Once again the glorious gift giving season of Christmas is almost upon us. The time has come for us to put on our winter best and trudge through snowfalls and savage crowds of desperate consumers in search of that perfect gift for the one you love. Of course you could also be smart and instead stay home and do all of your holiday shopping online, and here at Geeks of Doom we are happy to provide you with this year’s Holiday Geek Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray Edition as a handy primer for the finest flicks on shiny silver discs you or someone close to you will derive hours of enjoyment from.
Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
Blu-ray | DVD
It was made with an exorbitant budget by a massive team of the finest creative visionaries in the film industry and brought to life by a director hot off the success of a terrifying outer space horror film and a gifted cast headed by a silver screen embodiment of charismatic machismo. Blade Runner failed to connect with audiences when it was first released in theaters during the spectacular summer of 1982 but interested viewers eventually discovered Ridley Scott’s timeless sci-fi film noir thanks to the burgeoning home video and cable television markets and the film became a cult phenomenon and one of the most influential films of all time in any genre. Five years ago Scott was finally able to complete his director’s cut of Blade Runner to his exact specifications, including the correction of a few glaring continuity errors, and the “Final Cut” was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and the now-defunct HD-DVD in a glorious and essential box set that established a new high watermark for home video releases.
Just recently Warner Home Video decided to revisit the film in time for its 30th anniversary with the release of a new collector’s edition set that condenses all of the contents of the previous five-disc 25th Anniversary Edition onto three Blu-rays and even throws in a few new additional features. We still get five different cuts of the film, including the rare work print, multiple commentary tracks from the filmmakers, a extensive multi-part documentary about the making of the film, nearly an hour of deleted and alternate scenes, additional documentaries covering various aspects of the movie and its cultural impact, image galleries featuring hundreds of production stills, storyboards, art concepts, and other design work, promotional featurettes, and multiple trailers.
Blu-ray 3D | Blu-ray | DVD
Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien franchise may not have been the instant sci-fi/horror classic fans had been clamoring for since it was first announced, but in choosing to explore the mythology behind the mythology he took a giant leap backward and in the process delivered a thought-provoking genre epic with overtones of the theological and apocalyptic. Prometheus infuriated viewers but ultimately proved a creative and financial success and revitalized a moribund movie series that had nearly been driven into extinction and irrelevance by one miserable sequel too many. Despite its flaws Scott’s film is one of the grandest cinematic adventures of the year and this four-disc Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack will be on many home theater aficionados’ short list for best release of 2012.
If you loved Prometheus this set is truly the only way to go. On top of spectacular picture and sound quality 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has packed in enough supplementary features to pack the titular behemoth spaceship from ceiling to floor: we get two enjoyable commentary tracks with Scott and writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, deleted and alternate scenes, an insanely comprehensive making-of documentary that runs more than an hour longer than the movie itself, additional featurettes, image galleries, and trailers.
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
Blu-ray | DVD
From the moment Harrison Ford walked onto the screen in 1981 wearing his famous fedora and cracking that mighty whip one thing was perfectly clear: if adventure has a name it must be Indiana Jones. All four of the globe-trotting, thrill-seeking archaeologist’s Steven Spielberg-directed action spectaculars – from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the surprise blockbuster that started it all, to the severely maligned Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – have been brought together for the first time on Blu-ray in the magnificent box set Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures. All four films sport crystal clear picture and sound quality and the set comes with an Ark of the Covenant full of bonus features, including a brand new documentary about the making of Raiders comprised of vintage behind-the-scenes footage, additional documentaries about the making of all four films, cast and crew interviews, and featurettes covering the stunts, visual effects, sound effects, and much more.
Little Shop of Horrors: Director’s Cut
Blu-ray | DVD
The 1960 cult horror-comedy that became a smash off-Broadway that became a lavish Hollywood movie musical directed by Muppet master Frank Oz is now on Blu-ray, and in additional to looking and sounding its sharpest since its theatrical debut, this edition of Little Shop of Horrors contains one of the greatest bonus features any Blu-ray could dream of having: Oz’s original cut of the film, including the legendary “unhappy ending” that preview audiences voted down in favor of a more optimistic wrap-up (that went entirely against the story’s Faustian themes), has undergone a frame-by-frame restoration. The opulent sets, endlessly catchy musical numbers, and elaborate practical FX wizardry are so immaculately preserved you just may be inspired to jump off your couch and dance. The Blu-ray also features the theatrical cut with the happier ending, a commentary from director Oz, an outtakes reel, two short but illuminating featurettes about the making of Little Shop and the restoration of the director’s cut, and original theatrical trailers. A beloved cult favorite and one of the last great movie musicals, Little Shop of Horrors is an absolute joy to behold more than a quarter-century since its release.
