy's seven-time prime minister and "senator for life," Giulio Andreotti, a figure who held sway over the entire Italian political landscape for decades. The scandals that plagued Andreotti’s career -- charges of Mafia ties, bribery and deadly violence -- would seem too appalling to be true, but viewers can decide for themselves in the award-winning documentary "Il Divo" (2009), from MPI Home Video. (Posted October 27)

From TV to Video:

"Angel and the Badman" (2009) stars Lou Diamond Phillips and Deborah Kara Unger in a remake of the 1947 John Wayne-Gail Russell Western about a notorious gunfighter who's transformed into a man of peace by a good woman, from Barnholtz Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Dr. G: Medical Examiner, Season 1" (2004-05) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes of the Discovery Health series, from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "DogTown: Friends in Need" (2009) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes from the National Geographic series featuring the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and its resilient canine wards, $29.98 from National Geographic Home Entertainment) ... "The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One" (1965) is a four-disc set, $39.98 from Paramount ... photo "The Guardian: The First Season" (2001-02) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from CBS/Paramount ... "Life After People: The Complete Season One" (2008) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $34.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force: The Complete Season One" (2008-09) is a three-disc set with 18 episodes, $24.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Mannix: The Third Season" (1969-70) is a six-disc set with 25 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount ... "Predators" features three Animal Planet programs that chronicle the world's most dangerous and deadly animals, $14.95 from Animal Planet and Genius Products ... "Tales From the Darkside: The Second Season" (1985-86) is a three-disc set with 23 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... "Trial & Retribution Set 3" (2005-07) is a three-disc set with three riveting crime dramas from the hit British series created by "Prime Suspect" creator Lynda La Plante; $59.99 from Acorn Media. (Posted October 27)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "Pandemic" (2009), starring Ray Wise, Graham McTavish, Peter Asle Holden and Alesha Clarke, a veterinarian finds herself in the midst of a horrible contagious disease that affects both humans and animals; from MTI Home Video ... When three honest security guards learn that their favorite artworks are being sent to another museum, they concoct a plan to switch the real masterpieces with fakes in "The Maiden Heist" (2009), starring Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden; from Sony ... photo In "Criminal Ways"(2003), starring Nick Giannopoulos, Russell Dykstra, Isla Fisher, Michael Carman and Lena Cruz, a no-talent teacher at a performing arts school is hired to turn a clan of shady crooks into a children's theater group in order to infiltrate a child's birthday party and steal a multi-million dollar diamond necklace; from Barnholtz Entertainment/Magnolia Home Entertainment ... Two indirect, distant descendants of Edgar Allan Poe, exploring the famous author's past, begin a romance, causing the dark and deadly secrets of Poe's legacy to emerge in "Descendant" (2003), starring Katherine Heigl, Jeremy London, Nick Stabile, Whitney Dylan, Matt Farnsworth, Margot Hartman Tenny, Arie Verveen and William Katt; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "For Sale by Owner" (2009), starring Scott Cooper, Skeet Ulrich, Tom Skerritt, Rachel Nichols and Kris Kristofferson, a young preservation architect embarks on a project that takes him from the hallways of the esteemed University of Virginia to the banks of the Chesapeake Bay on a dark search for answers to one of America's oldest and most lasting legends: the legend of the Lost Colony; from Monarch Home Video. (Posted October 27)

Foreign:

"Fear(s) of the Dark" (2007) is a French anthology that brings together some of the world's leading graphic artists and cartoonists -- Blutch (Christian Hincker), Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Richard McGuire, Pierre di Sciullo and Lorenzo Mattotti -- to breathe life into nightmares, using stark light and the pitch black of shadows. This is their stark and naked world of phobias, nightmares and shadows, of strange noises, slimy bugs and dead things. It s a creepy, kinky, sometimes funny and always scary ride inside what makes our skin crawl and keeps us awake all night. From MPI Home Video ... In "Sauna" (2008 -- Finland/Czech Republic), two men, part of a detachment commissioned to map a new border between after a 25-year struggle between Sweden and Russia that ended in 1595 and wreaked devastation on Finland, mistreat a family in the swampy terrain and pay the price when they seek relief in a village's ominous sauna; from IFC Films. (Posted October 27)

For the Family:

"Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" (2009) is the second film in the continuing Disney Fairies Franchise. Here Tinker Bell must venture out across the sea on a secret quest to set things right after accidentally putting Pixie Hollow in jeopardy during the Autumn Pixie Dust festival; $29.95 with such extras as "Scenes You Never Saw" alternate scenes, "Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow," deleted scenes, "Pixie Hollow Comes to Florida" showing how the filmmakers helped transform Disney's Florida EPCOT into Pixie Hollow; from Disney ... photo "Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics" assembles some of the best-loved tales in children's literature in an unprecedented collection of 100 classic, award-winning storybooks on 16 DVDs with nearly 20 hours of quality entertainment for kids and parents alike. From the Maurice Sendak classic "Where the Wild Things Are" to the beloved adventures of Curious George and Corduroy, the set features works by some of the most acclaimed children's authors and illustrators including: Ezra Jack Keats, H.A. Rey, Kevin Henkes, Doreen Cronin and Robert McCloskey, just to name a few. $99.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Chicka Chicka 123" is a two-disc set that includes the title stories as well as "Blueberries for Sal" and "Emily's First 100 Days of School," stories aimed at helping kids learn about letters and numbers; $19.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" (2009) features six episodes from the Nicktoons Network series for boys aged 6-11, $16.95 from Marvel Entertainment/Genius Products. (Posted October 27)

Special Interest:

Award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt has been a household name for decades with his Emmy-winning "On the Road" segments, first airing on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and, then as the first host of the CBS News Sunday Morning. Beginning in 1967, he and his small CBS television crew crisscrossed the nation in a motor home, avoiding the interstates to meet the ordinary people on America's back roads. The resulting vignettes became a beloved touchstone of American culture for more than 20 years and remain deeply meaningful, touching, and truthful. "On the Road With Charles Kuralt Set 1" is a three-disc that includes 18 episodes, each featuring multiple pieces, on DVD for the first time; $39.99 from Acorn media ... How many Wegman weimaraners does it take to count the Twelve Days of Christmas? Famed artist William Wegman brings together his famous family of weimaraners to get ready for the holidays in a witty and delightful festival of decorating, crafts, cooking, gift wrapping, fruitcake, and more in photo "William Wegman's Fay's Twelve Days of Christmas" (2006). William Wegman's version of the holiday classic is a wonderland dream come true for kids and fans alike; $14.99 from Microcinema International ... "Adult Swim in a Box" is a seven-disc set with 20 hours of the best of Adult Swim: "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume 2," "Space Ghost Season 3," "Moral Oral Season 1," "Robot Chicken Season 2," "Metalocalypse Season 1" and "Sealab Season 2"; $69.98 from Warner ... "The Nostradamus Files" is a two-disc set with two History Channel documentaries: "The Lost Book of Nostradamus" and "Nostradamus 2012", $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "The Rise of Monty Python: The Other British Invasion" celebrates the 40th anniversary of Monty Python. This two-disc set features two never-aired documentaries: "Before the Flying Circus" with rare vintage footage and interviews that trace the pre-Monty Python influences that honed the wit of the future Pythons; and "Monty Python Conquers America," the story of the other British invasion -- the funny one; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment. (Posted October 27)

Hollywood Eyeing New DVD Rental Window

(October 25) Remember sell-through windows, when consumers had to wait up to several months to buy a movie on VHS? Better refresh your memory, because the home video industry is about to step backwards in time, with a twist.

According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, "In an effort to push consumers toward buying more movies, some major film studios are considering a new policy that would block DVDs from being offered for rental until several weeks after going on sale." photo When VHS tapes hit the market a quarter of a century ago, movies were priced sky-high because there was a small market for sales; the sell-through market (priced to own movies) grew ever-so-slowly until it became the norm with the rise of DVDs. But the studios want to change all that. In this economic recession, they're seen DVD sales tumble while rentals have grown at a startling pace (the studios get a lower chunk of revenue from rentals then sales). The solution, according to the Times, is a plan in which "new DVD releases would be available on a purchase-only basis for a few weeks, after which time companies such as Blockbuster Inc. and Netflix Inc. would be allowed to rent the DVDs to their customers." Yesterday's sell-through window becomes today's rental-window. My how the times have changed.

Tarantino's 'Basterds' Home for the Holidays

photo (October 21) Universal has announced a December 15 release for Quentin Tarantino's imaginative and outrageous take on World War II, "Inglourious Basterds" -- just in time for holiday gift-giving. The film, headlined by Brad Pitt and featuring bravura performances by Diane Kruger, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Samm Levine, B.J. Novak and Til Schweiger, follows a group of Jewish soldiers getting revenge on the Nazi by relentlessly and brutally killing and scalping them in German-occupied France. It's tongue-in-check, violent and -- well, downright brilliant -- and is one of the best Tarantino film in years -- and one of the best films of 2009. "Basterds" will be available as a single-disc DVD, two-disc DVD special edition, and Blu-ray Disc.

This Week's Releases (October 20)

From the Big Screen:

"Cheri" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

photo William Castle, the master of ballyhoo who became a brand name in movie horror with his outrageous audience participation gimmicks and promotions (including wiring theater seats to vibrate in key scenes of "The Tingler" and providing nurses who offered blood-pressure tests in the lobby of theaters screening "Homicidal") will be remembered by Sony with the "William Castle Film Collection," a five-disc set featuring eight of the legendary producer-director's most notable films, including "The Tingler" (1959), "13 Ghosts" (1960), "Homicidal" (1961), "Mr. Sardonicus" (1961) and "Strait-Jacket" (1964). Also included in the collection are "Zotz!" (1962), "The Old Dark House" (1963) and "13 Frightened Girls" (1963), each making their DVD debuts. Among the extras are commentaries; original theatrical openings; alternate sequences; vintage footage; original theatrical trailers; "Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story" (2007), an acclaimed documentary on Castle by director Jeffrey Schwarz; and six featurettes; $80.95 from Sony.

There's a couple of terrific foreign classics due this week: Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire" (1987) is one of cinema's loveliest city symphonies. Bruno Ganz stars as Damiel, an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams of all the people living below. But when he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist, he is willing to give up his immortality to come back to earth to be with her. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, available on standard DVD and Blu-ray; from The Criterion Collection ... photo "Moon in the Gutter" (1983 -- French), making its U.S. DVD debut as part of the Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection, is an atmospheric and vastly underrated adaptation of David Goodis' noir classic. Gerard Depardieu stars as a raffish longshoreman who mourns his dead sister -- who was raped before committing suicide -- amongst the bars and sleazy dives of the seedy Marseilles waterfront. When mystery girl Nastassja Kinski goes slumming in his neighborhood, Depardieu is bewitched by her beauty and soon learns she may know something about the identity of his sibling's attacker. From Cinema Libre Studio.

Lastly, Warner Home Video has released "You Must Remember This -- The Warner Bros. Story" (2008), film historian Richard Schickel's perceptive five-episode, 85th-anniversary salute to the studio that gained a four-footed hold with an unlikely star (Rin Tin Tin), championed tough guys and dames who gave the Depression and the Nazis the raspberry, countered the boxoffice onslaught of TV and emerged as a 21st-century giant; narrated by Clint Eastwood; $29.98. (Posted October 20)

From TV to Video:

"Black Adder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition" (1983) is a six-disc set of the BBC series starring Rowan Atkinson as the comic villain Edmund Blackadder in the enormously popular comedy series that follows Blackadder in send-ups of the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan age, the Regency period, and World War I; $79.98 from Warner ... "Blood +: Part 2" (2007-08) is a five-disc set with 25 episodes, $119.95 from Sony ... "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Series" contains 42-discs with all 159 episodes and two feature-length movies, $149.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Fawlty Towers Remastered Special Edition" (1975) is a three-disc set of the entire BBC series starring John Cleese as Basil Fawlty, the much put-upon, hard-working hotel manager whose life is plagued by dead guests, hotel inspectors, riff-raff and his nagging wife; $49.09 from Warner ... "Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season" (1974-75) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount ... "Homicide: Life on the Street: The Complete Series" is a 35-disc set with all 122 episodes, $149.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... photo "It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series DVD Box Set" (1986-90) is the anxiously awaited DVD box set with 16 DVDs featuring the complete 72 episodes from the entire four seasons, a payload of bonus content and much more -- all collected in a lavish package; from Shout! Factory ... "The L Word: The Complete Final Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with eight episodes, $59.99 from Paramount ... "Numbers: The Fifth Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $60.90 from Paramount ... "Route 66: Season Three, Volume Two" (1963) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $29.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... "Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler" (2009) is a single-disc, $19.99 from Universal ... "Top Chef: New York: The Complete Season Five" (2008-09) is a four-disc set, $29.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Vega$: The First Season, Volume 1" (1978) is a three-disc set with 11 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount. (Posted October 20)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

The live-action "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2009), based on the cult Japanese anime feature of the same name and the hit "Blood +" television series, tells the story of Saya, a female warrior on a centuries old quest to rid the world of blood sucking vampires; from Sony ... "Last of the Living" (2008) photo is a low-budget but enjoyable New Zealand post-apocalyptic zombie flick about three slackers who spend their days drifting from one vacant house to another, getting their kicks killing the undead, until they meet a female scientist who may have a cure for the outbreak; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "The Elephant King" (2008) stars Ellen Burstyn as a domineering mother who dispatches her young, introverted son Oliver off to Thailand to do anything he can to lure his reckless, older brother Jake back home to face fraud charges. But Oliver finds the intoxication of Thailand hard to resist, and the two brothers find themselves adrift in an exotic world they don't fully understand; co-stars Tate Oliver and Josef Sommer; from E1 Entertainment ... "Night of the Creeps" (1986) is a camp cult film about a small college town ravaged by killer slugs from outer space, directed by Fred Dekker; from Sony ... The direct-to-video sequel "Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead" (2009) has Three Finger and his mutant family overrun with trouble when some of the most vicious killers in the country escape into the woods from a bus transporting them to prison; from Fox. (Posted October 20)

For the Family:

There's two compilations of episodes from "Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre" series that ran on Showtime from 1982-1987: "Faerie Tale Theatre: Bedtime Tales" photo features updated versions of "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Sleeping Beauty," "Rip Van Winkle" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"; and "Faerie Tale Theatre: Magical Tales" with updated versions of "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp," "Beauty and the Beast," "Puss in Boots" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"; $14.98 each from E1 Entertainment ... "Peanuts 1970s Collection, Volume 1" is a two-disc set with six "Peanuts" TV features: "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown," "There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown," "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," "It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown," "Play It Again, Charlie Brown," "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown"; $29.98 from Warner ... "Plastic Man: The Complete Collection" (2008) is a four-disc set with 36 classic cartoons, $44.98 from Warner ... "The Transformers: 25th Anniversary "Matrix of Leadership" Edition Collector's Set" (1983) is a 16-disc set with 98 restored episodes, a collectible 60-page book, Autobots and Decepticon Magnets, more; $140.00 from Shout! Factory. (Posted October 20)

Special Interest:

"Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary" (2009) features interviews with 38 directors and 163 film clips from classics such as "Grey Gardens" and "The Thin Blue Line," as well as recent work like "Darwin's Nightmare" and "Touching the Void," to explore the complex creative process that goes into making non-fiction films; $29.99 from First Run Features photo ... "I Am Because We Are" (2009), produced, written, and narrated by Madonna, profiles her journey exploring the lives and suffering of children in Malawi, Africa, who have been orphaned by AIDS; from Virgil Films & Entertainment ... "That Was the GDR" (1993) is a four-part DEFA documentary that chronicles the rise and fall of the German Democratic Republic (or as we called it, East Germany), featuring illuminating interviews complemented by rare archival materials from film, photographs, posters, caricatures, popular songs and speeches; two-disc set, $29.95 from First Run Features ... "One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur" is a journey through the locations that inspired Jack Kerouac's soul-searching memoir "Big Sur," including the Beat haunts of New York's Greenwich Village, San Francisco's North Beach, and an isolated cabin in a fog-banked Big Sur canyon. More than 30 musicians, actors, writers, and poets tell the story of Big Sur and help unearth what made the book a classic work. Featured are writer Sam Shepard, singer Patti Smith, singer Tom Waits, actress Amber Tamblyn, actor Donal Logue, actor John Ventimiglia, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet Aram Saroyan, and many more. More information can be found at OneFastMove.com.)

"Blood, Sweat + Gears" (2009) is the inspirational story of America's only ProTour cycling team, a team devoted not only to cleaning up the sport of cycling but to winning the Tour de France. The documentary takes viewers on an incredible emotional journey, following the ups and downs of an underdog cycling team as they try, against all odds, to ride triumphantly into Paris; $29.95 from First Run Features ... "In Search of Santa Claus" (2009) is a revealing pop history look at the amazing transformation of a holy man into a treasured icon of Christmas joy, $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group ... "They Killed Sister Dorothy" (2008) is a documentary about Sister Dorothy Stang, a 73-year-old Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio, who was shot six times at point blank range at the mouth of the Amazon River. The events that led to her death, and the trials that follow, reveal the larger battle being fought for the future of the rainforest. Narrated by Martin Sheen. $24.95 from First Run Features ... "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live" (2009) commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a comprehensive collection of performances compiled from a quarter century of induction celebrations. The collection boasts 125 remarkable performances by the most influential and significant figures in rock music history, as well as the speeches, toasts and roasts by which these members of rock royalty salute each others' accomplishments; from Time Life. (Posted October 20)

'District 9' Takes Over Dec. 29

photo (October 19) Looks like Sony will be capturing the end-of-the-year DVD market with the announcement that it will release the smash hit "District 9" on December 29 (so far, this is the only major post-Christmas theatrical-to-DVD release). The filmmakers of the science fiction film, using hand-held cameras and a cinema verite interview style, created an involving story about an extraterrestrial race, refugees from their planet, forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth, facing racism and exploitation. The movie went on to make $114 million in the U.S. Sony will make the film available as a standard DVD, a two-disc special edition DVD and on Blu-ray. Read about bonus features at the December DVD Calendar page.

Netflix Splatters Web With New Horror Series

photo (October 17) Accortding to a report in Home Media Magazine, Netflix has partnered with 'B'-movie producer Roger Corman and director Joe Dante ("Gremlins," "The Howling") for an original horror online series "Splatter," which launches Oct. 29 at www.netflix.com/splatter. Co-produced by Julie Corman, the series stars former teen actor Corey Feldman as Johnny Splatter, a rocker who takes his own life in his Hollywood Hills home. Five friends gather to hear his last will and testament, but Johnny returns from the grave to toment them. In a nod to reality shows, online viewers will be able to vote weekly on the fate of the characters.

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'Hellraiser' Tops Reapers

(October 15) The boxed set of "Hellraiser" won the top honor at the first-ever Reaper Awards, earning Best of Show as well as Best Packaging and Best Re-mastering for Anchor Bay Entertainment. The announcement came at a red carpet gala awards dinner and cocktail party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles this week. The 2009 Reaper Awards were presented by Home Media Magazine and DreadCentral.com. In addition to Best of Show, the ceremony revealed the winners in 14 categories as voted by consumers in an online vote. A blue-ribbon panel of judges comprised of top names in the horror industry selected finalists in each of the categories from titles released between Sept. 1, 2008, and Aug. 31, 2009. A complete list of winners can be found here.

This Week's Releases (October 13)

From the Big Screen:

"Adoration," "Drag Me to Hell," "Every Little Step," "Land of the Lost" and "The Proposal." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" caused quite a firestorm when it was released in 1994; the ultra-violent film starred Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as psychotic lovebirds who go on a killing spree (ala "Badlands"), with Robert Downey Jr. as a newsman who documents their murders. photo Prior to the theatrical release, Stone reworked the film, made more than 150 cuts, and removed approximately four minutes in order to get an R rating. This is his original unrated Director's Cut. For this 15th anniversary edition, Warner Home Video has added such goodies as a new introduction by Stone; a new featurette, "NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?" that illustrates how current communication technology (blogs, Twitters) would impact the film if it were made today; and a 44-page booklet on the film's production. Also available on Blu-ray Disc.

The science fiction horror thriller "Hardware" (1990) -- the feature film debut of South African writer-director Richard Stanley -- was slammed by critics as a "Terminator" ripoff but the low-budget outing stood on its own. Originally rated X by the MPAA and subsequently edited by distributor Miramax, this version will be presented uncut and uncensored for the first time from a print supplied by Stanley himself. Dylan McDermott stars as a post-apocalyptic scavenger who brings home a battered cyborg skull for his metal-sculptor girlfriend. Unfortunately, the steel scrap contains the brain of the military's combat droid programmed to kill all humans and the robot reassemble itself, going on the hunt for human flesh. A thrilling, breathtaking cult tour-de-force. In a two-disc set DVD set and on Blu-ray from Severin ... "Where the Day Takes You" (1992) showcases a host of young actors before their careers really took off: Will Smith, Sean Astin, Adam Baldwin, Lara Flynn Boyle, Balthazar Getty, Robert Knepper, Ricki Lake, James Le Gros, Nancy McKeon, Alyssa Milano, Dermot Mulroney and Christian Slater. The film revolves around a group of teenage runaways who live each day lost in a spiral of drugs, sex, crime and violence in the underbelly of Hollywood. From Anchor Bay Entertainment. (Posted October 13)

From TV to Video:

"Futurama The Complete Collection 1999-2009" is a 19-disc set with all 72 episodes from the animated cult series, as well as the four feature length adventures: "Bender's Big Score," "The Beast With a Billion Backs," "Bender's Game" and "Into the Wild Green Yonder," $199.98 from Fox ... "Girlfriends: The Seventh Season" (2006-07) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $36.98 from Paramount ... photo "The Hunger: The Complete Second Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with 22 uncut episodes, of the series that's a mesmerizing cross between "The Twilight Zone" and "Tales from the Crypt"; hosted by David Bowie and produced by Tony and Ridley Scott; $39.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Inspector Lewis 2" (2008) is the second season of the Masterpiece Mystery! series with seven thrillers, $49.99 from WGBH Boston Video ... "Jackass: The Lost Tapes" (2009) features unaired and new-to-DVD footage from the MTV series; includes "The Self-Defense test," "Stun Collar," "Unicycle Poo Barf," "Fast Food Football," "Roller Jump," more; $22.99 from MTV/Paramount ... "Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season" (2009) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $45.99 from Disney ... "Married ... With Children: The Complete Eleventh Season" (1996-97) is a three-disc set with 24 Episodes, $39.95 from Sony ... "The Mighty Boosh Special Edition" (2003-07) is a seven-disc set with all 20 episodes of the cult BBC/Adult Swim live-action series, plus bonus features, $79.98 from Warner ... "Paranormal State: The Complete Season Three" (2009) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes, $29.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour" (1970) is a two-disc set with all 13 episodes of the emmy winner's ABC Show. After starring as a regular on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and running for President in the 1968 election -- one of his slogans was "If elected, I will win" -- the great Paulsen branched out with his own ABC series, featuring the funnyman's famous deadpan delivery in a variety of skits and settings; $24.98 from MPI Home Video ... "TV Western Treasures" is a treasure trove of Western television classics with more than 60 hours (150 episodes) of tough-talkin' cowboys, pistols, petticoats and miles of trails with the legends of the Old West, featuring such classic stars as Roy Rogers, Edgar Buchanan, Jock Mahoney, Dickie Jones, Scott Forbes, Duncan Renaldo, Bill Williams and many more. Twelve-disc set, $29.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment. (Posted October 13)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "Gnaw" (2008), six twentysomething friends go on a weekend break to the English countryside and find a seemingly perfect place to rest and relax: a charming and idyllic farmhouse hosted by kindly Mrs. Obadiah, who lovingly prepares mouth watering meals for her young visitors. But trouble is brewing in the country kitchen and the carefree kids come to the realization that a really big meal is planned -- and they're the main course; from Dark Sky Films ... A young woman obsessed with her dentist heads for a breakdown when he rejects her continued sexual advances, and she sets out to make herself a part of his life by any means necessary -- even if it means murder, in "Oral Fixation" (2009), starring Emily Parker, Kerry Aissa and Chris Keis; from Lifesize Entertainment ... photo "The Haunted Airman" (2006), starring Robert Pattinson, Julian Sands and Rachael Stirling, is a spine-tingling BBC WWII-era ghost story about a flight lieutenant, confined to a wheelchair after being wounded in combat, who arrives at a remote mansion in Wales to recuperate and suspects that he's become the victim of an eerie paranormal haunting; from E1 Entertainment ... A thousand years after he died while trying to discover a way to fly, a monk's spirit enters the mind of Jack Brown, a modern-day inventor with problems of his own, in the hopes of completing his winged machine so his soul will be set free in "Jack Brown Genius" (1994 -- New Zealand), starring Stuart Devenie, Timothy Balme, Nicola Murphy, Marton Csokas; from Barnholtz Entertainment/Lionsgate ... In "The Objective" (2008), a U.S. Special Forces squad on a secret mission into Afghanistan find themselves lost in a Middle Eastern "Bermuda Triangle" of ancient evil, fighting an enemy they cannot decipher or comprehend; from IFC Films. (Posted October 13)

