New on DVD

New on DVD

True Blood: The Complete Second Season
Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In season two of the highly acclaimed HBO vampire serial, Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton (Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer) heat up their romance while fighting both extreme religious nuts that want them dead and an evil woman that enters their small town of Bon Temps, LA for the sole purpose of causing mayhem.  The show continues its tradition of being one of the sexiest, yet still one of the creepiest shows you’ll ever see.  The writing is smart and witty and the acting is superb.  Whatever HBO lost after the Sopranos left, it has more than made up for in its new flock of programming.  This new set of discs is a huge improvement over season one, containing loads of commentaries and special features to explore.  A

The Road
Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road follows a father (Viggo Mortensen) as he he tries to protect his son from what is left of the world as it is coming to an end.  We, as an audience, don’t know how everything is over, but animal and plant life have died off and the few humans alive are all fighting for the few scraps left, and most have turned to eating each other as well.  It is up to the father and son to carry on what is left of humanity before it lost forever.  From start to finish this is a beautiful, poignant, thought-provoking, yet frightening experience.  A few years ago, Entertainment Weekly named the book the best written in the last twenty-five years.  I’m not going to say it was my favorite book I’ve read in that time period, but it is really darn good, and the images in the movie were almost exactly what I had in my mind while reading.  Director John Hillcoat, whose western The Proposal is another must see, has a way with making tough, hard-hitting films feel like poetry.  I was saddened that the movie wasn’t nominated for a single Oscar this last year as it was truly one of the great movies of 2009.  Since it didn’t pull in a big box office either, I think it’s safe to assume that many of you didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters, so I’m hoping it gets a much stronger life on DVD.  A+

I Know What I Saw
Available on DVD

Most folks consider UFO witnesses to be crackpots and whackos, but documentarian James Fox tries to convince otherwise as he presents the most credible UFO witnesses from around the world.  Military leaders, commercial pilots, scientists, and even a governor all come forth and tell their first-hand stories, some of which they were ordered never to tell by the U.S. Government.  The content makes for an interesting argument for alien existence.  Unfortunately, Fox’s skills as a filmmaker are amateur at best and the movie ends up looking more like a bad college project than a first rate doc.  He is so busy trying to present his thesis that his bias and passion get in the way of his progress.  Then again, the information was enough to make me question whether or not to call him a crackpot after the movie was over.  B-

The Virginian: The Complete First Season
Available on DVD

For many decades westerns ruled the television landscape and NBC did a very gutsy thing by launching the first 90 minute television western with The Virginian, based on Owen Wister’s 1902 novel.  Set in the mythical town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming in the 1890’s, it explored the lives and relationships of the people that ventured west to settle in the new wild land.  The popular show ran for nearly a decade and those who loved it will really love the way they are respectfully releasing the series, coming fully restored and digitally remastered in full color on 10 DVDs in a beautiful collector’s tin.  I remembered going to my grandmother’s when I was young and watching this show on her old black and white, so getting this set in full color has been a nice trip to the past for me, although with over 39 hours of content, it will be a while before I finish.  B

Spartacus: The 50th Anniversary Edition
Rated PG-13
Available on Blu-ray

This monumental epic, partly directed by Stanley Kubrick (the first hour was directed by Anthony Mann before being replaced) and starring Kirk Douglas, makes its 50th anniversary release on blu-ray in a stunning restoration this week.  Unfortunately, the problems in the movie, such as some really poor acting by all of the non-Brits in the cast, still plague the film.  After all, I don’t think anyone can sit through Tony Curtis saying “I am a singer of songs” with his New York accent without completely cracking up.  But as far as gorgeous, influential movies go, Spartacus is one of the best.  Maybe it’s because the movie is over three hours in length, but the disc is surprisingly bare of extras, containing only a few deleted scenes and a bit of vintage footage.  B

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