Blu-ray | DVD
It took exactly one century for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ legendary hero of pulp sci-fi John Carter of Mars to travel from the printed page to the big screen. It was a journey fraught with false starts and millions of dollars spent and left many visionary directors helpless in its warpath to celluloid immortality. Pixar director Andrew Stanton was ultimately gifted the task of making a cinematic spectacular worthy of Burroughs’ immersive tales of action and romance on the war-torn planet of Barsoom (Mars to us laymen). Disney handed Stanton a budget of close to $300 million to make it a reality and then proceeded (with the director’s support) to undermine the film’s chances at the box office with a shockingly mediocre marketing campaign and the cowardly decision to chance the title from John Carter of Mars to just John Carter. It did not help the movie’s cause any that it was essentially late to its own party; Burroughs’ stories were one of the foundations on which a century’s worth of science-fiction adventures, from the earlier comic book exploits of Superman to the outer space voyages of the starship Enterprise, had been constructed. The Star Wars movies and James Cameron’s Avatar also owe the original John Carter stories a great debt.
Stanton’s film arrived in theaters to a mixed reception and was far from the franchise starter Disney had been dreaming of, but despite its glaringly apparent flaws John Carter remains a dashing and dazzling intergalactic adventure full of swashbuckling vigor, fine performances from an eclectic cast, and some terrific visual effects and action set pieces. Plus, it is way better than the Star Wars prequels. John Carter is available on standard DVD and on Blu-ray in two-disc and four-disc combo packs. Both Blu-ray sets feature a filmmakers’ commentary track, bloopers, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a deleted scene with commentary, and interactive bonuses.
Blu-ray | DVD
After enduring too many intense battles with studio executives and seeing films he had worked on with exquisite skill and imagination get blown away at the box office by an onslaught of better-marketed competing blockbusters, journeyman filmmaker John Carpenter signed on with Alive Films to make lower-budgeted genre films with the promise of total creative freedom. The first, the Satanic chiller Prince of Darkness, flopped at the box office but went on to become a frightful fave on home video and cable, but it would be the second of those inexpensive features that endured in the hearts and minds of open-minded filmgoers long after the end credits rolled. They Live looked on the surface to be one of Carpenter’s trademark action-fests with the addition of marketable science fiction story elements, but beneath the surface veneer lurked a caustic and uncompromising sociopolitical satire about how lower and middle class American citizens have been subjugated by an alliance of the mainstream media, power-hungry corporations, and opportunistic politicians.
Carpenter rooted the intellectual undertones in a story of a homeless construction worker (wrestling legend Roddy Piper in his professional acting debut) battling a network of alien invaders who infiltrated society by disguising themselves as human beings. Piper overcomes his limitations as an actor and makes for a credible and sympathetic hero, and he brings the thunder in the movie’s many action scenes, including an extended fist fight with co-star Keith David. Nearly 25 years since the debut of They Live and the movie’s biting wit still matters, but it will never be less than a terrific and cool sci-fi adventure. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release features a fantastic, chatty commentary with Carpenter and Piper, brand new interviews with Carpenter and several members of the cast and crew, an electronic press kit featurette from around the time of its original theatrical release, and trailers and TV spots.
Blu-ray | DVD
Early this year I was finally able to invest in my first Blu-ray player, and I jumped into the format just in time to bask in the HD release of one of my all-time favorite films. Jaws not only scared audiences around the world from going in the ocean or even near a swimming pool for a long time and kick-started Steven Spielberg’s career as the industry’s most powerful and influential filmmaker, but it also established the summer as the biggest movie-going season of the year and set a bold new standard for the marketing and release of cinematic blockbusters. After nearly four decades it remains the king of the summer movie and one of the most suspenseful thrillers ever made.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has given Jaws a masterful, painstaking new transfer with beautifully-restored picture and sound quality and some great bonus features, including the great fan-made retrospective documentary The Shark is Still Working, a restoration featurette, the original two-hour making-of documentary The Making of Jaws that was first produced for the film’s 1995 laserdisc release, deleted scenes and outtakes, and several extensive image galleries.
