February 14, 2013

DVD Releases

New on the shelf: 'Bully' / 'The Main with the Iron Fists' / 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' / 'Skyfall' / 'Nurse Jackie: Season Four' / 'Weeds: Season Eight' / 'The Sessions'


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Russell Crowe in “The Man with the Iron Fists.”

Universal Pictures

"BULLY," documentary. Unavoidably difficult but essential viewing (particularly for educators and parents), this acclaimed doc takes an unflinching look at the unfortunately age-old tradition of schoolyard bullying and the (in some cases deadly) toll it takes on children and their families. A tragically overlooked problem is very effectively brought to light by filmmaker Lee Hirsch ("Amandla!"). Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:39

Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.99

"THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS," starring RZA and Russell Crowe. While his acting and filmmaking skills could certainly be called into question, the affection that Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA has for the kung-fu genre is unmistakable and infectious. This giddy tale of a maimed blacksmith exacting revenge by constructing a more powerful pair of limbs packs in enough numb-skulled entertainment for 10 B-movies. Special features include deleted scenes. Rated R. Running time: 1:35

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98

"THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER," starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. It's a rare and wonderful thing when the author of a beloved book also gets the opportunity to direct the film version, but that's exactly what transpired with "Perks." And who better than writer-director Steven Chbosky to translate his beloved and acclaimed 1999 young adult novel to the big screen? An affecting and observant coming-of-age tale, "Perks" has attained "Catcher in the Rye" status at this point, and Lerman ("3:10 to Yuma"), Watson (Hermione from the "Harry Potter" saga) and Ezra Miller ("We Need to Talk About Kevin") portray the angsty high school trio with admirable skill. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:42

Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.99

"SKYFALL," starring Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem. After the general letdown that was "Quantum of Solace," 007 pulled off the cinematic comeback of the year with this bang-up entry that hearkens back to the very best of the golden age of the long-running spy series. A wounded Bond (Craig) is pitted against a computer mastermind (a wonderfully over-the-top Bardem) dead set on bringing down MI6. Director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") and company have fully revitalized a flagging franchise and cemented Craig's status as a worthy Bond for the new millennium. Special features include a commentary from Mendes. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:23

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99

"NURSE JACKIE: SEASON FOUR" and "WEEDS: SEASON EIGHT," starring Edie Falco and Mary-Louise Parker. Showtime's two favorite problem children are at their misbehaving best in these sets, with Falco's pill-popping nurse butting heads with a headstrong new administrator and Parker's soccer mom by day/pot dealer by night bringing her seedily hilarious adventures to an end, going out with a characteristic bang. Not rated; contains language sexual content, drug content and violence. Running time: 4:40/6:19

Suggested retail price: $39.98; Blu-ray $39.97

"THE SESSIONS," starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. Hugely affecting fact-based story of Mark O'Brien, a polio survivor whose sharp mental faculties bear a stark contrast to his body, which is often confined to an iron lung. Fearing his time on Earth may be drawing to a close, O'Brien enlists the services of a professional sex surrogate (Hunt, who bares all in more ways than one) to achieve the intimacy he's been lacking all along. He keeps things morally balanced by confiding his experiences to a priest (a scene-stealing William H. Macy), who, it turns out, is more than willing to listen to the dirty details. A wonderfully human drama that manages to avoid disease-of-the-week sentimentality thanks to a pitch-perfect cast and fine direction from Ben Lewin, himself a polio survivor. Rated R. Running time: 1:35

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