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

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
(Releases on Friday, October 15)
I don’t love How to Train Your Dragon for its story, or its dialogue, or even its characters. I love it for one very specific reason: how it makes me feel. As sappy as that sounds, it’s not half as bad as admitting that I can’t listen to this song from the soundtrack without fighting back tears, the same way I do when I think about The Iron Giant closing his eyes and saying “Supahman” as he flies into space, or Fry’s dog faithfully waiting at the end of that one goddamn episode of Futurama. In each of these instances is an example of manipulative storytelling executed incredibly well, prying on a base human desire to be loved by some innocent, misunderstood being as much as we love them. And you know what? It fucking works. How to Train Your Dragon is so masterful in the way it uses its dazzling visuals and rousing score to enrapture the audience, and so beautiful and heartfelt in the way it communicates its undeniably formulaic tale of forbidden friendship, that I couldn’t help but be reduced to a weepy little bitch by the end of it. It may not be original, but through its earnest sense of discovery and adventure and positively stunning ability to recreate the sensation of flight, it amounts to one of the most fun, thrilling and emotionally gripping films to be released in years. For all of the reasons Avatar failed, How to Train Your Dragon succeeds, and I am not at all ashamed to say it resonated with me on a deeply personal level. I cannot recommend it enough.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Filmmakers’ Commentary, The Technical Artistry of Dragon, and Viking-Sized Cast. Double DVD Pack – Includes everything on the single-disc DVD, as well as an all-new animated short (“Legend of the BoneKnapper Dragon”), Three Deleted Scenes, The Story Behind the Story, and How to Draw a Dragon. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the Double DVD Pack, as well as the Animator’s Corner (featuring Picture-in-Picture storyboards, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews), a trivia track, and a copy of the DVD.

BEST DVD PRICE*
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$16.99 $17.99 N/A
Amazon – $16.99

*Does not include Double DVD Pack with all-new short (“Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon”), which costs $17.99 at Best Buy, and $22.99 at Target and Amazon.

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $22.99 N/A
Amazon – $22.99

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FILM-TORONTO/

Sitting opposite Ed Norton in an empty conference room in a skyrise, one can’t avoid thinking about the hyper-charged situations he’s glared down on film. Clad in a black shirt and noticeably relaxed, he takes a moment before responding to a question, pressing a small washer-like object into the table and letting it spring back. It allows a brief window to search for the chiseled Nazi skinhead who forced a thug to tooth a curb in American History X. And for the office drone who scaled barbwire fences late at night to steal the excess fat of women and absorbed grueling punches in Fight Club. And for the smack dealer in 25th Hour who walked man’s best friend by a World Trade Center-less horizon, as unprepared for a future in the clink as the U.S. was for its uncertain present.

Norton is obsessively drawn to characters whose scariest adversary is in the mirror. It doesn’t matter if the playing field is a study in madness or a testy, possibly concluded, stint in the Marvel Universe as Bruce Banner. His latest film, a thoughtful thriller entitled Leaves of Grass, puts a literal spin on his interest in duality. He plays formerly estranged, highly intelligent twins—one a respected and reserved philosophy professor, the other a shaggy distributor of hydroponic marijuana.

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Briefly: Leaves of Grass, the film directed by Tim Blake Nelson in which Edward Norton plays twin brothers, was scheduled for a tiny opening this week courtesy of First Look Studios, run by the film’s producer Avi Lerner, who decided to release the film himself after sales didn’t happen at the Toronto Film Festival last fall. But the movie has now been bought by a different, larger distributor. The release planned for this weekend has been scrapped, and the film will get a larger bow later this summer.

So far the new distro has not been announced, but we’ll update as soon as the info is revealed. (EDIT: Anne Thompson reports that Telepathic Studios has bought the film.) Norton announced the change via his Twitter account, saying that the new deal was “very much due to great audience response and reviews and press out of SXSW.”

slashfilmstoned

Over the years, we’ve come to expect the sight an actor playing twins or clones on screen to either be yanked for low-brow laffs and shenanigans (Multiplicity, Double Impact) or to spiral down a freaky reveal about the human condition (Dead Ringers, Moon, Big Love). The latest word on Leaves of Grass, starring the challenge-welcoming Ed Norton in roles as a longhaired drug dealer and his straight-and-narrow twin, is that it’s an original and scrappy mix of twin genres, with a healthy splash of violence.

Below we have an exclusive clip where Norton offers a green hit to his twin and gives meta-meaning to peer pressure. One of my friends felt the stoner twin’s accent and personality bordered on kooktarded—personally have no problem—but let us know what you think. Leaves of Grass opens on April 2nd and premieres this Friday, March 12, at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

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SXSW 2010 Feature Film Line-Up Announced

MacGruber

The South By Southwest Film Festival have announced their complete Feature Film line-up for their 2010 fest, which runs March 12 – 20, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Notable films include the Saturday Night Live movie MacGruber, Jay & Mark Duplass’ Sundance hit Cyrus, Bernard Rose’s Mr. Nice, Tim Blake Nelson’s Leaves of Grass, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Michel Gondry’s The Thorn in the Heart, Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary The People vs. George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh’s And Everything Is Going Fine, and Floria Sigismondi’s The Runaways.

They join previously announced films such as Opening Night film Kick-Ass, Hubble 3D, Lemmy, SATURDAY NIGHT and The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights. Read the full line-up after the jump.

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leaves_of_grass01

We were beginning to wonder if Leaves of Grass, a pot comedy thriller starring Edward Norton in the role(s) of identical twins, had hit a buzz or release snag. Or worse: try to recall the actor’s Pride and Glory from last year. But judging by this new, rapid-clip trailer, complete with Norton pronouncing “crystal meth” in a thick country accent, Leaves might have yielded a nice return on a visual gag so infamously exploited by Van Damme actioners. Add in wretched black light posters, scenes with Susan Sarandon as the twins’ knowing mom, and Richard Dreyfuss channeling Nic Cage’s iguana rage, and it’s worth a laugh.

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First Look: Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass

The first production photos from Leaves of Grass have premiered on the Toronto Film Festival website. The firlm is written, directed and produced by Tim Blake Nelson, starring Edward Norton as Bill Kincaid, an Ivy League classics professor, who “returns to rural Oklahoma to bury his dangerously brilliant identical twin brother, only to discover that the brother he believes to have been murdered has lured him home to involve him in a doomed plot against a local drug lord.  Before Bill can flee, he’s implicated in a murder, and his life has become completely unraveled, suggesting that no rational philosophy can protect us from life’s twists and dangers.

Bill Kincaid, an Ivy League classics professor, who returns to rural Oklahoma to bury his dangerously brilliant identical twin brother who had remained in their native state to grow hydroponic pot. The official plot synopsis says that “Leaves of Grass is a fast-paced comic film that contrasts two distinct approaches to life.” You will see in the photo above that Norton plays both of the twins. The film co-stars Susan Sarandon, Keri Russell, Melanie Lynskey, Maggie Siff and Richard Dreyfuss, some of wholm you can see in additional production photos included after the jump.

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