Blu-ray 3D | Blu-ray | DVD
The super team showdown that Marvel Studios had been working towards since the surprise appearance of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury at the end of the first Iron Man proved to be more than well worth the wait. With writer/director Joss Whedon at the helm and an all-star squadron of game acting talent on screen and technical mastery behind the camera, The Avengers succeeded beyond the wildest expectations of all involved by delivering a first-rate blockbuster comic book spectacular that never falls short on thrills, but still has a veritable stockpile of mirth to balance out the mayhem.
A comic geek’s wet dream come true, The Avengers is available in various editions on DVD and Blu-ray. The four-disc combo pack features both plus a Blu-ray 3D disc, digital copy, a downloadable copy of the soundtrack album, a commentary with Whedon, deleted scenes, a gag reel, behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries, the short film “Marvel One-Shot: Item 47,” an interactive Second Screen Experience feature that allows you to watch the movie while enjoying even more special features on your iPad, iPhone, or laptop, and a Soundgarden music video.
Dark Star: Thermostellar Edition
Blu-ray | DVD
Long before they made some of your favorite movies, John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon were a pair of ambitious film students at the University of Southern California who decided to get together and make a 45-minute short film about a team of astronauts who have been traveling the cosmos for 20 years blowing up unstable planets and becoming embittered by all the boredom and isolation the job entails in the process. The short film, titled Dark Star, was bought up by distributor Jack H. Harris, who in turn gave Carpenter and O’Bannon additional funds to shoot more footage to expand their short to feature-length and blow the 16mm film up to 35mm. Though its oddball combination of pitch-black humor and intergalactic adventure failed to entice moviegoers on first release, Dark Star later become a cult favorite on home video and would serve as a calling card for Carpenter and O’Bannon, who would collectively go on to make such classic genre films as Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York, and Return of the Living Dead to name but a few. O’Bannon later took the basic idea at the heart of Dark Star, working class astronauts dealing with multiple threats including a goofy-looking alien creature that resembles a beach ball with webbed feet, and made it more frightening than funny in one of his long-gestating scripts. The end result, coupled with the direction of Ridley Scott and the mind-melting creature design work of H.R. Giger, would be the classic original Alien film.
VCI Entertainment’s terrific Blu-ray release features a fan commentary loaded with trivia, a brand new two-hour retrospective documentary, interviews with lead actor Brian Narelle and sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster, a 3D interactive guide to the ship, a written introduction by the late O’Bannon, and a gallery of trivia related to the movie. Plus Dark Star looks and sounds better than it ever has on video.
The Expendables 2
Blu-ray | DVD
Two years ago Sylvester Stallone gathered a Murderers’ Row of his fellow aging action heroes and seasoned professional ass-kickers for the original all-star, red meat extravaganza The Expendables. Contrary to the disappointment of many a critic and action movie fan the movie was a resounding box office smash in America and abroad so a sequel was inevitable. Cut to this past success and Stallone and company are back with The Expendables 2. This time the thin attempts at characterization from the original are chucked to the wayside in favor of a full-blown epic orgy of blood, bullets, and bulging biceps. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis also returned for expanded roles and Chuck Norris contributes a cheeky cameo, but the real star of the show is Jean-Claude Van Damme as the movie’s flamboyant villain, literally named Jean Villain.
The naysayers would have you believe that having this much mindless and shameless fun is akin to committing a capital crime. That’s their opinion. Personally The Expendables 2 delivers everything the original promised and so much more and it does it with its tongue firmly in cheek and its finger lovingly on the trigger. The Blu-ray release from Lionsgate features an audio commentary from director Simon West, featurettes about the making of the movie and its many on and off-screen inspirations, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. Plus the movie itself is packing an astounding video and audio transfer bound to have the cops beating down your door.
