This Week In DVD: The Reader, The Spirit, And More

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

Please don't take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they're meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author's intentions towards the DVDs at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the "Skip it" section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.


For some, The Reader is a gripping tale of morality anchored by its excellent performances. For others, it's nothing more than that one Oscar-bait Holocaust movie that somehow earned itself a Best Picture nomination despite its middling reviews and lackluster response. As for me, I know it simply as the movie that fulfilled the Kate Winslet Oscar prophecy. Those who watch Extras will know what I'm referring to, but for those who don't...

Andy: I'd just like to say you doing this is so commendable. You know, using your profile to keep the message alive about the Holocaust.
Kate Winslet: My God I'm not doing it for that. I mean, I don't think we need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It's like, how many have there been? No, we get it, it was grim, move on. No, I'm doing this because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, guaranteed an Oscar. I've been nominated four times. Never won. The whole world is going, 'Why hasn't Winslet won one?' ...'Schindler's List.' 'The Piano.' Oscars coming out their arse.

Well said, Kate. Well said.

Blu-ray? Will be available next Tuesday (April 28).Notable Extras: Deleted scenes, and 5 featurettes ("Adapting A Timeless Masterpiece: Making The Reader", "A Conversation with David Kross And Stephen Daldry", "Kate Winslet On The Art Of Aging Hanna Schmitz", "A New Voice: A Look At Composer Nico Muhly", "Coming To Grips With The Past: Production Designer Brigitte Broch").

BEST PRICE Target Best Buy Fry's $16.99 $19.99 N/A Amazon – $16.99

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:What? Get Miss Potter for $5 when you buy The Reader.Where? Best Buy.SPLINTER

Fans of B-horror thrillers can't do much better than the fun-filled indie effort Splinter (watch the trailer), which despite sticking pretty closely to genre conventions, also offers up vastly superior characters and dialogue than most of the lousy horror films Hollywood churns out. The movie isn't amazing by any means, so don't go in expecting that, but for those simply looking for an entertaining and satisfying way to kill 90 minutes, it fills the void quite nicely. (Side note: Why use such boring, ugly cover art when the original poster/UK DVD art is so much more compelling?)

Blu-ray? Yes.Notable Extras: Deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

BEST PRICE Target Best Buy Fry's $18.99 $24.99 $19.99 Amazon – $18.99


Conceptually, the amount of potential in a dramatization of Saddam Hussein's life is enormous, and if there was ever a channel capable of doing it justice it's HBO. It's disappointing then, that the reviews of House of Saddam are almost universal in their claims that the show fails to offer any real insight into the man, and its appeal is mainly superficial. I'm still somewhat interested in seeing the four-hour miniseries, however, since it apparently does succeed at being a well-made Sopranos/Godfather-esque crime drama. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but I'm willing to give it a chance.

Blu-ray? No.Notable Extras: "The Fate of a Dynasty" featurette.

BEST PRICE Target Best Buy Fry's $15.99 $24.99 $19.99 Amazon – $21.99

Skip ItTHE SPIRIT(Available as single-disc and 2-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy)

Over three months later, I still regret making the decision to see The Spirit in theaters. Never before have I struggled so desperately to sit through such a stunningly inane, visually disastrous, and horribly plotted mess of a film. To this day, I continue to have nightmares where Samuel L. Jackson randomly materializes just so he can inform me of how much he dislikes eggs. And if you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about... Good. That means you haven't seen The Spirit.

Blu-ray? Yes.Notable Extras: The 2-disc includes a commentary by director Frank Miller and producer Deborah Del Prete, featurettes ("Green World", "Miller on Miller"), an alternate storyboard ending, and a digital copy of the film.

BEST PRICE* Target Best Buy Fry's $19.99 $16.99 $15.99 Amazon – $20.99

*Does not include 2-Disc Edition, which costs $22.99 at each of the listed stores (including Amazon).

Other noteworthy DVDs available this week...Dark MatterThe Pope's ToiletThe CallerThe SpecialsNOTE: Some deals may be in-store only.$7.50 – Live Free or Die Hard, Anchorman, The Da Vinci Code, and more...$9.99 – Scarface (Platinum Edition), The Godfather (The Coppola Restoration), The Bank Job (2-Disc Special Edition), Semi-Pro (2-Disc Unrated Edition)$4.99 – The Departed, American History X, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Gremlins$12.99 – Slumdog Millionaire, Quantum of Solace, Australia, The Secret Life of Bees