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Headsup: Swords, Sandals, Guns and a Big Damn Hammer

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are want your attention and mostly…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. We thank you.

Camelot: The Complete First Season Blu-Ray
Fringe: The Complete Third Season Blu-Ray
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Blu-Ray

[ad#longpost]The first season of Camelot hits on both DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay. And this series is pretty much what you would expect: a reasonably entertaining cable show that takes an existing story/legend as a jumping off point, spins it a certain way, throws very handsome people into it (and here executes the option of occasionally making them dirty) and then smatters nudity and sex in amongst everything else. If that’s is your definition of tractor cranking then you will be more than happy with the first ten episodes and indeed, the set itself. Both DVD and Blu-Ray sets sport a making-of featurette, character profiles (spread across a few different features, but that’s basically what they are), scene breakdowns and a brief bit of on-set footage from actor Peter Mooney. There’s also a blooper reel. The one exclusive feature on the Blu-Ray is a pop-up trivia track. When it comes to the two sets, I’m inclined to say that if you want to own this (which you should sample before you do) you should go the hi-def route. The video and audio are rather nice and you’re only paying about sixty cents an episode more for the privilege. The only thing to be careful of is that the picture gets so good you can see where the budget for CG ends, if you catch my drift. (Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.; Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon.)

The third season of Fringe hits Blu-Ray thanks to Fox with all twenty-two episodes across four discs. The dimension-flipping show continues with entire episodes now taking place in the parallel universe and counterparts passing for…well, real parts, I guess and more mayhem. The season deals with Olivia in being in the wrong universe, the animated world inside her head, and the whacked out ending that leads us into the fourth season, which starts up next week. Hardcore fans will want the set because I think it gives them what they’ve been jonesing for: not just featurettes, including one about the animated episode. Certainly not the gag reel and not even the commentary that’s provided for two of the episodes. No, the main thing here is one episode, “Os,” gets the Warner Brothers Maximum Episode Mode in which you can branch off into featurettes, commentaries and other fun bits. That’s exclusive to the Blu-Ray. The set itself has great audio and video–even I can tell the difference–and the set’s only $8 more, or basically you go from roughly $2 an episode to about $1.70 an episode. So that’s just thirty cents an episode in savings, really. Netflix it if you just want to sample, but if you are hardcore enough to buy, you’ll probably want to go hi-def. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The prequel mini-series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena hits Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay and it’s unfortunate that the series even exists. The prequel series wouldn’t be necessary without the delay of the series by the terrible news that star Andy Whitfield was battling blood cancer. This mini-series was meant to keep the ball rolling and give time for Whitfield to win the battle and return for the actual second season of the main show. Alas, Whitfield ultimately lost the battle very recently. So that’s some shitty, shitty news right there that nobody at all wanted. As a friend of mine is fond of saying (and for good personal reasons), fuck cancer. That being said, the creators did a solid by trying to keep the spirit of the show alive–a situation that not every show can ultimately deal with successfully. This mini-series is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, but before we even get to which you should snag if you’re that big a fan of the show…between the extended episodes, the hi-def video and audio (which, again, if I can notice it, it’s pretty good), the audio commentaries and the 3D battle sequence (yes, that’s not a typo)…considering the Blu-Ray set is only $5 more? It’s a no-brainer, folks. Yes, the slightly over $4 an episode is pricey, but the set also has the same bonus bits as the DVD: fight and weapons featurettes, plus ones covering production design, costumes and more. The show might not be your bag, but if it is, you could do a lot worse than owning this. Very excellent showing for a Blu-Ray TV release. (Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.; Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon.)