42nd Street Forever: Blu-ray Edition
Synapse Films has been releasing DVD collections of vintage exploitation movie trailers under the 42nd Street Forever banner since late 2005. Seven years later and the company has compiled over 80 of the craziest, sexiest, and bloodiest scratched-up previews on one Blu-ray for more than three hours of depraved excitement. Thrill to the adventures of rape-avenging mutes, zombie hit men, alien monsters, cannibal psychopaths, saucy nymphomaniacs, and kung-fu killers in a collection of the finest grindhouse trailers that should come with a side order of greasy popcorn and a rubber rat to prop under your seat. The Blu-ray includes a bonus audio commentary for the entire collection from Edwin Samuelson of AVManiacs, Michael Gingold from Fangoria, and Chris Poggiali of Temple of Schlock.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Blu-ray | DVD
Steven Spielberg’s magical tale of an sweet-natured alien trapped on Earth who brings love and adventure into the lives of a struggling suburban family made its debut on Blu-ray recently and the restoration is a miraculous achievement not even the cosmic powers of its title character could top. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is presented in a beautiful new high-definition transfer supplemented by a newly-created 7.1 audio track and comes with a dazzling array of bonus features, most of which are held over from the previous DVD. In addition to deleted scenes, a retrospective documentary, featurettes covering the film’s music score and a reunion of the cast, and several extensive image galleries we also get a new interview with Spielberg and an on-set documentary that gives us a fly-on-the-wall look at the production.
Love him dearly or hate his rotten guts, Quentin Tarantino has had one of the most amazing careers a filmmaker can possibly have. Since he loudly announced his arrival as a major talent in the film industry twenty years ago with his violent, starkly funny crime drama Reservoir Dogs the man known to his closest compatriots as Q.T. has carved out a unique and entertaining filmography while always doing things the way he thinks they should be done, with entrancing dialogues passages that intertwine the minutia of pop culture with the mysteries of the universe and the dogged clichés of cinema’s past, practical visual effects, soundtracks that many of us would handily place on our desert island lists, and casts of veteran actors who never quite got their moment in the sun until Tarantino came calling.
The new Blu-ray box set Tarantino XX features eight films, all but one (True Romance, directed by the late Tony Scott but written by Tarantino) were both written and directed by the man who had become a hero to cineastes and audiences alike, along with hours of previously-released supplementary features and a brand new bonus disc comprised of several new documentaries about Tarantino’s career with interviews from his many friends, colleagues, and supporters in the media.
Heaven’s Gate: Criterion Collection
Blu-ray | DVD
For decades Michael Cimino’s elegiac epic western made during the waning days of the New Hollywood in the 1970s was industry shorthand for out-of-control filmmaking excess and rampant egomania. It was one of the most expensive films ever made at the time and its disastrous theatrical release helped to bring down its financier, United Artists. But since those dark days Heaven’s Gate has undergone a welcome reevaluation from critics and viewers who were initially quick to dismiss Cimino’s misunderstood masterwork. For its first-ever release on Blu-ray, the director supervised the film’s complete restoration and now Heaven’s Gate can finally be appreciated by future generations of moviegoers and students of filmmaking, the way it was meant to be seen. Criterion’s amazing Blu-ray release comes with a second disc of bonus features including an audio interview with director Cimino, new video interviews with star Kris Kristofferson and composer David Mansfield, a insert booklet of liner notes, and more.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming
Blu-ray | DVD
One of the best thrillers of the 1970s is also one of the best films that chances are you have never even heard of. Robert Aldrich, the director of such bonafide classics of cinema as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Dirty Dozen, went outside the U.S. and the Hollywood studio system to make his final great film, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, a wire-taut suspense masterpiece about a rogue Air Force general (Burt Lancaster) who commandeers a nuclear missile silo with the help of Paul Winfield and Burt Young and threatens to start launching the nukes unless the U.S. president, played by Charles Durning, reveals to the American public the horrifying truth behind why the country engaged in its pointless and destructive war in Vietnam. But even with the might of America’s nuclear arsenal at his disposal the disillusioned patriots may be no match for forces within the President’s own inner circle who will go to the greatest lengths to protect that vital information from ever being brought to light.
Olive Films presents the fully-restored film on a great new Blu-ray that includes the 70-minute retrospective documentary “Aldrich Over Munich: The Making of Twilight’s Last Gleaming.” If you consider yourself a fan of knock-out thrillers with fascinating characters and a story that pulls no punches then you owe it to yourself to check this movie out.