On the Indie Front:

In "Red Roses and Petrol" (2003), starring Malcolm McDowell, Olivia Tracey, Heather Juergensen, Max Beesley, Greg Ellis and Susan Lynch, is a darkly comedic drama that offers a tour-de-force showcase for McDowell as Enda Doyle, a university librarian, poet, and rascal who is the flawed patriarch of a dysfunctional family struggling to come to terms with his death and with one another during a haze of cigarette smoke and uneaten food as Enda's family gathers in Dublin for his wake; from World Wide Motion Pictures Corp. ... A heartless art critic retreats to his cottage on a lake where, after a drunken outburst "that any idiot can make art," he finds himself entered in the town's art festival competition in "Mr. Art Critic" (2007), starring Bronson Pinchot, Toni Trucks and John Lepard; from MTI Home Video ... "Jada" (2009), starring Rockmond Dunbar, Clifton Powell, Jason Weaver and Siena Goines, is a Gospel Music Channel feature about a woman whose faith in God saves her family and herself during a tumultuous time; from Vivendi Entertainment. (Posted October 13)

Foreign:

photo A high-school student in Copenhagen who dreams of becoming a mixed martial arts champion defies her parents -- conservative immigrants from Turkey -- and secretly joins a kung fu club, where she trains -- and falls in love -- with a sympathetic instructor in "Fighter" (2007 -- Denmark); from IFC Films ... "Left Bank" (2008 -- Belgium) is a horror thriller reminiscent of Roman Polanski's "The Tenant," about a 22-year-old woman who moves into an apartment in the Left Bank area of Antwerp with a young archer and soon discovers that the neighbors are utterly weird, there's something strange and dark going on in the basement, and a previous young female tenant has mysteriously disappeared; from IFC Films. (Posted October 13)

For the Family:

"Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases Volume 3" features 14 cartoons directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and originally released between 1941 and 1956. Includes "The Two Mousketeers," which was released in 1952 and won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject; $14.97 from Warner ... photo "Little Spirit: Christmas in New York" (2008) is a holiday special featuring the voices of Danny DeVito, Lucy Liu and Brenda Song, with music by Faith Hill and Duncan Sheik. A magical spirit takes a young boy on the holiday journey of a lifetime when his dog is accidently lost in Central Park and he goes after her; $16.95 from Genius Products ... "Playmobil: The Secret of Pirate Island" (2009) is a CGI animated DVD premiere that brings the characters and sets from the Playmobil Pirates to life. The DVD will include a special interactive feature that will allow viewers to participate in the action by choosing from various options as the story progresses -- with 28 different possible story combinations; from Sony ... " My Little Pony Twinkle Wish Adventure" (2009) features six sing-alongs, two new animated shorts, and four fun activities featuring Pinkie Pie and all her pony friends as they go on a journey to find the missing Wishing Star; $14.99 from Shout! Factory. (Posted October 13)

Special Interest:

"Where's Amelia Earhart?" (2009) is a History Channel National Geographic biography of the aviator, timed for the Oct. 23 theatrical release of "Amelia," starring Hilary Swank; $19.98 from Warner ... "Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times" (2009)is a look at one of the City of the Angel's most influential families, the Chandlers, who used their power and their newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, to shape public opinion throughout the 20th century and captain the city's economic, social and cultural growth; $24.99 from PBS ... "Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry" (2008) is a documentary that explores the roots of American tattooing through the life of its most iconoclastic figure, Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins, considered by many as the foremost tattoo artist of all time; $24.95 from IndiePix ... photo Mill Creek Entertainment has two military releases this week: "The American Soldier: The Complete History of U.S. Wars" (2009), hosted by George Kennedy, is an ambitious four-volume documentary series that explores every major conflict in America's history; and "WWII Remembered -- A Complete History" (2009), a 10-part documentary series that features compelling interviews with veterans of WWII, capturing the heart and spirit of the 20th century's greatest conflict; both $14.98 ... "NASCAR: Greatest Dominators & Greatest Finishes" (2009) is a single DVD with two documentaries: "Greatest Finishes" features 10 of the most heart-pounding races throughout four decades of NASCAR racing, and "Greatest Dominators" focuses on the drivers and teams who have consistently ruled the NASCAR world including Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Bill Elliott and more; $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "The American Brew: The Rich and Surprising History of Beer" (2009) is a documentary that explores the rich and surprising history of beer making, from colonial settlers to the struggle of Prohibition, through the rise of microbrews and the unending success of national breweries; from PBS Distribution ... "New World Order" (2009) is a documentary that offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a small, but very vocal movement seeking to expose "global elitists" whom they claim are masterminding the breakdown of the world's economy and society, conspiracy theorists who believe that the attack on the World Trade Center was an "inside job," that the military-industrial complex killed Kennedy, and that an international cabal is plotting to enslave us all; $19.98 from The Disinformation Company ... "Nick Swardson: Seriously, Who Farted?" (2009) is a Comedy Central stand-up special with the writer of "Grandma's Boy" and "Benchwarmers"; $16.99 from Paramount. (Posted October 13)

Down Economy Good for Rentals

Knowing
"Knowing" was the top rental in the third quarter.

(October 10) The latest news coming from the home video industry gives credence to the old maxim that people clamor for entertainment in times of economic depression. According to a report in Video Business, U.S. consumer spending on DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals jumped 9.9% in the third quarter this year over the same period in 2008 "as consumers hunkered down with inexpensive entertainment. Rental spending across both formats and all retail channels hit $1.6 billion in the quarter, fueled by big gains in Blu-ray and the growing popularity of Redbox. For the full year through September, overall rental spending is up 8.2%, to $5 billion, according to Rentrak Corp.'s Home Video Essentials, which supplied the magazine with its data. According to the maagzine, the top 10 rentals for the third quarter were: "Knowing," "I Love You, Man," "Push," "Watchmen," "Gran Torino," "Obsessed," "The Haunting in Connecticut," "The Soloist," "Fast & Furious" and "The Unborn."

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South Park's New Address: Online

(October 7) "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" is coming to the Web. According to a report in Video Business magazine, Paramount and show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are putting the 1999 feature-length film based on the series on the Internet in video-streaming form for the next three weeks just prior to the release of the film on Blu-ray Disc on Oct. 13. The streaming version will feature new commentary from Parker and Stone, who are in their 13th season creating "South Park," and will be online until October 28.

This Week's Releases (October 6)

From the Big Screen:

"Imagine That," "My Life in Ruins" and "Year One." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

photo Highlight of the week is Shout! Factory's release of 1999's "Audition," a very scary Japanese thriller. When director Takashi Miike released this creepy (and acclaimed) film 10 years ago, Miike created a stir around the world that he will forever be associated with. Recently snaring the No. 1 slot on EW.com's 20 Top Horror Films of the Past 20 Years, "Audition" is a cautionary tale of romance gone awry, making men worldwide squirm at its horrific climax. Deceptively innocent at first, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a middle-aged widower of many years, is urged by his teenage son and his film producer friend Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) to get out and start dating again. To help Aoyama meet women, Yoshikawa devises a plan to hold a fake audition for a leading lady. Reluctantly agreeing, Aoyama auditions 30 young hopefuls and falls for the silent beauty of Asami (Eihi Shiina), a former ballerina with a dark past. Their courtship veers from quiet romance to psycho nightmare. Available as a two-disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray edition featuring a 1080P high definition transfer from the inter-negative, with a new 5.0 digital soundtack mixed from the original audio elements. A two-disc Collector's Edition DVD is also available to own on the same day. The discs include 75 minutes of new interviews with the cast and filmmaker along with a new commentary by director Takashi Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan. Blu-ray: $29.99; DVD: $24.99.

Don't forget "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition" (1937), a high definition debut of the most acclaimed animated movie ever made. Walt Disney's original classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," which made history in 1937 as the first full-length animated feature, is the premiere entry in Disney's new Diamond Collection. The release will make its bow on Disney Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (two Blu-ray discs + DVD) a full seven weeks before the Deluxe Two-Disc Classic standard definition DVD becomes available on November 24. The package is loaded with extras, including "Snow White Returns," a which newly discovered storyboards suggest a brand new "Snow White" featurette that never got made; "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall": Through BD-Live, the mirror can find the secret princess inside each viewer, then create for them a personal message from their favorite princess who will call them on the telephone; "Hyperion Studios": Audiences are digitally transported to 1937 to discover first-hand the Hyperion Studios, the original studio Walt Disney built where "Snow White" was conceived and developed; "The One That Started It All" featurette; $39.99.

Warner Home Video has two nice compilations this week: "Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics," photo with four frightfully fun horror classics in one collection and on DVD for the first time. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, iconic horror actors best known for creating the screen's original Frankenstein and Dracula characters, star here in other roles that take the horror genre to new camp heights. Two-disc set with "The Walking Dead" (1936) (directed by Michael Curtiz), "Frankenstein-1970" (1958), "You'll Find Out" (1940) and "Zombies on Broadway" (1945); $26.98 ... TCM/Warner salutes the ravishing beauty who pioneered a new genre of moviemaking -- "Aqua Musicals" -- with "TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams Volume 2." Williams was one of the biggest movie stars of the era and during the 30s and 40s captivated audiences in some 20 films. As her popularity soared -- she was among the Top 10 boxoffice stars of 1949 and 1950 -- MGM made her swimming sequences more complex and elaborate with each new picture, adding everything from trapezes to fiery hoops. This set features six new-to-DVD MGM outings from America's favorite mermaid: "Million Dollar Mermaid" (1952), "Thrill of a Romance" (1945), "Easy to Love" (1953), "This Time for Keeps (1947) "Fiesta" (1947) and "Pagan Love Song" (1950); $59.92.

In "From the East" (1993), noted French filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1975's "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles") retraces a journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow in this stunning documentary. It is a voyage Akerman wanted to make shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc "before it was too late," reconstructing her impressions in the manner of a documentary on the border of fiction. Without dialogue or commentary, the film is a cinematographic elegy. $29.98 from Icarus Home Video. (Posted October 6)

From TV to Video:

"Ally McBeal Season One" (1997-98) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $39.98 from Fox (for the completist, Fox also has available "Ally McBeal: The Complete Series" [1997-2002] in a 32-disc set for $199.98 ... photo "Bones Season Four" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Fox ... "Get Smart: Season 4" (1968-69) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $24.98 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "The Hills: Season Five -- Part One" (2009) is a two-disc set, $26.98 from Paramount ... "Mr. Ed: Season One" (1961) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $34.99 from Shout! Factory ... "The Mary Tyler Moore Show Season Five" (1974-75) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $29.98 from Fox ... "Medium: The Fifth Season" (2009) is a four-disc set with 18 episodes, $60.90 from Paramount ... "Nip/Tuck: Season Five Part Two" (2008-09) is a three-disc set with eight episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... "Scare Tactics: Season Three Part One" (2008) is a two-disc set with 13 uncensored episodes, $29.98 from Warner. (Posted October 6)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

Two honeymooners rescue a mysterious car crash survivor in the Las Vegas desert but they come to regret that decision when the man makes their ride a hellish one in "Dark Country" (2009), directed by and starring Thomas Jane and co-starring Lauren German and Ron Perlman; from Sony ... "Assassination of a High School President" (2008), starring Mischa Barton, Reece Thompson, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes and Bruce Willis, is definitely a dark high school comedy. Sophomore newspaper reporter Bobby Funke is assigned to write a cover story on the popular class president and top athlete. After a stack of SAT tests is stolen, Funke publishes an expose that names the jock as the prime suspect and suddenly, Bobby is BMOC. But when the jock's girlfriend makes a move on him and even his former bullies play nice, Bobby begins to doubt the boy's guilt, mounting an investigation that uncovers a campus-wide conspiracy that threatens to take down students and teachers alike; from Sony ... photo "Trick 'r Treat" (2009) features four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband. Stars Quinn Lord, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb, Rochelle Aytes, Anna Paquin, Tahmoh Penikett, Lauren Lee Smith, Britt Mckillip and Jean-Luc Bilodeau; from Warner ... When a group of hikers take off for a weekend of fun and adventure in a remote mountain region, they unwittingly stumble across the Staunton family and find themselves at the mercy of a depraved, diabolical brood that will stop at nothing to rid their property of "trespassers" in "Staunton Hill" (2009), starring Kathy Lamkin, Cristen Coppen, Kiko Ellsworth and Cooper Huckabee, and directed by Cameron Romero, son of cult filmmaker George A. Romero. From Anchor Bay Entertainment ... An ancient curse returns with a vengeance when "The Seamstress" (2009), a local legend who terrorizes the community after her brutal death at the hands of bloodthirsty locals years before. attacks a group of kids. Her favorite weapon: sharp sewing needles.From Image Entertainment. (Posted October 6)

For the Family:

"HIT Favorites: Frosty Friends" features five winter episodes for the pre-school set: Thomas and Friends' "Percy's New Whistle," Barney's "Gift of the Dinos," Bob the Builder's "Snowman Scoop," Pingu's "Pingu and the Hose" and Kipper's "The Big Freeze"; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Chop Socky Chooks Volume One" (2008) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes of the Cartoon Network series about a crack team of kung-fu chickens who battle their evil arch-nemesis, Dr. Wasabi -- a mutant piranha -- and attempt to foil his diabolical plots to become a one-man global superpower; $19.98 from Fox ... "A Miser Brothers' Christmas" (2008) is an original holiday animated musical movie that features the bickering Miser brothers as they get in Santa's way at Christmas; $19.98 from Warner ... "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" (2003) is an animated Peanuts feature centering on Rerun, Linus and Lucy's lovable and wise-beyond-his-years little brother who wants a dog for Christmas after he sees what a great relationship Charlie Brown and Snoopy share; $19.98 ... In "Elmo's Animal Adventures" (2009), Sesame Street's Elmo and his friends embark on three new fun-filled adventures featuring animal antics and games; includes special appearances by Cameron Diaz and Patricia Arquette; $14.93 from Sesame Workshop/Genius Products. (Posted October 6)

Special Interest:

"Dinosaurs Alive!" (2007) is a documentary created in IMAX 2D and 3D that follows preeminent paleontologists as they uncover some of history's most astonishing dinosaur finds, from the exotic dunes of the Gobi Desert to the sandstone buttes of New Mexico. Here scientists make new discoveries about dinosaur behavior, their environments and find what could be the oldest dinosaur ever unearthed in North America. Narrated by Michael Douglas. $19.98 from Image Entertainment ... photo Each year, thousands of new species are discovered and classified -- but there are some creatures that science still refuses to recognize. Inspired by the myths and lore that make blood curdle, the "Lost Tapes" (2008) docu-fiction television series depicts traumatic stories featuring a diversity of cryptozoological oddities such as Bigfoot, Megaconda and Chupacabra. Fourteen episodes, $19.99 from Animal Planet/Genius Products ... "The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter" (2009) is a documentary that takes a look at the "Manson Family" murders in August, 1969, using original Manson Family music recordings, rare vintage photos and never-before-seen autopsy reports; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Power Squad Bod!" (2009) features three workout DVDs based on the Cheerleaders' CMT series: "Calorie Blasting Dance," "Hard Body Boot Camp" and "Body Slimming Yoga," $16.99 each from CMT/Paramount. (Posted October 6)

'Julie' Cooks Dec. 8; 'JOE' Strikes Nov. 3

photo (October 5) Sony has just announced a December 8 release date for the delightful "Julie & Julia," starring Amy Smart and Meryl Streep in an engaging romp about two women -- from different eras -- who "come together" through their own true stories of culinary exploration when dissatisfied writer Julie Powell (Adams) decides to cook and blog her way through Julia Child's (Streep) book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which launched Child's career. Director Nora Ephron seamlessly melds the two remarkable stories into a comedy that proves that if you have the right combination of passion, obsession and butter, you can change your life. The Blu-ray version of the film includes recipes and cooking lessons. Meanwhile, Paramount has scheduled a November 3 release for the Hasbro-action-figure-come-to-life "G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra," which, in addition to regular extras, features an augmented reality technology that will allow viewers to participate in an exclusive 3D holographic G.I. JOE combat experience, using their webcams and a special website.

Meet the Dwarfs

(October 2) In celebration of the October 6 release of the Diamond Edition of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as a Blu-ray Combo Pack with DVD copy, here's some interesting facts about the seven little men whose names have engendered guessing games for several generations of Americans. By late 1933, Walt Disney began to crystallize his idea of making "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as a feature-length animated film. Development on the seven little men began early on and by the fall of 1934, from several early story meetings in Disney's office, initial shapes and designs of the characters gave them more of a forest nome look. Individually, each dwarf represents a type of human personality. Other names considered for the dwarfs early on included Wheezy, Puffy, Stuffy, Biggo-Ego, Jumpy, Baldy, Nifty, Gabby, Stubby and Burby. Six of the famed dwarfs have eyebrows fashioned after Walt Disney's own expressive eyebrows as they fascinated everyone who ever sat in story meetings with him. Find out more fun facts about the Seven Dwarfs. And check out the Seven Dwarfs introduction clip here.

This Week's Releases (September 29)

From the Big Screen:

"Away We Go" and "Monsters vs. Aliens." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:

The highlight of the week is Warner Home Video's remastering of "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) in a 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition, available for a limited time only for $69.92 (DVD) and $84.99 (Blu-ray). Includes 16 Hours of enhanced content, four of which are brand new; includes new photo documentaries, featurettes, a sing-along track and collectibles. Also available as a Special Edition two-disc set for $21.95. The film has been entirely remastered, with each of the original Technicolor camera negatives scanned using 8K resolution. From this scan, a final "capture" master was created in 4K, yielding twice the resolution seen in the master utilized for the film's previous DVD release. Here's a complete rundown on the release. ... Another remastered gem is Acorn Media's "Traffik 20th Anniversary Edition" (1989), the universally acclaimed six-part British miniseries that inspired Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning film "Traffic." Seen on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre in 1990, the miniseries stars Bill Paterson, Lindsay Duncan and Julia Ormond. In a two-volume set, $39.99. (Posted September 29)

From TV to Video:

"Ax Men: The Complete Season Two" (2009) is a four-disc set, $39.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years" is an awkwardly named four-disc compilation of Cagney & Lacey TV movies that followed the TV series' conclusion: "Cagney & Lacey: The Return" (November 1994), "Cagney & Lacey: Together Again" (May 2, 1995), "Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling" (October 25, 1995) and "Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions" (January 29, 1996); $39.95 from S'More Entertainment ... "CSI: NY: The Fifth Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 25 episodes, $71.41 from Paramount ... "Cobra: The Complete Series" (1993-94) is a four-disc set with all 22 of the Stephen J. Cannell series episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Daybreak: The Complete Series" (2006-07) is a two-disc set with all 13 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Foyle's War From Dunkirk to VE Day (Sets 1-5)" is a 19-disc set of the acclaimed WWII British detective series starring Michael Kitchen, $149.99 from Acorn Media ... "Haunted Histories Megaset" is a 20-disc set featuring in-depth profiles of the world's scariest stories and locales; $79.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "How I Met Your Mother Season Four" (2008) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $49.99. from Fox ... photo "Life on Mars: The Complete Series" (2006-07) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes of the U.S. series, $39.99 from Disney ... "Man Stroke Woman: The Complete Series" (2005-07) is a two-disc set with all 12 episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 of the BBC sketch comedy series, $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Midsomer Murders, Set 13" (2006-07) is a four-disc set with four feature-length mysteries that combine quirky characters and surprising mysteries with postcard-perfect English village settings and the ever-charming John Nettles as the steady, unfailingly decent Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby; 49.99. from Acorn Media ... "The Real Story Part 1" (2009) is a revealing look at the country's most notorious and malevolent locations, $14.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment ... "The Unit Season Four" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $69.99 from Fox ... "The Unit Complete Giftset" is a 19-disc set, $199.98. from Fox. (Posted September 29)

Buzzin' the 'B's:

Blood, torture, and suspense abound in "The Hills Run Red" (2009), a thriller about young fright fans who search for the secret location where a mythical cult movie -- starring a killer in a babydoll mask -- was shot, hoping to find the film. What they find is that the mysterious slasher flick is more than a movie: It's real and they're its newest stars. Stars Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrink, Janet Montgomery and William Sadler; from Warner Premiere ... In "Farmhouse" (2008), a young couple leaves their old life and horrifying secrets behind in search of a fresh start. But when a near-fatal car accident leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere, they turn to a mysterious farm couple for shelter. And that's when the real trouble starts. Stars Jamie Anne Allman, William Lee Scott, Steven Webber and Kelly Hu; from Monarch Home Video. (Posted September 29)

On the Indie Front:

Three disparate and increasingly desperate roommates in a London flat struggle to make ends meet while also trying to achieve their dreams in "Filth and Wisdom" (2008), directed by Madonna and starring Eugene Hutz of the acclaimed Gypsy punk group Gogol Bordello; from IFC Films ... In "Nightmare" (2005), a film student and an aspiring actress awake after a one-night stand to find a video camera pointed at their bed; the camera contains a brutal snuff movie -- starring the pair as the killers. photo But they have no memory of any murder and there's no indication in their room of any gruesome killings. Was there a murder or are the they going mad? Stars Jason Scott Campbell and Nicole Roderick; from IFC Films ... In "Shrink" (2009), starring Kevin Spacey, Saffron Burrows, Dallas Roberts, Mark Webber and Keke Palmer, a top celebrity psychiatrist in Los Angeles with an A-list clientele, including a famous actress, a wildly insecure young writer and an obsessive-compulsive super-agent must come to grips with his own demons, eventually taking on a "pro bono" case, a beautiful but troubled teenage girl; from Lionsgate ... After his wife dies, a young man journeys to his aunt's house to build her a porch, meeting up with a bawdy, wise-cracking group of elderly women who guide him through the lessons he needs to grieve and find peace in "Uncross the Stars" (2008), starring Daniel Gillies, Barbara Hershey, Ron Perlman and Bitsie Tulloch; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. (Posted September 29)

Foreign:

In "Fermat's Room" (2007 -- Spain), four famed mathematicians, all strangers, are invited to the remote home of a mysterious man known only as Fermat. Once at the house, they're locked in a room and given a series of logic puzzles that must each be solved within one minute. For each late answer, hydraulic presses push the walls closer together, forcing the quartet to race the clock before they're crushed to death; from IFC Films. (Posted September 29)

For the Family:

Evergreens: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other Disney favorite characters come together in "Disney Animation Collection Volume 7: Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983), a delightfully charming adaptation of the classic holiday tale; $24.99 from Disney ... photo In "Winnie The Pooh: Seasons of Giving 10th Anniversary Edition" (1999), Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Rabbit go on a brave quest to find a favorite season they have seemed to miss -- winter -- searching for the perfect ingredients to creative a festive Thanksgiving feast and share in the warm glow of Christmas; $29.99 from Disney ... "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa" is an extended edtion of the 2008 made-for-television holiday special; $19.99 from Disney ... "A Very Brave Witch ... and More Great Halloween Stories for Kids" (2009) is the latest anthology from Scholastic Storybook Treasures. In the title story, narrated by Elle Fanning, a little witch decides she'd finally like to see what Halloween is all about, even though she's deathly afraid of humans. As soon as she makes a new friend, she discovers how much fun trick-or-treating with humans can be. Includes seven other beautifully narrated and animated tales; $14.95.

