Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs, Blu-rays and Digital Debuts for March 13

New Releases:

This is a good week for grown-up movies on the New Release rack, and the best of the batch is “The Descendants” (Fox), one of the best films of 2011 and an Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay. George Clooney gives one of his richest performances as “the back-up parent” attempting to hold his family together as his wife slips away in a coma, but for a film that turns on a death, it is full of life and joy and acceptance. Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand. Videodrone’s review is here.

And it’s not so bad for family movies, either, and leading this line-up is “The Adventures of Tintin” (Paramount), Steven Spielberg’s first foray into motion capture filmmaking. Spielberg doesn’t have the deftness of Pixar’s best filmmakers, but he does have a good time letting his creativity play in the new technology. Blu-ray, DVD, and Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, with plenty of production featurettes on the Blu-ray editions, and day and date at Redbox. Videodrone has a review and a clip from the Blu-ray.

For the adults, along with “The Descendants” comes “My Week With Marilyn” (Weinstein), built on an Oscar-nominated performance by Michelle Williams, “Young Adult” (Paramount) with an Oscar-worthy performance by Charlize Theron, and Lars von Trier’s end-of-the-world drama “Melancholia” (Magnolia), which was voted the top film of 2011 in the MSN film critics poll and features, yes, another superb, strong female performance (by Kirsten Dunst). All three arrive on Blu-ray  and DVD, the first two also available on Demand, and all of them day and date at Redbox. More on Videodrone here.

For the kids and family is the animated “Happy Feet Two” (Warner) (Blu-ray, DVD, and on Demand) and the latest big screen incarnation of “The Three Musketeers (2011)” (Summit) (Blu-ray and DVD, day and date at Redbox).

And from across the pond, there is “The Women on the 6th Floor” (Strand) and “House of Pleasures” (IFC), both from France, and the acclaimed “My Joy” (Kino Lorber), from Russia.

Browse the complete New Release Rack here

TV on DVD:

The Killing: Season One” (Fox), the American remake of the hit Danish police detective series “Forbrydelsen,” relocates the dark murder mystery from the gloomy winter of Denmark to the rainy Pacific Northwest clime of Seattle, where a veteran homicide cop (Mireille Enos) on what is to be her last day on the job is assigned a case that becomes all-consuming. 13 episodes on four discs on DVD and three discs on Blu-ray, both with an extended cut of the season finale, commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes.Videodrone’s review is here.

Breakout Kings: The Complete First Season” (Fox), from the creators of “Prison Break,” offers an inventive twist on the high-energy crime show: this special U.S. Marshal squad uses convicted criminals to track escaped convicts. DVD only, 13 episodes on four discs, plus commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes. Reviewed on Videodrone here.

You could call the made-for-SyFy original film “Neverland” (Vivendi) a “Peter Pan” prequel, imagining the origin of Peter, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys as “Oliver Twist” with a science-fiction/fant​asy twist.  “Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention” (Lionsgate) features the stop-motion characters as hosts of a science program. Both are Blu-ray and DVD, and Videodrone has an exclusive clip of Wallace and Gromit.

From Britain comes the comedy series “Come Fly With Me: Season One” (BBC), from the creators and stars of “Little Britain,” and the 1978 crime thriller “Out” (Acorn) with Tom Bell (of the original “Prime Suspect”), and from Australia is the post-apocalypse teen drama “The Tribe: Series One, Part One” (Shout! Factory). All DVD only.

Also announced (but not received for review) is “Bag of Bones” (Sony), based on the Stephen King novel. Day and date at Redbox.

Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here

Cool, Classic and Cult:

It’s an Italian film festival on home video this week, with the DVD debuts of six features from the fifties through the seventies, including three films by Italian master Luchino Visconti. From early in his career is “La Terra Trema” (eOne), his neo-realist epic set in the poverty of a Sicilian fishing village, and “Bellissima” (eOne), starring Anna Magnani as a would-be stage mother pushing her young daughter into the movies, while his late career is represented by his penultimate film “Conversation Piece” (Raro) from 1974, starring Burt Lancaster. All DVD only, reviewed on Videodrone here.

Less well known are “La Visita” (Raro), a bittersweet romantic drama with Sandra Milo as a lonely profession in a northern Italian village and Francois Perier as a suitor from Rome who answers her personal ad, and “Young, Violent, Dangerous” (Raro), a seventies thriller about wild youth on a nihilistic crime spree. And Dustin Hoffman stars in Pietro Germi’s “Alfredo, Alfredo” (Mya) opposite Stefania Sandrelli. All DVD only. More on VIdeodrone here.

On the cult front are three brutal films from the seventies: the British “video nasties” “Virgin Witch” (Kino) and “Killer’s Moon” (Kino), and the violent Greek thriller “Ransom Baby (Mya). Plus, more adventures from the online gamers in the web series “The Guild: Season 5” (Flatiron) from writer/star Felicia Day.

All of the Cool, Classic and Cult here

Blu-ray Debuts:

The Last Temptation of Christ” Blu-ray (Criterion), Martin Scorsese’s most personal (and controversial) film, examines the power of faith through an exploration of the human crisis of Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe). With filmmaker commentary and a video diary from Scorsese among the supplements.

Wizards” (Fox), from maverick American animator Ralph Bakshi, is like a big screen underground comic from the seventies and an audition piece for “Lord of the Rings.” The Blu-ray book edition features commentary and a featurette with Bakshi, and Videodrone has an interview with Bakshi here.

And just in time for the new installment of the all-American sex comedy comes “American Pie (Unrated)” (Universal), “American Pie 2 (Unrated)” (Universal), and “American Wedding (Unrated)” (Universal), all debuting as singles.

Peruse all the new Blu-rays here

New on Netflix Instant:

3” (2010), a drama of free love and stalled relationships from director Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), is quite possibly the most romantic portrait of a ménage-a-trois ever put on screen. From the sublime to the ridiculous, we have “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” (2011), an independently produced adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel that received some of the worst reviews of the year. At least this way it won’t cost you anything to see for yourself.

Going back a little farther, we have Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” (1973), Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai” (2000), and Abel Ferrara’s notorious “Bad Lieutenant” (1992) with Harvey Keitel, plus the original “Bedazzled” (1967) with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.

And if your tastes run to something a little more offbeat, there’s the punk satire “Repo Man” (1984), the cult drive-in black comedy “Death Race 2000” (1975), and a whole bunch of Japanese giant monster movies.

Browse more Instant offerings here

Available from Redbox this week:

Some the week’s biggest releases arrive day-and-date at Rebox kiosks, including Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” (Paramount) and Oscar nominee “My Week With Marilyn” (Weinstein) with Michelle Williams. There’s “Young Adult” (Paramount) with Charlize Theron, Lars von Trier’s end-of-the-world drama “Melancholia” (Magnolia) with Kirsten Dunst and the new incarnation of “The Three Musketeers (2011)” (Summit)

Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week: the indie film “Loosies” (IFC) and the made-for-TV “Bag of Bones” (Sony).

For a calendar of upcoming releases, click here

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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