Blu-ray | DVD
If the art of filmmaking is an experience equal to alchemy, then Miami Connection is a twisted concoction that by all accounts should have exploded in its creators’ faces. Y.K. Kim, a master of tae kwon do, poured his heart and soul (as well as a substantial budget) into making a po-faced extravaganza of friendship, cheese ball pop music, stupid cocaine, and a veritable army of disposable ninjas. In short, this is everything that was gut-wrenchingly soulless and horrible about the pop culture of the 1980’s assembled into a Dollar Store Transformer rip-off of pure awesomeness that outclasses most of its modern competition. Resurrected by Drafthouse Films thanks to an unexpected acquisition of a rare 35mm print for $50 on Ebay, Miami Connection now lives and breathes in the glories of high-definition with a stellar new Blu-ray that includes a commentary track with Kim, a fresh retrospective documentary, deleted scenes and alternate ending, promotional videos, and a 25th anniversary reunion concert.
By Famous Monster
The Dark Knight Trilogy
DVD | Blu-Ray
The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005 – 2012) features Christopher Nolan‘s three landmark Batman films – Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – in a gorgeous limited edition collector’s box set, complete with hours of special features and behind-the-scenes material.
This five-disc collection also includes a 64-page abridged edition of The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy. Based on in-depth interviews with Nolan and all of the films’ key cast and crew — including co-writers David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan, cinematographer Wally Pfister, and more — this collectable booklet reveals the creative process behind the epic Dark Knight Trilogy, accented by beautiful artwork and never-before-seen set photography.
The Dark Knight Rises
DVD | Blu-Ray
The Dark Knight Rises is a sprawling, epic film that provides a spectacular conclusion to the one of the greatest trilogies in movie history. Eight years after the Joker’s sinister deeds, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become an eccentric recluse, traumatized by his own inability to save Dent and the love of his life, Rachel Dawes. Batman and Gordon’s (Gary Oldman) lie for the greater good paid off, though. Organized crime has been crushed under the weight of the Commissioner’s anti-crime Dent Act and Gotham City is finally prospering.
Gotham’s time of peace and prosperity may be coming to a close, however, with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with an unknown agenda. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is one of the 99%, a woman driven to desperate measures who will butt heads with the city’s 1%, namely Bruce Wayne.
Far more alarming, however, is Bane (Tom Hardy), a muscle-bound terrorist with a ghastly maw of twisted metal, whose plans for Gotham’s reckoning force Bruce Wayne out of retirement and back into the action. The Dark Knight Rises includes nearly three hours of special features including:
The Batmobile Documentary: Witness all five Batmobiles together for the first time in history. Dive deep into every aspect of the most awe-inspiring weapon in Batman’s arsenal as you journey through the birth and evolution of this technological marvel and cultural icon.
Ending the Knight: A comprehensive look into how director Christopher Nolan and his production team made The Dark Knight Rises the epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend.
Safety Not Guaranteed
DVD | Blu-Ray
WANTED: “Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety Not Guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”
A cryptic classified ad inspires a Seattle Magazine reporter (Jake Johnson) and two interns (Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni) to track down the source of such an unusual request: a paranoid eccentric named Kenneth (Mark Duplass). As you may have guessed by the confidence exuded in his classified ad, Kenneth has solved the age-old mystery of time travel and is seeking candidates to accompany him on his next mission.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed is a wonderful little comedy – an unexpectedly heartwarming cinematic experience overflowing with positivity and the power of belief.
The Criterion Collection: Rashomon
DVD | Blu-Ray
From the Amazon Product Page: A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, Rashomon is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accounts of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife, which director Akira Kurosawa presents with striking imagery and an ingenious use of flashbacks. This eloquent masterwork and international sensation revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema —and a commanding new star by the name of Toshiro Mifune —to the Western world.
This all-new digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition, includes a booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince; an excerpt from director Akira Kurosawa’s Something Like an Autobiography; and reprints of Rashomon’s two source stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Rashomon and In a Grove.
The Raid: Redemption
DVD | Blu-Ray
Directed by Gareth Evans, The Raid: Redemption is an Indonesian martial arts action film set in the Jakarta slums, where a desolate apartment building has become an impenetrable fortress for the world’s most dangerous killers and gangsters.