Thor 3D Blu-Ray
Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers DVD

So Thor has hit Blu-Ray and whatnot and I have to say, on watching it again, I think my review still stands but the film is still pretty good, warts and all. Chris Hemsworth makes a great god, Anthony Hopkins is Anthony Hopkins and we get a pretty good antagonist in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. The story is good, the tie-in with the rest of the Marvel Movieverse is well handled and the setup for tie-in to the inevitable Avengers mega-movie is not annoying. There’s actually some bonus bits here–though not as many as I would like (more on this in a moment)–in this Paramount release: a bonus mini-film that actually ties back to Incredible Hulk, a number of featurettes about the creation of the film (the costume bits especially fascinating–along with an anecdote about Branagh directing Hopkins), the “Road to The Avengers” promo piece and some deleted scenes. A commentary with Branagh is about 50% excellent, 50% I’m Going To Explain What’s Happening in the Scene. Not commentary for the blind, mind you, but just spelling out what is happening on multiple levels. So on one hand, hearing Branagh talking about his move to giant summer blockbuster moviemaking is good, but hearing him prattle on about the blatantly obvious…not so good. Between the 2D and 3D hi-def versions, I’d go with the 2D for viewing purposes. I don’t know all the technical ins and outs of it, but I do know that this was converted to 3D post-production and the 3D which didn’t do a lot to overwhelm me in the cinema just sort of whelms here. In a nod to what is considered to be the twilight of 3D-mania, this is touted on the cover as a “Limited 3D Edition.” (It comes of course with 3D BD, 2D BD, DVD and digital copy.) That all being said, I think the special features and the hi-def warrants the hi-def upgrade. From DVD to Blu-Ray is a jump of just $7 (and though I didn’t get a copy to peruse, it appears not all the bonus bits are included in the plain DVD, so that’s a non-starter) and jumping up to 3D BD is just $5 more. So if have the rig to support it, you’re not risking all that much. The only thing I would caution against is that because Thor 2 is already in the works, my thought is that a newer “Thor Special Edition” will be coming eventually. Will there be enough there to make you regret plonking down coin? Eh, probably not. But just be aware. If you’re a fan of what Marvel is doing in the movies then you’ll want to own this. I would have this on my shelf. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Speaking of Thor, Shout Factory has released Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers to DVD as well. The story is that Loki, now sitting on the throne of Asgard, has Thor imprisoned and is preparing to have him killed. Over the course of this (what was originally a four-episode series) it gives us the story from the God of Mischief’s perspective. Now, the first thing to bear in mind is that not only is this based on the Loki comic miniseries of a few years back…it’s basically the exact series but just translated to motion comic form. In other words, it’s taking existing artwork and giving it limited movement and animation. Some people might not be okay with that. The story itself is interesting for fans of the Marvel mythos but one can’t help but wonder…why not just read the original comics? Regardless, for what it is, the DVD is decent with a behind the scenes featurette and a look back with the creators of the original comic. If you dug the comic (because the art really is pretty sweet) and are a hardcore Thor fan then you might want to consider snagging this to own–if that doesn’t describe you but you are curious, then Netflix it when you have the chance to sample before buying. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Magnificent Seven Blu-Ray
Return of the Magnificent Seven Blu-Ray

MGM/Fox has released The Magnificent Seven and The Return of the Magnificent Seven as standalone titles on Blu-Ray. In the original, a remake of The Seven Samurai, a pair of gunslingers is called upon to put together a posse and protect a town from the bandit who keeps stopping in every now and again to have his evil with things. It’s an embarrassment of cast and western genre riches. The sequel has Yul Brynner returning (and just him) with another situation that requires the magic number seven and then he has to put together a posse and…you get the rest. Return has nothing int he way of bonus bits but the first film has a commentary with the producer, assistant director along with James Coburn and Eli Wallach. There’s a making-of, a photo archive featurette and a musical score featurette. Sadly (and oddly) a second commentary that was apparently available on the previous DVD collector’s edition has been dropped. As for the hi-def treatment they look and sound okay, considering they haven’t been restored. Here’s the thing, though: both were part of a Collection Blu-Ray set that has all four Seven films. And if you have any desire to catch all four (or even three out of four), then that’s your best bet to save a few bucks. Chances are, though, you’ll be content with the first one–if that’s the case, then having it for $13 isn’t all that bad. Although it’s a shame when you wind up with less bonus bits than you did previously. Oh well. (Click here to buy the first film from Amazon.; Click here to buy the second film from Amazon.)

