New on DVD

New on DVD

Clash of the Titans
Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Sam Worthington stars in this remake of the original 1981 cult classic done-up with big special effects and less cheese.  While the filmmakers were considering throwing in gods from several ancient religions (bad idea), they stuck with the story of Perseus, the half-human son of Zeus, who goes on a journey to figure out a way to stop the kraken from destroying the capital city.  Here, Perseus ultimately wishes to seek revenge against Hades for killing his father.  While the special effects are fairly decent (and they look much better now that the ridiculous 3D has been taken out), the film still has no sense of adventure.  It’s just one action scene after another with no soul.  Without the adventure and fun, it lacks entertainment value and a film like this needs entertainment value.  It was a good idea to dust this one off and bring it back, but the absence of imagination shown by these filmmakers proves that they shouldn’t have been the ones that were allowed to do it.  Maybe 30 years from now, someone will get it right.  C-

Repo Men
Rated R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star in this futuristic thriller about a pair of friends that work as repo men for an artificial organs company.  Whenever folks get too far behind on their bills – they come in and take back their hearts, livers, spines, or whatever else the person might have implanted within them.  When Jude Law’s character has an on-the-job mishap, he is put into a coma and wakes up with an artificial heart that he can’t and doesn’t even want to pay for.  So he must decide to go on the run, or fight back against the company that put it in him in the first place.  While the concept of this film was recently seen in Repo: The Genetic Opera (interesting slasher musical if you ever feel like a fun rental), this film explores a different side of the business and for the first hour I actually thought it was going to be a pretty good film.  And it’s not like they didn’t have a clear roadmap of where to go – the formula is easy and it would have worked in this case.  But no, instead they went in this trippy, strange, sexual direction and even brought in a fight scene that looked like it belonged in a blooper reel.  The movie didn’t start off as a comedy, but after the half-way point, it sure enough became one, much to its detriment.  C-

Not Rated but contains strong sexual content, nudity, violence, and language
Available on DVD
Italian with English Subtitles

According to the events of this film, fascist dictator Benito Mussolini led a double life in his early years by marrying a woman and then covering that marriage up while living his public life.  While at one time he was madly in love with his first wife, Ida Dalser (brilliantly played here by Giovanna Mezzogiorno) he soon refused to admit their relationship or that she gave birth to his first-born son.  Hell-bent on forcing him to make public their relationship and accept his son, she works her way into an insane asylum in this gut-wrenching historical drama.  While I’m not an expert on Mussolini and not sure how much of the story is accurate, since I’ve never actually seen a movie about the dictator, I found the film to be completely engrossing and spellbinding.  Using actual footage of the mature Mussolini throughout the film, there is a sense of eerie foreshadowing that exists throughout.  No matter what happens, you know it has to end badly for all parties involved.  But story aside, the film is gorgeously filmed, terrifically acted, and marvelously directed.  My only gripes are the strange transitions which I’m sure were meant to be artistic but I felt merely served as distractions.  Due to the graphic nature of the movie, this probably isn’t the film to rent for your teenager studying WWII, but if you are looking for a heavy, adult-oriented historical drama, it’s hard to find better.  A-

The Art of the Steal
Not Rated
Available on DVD

I love art and I love art museums, and I’ve been to some of the finest in the world, but I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject.  There is just something about a beautiful painting that speaks to you and when you find one, you just want to stop and stare and get lost in it.  This documentary explores one of the greatest art exhibits that most people don’t even know exists.  The Albert C. Barnes Foundation holds some of the finest Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh and other masters that he never wanted the world at large to get a look at.  It wasn’t completely private, but private enough.  Located just outside Philadelphia, Barnes collected his pieces and then put into his will that when he died they were not to be loaned out, put on tour, or seen by great numbers of people.  He wanted students to have viewing privileges, but never intended for you and I to.  After his death, the foundation saw things differently and eventually politicians and other people of power in Philadelphia convinced a judge to move the entire exhibit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  This prompted the makers of this film to call it the largest theft of art since the Nazis in WWII.  So unbiased filmmaking this ain’t.  They have a message to convey and frankly they sound like a bunch of elitist art snobs.  They do not make a strong case against and while the methods of moving the art might have been a bit shady, I for one can’t wait to see these fantastic pieces when the Barnes exhibit opens in 2012.  One of the subjects being interviewed made a statement that they overheard someone walk out of the exhibit while it was on tour saying “I’ve seen too many naked fat women for one day,” like that represented all of the museum-going public without art degrees.  That sums up the attitude of the film, but I’m still glad I saw it, because had I not I would have never known what to look forward to in Philly in just a couple of years time.  B

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Rated PG-13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality
Available on Blu-ray
Chinese with English subtitles (English dub also available)

Available for the first time on blu-ray is Ang Lee’s masterpiece about forbidden love, betrayal and redemption set in 19th-century China.  While the flying put some folks off,  the fact that it made $128 million at the box office and took home several Oscars proves that most Americans really got into the fantasy.  This transfer is stunning with a color palette captured for the screen by Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau who provides a brand-new commentary for the disc.  The disc also contains all of the old special features from the DVD such as the making-of and a commentary by Ang Lee.  A