An elite team is tasked with raiding the derelict apartment complex in order to take down the notorious drug lord that controls it. After being spotted, the squad’s cover is blown and the entire building is put on lockdown. The lights are cut off – all exits are blocked. The team is trapped with no way out and must fight their way through a gauntlet of Jakarta’s worst criminals to survive.
The Raid: Redemption has roundhouse kicked the action genre in the face and crushed its skull against a concrete wall – action can’t (and won’t) get any better than this.
The Amazing Spider-Man
DVD | Blu-Ray
Who would have thought a Spider-Man film without Mary Jane Watson, Norman Osborn, and J. Jonah Jameson would end up being the web-slinger’s definitive adventure? With Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler is taken “back to formula” with a spectacular reboot.
Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) does just that by focusing on Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and his interpersonal relationships. Most comic book movies use relationships as a way of segueing from one action sequence to another, but in The Amazing Spider-Man, there is real weight and reverence given to Parker’s interactions with those around him.
DVD | Blu-Ray
Utilizing a brilliant color scheme of lime greens and electric magentas, ParaNorman channels the fun of Halloween without being holiday-centric, though I would be very interested to see a sequel that involves trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns and pays homage to slasher films and creature features.
There’s plenty of spooky imagery and beautiful animation as Norman and his pals try to discover the resting place of the condemned witch and free the town from her curse. If you’ve got little ones, ParaNorman is a fun escape from the cookie-cutter talking animals of Madagascar and Ice Age. If you’re looking for a great film that doesn’t talk down to children and instead treats them like adults (like The Goonies, Stand By Me, and Super 8 do) then definitely check this one out.
Indie Game: The Movie
Indie Game: The Movie is a refreshing documentary that follows independent video game developers as they create games and release those pixelated works (and themselves) to the world. The film primarily focuses on Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy) and Phil Fish (Fez) as they prepare their respective games for release on Xbox Live and at The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Boston.
Pajot and Swirsky’s quirky, touching film also features commentary from indie developers like Jonathan Blow (Braid), who explain the hardships and freedoms of being an independent game developer in an industry dominated by Mega-Studios like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Indie Game: The Movie is a blast – it’s just fun to watch. It’s stylish and inspirational in the way it crosses the boundaries of, perhaps, a very inaccessible subject matter (the technological world of game development) by connecting with the artists and their passions.
Your Sister’s Sister
DVD | Blu-Ray
Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The League) stars as Jack, who, a year after his brother’s death, is still emotionally struggling and lost in life. He takes up an offer from his friend (and dead brother’s ex-girlfriend) Iris (Emily Blunt) to stay at her father’s isolated cabin to seek comfort and catharsis in solitude.
Upon arriving at the cabin, Jack meets Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who is reeling from the abrupt end of a seven-year relationship. The two bond over a long night of drinking and swapping stories, a sequence entirely improvised by Duplass and DeWitt. As it usually does, the drinking leads to spontaneous, casual sex – which triggers a complicated, really awkward love triangle when Iris arrives for a surprise visit.
If you’re a film geek with a sweet tooth for improvised dramedy and terrific performances, definitely give Your Sister’s Sister a look. There’s a genuine warmth and sensitivity to the film – an authenticity that can’t be replicated with rehearsed performances and script-driven narratives.
Breaking Bad Season 4
DVD | Blu-Ray
Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad chronicles the life of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), with the goal of securing his family’s financial future before he dies from the terminal illness. Breaking Bad is one of the best damn television series ever. If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching Vince Gilligan‘s award-winning show, now’s the time to scoop up the first four seasons on DVD or Blu-Ray. Season 4 was released this summer.
The Cabin in the Woods
DVD | Blu-Ray
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a group of college kids visit a remote cabin in the woods to partake in irresponsible activities such as (but not limited to) alcohol, illicit drugs, and premarital sex. One by one, these nubile teenagers are hacked to pieces by an axe-wielding maniac in the woods (or God-forsaken summer camp).