Exterminator Blu-Ray
Four Weddings and a Funeral Blu-Ray
10th Victim Blu-Ray

A Vietnam vet whose buddy has been paralyzed by thugs decides to take the matter into his own hands. Why? Because it’s the 80s. And that’s what Vietnam vets did in movies when the world tried to take a dump on them. Our hero is dubbed The Exterminator as he goes to work on the scum of the seedy underbelly of New York City. A staple of the “I’m taking the law into my own hands” genre (which, yes, sure, the word is “vigilante” but it sounds so much better when you put it as a line of dialogue) that stared at me from the shelf of many a VHS rental joint, the film is pretty much your standard offering of violence and some more violence. In fact, Synapse delivers a DVD/Blu-Ray combo that’s got the director’s cut with what? “More Gore and Violence.” Nice. Although it’s confusing since it’s been forever since I watched the original version…exactly how much extra stuff is added? Hard to say: the box lists the time as 102 minutes…IMDB lists the original uncut as 101. You also get an audio commentary with the director. The deal is this: yes, it’s on Blu-Ray but the video and audio aren’t terribly impressive–but it’s a 1980 staple of the VHS world with no full-on restoration. Nor should one be expected. Synapse, though, gets points for bringing films like this to hi-def and there are some people who might have a soft spot in their heart for this. Those who want to just revisit it once might want to just Netflix it. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Four Weddings and a Funeral is still funny, even after all this time. But what has aged better than Grant and McDowell is the ensemble playing their friends: folks like Simon Callow and John Hannah. Or Kristin Scott Thomas and the late Charlotte Coleman. The entire supporting cast of friends is what I think of when I think of the film. And I’m not just talking about Hannah’s devastating poem recitation–that ensemble is what works for me. In other words, it’s worth revisiting. The bonus bits on this MGM/Fox release are what came previously on the DVD: audio commentary with the filmmakers, a making-of featurette, some deleted scenes and more. While the hi-def isn’t essential–this film doesn’t scream hi-def to me–the primary thing is that if you do wish to own it, the Blu-Ray’s less than $1.50 more than the DVD. So why wouldn’t you? (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The 10th Victim hits Blu-Ray from Blue Underground, who like Synapse, is throwing a bunch of films to Blu-Ray that wouldn’t otherwise get there. At least not until Blu-Ray burn-on-demand becomes common. Here we have The Big Hunt, a way that murder has been legalized and regulated so that humanity’s urge to kill is now a widely appreciated sport. Because it’s best to control it, yes? But two of the best in the business, Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress, are on the hunt for each other. What lies in their path? Death? Love? Bra-guns? Influencing films for years to come? All of the above. The hi-def presentation here is quite solid considering the age of the film. The one real bonus bit is the feature-length docu about the star, “Marcello: A Sweet Life.” So to purchase or not? Well, I think cinema fans should check it out considering the influence it’s had–you’ll appreciate those “Oh, so that’s where that came from” moments. Replay factor will make you choose to plonk down coin or not as well as how much of a 60s completist you are. The DVD version at least is available on Netflix, so that should help out some. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Area 51 audiobook
Mail-Order Mysteries Book

The full title of this audiobook is Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base and it’s by Annie Jacobsen, who’s a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Based on her credentials, you wouldn’t expect what you get with this release. Namely, a completely blurred line between utter rubbish and actual history. I was expecting a factual representation of the titular subject, not the idea that Roswell actually was a saucer crash. A Soviet saucer crash. Piloted by children who had been altered to resemble aliens. By Mengele. I’m not kidding and I’m not spoiling anything, since apparently Jacobsen has been touting this revelation in interviews. I mean…seriously? As a result of this, it’s hard to take the rest of the book seriously–because when you get bookended rubbish how do you know what’s real and what isn’t? Which is a shame, because I’m sure there’s some actual interesting history to be found within, but when you can’t trust the person telling the story, it makes everything suspect. That being said, this has filled an important hole in my listening pleasure: when Coast to Coast AM Radio started focusing too much on boring subjects like the economy instead of what I started listening to it for in the first place–i.e. high weirdness, Bigfoot and UFOs–I dropped my subscription and deleted all the podcasts I hadn’t listened to. But this fits into their lost theme nicely. It’s in that vein I recommend this in either book or audiobook form for anyone who doesn’t mind the fact they’re getting relatively entertaining High Weirdness rather than an actual work of 100% non-fiction. The audiobook is unabridged, read by the author and spans fifteen CDs. (Click here to buy the audiobook from Amazon.)