Heroes and villains: "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" (2009) is the sixth entry in the popular series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies, pitting United States President Lex Luthor against Superman and Batman. Available as a single-disc DVD, a two-disc DVD special edition and Blu-ray Disc; from Warner ... "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Origins" (2002) includes the first 10 episodes from the series, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Series" (2002-04) is a fgour-disc set with 39 episodes, $24.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Ultraman: The Complete Series" (1966-67) is a four-disc set with all 39 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

For the little ones: In "The Wiggles Big Big Show!" (2009), the Wiggles (currently the No. 1 program in its time slot on the Disney Channel) sing 25 new songs from their hometown of Sydney, Australia; $14.98 from Warner ... In "Baby Einstein: World Animal Adventure" (2009), parents and their babies can explore lush jungles, frozen tundras and golden plains to discover the joys of animals through real-world images, art and iconography from cultures around the world; $19.99 from Disney.

It's real: "The World According to Miley Cyrus: An Unauthorized Story" (2009) is a biography of the television and movie teen idol, $14.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... Spanning the African continent from barren plains to lush jungles, "Lions"" features four kid-friendly programs from Animal Planet: "A Lion Called Christian," "The Lion's Share," "White Lions" and "Rogue Lions." $14.95 from Animal Planet/Genius Products. (Posted September 29)

Special Interest:

All things political: "Secrecy" (2009) is a searing exploration into the dark, unseen world of government secrecy. Through revealing interviews with characters ranging from former CIA agents to everyday citizens who've been affected by the government's most closely guarded programs, "Secrecy" attempts to understand what degree of openness and transparency a democracy demands; $26.95 from Docurama ... "If I Die Tonight" (2006) is an intense look at the criminal justice system today and the way it treats blacks. The docu began in response to the shooting of Amadou Diallo by four members of the N.Y. Police Department Street Crimes Unit; from Indican Pictures.

Real life: "Manson 40 Years Later" (2008) is a feature-length History Channel docudrama that takes viewers deep inside the Aug. 9 and 10, 1969, Tate-Labianca Murders and Charles Manson's twisted world of hate, fear and mind control to tell the story of how one man transformed a group of hippies into a gang of brutal murderers; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Outlaws & Gunslingers" is a five-part documentary that takes a look at the Old West, stripping away myth and legend and revealing the truth behind Billy the Kid, Jesse James, The Sundance Kid and many more; from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Baseball's Greatest Legends: Diamond Memories" is a documentary series that highlights the most beloved players and moments of America's favorite pastime, featuring such legends as Mickey Mantle, Tommy Lasorda, Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra and many more; $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "In a Dream," (2008) is a documentary about Isaiah Zagar, a locally-known muralist based in Philadelphia, whose work chronicle his love for his wife, Julia but subtly hint at the darker corners of an extraordinary imagination: Isaiah confesses to an affair with his assistant, is kicked out of the house, and spirals into a debilitating, suicidal depression. Filmed by Isaiah's son, Jeremiah. $24.95 from $24.95 IndiePix. photo Entertainment: "Secret Policeman's Balls: The Secret Policeman Rocks!" (2009) commemorates the 30th Anniversary of the first Amnesty International Secret Policeman’s benefit concert. Amnesty asked Secret Policeman's Ball co-creator/producer Martin Lewis to compile an anniversary special with some of the finest rock performances given for Amnesty over the years; $14.98 from Shout! Factory ... "Guns on the Clackamas" (1995) is cartoonist Bill Plympton's second live-action feature, about a documentary filmmaker trying to make a behind-the-scenes movie about the making of the Western "Guns on the Clackamas." But everything is going wrong and when cast members start dropping like flies due to accidents on the set and some really bad catering, the filmmakers must resort to solutions that are startling and hilarious; from Microcinema International ... "Rock of Ages: An Unauthorized Story on the Rolling Stones" (2009) is a documentary that charts the band's nearly 50-year history, $14.98 from Infinity Entertainment ... "Sam Kinison: Wild Child" is a two-disc set with four Sam Kinison cable TV specials, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment. (Posted September 29)

Toshiba Shines With Blu-ray Computers

photo (September 25) Toshiba announced this week that its upcoming Qosmio X500 line of laptops will come with built-in Blu-ray Disc drives as standard equipment. The laptops will start arriving in stores Oct. 22. Though this is good news for Blu-ray, Home Media Magazine editor T.K. Arnold doesn't think this move is enough. "The computer industry is moving ridiculously slow in incorporating Blu-ray Disc drives into its PCs, mostly because of the additional expense. It wasn't this way with DVD, but then again computer prices have plummeted over the last decade and new PCs and even laptops can be had for a fraction of what they used to cost." Read T.K.'s Take on Blu-ray and computers.

Warner Adds "Hangover" to Holiday Offerings

photo (September 23) Warner Home Video has announced a December 15 release for one of the highest grossing comedies of all time (and the highest grossing R-rated comedy), "The Hangover," which took in almost $274 million at the domestic boxoffice. The raunchy film will be available in a two-disc special edition DVD and on Blu-ray in both theatrical and unrated versions. Bonus features include more photos from the missing camera, a gag reel, outtakes, and Ken Jeong's improv; the Blu-ray version will add Mike Tyson's rendition of "In the Air Tonight," "Cursing Mash-ups With All the @#$%! Cursing in the @#$%! Film," BD Live content, digital copy, more. Pricing: $34.99 and $35.99 respectively. Already announced for December: "Terminator: Salvation," "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

This Week's Releases (September 22)

From the Big Screen:

"Battle for Terra," "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" and "Observe and Report." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles: Paul Newman, "Trek"

This week's highlight: "The Paul Newman Tribute Collection," a seventeen-disc set with 13 of Newman's films including two-disc Special Collector's Editions of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (celebrating its 40th anniversary), The "Hustler," "The Verdict" and "The Towering Inferno," photo as well as nine other films ranging throughout Newman's historic career ("The Long, Hot Summer," "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!" "From the Terrace," "Exodus," "Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man," "What a Way to Go!" "Hombre," "Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's History Lesson" and "Quintet". The set includes an exclusive 136 page soft-bound book filled with a stunning array of photos, some of which have never been seen before, of the Hollywood icon on the set with his fellow cast and crew, excerpts from each film, and personal quotes from Newman himself. $89.98 from Fox. (Posted September 22)

Though J.J. Abrams' rethinking of "Star Trek" won't be released until November 17, the folks at Paramount are seeding Trek fever with three new sets this week: photo "Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection DVD," a seven-disc collection with "Star Trek," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." Also includes a bonus disc entitled "Star Trek: The Captains' Summit" that features a 70-minute round table discussion hosted by Whoopi Goldberg in which William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes share candid moments and intimate details about life on the set; $59.99 ... "Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection Blu-ray & DVD," a five-disc set with "Star Trek: Generations," "Star Trek: First Contact," "Star Trek: Insurrection," "Star Trek: Nemesis" and a "Star Trek Evolutions" ­bonus disc with "The Evolution of the Enterprise," "Villains of Star Trek," "I Love the Star Trek Movies," "Farewell to Star Trek: The Experience," "Klingon Encounter," "Borg Invasion 4D" and "Charting the Final Frontier." $39.99 DVD and $69.99 Blu-ray. ... and "Star Trek: The Original Series Season Two Blu-ray," a seven-disc set with 27 episodes, $79.99. Extras: New seamless branching that allows fans to toggle between newly remastered versions with enhanced special effects or the episodes as they were originally broadcast. The Blu-ray collection also includes hours of featurettes, interactive bonus features and new clips via BD-Live. (Posted September 22)

From TV to Video: "Law & Order," "Taxi," more

"Brotherhood: The Final Season" (2008), a two-disc set with eight episodes, $42.99 from Paramount ... "Castle: The Complete First Season" (2009), a three-disc set with 10 episodes, $39.99 from Disney ... "Ghost Whisperer: The Fourth Season" (2008-09), a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $63.98 from Paramount ... "Gigantor: The Collection -- Volume 2" (1967), a four-disc set with the final 26 episodes of the animated series, $39.98 from E1 Entertainment ... photo "Kings: The Complete Series" (2009), a three-disc set, $59.98 from Universal ... "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit -- The Tenth Year" (2008-09), a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "Mail Order Bride" (2009), a Hallmark Channel original movie about a con-woman who flees her big-city trouble by making a run out west, starring Daphne Zuniga, Greg Eviga and Cameron Bancroft, from E1 Entertainment ... "The Mentalist: The Complete First Season" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "Taxi: The Fourth Season" (1981-82), a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles –The Complete Second Season" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "30 Rock: Season 3" (2008-09), a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from Universal ... "Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $59.99 from Disney. (Posted September 22)

Buzzin' the 'B's: "Mercy Streets," more

In "Mercy Streets" (2000), starring Eric Roberts, Lawrence Taylor, Cynthia Watros and David A. R. White, two brothers -- one a criminal, one a man of faith -- face a deadly double-cross that forces them to live each other's lives; from Sony ... "Six: The Mark Unleashed" (2004) is a sci-fi thriller about the last days on Earth before Armageddon, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Roberts and Stephen Baldwin; from Sony ... Four college students have a run-in with in-bred misfits while exploring an Ozark Mountain town in "Albino Farm"(2008), starring Chris Jericho, Tammin Sursok and Richard Christy; from MTI Home Video ... A father and his daughter get more than they bargained for when they buy an old house seemingly haunted by the ghost of a cat in "Ghost Cat" (2003), starring Ellen Page, Shirley Knight and Michael Ontkean; from North American Motion Pictures ... photo A former TV action hero runs afoul of drug dealers and a covered-up murder while in a small Nevada town, inspiring him to round up his old co-stars to save the terrorized townspeople in "Play Dead" (2009), starring Chris Klein, Fred Durst, Jake Busey and Sasha Alexander; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto" (2008) is the first full-length animated feature from director-writer Rob Zombie; it's the twisted tale of El Superbeasto, a former world class masked wrestler with super human strength, who now finds himself as the very ordinary producer-director-star of BeastoWorld Enterprises but still finds the time to fight evil along with his super-sexy sister, Suzi X, in the spooky Monsterland. Features the voices of Tom Papa, Sheri Moon Zombie, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Daniel Roebuck, Harland Williams, Cassandra Peterson, Clint Howard, Dee Wallace, Rob Paulsen, Tura Satana and Danny Trejo; from Anchor Bay Entertainment. (Posted September 22)

On the Indie Front: Farrah Fawcett, more

"Silk Hope" (2000), starring Farrah Fawcett and Brad Johnson, follows a headstrong, wild, irresponsible middle-aged woman (Farrah Fawcett) who returns to her home town of Silk Hope to save the remnants of her family life; from Vanguard Cinema ... "O'Horten" (2008) is a quirky indie outing about a train engineer forced to retire after 40 years on the job, turning his orderly, solitary existence into a future of unlikely adventures and puzzling dilemmas; from Sony ... "Road to Victory" (2008) stars Mike Reilly and Julia Anderson star in an unconventional love story about a college football player dealing with injuries who falls for a stripper; from Vanguard Cinema. (Posted September 22)

Foreign: Jean-Jacques Beineix

Jean-Jacques Beineix's "Mortal Transfer" (2001 -- French) has been released for the first time in the U.S. as part of Cinema Libre Studio's Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection. Overwhelmed psychoanalyst Michel (Jean-Hugues Anglade) falls asleep while listening to sado-masochist kleptomaniac patient Olga (Helene de Fourgerolles) and awakens to find her strangled. Panicking, he decides to get rid of her body himself so that he won't be saddled with her murder. Complications erupt when Olga's rich husband (Yves Renier) comes looking for stolen money and Michel's other neurotic patients clamor for attention. Director Beineix keeps a mesmerizing balance on a tightrope between poisonously dark comedy and psychological thriller. (Posted September 22)

For the Family: "Tall Tales & Legends"

"Tall Tales & Legends" (1985-87) is a three-disc set with all the episodes of the children’s television anthology conceived by actress-producer Shelley Duvall; $24.98 from E1 Entertainment. Find out about all the episodes in the "Tall Tales & Legends" set ... "Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins" (2009) is the untold story of how Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne and Velma joined forces for the first time in this all-new live-action/CGI movie; from Warner ... photo "SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes" is a fourteen-disc set, housed in a limited edition etched Plexiglas case, and loaded with extras, $99.99 from Nick/Paramount ... "Mr. Men: Mr. Tickle Presents: Tickle Time Around! and Mr. Men: Little Miss Sunshine Presents: Fun in the Sun!" are two DVDs each with six humorous shows, grouped by similar themes plus toe-tapping songs and bonus features designed to give kids interactive experiences with their favorite characters from the Cartoon Network series "The Mr. Men Show," $16.97 from Sony ... "Jonas: Rockin' the House" (2009) includes five episodes from the latest hit Disney Channel Original Series; from Disney ... In "Wizards on Deck With Hannah Montana" (2009), the casts of Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place," "The Suite Life on Deck" and "Hannah Montana" come together for one zany teen cruise on the S.S. Tipton; from Disney. (Posted September 22)

Special Interest: "Beer Wars"

"Beer Wars" (2009) is an expose that sheds light on corporate America and the mammoth beer corporations Anheuser-Bush and MillerCoors. Filmmaker Anat Baron was the former general manager of Mike's Hard Lemonade, where she brought the little entrepreneurial company up to $200 million dollars in annual sales. She leveraged her experience to expose the inner workings of the male-dominated beer industry in her smart and thought provoking documentary film. photo Read more about "Beer Wars" from Ducks in a Row Entertainment Corp. ... "Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup?" (2009) is a documentary that looks at some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the tragic events of the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001; $17.99 from Microcinema DVD ... "Soundstage Presents: Ringo Starr and the Roundheads" (2005) features a 14-song set recorded in High-Definition with pristine 5.1 Surround Sound for the acclaimed PBS music series "Soundstage"; $19.98 from E1 Entertainment ... Comedian Brett Butler is back and she's bringing four southern, sexy, strong-minded and simply irresistible performers to the stage in "The Southern Belles of Comedy" (2008); from Vanguard Cinema ... "Mitch Fatel Is Magical" (2009) is a Comedy Central one-hour special, $16.99 from Paramount. (Posted September 22)

Massive Kurosawa Set Due From Criterion

photo (September 20) The Criterion Collection plans a Dec. 8 release for "AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa," the biggest DVD collection of movies by the Japanese master to date. The set includes four early Kurosawa movies never released on DVD in the U.S., including his debut feature, "Sanshiro Sugata," and its sequel. "AK 100" reprises almost all of Criterion's previous Kurosawa DVDs, including "Throne of Blood," "Kagemusha," "High and Low," "Rashomon" and "Seven Samurai." The set retails for $400. Read more about the Kurosawa DVD box set from Criterion.

Potter Comes Home for the Holidays

photo (September 18) Warner Home Video will release the sixth installment in the Harry Potter franchise, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," on Dec. 8 in three configurations: a three-disc Blu-ray combo pack that includes the film, bonus features, a standard DVD version of the film and a digital copy; a two-disc DVD special edition with more than two hours of extras as well as a digital copy; and a standard DVD. Prices will be $35.99, $22.95 and $19.95, respectively. The Blu-ray will include Warner's Maximum Movie Mode feature, which offers picture-in-picture information features and commentary from director David Yates, producers David Barron and David Heyman and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Tom Felton. The Blu-ray and two-disc versions will include two behind-the-scenes featurettes, including one focusing on the last year of writing the "Harry Potter" books with author J.K. Rowling; two smaller, cast-centered featurettes; deleted scenes and more. Also on December 8, Warner will release the first two "Harry Potter" films in Ultimate Editions, on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc, in extended film editions and loaded with new features. Read Warner's Ultimate Edition press release here for more information.

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Coming Soon:

(September 17) We've added more than 50 titles to our calendar listings, including "Il Divo," "Orphan" and "Stop Making Sense" in October, "Aliens in the Attic," "Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I," "The Ugly Truth," "Bruno" (at right) and "Wrong Turn at Tahoe" in November, "Brigitte Bardo Classic Collection," "Get Smart Season 5," and "The Other Man" in December, and Blu-ray releases of "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," "Wolf," "The Craft," "The Prisoner: The Complete Series," "Godzilla (1998)," "sex, lies, and videotape" and "Angel Heart."

This Week's Releases (September 15)

From the Big Screen:
"Easy Virtue," "Next Day Air" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:
photo The Criterion Collection has put together an impressive collection of classic films for the fourth in their art house series: "Essential Art House: Volume Four" includes three DVD debuts: Marcel Carne's dark masterwork "Le jour se leve" (1939), starring Jean Gabin; Rene Clement's "Emile Zola" adaptation "Gervaise" (1956); and Anatole Litvak's tragic romance "Mayerling" (1936), starring Charles Boyer; plus Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps" (1935); Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "The Tales of Hoffmann" (1951) and Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" (1957). Each title features a beautiful digital transfer and informative liner notes. Available individually at $19.95 each or in a boxed set for $99.95.

John Ford fanatics will appreciate three outings from Warner Home Video: The "John Wayne -- John Film Ford Collection" is a seven-disc set with "The Searchers" two-Disc Special Edition, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "Fort Apache," "Wings of Eagles," "3 Godfathers" and "They Were Expendable," plus the new-to-DVD documentary "Directed by John Ford," Peter Bogdanovich's updated 1971 documentary. $59.92 ... photo Ford's "Wagon Master" (1950) is one of the legendary filmmaker's personal favorites, a visually stirring celebration of Western will and cooperation set to the soundtrack crooning of The Sons of the Pioneers. Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Ward Bond (who would later lead TV's Wagon Train) and other familiar Ford stock company players take the reins in this paean to the pioneer spirit in which outlaws are using a Mormon wagon train as a hideout from a pursuing posse. Extras include commentary by Harry Carey Jr. and Peter Bogdanovich with John Ford ... In 1971 Peter Bogdanovich made "Directed by John Ford," a fascinating documentary in which Henry Fonda, James Stewart and John Wayne revealed first-hand tales about the man often cited as America's greatest, most influential filmmaker. Thirty-five years later there were more stories to tell -- by, among others, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Katharine Hepburn. Bogdanovich wove these new interviews into a re-edited, restructured documentary offering a more personal vision of the man and his work. Packed with clips, anecdotes and insights. $19.97.

Modern Times: "Triangle" (2007 -- Hong Kong) is a wonderful example of the Hong Kong crime-thriller genre at its best. The unique film is comprised of three independently filmed and produced sections, created by Hong Kong cinema masters Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, each famous for his distinctive style. Hark begins the film with his signature frenetic energy, in which three friends are offered the chance of a lifetime by a mysterious stranger -- to steal an ancient treasure buried beneath a heavily-guarded government building in the heart of Hong Kong; Lam takes over with his emotional, slick camerawork to explore the characters' motivations and adds in adulterous affairs, traitorous alliances and crooked cops; To's section produces a suspenseful and at times slapstick conclusion when the heist goes wrong and the three friends must choose between their ill-gotten treasure and loyalty to each other. Despite the differing styles, the film flows seamlessly and effortlessly. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... photo"Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death " (2008) is the first half hour Wallace & Gromit adventure since 2005. The hilarious duo is back, brought to life through seamless stop-motion animation and brilliant storytelling from Oscar-winner Nick Park. Wallace and Gromit have opened a new bakery business -- Top Bun -- but a deadly murderer is targeting all the bakers in town. Can Gromit discover the identity of the Cereal Killer before Wallace becomes the next victim? From HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate. ... "Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection" is a boxed set with all four Wallace & Gromit outings: "The Wrong Trousers," "A Close Shave," "A Grand Day Out" and their latest title, "A Matter of Loaf and Death." Also from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.

Classic reissues: "The Wolf Man Special Edition" (1941), starring Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi and Maria Ouspenskaya, arrives in a new two-disc set from Universal Legacy Series ... "Sherlock Holmes Double Features" include two double feature DVDs: "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1939)/"Pursuit to Algiers" (1945) and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1939)/"The Scarlet Claw" (1944); $19.98 each from MPI Home Video.

