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New DVD Releases – September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

The new DVD releases this week include: Monsters vs. Aliens, The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary, Away We Go, and The Brothers Bloom.

Monters Vs. Aliens

Monsters VS. Aliens DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Synopsis: When California girl Susan Murphy is unwittingly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall. Alerted to the threat of this new monster, the military jumps into action and Susan is captured and secreted away to a covert government compound. There, she is renamed Ginormica and placed in confinement with a ragtag group of other monsters: the brilliant but insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D.; the macho half-ape, half-fish The Missing Link; the gelatinous and indestructible B.O.B.; and the 350-foot grub called Insectosaurus. Their confinement is cut short, however, when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and begins storming the country. In a moment of desperation, The President is persuaded by General W.R. Monger to enlist the motley crew of Monsters to combat the Alien Robot and save the world from imminent destruction.

Cast: Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Hugh Laurie, Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland; Directed by: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon

Special Features:

  • Modern Monster Movie Making
  • Deleted Scenes
  • DWA Music Video Juke Box
  • Filmmaker Commentary
  • The Tech of Monsters Vs. Aliens
  • Watch an Exclusive DVD Bonus Feature:

    The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary

    Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary DVD

    Synopsis: A beloved cinematic classic gets the hi-def treatment with a 70th Anniversary Edition release, fully remastered and packed with nearly four hours of all-new and never-before-available bonus features. Rediscover the incomparable Judy Garland as Dorothy as she dons the magical ruby slippers and journeys with Toto, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion to see the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Munchkins, Wicked Witches, Flying Monkeys — oh my! Seventy years later, the colorful characters and unforgettable songs of “Oz” come alive like never before to thrill and delight a whole new generation.

    Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley; Directed by: Victor Fleming

    Special Features:

  • Sing-along Track
  • The Dreamer of Oz
  • Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman
  • Hollywood Celebrates Its Biggest Little Stars
  • The Magic Cloak of Oz
  • Watch an Exclusive DVD Bonus Feature:

    Away We Go

    Away We Go Movie Poster Print - Style A

    Synopsis: Directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) from an original screenplay by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, this funny and heartfelt film follows the journey of an expectant couple (John Krasinski [“The Office’] and Maya Rudolph [“Saturday Night Live’]), as they travel the U.S. in search of the perfect place to put down roots and raise their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover “home” on their own terms for the first time. The movie features the music of Alexi Murdoch.

    Cast: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Chris Messina, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Schneider, Carmen Ejogo, Jim Gaffigan, Josh Hamilton, Melanie Lynskey; Directed By: Sam Mendes

    The Brothers Bloom

    The Brothers Bloom DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

    Synopsis: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz star in this glossy, lighthearted caper film written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick). Since childhood, Bloom (Brody) and his brother Stephen (Ruffalo) have been grifters, but Bloom has tired of it and wants a normal life. Then Stephen convinces him to do one last big scam, this one on a wealthy, eccentric New Jersey heiress named Penelope (Weisz), and a series of clever, elaborate cons ensues. The movie does lots of globetrotting, including Montenegro, Prague and St. Petersburg. Rinko Kikuchi plays an explosives expert.

    Cast: Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi, Maximilian Schell, Robbie Coltrane; Directed By: Rian Johnson


    Movie Review: Brothers Bloom

    Saturday, May 16th, 2009

    Brothers Bloom Poster

    May 14, 2009 – There comes a point when you’ve innovated something as far as it can possibly go, added all that you could conceivably add, discovered all that there was to discover, so that nothing can ever again be new. For the most part, the con-man genre is like this, and if you draw a line back through cinematic history, you can trace the evolution of the double-cross in the most basic of terms. It began with a lie – one character deceiving another in such a way that the audience was in on the scam. And for awhile, the lie was enough. We were content to know exactly where the ball was at any point during the shell game. Whether the target would figure out the con was thrill enough for us. But then we got smarter, wiser, more demanding, and filmmakers delivered the triple-cross, or simply added another element to the con, shuffling around the shells at such a rate and speed that while the audience was aware of the deception, the conclusion was always surprising.

    Then came the point at which the characters themselves were no longer sufficient victims. We’d gotten too good at spotting the bait-and-switch, the sleight-of-hand, and so the filmmakers were then forced to con us, the viewers. The story would seemingly end, the con would be revealed, and then, in a surprising twist on the twist, we would discover that somehow, in some way, we had been fooled, the final, unspoken players in the confidence game.

    So con movies became clever while audiences became smarter and if we weren’t already a step ahead, we were hardly ever that far behind. Thankfully, Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom injects some desperately needed vigor into this waning genre. The follow-up to Brick, Johnson’s ode to the “film noir” motif, Bloom is filled with first-rate scams, refreshing whimsy and incredibly well-layered performances, yet it aims to be something greater than simply another drop in the con-man bucket. It’s smarter than that, and the con being played upon the audience is that we’re watching a brilliant and thoughtful deconstruction of the genre without really knowing it.

    The story of two brothers, Stephen and Bloom (played by Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody, respectively), the film follows their efforts to pull “One Last Con” on a mega-wealthy shut-in, Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz). Having shut herself up for years in her sprawling estate, the richest woman on the Eastern Seaboard has become a virtual outcast, studying and learning every craft from every book available to her. Stephen, who writes his cons with all the grace and symbolism of classic literature, is clearly in love with his work, both storyteller and character all at once, while Bloom seeks to lead what Stephen refers to as “an unwritten life.”

    And it’s this basic premise – the ability to lead a life un-scripted by family or fate – that makes The Brothers Bloom perhaps the most entertaining and dare we say important con movie of the last several years, delivering consistently on all levels. Of course, Penelope quickly transcends the title of victim to join in on a bigger con – and it’s to Johnson’s credit that we’re never quite certain if the brothers are still playing her, if Stephen is playing Bloom, if somebody else is playing all of them, or if they’re all actually being honest with one another.

    Johnson takes a sizeable step forward as a director with this film, which feels almost 180-degrees away from the dark, brooding tone of Brick. This is a colorful movie, full of grand sequences and vibrant set pieces. It moves quickly and freely, embracing a never-too-quirky sense of style that makes the story feel more in the vein of a Wes Anderson film – most especially the opening prologue. The banter is quick and smart and poignant, and each actor rises effortlessly to their character.

    It’s likely that audiences have yet to see the uber-dramatic Ruffalo in a role quite this light, and while Stephen certainly passes through his fair share of drama throughout the film, Ruffalo shows a side of himself that’s considerably less intense and vastly more accessible than his more gruff, tortured roles. His relationship with Brody, his brother, is wonderfully complex – full of love and loathing – and, in turn, Brody’s relationship with Weisz is breezily romantic. And yet, each of these pairings are obscured by the constant presense of “the con” and we’re never fully able to trust our footing in any given situation.

    There is no excessively self-clever ending to Bloom – the film simply isn’t as concerned with executing the perfect con as it is with watching it fall apart – and somewhere in between the drama and comedy, the whimsy and the tragedy, the idea of the “unwritten life” is ever-present. The Brothers Bloom will undoubtedly have a place among the better, if not the best, films about con-men, but it’s also a film about family and trust and the limits of both. Do yourself a favor and give yourself over to the shell game because it doesn’t matter where the ball turns up, so much as that you played at all.

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