Welcome to the US home video release update for 14 August 07, prepared with the assistance of The Digital Bits and cover art courtesy of Amazon.

Pick of the week

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has taken on a variety of challenging projects since the end of his sitcom, "Third Rock from the Sun", and "The Lookout" continues along that path. I've become a fan of Gordon-Levitt since his turn as the 'Sam Spade' in the neo-noir masterpiece "Brick", and his performance as a childhood sex-abuse survivor turned teenage hustler in "Mysterious Skin" was a tour-de-force. In "The Lookout", Gordon-Levitt plays a promising High School athlete who sustained brain damage in a car accident. Now living with a blind friend (Jeff Daniels) and working as a janitor in a bank, Gordon-Levitt's character carries a notebook with him everywhere to write things down and compensate for his diminished short-term memory. Gordon-Levitt's character becomes a target for a group of bank robbers, and while he initially revels in the attention (especially of the female bank robber) he eventually comes to the conclusion that he has to stop the robbery, and that's when things go completely awry. I like this one a lot, and if you have a subscription rental plan like those offered by Netflix or Blockbuster it's a no-brainer to add this to your queue.

Also out this week

If you expect a movie to have a cohesive narrative, plot threads that are resolved within the films running time, and content that's easily consumed and digested, stay far, far away from this one. On the other hand, David Lynch fans (and anyone looking for some challenging movie fare) will find a lot to puzzle over in his latest work. While it doesn't quite reach the standard set by his best films, "Wild at Heart" and "Blue Velvet", it's at least as enjoyable as "Mulholland Drive" or "Lost Highway".

Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson are trapped in a motel wired with video and run by snuff-film producers. Luke Wilson is on the receiving end of the best line ever uttered on celluloid: "O.R. they?", and therefore has an eternal pass to star in as many as these low-rent, barely theatrical releases as his bank account demands.

Do you remember when, right after Pulp Fiction, all the cinema snobs were falling all over each other to declare that John Travolta was back? That, unlike the rest of the populace, they always knew he had talent, that movies like "Look Who's Talking?" were aberrations, that Quentin Tarantino had resurrected a great talent? Yeah, me neither.

Ryan Gosling bugs me, and Anthony Hopkins no longer imparts the same seal of quality on a movie as he once did. Still, the trailers to this movie look somewhat interesting, though Hopkin's character appears to be derivative of Edward Norton's character in "Primal Fear".

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie for Theaters. So, uh, they really did it. See the movie that inspired that marketing campaign that shut down Boston.

Season One of "Masters of Horror" was so hit-and-miss that I never bothered to set my DVR for season two. In case you're interested, "We All Scream for Ice Cream" was directed by Tom Holland ("Child's Play", "Fright Night") and "Valerie on the Stairs" was directed by Mick Garris (best known for his TV adaptations of Stephen King's "The Stand", "The Shining", and "Desperation").

Reissue Highlights

Since the wild success of Lord of the Rings, fantasy films have made a resurgence in the theaters. It's easy to forget, though, that fantasy films were once before popular. Princess Bride, Neverending Story, and Legend are warmly remembered by those of us who grew up with them, but two fantasy films from that era stand head and shoulders above all the others, and one of the main reasons behind the fact that are still held in high regard is the genius of Jim Henson. Labyrinth is unique in that is simultaneously dated (jump, magic jump!) and timeless. The story of a young girl (the sublime Jennifer Connelly in an early role) who has to travel into a mysterious maze to save her little brother from an evil goblin king, Labyrinth is rich in imagination and amazing puppeteering. Speaking of amazing puppet-work, The Dark Crystal has no human characters at all, and yet remains just as vibrant and full of life as Labyrinth. The story is your basic fantasy archetypes, the young man who has to go on a quest for an item of amazing power to save his land from beings of unimaginable evil, but it's the execution that raises Dark Crystal from cliche to classic.

"All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. "-Travis Bickle. The story of a mentally unhinged and obsessive Taxi Driver, the film follows a man so utterly lonely and unable to make even the simplest human connection he falls into a deep despair that explodes into violence. Famous for it's performances, Taxi Driver still stands as one of the all time great films, and any excuse to revisit it is a welcome one.

High-Def Alert: The World of Blu-ray and HD DVD

This week in Blu-ray is a light one, with no catalog titles being released, only four new releases coming to Blu-ray day-and-date with their DVD counterparts. You'll notice Dr. Strange up their, which I didn't cover in the New Releases section. I guess it's a solid bet if you like Doctors who are Strange. I'm not really a comic book guy, so I don't want who this character is.

On the other hand, none of the new releases are available day and date for the HD DVD format, so the entire line up is catalog and special interest titles. Besides the movie reissues, HD DVD is getting two discs aimed at folks with 7.1 surround systems they are itching to show off: "The Way To Paradise - Music Experience in 3-Dimensional Sound Reality", and "Jazz Standards - Music Experience in 3-Dimensional Sound Reality". Not pictured is the inevitable HD DVD release of Dragon's Lair.

Discuss all the new releases on the message board!

VsRobot | Posted 14 August 2007