I don’t know about you, but while I saw many an ad in comic books for X-Ray Specs or 132 Roman Soldiers or the World’s Deadliest Fighting Secrets, I never actually broke down and ordered any of them–not that I can recall anyway. (But I do recognize at least half the ads in this book–boy, do I ever. Wow. Hitting me with the nostalgia stick.) I don’t know why I never did, but I refrained from throwing any money their way. Whether you did or you didn’t, your curiosity can at last be sated by Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff From Old Comic Book Ads! It is…genius. Out from Insight Editions, collector Kirk Demarais shows you the ad, takes you through what they purported the thing to be, what was actually sent…and then has pictures of the real item. So you can compare and contrast reality with the ad. It’s such a simple concept and yet it’s incredibly entertaining and, like I said, pulls back the curtain for those of us who never ordered soil from Dracula‘s castle. Love it. Seriously, this is a solid choice to be considered for the geeks on your holiday lists. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

35 and Ticking Blu-Ray
Wishful Drinking DVD

It can be said that at every stage of life there are moments of self-reflection that make you pause and wonder where you are, how you got there, and what the hell should be next. It can be said by me, anyway, since I’ve been stopping to think about that since age fourteen or so. The details of that reflection change, yes, but it’s always there. Here the “ticking” in the title of 35 & Ticking (out from Image Entertainment) is of course the biological clock, as we’re presented with a series of people in the mid-30s timeframe who are trying to figure out where they are when it comes to relationships and children and whatnot. If that resonates with you, this might be worth checking out, though it really doesn’t do anything to reinvent the genre of relationship comedies–nor does it set out to. Replay factor is in full effect, and the Blu-Ray does come with deleted scenes and a behind the scenes featurette. If it’s the sort of thing you would want on your shelf (Netflix it first, I say), then while the hi-def doesn’t seem to be that necessary, it is only $2 extra over the DVD. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

At first, shallow glance, the prospect of a one-woman show in which Carrie Fisher spends over an hour taking you through her life…might only appeal to Star Wars fanatics. But Wishful Drinking is more than that: it’s not only the story of Fisher’s life, stardom and hardships…but it manages to cover them in a way that doesn’t stray into terrible star autobiography territory (though I haven’t read the book on which the show is based) and never loses its funny way even when things get dark. So I think dismissing this because you’re not a Star Wars nerd would be doing yourself a disservice. The DVD itself comes with an extensive interview with Fisher’s mom, Debbie Reynolds, as well as some deleted scenes. As to owning the DVD, I think replay comes into play here–once seen, is it funny enough to watch through again? You must decide that for yourself. Grab it via Netflix to try it out. The DVD from HBO is only $14.99 as I type this, so if you decide to plonk down coin, it’s not an egregious amount. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Counting Crows: August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall Blu-Ray
Rainbow: Live in Germany 1976

I must admit something to you: I am probably one of three people on the planet who didn’t particularly enjoy the Counting Crows‘ album August and Everything After. That was, you know, a while ago, and I can’t put my finger on why. There was just something about songs like “Mr. Jones” and “Around Here” that just rubbed me the wrong way. However, just because I never got into them it doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. And they’re still freaking around, so staying power tells you something. What we have here is Live at Town Hall, a Blu-Ray recorded concert of their initial album. Fans of the band/album will want to check it out as they do play through the entire album and give a decent balance between changing up stuff a bit and staying true to the source material. The one bonus feature is an extensive interview with frontman Adam Duritz and keyboardist Charlie Gillingham. Again, fans will at least want to give this a watch (or snag the MP3 album version, one of the two), but as to buying the Blu-Ray, there’s the question. The video and audio are both decent enough and the hi-def is only $4 more than the regular DVD version…so if you decide you want it on your shelf, it’s not painful to grab it in that format. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Rainbow…the band that was never the same band twice. Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame was the head burrito and he would pull in his, well, Rainbow of choice. Some of the names might be familiar to you: Singer Ronnie James Dio and bassist Jimmy Bain, both from Dio. Drummer Cozy Powell, from Black Sabbath and scads of other bands. Keyboardist Tony Carey. They recorded the album Rising together and then eventually released a selection of live tracks recording in September 1976 from dates in Germany. That hit in 1990 (although I’ve seen differing reports on that date–not a Rainbowologist, I just play one on TV). You get eight tracks from Eagle Rock across two discs, which might give you pause–but this is live sprawling jam metal, so the total running time is well over ninety minutes. While it is an impressive array of rawk, I would say it’s probably a no-brainer for existing fans of the band. If the question is to double-dip or not, I’m afraid I can’t help there–I don’t have a previous version to compare against. This has been re-released before and I’m not sure at what point it got remastered, so no clue. If you’re trying to get an in-door for the band, I wouldn’t start here–I would hit Rising first. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I Saw the Devil Blu-Ray
Incredible Melting Man DVD