Other reissues: "Fame: Deluxe Musical Edition" (1980), from New Line ... "The Getaway Double Feature" with "The Getaway" (1972) and "The Getaway"(1994), from Warner ... "Hairspray: Deluxe Music Edition" (2007), from New Line ..."An American Werewolf in London Full Moon Edition" (1981), from Universal ... "Army of Darkness Screwhead Edition" (1992), from Universal ... "Phantasm II " (1988), from Universal. (Posted September 15)

From TV to Video:
"Affairs of the Heart, Series Two" features six episodes in two volumes of the classic British Henry James anthology series, including such favorites as "An International Episode" and "Daisy Miller," featuring such stars as Derek Jacobi, Eileen Atkins, Sinead Cusack, Edward Hardwicke, Cheryl Campbell and Christopher Cazenove; $39.99 from Acorn Media ... "The Beiderbecke Tapes" is the second outing of the tongue-in-cheek British mystery series about a pair of sleuthing schoolteachers -- one a jazz fan -- set to a soundtrack in the style of 1920s jazz great Bix Beiderbecke; two episodes of the 1990s series, $39.99 from Acorn Media ... "The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 23 episodes, $44.98 from Warner ... "Bonanza: The Official First Season, Volume One" and "Bonanza: The Official First Season, Volume Two " (1959) are each four-disc sets, $39.98 from Paramount ... "CSI: Miami: The Seventh Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 25 episodes, $71.41 from Paramount ... "Crash: The Complete First Season" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $59.97 from Anchor Bay Entertainment ... "Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse" and "Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood" include select episodes from the 1966-71 TV series, $19.98 each from MPI Home Video ... "Fame Seasons One and Two" (1982-83) is a nine-disc set with 38 episodes, $39.98, from MGM ... photo "Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season" (2008-09) is a seven-disc set with 23 episodes, $59.99 from Disney ... "Heartland: Season 1, Part 1" (2007) is a two-disc set with the first seven episodes of the sprawling Canadian television series that follows two sisters and their grandfather through the highs and lows of life on a horse ranch; $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "The It Crowd: The Complete Season Three" is a single-disc with six episodes of the series about the misadventures of Britain's geekiest, most inept information technology department support team, $24.98 from MPI Home Video ... "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Four" (2008) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.95 from Fox ... "My Name Is Earl Season Four" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 27 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "One Step Beyond: The Official First Season" (1959) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.99 from Paramount ... "Primeval: Volume 2" (2008) is a three-disc set of the BBC TV series, $39.98 from Warner) ... "Private Practice: The Complete Second Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.99 from Disney ... "Sanctuary" (2008) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $44.98 from E1 Entertainment. (Posted September 15)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Camille" (2007) stars James Franco, Sienna Miller, David Carradine, Ed Lauter and Scott Glenn in a fantasy about Camille, the sweetest girl in all of Kentucky, who has just married Silas, a bad boy with a sordid past. Silas could care less about Camille and is hoping to use their "fantasy" honeymoon as a way to escape parole and flee to Canada. But an accident along the way changes everything -- Camille pulls herself from the wreckage and seems unscathed, but soon Silas discovers that perhaps she didn't survive the accident after all. Something magical is happening, and Camille won't let anything stand in the way of their life together ... not even her own mortality. Though the film has flashes of ingenuity (and offers fine acting turns by Miller and Franco), the at-times sentimental (and sluggish) script and buffoonish characterizations drags it down into the mundane. From National Entertainment Media ... photo "Deadgirl" (2008) is a teen horror thriller that was thought to be too controversial to release but nevertheless went on to shock audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival and at midnight screenings. High school misfits Rickie and JT cut school and go wandering in the decaying remains of a nearby abandoned mental hospital, where they make a gruesome discovery: a young woman stripped naked and chained to a table, a plastic bag over her head. She seems dead, until one of the boys touches her and she moves. Rickie wants to call the police, but JT stops him -- he has more demented plans in mind for the helpless girl. Available in two versions: the original R-rated cut and the unrated Director's Cut. From Dark Sky Films ... In "Nightmare" (2005), starring Jason Scott Campbell and Nicole Roderick, a film student and an aspiring actress awake after a one-night stand to find a video camera pointed at their bed; the camera contains a brutal snuff movie -- starring the pair as the killers. But they have no memory of any murder and there's no indication in their room of any gruesome killings. Was there a murder or are the they going mad? From IFC Films ... "Blood and Bone" (2009), starring Michael Jai White, Michelle Belegrin, Julian Sands, Eamonn Walker, Ron Yuan and Dante Basco, is a post-modern Samurai movie that has ex-con Isaiah Bone (Michael Jai White) fighting for justice and his life in the dangerous underground world of gangster-controlled Mixed Martial Arts combats; from Sony ... Miramax has reissued "Hero (Ying xiong)" (2002 -- Hong Kong), starring Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi Zhang, Daoming Chen and Donnie Yen, with such extras as "Close-Up of a Fight Scene," "Hero Defined," storyboards, "Inside the Action: A Conversation With Quentin Tarantino & Jet Li"; also available on Blu-ray Disc. (Posted September 15)

On the Indie Front:
"Nightwatching" (2007) is the latest effort from director Peter Greenaway. The film, starring Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes, Jodhi May and Toby Jones, is an extravagant, exotic and moving look at Rembrandt's romantic and professional life, and the controversy he created by the identification of a murderer in the painting "The Night Watch." From E1 Entertainment. (Posted September 15)

Foreign:
Shot in real time, "PVC-1" (2007 -- Columbia) is based on the true story of a woman who is turned into a human time bomb in a bizarre act of terrorism. Director Spiros Stathoulopoulos tells the story -- in real time and in one take -- of a poor family in rural Colombia whose world is suddenly, horribly turned upside down. A group of masked men invade the family's home and lock PVC-1 tubing filled with explosives around the wife's neck, demanding a ransom. The largely nonprofessional cast adds to the film's authentic this-is-really-happening effect; from IFC Films ... In "The Adventures of Werner Holt" (1965 -- Germany), two 17 year-olds, Werner and his best friend Gilbert, are pulled out of school and into Hitler's army. While Gilbert becomes a fanatical soldier, Werner begins to understand the senselessness of war. A political and artistic masterpiece, the film was voted one of the 100 most important German films of all time. $24.95 from First Run Features ..."The Axe of Wandsbek" (1951 -- Germany) takes place in Germany 1934. The Nazis need a hangman to put a group of political prisoners to death. Teetjen, the town butcher, makes the biggest mistake of his life: facing bankruptcy, he agrees to do the dirty deed. Adapted from the novel by German-Jewish author Arnold Zweig, this important classic was directed by Falk Harnack, a former anti-Nazi resistance fighter. $24.95 from First Run Features ... photo Latin dance and black comedy make strange bedfellows in "Rumba" (2009 -- Belgium/France), an old-fashioned silent film comedy re-worked into a modern day fairy tale filled with visual gags. Set in a rural Belgian community, Rumba opens with mild-mannered, provincial schoolteachers Dom and Fiona who share a common passion -- Latin Dance. After rehearsing for weeks to win a dance contest, they capture the trophy; however, their joy is short-lived when they crash their car on the way home. But, although Fiona loses her leg and Dom loses his memory, there's nothing that can keep them off the dance floor -- not even a clumsy wooden leg or a burned-down house. From Koch Lorber ... "White Night Wedding" (2008 -- Iceland) is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's drama of marital discord, "Ivanov." The story follows a middle-aged professor who is preparing to marry an ex-student half his age and the past and present problems he must confront: Not everyone thinks this "blessed union" is a good idea, his first wife committed suicide and he remains racked with guilt, and he owes his future mother-in-law money. From IFC Films. (Posted September 15)

For the Family:
"Astro Boy: The Anime Series, Volumes 1-5," based on the legendary Japanese comic series by Osamu Tezuka, known as the Japanese Walt Disney, is now available in five separate volumes just in time for the new feature film due October 23. Inspired by the anime series that originally aired in Japan in 1960, "Astro Boy: The Anime Series" was updated and modernized in 2003 with state-of-the-art animation and visuals that kept the same classic style as the original "Astro Boy" manga and anime, and debuted on the Kids WB Network in 2004. Each volume, sold separately, contains 10 episodes; $14.94 from Sony ... "Star Wars: The Clone Wars Volume 2: Clone Commandos" (2009) includes four episodes from the animated TV series, $14.98 from Warner ... "Marvel X-Men: Volume 3" and "Marvel X-Men: Volume 4" are two-disc sets with 15 and 14 episodes respectively, $23.99 each from Disney ... "Monster Force: Volume One" (1994) is a single-disc with seven animated episodes, $19.98 from Universal ... photo "The Transformers: Season Two Volume, One 25th Anniversary Edition " is a four-disc set with 28 episodes, $29.99 from Shout! Factory ... "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack Vol. 1" (2008) contains five episodes of the Cartoon Network series for boys 6 to 14, $14.97 from Warner ... "The Strawberry Shortcake Movie: Sky's the Limit" (2009) is a new, CGI feature-length movie that has Strawberry Shortcake and her friends trying to safely remove a huge boulder that a terrible storm dropped into their town, threatening everything they hold dear. $19.98 from Fox ... In the animated "Barbie and the Three Musketeers" (2009), Barbie plays Corinne, a young country girl headed to Paris to pursue her big dream -- to become a female musketeer, from Universal ... "Barney: Jungle Friends" (2009) features Rain forest discoveries and animal fun with Barney and friends. Includes a free music CD. From HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate. (Posted September 15)

Special Interest:
With the aid of cutting edge research, the latest scientific theories, and CGI technology, prehistoric animals are brought back to life in "Animal Armageddon, Target: Earth" (2009), an intriguing mini-series that provides an intimate look at some of the most horrific disasters ever to rock the planet. Deadly cosmic gamma rays, volcanic explosions, tsunamis, earthquakes and a gigantic asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs are just a few of the natural events that caused unparalleled devastation. $14.95 from Animal Planet/Genius Products ... In "The Modern Con Man Collection" (2009), America's #1 Con Man, Todd Robbins, shares his catalog of cons and playful scams. The three-DVD set shows viewers how easy it is to scam, bet, and trick one's way to a free drink, a few extra bucks at the poker table, and laughs at the expense of co-workers. $29.95 from First Run Features ... photo "Mysteries of the Freemasons" (2008) is a History documentary that reveals the untold story of The Freemasons, a nearly 400-year-old organization whose influence is the subject of intense debate and a favorite subject of conspiracy theorists worldwide and whose members included George Washington, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Mozart and Duke Ellington. $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037" (2009) is a fascinating documentary that follows the creation of one Steinway concert grand, #L1037, from forest floor to concert hall; $26.95 from Docurama ... "The Wonder of It All" (2009) commemorates the 40th anniversary of humankind's first step on the moon. Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Charlie Duke, Edgar Mitchell, Harrison Schmitt and John Young reflect on their lives, with NASA footage and rarely seen private family photos.From Indican Pictures ... "The Least of These" (2009) is a documentary that takes a penetrating look at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former medium-security prison in Texas that re-opened in 2006 as a prototype family detention center that housed immigrant children and their parents from all over the world who were awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings ... until investigations into troubling conditions at the facility caused President Obama to recently announce that immigration officials would immediately stop sending families to the facility. $24.95 from IndiePix. (Posted September 15)

WWE Home Video has three rough and tumble releases this week: "The Rise and Fall of WCW" (2009), which tells the complete story of World Championship Wrestling, from Ted Turner's purchase and entry into the world of professional wrestling, through the Monday night wars, and the company's eventual collapse. Three-disc set, $34.95 ... "WWE: The Best of Smackdown -- 10th Anniversary 1999-2009 " (2009) features the top 100 moments in the history of WWE"s Smackdown, offering nine hours of drama and entertainment; $34.95 ... "WWE: Night of Champions 2009" (2009) is a collection of Raw, SmackDown and ECW matches for the WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, ECW Championship, Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, Women's Championship, World Tag Team Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship; $24.95. (Posted September 15)

Perry Does "Bad" at the Boxoffice
photo (September 13) A pistol-packing granny topped the boxoffice in what is normally one of the slowest weekends of the year -- the first weekend after Labor Day and after the kids are off to school. "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself" trounced the competition by opening with an estimated $24.0 million, giving Perry his second No. 1 opening for the year; Madea Goes to Jail" opened with $41 million in February. The gap between No. 1 and the runner ups was immense: The animated science fiction outing "9" took in $10.9 million, followed by "Inglourious Basterds" with $6.5 million (boosting the Quentin Tarantino film to a $104.4 million total), "All About Steve" with $5.8 million and "The Final Destination" with $5.5 million. For more on the weekend boxoffice, go to The Hollywood Reporter.

AT&T Dials Into Streaming Video
photo (September 12) Following in the footsteps of Hulu and YouTube, telecommunication giant AT&T has set up the AT&T Entertainment Web site, offering thousands of streaming movies and TV shows from such providers as ABC, Bravo, CBS News, CBS Entertainment, Oxygen, NBC, SyFy, The CW, USA Network and more. According to a report in Home Media Magazine, the content will be available to anyone with a broadband connection, even if they don't subscribe to an AT&T service. For more information, go to Home Media Magazine.

"Terminator: Salvation" Takes Over Dec. 1
photo (September 9) Warner Home Video has announced a December 1 release date for "Terminator: Salvation," which grossed $125 million at the boxoffice when it was released (to lukewarm reviews) in May. The film will be available as a single-disc standard DVD and in a two-disc Blu-ray edition. The DVD will include the theatrical film and a digital copy, while the Blu-ray version will include the PG-13 theatrical version of the film, an R-rated director's cut, a digital copy, behind-the-scenes featurettes and Warner's Maximum Movie Mode, a picture-in-picture examination of the film hosted by director McG; more.

"Sopranos" Tops With DVD Critics
photo (September 8) "The Sopranos: The Complete Series," "The Dark Knight" and "Mad Men: Season One" took top awards at the fifth annual DVD Critics Awards, presented by Home Media Magazine. A panel of home entertainment critics and journalists sorted through more than 130 entries to determine the best titles in a variety of categories. HBO's "The Sopranos: The Complete Series" won as title of the year and best collection/multidisc set, Warner Home Video's "The Dark Knight" won best theatrical title, and Lionsgate's "Mad Men: Season One" won the award for best TV DVD title. Complete list of winners is available at Home Media Magazine.

This Week's Releases (September 8)

From the Big Screen:
"Crank 2: High Voltage," "Dance Flick" and "Valentino: The Last Emperor." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:
photo Topping the releases this week is David Mamet's "Homicide" (1991), starring Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon and Ving Rhames, in a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by editor Barbara Tulliver and approved by the director. In David Mamet's cinema, nothing is as it seems, so you better know what you're looking for. Unfortunately, the protagonist of Mamet's nightmarish urban Odyssey "Homicide," inner-city police detective Bobby Gold (Joe Mantegna), is as bewildered about who he is as who (or what) he's after. Gold's investigation, following the murder of an elderly Jewish candy-shop owner, leads him down a path of obscure encounters and clues, as well as profound reckoning with his own self and identity. Filled with Mamet's trademark verbal play and featuring standout supporting performances. From The Criterion Collection.

Also from Criterion this week: Alexander Korda's "That Hamilton Woman" (1941), starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, in a new, restored high-definition digital transfer; and director Masaki Kobayashi's "The Human Condition" (1959-61), a mammoth humanist drama in a four-disc special edition with a new, restored high-definition digital transfer. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour "Ningen no joken," adapted from Junpei Gomikawa's six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of his nation's wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi's riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best.

photo Disney is releasing "Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition" (1971) in a fully restored and remastered edition. The tale follows an apprentice witch (Angela Lansbury), three kids and a cynical con man (David Tomlinson) and their search for the missing component to a magic spell useful to the defense of Britain during World War II. Bonus features include "The Wizards of Special Effects" featurette, "Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers" featurette takes a look behind the scenes from a musical point of view, Deleted song "A Step in the Right Direction," "Portobello Road Recording Session" rare clip of David Tomlinson's recording of the song "Portobello Road."

Sony continues its homage to 1960s and 1970s cinema -- an era of free-love, anti-conformity and counter-culture politics -- with "Martini Movies: Wave 3," five newly-restored and remastered films never-before-available on DVD: "Model Shop" (1969), "The Buttercup Chain" (1970), "The Pursuit of Happiness" (1971), "Summertree" (1971) and "Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing" (1973). $19.94 each. Jump to Martini Movies for more information on Wave 3 releases ... New Line, meanwhile, is releasing director's cuts of three urban outings: "Friday Director's Cut" (1995), starring Ice Cube, Chris Tucker and Nia Long; "Menace II Society Director's Cut" (1993), starring Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Samuel L. Jackson and Jada Pinkett; and "Set It Off Director's Cut" (1996), starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise; all three also will be available on Blu-ray Disc. (Posted September 8)

From TV to Video:
"Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season" (2008-09) is a seven-disc set with 25 episodes, $55.98 from Paramount ... "Fringe: The Complete First Season" (2008-09) is a single disc with 20 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... photo "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" (2009) stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Kimberly Elise, Aunjanue Ellis, Gus Hoffman, Jaishon Fisher and Maestro Harrel in a TNT Original Movie based on Dr. Ben Carson's amazing journey from a rough childhood to a world-renowned neurosurgeon, from Sony ... "Important Things With Demetri Martin: Season One" (2009) is a single disc with seven episodes of the stream-of-consciousness sketch and variety show from comedian Demetri Martin; $19.99 Paramount ... "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: The Complete First Season" (2008), is a three-disc set with seven episodes, $59.99 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "The Office: Season Five" (2008), is a five-disc set with 26 episodes, 59.98 from Universal ... "Parks and Recreation: Season 1" (2009) is a single disc with six episodes, $29.98 from Universal ... "Worst Week: The Complete Series" (2008) is a two-disc set with 16 episodes, $29.98 from Universal. (Posted September 8)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
photo "Live Animal" (2008) is a torture film that has a group of college students imprisoned and tormented by a crazed horse trainer in an isolated barn before he auctions them on the white slavery market; from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment ... In "The Nail" (2009), starring William Forsythe, Tony Danza, Dayanara Torres, Tony Luke Jr. and Billy Gallo, an out-of-shape boxer, let out of prison after serving eight years for an unfortunate accident, gets a shot at redemption by fighting for a young boy's future; from MTI Home Video ... "Night Stalker" (2009) is a dramatization of the murder and assault spree of "The Night Stalker" -- Richard Munoz Ramirez -- who terrified Los Angeles in 1984/1985; from Barnholtz Entertainment/North American Motion Pictures. (Posted September 8)

For the Family:
"Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams" (2007) is a two-disc special edition of the direct-to-video release featuring two animated stories and music with Jasmine from "Aladdin" and Aurora from" Sleeping Beauty"; $29.99 from Disney ... "Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies: Star Wreck" (2009) is a feature-length cartoon spoof in which Alvin stars as Captain Dirk, commander of the S.S. Boobyprize; Simon is Mr. Speck, and Brittany is Uhaha. Together, they must rescue fellow crewmember Dr. McRoy (Theodore) after he gets abducted by a weird extraterrestrial family; $16.99 from Paramount ... "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Very First Alvin Show" (1961) is the very first broadcast show of the classic Chipmunk series from 1961 that started it all; $16.99 from Paramount ... In "Little Einsteins: Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff" (2009), the Little Einsteins set out on four rescue missions that take place in all corners of the world: In "Fire Truck Rocket," the Einsteins rush to rescue an adorable monkey from an erupting volcano on the tropical island of Java; in "Melody the Music Pet" the Little Einsteins are in France, helping a cuddly creature find a lost train ticket; in "Carmine's Big Race," the Little Einsteins are in Monaco at a grand prix to cheer for Quincy's friend Carmine the music car; the team explores the Patagonia region of South America in "Mr. Penguin's Ice Cream Adventure." $19.99 from Disney ... photo "If the World Were a Village" (2009) is an animated story that delivers an important message using a magical metaphor: what if the world with six billion people were a village of just 100 people? In this village 22 people speak a Chinese dialect (and nine speak English), 20 earn less than a dollar a day, 32 are of Christian faith, 39 are under 19 years old. By exploring the lives of these 100 villagers, children discover that life in other nations is often very different from their own. $29.95 from Master Communications ... In "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland" (2009), Mickey, Donald and the Clubhouse gang enter Alice's Wonderland in a new animated tale featuring the characters from the Disney Channel pre-school series; $26.99 from Disney ... "Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails The Movie" (2009) is Thomas' first-ever CGI-animated movie. Thomas discovers an abandoned and broken down engine from a far away land and enlists help from his friends to save the engine before he's relegated to the scrap heap; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate. (Posted September 8)

Special Interest:
"Edward Said" (2009) is the first in a series of DVD releases of major films on the great thinkers of the modern era. This two-disc special edition contains two critically acclaimed feature documentaries on Edward Said (1935-2003), one of the leading literary critics and political and cultural commentators of the latter part of the 20th century. Borrowing its title from the author's 2000 memoir, "Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said" is a biography of Said filmed in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and the U.S., tracing Said's childhood influences and celebrating his intellectual legacy. "Edward Said: The Last Interview" is an extended and wide-ranging discussion with Said himself, filmed less than a year before his death from leukemia, in which he speaks at length about his illness, his work, Palestine and politics, his life and education, and his continuing cultural and political preoccupations. $34.98 from Icarus Films Home Video. (Posted September 8)

Another "Destination" for Weekend B.O.
photo (September 7) It was a hot Labor Day weekend at the nation's movie theaters as "The Final Destination" and "Inglourious Basterds" took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots respectively. "Destination" grossed an estimated $15.4 million for the four day holiday weekend while "Inglourious Basterds" took in $15.1 million for the four days (it's $95 million total-to-date makes it Quentin Tarantino's second top domestic grosser after "Pulp Fiction"). This weekend was 43 percent higher than the same Labor Day weekend last year. In third and fourth places were new entries "All About Steve," with $13.9 million, and "Gamer" with $11.2 million. The surprise hit "District 9" added $9 million to its coffers for a whopping $103.4 million! The other new opener this week, Mike Judge's "Extract," landed in the No. 10 spot with $5.3.

And although this year's boxoffice is still on its way to a record year, there have been some glitches. According to the Los Angeles Times' annual summer movie studio roundup/scorecard, "Through the end of April, domestic box-office receipts leaped 17% while admissions surged nearly 16% from the previous year, according to Hollywood.com. But as the weather turned hot, business cooled: From May 1 through Aug. 31, attendance was down 2.4% from 2008 and 6% from 2007." Read Summer movie season wasn't a breeze for Hollywood.

Are Studios Peeking at New DVD Window?
photo (September 5) According to report in Home Media Magazine, some Hollywood studios are reportedly considering offering new movies via Internet-enabled high-definition televisions prior to the DVD/Blu-ray Disc release. The reason cited: Sluggish DVD sales and a surge in lower-margin disc rentals, such as Redbox and Netflix. The article cited sources saying that Sony Electronics has approached some studios about delivering new-release movies at premium prices via the Internet on its Web-enabled Sony Bravia HDTVs weeks before their DVD/Blu-ray street date. In addition to establishing a new premium release window, Sony also underscored the delivery channel's so-called "closed system" that prevented piracy. Read the complete report here.

Movie Poll Has Summer "Hangover"
photo (September 2) Moviefone has just revealed the results of an end-of-summer movie poll in which more than 600,000 film fans voted on the best and the worst of summer movies. Despite several high-profile sequels and prequel releases, the summer of 2009 belonged to "The Hangover," which won the "Which movie was most worth your cash category" as well as "Best comedy." Even though the critics trashed it, "Transformers 2" bested "Harry Potter," finishing second to "Star Trek" as the best action movie. Megan Fox won for "hottest female star" while Johnny Depp was the summer's "hottest leading man." "Land of the Lost" and "Year One" were voted as the films that were least worth the cash, while stars Will Ferrell and Jack Black topped the list of worst performances. "Bruno" won as the most highly anticipated movie that was the most disappointing. Overall, a majority of fans said the summer of 2009 was just "Eh," while 37 percent voted "Awesome" and 6 percent voted "Sucks." For complete poll results, go to Moviefone's End of Summer Movies Poll Results.


This Week's Releases (September 1)

From the Big Screen:
"Earth," "State of Play" and "Sugar." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:
Turner Classic Movies and Warner Home Video have teamed again for three new low-priced collections of classic films: photo "TCM Greatest Classic Films: Sci-Fi," a two-disc set with "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Soylent Green," "Forbidden Planet" and "The Time Machine" (1960); "TCM Greatest Classic Films: Murder Mysteries," a two-disc set with "The Maltese Falcon," "The Big Sleep," "Dial M for Murder" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice"; and "TCM Greatest Classic Films: Horror Films," a two-disc set with "House of Wax," "The Haunting" (1963), "Freaks" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1941); $27.92 each ... Paramount's Sapphire Blu-ray Disc series kicks off this week with the release of two-disc sets of "Braveheart" and "Gladiator." photo Bonus features for "Braveheart" include interactive timelines, a retrospective feature, a featurette on the "Smithfield Medieval Killing Fields," and "Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion. ­Extras on "Gladiator," which will be presented in theatrical and extended versions, include commentary, trivia tracks, "Visions From Elysium: Topic Marker" that allows viewers to tag moments of interest throughout either version of the film, allowing them to create "shopping lists" of topics to learn more about when they insert the second features disc, making-of specials, and more. (Posted September 1)

From TV to Video:
"Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Third Season" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $59.99 from Disney ... "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Ninth Season" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $98.18 from Paramount ... "Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season" (2008-09), a seven-disc set with 24 episodes, $59.99 from Disney ... Three "Dr. Who" episodes: "Doctor Who: Ep. 88 -- The Deadly Assassin," "Doctor Who: Ep. 94 -- Image of the Fendahl" and "Doctor Who: Ep.150 -- Delta and the Bannermen," $24.98 each from BBC/Warner ... "The Game: The First Season" (2006-07), a three-disc set with 21 episodes, $39.99 from Paramount ... photo "Heroes: Season 3" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 25 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "Nitro Circus: Season One" (2009), a two-disc set with 12 episodes of the MTV show that highlights stunt-fueled craziness and poor judgment, $26.99 from Paramount ... "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Complete Series Two" (2005), a second helping of the original U.K. series that launched Britain's most celebrated and colorful chef to international notoriety; the three-volume set includes 10 episodes; $29.99 from Acorn Media ... "Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume One" (2009), a three-disc set with first 11 episodes of the fifth season, $49.95 from Sony ... "Rob Byrdek's Fantasy Factory: Season One" (2009), a two-disc set with 10 episodes of the MTV extreme sports series, $26.99 from MTV/Paramount ... "Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season" (2008-09), a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "Two and a Half Men: The Complete Sixth Season" (2008-09), a four-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.96 from Warner. (Posted September 1)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
photo "Impact" (2009) stars David James Elliott, Natasha Henstridge, James Cromwell and Steven Culp in a thrilling ABC miniseries about a rogue asteroid that collides with the moon, causing a huge explosion and sending moon fragments catapulting to the Earth. Within days, disastrous abnormalities start happening on Earth. What started as the most beautiful and the largest meteor shower in 10,000 years unexpectedly becomes the catalyst for a potential collision between the moon and Earth. The world's leading scientists, Alex Kittner (Elliott) and Maddie Rhodes (Natasha Henstridge) have 39 days to stop the moon's course or the Earth -- and all of humankind -- will perish. From Sony ... "Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas" (2009) stars Antonio Sabato Jr., John Diehl, Kostas Sommer and Kelly Curran in a dramatization of the murder spree of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who confessed to more than 350 murders, from Barnholtz Entertainment/Lionsgate. (Posted September 1)

For the Family:
Home video gears up for Halloween: "Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie Limited Edition DVD Gift Set" (2005) is a boxed set with the sequel to photo the theatrical "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" packed with a Beanz plush toy of Pooh dressed as Tigger; $29.99 from Disney ... "Barney: Halloween Party" (2009) is a feature-length Barney Halloween special that has yet to air on TV; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "HIT Favorites: Trick or Treat Tales" contains five Halloween-themed episodes from "Thomas & Friends," "Barney & Friends," "Bob the Builder," "Fifi and the Flowertots" and "Angelina Ballerina"; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Shaun the Sheep: Little Sheep of Horrors" features six animated adventures that mix the spooky, the kooky and the funny: "Little Sheep of Horrors," "Abracadabra," "Things That Go Bump," "Heavy Metal Shaun," "Troublesome Tractor" and "Sheepwalking"; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.

