February 21, 2013

DVD Releases

New on the shelf: 'Argo' / 'Anna Karenina' / 'Fun Size' / 'Sinister' / 'Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome'

NEW ON THE SHELF

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John Goodman, left, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in “Argo.”

Warner Bros.

"ARGO," starring Ben Affleck and John Goodman. Once upon a time, the phrase "directed by Ben Affleck" would have inspired more derisive giggles than anything else, but if "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town" hadn't already convinced the general movie-going public that Affleck is a filmmaking force to be reckoned with, the Oscar-nominated "Argo" should effectively silence naysayers. Based on an incredible true story, "Argo" is the name of a fake sci-fi movie being pitched to Iranian officials by CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) in an effort to smuggle out six American fugitives in the early '80s. On hand to assist are Goodman and Alan Arkin as a veteran make-up artist and director, respectively, to ensure credibility (and to provide a fair portion of the film's surprisingly abundant laughs). Rated R. Running time: 2:00

Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99

"ANNA KARENINA," starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law. Based on Tolstoy's celebrated classic, "Karenina" is brought to vivid life via the proudly theatrical vision of director Joe Wright ("Atonement") and screenwriter Tom Stoppard ("Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"). Knightley holds court in one of her best performance as Anna herself, who's seeking fulfillment outside of her uninspiring marriage and feeling she's found it in young Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, "Savages"). Special features include commentary from Wright. Rated R. Running time: 2:09

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

"FUN SIZE," starring Victoria Justice and Jane Levy. Evoking the mischievous spirits of such '80s favorites as "Midnight Madness" and "Adventures in Babysitting," this teen-oriented comedy from Nickelodeon is a winningly goofy romp that follows besties Justice ("Victorious") and Levy ("Suburgatory") as they misplace a little brother while out trick-or-treating, encountering one insane situation after another while attempting to track him down. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:26

Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99

"SINISTER," starring Ethan Hawke and Juliet Rylance. A true-crime author (Hawke) in desperate need of a bestseller moves his family into a home where a notorious mass murder was once committed, a relocation that affords both a change of scenery and a ready-made mystery to investigate. But when Hawke uncovers a box of old snuff films prominently featuring what appears to be a malevolent supernatural presence, he becomes more embroiled in the story than he'd intended. Special features include deleted scenes. Rated R. Running time: 1:50

Suggested retail price: $29.95; Blu-ray $39.99

"BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME," starring Luke Pasqualino and Ben Cotton. The many, many fans of the second "Battlestar Galactica" TV series should find plenty to enjoy and nitpick with this rousing prequel, following a young Adama (Pasqualino, "Skins") during the First Cylon War. The action and skillful storytelling of its predecessor is present and accounted for, but while it would be technically correct to start here from a chronological standpoint, newcomers will want to start with the series to fully enjoy the entire experience. Not rated; contains mild language and violence. Running time: 1:34.

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

NEW TO BLU-RAY

"MONSTERS, INC.," animated with the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why Pixar is trotting out this deluxe treatment of its 2001 favorite, what with the sequel "Monsters University" well on its way to theaters. But what better time to become reacquainted with what remains one of the beloved studio's funniest and most touching offerings? The exploits of professional child frighteners Mike and Sully (memorably voiced by Crystal and Goodman) have held up exceptionally well over the past decade, and the CGI animation looks better than ever in this newly remastered edition. Rated G. Running time: 1:32

Suggested retail price: $39.99

"ON THE WATERFRONT," starring Marlon Brando and Lee J. Cobb. American classic from 1954 is given the royal treatment it deserves thanks to the cinema saviors at the Criterion Collection, and this timeless tale of a down-on-his-luck ex-boxer (Brando) who "coulda been a contendah" remains resonant, with equally brilliant performances and direction by Elia Kazan. Special features include interviews and an hour-long doc on Kazan. Not rated. Running time: 1:48

Suggested retail price: $49.95

VIDEOPORT PICK

"SMALL APARTMENTS," starring Matt Lucas and Johnny Knoxville. Fans of Chris Millis' novel would most likely wonder how anyone could possibly adapt it to the big screen, but director Jonas Akerlund ("Spun") isn't one to shy away from abstract polarizing material. "Apartments" manages to be every bit as insane as its source material with an oddball cast to match, pairing typical loose cannons such as Knoxville and Peter Stormare with dependable veterans Billy Crystal and James Caan. But all concerned are on board with Akerlund and Millis' singular vision, detailing the pathetic efforts of bumbling apartment dweller Franklin (Lucas, "Little Britain") to conceal the fact that he's just accidentally killed his landlord. For those in the right frame of mind, "Apartments" proves to be stylish craziness of the highest order. Rated R. Running time: 1:37

Suggested retail price: $22.99

- Courtesy of Videoport

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