New in Home Entertainment – December 27, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

December 27, 2011

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Series One
Available on DVD

In this ridiculously funny IFC original series, Todd Margaret (David Cross) is  an inept American employee of a company run by an even more incompetent boss (Will Arnett) to become the new UK sales manager for a North Korean-made energy drink called Thunder Muscle.  Addicted to lying and making bad choices, Margaret goes from one horribly uncomfortable situation to the next.  While completely outlandish, the show is absolutely hilarious and a quick cure for those who miss British series such as The Office or Extras.  B+

Apollo 18
Rated PG-13 for some disturbing sequences and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

While Apollo 17 was officially the last of the Apollo missions, the U.S. Department of Defense secretly launched one more and the footage from that voyage has been locked away, until now.  While Blair Witch, Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity franchise have made quite a splash with this “found footage” horror genre, Apollo 18 just doesn’t deliver the goods necessary to scare the daylights out of you.  I think that the potential was there and there are some creepy moments with a nice mood throughout, but the fact is that I just wasn’t scared.  I never once got a shiver in my spine.  It doesn’t help that the characters are fairly boring and the acting isn’t the strongest.  But more importantly, while the gimmick is interesting, the filmmakers couldn’t quite pull it off.  C+

A Farewell to Arms (1932)
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This first film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s about a young ambulance driver who falls in love with a lovely nurse during WWI is finally getting a beautiful new release by Kino.  While Hemingway was very vocal about how much he didn’t like this adaptation of his book, it walked away with two Oscars (cinematography and sound) and was nominated for two more (picture and art direction).  It was also the film that put Gary Cooper on the map and made him the star he became.  I’ll admit that the movie is a little corny and the chemistry isn’t the best between Cooper and Helen Hayes, but overall it’s a beautiful example of early filmmaking and this new release by Kino is exemplary.  B-

The Borgias: The First Season
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Trying to capitalize on its hit show The Tudors, Showtime turned to Rome in the late 1400s as the Borgia family, billed here as the original crime family.  Led by their patriarch, Rodrigo Borgia, brilliantly played by Jeremy Irons, the Borgia family manages to place Rodrigo as pope.  As head of the Roman Catholic church he desperately commits every sin possible in order to retain his powerful position.  While much creative license was taken in the storytelling, the writing and acting are solid and the deceit and lechery make it a very interesting show to watch.  With a creator like Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), it’s no wonder these nine episodes are so enjoyable.  B