This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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BLUE VALENTINE
If you’re lucky, you won’t be able to identify with Blue Valentine. If you’re less lucky, it will remind you a great deal of your parents, siblings or friends. Pray though, that it doesn’t remind you of yourself. There’s nothing more miserable than being proven the futility and fleeting nature of romantic love, unless of course it perfectly encapsulates your biggest life decisions. This film is an all-too-real snapshot of both the best and worst parts of a relationship, which is really just another way of saying the beginning and end of one. It’s half Before Sunrise and half Revolutionary Road, slammed right up against each other to juxtapose the beauty and ultimate folly of one of life’s most fundamental goals: to fall in love and spend your life with someone. Many people will probably take sides while watching Blue Valentine, accusing the wife of being cold and distant or blaming the husband for being immature and without ambition. But that would be missing the point. These are two people, flawed but well-meaning, who made the choices they made and must live with them. They would like things to be different — and they would like each other to be different — but they’re not, and that’s just the way life is. It’s easy to point fingers, but not everything is somebody’s fault. Sometimes people just grow apart, and it takes time (and the mounting conflict that time permits) for them to accept it. Blue Valentine captures this aspect of life better than almost any film I’ve seen. It’s raw and devastatingly real, written and directed with an almost invisible hand by Derek Cianfrance, and acted with incredible earnestness by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. It won’t leave you smiling, but it will get you thinking about your own relationships — past, present and future — and will hopefully help someone out there to think twice before making the same mistakes.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Deleted Scenes, Making of Blue Valentine, Commentary, and Home Movies.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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THE GREEN HORNET
(Blu-ray available as single-disc and Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD Combo)
The Green Hornet is a complete mess. Michel Gondry may be credited as its director, but it plays far more like a Seth Rogen comedy, with only occasional opportunities afforded to Gondry to inject his off-the-wall visual flourishes. Had Gondry and Rogen shared a more consistent overarching vision, the film might’ve been something special, but as it stands the story is too clumsy and shapeless to satisfyingly coalesce as a whole. And yet, I greatly enjoyed watching it. For all its faults, Rogen’s self-aware spin on the superhero genre overcomes its lack of narrative momentum by never running out of amusing conceits to play around with from scene to scene. Once again bringing a loose, parodic slant to heftily-budgeted material, Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg supplant a familiar formula with an array of clever, distinctive touches, ranging from the character dynamic (the superhero remains useless throughout, while the sidekick is forced to do all the work) to the subversive humor (a lengthy altercation between Britt Reid and Kato puts the brawl from They Live to shame) to the action scenes (the crime-fighting duo take a wild ride in the Black Beauty during the film’s appreciably ridiculous climax). The film may be a failure, but at least it’s a fairly unique and entertaining one.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A filmmakers’ commentary, a gag reel, and 2 featurettes (“Writing The Green Hornet”, “The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool”). Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as additional featurettes (“The Stunt Family Armstrong”, “Finding Kato”, “The Art of Destruction”, “Double Barrel”), a Jay Chou Audition, The Green Hornet Cutting, and more.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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THE KING’S SPEECH
Approaching a story of monumental scope with charm and intimacy, The King’s Speech is a finely crafted crowd-pleaser that plays fast and loose with history but does so to convey a decidedly more human tale of finding one’s inner strength in order to be heard. There’s not a single surprising moment in the whole thing, as every element of the limply conventional narrative has been depicted in film on countless occasions — the movie of the week disorder, the reluctant leader, the unorthodox therapist/psychiatrist, etc. — but rarely have these humdrum plot mechanics been handled with such authority and wit. The acting is superb across the board, with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush marvelously portraying the “unexpected” friendship that blossoms between royalty and commoner. Their command of the screen brings a much welcome vitality to the film’s rather safe theatrics. Tom Hooper, meanwhile, refines his visually sumptuous period drama by presenting the material as accessibly as possible, employing any number of off-kilter camera angles, behind-the-back steadicam shots and fish-eye lenses to find that delicate balance between vulnerable and frigidly dignified. I wouldn’t say I was wowed by the film as many others seem to have been — and I’m a tad resentful that it won Best Picture over far superior efforts such as The Social Network, Black Swan and 127 Hours — but if you’re looking for a nice film to watch with the family, it’s a pretty good bet that The King’s Speech will comfortably satisfy that need.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Audio Commentary, Making Of Featurette, Deleted Scenes.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1
