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.

Buy It

A SERIOUS MAN
Some films rely on your willingness to invest a great deal of time and energy to analyze their themes and explore what they’re trying to say in order to appreciate them. Better films allow you the privilege of having no idea what the point is without detracting from the overall enjoyment of the experience. A Serious Man is the latter. Between the thematic mirroring of the otherwise unrelated opening Yiddish folktale, the lingering question of a greater power, and the endless perplexing mysteries that plague the character’s lives, it’s a movie with a lot going on under the surface, and one that interested parties will find themselves greatly rewarded by if they decide to dissect it further. Casual viewers, meanwhile, will find just as much to love, with the Coens yet again injecting in every scene their wonderful idiosyncratic touches (see: dialogue, visual style, character mannerisms, etc.), transforming what easily could’ve been a simplistic, ponderous story and turning it into one that’s at once compelling, puzzling and hilarious.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – 3 featurettes (“Becoming Serious”, “Creating 1967″, “Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys”).

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $19.99 $17.77
Amazon – $18.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $26.99 $24.77
Amazon – $19.49

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If a male filmmaker desires to throw up grim truth and reality before the eyes of moviegoers and also swoon critics, many of whom subsist on darker themes, he will at some point consider making a film about war or prison. There are no greater immediate settings for tapping perennial sentiments of a mad world, or for demystifying masculinity by scraping it and reducing it to a primal essence. Unlike the ambitious gangster or mob film, reputable prison dramas tend to feature a protagonist that is closer to us, a person thrown to hell rather than embodying it, nakedly amidst wolves as opposed to running with them. (Ironic, given these characters’ punishments at the hands of society and/or government.)

Engrossing and well-crafted but formulaic and borderline genre-fare, A Prophet is the latest prison film to follow this mold and punch its way creatively outward. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, A Prophet has landed on a number of top 10 lists for 2009; with a domestic release forthcoming, we’ll likely see its inclusion on many of this year’s as well.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?
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When you’ve got a slate of niche films, sometimes coming up with an umbrella label to market them all as one package is the best way to go. Magnolia / Magnet tried this to good effect last year with the Six Shooter Film Series, which packaged international genre films like Let the Right One In, Big Man Japan and Timecrimes for release On Demand and in theatres. The idea is that if viewers like one film in the series, they’re more likely to check out the others. Now the second ‘season’ of films is all packaged up, and Magnet has sent out a tidy press release to announce them. Read More »

refn

The momentum behind writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn—a talent of significant interest for many of our staff—is culminating into numerous “man’s man”-sounding projects. The Dane auteur behind the Pusher Trilogy and this winter’s rollicking Bronson remains attached to direct Keanu Reeves in Jeckyll, a big-budget take on Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, that would introduce him to the domestic mainstream.

This week, reviews for Refn’s violent Viking epic, Valhalla Rising, have started to pile in from the Venice Film Festival: Variety compared it to a redundant and nearly dialogue-free “grunge-and-gore” flick in the John Milius mold. On a bad day with a skull chalice, might that be welcome? Add to this two new projects: a “modern Western” with the foreboding title Only God Forgives and an untitled heist film for producer Gore Verbinski (PoTC trilogy). The order of production is presently unknown. More info follows…

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Bronson Domestic Movie Trailer: It’s Inglourious!

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It isn’t difficult to see the influence of those bloody red and white posters for Inglourious Basterds in this first trailer for Magnolia/Magnet’s domestic release of the excellent Nicolas Winding Refn film Bronson. A Tarantino vibe kicks off the thing, too, as music kicks in that must have been chosen to recall promos for Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. Hulu just premiered the clip, which shows off a lot more of the craziness lead actor Thomas Hardy put into Refn’s movie than we’ve seen in any prior international ads. See the trailer after the jump. Read More »

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Sundance was the premiere of a handful of movies that I’ll probably spend the rest of the year pushing on people, even if I didn’t see some of them until the Independent Film Festival Boston. One of the best was Bronson, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring a wickedly dedicated Tom Hardy. The movie fictionalizes the life of notorious British prisoner Charlie Bronson, born Michael Gordon Peterson. Now Vulture has debuted the rather Wrestler-like poster, and because I want everyone to see this movie I’m giving the image a big shout-out. Read More »

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