So when your pregnant fiancee gets murdered by a serial killer and you happen to be an asskicking special agent, what do you do? Do you track down the guy responsible and kill him? Well, yes. But nobody said you had to kill him right away. That’s the setup in a nutshell of I Saw the Devil, starring Choi Min-sik (famous for wielding a hammer, among other things, in Oldboy) and Lee Byung-hun (perhaps best known over here as Storm Shadow in the G.I. Joe movie) as the killer and the man seeking revenge. This is a Korean revenge film, so the mention of Oldboy might remind you: revenge is never easy in that sort of film. The release on Blu-Ray from Magnet sports really excellent video–and considering the way this is shot, you might at least watch it once in that format. It also has deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes bit. If you’re going to want to own this–and fans of the genre or the filmmaker Kim Ji-woon (The Good, The Bad, The Weird & A Bittersweet Life) will no doubt want to–then it’s worth having in Blu-Ray form because while it doesn’t exactly scream hi-def, it does whisper it in a very foreboding way. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

It’s been lambasted by Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s been skewered with relish. And it pretty much deserves it all. It’s The Incredible Melting Man, the answer to the question of “What would happen if the director of Galaxina directed a horror movie in which a guy tries to avoid turning into liquid?” When an astronaut gets zapped, he finds when he’s back on Earth that he has to kill and eat other people in order to keep from, well, melting. Ordinarily, a film like this would just be so much drinking game fodder, but Rick Baker is the guy who created the makeup, so at least you know that’s worthwhile. This is from MGM’s Limited Edition Collection–their version of the Warner Archive, where these titles are burned on demand. The good news is that it’s available at last so you can MST3K it in the privacy of your own home. The bad news is there’s nothing in the way of bonus bits, but that’s to be expected. Worth watching when you’ve got some alcohol on hand–only huge followers of bad film would want to own, though. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Jersey Shore Uncensored Season 3 DVD
Marley and Me: The Puppy Years Blu-Ray
La Rabbia

Sometimes things happen in pop culture and you don’t understand them. Case in point: Jersey Shore. You’d think with Big Brother we’d have enough of let’s-throw-some-people-together-in-a-house shows but sometimes you want one in which people can go outside. I guess. After having to go to Miami to produce another show quickly without waiting for summer, MTV took the cast back to the titular locale for more of what passes for hijinks. This is out on DVD from Paramount with all thirteen episodes and some people like this like I like drinking Coke. By that I mean, it’s bad for me, it is nothing but empty calories, and it actually doesn’t even pack much of a punch from the caffeine and sugar because my tolerance is so high. Thus is this show, I contend, for most of the people who watch it. So be it. For those that would consider owning this (I mean, even if you do watch it through once, own it…?) there are some bonus bits: a reunion special, interviews, footage from a photo shoot, extended scenes, and other footage. Granted, the show is only a little over a $1 an episode, but still. I mean…still. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Because you can’t go wrong with a dog movie, especially a life lessons sort of dog movie, the original Marley & Me made a veritable boatload of cash. A sequel, as we know from the Law of Relative Development, could go in any direction. A sci-fi futuristic bit in which some of Marley’s DNA is needed to clone him so he can save the world from zombies. A straightforward sequel in which we learn that secretly a litter of puppies was born before the pooch’s untimely demise–probably this one is called Marlies & Me. But instead we get a “sidequel” in which a summer of puppydom is spent with hijinks. Oh, and the dogs talk. I was probably fine with the notion until then because you realize this could be just a rejected Air Buddies script. The bonus bits are an animal training featurette, some behind the scenes stuff and some fluffy interviews. The film doesn’t require hi-def, frankly, and that’s okay because this audio and video is just sort of there. It does not thrill. Although for some bizarre reason the DVD is currently twice the cost of this–no doubt because it is/was a Wal-Mart exclusive. If you’re in the single digits agewise, this might rock. Otherwise, it’s best to give it a wide berth. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Well that’s one way to record the thoughts of diametrically opposed movements for posterity: get a representative from each to make half a movie and stitch them together. That’s the way way simplified one line synopsis of La Rabbia (The Anger), the 1963 Italian film in which left-wing Pier Paolo Pasolini and right-wing Giovanni Guareschi use footage and commentary to address what was happening in society during the 1950s and 1960s. More specifically, why do we find ourselves constantly facing down the barrel of fear, war, unhappiness, etc.? Each half is as opposed to the other as you could get. Now, the obvious question is: what the hell do I know about Italy during that period? Well, the good news is Raro Video provides a wealth of features to help. There’s an hour-plus docu that talks about and around the film. There’s a bonus short film by Pasolini about the modernization of Sana’a in Yemen. And a booklet with comments and analysis. The release has been remastered and restored as well as can be expected for a film of this age that’s comprised of splicing together footage from the time. The film is worth a watch for anyone interested in Italian politics of the time or just a snapshot of the minds of such opposed ideals. Hardcore fans of Italian cinema may want to consider owning. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Punky Brewster: Best of Season 3 DVD
Punky Brewster: Turn Your World Around

