April 4, 2013

DVD Releases

"John Dies at the End" / "The Baytown Outlaws"


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Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen in “Hemingway & Gellhorn.”


"JOHN DIES AT THE END," starring Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes. It's a great week for offbeat gems, and nobody delivers that particular brand of cinematic product better than director Don Coscarelli, the man behind such beloved outliers as "The Beastmaster," "Phantasm" and, most recently, the highly recommended "Bubba Ho-Tep." Here, he takes on the popular novel by Cracked.com editor David Wong, a freewheeling comic/sci-fi affair that finds genial loser David (Williamson) accidentally injecting himself with "soy sauce," a new street drug that both enables psychic abilities and opens undiscovered worlds to its unwary user. A paper-thin plot gives Coscarelli the chance to employ all manner of crazy special effects and surreal one-liners. "John" and the veteran filmmaker are a match made in B-movie heaven. Rated R. Running time: 1:39

Suggested retail price: $26.98; Blu-ray $29.98


"THE BAYTOWN OUTLAWS," starring Eva Longoria and Billy Bob Thornton. This unsung, would-be cult favorite has a lot more going for it than a cursory glance at the box might suggest, thanks to first-time writer-director Barry Battles' willingness to go just a tad too far into hillbilly B-movie territory. Dirtbag assassin trio The Oodie Brothers (Daniel Cudmore, Travis Fimmel and Clayne Crawford) agree to kidnap Celeste's (Longoria) physically challenged godson (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from her violent ex-husband (Thornton, of course), a small-time crime lord. Gleefully violent and often quite funny, "Outlaws" packs at least five movies' worth of entertainment into its modest running time. Rated R. Running time: 1:38

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


"THE BIBLE: THE EPIC MINISERIES," starring Diogo Morgado and Darwin Shaw. The Good Book is revealed to be not only an inspirational series of life-changing vignettes but a bang-up action movie in this well-received series from The History Channel, which dramatizes many of the most revered stories from the scriptures. Not rated. Running time: 7:20

Suggested retail price: $59.98; Blu-ray $69.99


"HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN," starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. This lush HBO production explores the eternally tumultuous relationship between journalist Martha Gellhorn (Kidman) and celebrated writer Ernest Hemingway (Owen), a relationship that began as a mutual appreciation before leading to an affair and finally an unavoidably rocky marriage. One hundred and fifty-five minutes may be more time than many viewers wish to spend with such volatile personalities, but Kidman and Owen fully embody their larger-than-life characters, and the film makes an excellent case for revisiting their brilliant works. Not rated. Running time: 2:34

Suggested retail price: $19.97; Blu-ray $24.99


"THE SWEENEY," starring Ray Winstone and Ben Drew. Based on a mid-'70s British TV show, this loud and proud actioner from director Nick Love ("Outlaw") is best viewed as a ode to the gruff, blustery charms of its star, the inimitable Winstone ("Sexy Beast"). He's a sheer powerhouse here as the leader of the Flying Squad, a select band of cops given carte blanche to use excessive force when taking down criminal enterprises in the city. "The Sweeney" is comforting proof that not everything is tea and crumpets over there, and they like a big dumb action movie as much as we do, especially with Winstone barking and blasting his way through the screen. Rated R. Running time: 1:52

Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.98



"HELLO DOLLY!" starring Barbara Streisand and Walter Matthau. The gloriously overblown spectacle of the old Hollywood musicals and the insanely detailed Blu-ray technology of today perennially proves a rewarding combo, and with "Dolly!" being one of the final true examples of the form, we have another winner with this gorgeous transfer. A box-office bomb at the time, "Dolly!" has since garnered legions of fans for its well over-the-top set-pieces, toe-tapping tunes and delightful interplay between the stars. Running time: 2:29

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