Animated fare: "Ben 10 Alien Force V4" (2009) contains five episodes of the popular Cartoon Network series; $14.98 from Warner ... "Scooby-Doo Where Are You!: Volume 3" is a single-disc with four episodes, No. 9-12: "The Backstage Rage," "Bedlam in the Bigtop," "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts" and "Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too"; $14.97 from Warner.

Live: "America" (2009) stars Rosie O'Donnell, Philip Johnson and Ruby Dee in the story of a young biracial boy helped through the emotional roller-coaster of the foster care system by a caring therapist; from Sony ... "Bring It On: Fight to the Finish" (2008) is the latest installment in the "Bring It On" franchise: East Los Angeles high school cheer squad captain Lina Cruz (Christina Milian) has high hopes of winning the Spirit Championships with her team's fiery fusion of Latin and hip-hop moves. Instead, her world is turned upside down when her mother remarries and her family relocates to Malibu, where she is forced to adjust to a new home, a new stepsister and a new school with a less-than-stellar cheer squad. From Universal. (Posted September 1)

Special Interest:
Sherlock Holmes was not the only detective in Victorian London and the classic British mystery series "The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Set 1"features top-notch adaptations of detective stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's contemporaries. Seen on public television in the 1970s. Four-disc set with 13 mysteries, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Devotion: An Unauthorized Tribute to Michael Jackson" (2009) is a biography featuring interviews with family, friends, celebrities and music industry insiders; extras include four featurettes: "The Memorial," "Media" (a look at the life-long bombardment of press coverage), "Global Phenomenon" and "Charity" (which explores Jackson's philanthropic work and donations to 39 charities).$19.98 from Infinity Entertainment. (Posted September 1)

New "Destination" for Weekend Boxoffice
photo (August 30) The Grim Reaper took the lead in the battle of horror franchises this weekend as the 3-D "The Final Destination" scared off a challenge from "Halloween II," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The fourth in "The Final Destination" series sold an estimated $28.3 million of tickets while the latest "Halloween," from Rob Zombie, opened at No. 3 with $17.4 million. Last weekend's champion, Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," took in $20 million while "District 9" landed in the No. 4 spot with $10.7 million. The much-anticipated "Taking Woodstock," from director Ang Lee, proved to be a big bummer, taking in a weak $3.7 million and placing No. 9 for the weekend. More weekend results.

LACMA Film Program Saved
photo (August 26) According to a report at TheWrap, two white knights have come forward to help save the cancelled Los Angeles County Museum of Art film screening series, which had been unceremoniously dumped last month by LACMA director Michael Govan. According to TheWrap, "The museum received pledges totalling $150,000 from two outside organizations -- the Hollywood Foreign Press Association ... and Time Warner Cable, each of which will donate $75,000 towards the film program, LACMA announced Wednesday." A hue and outcry rang throughout the halls of Hollywood filmdom, due in large part to a grass-roots lobbying program by the Save Film at LACMA community group. And it appears that that lobbying effort has paid off ... for now.

This Week's Releases (August 25)

From the Big Screen:
"Adventureland," "Duplicity," "Fighting" and "Sunshine Cleaning." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."

DVD Collectibles:
photo The Criterion Collection has three powerful offerings this week, headlined by the groundbreaking Chantal Akerman masterpiece "Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles" (1975), a singular work in film history that brilliantly evokes, with meticulous detail and a sense of impending doom, the daily domestic routine of a middle-aged widow (Delphine Seyrig) -- ­whose chores include making the beds, cooking dinner for her grown son, and turning the occasional trick -- ­just as it begins to break down. In its enormous spareness, Akerman's film seems simple, but it encompasses an entire world. Whether seen as an exacting character portrait or one of cinema's most hypnotic and complete depictions of space and time, "Jeanne Dielman" is an astonishing, compelling movie experiment, one that has been analyzed and argued over for decades, and is finally making its long-awaited DVD debut. This restored digital transfer, approved by Akerman, includes "Autour de Jeanne Dielman," a 70-minute documentary shot by actor Sami Frey and edited by Agnes Ravez, made during the filming of "Jeanne Dielman"; interviews with Akerman and cinematographer Babette Mangolte; excerpt from "Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman," a 1997 episode of the French television program "Cinema de notre temps"; a booklet featuring essays by film scholars Ivone Margulies and Janet Bergstrom; and more.

"The Last Days of Disco" (1998), starring Chloe Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale and Chris Eigeman, is a clever, comic return to the nighttime party scene in early 1980s Manhattan from director Whit Stillman ("Metropolitan"). At the center of the film's roundelay of revelers are the icy Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) and the demure Alice (Chloe Sevigny), by day toiling as publishing house assistants and by night looking for romance and entertainment at a premier, Studio 54–like club. "The Last Days of Disco" is an affectionate yet unsentimental look at the end of an era, brimming with Stillman's trademark dry humor. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by Stillman, featuring commentary by Stillman and actors Sevigny and Eigeman; deleted scenes; more ... "Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir" is a no-frills set featuring five action potboilers from the heyday of the Japanese film studio: "I Am Waiting" (1957), "Rusty Knife" (1958), "Take Aim at the Police Van" (1960), "Cruel Gun Story" (1964) and "A Colt Is My Passport" (1967); $69.95. (Posted August 25)

From TV to Video:
"The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Complete Series" (1955-60), an 11-disc set, $29.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "The Adventures of Robin Hood: 4th Season" (1959-60), a two-disc set with 26 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ..."Booker: Collector’s Edition" (1989-90) was a "21 Jump Street" spinoff series starring Richard Grieco, from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Californication: The Second Season" (2008) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes, $42.99 from Paramount ... "Dungeons & Dragons: The Animated Series" is a three-disc set with 27 episodes of the role-playing game that came to life as a 1980s Saturday morning cartoon adventure series; $24.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Dungeons & Dragons: The Beginnings" is a single disc with first nine episodes of the series, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

"Gangland: The Complete Season Four" (2009) is a four-disc set with unprecedented access to the inner workings of 12 of the country's most feared gangs, $34.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "House: Season Five" (2008-09) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, from Universal ... "Lie to Me Season One" (2009) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "Life: Season Two" (2008-09) is a five-disc set with 21 episodes, $59.98 from Universal ... "Life With Derek: The Complete Second Season" (2006-07) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "Mistral's Daughter" (1984) is a three-disc set of the CBS 6-1/2 hour production of Judith Krantz's No. 1 New York Times best-seller, starring Stacy Keach, Stefanie Powers, Lee Remick, Robert Urich, Timothy Dalton and Joanna Lumley; from E1 Entertainment.

"NCIS: The Sixth Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 25 episodes, $55.98 from Paramount ... "One Tree Hill: The Complete Sixth Season" photo (2008-09) is a seven-disc set with 24 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "Samantha Who? The Complete Second Season" (2008-09) is a three-disc set with 18 episodes, $39.99 from Disney ... "Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season" (2008) is a three-disc set with 19 episodes, $39.99 from Disney ... "Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "thirtysomething: The Complete First Season" (1987-88) is the first release of episodes from the long-awaited series, in six-disc set with 21 episodes. Extras include featurettes with "thirtysomething" creators, cast and crew; "From thirtysomething to Forever" making-of featurette; commentaries by creators, cast and crew; a special commemorative booklet with an introduction written by the show's creators; more; $59.99 from Shout! Factory.

"TV Sets: Crime and Punishment" includes first episodes of "Streets of San Francisco," "Hawaii Five-O," "CSI NY" and "Dexter," $14.98 from Paramount ... "TV Sets: Beyond the Ordinary" features first episodes of "Star Trek," "The 4400," "Joan of Arcadia" and "Medium," $14.98 from Paramount ... "The Untouchables: Season Three, Volume One" (1961) is a four-disc set, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Wiseguy: The Complete First Season" (1987-88) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment. (Posted August 25)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Monster Beach Party" (2009) is a retro action-thriller-comedy set in 1966 featuring an all-girl rock band, the legend of the Skunk Ape (the Florida Everglades version of Bigfoot) and a beach party. The action starts when The Violas' tour van breaks down in a small mysterious southern beach town, photo where they're stuck with no money until a local mechanic offers to fix their van if they'll play at his annual beach party; unknown to the girls there's a monster on the loose; from Indican Pictures ... "Ghost Image" (2007) is a thriller starring Elisabeth Rohm, Stacey Dash, Waylon Payne, Roma Maffia and Matthew Del Negro. When a young video editor loses her boyfriend in a car crash, she finds solace in watching video of him taken the night before he died. But when he starts to communicate with her through the video, she must decide if he has broken through the barrier between this world and the next or if she's slipped off into madness; from MTI Home Video ... In "The Sunchaser" (1996), directed by Michael Cimino and starring Woody Harrelson, Jon Seda and Anne Bancroft, an oncologist in the professional fast lane hits a detour when a desperately ill patient kidnaps him at gun point, forcing him on a trip to find a fabled Navajo healing place while a manhunt closes in on them; from Warner.

"American Son" (2008) is the story of a young Marine, fresh from Camp Pendleton, who is forced to confront the complexities of adulthood and a volatile home life during a four-day Thanksgiving leave, starring Nick Cannon, Melonie Diaz, Matt O'Leary, Jay Hernandez, April Grace, Chi McBride and Tom Sizemore; from Disney ... "The Informers" (2009) is a "Crash"-like melodrama with interweaving tales of 1980s Los Angeles' lost generation, drifting through a world of lust, greed and addiction, starring Amber Heard, Jon Foster, Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke, Chris Isaak and Brad Renfro; from Sony ... "Boot Camp" (2007), based on true events, follows a group of troubled teens sent to a boot camp facility on the tropical island of Fiji. Trapped on an island with no rules, no walls and no way out, the teens endure unimaginable physical and emotional abuse that leaves them brainwashed, isolated and close to death. Stars Gregory Smith, Mila Kunis and Peter Stormare; unrated from MGM.

The sequel "Green Street Hooligans 2: Stand Your Ground" (2009) has the members of the Green Street Elite and their rivals, the Millwall club, sent to the same prison, where the bitter enemies must face each other in a final football match where the winners are freed and the losers face imminent death; from Vivendi Entertainment ... "Merlin and the Book of Beasts" (2009) stars James Callis and Laura Harris in a Sci Fi Channel adventure that puts a new spin on the saga of Excalibur, Mordred, and the ultimate battle between Merlin and the Book of Beasts; from Anchor Bay Entertainment ... In "Behind the Wall" (2008), starring Lindy Booth, Lawrence Dane and James Thomas, a young woman returns to her family's lighthouse home 20 years after her mother was murdered there and her father was convicted for the killing. Developers have bought the building but workers have begun to vanish, and the woman soon finds that an evil force has been lurking inside the walls; from Monarch Home Video. (Posted August 25)

On the Indie Front:
In the coming-of-age romantic comedy "Love and Debate (AKA Thanks to Gravity)" (2009), starring Gina Philips, Sean Astin, Adam Rodriguez, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Austin Nichols, Rachel Miner and Joaquim De Almeida, a teenager from Miami struggles with tragedy and love while dealing with the pressures of school and family life. With her Hispanic father and Jewish mother, the young girl feels the clash of both cultures and rarely feels comfortable anywhere but at the podium during a debate. In the end, she must choose between love or debates. From Virgil Films And Entertainment. (Posted August 25)

For the Family:
"The Berenstain Bears: Halloween Treats" features seven ghoulishly great tales filled with the Bears' trademark charm and valuable life lessons: "The Great Batcave," "The Spookiest Pumpkin," "Wicked Weasel Spell," "Missing Pumpkin," "Bust a Ghost," "Spooky Old Mansion" and "The Trojan Pumpkin," $12.99 from Sony ... "The Zula Patrol: Moons Mayhem" contains six new-to-DVD lunar-based episodes from the Parents Choice Award-winning television series, "The Zula Patrol," which airs Saturday mornings on NBC as part of the qubo programming block, weekdays and weekends on public television stations, and in Spanish on Telemundo; $12.98 from Well Go USA (available at Amazon.com). photo "Sonny With a Chance: Sonny’s Big Break" and "The Suite Life on Deck: Anchors Away!" each contain four episodes of the Disney Channel Original Series, $19.99 ... "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" (2008) includes four episodes from the new animated Cartoon Network TV series, $14.98 from Warner ... "Fireman Sam: Help Is Here!" is the first CGI adventure for "Fireman Sam," with five episodes based on the PBS KIDS Sprout series. Fireman Sam saves the supermarket, helps rescue dogs find missing people, shares important safety tips, more; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... In "Bob the Builder: Call in the Crew!" Bob and his Can-Do machine team work together to get the job done in five new animated episodes: "Massive Muck," "Roley's Moleys," "Scoop Slips Up," "Scrambler's Seaweed Delivery" and "Muck's Convoy," $14.98 with a collectible toy vehicle from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate. (Posted August 25)

Special Interest:
"Cartune Xprez 2008" (2008) is a collection of contemporary animated videos by Bruce Bickford, Shana Moulton, Blu, Hooliganship, Jim Trainor, E Rock, Josh Mannis, Lief Hall, Adrian Freeman, Ola Vasiljeva, Eric Dyer, Taras Hrabowsky, Timo Katz, Peter Burr, and Christopher Doulgeris. From around the world, this compilation showcases a generation of artists' mind-melting cartoons bound by a strong Do-It- Yourself sensibility; from Microcinema International ... "Battle BC: The Complete Season One" (2009) uses computer graphics and live-action stunts to bring to life the battle strategies, tactics, and weapons of past military leaders, from Hannibal and the Romans to Moses, the Athenians, and David, in a two-disc set with eight historic battles; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Smithsonian Channel's War Stories" features three revealing and moving documentaries about the life-altering effects of war: "Carrier at War: USS Enterprise," "The Men Who Brought the Dawn" (about the atomic bomb missions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki), and "Arlington: Call to Honor" about America's National Cemetery; $14.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group ... "How the Earth Was Made: The Complete Season One" (2007) is a four-disc set of the History series that shows how the violent forces of geology have formed our planet; $39.95 from A&E Home Entertainment.

photo Every August 500,000 bikers invade the sleepy hamlet of Sturgis, South Dakota for the craziest bikers festival in the world. Go behind the scenes with "America Wild and Wacky: Sturgis" (2007) to take a look at the outlaw culture, the police, store owners and everyday citizens getting ready for cold beer, babes, custom bikes, midget wrestling, thrill rides, tattooing and rock concerts; $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group ... "How Bruce Lee Changed the World" (2009) is an intimate, feature-length History Channel documentary portrait of the man who popularized martial arts around the world; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... In "The Da Vinci Detective" (2006), forensic scientist Dr. Maurizio Seracini uses cutting-edge medical and military technology while on the trail of fascinating unsolved mysteries involving his hero, Leonardo da Vinci: For 30 years he has searched for a lost da Vinci mural unseen since the 1540s, along the way uncovering a series of magnificent da Vinci drawings hidden for years; $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group.

Poet and hero of the American counter-culture Jonas Mekas, born in Lithuania in 1922, invented the diary form of filmmaking. "Walden -- Diaries, Notes and Sketches by Jonas Mekas" (1969), his first completed diary film, is an epic portrait of the New York avant-garde art scene of the 60s and a groundbreaking work of personal cinema, featuring P. Adams Sitney, Stan Brakhage, Carl Th. Dreyer, Timothy Leary, Baba Ram Dass, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Barbet Schroeder, Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Velvet Underground, Shirley Clarke, Michael Snow, Richard Foreman, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and others. Includes two DVDs, a poster, and a 150-page book with unpublished texts by 60 authors including many who appeared in the film; from Microcinema International ... "Martin Lawrence Presents First Amendment Stand-Up: Season 3" features five hours of the best and brightest talents in comedy today with performances by Bruce Bruce, Rickey Smiley, Lavell Crawford, Don 'D.C' Curry, Roz G., Joey Medina and many more headliners from the top comedy clubs around the country; $19.97 from Anchor Bay Entertainment ... "Gospel Comedy All Stars 2" (2009) is a comedy concert that features four of the biggest names in gospel and black family comedy filmed in front of a sold-out audience in San Diego: hosted by Joe Clair (formerly of BET's "Rap City") and featuring Barry Brewer of "Who's Got Jokes" and father and son comedy team Gerald Kelly and Isiah Kelly; from Rising Entertainment/Vivendi Entertainment. (Posted August 25)

Boxoffice Salutes Tarantino
photo (August 23) Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" -- a World War II revenge actioner starring Brad Pitt -- debuted this weekend with an estimated $37.6 million to take the No. 1 spot at the domestic boxoffice. Internationally, the film opened with $27.5 million in 22 markets, taking the No. 1 spot and making its opening the biggest ever for a Tarantino film. Sony's sci-fi thriller "District 9" took second place after dropping just 49% in its second weekend to land an estimated $18.9 million for the three days. In the third, fourth and fifth places, respectively, were "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," "The Time Traveler's Wife" and Julie and Julia," each moving down one notch from the previous weekend. Other wide openers this weekend included Robert Rodriguez's PG-rated family fantasy "Shorts" with $6.6 million in sixth place and the poorly reviewed teen comedy "Post Grad" with a meager $2.8 million in 10th. Complete weekend results can be found at The Hollywood Reporter.

Digital Downloads a Buyers Market
photo (August 22) According to a report in Video Business magazine, Apple iTunes and Amazon Video On Demand are "getting fierce in promoting and slashing prices on digital movie and TV downloads. Both sites are selling catalog films for less than $5 and renting back-catalog movies for as little as 99 cents, well below their digital competitors. And Amazon is now pricing new releases on par with iTunes at $14.99, below the site's previous new releases tag of $17 and often below the price the site sells those same movies for on DVD and Blu-ray Disc." More information here.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" Invades DVD
photo (August 20) "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," the No. 1 box office hit of the year from DreamWorks/Paramount, will mount an attack Oct. 20 on DVD and Blu-ray two-disc special editions and a single-disc DVD. Bonus features include commentary by director Michael Bay; a making-of documentary; a featurette on the Hasbro franchise; an examination of the special effects; extended scenes; and more. According to a report in Home Media Magazine, the two-disc editions will include an "augmented reality technology that will allow owners to interact with a holographic image of Optimus Prime utilizing their webcams and a special website." The Blu-ray edition will add the ability to customize robot characters. More info here. In other news from Paramount according to Home Media Magazine, Eddie Murphy's family comedy "Imagine That" will be the second title in Paramount Home Entertainment's new strategy to release films on Blu-ray and on DVD as a rental only before the sellthrough DVD. The Blu-ray Disc version will street for sellthrough Oct. 6, the same date as the DVD rental release. However, DVDs won't be available to purchase for at least a month after that initial street date. More info here.

This Week's Releases (August 18)

From the Big Screen:
"Hannah Montana the Movie" and "Last House on the Left." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases." (Posted August 18)

DVD Collectibles:
Billed as "A Comedy About Life, Death, and Freedom," independent cinema pioneer John Cassavetes' "Husbands" (1970) was originally released to preview audiences at a length of 139 minutes but subsequently cut by 11 minutes. Sony's release of the film this week presents it in its full-length, original version, largely unseen by audiences since 1969. "Husbands" follows three middle-aged friends (Ben Gazzara, Peter Falk and Cassavetes), photo with wives and houses in the New York suburbs, who go on a wild spree after a close friend dies of a heart attack. Ending up in London, the three must confront their own mortality and decide how to spend the rest of their lives. From Sony ... "Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection" is a three-disc set with "H-Man" (1958), "Battle in Outer Space" (1959) and "Mothra" (1961); each film has been digitally re-mastered, and includes the original Japanese versions and the U.S. versions, and commentaries; $24.96 from Sony ... "IP5: The Island of Pachyderms " (1992 -- French) is the latest DVD release in Cinema Libre Studio's The Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection. In this film by Beineix (the director of the international hits "Diva" and "Betty Blue") two Parisian street kids embark upon a strange journey to Grenoble in the back of a delivery truck. Once there, the two steal a car and discover an old man sleeping in the back, but they discover that he's not a man at all but an enigmatic forest spirit who teaches them important lessons about nature and life. This was the last film of Yves Montand, who died of heart failure (as did his character in the film) during the shooting in 1991. (Posted August 18)

From TV to Video:
"The Beast: Season 1" (2009) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.95 from Sony ... "Dexter: The Complete Third Season" (2008) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes, $42.99 from Paramount ... "Everybody Hates Chris: The Final Season" (2008-09) features all 22 episodes, $39.98 from Paramount ... "Everybody Hates Chris: The Complete Series" is a 16-disc set, $119.98 from Paramount ... "Gossip Girl: The Complete Second Season" (2008-09) is a seven-disc set with 25 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... photo "The Helen West Casebook" (2002) is a three-disc set of the British crime dramas based on Frances Fyfield's bestselling thrillers about a workaholic prosecutor with a messy personal life; aired on A&E Network; $49.99 from Acorn Media ... "Greek: Chapter Three" (2009) is a three-disc set, $39.99, from Disney ... "iCarly Season 2, Vol. 1" (2008) is a two-disc set, $26.98 from Paramount ... "Simon & Simon: Season Three" (1983-84) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $49.99 from Shout! Factory ... "The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season" (2000-01) is a four-disc set with 21 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "Sons of Anarchy Season One" (2008) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 from Fox ... "Total Drama Island: The Complete Season" (2008) is a four-disc set with 28 episodes of the Cartoon Network animated "reality show," $34.99 from Warner. (Posted August 18)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
photo In "Surveillance" (2009), directed by Jennifer Lynch and starring Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James, Ryan Simpkins, French Stewart, Kent Harper and Michael Ironside, two FBI agents are summoned to a police station in the Santa Fe desert to interview three witnesses to a series of blood-curdling murders and they find three sets of stories to figure out. As the witnesses tell their stories one by one, each concealing some details, the gruesome, murderous events unravel and the Feds soon discover that uncovering "the truth" can come at a very big cost. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... In "Wyvern" (2009), starring Barry Corbin, Nick Chinlund and Erin Karpluk, global warming melts a prehistoric winged creature's icy tomb and the beast -- the wyvern --turns a small community into its new feeding ground; 15th installment in the "Maneater" series; from RHI Entertainment/Genius Products ... In "Julia" (2008), starring Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Kate del Castillo, Aidan Gould and Jude Ciccolella, a 40-year-old alcoholic woman on the edge of self-destruction gets involved in a kidnapping plot to try to turn her life around with a big score ... but the plan backfires; from Magnolia Home Entertainment. (Posted August 18)

On the Indie Front:
In "Kissing Cousins" (2008), a "relationship termination specialist" who provides "dumping services" for disgruntled daters has become hard-hearted and the last bachelor in his social circle. He travels to Britain for a short vacation and returns to the States with his charming and beautiful cousin, who pretends to be his "girlfriend" to prove that he's capable of having a relationship. Stars Samrat Chakrabarti, Rebecca Hazlewood, Gerry Bednob, David Alan Grier and Jaleel White. From Cinema Libre Studio. (Posted August 18)

Foreign:
There's two foreign outings from First Run features this week: "Absurdistan" (2008 -- Russia) is a small village in the high desert mountains, just on the outskirts of reality, where magical visions and bizarre events fuse together. Home to only 14 families, the village is facing a water shortage but the men are too lazy to fix a rickety pipeline. The women are soon fed up with their good-for-nothing husbands and they make a simple vow: "No water, no sex." Shot in northwest Azerbaijan ... In "The Fish Fall in Love" (2006 -- Iran), Atieh's passion is food, and her small but popular restaurant on the sleepy Caspian coast of Iran is her pride and joy. Unfortunately the owner of the building -- who also happens to be an ex-boyfriend -- returns after a 20-year absence and, fearing he's going to sell the building, Atieh takes a page from the Persian fable of Shahrazad and "A Thousand and One Nights," cooking him a new and sinfully delicious dish every day. (Posted August 18)

For the Family:
photo Animation and live-action combine to bring the magical friendship between a young orphan and his unusual best friend to life in "Pete's Dragon: High Flying Edition" (1977), starring Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, Jeff Conaway, Shelley Winters, Jim Dale, Red Buttons and Charlie Callas ... "The Smurfs: Smurfy Tales" features five uncut episodes of the hugely popular 1980's television series; $14.97 from Warner ... "The Swan Princess 2: The Secret of the Castle" (2009) is a direct-to-DVD animated adventure that re-unites Princess Odette and Prince Derek with their old friends Jean-Bob, the fabulously French Frog; Speed, the patient Turtle; and Puffin, the eccentric bird, as they attempt to recover the Magic Orb from the evil Clavius; $14.94 from Sony. (Posted August 18)

Special Interest:
"Tyson" (2008) is a no-holds-barred documentary portrait of legendary and controversial former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Directed by James Toback and narrated by Tyson; from Sony ... "Albert Schweitzer: Called to Africa" (2006) is a docu-drama about the Nobel Laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a humanitarian healer and jungle doctor, pastor, philosopher, and musician who believed in a "Reverence for Life" ... from First Run Features ... "The Shadow Effect: A Journey From Your Darkest Thought to Your Greatest Dream" (2009) is a documentary by N.Y. Times best-selling author Debbie Ford that exposes the opposing forces of light and dark that compete for attention within every human being and presents the hidden power of the "Shadow," leading to behavior that continually unseats politicians, destroys celebrity careers, destabilizes the economy and affects the lives of millions each year; $29.95. from Hay House. (Posted August 18)

Disney Makes a Fine "Proposal"
photo (August 17) Disney has announced an October 13 release date for the Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds comedy "The Proposal," about a hard-nosed executive who talks her overworked assistant into a marriage of convenience. The smash $154 million comedy will be available in two-disc Blu-ray and DVD editions as well as single-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions. Bonus features will include filmmaker commentary, bloopers and an alternate ending. Both two-Disc DVD and Blu-ray versions will include a Digital Copy of the movie that can be viewed on an array of electronic devices. October 13 will also see the release of the "remake" of "Land of the Lost," starring Will Ferrell, from Universal, and Atom Egoyan's "Adoration," from Sony. Meanwhile, Sony will release the Denzel Washington-John Travolta redo of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," directed by Tony Scott, on November 3.