As we’ve talked about before, Mill Creek Entertainment does one thing quite well: getting you DVDs for very little in the way of coin. Here we have two selections of episodes from Punky Brewster. The first is ten episodes in a Best of Season 3 and the second is a ten episodes from the series in general, Turn Your World Around. The former? Less than $5. The latter? Less than $7. This is for somebody who just wants a quick shot of the show or perhaps wants to share a sampling with their kids–and at this low price point, it’s a guiltless purchase. If you’re a series fan of the show, sure, you’ll go grab one of the complete boxed sets. But those are much pricier and only for the hardcore. This however, has no bonus bits, because the emphasis is on low cost. Choose your path appropriately. (Click here to buy Best of Season 3 from Amazon; Click here to buy Turn Your World Around from Amazon.)

Company Men Blu-Ray
Other Woman Blu-Ray

The Company Men is the story of what happens…and I suppose if I wanted to get really meta/annoying I could declare a full stop there. But no, it’s what happens when decent men get downsized from companies that they’ve spent their lives working for and then have to Face That. The film follows different men and their reactions to it and how they deal. The cast alone would be a reason to check the film out: Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones and two actors who catch a lot of crap: Ben Affleck and Kevin Costner. I’ve always sort of liked Costner and I don’t think Daredevil was Affleck’s fault. Anyway. The Blu-Ray is out from Anchor Bay and comes with a respectable array of bonus bits: an audio commentary with director-scribe John Wells, making his debut after scads of work in television as a producer/scribe (China Beach, ER). There’s also deleted scenes and an alternate ending, plus a making-of. Even though this isn’t a film that howls for hi-def IMO, it does look and sound quite nice. Still, this being the feel-good film that it is (it isn’t), I’m not sure who would want to own this unless you’re a completist for any of the parties involved. Nothing against it, but it’s a replay factor thing. The $21.99 price tag isn’t low either. I would say Netflix it or grab it via Amazon Instant Video and then see if you wish to pursue your relationship with it further. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Other Woman has been released from post-festival-ville because this has been Natalie Portman‘s year to do just about damn thing she wants. In this case, she’s a young woman who won in a battle for a man’s heart with…the man’s wife. And after the two were married (Portman and the guy, you understand), they lost their newborn daughter to SIDS. In the wake of all this, Portman’s character must deal with her husband, her stepson (who’s a pain in the ass) and her husband’s ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow, which means by definition she’s also a pain in the ass, except blonder and more shrill than the kid). If you’re looking to see Portman’s other lauded performance this year, then this is worth renting, though again it’s by no means a leap up for joy sort of film. The audio and video are decent on hi-def, but this is hardly the film that warrants it. I would say Netflix it or rent it if, again, you’re up for catching Portman in everything. But with no bonus bits, the Blu-Ray does little to sell itself, since only the completist would find library usage for this IMO. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)