Sound familiar? It should. You’ve seen this genre convention in horror films like The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Cabin Fever, Sleepaway Camp, The Burning, and Tucker & Dale Vs Evil. The Old Dark House has become The Cabin in the Woods, a subversive, spirited deconstruction of the genre. Even the film’s title is a reference to the archetypes it celebrates and simultaneously dissects. The Cabin in the Woods is the final horror film – the period at the end of a longwinded run-on sentence. It’s a blood-splattered, bad-ass thesis in genre filmmaking.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 (Limited Edition)
DVD | Blu-Ray | Blu-Ray (Limited Edition)
If you’re a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, you’ve GOT to pick up this gruesomely gorgeous limited edition box set of Season 2 – a zombie head with a screwdriver rammed in the eye socket, which acts as a handle to open the head and reveal the blu-ray box set!
From the Amazon product page: When the world is ravaged by a zombie apocalypse, police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and a small group of others struggle to stay alive as ‘the dead’ stalk them at every turn. Can Rick and the others hold onto their humanity as they fight to live in this terrifying new world? And, amidst dire conditions and personal rivalries, will they ultimately survive one another?
Based on Robert Kirkman‘s hugely successful and popular comic book series, AMC’s original series The Walking Dead is an epic, edge-of-your-seat drama where personal struggles are magnified against a backdrop of moment-to-moment crisis. A survivalist story at its core, the series explores how the living are changed by the overwhelming realization that those who survive can be far more dangerous than the mindless walkers roaming the earth. They themselves have become the walking dead.
Sleepwalk With Me
DVD | Blu-Ray
Sleepwalk With Me is an insightful comedy written and directed by comedian Mike Birbiglia. The film is based on true stories from Birbiglia’s life, which were adapted into a one-man off-Broadway show and published in his book by the same title.
The film, produced by Ira Glass of This American Life, follows the journey of an aspiring comedian (Birbiglia) in denial about his relationship with his girlfriend Abby (Lauren Ambrose), his career, and, most significantly, his sleepwalking disorder. If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy and well-told stories, I think you’ll really, really enjoy Sleepwalk with Me.
DVD | Blu-Ray
Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection), Killer Joe stars Matthew McConaughey as a charming, soft-spoken, Dallas Police Detective who moonlights as a contract killer.
Friedkin’s film, which is rated NC-17 for “graphic disturbing content involving violence, sexuality, and a scene of brutality,” will no doubt shock some people with its twisted, unrestrained look at dysfunctional, desperate rednecks in the American South. It’s certainly offensive, but gloriously so.
Killer Joe isn’t for everyone. It’s exceedingly dark, macabre, and violent – sexually perverse – and shows human beings at their absolute worst and their most cold and calculated. It’s a bleak, ironic comedy with terrific performances, and for McConaughey’s character alone, it’s worth seeing.
The Wire: The Complete Series
Each season of The Wire focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. In chronological order they are: the illegal drug trade, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. The large cast consists mainly of character actors who are little known for their other roles. Creator David Simon says the show is “really about the American city, and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution they are committed to.”
The Wire: The Complete Series includes all 60 episodes of the HBO series on 23 discs and features audio commentaries by cast and crew, three prequels explore life before The Wire and a never-before-seen gag reel.
In the projects. On the docks. In City Hall. In the schools. In the media. The places and faces have changed, but the game remains the same. The Wire is THE greatest television series of all time – a visual novel that is our modern day equivalent to the works of Charles Dickens – a treatise on institutions and individuals as opposed to a conventional police procedurals.
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AMAZON SHIPPING INFORMATION
If you’re ordering through Amazon.com in the United States, here’s their ordering deadlines for delivery on or before Christmas Eve (12/24) for items in-stock shipped to physical addresses within the United States and marked “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” or “Fulfilled by Amazon.com.”
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– Dec. 24: Local Express Delivery (while available; select cities; varies by item; as low as $3.99/item with Amazon Prime)
– Dec. 25: Email and printable Amazon Gift Cards can be sent immediately, at any time
Amazon Prime members can place orders up until 7:00 p.m. EST on Dec. 21 to receive deliveries by Dec. 24 using Free Two-Day Shipping (cut-off time varies by item).
For more details about local delivery, as well as international shipping, see the Christmas Ordering Deadlines For U.S. Shipments page.
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Remember, if all else fails, there’s also the Amazon.com Gift Card, you can have emailed to the recipient (arrives immediately) or you can print out the gift card at home and give it to the intended that way. If you order in enough time, you can get the physical gift card sent to you.