New Birthday for 2000 Year-Old Man
photo (August 14) Shout! Factory on November 14 will team with comedians Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks for the release of "The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History," compiling the best of the bits featuring Brooks playing the oldest man in the world, answering questions posed by Reiner about historical events and people. The pair started doing the routine in 1961. The three-CD/one-DVD set contains all five legendary comedy albums released by the duo, including "The 2000 Year Old Man In The Year 2000," for which they received a Grammy Award in 1998. The DVD features a brand-new interview with Reiner and Brooks discussing the history of the routine, the 1975 animated "2000 Year Old Man" TV special, and vintage clips of the two appearing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The New Steve Allen Show." The set also includes extensive liner notes, rare photos and tributes from and tributes from some of the biggest names in comedy.

Just Announced
(August 12) Fifty new titles have been added to our release calendars. In September there's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Ninth Season," "Valentino: The Last Emperor," "Bonanza: The Official First Season, Volumes One and Two," "CSI: Miami: The Seventh Season," "One Step Beyond: The Official First Season," the complete "Sanctuary," photo the animated series "Gigantor: The Collection -- Volume 2," "Taxi: The Fourth Season," Sam Mendes' "Away We Go" starring John Krasinski, "Triangle," a Hong Kong actioner created by cinema masters Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, and more. In October there's "Ally McBeal: The Complete Series" and "Ally McBeal Season One," "The Hills: Season Five -- Part One," "Medium: The Fifth Season," the Jack Black-Michael Cera comedy "Year One," "Vega$: The First Season, Volume 1," "The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One," "Mannix: The Third Season," "Tales From the Darkside: The Second Season," and more. And, in November there's the animated Disney/Pixar hit "Up" and "Superman: The Complete Animated Series," a seven-disc set with all 54 episodes.

This Week's Releases (August 11)

From TV to Video:
"Adam-12: Season Three" (1970-71) is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $34.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Californication: The Second Season" (2008) is a two-disc set with 12 episodes, $42.99 from Paramount ... "Designing Women: The Complete Second Season" (1987-88) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $44.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Here's Lucy: Season One" (1968-69) is Four-disc set with 24 episodes of Lucille Ball's third sitcom, $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... photo "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle" (2008) features six episodes of the British series about a frank talk-show host (Jennifer Saunders) who chews up her guests and spits them out -- all in the name of therapy. Also stars Miranda Richardson. $24.98 from BBC/Warner ... "Life With Derek: The Complete Second Season" (2006-07) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $24.98 from E1 Entertainment ... "90210: The First Season" (2008-09) is a six-disc set with 24 epiosdes, $49.99 from Paramount ... "Lockup: Raw Season One" (2008) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $19.95 New Video ... "Pulling: The Complete Second Season" (2008) is an "anti-'Sex In the City'" series from England with one-night stands gone wrong, binge drinking, unplanned pregnancy, sex under the influence and shoplifting; $24.98 from MPI Home Video. (Posted August 11)

Buzzin' the Bees:
"Dark Rising" (2007) is a horror flick that takes a broken heart, a camping trip, a battle axe, a bikini-clad demon and a lesbian ex-fiancee on a spin through a campy comedy in the wilds, starring WWE wrestling star Jason "Christian Cage" Reso, Landy Cannon, Vanessa James, Haley Shannon, Julia Schneider; from E1 Entertainment ... An agent on a covert mission to stop North Korean terrorists from obtaining a nuclear bomb tries to save a beautiful facilitator and ends up framed for murder in "The Art of War III: Retribution" (2009), starring Naughty by Nature's Treach and Playboy model Sung Hi Lee; from Sony ... photo A bounty hunter, searching for money to pay back a debt (or face the noose), discovers that an imprisoned outlaw, the Sparkle-Eyed Kid, has a bounty on her head, and he to decides to break her out of jail to save his life in "Bounty" (2009), starring Jarrett LeMaster and Michelle Acuna; from Barnholtz Entertainment/North American Motion Pictures ... In "The Tiger's Tail" (2006), directed by John Boorman and starring Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Ciaran Hinds, Sinead Cusack and Sean McGinley, a wealthy Irish capitalist is stalked by a menacing look-alike, intent on stealing away everything he has: his job, his wife and his sanity; from MGM ... In the hard-hitting British thriller "London to Brighton" (2008), starring Lorraine Stanley, Johnny Harris and Claudie Blakley, a desperate prostitute is bullied by her pimp into finding an underage girl for a mobster but when things turns nasty she intervenes and everything goes horribly wrong; from E1 Entertainment ... In "Road Trip -- Beer Pong" (2009), three college roommates join a bus full of models to compete in the ultimate sport competition: the National Beer Pong Tournament, along the way meeting up with a hitchhiking, gun toting beauty; a grandmother-mother-daughter stripper squad; and the members of Chastity Until Marriage; from Paramount ... In "Safehouse" (2008), a former FBI agent comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his ex-partner at the hands of a diabolical madmen who's after a mysterious thumb drive; from MTI Home Video. (Posted August 11)

On the Indie Front
"Gigantic" (2008) is a surreal love story about the anxiety that comes when two people with crazy families unexpectedly collide. Mattress salesman Brian (Paul Dano) gets swept up in a romance with the lovely but misguided Harriet Lolly (Zooey Deschanel) when she comes in to his store one day and falls asleep on one of the beds. To win her over, he must compete with her bear of a father (John Goodman), an art-collecting loudmouth with a bad back and deep pockets; from Vivendi Entertainment ... In "Almost Heaven" (2006), starring Donal Logue, Tom Conti, Lynda Boyd, Julie Cox, Joely Collins and Kirsty Mitchell, a charismatic but alcohol-fueled TV director gets a second chance when handed an opportunity to film a fishing show in Scotland ... but he has to work with the show's volatile star, who just happens to be his ex-wife. Things turns from bad to worse when he meets a feisty local fishing guide and begins to have feelings for her; from E1 Entertainment. (Posted August 11)

Foreign Films:
"Katyn" (2009 -- Polish) is an epic and sweeping drama that exposes an oft-overlooked moment in WWII history, directed by 83 year-old Andrzej Wajda, Poland's most celebrated filmmaker. The film is based on the novel by Andrzej Mularcyk detailing Joseph Stalin's horrific 1940 liquidation of the Polish officer corps in Katyn Forest. After the Nazis stormed into Poland, Stalin ordered Russian soldiers into the country in order to oversee the imprisonment of all Polish officers -- and their eventual "liquidation." For decades the truth about the slaughter in the woods was obfuscated due to post-war Poland's dependence on Russia, with the Nazis often blamed for the atrocity. From Koch Lorber Films. (Posted August 11)

For the Family:
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 25th Anniversary Collection" is a four-disc set with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie" (1990), "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze" (1991), "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Turtles in Time" (1993) and "TMNT" (2007). photo Also available on Blu-ray Disc. The DVD collection ($32.92) comes in a cool tin travel case with four Turtle masks and temporary tattoos; the Blu-ray set comes in a retro pizza box package with an exclusive reproduction of "TMNT: The Movie" comic book, an exclusive original sketch with creator Peter Laird's autograph, collectible character cards and a TMNT beanie hat ($84.99); from Warner ... "The Batman Double Feature" includes two feature-length animated adventures: "The Batman/Superman Movie" (1998) and "The Batman vs. Dracula" (2005); $14.97 from Warner ... "Scooby-Doo Double Feature" includes "Scooby-Do Meets Batman" and "Scooby-Doo Meets the Harlem Globetrotters," $14.97 from Warner ... "Super Friends: The Lost Episodes" is a two-disc set with 24 lost DC Super Heroes episodes, $26.99 from Warner ... In "Barney: Sharing Is Caring" (2009), pre-schoolers can celebrate a day of giving with Barney as a toy drive inspires the purple dinosaur and his friends to donate their toys; $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate. (Posted August 11)

Special Interest:
"Breaking the Bank" (2009) is a "Frontline" documentary that tells the inside story of how some billion-dollar banks faltered in the midst of the housing market crisis, with many crumbling and others teetering on the brink of collapse even today; $24.99 from PBS Distribution ... photo "The Trial and Triumph of the King of Pop" is a documentary that explains some of the complexities in the life of musical icon Michael Jackson, with appearances by Kanye West, Jermaine Jackson, Tom Mesereau, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Jon Voight, Fantasia, Mo'Nique, Aphrodite Jones and Linda Deutsch; from Rock City Entertainment/Elbow Grease Productions/MVD Visual ... "James Dean: The Fast Lane" (2008) is a two-disc set marks the 54th anniversary of Dean's death, covering the meager 1,734 days from his first on-screen performance to his death; includes rare footage of his on-air debut at 19 years old, a 1950 commercial for Pepsi, as well as his final work, ironically a 1955 highway safety PSA filmed just 13 days before he died in his Porsche 550 Spyder; $14.98 from Infinity Entertainment Group ... "Chris Isaak Greatest Hits -- Live" (2005) is a high-definition, 5.1 surround sound recording of 15 of the musician's greatest hits, filmed for the acclaimed PBS music series Soundstage in 2005; $19.99 from E1 Entertainment ... "WWE: Summerslam -- The Complete Anthology, Vol. 3 1998-2002" and "WWE: Summerslam -- The Complete Anthology, Vol. 3 2003-2007" dish up 10 years of World Wrestling Entertainment's signature event of the summer, offering a number of memorable championship bouts and grudge matches. Volume 3 includes such superstars of the "Attitude Era" as Edge, Christian, the Dudley Boyz, The Rock, Booker T and others. Younger stars rise to prominence in Volume 4, with "youngster" Randy Orton, the Undertaker, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair as well as a dream match up between Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels; $59.95 each from WWE Home Video. (Posted August 11)

Ultimate "Gone With the Wind" Due Nov. 17
Warner Home Video is pulling out all the stops for its 70th anniversary re-release of what is perhaps the greatest movie of all time (and, as adjusted for 2009 U.S. dollars, the boxoffice champ of all time with $1.5 billion): "Gone with the Wind." On November 17, the studio will honor the romantic epic with a stunningly restored and remastered version, available on standard DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray. According to Warner, the highlight of the new Blu-ray version "is how it looks and sounds ... (the studio) continues to maximize what the Blu-ray format can do in terms of picture and sound. photo With six times higher resolution than standard DVD along with the sonic excellence of Dolby TruHD, the film will be at its absolute pristine best." The 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition, limited and numbered, will also include nostalgic premiums -- a 40-page hardcover book with photos, production notes and more; a reproduction of the 1939 original program; eight 5" x 7" frameable art prints, and a CD soundtrack sampler. The Blu-ray edition (a two-disc set with 18 hours of bonus features) will sell for $84.99 and the DVD (a five-disc set with 12 hours of bonus features) for $69.92. A Two Disc Special Edition will also be offered with the film and commentary for $24.98. Jump to November DVDs for a complete list of bonus features. Read Warner's press release. (Posted August 10)

Flash (August 9)

Due This Week
Hitting the little screen on DVD this coming week are "17 Again," starring teen heart-throb Zac Efron, documentary "The Class," male-bonding film "I Love You, Man" and our pick for the week, the delightful French musical "Paris 36." Watch the trailer:

For more information on these titles, go to the August Calendar. (Posted August 9)

Writer-Director John Hughes Dies
photo John Hughes, the director of such iconic films as "The Breakfast Club," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Sixteen Candles," has died. According to the Associated Press, Hughes, 59, died of a heart attack during a morning walk in New York. Hughes helped make stars out of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, John Cusack, Judd Nelson, Steve Carell, Lili Taylor and a host of others, and wrote or directed such hits as "Home Alone," "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Pretty in Pink," "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" and "Uncle Buck." Read the AP obituary. (Posted August 6)

Redbox Rental Profits Up
photo According to a report in Home Media Magazine, Redbox rental kiosks generated income of $58 million (on revenues of $344 million) in the first half of the year compared to $73 million in profit in all of 2008. Redbox kiosks earned $4 million in 2006. The company is negotiating new deals similar to one with Sony, which sees nearly 20 percent of all Redbox DVDs coming from the studio. One hitch so far has been ongoing litigation with Universal Studios Home Entertainment over that studio's proposed revenue-sharing terms. More at Home Media Magazine. (Posted August 5)

DVD Collectibles:
photo "Icons of Screwball Comedy: Volume 1" from Sony are two two-disc set with four classic screwball comedies each from the '30s and '40s. The screwball comedy was virtually invented at Columbia Studios during the height of the depression. Following the huge success of Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night" (1934), Columbia would make more of these madcap romantic comedies than any other studio. Typical "screwballs" featured marital mix-ups and plenty of opportunities to poke fun at the wealthy, while allowing audiences to dwell in the luxury of the upper class. These films also offered some of the best roles for actresses in this period, often playing working-girls in a man's world (Rosalind Russell in "His Girl Friday") or socially liberal gals battling restrictive upper-crust society (Katherine Hepburn in "Holiday"). A breezy approach to male and female roles was a hallmark of the screwball comedy. Volume 1 includes "If You Could Only Cook," "Too Many Husbands," "My Sister Eileen" and "She Wouldn't Say Yes"; Volume 2 includes "Theodora Goes Wild," "Together Again," "A Night to Remember" and "The Doctor Takes a Wife"; $16.25 each set. More info on the titles. (Posted August 4)

Glowing Blu-ray:
Due this week: Cult film "Big Trouble in Little China," directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall, from Fox; "Sling Blade Director's Cut," directed by and starring Billy Bob Thornton, from Miramax; "The Waterboy" starring Adam Sandler, from Disney; and "Stargate Atlantis: Fans' Choice," from MGM. (Posted August 4)

From TV to Video:
"Agatha Christie's Marple, Series 4" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with four gripping new adaptations of Christie mysteries, starring Julia McKenzie, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Second Season" is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $29.98 from HBO Home Entertainment ... "Project Runway Season Five" (2008) is a four-disc set with eight extended episodes, $27.95 The Weinstein Co./Genius Products. (Posted August 4)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Delgo" (2009) features the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Val Kilmer, Chris Kattan, Kelly Ripa, Anne Bancroft, Lou Gossett Jr. and Burt Reynolds in a direct-to-video animated adventure about an unlikely hero and a spirited princess in whose hands rest the fate of an ancient world; from Fox ... In "Demon Warriors" (2008 -- Thailand), a police investigator learns of a group of invincible warriors who must die and be resurrected to achieve superpowers; he decides to infiltrate the group but becomes seduced by his new powers and immortality; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "The 5 Deadly Venoms" (1978 -- Hong Kong) is a martial arts masterpiece that inspired generations of action films, rap music, and pop culture. The dying master of the notorious Poison Clan assigns his final martial arts student one last, epic quest -- find his five most mysterious and dangerous disciples, each trained in a different fighting style, each hiding under an assumed identity, and bring them together ... or bring them to justice; from The Weinstein Co. Dragon Dynasty label/Genius Products ... The survivors of a gruesome restaurant murder are left to ponder their own mortality and how it relates to their connection to society in "Fragments (Winged Creatures)" (2008), starring Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson; from Sony ... Four Hollywood kids get involved with an insane director as "stars/victims" in his new breed of filmmaking, "Horror Reality," in "Hollywood Kills" (2006), starring Dominic Keating, Happy Mahaney, Angela DiMarco, Mathew Scollon, Gillian Shure and Zack Ward, from Osiris Entertainment ... photo Set in the year 2707, "Mutant Chronicles" (2009) revolves around the constant warfare on Earth between four super corporations seeking to control the planet's dwindling resources. When an ancient buried seal is destroyed during the battles, a horrific mutant army is released, threatening human extinction. Stars Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Devon Aoki, Sean Pertwee, Benno Furmann, Anna Walton, Tom Wu, Steve Toussaint, Luis Echegaray and John Malkovich; from Magnolia Home Entertainment ... In "Nature's Grave" (2008), starring James Caviezel and Claudia Karvan, a couple take a camping trip in the hopes putting the spark back into their relationship but it quickly turns into a horrific battle for their lives: They unknowingly stumble onto an untouched beach that doesn't take kindly to human intruders; from Screen Media Films ... In "Wolfhound" (2007 -- Russian), the last surviving member of a slaughtered tribe -- enslaved, left for dead, destined to become the world's most feared warrior -- is consumed by a lifelong quest to avenge his family's murder and is drawn into an all-out war to destroy a vicious monster and save a nation; from The Weinstein Co./Genius Products. (Posted August 4)

For the Family:
"The Tigger Movie 10th Anniversary" (2000) is a two-disc set with digital copy of the animated adventure with such extras as "King of the Beasties" and "Tigger's Houseguest" new-to-DVD episodes from the TV series "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh"; "Your Heart Will Lead You Home" Kenny Loggins music video; "Round My Family Tree" sing-along song; "Tigger Movie" trivia game; "Thingamajigger" matching game; "Round Your Family Tree"; and "Tigger Movie" DVD storybook; from Disney ... photo "VeggieTales: Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah's Umbrella" (2009) is the latest adventure in the VeggieTales franchise. Minnesota Cuke is on the search for Noah's famous ark when he learns of a mysterious and powerful umbrella -- and a clever villain who wants it for his own schemes. Will Minnesota have the confidence to face the challenges and keep searching -- or will all hopes of finding the ark be washed away for good? $14.99 from Big Idea ... "Dive Olly Dive! Ship Shape Sub," (2009) includes five episodes of the 3D-animated underwater adventure series for preschoolers that airs daily on PBS Sprout; $12.99 from NCircle Entertainment ... "Hippos and Rhinos" features four kid-friendly programs -- "Jessica the Hippo," "There's a Rhino In My House," "Saba and the Rhino's Secret" and "That's My Baby: Cleo the Hippo" -- from Animal Planet; $14.95 from Genius Products ... "Kidwinks" (2009) is a new speech-development series for children just learning to speak or facing delayed speech and language development. The live-action series is designed to stimulate children's interest and increase their awareness of words and language by teaching through short phrases, repetition, sign language, music and simple movements Three 20-minute DVDs are now available: "Kidwinks: Farm," "Kidwinks: Play" and "Kidwinks: Things That Go"; $14.95 each from KidwinksUSA.com ... "Looney Tunes Movie Collection: Daffy Duck's Quackbusters" is a single disc with the 1988 feature-length "Daffy Duck's Quackbusters" as well as shorts "Night of the Living Duck," "Daffy Dilly," "The Prize Pest," "Water, Water Every Hare," "Hide and Go Tweet," "Claws for Alarm," "The Duxorcist," "Transylvania 6-5000," "The Abominable Snow Rabbit," "Punch Trunk" and "Jumpin' Jupiter"; $14.98 from Warner ... "Sid the Science Kid: The Bug Club" and "Sid the Science Kid: Change Happens" (2009) each feature four episodes from the Parents Choice-recommended PBS KIDS series that is co-produced by The Jim Henson Company and KCET Los Angeles. Developed to inspire a lifelong curiosity and love for learning in young children, "Sid the Science Kid" is designed to appeal to preschoolers' instinctive quest to figure out how things work, using humor and music as key teaching tools; $12.98 from NCircle Entertainment. (Posted August 4)

Special Interest:
photo Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Shows: The Performances "Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Shows: The Performances" showcases Elvis' unforgettable first three performances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Appearing on the show Sept. 9, 1956, Elvis sent shock waves through a repressed nation with his soulful singing, wild hip gyrations and raw energy, attracting a record-breaking TV audience of more than 60 million. Presley returned on Oct. 28, 1956, continuing to provoke ecstatic screams with hits such as "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender" and "Hound Dog." In fact, these exhilarating performances were so explosive that Elvis was filmed above the waist during his final Sullivan show appearance on January 6, 1957; from Image Entertainment. (Posted August 4)

The Return of Sell-Through
photo According to a report in Video Business magazine, Paramount Home Entertainment plans to capitalize on the booming video rental market and bolster Blu-ray Disc sales by implementing a staggered release schedule that will see "sell-through" DVDs arriving one month or more after rental copies and Blu-ray sell-through versions. This harks back to the old VHS sell-through window, when reasonably priced-to-own editions of new releases would arrive weeks after exhorbitantly priced rental editions. According to the report, "The studio's 'Dance Flick' will street as an unrated Blu-ray edition at sell-through and rental outlets and as a rated standard DVD available only to the rental channel on Sept. 8. The Blu-ray packs in outtakes, deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The rental version holds the movie only. A standard-def sell-through version of 'Dance Flick' will roll out to retail four to eight weeks later." No other titles were mentioned as part of this release strategy, and the studio said that it would evaluate each film on a case-by-case basis. More at Video Business. (Posted August 2)

