THE BOURNE LEGACY ($34.98 BluRay combo; Universal)
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE ($35.99 BluRay combo; Warner Bros.)
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT ($39.99 BluRay combo; FOX)
TOTAL RECALL ($35.99 BluRay combo; Sony)
KILLER JOE ($24.99 BluRay; Lionsgate)
TED ($34.98 BluRay combo; Universal) -- You know the walk of shame? That's the idea in the movies that when someone has a one-night stand they regret, they have a walk of shame home the next morning, certain everyone is aware of their bad, bad decision. You should think about the walk of shame you have to make after renting or buying a lame movie, the trudge back to Redbox or Blockbuster or your neighborhood store. You knew The Bourne Legacy wasn't going to be any good. You knew your friends had seen it and been lukewarm at best. You knew you'd spend the entire movie waiting for Matt Damon and debating whether Jeremy Renner is a movie star. And yet still you rented it rather than some classic movie from the past. And you return it and the attendant says, "How was it?" and you say, "Mehh." Because what else can you say? What can you say about Trouble With The Curve? That Justin Timberlake is getting better as an actor? That at least Clint Eastwood didn't talk to a chair? Can you explain why you haven't really liked any of the Ice Age movies but at least you know what you're getting and so you get it anyway? Will you debate with friends how this Total Recall managed to avoid all the quirky elements of the last Total Recall and how both of them aren't nearly as good as the work they're based on? Will that be fun? At least Killer Joe is based on an acclaimed play and Matthew McConaughey is having a career year. But shouldn't it have come after about a dozen other genuinely great crime movies you've never seen? As for Ted, isn't it really a funny idea... for five minutes? Wouldn't it have been a lot funnier as a sketch on SNL rather than a feature-length movie? And even if you laughed, aren't you secretly dreading the sequel? Even though you know you'll see it? Because that's what keeps you repeating the walk of shame again and again and again.
THE QATSI TRILOGY ($79.95 BluRay; Criterion)
A MAN VANISHES ($44.98 DVD; Icarus -- out Dec. 22)
PURPLE NOON ($39.95 BluRay; Criterion) -- Koyaanisqatsi is one of the all-time great films and was certainly the best movie of 1983. If you've never seen it, this Criterion BluRay release will be a revelation for you. This documentary has been so influential that it might not stun the way it did in 1983. The movie drew upon many avant garde techniques and popularized them and its DNA can be seen in movies, music videos, commercials and films ever since. On a very basic level, it is a nature film, using time-lapse photography to capture the world. It moves from the desert into the city up into space as it follows the path of a rocket. The wordless narrative is set to the score of Philip Glass, which was created alongside the film, with each influencing the other every step of the way. Director Godfrey Reggio surely intends a commentary on modern life, but the movie is greater than any reductive idea such as "nature good" and "mankind bad." In fact, the beauty he captures in the streaming traffic on the highway or a production line in a factory complicates such ideas tremendously. It is hypnotically beautiful, transfixing and in this beautiful transfer will immediately become a favorite "demo" BluRay for home theater enthusiasts. Aesthetically arresting, emotional, philosophically intriguing, Koyaanisqatsi is above all a work of beauty, utterly singular and striking. This Criterion set does it full justice with bountiful extras, shorts, interviews, essays and more. It truly was singular, though Reggio did try and recapture that flash of brilliance with two lesser sequels, Powaqqatsi and Noqoyqatsi. Both are their adherents but no one would argue they're a patch on Koyaanisqatsi. Shohei Imamura has won the top prize at Cannes twice but most of his work is little known in the U.S. This marvelous release of his landmark documentary film A Man Vanishes should change that. You not only get the movie -- in which Imamura interviews the family and friends of a missing businessman and slowly insinuates himself into their lives -- but you also get five more documentary films from the early 1970s, key works in his career. That means this DVD is really an exceptional boxed set of a major talent. Finally, any fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley should check out Purple Noon, an earlier French adaptation by Rene Clement. It has less emotional complexity than Matt Damon's version but Alain Delon is so remarkably handsome as the murderous charmer Tom Ripley that all critical faculties go out the window.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE THE COMPLETE TELEVISION COLLECTION ($359.99 DVD; CBS/Paramount)
J.A.G. THE COMPLETE SERIES ($359.99 DVD; CBS/Paramount) -- Two more deluxe TV boxed sets that do everything right... except the packaging. Mission Impossible contains the entire innovative original series and the revival from the 1980s in a 56-DVD set. JAG contains all 10 seasons of the journeyman TV series that was foolishly cancelled by NBC and then flourished on CBS and spawned two massive hit spin-offs: NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. Has any show that close to death ever proven so ultimately successful? Each contains bonus features and other extras. Both are contained nicely compact sets: Mission Impossible is in a fun, dynamite stick-looking box. JAG is in a handsome briefcase. The problem occurs when you open them up. Mission comes in round tins for each season. They're a little tricky to stack and unstack and more annoyingly each tin contains a pile of discs in a flimsy photo album container that's a pain to pull out and remove the disc you want. JAG really has a handsome, sturdy case that makes the cheap cardboard holders for each season all the more disappointing. They have no identifying titles on the side so you can't take them out and place them on a shelf on their own. The DVDs themselves are in a stacked, folder-type container that's tiresome to deal with when you want to remove or put back in a disc. On the bright side, the sets themselves are at least compact and can fit on most bookshelves nicely. Too bad the designers of boxed sets never consider the people who will actually want to use them.
