July 25, 2013

DVD Releases

New on the shelf: 'Trance' / 'Twixt' / 'Love and Honor' / 'The Silence'

NEW ON THE SHELF

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Rosario Dawson as hypnotist Dr. Elizabeth in “Trance.”

Courtesy photo

 "TRANCE," starring James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson. One of our few truly unpredictable filmmakers, you never know when director Danny Boyle is going to go for the blockbuster ("Slumdog Millionaire") or the small-scale curiosity ("Millions"). With "Trance," it's almost a combination of the two, a high-concept crime thriller with a low-budget sensibility. Auction house employee Simon (McAvoy) plans to steal a Goya painting from his employer alongside ruthless criminal Franck (Vincent Cassel), but it runs off the rails after a blow to the head renders him incapable of remembering where he stashed the painting. Enter Dr. Elizabeth (Dawson), a hypnotist hired to help jog Simon's memory in the hopes of recovering the ill-gotten artwork for his impatient associate. As in any good thriller, virtually nothing goes as planned, and as the stakes rise, so does the tension. Rated R. Running time: 1:42

Suggested retail price: $22.98; Blu-ray $29.99 

"TWIXT," starring Val Kilmer and Bruce Dern. Director Francis Ford Coppola gets a bit metaphysical in "Twixt," which follows bored and financially ruined horror novelist Kilmer as he attempts to revitalize his creative juices for an intriguing new project by retreating to his dreams to explore a true-life case concerning a corpse found with a stake through its chest. Flitting between the real world and Kilmer's dream state seemingly at random, "Twixt" is purposefully bewildering, a tactic that will no doubt frustrate viewers looking for a traditional fright flick, but rewards the patient viewer. Well worth a look. Rated R. Running time: 1:28

Suggested retail price: $22.98; Blu-ray $29.99 

"LOVE AND HONOR," starring Liam Hemsworth and Austin Stowell. While serving in Vietnam, a young soldier (Stowell) receives a breakup letter from his girlfriend (Aimee Teegarden), so he and fellow platoon member Mickey (Hemsworth) go AWOL to try to win her back. It sounds like the makings of a terrific black comedy, and while there are a few laughs along the way, "Love and Honor" is an attempt at recreating that syrupy Nicholas Sparks magic. All the same, Hemsworth and Stowell make a charismatic team, and the '60s are nicely recreated by director Danny Mooney ("Little Joy"). Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:36

Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.98 

 "THE SILENCE," starring Ulrich Thomsen and Wotan Wiike Mohring. Profoundly tense 2010 German thriller is a brilliantly constructed, tight but expansive film from first-time director Baran bo Odar, who is clearly a talent worth keeping an eye on. This tale of a small town affected by the disappearance of a young girl -- 23 years to the day after a near identical, still unsolved case -- packs more into two hours than most programs can manage with an entire season. Not rated. Running time: 1:59

Suggested retail price: $29.95; Blu-ray $34.95 

NEW TO BLU-RAY 

"BABETTE'S FEAST," starring Stephane Audran and Jarl Kulle. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this 1987 delight from Danish director Gabriel Axel ("Leila") is a veritable visual love letter to food tucked away in a gentle period piece. Audran's mysterious Babette arrives in a quaint Danish village, becomes employed as a cook and housecleaner for a pair of local sisters, then returns their kindness with a sumptuous (and gorgeously shot) "Feast" after unexpectedly winning the lottery. Special features include a new interview with Audran. Rated G. Running time: 1:43

Suggested retail price: $39.95

 "WELCOME TO THE PUNCH," starring James McAvoy and Mark Strong. Intense U.K. actioner finds injured policeman Max (McAvoy) regaining interest in his job when the criminal (Strong, "Sherlock Holmes") who hobbled him and escaped, makes an unexpected reappearance in his day-to-day routine. Seemingly a simple tale of cops and robbers, "Punch" reveals its complexity the longer it runs, and the top-notch cast mostly manages to rise above the inconsistent direction of Eran Creevy. Rated R. Running time: 1:39

Suggested retail price: $29.98 

VIDEOPORT PICKS 

"THE BITTER BUDDHA," documentary. In the cutthroat world of standup comedy, now and then you'll encounter a lowly but determined creature known as The Comedian's Comedian. This is a tireless, downtrodden, generally brilliant performer who's beloved by fellow comedians for his original take on the medium but forever falling just shy of mainstream success.

Then there's Eddie Pepitone. Known amongst his many peers in the business as "The Bitter Buddha," Pepitone has been on the road for 30 years, showcasing an angry but very relatable routine that has won the respect of such comics as Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis. Despite this, Pepitone remains far from a household name, but thanks to Twitter and a well-loved YouTube series, he's starting to see a resurgence in popularity. Not rated. Running time: 1:31

Suggested retail price: $24.95 

"GRACELAND," starring Arnold Reyes and Menggie Cobarrubias. A crushing and unbearably tense story of a devoted chauffeur (Reyes) to a corrupt politician (Cobarrubias), who have a longstanding and mutually profitable working arrangement that goes smoothly until criminals intervene while Reyes is transporting his employer's daughter and his own. An unthinkable event transpires, and it becomes even more unthinkable as one realization after another puts Reyes in a snowballing, progressively worse situation. Not rated. Running time: 1:24

Suggested retail price: $27.97; Blu-ray $29.97

- Courtesy of Videoport

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