"Wolverine," "Farscape" Make New Homes on DVD
photo Science fiction and fantasy fans have much to rejoice for in the last part of the year: On September 15 Fox will release "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and on November 17 A&E Home Entertainment will release "Farscape: The Complete Series Megaset," a 25-disc set with all 88 episodes of the cult Sci-Fi Channel favorite that ran from 1999-2003. "Wolverine" will be available as a single-disc DVD, two-disc Special Edition DVD and two-disc Blu-ray Disc with such extras as commentaries, "The Roots of Wolverine," "Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins" featurette, deleted and alternate scenes, a digital copy, and more. The "Farscape" set will include 29 episode commentaries, multiple featurettes and documentaries, multiple video profiles featuring archival clips and cast and crew discussing their characters and roles, more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes, sideshows and archival photo galleries, production design galleries, and much more; $149.95. (Posted July 21)

The Blu 'Watch'
photo From TK's Take Blog
Man, is Blu-ray Disc ever picking up some real steam. And we're not talking industry-hype steam, but REAL steam, as in Big, Serious Numbers. According to this week's Nielsen VideoScan data, 36 percent of consumers who picked up a copy of Warner Home Video's "Watchmen" its first week in stores went with the Blu-ray Disc edition. Granted, that movie was aimed squarely at the young-male demographic that in our biz tends to be synonymous with the "early adopter," but still, 36 percent? That's a real healthy number. I remember at the end of last year, when we were all crowing about The Dark Knight generating nearly 20% of its sales from the Blu-ray Disc edition. There's more: Universal Studios Home Entertainment's "Coraline", an edgy animated hit that didn't zero in on young males, nevertheless generated 18% of its total sales from Blu-ray Disc, and Summit Entertainment's "Knowing," in Week 3 of release, had 17 percent of its sales coming from Blu-ray Disc. Hey, all you skeptics out there. Can you say "M-O-M-E-N-T-U-M?" More at Home Media Magazine. (Posted July 30)

DVD Collectibles:
photo The Criterion Collection brings to DVD and Blu-ray this week one of the benchmarks of 1960s cinema, "Repulsion" (1965). Director Roman Polanski followed up his international breakthrough "Knife in the Water" with this controversial, chilling tale of psychosis, starring Catherine Deneuve as Carole, a fragile, frigid young beauty cracking up over the course of a terrifying weekend. Left alone by her vacationing sister in their London flat, Carole is haunted by specters real and imagined, and her insanity grows to a violent pitch. Thanks to its unforgettable attention to disturbing detail and Polanski's unparalleled adeptness at turning claustrophobic space into an emotional minefield, "Repulsion" remains one of cinema's most shocking psychological thrillers. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer with commentary by Polanski and Deneuve; "A British Horror Film" (2003), a documentary on the making of "Repulsion"; a 1964 television documentary filmed on the set of "Repulsion," featuring rare footage of Polanski and Deneuve at work; and a booklet featuring an essay by film scholar and curator Bill Horrigan. ... "Inglorious Bastards" (1978) is the film that inspired Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," starring Brad Pitt, due this August. A gang of condemned criminals escape from an Allied prison convoy with a plan to blast their way to the Swiss border, only to find themselves "volunteering" for a suicide mission deep inside Nazi-occupied France. Stars Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson and Ian Bannen. Extras include "A Conversation With Quentin Tarantino & (the original's director) Enzo Castellari." From Severin Films ... "Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 photo (2009) is a four-disc set with the last 10 episodes of the spectacular science fiction series that proved that intelligent writing could co-exist with special effects; extras include three extended episodes of the series finale; "What the Frak is Going On With Battlestar Galactica?" recap of "Battlestar Galactica's" first three seasons -- in only eight minutes; "And They Have a Plan": What do they mean every episode when the opening sequence on the Cylons states "And They Have a Plan?"; "The Journey Ends: The Arrival" featurette; and much more. DVD: $49.98, Blu-ray Disc: $69.98, from Universal. And then there's the ultimate: "Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series," a 25-disc set for the completest; DVD: $279.98; Blu-ray Disc: $349.98; from Universal. (Posted July 28)

Glowing Blu-ray:
Blu-ray highlight of the week is "A River Runs Through It" (1992), the beautiful and moving family drama set against a background of fly fishing and the Montana wilderness, directed by Robert Redford and starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn and Emily Lloyd, from Sony. (Posted July 28)

From TV to Video:
"Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead" (2009) is the latest Doctor Who outing: When a London bus travels through a worm-hole to an alien world, the Doctor (David Tennant) must join forces with the extraordinary Lady Christina to help the unfortunate passengers, and themselves, get back home; $14.98 from BBC Video/Warner ... photo "Dollhouse Season One" (2009) is a three-disc set with all 12 episodes of the series; $49.98 from Fox ... "The Donna Reed Show: Season Two" (1959-60) is a four-disc set with 38 episodes; $39.95 from Virgil Films Entertainment ... "Knight Rider (2008): Season One" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 17 episodes; $59.98 from Universal ... "The Middleman: The Complete Series " (2008) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes; $34.99 from Shout! Factory ... Monty Python star Terry Jones presents "The Terry Jones Collection" (2008), an award-winning documentary series featuring ancient inventions, the surprising history of sex and love, and the hidden histories of Egypt and Rome, in a two-disc set from Microcinema ... "Torchwood: Children of Earth" (2009) is an all-new five-part series, $29.98 from BBC Video/Warner. (Posted July 28)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Angel of Death" (2009) stars Zoe Bell, Lucy Lawless, Doug Jones and Ted Raimi in the uncut feature-length movie of Crackle.com's dark and gritty internet series about a cold-blooded assassin, employed by a ruthless crime family, who suffers severe head trauma on the job, begins to hallucinate, and becomes haunted by her victims; from Sony ... In "The Fifth Commandment" (2008), starring Rick Yune, Keith David, Bokeem Woodbine and Dania Ramirez, an elite assassin is contracted to eliminate a gorgeous pop star, whom his long-lost brother is assigned to protect. Refusing the job, the assassin joins forces with his sibling to battle a ferocious cartel that will use any means necessary to destroy them; from Sony ... In "Streets of Blood" (2009), starring Val Kilmer, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Sharon Stone and Michael Biehn, the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina sparks an investigation into the criminal underworld in New Orleans, where crime and corruption are about to go to all new levels of depravity; from Anchor Bay Entertainment ... "Dragon Hunter" (2008) is a sci-fi fantasy adventure in which two orphaned brothers leave their ravaged village to seek the land of Ocard to train to become dragon hunters, starring Isaac Singleton Jr., Orlando Seale, Kelly Stable, Maclain Nelson; from Monarch Home Video ... In "Bart Got a Room" (2008), starring William H. Macy, Cheryl Hines, Jennifer Tilly, Alia Shawkat and Steven Kaplan, a high school student goes on a desperate quest to find a prom date and becomes progressively more pathetic once he learns that Bart, the school's biggest dweeb, has not only secured a date for the prom, but has a hotel room as well; from Anchor Bay Entertainment. (Posted July 28)

On the Indie Front:
"Guns on the Clackamas" (1995) is cartoonist Bill Plympton's second live-action feature, a behind-the-scenes look at an imaginary disastrous Western. A notable documentary filmmaker is trying to make a behind-the-scenes movie about the making of the Western "Guns on the Clackamas." But everything is going wrong and when cast members start dropping like flies due to accidents on the set and some really bad catering, the filmmakers must resort to solutions that are startling and hilarious. Plympton said the idea came from the 1937 movie "Saratoga," in which star Jean Harlow died during the filming and a stand-in was used to finish: Every time Harlow was in a scene, a box or something blocked the view. Available from Plymptoons.com. (Posted July 28)

For the Family:
Just in time to help kids sharpen their brainpower for school in the fall, Scholastic Storybook Treasures presents "Chicka Chicka 123 ... And More Counting Fun" (2009), a unique DVD exploring the magical world of numbers in a colorful, animated and engaging production; $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... photo "Super Why! Jack and the Beanstalk & Other Fairytale Adventures" (2008) includes four episodes of the PBS KIDS superhero series that helps children ages 3-6 learn to read through interactive storybook adventures. Explores classic fairytales "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Princess and the Pea," "The Three Little Pigs" and "Little Red Riding Hood" with a modern twist; $14.99 from PBS KIDS/Paramount ... "Robby the Blue Koala Rides the Discovery Express" (2008) is an animated adventure for ages 2 to 5 in which Robby the blue koala guides kids on a train ride of discovery to Shapetown, Colorville, and the Animal City, along the way learning about colors, shapes, animal sounds, body parts, healthy eating, exercise, counting to 10, saying please, and opposites; available for $12.99 from Gift of Happiness.com. ... "The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete First Season" (2008) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes; $28.96 from Sony ... "Green Lantern: First Flight" (2008) features the voices of Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer and Michael Madsen in an animated feature of the DC Comics hero; from Warner. (Posted July 28)

Special Interest:
All things British: "Touch of Frost: Season 14" (2009) is a two-disc set with three episodes of British television's Detective Inspector William "Jack" Frost, a moody, rule-breaking "street copper": "Mind Games," "Dead End" and "In the Public Interest"; $34.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Armchair Thriller, Set 1" features four multi-episode psychological thrillers from the classic 1980s suspense series with top-notch British actors including Ian McKellen, John Shrapnel and James Bolam; $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Doc Martin, Series 2" (2006) is a three-disc set with nine episodes of the British series about a hotshot London surgeon who develops a crippling fear of blood and is forced to give up surgery and relocate to the sleepy, picturesque seaside village of his youth; $49.99 from Acorn Media ... "Agatha Christie: Poirot & Marple" is a 17-disc set with 21 spine-tingling murder mysteries, $134.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Life on Mars, Series 1" is the award-winning, original U.K. police drama with a twist: Hot on a killer's trail in modern-day Manchester, police detective Sam Tyler gets struck by a passing car and wakes up in 1973. Is he mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever the answers, he still has crimes to solve, albeit with low-tech, highly aggressive 1970s methods. He finds himself working on a homicide squad where hard drinking replaces hard thinking; forensics takes weeks to analyze; and his boss, DCI Gene Hunt has no qualms about roughing up suspects -- ­or Sam himself. The original U.K. series aired on BBC One for two series (2006-2007); ABC remade it for the 2008-2009 season starring Jason O'Mara and Harvey Keitel; four-disc set with eight episodes, $59.99 from Acorn Media. (Posted July 28)

Laugh tracks: "Jim Breuer: Let's Clear The Air" (2009) is a Comedy Central stand up concert with Breuer; from Paramount ... In the four-disc set "Comic Legends" (2008) five American comedy giants are seen in their prime as well as in their formative years: "Dick Van Dyke: In Rare Form," "Phyllis Diller: Not Just a Pretty Face," "Tim Conway: Timeless Comedy" and "Redd Foxx & Groucho Marx"; $19.98 from MPI Home Video ... From 2004-2008, cartoonist Bill Plympton had an unparalleled string of hit films. Featured in "Bill Plympton's Dog Days" are the best of this golden age, including the celebrated dog trilogy ("Guard Dog", "Guide Dog" and "Hot Dog") and a number of rare and seldom seen films, such as "The Fan and the Flower," "Shuteye Hotel," "Santa, The Fascist Years" and a controversial experimental film "Spiral." $24.95 from Plymptoons.com. (Posted July 28)

On the fringe: Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and man's own development? photo The top-rated History Channel special "Ancient Aliens" (2009) explores evidence of super-human influences on ancient man and embarks on a round-the-world search for answers; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... Aleister Crowley, self proclaimed "The Great Beast" and known by the press as "The Wickedest Man in the World" was perhaps the most controversial and notorious individual in British history -- if not the entire 20th century. "In Search of the Great Beast 666" (2009) dramatically documents the chilling life, impulses and journey of Crowley (1875-1947), unearthing the barely believable and shocking facts surrounding this infamous occultist, spy, poet, dark magician, hedonist, writer and accomplished mountaineer; $19.95 from The Disinformation Company. (Posted July 28)

Crooks: "The Mafia" (2009) is a four-disc set of the History Channel series that takes a comprehensive, cold-blooded look at organized crime in the 20th century, from prohibition to WWII and the Cold War, to JFK's presidency and John Gotti; $34.95 from A&E Home Entertainment ... "Ripped Off: Madoff and the Scamming of America" (2009) is a History Channel documentary that looks at the monetary chaos brought about by Bernie Madoff, a popular and trusted investor from middle-class Queens, New York -- and alleged Ponzi schemer -- and his $65 billion scam, from its humble beginnings to its stunning downfall; $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment. (Posted July 28)

Misc: "Liberace: Greatest Songs" (2009) is a two-disc set of performances from the 1950s "The Liberace Show"; $24.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Star-ving: The Complete First Season" (2009) is the Raunchy online "reality" series from Crackle.com that stars Corin Nemec and David Faustino in an ANTI-"Entourage" outing; $19.94 from Sony. (Posted July 28)

First Look at Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"

Here's the teaser trailer for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," a visonary voyage into Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) and "Through the Looking-Glass" (1871), starring Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Marton Csokas, Tim Pigott-Smith, Lindsay Duncan, Geraldine James, Leo Bill, Jemma Powell, Mairi Ella Challen and Mia Wasikowska as Alice. Due March 5, 2010, in digital 3-D, from Walt Disney. Also check out a gallery of photos and concept art. (Posted July 27)

"G-Force" Pigs Out at Boxoffice
photo Talking guinea pigs with super powers unseated Harry Potter at the domestic boxoffice this weekend as Walt Disney's "G-Force" took the top spot with an estimated $32.1 million. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" landed in second place with $30 million, down a rough 61 percent from its huge opening last week. The Katherine Heigl-Gerard Butler romantic comedy "The Ugly Truth" brought in a solid $27 million in third place, followed by horror thriller "Orphan" with $12.8 million and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" with $8.2 million. (Posted July 26)

"Star Trek" Travels to New Blu-ray Worlds
photo In anticipation of the home entertainment debut of J.J. Abrams' reinvention of the "Star Trek" franchise, Paramount Home Entertainment will give audiences the chance to revisit where it all began with a galaxy full of new DVD and Blu-ray releases. Docking on September 22 are the Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection on DVD, which includes the first six "Star Trek" films and loads of special features; the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray, featuring the four "Star Trek" films starring the Next Generation crew with new special features, plus a bonus disc with more than an hour of additional content; Star Trek: The Original Series Season Two on Blu-ray; plus "The Wrath of Khan," "The Voyage Home," "The Undiscovered Country" and "First Contact" all available individually on DVD ($12.99) and Blu-ray ($24.99). For complete disc information, check out Paramount's press release. For more "Star Trek" DVD news, go to "Star Trek" Reimagined and "Star Trek" Remastered." (Posted July 24)

Blu-ray Worlds for "Labyrinth," "The Dark Crystal"
photo Fantasy film and Jim Henson fans will rejoice when Sony releases the Blu-ray version of of quest-fantasies "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal" on September 29. Henson was co-writer on both films and director of "Labyrinth" (which starred David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly) and co-director of "The Dark Crystal"; he created alternative worlds full of mystics, magic and mystery complete with a host of creative characters in surreal realms where the bizarre and extraordinary came to life. Both films harbor an array of Blu-ray special features including commentary with fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, who collaborated with Henson on both films, behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes. On "The Dark Crystal," fans can play "SkekTek's Crystal Challenge" Trivia Game and save themselves from the scientist's evil efforts to drain their living essence. Additional Blu-ray exclusives include a Picture-in-Picture "Storyboard Track" and "The Book of Thra," a feature that allows fans to learn about and collect their favorite characters and objects from the movie. On the "Labyrinth" disc, fans can get the inside story behind the film in the "The Storytellers" Picture-in-Picture track which includes all-new interviews with Cheryl Henson and others from the cast and crew. $27.95 each. (Posted July 23)

photo Comic-Con Sees 3-D Effects
This week is all about Comic-Con, that annual gathering of the graphic novel tribe at San Diego from July 23-26. The event is sold out -- 120,000 attendees are expected over the four days -- and features the presence of virtually every major (and minor) Hollywood studio. The big splash this year, according to Home Media Magazine, will be the studios pumping up 3-D and DVD. For complete coverage, jump to Home Media Magazine. (Posted July 22)

DVD Collectibles:
It's a Breathless week in home video as the folks at The Criterion Collection are releasing two of Jean-Luc Godard's late photo 1960s masterpieces: "Made in U.S.A." and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her." With its giddily complex noir plot and widescreen, color-drenched images, "Made in U.S.A." (1966) was a final burst of exuberance from Godard's early-sixties barrage of delirious movie-movies. Yet this chaotic crime thriller and acidly funny critique of consumerism featuring Anna Karina as the most brightly dressed private investigator in film history, rummaging through an intricate plot for a former lover who might have been assassinated, also points toward the more political cinema that would come to define Godard. Featuring characters with names such as Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, David Goodis, and Doris Mizoguchi, and appearances by a slapstick Jean-Pierre Leaud and a sweetly singing Marianne Faithfull, this piece of pop art is like photo a Looney Tunes rendition of "The Big Sleep" gone New Wave. In a new, restored high-definition digital transfer ... In "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" (2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle) (1967) Godard beckons us ever closer, literally whispering in our ears as narrator. About what? Money, sex, fashion, the city, love, language, war: in a word, everything. Considered by many to be among the legendary French filmmaker's finest achievements, the film takes as its ostensible subject the daily life of Juliette Janson, a housewife from the Paris suburbs who prostitutes herself for extra money. Yet this is only a template for Godard to spin off into provocative philosophical tangents and gorgeous images. A revelatory look at consumer culture, shot in ravishing widescreen color by Raoul Coutard. New, restored high-definition digital transfer. As is standard with Criterion editions, each disc is loaded with extras. (Posted July 21)

From TV to Video:
photo "Charlie's Angels: The Complete Fourth Season" (1979-80) is a six-disc set with 26 episodes; $39.95 from Sony ... "Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht Season 4, Volume 2: The Big Move" (2008-09) is a two-disc set with 17 episodes; $19.95 from TLC/Genius Products ... "Monk: Season Seven" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes; $59.98 from Universal ... "Prison Break: The Final Break" (2009) is a two-hour feature that picks up some time after the series finale; in a two-disc set from Fox ... "Psych: The Complete Third Season" (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes; $59.98 from Universal ... "Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season" (2007) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes; $39.98 from Warner ... "Robot Chicken: Star Wars: Episode II" (2008) includes the 22-minute broadcast version as well as the 38-minute extended edition; $19.97 from Warner ... "Wire in the Blood: The Complete Sixth Season<" (2008) is a four-disc set with the final four mysteries from the BBC America series; $59.98 from E1 Entertainment. (Posted July 21)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
photo The "Echelon Conspiracy" (2009), starring Shane West, Edward Burns, Ving Rhames and Martin Sheen, is a high-tech action-thriller that weaves together greed, intrigue and national security. Mysterious cell phone messages promise a young American engineer untold wealth, then make him the target of a deadly international plot when dangerous security operatives chase the engineer across the globe, while a powerful government official pursues a mysterious agenda that threatens the stability of the entire world; from Paramount ... "Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods" (1997) is the feature-length pilot of television's longest running Sci-Fi series, re-mastered, re-cut and re-imagined. Includes an entirely original score and features a more self-contained story line; from MGM ... In "Super Capers" (2009), starring Christine Lakin, Steve Braun, Ray Griggs, Clint Howard, Doug Jones, Tommy "Tiny" Lister, June Lockhart, Jon Polito, Michael Rooker, Tom Sizemore and Adam West, would-be superhero Ed Gruberman, who possesses no super powers, joins a team of misfit heroes-in-training known as the Super Capers. Having only faith, Gruberman must travel through time to uncover an evil plot involving some gold bullion, a fiery femme fatale and a criminal mastermind with a dark secret about his past; from Lionsgate ... "Bundy: A Legacy of Evil" (2008), starring Corin Nemec and Kane Hodder, details the dark psyche of Ted Bundy, a handsome, charming all-American guy who was actually one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. He eventually confessed to more than 30 murders, though the actual total of victims is estimated to be more than 100; from Barnholtz Entertainment/Lionsgate ... In "Ghost Month" (2007), starring Marina Resa, Shirley To and Akiko Shima, a young housekeeper disrupts ancient customs and awakens the vengeful spirits of the dead during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar -- Ghost Month, when restless spirits break free from Hell to mix among the mortals and the living cannot whistle, for it will invite them into your house, nor disturb ashes on the ground, as it will anger the spirits, of a host of other rituals; from Barnholtz Entertainment/North American Motion Pictures ... "Messengers 2: The Scarecrow" (2009), starring Norman Reedus and Richard Riehle, is a prequel to the box office hit "The Messengers," going back to the farm to finally learn the story of John Rollins -- the simple North Dakota farmer who, struggling to save his farm and hold his family together, places a mysterious scarecrow in his field; his luck changes for the better, but at what cost? From Sony. (Posted July 21)

On the Indie Front:
photo "Dakota Skye" (2008), stars Eileen Boylan and Ian Nelson in a coming-of-age drama about Dakota Skye (Boylan), who has been cursed with a super power: she has the ability to see the truth in any lie she hears, from small, harmless white lies, to the more devious kind, from the people that she should trust the most; her family, friends and teachers. Now 17, cynical and aloof, she finds little joy in life, until her boyfriend's best friend Jonah (Nelson) comes to town. Unlike everyone else, Jonah doesn't lie. But is he really that squeaky-clean, or is he Dakota's arch-nemesis, a villain who has found a way to conceal his deceit from her? From E1 Entertainment ... Vanguard Cinema has three releases due this week: "Common Senses" (2005), in which the burgeoning friendship between a kleptomaniac and a hustler is strained when a child goes missing; told through five chapters by five award-winning Chicago filmmakers; "Cupid's Mistake" (2001), a humorous take on dating in Los Angeles that follows the lives of four of the city's inhabitants as they fall in and out of love; and "The Northern Kingdom" (2007), in which a meteor shower lights up the winter sky over a rural Vermont community, illuminating the lives of three disparate families. (Posted July 21)

For the Family:
"SpongeBob SquarePants: To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants" (2009) features eight sponge-tacular episodes; $16.99 from Nick/Paramount ... "The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens" (2008) is a family fantasy about a young boy who stumbles upon William Thurgood's Treasure Trove & Pawn Shop and finds a magical wand that allows him to enter a world of adventure with mythical creatures, haunted caves ... and unsuspected evil; from MTL Home Video ... photo E1 Entertainment will release two DVDs of episodes from Shelley Duvall's famous Faerie Tale Theatre: "Faerie Tale Theatre: Princess Tales", with "Cinderella," "The Little Mermaid," "The Dancing Princesses" and "The Princess and the Pea"; and "Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales From Hans Christian Andersen," with "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Nightingale," "The Snow Queen" and "Thumbelina." $14.98 each ... Just in time to help kids sharpen their brainpower for school, Scholastic Storybook Treasures presents "Chicka Chicka 123 ... And More Counting Fun" (2009), a unique DVD exploring the magical world of numbers in a colorful, animated and engaging production. The lead story, "Chicka Chicka 123," has been adapted from Bill Martin Jr.'s award-winning and best-selling book. When 101 numbers race each other up the apple tree, bad bumblebees come buzzing. Which number will save the day? The DVD also features three other stories celebrating the fun of numbers: "Emily's First 100 Days of School," "How Much is a Million?" and "If You Made a Million." $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Season 1.1" (1985) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes; $29.99 from Shout! Factory. (Posted July 21)