PITCH PERFECT ($34.98 BluRay combo; Universal)
SLEEPWALK WITH ME ($29.98 BluRay; IFC)
PREMIUM RUSH ($35.99 BluRay combo; Sony)
ARBITRAGE ($24.99 BluRay; Lionsgate)
WHY STOP NOW ($29.98 BluRay; IFC)
REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY ($24.95 DVD; First Run Features) -- Unlike the batch of movies that topped this column, here are some films you might take a chance on that could pay off. Pitch Perfect is Glee goes to college but it's most notable as the successful feature film debut of director Jason Moore, who scored on Broadway with Avenue Q. Mike Birbiglia is a distinctive standup comic. I saw his show Sleepwalk With Me and this film smartly expands his tale with a look at the life of a standup comic. Premium Rush is nonsense, of course, but it is fun to watch Michael Shannon letting down his hair as a villain. God knows what Joseph Gordon-Levitt was thinking. Arbitrage is a drama about a Madoff-like schemer whose schemes are blowing up in his face. Richard Gere stars and he's often best when playing compromised characters. Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth are along for the ride. Jesse Eisenberg is in the same fix as Topher Grace, trying to negotiate that awkward period between teen and adult roles. Why Stop Now is only a way station but Eisenberg's essential appeal remains intact. Finally, if you're a fan of puppetry like me, John Turturro's journey to Sicily and immersion in that art form will please.
GIRLS COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($49.99 BluRay; HBO)
SHAMELESS SECOND SEASON ($49.99 BluRay; Warner Bros.)
41 ($19.98 DVD; HBO)
HOUSE OF LIES FIRST SEASON ($45.98 DVD; Showtime)
CAPTAIN CORNELIUS CARTOON'S CARTOON LAGOON VOL. 1 ($12.99 DVD; Cartoon Lagoon)
THE LIFE & TIMES OF TIM THIRD SEASON ($29.98 DVD; HBO)
CALIFORNICATION FIFTH SEASON ($45.98 DVD; Showtime) -- Lena Dunham's HBO show Girls is by far the most distinctive series coming to DVD this week. The real test for this comedy will be how it fares in season two. Can Dunham shake off the accolades and make the show better? Shameless has been lost in the shadows on Showtime but it's a great showcase for William H. Macy. The documentary 41 looks set to be a franchise for HBO -- this one looks at George Herbert Walker Bush and now they're tackling Bill Clinton. Don Cheadle is having fun as a management consultant on House Of Lies but I'm happiest to see Kristen Bell back on TV since Veronica Mars. Captain Cornelius Cartoon's Cartoon Lagoon hopes to have fun with old cartoons the way MST3K did with old movies, starting here with the mumbling Popeye and a weird Captain Nemo tale. Tim keeps bumbling on in the third season of his not-so animated life but he's a model of self-control compared to the sexaholic of David Duchovny in Californication.
DICK TRACY ($26.50 BluRay; Touchstone)
TRAILER WAR ($27.97 DVD; Draft House Films)
MIAMI CONNECTION ($27.97 DVD; Draft House Films)
THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY ($19.97 BluRay; Shout) -- Warren Beatty made a bold stylistic gamble that still pays off on this excellent-looking DVD. Sure, you can see the painted backdrops in scene after scene, but it's intentional -- this Dick Tracy is all cartoon colors and artificiality. Richard Sylbert's production design is one for the ages, though Beatty didn't quite match it with a tone and flippancy that would have made the movie soar. Still, it holds up very well and it's a pity no one bothered to discuss this genuine roll of the dice. And surely someday soon someone will tackle Dick Tracy again. Trailer War is a foolproof compilation of nutty film trailers. Two hours long, it's best sampled in short doses before whatever film you're watching each night. Miami Connection is just the sort of turkey that would be enshrined in Trailer War; it's one of those awful flicks that fans have taken to heart as gloriously awful to the point of... well, awful. But they enjoy it. Others will surely prefer the failed but far more ambitious adaptation of Henry james, The Portrait Of A Lady. Jane Campion faltered for the first time here, though Nicole Kidman gives her all as Isabel Archer. The extras include a new documentary about the making of the film.
Most titles listed here will be available in multiple formats and in multiple combinations, including DVD, BluRay, digital download, video on demand, streaming and the like. The format listed is the format provided for review, not all the formats available. It is often the most expensive version with the most extras. Do check individual titles for availability in all their various guises and price points.
Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the co-host of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It's available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.
Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free copies of DVDs and Blu-Rays with the understanding that he would be considering them for review. Generally, he does not guarantee to review and he receives far more titles than he can cover.
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