(Releases on Friday, April 15 — Blu-ray available as single-disc and Blu-ray+DVD+digital copy)
I’m still not convinced that the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise needed to be separated into two films, but perhaps that’s a discussion better reserved for Part 2. Is it fair to judge this as a standalone film, or should it be taken as only half of a whole (which in itself is only one seventh of an even greater whole)? Director David Yates seems to want it both ways, while also attempting to appease both hardcore fans of the books and more casual viewers of the movies. The effort is admirably ambitious, though not always successful, often servicing fans at the cost of narrative flow. I’ll hold off on casting any judgments on how the film fits into the grander story at play — something that could very easily make or break the film in retrospect — but as a continuation of what’s essentially evolved into a serialized big screen mini-series, this entry is as problematic as it is utterly compelling. As a devoted fan of the films, it’s fascinating to see how these characters (and actors) have grown and matured, and Yates does a tremendous job portraying the toll that these inherited responsibilities have taken on their relationships. Where the film falters is finding a satisfying way to properly set up and condense subplots from the book, leading to many awkward moments where characters and MacGuffins appear at random. I’m also terribly conflicted about the ending, because as much as I recognize the need to offer some sort of emotional climax, it doesn’t register as an organic progression, and is treated with such gravitas that it inadvertently undercuts a far more significant occurrence at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. Criticisms aside, I have to respect Yates for endeavoring a near impossible task and not losing sight of the characters and their journey amidst the commotion. There lies the strength of the film, and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Blu-ray – Includes a copy of the DVD and a digital copy of the film, as well as a sneak peek of an opening scene from the final film, a Maximum Movie Mode, Focus Points (“The Last Days of Privet Drive”, “Hagrid’s Motorbike”, “Amazing (or) Magical Tents!”, “Deatheaters attack Cafe”, “Creating Dobby and Kreacher”, “Godric’s Hollow”, “The Harry And Nagini Battle”, “The Frozen Lake”, “The Return of Griphook”), featurettes (“On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver and James”, “The Seven Harry’s”, “Dan, Rupert, and Emma’s Running Competition”, “Behind The Soundtrack”), and additional scenes.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS
I Love You Phillip Morris is a rare breed. When it comes to true story tales of brilliant-minded men against the law, there are only so many forms we can expect to see those stories take on the big screen — as a historical crime drama perhaps, or an upbeat caper thriller — but Bad Santa writers Glenn Ficarra & John Requa saw the potential for something different for their directorial debut, and opted for a campy romantic comedy instead. Their decision paid off wonders. The film still suffers a tad from formula fatigue, but by finding the humor in the absurd, the predictably of the proceedings is effortlessly overcome by the pic’s sheer good-natured charm. Much of that credit is owed to Jim Carrey and the bright-eyed Ewan McGregor, who are a perfect fit for the film’s playfully innocent tone. The true highlight of the film though is the subversive, darkly comedic edge that its directors inject during opportune moments to offset the saccharine sweetness, providing the film an underlying notion of reality that’s both hilarious and smartly demonstrative of how our circumstances in life are all about the outlook with which we choose to perceive them.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Audio commentary with producer Andrew Lazar and writers/directors John Requa & Glenn Ficarra, and a “The Making of I Love You Phillip Morris” featurette.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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BLACK SWAN
Darren Aronofsky doesn’t want you to experience joy or happiness. He wants to devastate you. He wants to punish you as he does his characters, fully immersing you in every dreary facet of their world as it collapses around them. And he is really, really good at it. Aronofsky has always shown a fascination with the degeneration of the body and mind, finding its limits when tested against paranoia, addiction, disease and giant planks of wood covered in nails and barbed wire. It’s amusing then, that his most horrifying exercise in body horror would be a wildly operatic melodrama about ballet. In Black Swan, you are not treated as an observer to Natalie Portman’s physical and psychological torment; you are made to experience it through her. There is never a moment of rest. The more Portman strives for perfection, the more she feels as though she could break at any moment — and Aronofsky makes damn sure you feel it too. His goal, I can only imagine, was to force the audience into a perpetual state of exhaustive madness. Well, mission accomplished.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A “Metamorphosis: A Three-Part Series” feature. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 3 additional features (“Behind the Curtain”, “Ten Years in the Making”, “Cast Profiles – Roles of a Lifetime”).