Special Interest:
photo Animal behavior: "A Life Among Whales" (2005) is a documentary that delves deeply into the unique relationship between humans and whales as told by renowned, pioneering whale biologist Dr. Roger Payne; from IndiePix ... In "Wanted: Anaconda," a crew of wildlife photographers and biologists travel to Guyana to photograph one of the world's most legendary creatures, the Anaconda, which can grow as big as a man; $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group ... "The Big Blue" is a documentary about the world's largest creature, the Blue Whale, which inhabits a unique spot in the ocean off the coast of Southern Australis. The Big Blue can grow to 100-feet long, weigh up to 180 tons, with a heart the size of a Volkswagen and a tongue that weighs more than an elephant; $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group ... "Pandas in the Wild" is a close-up look at the secret lives of pandas, capturing the warmth between a mother panda and her newborn, the competition among male pandas fighting for females, and the struggles pandas endure during the snow-bound winter in China; $9.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group. (Posted July 21)

People and their world: In "The Madoff Affair" (2009), "Frontline" examines Bernard Madoff, one of the most shocking financial criminals of our time, who used the trust of the Jewish community to hide millions of dollars for his own uses. He then set his sights on Europe and Latin America. This is the story behind the world's first truly global Ponzi scheme -- ­a deception that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any other business scandal in history; from PBS Home Video ... "Children of God" (2008 -- Korea/Nepal) is a documentary that explores the life of the children who live beside the Baghmati River in Nepal -- on the sacred grounds of a Hindu temple in Katmandu -- an area forgotten and ignored by the world, but considered the holiest and most sacred to the Nepalese people. The children are undeterred by the cries and wailing from the daily funeral ceremonies; instead they rob the corpses for food and dive into the river to grab coins used as funeral offerings by the mourners; from Vanguard Cinema ... "Sky View" offer a birds-eye view of Europe, using cutting-edge, high-definition camera mount technology, journeying over majestic castles, historic landmarks, city views, mystical sites and ruins. Episodes: Emerald Isle, French Riviera, Heart of Italy, Southern Britain; $14.98 from Smithsonian Networks/Infinity Entertainment Group ... In "American Outrage" (2008), two feisty, elderly Western Shoshone Indian sisters put up a heroic fight for their land rights -- and their human rights. Carrie and Mary Dann endure terrifying roundups by armed federal marshals in which thousands of their horses and cattle are confiscated, for the crime of grazing them on the open range outside their private ranch -- even though that range is part of 60 million acres recognized as Western Shoshone land by the U.S. After the government sued them for trespassing, their dispute went to the Supreme Court, and eventually the United Nations. $24.95 from First Run Features. (Posted July 21)

Performance: "Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer" (2008) is a documentary that chronicles the extraordinary life of Anita O'Day, one of the most legendary female jazz vocalists of all time. The DVD is an intimate portrait of the maverick jazz vocalist -- a self-professed "song-stylist" -- photo documenting her wild ride from her early days singing alongside Gene Krupa, Roy Eldridge, Stan Kenton, Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael through her many great adversities she fought to overcome; a 20-year heroin and alcohol addiction, several failed marriages, abortions and arrests and finally, her last-hurrah album, completed just before the singer's 2006 death at age 87; $69.99 from RED ... In "Global Metal Two Disc Special Edition" (2008), directors Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn discover how the West's most maligned musical genre has impacted world culture as they go on a raucous journey through Asia, South America, and the Middle East with platinum-selling-artists including Metallica, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Deep Purple, Slayer, X-Japan, Tang Dynasty, Sepultura, Lamb of God, Orphaned Land, and Inflames. $24.98 from Warner ... In the grand tradition of the Ballets Russes comes "Ballerina" (2008), a portrait of five Russian ballerinas from the Mariinsky Theatre (also known as the Kirov), a new generation of rising stars: Alina Somova, Svetlana Zakharova, Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina and Evgenia Obraztsova -- tough, insightful and exceptionally talented women, each with her own personal hopes, dreams and career-changing challenges; from First Run Features ... "Carmen & Geoffrey" (2005) is a documentary about Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder, two living legends in the world of American dance. De Lavallade achieved notoriety in the early 1950s as a lead dancer of incomparable beauty and grace with Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater; Holder, large in life and an elemental force on stage, found fame not only as a dancer but also as an actor ("Live and Let Die"), soda spokesman ("7-UP, the Un-Colaaaaa ...") and theater director ("The Wiz"). The pair met in 1954 and married a year later. $24.95 from First Run Features. (Posted July 21)

Finally, there's "The Human Rights Watch DVD Collection," a seven-disc boxed set of films that promote awareness of human rights abuses taking place around the world, endorsed by the Human Rights Watch: "S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine" (a documentary about the nearly two million Cambodians who lost their lives when the Khmer Rouge forced the urban population into the countryside in 1975-79), "The Devil's Miner" (a documentary portrait of two brothers, ages 14 and 12, who work deep inside the silver mines of Cerro Rico, Bolivia), "Dreaming Lhasa" (a drama about a young Tibetan woman from New York who travels to Dharamsala in northern India only to find herself unwittingly falling in love with an enigmatic ex-monk), "Silent Waters" (a drama in which a Pakastani Muslim widow who teaches young girls the Koran watches helplessly as her beloved son falls in with a group of Islamic fundamentalists), "Dangerous Living" (a documentary that explores the lives of gay and lesbian people in non-Western cultures, from Egypt to Honduras to Kenya, Thailand and more), "The Camden 28" (a documentary about the infiltration of a group of anti-war activists by the FBI in 1971), and "Roses in December" (a documentary about lay missioner Jean Donovan and three American nuns who were brutally murdered by El Salvador's security force in 1980). $89.95 from First Run Features. (Posted July 21)

Nov. 17 Marks New Frontier for Par's "Star Trek"
photo Paramount has announced that the much-anticipated re-do of "Star Trek" will debut on home video as a three-disc Blu-ray with digital copy, two-disc DVD with digital copy and a single-disc DVD on November 17. Upping the interactive ante, Paramount has added a new "immersive" feature, the "Starfleet Vessel Simulator": By holding the disc packaging up to a webcam, a Star Trek visual cue will morph into a 3-D holographic tour on the screen, allowing viewers to explore extensive data on the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Romulan ship, the Narada, with 360° views, close-ups and detailed tech information. Other goodies include in-depth featurettes on the reimagining of the franchise, the cast, the action sequences, the score, and the aliens; commentary by J.J. Abrams, the writers and producers; deleted scenes that reveal a side story involving Nero with a first-ever look at Abrams' version of the infamous warrior Klingons; a gag reel and much, much more. Read the complete "Star Trek" press release. (Posted July 17)

"Potter" Casts Spell Over Weekend Boxoffice
photo "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" worked its magic on the domestic boxoffice this weekend, earning an estimated $79.5 million; its five-day take hit an estimated $159.7 million. Though this figure was better than the last five-day Potter opening, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," whose five-day tally came in at $139.7 million, it wasn't strong enough to beat the fantastic "Transformers" five-day opening of $201 million last month. Overseas, the latest Potter epic took in $237 million, making it No. 1 on the foreign circuit. Jump to The Hollywood Reporter for more weekend boxoffice information. (Posted July 19)

Home Entertainment Holding Up
By Thomas K. Arnold
photo Numbers released by an industry trade group show the home entertainment business is weathering the Great Recession remarkably well, although the troubled economy is prompting more consumers to return to their old habit of renting rather than buying videos. Consumer spending on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digitally distributed programming was off 3.9 percent in the first six months of 2009 from the first half of 2008, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, coming in at an estimated $9.73 billion. The first-half tally was bolstered by a 91 percent gain in Blu-ray Disc sales (to $407 million) and a 21 percent rise in digital distribution spending (to $968 million, which includes $196 million for electronic sellthrough). Rental spending, on the other hand, was up an impressive 8.3 percent. More at Home Media Magazine. (Posted July 16)

DVD Collectibles:
photo "Grey Gardens" (2009), starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, is the acclaimed HBO drama based on the life story of the eccentric Beales, a mother and daughter, both named Edith Bouvier Beale, aka "Big and Little Edie," who were aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy, respectively. The women were raised as Park Avenue debutantes but withdrew from New York society, taking shelter at their Grey Gardens, a crumbling mansion in East Hampton, New York. As their wealth and contact with the outside world dwindled, so did their grasp on reality. They were reintroduced to the world when international tabloids learned of a health department raid on their home, and Jackie swooped in to save her relatives; from HBO Home Entertainment. The Maysles brothers filmed a classic documentary on the pair in 1975, "Grey Gardens," available from The Criterion Collection. (Posted July 14)

"Ménage" (1986), directed by Bertrand Blier and starring Gerard Depardieu, Michel Blanc and Miou-Miou, is an extraordinarily dark, comedic thriller. When a crude, charismatic thief (Depardieu) encounters a bored and dissatisfied couple, Antoine (Blanc) and Monique (Miou-Miou), at a bar, he offers to help the young, impoverished lovers get over their recent run of bad luck by enlisting them to help him rob wealthy homes. Turned on by the illicit thrills of thievery, the couple soon abandons their world of middle-class predictability and falls under the influence of their raffish savior. But Bob also has an ulterior motive: as he works his seductive wiles on the couple, a bizarre love triangle develops between the trio; from Koch Lorber. (Posted July 14)

"The Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection: Roselyne and the Lions" (1989) Cinema in the 1980s saw a new wave of French auteurs explode onto the scene, redefining modernity in film. With "Diva" (1982) and "Betty Blu" (1986), director Jean-Jacques Beineix created two of the most provocative films of the era that were dark, memorable, filled with voluptuous imagery and generous dollops of sex and/or violence. Both films were international hits. This summer, film lovers nationwide will get the chance to view Beineix's work in theaters and on DVD, with several titles released for the first time in the U.S. The second release in the series is the drama "Roselyn and the Lions," about a young man (Gerard Sandoz) who drops out of school to apprentice as a circus lion tamer where he falls in love with Roselyne (Isabelle Pasco). Landing in Germany, they both fall under the tutelage of an aging big cat trainer. From Cinema Libre Studio. For more information: see "The Return of Jean-Jacques Beineix." (Posted July 14)

From TV to Video:
"American Gladiators The Original Series: The Battle Begins" (1989) is a three-disc set with 26 episodes, $29.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Bewitched: The Complete Eighth and Final Season" (1971-72), is a four-disc set with 26 episodes, $39.95 from Sony ... "ER: The Complete Eleventh Season" (2004-5) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from Warner ... "Leverage: The First Season" (2008) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.99 from Paramount ... "Mad Men: Season Two" (2008), a four-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.98 from Lionsgate ... "Peyton Place: Part Two" is a five-disc set with 31 episodes, $39.99 from Shout! Factory ... "The State: The Complete Series" is a five-disc set with all 24 episodes of the MTV cult comedy sketch show, $69.99; from Paramount. (Posted July 14)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
In "The Butcher" (2007), starring Eric Roberts, Robert Davi, Keith David and Bokeem Woodbine, Merle "The Butcher" Hench (Roberts) is a hit man with 20 years of bad luck and gambling debts he can't repay; when he's setup as a fall guy by those he trusts, he decides to start making his own luck and sets out for revenge; from Vivendi Entertainment ... "One Way" (2006), starring Til Schweiger, Lauren Lee Smith, Michael Clarke Duncan, Eric Roberts, Sebastien Roberts and Stefanie von Pfetten, is a blackmail and revenge thriller about a star advertising executive (Schweiger) who has the seemingly perfect life until he provides a false alibi for an accused rapist and winds up with more than he bargained for; from Vivendi Entertainment ... "[Rec]" (2007) is the Spanish horror-thriller that inspired 2008's "Quarantined," about a TV crew that covers an apartment fire and gets stuck in the building to fight off a lethal terror; from Sony ... photo "Van Wilder: Freshman Year" (2009) is the third installment in the series of popular and rude college humor comedies, this one about the young Van who follows in his wealthy father's footsteps by enrolling at prestigious Coolidge College, mounting a personal crusade to free the school from the shackles of sexual oppression; from Paramount ... A former college basketball star has one last shot at greatness: the professional beach volleyball tour in "Beach Kings" (2008), starring David Charvet, Torrey DeVitto and Kristin Cavallari; from MGM ... "Break" (2009) is a comic book-style thriller about a terminally ill crime boss, known only as The Man, who hires a hit man named Frank to carry out his own assassination as well as the assassination of The Woman he loves; it goes awry when The Woman turns out to be Frank's long lost lover and he turns against The Man; stars Frank Krueger, Sarah Thompson, Chad Everett, Michael Madsen, Charles Durning, James Russo, Xin Sarith Wuku and David Carradine; from Cinema Epoch. (Posted July 14)

On the Indie Front:
"The Edge of Love" (2009), starring Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys, is set in the Bohemian underground of World War II London and follows the stirring love story between legendary poet Dylan Thomas (Rhys) and the two extraordinary women who inspired him; from Image Entertainment ... In "El Camino" (2008), starring Elisabeth Moss, Chris Denham and Leo Fitzpatrick, three friends travel from Virginia to Mexico to fulfill a mutual friend's last request to deposit his cremated ashes there, along the way confronting their unrealized selves and their grief with surprising results; from LifeSize Entertainment/Koch Entertainment ... "Karl Rove, I Love You" (2007) is a comedy-documentary that follows Dan Butler as he prepares for the role of a lifetime: playing Bush administration architect Karl Rove in an election-year documentary. Butler sets out to discover the "Karl Rove" inside us all, but the more Butler sees the world through Rove's eyes, the more he finds himself falling in love with him; from Ariztical Entertainment. (Posted July 14)

Foreign Films:
photo There's two films this week from acclaimed Italian director Marco Ferreri ("La Grande Bouffe"): "Bye Bye Monkey" (1978 -- French) is Ferreri's first English-language film and it's a typically off-the-wall satire on capitalism, sexual politics and modern society. Lafayette (Gerard Depardieu), a youngish Frenchman, and Nocello (Marcello Mastroianni), an older Italian, are a pair of misfit friends living in a run-down section of New York City. Lafayette works for a women's lib group, which one day decides to "rape" him to see how the shoe fits on the other foot. Rather than being much bothered, Lafayette starts a liaison with the woman who had sex with him. And while walking along the beach, Nocello discovers the corpse of King Kong -- and his alive infant son! -- and brings him to Lafayette, who decides to raise baby Kong as his own. Also stars Geraldine Fitzgerald. "Don't Touch the White Woman" (1974 -- French) stars Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli and Catherine Deneuve in a satirical comedy in which Ferreri transplants the Battle of Little Big Horn to the site of a demolished Parisian Mall. Mastroianni plays a preening, primping General Custer, Piccoli is an effeminate Buffalo Bill who performs at a Parisian nightclub, and Deneuve is the seemingly demure frontier gal who literally picks up Custer and throws him into bed where she ravishes him before the Indians do. Both from Koch Lorber ... "12" (2007 -- Russian), directed by Nikita Mikhalkov (often referred to as the "Russian Steven Spielberg"), is a modern Russian adaptation of Sidney Lumet's "12 Angry Men," the movie classic starring Henry Fonda; from Sony. (Posted July 14)

For the Family:
There's three releases from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate for the pre-school set: "Barney: Book Fair DVD + Book Collection" (2009), in which Barney's friends hold a book drive in the park and every time they open a new book, a new tale begins. The package includes a DVD inside a custom-sized reprint of the 20-page hardcover Barney storybook "Count to 10" ... "Thomas & Friends: Percy and the Bandstand" (2009) features four Thomas & Friends episodes on the island of Sodor involving a hot-air balloon ride, a top-secret birthday party, a special surprise at the bandstand and more ... "Bob the Builder: Built for Fun" (2009) has Bob the Builder and the Can-Do crew building a radio station, designing greenhouses and more; five episodes; $14.98. Includes a collectible toy vehicle. Each release sells for $14.98 ... In "The Wiggles Go Bananas!" (2009)the musical darlings of the pre-school set offer 24 new songs and special appearances by Kylie Minogue and Wiggles fan favorite Captain Feathersword; $14.98 from Warner ... "The Transformers: 25th Anniversary 'Matrix of Leadership' Edition Collector's Set" (1983) is a sixteen-disc set with 98 restored episodes, a collectible 60-page book, Autobots and Decepticon Magnets, and more. $140.00 direct from Shout! Factory. (Posted July 14)

Special Interest:
photo "The Beatles Rare and Unseen: Unofficial Account of the Biggest Band in the World" (2008) is a documentary that tells the story of The Beatles from their humble beginnings in Liverpool to their break-up in London, using original rare film and video of the band, including home-movies, concert footage, newsreels and photographs from private collections; $19.95 from MVD Entertainment Group ... "The Doors From the Outside" (2008) is a new documentary that tells the story of The Doors, not from the perspective of the surviving members but from the recollections, memories, stories and anecdotes of those who knew the group; $19.99 from MVD Entertainment Group ..."Shark Week: Great Bites Collection" (2009) is a two-disc set of Discovery Channel programming about the world of Sharks, $24.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Wild Pacific" (2009) is a two-disc set of the BBC series that explores the world's mightiest ocean, $29.98 from Warner ... "The Unwinking Gaze" (2008) is a documentary that follows Tibet's Dalai Lama as he tries to lead his people to a peaceful resolution with China; $24.95 from IndiePix ... "Journey to the Moon: The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11" (2008) is a documentary on the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing; $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "Vegas: The City the Mob Made" (2009) is a series that chronicles the untold history of this most American of cities, Las Vegas; $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment ... "WWE: Allied Powers -- The World's Greatest Tag Teams" (2009) is a three-disc set chronicles the greatest tag teams in World Wrestling Entertainment; $24.99 from World Wrestling Entertainment ... "1,001 Classic Commercial Collection" is a compilation of 1,001 commercials from the early days of television, $14.98 from Mill Creek Entertainment. (Posted July 14)

Flash (July 12)

ABC Begins Streaming on Hulu
photo After signing a deal with Hulu at the end of April, ABC Enterprises, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co., has begun streaming full episodes of their shows on Hulu.com. Hulu visitors can now watch recent episodes of popular shows "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy," and will soon be able to watch such shows as "Lost," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Scrubs," "Ugly Betty" and more. More at Home Media Magazine. (Posted July 12)

Flash (July 10)

Wal-Mart is the Next DVD Battlefield
photo From TK's Take Blog
The home video industry is at war with itself, and the bloodiest battlefield is the friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart store. It's no secret that DVD sales are slumping, victims as much as anything else of the troubled economy. The first quarter ended with sales down 15% from the first quarter of 2008 and the second quarter, from the preliminary reports I've heard, wasn't much better. Studio executives can't help but grimace when they see reports that video rental, thanks to the mushroom-like proliferation of Redbox kiosks and the continued surge of Netflix, is holding steady and may even be trending upward. The collapse of revenue-sharing rental deals means the studios no longer share in any of the spoils, so they are understandably edgy when they see sales go down while rentals go up. More at Home Media Magazine. (Posted July 10)

Time Life Buys "Soul Train" Ticket
photo From Video Business:
Direct Holdings Americas Inc., parent of the Time Life brand, has acquired the DVD distribution rights to the "Soul Train" TV series catalog, which includes more than 20 years of performances from Michael Jackson. "Soul Train" DVDs will be released under the Time Life label. Much of the material, also including concerts by Al Green, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, among other legendary acts, is being made available for the first time. The deal was in the works prior to Jackson's death last month, but takes on much greater importance now that demand has sky-rocketed for everything to do with the King of Pop. "Soul Train" has been on the air for 35 years. More at Video Business. (Posted July 8)

"Monsters vs. Aliens" Invade Roswell on Way to DVD
photo It's been famous for more than 60 years as the preferred destination for extraterrestrials, but on July 3 the town of Roswell was invaded by monsters. B.O.B., the breakout star of DreamWorks Animations' hit "Monsters vs. Aliens," patrolled the Roswell UFO Festival to protect the planet and keep an eye out for invading aliens. The "Monsters vs. Aliens" DVD and Blu-ray will arrive on Earth September 29, and will include the world premiere of the brand new 3-D adventure "B.O.B.'s Big Break." More to follow. (Posted July 7)

From TV to Video:
Due this week: "Kath & Kim: Season 1" (2008-09), a two-disc set with 17 episodes, $29.98 from Universal ... "Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Tenth Season" (1984-85), a five-disc set with 21 episodes, $49.98 from Universal ... "Reno 911! The Complete Sixth Season -- Uncensored" (2008), a two-disc set with 11 episodes, $26.99 from Paramount ... "Third Watch: The Complete Second Season" (2000-01), a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Warner. (Posted July 7)

Buzzin' the 'B's:
Three strangers find themselves on a collision course with destiny when they discover a dead body onboard a "Night Train" (2009), starring Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn, Matthias Schweighoefer, Geoff Bell and Richard O'Brien. Among the dead man's possessions: a mysterious box with a treasure so valuable that the three conspire to hide the body and split the fortune themselves; from National Entertainment Media ... "Coco Chanel" (2008), starring Shirley MacLaine, is the critically acclaimed film that charts the rise of one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, pioneering fashion icon Coco Chanel; from Universal. (Posted July 7)

On the Indie Front:
In "Flying By" (2009), starring Billy Ray Cyrus, Heather Locklear, Olesya Rulin, David Zayas and Patricia Neal, a real estate developer goes to his 25th high school reunion without his wife and teams up with his old band for a reunion tour; from MTI Home Video. (Posted July 7)

For the Family:
"Bedtime With Elmo" (2009) is a Sesame Workshop feature that combines clever and familiar bedtime situations with engaging stories, lullabies and humor to illustrate to children how important it is to get a good night's sleep; $14.93 from Warner ... "Power Rangers RPM: Start Your Engines Vol. 1" (2009) is the latest episode from the new Power Rangers series; $19.99 from Disney. (Posted July 7)

Special Interest:
Just in time for the 40th anniversary of man's first walk on the moon comes "Moon Machines" (2008), a critically-acclaimed six-part documentary focusing on the efforts of the 400,000 people who created the equipment used to achieve the lunar landings; $24.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes" (2008) is a PBS American Masters' documentary that follows humorist and commentator Garrison Keillor as he takes his skits and monologues across the country in America's most popular radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion." Filmed during the course of more than a year, this intimate portrait captures Keillor, his actors and musicians as they mingle fact and fiction to create America's collective hometown, Lake Wobegon, on the radio program. $26.95 from Docurama ... "The Released" (2008) is a PBS Frontline documentary that looks at the lives of mentally ill public offenders and the obstacles they face once released from prison.; $24.99 from PBS Distribution ... "Nursery University" (2009) is a documentary that takes a wry look at the intense competition for admission into the best preschools schools around the country, revealing with humor and humanity the surprisingly elaborate process of applications, anxious parent-toddler interviews, placement lotteries and pricey consultants. $26.95 from Docurama ... "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XV" is a four-disc set with four "misunderstood masterpieces" that get the MST commentary treatment: "The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy," "The Girl in Lovers Lane," "Zombie Nightmare" and "Racket Girls"; $59.99 from Shout! Factory ... "Young & Handsome: A Night With Jeff Garlin" (2009) is a Comedy Central standup act filmed at the historic Second City Theatre in Chicago; from Shout! Factory. (Posted July 7)

"Star Wars" in 3-D?
By Thomas K. Arnold
Home Media Magazine
"Star Wars" in 3-D? It's a dream come true for Blu-ray Disc fans, who picked the celebrated sci-fi franchise as their No. 1 choice to watch in three dimensions once a 3-D standard for Blu-ray Disc is approved and studios start releasing movies in 3-D en masse on the high-definition format. photo Members of the Home Media Tastemakers Forum, a blu-ribbon panel assembled by Home Media Magazine as an industry consumer panel, overwhelmingly chose "Star Wars" as the movie they'd most like to see in 3-D. "3-D gives you the feeling of 'being there' in a way that 2-D cannot," said Forum member David Wertheimer, CEO and executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California. In addition to "Star Wars," Wertheimer's top choices -- each panelist was asked to pick three movies -- include "The Matrix" and "Apollo 13." For the complete report, jump to Home Media Magazine. (Posted July 3)

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December 31, 2009
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).