NEW ON THE SHELF
“DJANGO UNCHAINED,” starring Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. More comic book-style historical revenge from the wildly creative and ever incorrigible Quentin Tarantino.
This time, he allows slave Django (Foxx) the opportunity to wreak havoc on his tormentors, in particular the despicable plantation owner (played with evil glee by Leonardo DiCaprio) who has Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) in his employ against her will. Assisting in this violent quest is a dentist-turned-bounty hunter (Waltz, deservedly adding a second supporting actor Oscar to his shelf) with more than a few surprises up his sleeve.
Proudly rooted in grindhouse, Tarantino nonetheless treats his characters with respect, and for all the lurid details, the filmmaker does not take his controversial subject matter lightly. Rated R. Running time: 2:45
Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99
“DRAGON,” starring Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro. A normally unassuming man (Yen) gains some unexpected and unwanted notoriety when he happens to be in a grocery store during an attempted robbery — and handily defends the business with his astounding and previously unknown martial arts skills. The display arouses the attention of detective Kaneshiro (“House of Flying Daggers”), who can’t help but wonder what else Yen might be hiding.
You always get your money’s worth with Yen (no pun intended), and a compelling plot interspersed with some dependably intense fight scenes makes for inspired kung-fu goodness. Rated R. Running time: 1:38
Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.99
NEW TO DVD
“BAD KIDS GO TO HELL,” starring Judd Nelson and Ben Browder. First launched as a comic book series, this proudly nasty labor of love puts a horror spin on “The Breakfast Club,” even going so far as to give former Brat Packer Nelson a winking bit part.
Locking six entitled prep schoolers in the library of their supposedly haunted learning institution and sitting back as they’re summarily disemboweled by unseen forces, this is all about “Bad Kids” getting their just desserts. And as such, it provides more than its share of satisfyingly cheap thrills.
Special features include a commentary from writer-directors Matthew Spradlin and Barry Wernick. Rated R. Running time: 1:31
Suggested retail price: $29.99
NEW TO BLU-RAY
“A MONSTER IN PARIS,” animated with the voices of Vanessa Paradis and Adam Goldberg. This gorgeously animated French import wowed critics and audiences alike in its native country in 2011, yet failed to catch on stateside.
That’s a shame, given its hilarious voice acting and cutely offbeat tale of a pair of love-struck, bumbling doofuses who somehow manage to accidentally create a gigantic flea, which manages to develop a beautiful singing voice.
The film’s nods to foreign folklore will likely fly over the heads of its target audience (and likely the target’s audience’s parents, for that matter). But one needn’t have majored in French literature to enjoy this excellent if frequently hilarious production from director Bibo Bergeron (“Shark Tale”). Not rated. Running time: 1:27
Suggested retail price: $24.97
“REPO MAN,” starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton. For many, 1984’s “Repo Man” was the film that introduced them to the very idea of cult cinema — a genre-defying, rule-breaking comedy/sci-fi that applied a low-budget, grungy punk aesthetic (thanks to writer-director Alex Cox, who never topped his brilliant debut) to the idea of the summer blockbuster.
Sneering wayward teen Otto (Estevez, delivering far and away his best performance) is thrown into the suspect company of “Repo Man” Bud (Stanton). Surreal hijinks ensue. Aliens become involved.
It’s nuts, it’s hilarious and it holds up extremely well, especially with Criterion’s beautiful (but not TOO beautiful, this is “Repo Man,” after all) transfer.
Special features include a commentary from Cox, interviews with cast and crew, and deleted scenes. Rated R. Running time: 1:32
Suggested retail price: $39.95
“INTO THE COLD: A JOURNEY OF THE SOUL,” documentary. The frigid winter we just endured in our beloved home state starts to look like a tropical vacation after even a few minutes of this fascinating doc from Sebastian Copeland (“Antarctica Crossing”). Copeland teams up with fellow explorer Keith Heger on a blisteringly “Cold” 400-mile trek to the North Pole, a journey that fewer than 150 brave souls have embarked upon.
Both the meticulous preparation and arduous traveling are given equal screen time, not to mention the difficultly inherent in both documenting and taking the trip. A remarkable feat to say the very least, and an alternately exhausting and exhilarating viewing experience. Not rated. Running time: 1:27
Suggested retail price: $24.98
“LOVE FREE OR DIE,” documentary. The life and times of Christendom’s first openly gay bishop, Macky Alston’s illuminating and inspiring doc gives us the story of Gene Robinson via the people who know him best. Alston cobbles together terrific interviews and footage to paint a picture of a brilliant, courageous man working tirelessly to bridge a once unthinkably wide gap between religious faith and homosexuality, simply by remaining true to himself.
Eighty-three minutes barely skims the surface of such multi-faceted subjects, and Alston wisely sets his sights more on the man than his remarkable crusade. But the conversations potentially opened by “Love Free or Die” could prove life-changing. Not rated. Running time: 1:23
Suggested retail price: $24.95
– Courtesy of Videoport