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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THE TOURIST
You’ve heard of crimes of passion. The Tourist is the opposite. It’s a film so deprived of spirit or spontaneity that it seems to vanish from existence the moment its credits roll — or at least it would were it not for the spectacularly inane surprise ending, carelessly followed by a wholly inappropriate song selection (by the nonetheless great MUSE, who were also weirdly featured in the film’s trailer). Both inclusions close an already inert romance caper on a final, “Fuck you, we really don’t care.” Which is fine, because I didn’t either. How could anyone? The movie devotes all of ten minutes to Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie engaging on any level that could be deemed romantic, and even then they share zero romantic chemistry. It didn’t bother me at first, because I was operating under the assumption that their relationship had yet to be developed. Little did I know that only moments later would Depp be declaring his resounding devotion to Jolie, indicating that perhaps I had missed a scene where the actors conveyed even the slightest hint of genuine affection for one another. I hadn’t.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A director commentary, 2 featurettes (“A Gala Affair”, “Bringing Glamour Back”), and an outtake reel. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 3 additional featurettes (“Canal Chats”, “Action in Venice”, “Tourist Destination – Travel the Canals of Venice”).

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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THE FIGHTER
[*Warning: Obvious spoiler ahead*]
Great care was paid to ensure that The Fighter be as authentic a true story as possible, which is also why its ending feels a tad misguided. Was it necessary to close the film on a note of uplifting triumph? That’s the expected conclusion, certainly, and it’s not as though there’s ever a moment where The Fighter seems like it might be veering down a path that hasn’t already been laid out for it in countless other sports films. But the humanity of the picture stems from its acrid family dynamics, and it’s in those moments that the film transcends the genre in which it’s forced to reside. In fact, so much time is dedicated to observing and developing the raw, complex relationships between the film’s central band of characters that when the pat, encouraging conclusion finally comes, it feels largely unearned. This is not a story with an easy resolution, and it’s a shame that The Fighter feels the need to provide it with one. The rest of the movie, thankfully, is good enough to overcome it. Christian Bale is mesmerizing as the jovial junkie who’s always the center of attention, and Mark Wahlberg is appropriately understated as the passive brother who’s continuously overshadowed by him. Their relationship is the driving force behind the film, and it’s also the narrative thread that satisfies most by the film’s end. While Bale steals the show early on, there comes a time when the character’s constant self-adulation grows (deliberately) tiresome, gracefully affording Wahlberg’s Micky the opportunity to step up and show his mettle—not merely in the ring, but amongst his controlling family. At that point, I was resolutely invested in the ensuing drama, and against better judgment, awaited a denouement that wouldn’t let an unwarranted “inspirational” finale undermine the complicated history of this combative lower class family. If only the film had the conviction to see all of its relationships through, rather than put the focus on the need to win a boxing match.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A commentary by director David O. Russell, and a Warriors Code: Filming The Fighter featurette. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as deleted scenes, a Keeping the Faith featurette, and a digital copy of the film.

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