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Headsup: Handmade Blu-Rays, Assassins and Online Opportunists

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are all vying for your coin. But, you know, it’s your coin and you have to take care where you spend it. With these posts we try to take you through recent releases so you can make up your mind. If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. Thanks.

Life As We Know It Blu-Ray
Middle Men Blu-Ray
Wild Target DVD

[ad#longpost]Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel play two people who can’t stand each other and are suddenly thrust together due to a tragedy: their friends have died and left them with a baby to raise. Can they overcome their differences and animosity for the good of the child? What do you think? The trouble with Life As We Know It is the question of whether or not this is your kind of film. By that I mean if a formulaic romantic comedy deeply infused with baby and parenting humor is your thing. The trouble is that so many films have preceded it and done remarkably well with the situation and formula (albeit few with the whole death/last will and testament bit added in, admittedly) that it’s hard to bring anything new to the table. However, some people like that sort of humor and aren’t bothered by formula. My constant use of the word “formula” is not an ongoing baby-inspired pun, I assure you. Even if you do like the film on the first go-round, the notion of replay factor comes into play. And the features here are a bit light–but they play to the demographic well enough, all short featurettes dealing with parenting and babies. There are some additional scenes that are on both the DVD and Blu-Ray. If you are going to buy, the Blu-Ray’s the version that makes sense: it’s a BD/DVD/Digital Copy combo. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Luke Wilson is a guy who fixes business problems, and stumbles upon the birth of internet porn. Well, paysite internet porn, I guess you would say. Hijinks, both literal and figurative, thus occur. Along for the ride are Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, Kevin Pollak, James Caan and Rade Serbedzija. This is supposed to be a true story, but not sure how much if it is straight from the pages of history and how much is fiction. The film is worth checking out for fans of the cast (not necessarily the subject matter itself…sorry, Scott) but again, it’s not the sort of film that begs a high replay factor. The audio and video on the hi-def version are decent enough (but this isn’t the sort of film that begs for it), and the array of features is also okay: audio commentary that includes the director (a major thing I always look for), and brief outtakes and deleted scenes. Place it on your Netflix queue somewhere but it’s not a priority. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Bill Nighy is the number one hitman around. This is utterly believable, by the way. I think Bill Nighy could play just about any role and completely sell it. Anyway, he gets hired to take out a con artist (Emily Blunt) who pissed off Rupert Everett (he’s playing a role, not as himself, I mean) by conning him with a fake painting. Nighy is called into take out Blunt but has a change of heart, and along the way they manage to scoop up bystander Tony (Rupert Grint) and go on the run as other hitmen are coming after what Nighy couldn’t finish. Martin Freeman also stars as a rival hitman. The comedy is worth checking out for Nighy’s sake if nothing else (and to support Grint as he makes his way in a post-Potter world) but will do fine as a rental. If you’re renting, the DVD should be fine as there are no hi-def bonus bits that I’m aware of. And the only feature–a brief chat with Blunt–doesn’t add to the need to purchase. So yes, rental is fine. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Beauty and the Briefcase Blu-Ray
Ultimate Jordan DVD

Here’s the thing–and I think I’ve pointed this out previously in a Headsup roundup–there’s not a movie that comes out that somebody doesn’t enjoy. Whatever the movie that’s at the bottom of your list–somebody loves that movie. Hell, I still think Battlefield Earth is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen and heartily enjoyed it. But the Headsup is not here to judge people, which is why we put forward Hilary Duff’s movie Beauty and the Briefcase with a minimum of irony. She plays a journalist who goes undercover to get a story regarding the seeking of potential mates while in the workplace. Anyone seeking a new and explosive version of the story is probably going to be disappointed, but anyone wanting to go in for the ride will probably be pleased enough. The big thing here is that the Image Entertainment release, both DVD and Blu-Ray, have no features at all. Yes, I know, this is a TV movie and we shouldn’t be too surprised, but it would have been nice to have something. And even then, I go back to my old refrain of the replay factor: assuming this is your kind of movie, are you really going to enjoy it to the point where you want to see it that often? If this is your thing, grab it via Netflix. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Again, just like the above Duff film isn’t my thing, I don’t understand sports. My take on it is tell me the end score and I can pretty much tell you what happened during the course of the game. However, there are athletes so impressive than even I can get the point: they’re damn good. Michael Jordan is one of them. And with Ultimate Jordan, Image Entertainment is going directly for his biggest fans. Seven discs of content is here–and the obvious question is…didn’t we get this set before? Yes, there was a previous version of Ultimate Jordan that contained the same five highlight films: Come Fly With Me, Playground, Airtime, Above and Beyond and His Airness. A lot of the bonus bits are the same, from what I’ve been able to glean (I don’t have personal access to the original set) you still get the Jill Scott musical tribute, a collection of Jordan commercials, a featurette where some other players talk about the man himself, highlights from a slam dunk competition, a highlights of his career featurette, and more. The major newness is the inclusion of his Hall of Fame induction speech plus five complete games. You get a crapload of content on the DVD set, but I can’t help but notice the Blu-Ray version (which I didn’t receive to go through) is $14 less than the Blu-Ray. So while I can imagine that this doesn’t do much for a load of television-broadcast basketball games (again, that’s a guess), still, if you’ve got the hi-def capability, you’d be crazy not to go that route. (Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon.)

Five Corners Blu-Ray
A Private Function Blu-Ray

These two releases are hitting Blu-Ray from Image Entertainment and share the fact they were produced under the Handmade Films banner. This is important because it was a production company George Harrison co-created in order to bring about Life of Brian. They also brought you Time Bandits, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl and Withnail and I. The company’s changed since then but now we’re getting their stable of films on hi-def. The first is Five Corners, starring Holy Crap Aren’t They Young versions of Tim Robbins, Jodie Foster and John Turturro. Turturro plays a miscreant who gets out of jail and wants to resume his screwed up predatory non-relationship with Foster’s character. The guy who protected her last time, played by Robbins, has recently turned pacifist, which might make things difficult for being the shining knight and all that. I would say it’s worth checking out as a rental/Netflix if you want to see these actors earlier in their careers, but definitely check it out first before taking the plunge. The good news is that at $13.99 (as I type this, only $2 more than the DVD), if you wanted to plonk down the coin, the damage will be minimal. Shame there’s no bonus bits, but it’s probably asking too much to get anyone back to comment on it. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Next up out of the same array of films is A Private Function, a comedy about trying to get around the food rations of 1947 Britain by raising a pig for a feast. Of course, then the pig winds up stolen and hijinks ensue. And check out the cast: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott (Marcus from Raiders), Richard Griffiths, Bill Paterson (Traffik) and Pete Postlethwaite. Just damn. Amusingly enough, a musical version of this film is going to start previews in the West End this month. Go figure. No bonus bits here either, but worth checking out as a rental and then if you do decide to own it, well, $13.99 isn’t too bad for that cast. So that’s good news. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)