It recently occurred to me to start up a similar weekly feature, instead rounding up all* the films making their way to the shelves of your local video stores (and of course, increasingly, supermarkets) at the start of each week.
There are so many brilliant films often released in close proximity to each other that sometimes it’s just not possible to see everything you want to see on the big screen, not to mention the fact that not all films are released in a nearby cinema (particularly if you live outside of London). I’m a big believer in the need for an awesome film / TV collection, so it made sense to start a complementary feature for the home entertainment market as well.
Whether you’re buying them online, in-store, or renting them (physically or digitally), here’s what you can look forward to seeing on the small screen this week.
(*For brevity’s sake, I’ll try to stick to some of the bigger titles, simply because there are usually dozens and dozens of new DVDs and Blu-Rays released each week, which would be quite a lot to cover.)
My personal pick of the week: Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai 3D.
DVD and Blu-Ray
Steven Spielberg’s return behind the camera last year with War Horse earned a great six nominations at the Academy Awards back in February, reuniting him with the fantastic composer John Williams, with a star-studded cast that includes Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Marsan, and Toby Kebbell.
“From director Steven Spielberg comes War Horse, an epic adventure for audiences of all ages.
Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets – British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter – before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.
The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse-an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. War Horse is one of the great stories of friendship and war – a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is arriving on Broadway next year. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.”
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai 3D
DVD and Blu-Ray (or available internationally on Blu-Ray 3D – on Amazon’s German website, for example, which should be compatible with your Blu-Ray player here)
Given a limited release in cinemas at the weekend, Takashi Miike’s follow-up to the exceptional 13 Assassins is the director’s first foray into 3D, debuting at Cannes last year to a brilliant reception. If, like me, this wasn’t playing at any of your local cinemas from last Friday, you’ve thankfully not had long to wait for it to now be more widely available.
“From legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike (13 Assassins, Audition) comes a classic tale of love, honour and revenge amidst the fall of the Samurai in 17th Century Japan. Seeking a noble end, poverty-stricken Samurai Hanshiro requests to commit ritual suicide at the House of Liu, run by headstrong Kageyu. But after being told a tragic story of another Samurai’s agonizing suicide, that of Hanshiro’s close friend Motome, Hanshiro sets in a motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of this feudal lord.”
Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Complete Box Set
Including all seven seasons of the original series, totalling 162 episodes across 24 discs, the entire collection is now available in one big box for your viewing pleasure, with Melissa Joan Hart starring as the titular teenage witch.
“At first glance, SABRINA (Melissa Joan Hart) is your typical 16-year-old girl, with all the usual teenage hang-ups. What’s not so obvious, however, is the fact that she is half-witch, half-mortal… and not half good at magic! With the loving guidance of her supernaturally-inclined aunts Hilda and Zelda (Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick), SABRINA not only learns how to use her powers for good, but how to deal with her mortal problems in an equally responsible manner. Much of the show’s humor comes from Salem, a talkative black cat who coughs up one-liners like they were hair balls. This release contains the complete collection of SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH spanning across all seven series.”
DVD and Blu-Ray
Co-directed by Tak Sakaguchi (Mutant Girls Squad) and Y–?dai Yamaguchi (Versus), based on the original manga Gokud? Heiki by Ken Ishikawa, the sci-fi/action film, Yakuza Weapon, is now coming to the UK after having its Japanese theatrical release last summer.
“Tak Sakaguchi directs and stars in this outrageous, gore-drenched action comedy following the son of a murdered Yakuza boss as he is transformed into a robotic killing machine, and seeks violent revenge against his father’s killers. Shozo Iwaki (Sakaguchi) is on assignment in South America when he receives word that his father, prominent crime boss Kenzo Iwaki (Akaji Maro) has just been assassinated. Upon arriving back home and learning that the man responsible is none other than Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi) – his late father’s right-hand man – Shozo sets out to deliver bloody payback. In the explosive battle that follows, Shozo loses and arm and a leg and Kurawaki is knocking on death’s door. Later awakening in a clandestine operating room with an M61 Vulcan cannon for a right arm and a rocket launcher for a left leg, the vengeful Shozo realises he’s been given a second chance to settle his score with Kurawaki. Meanwhile, the backstabbing gangster has transformed Shozo’s best friend Tetsuo (Jun Murakami) into a drug-crazed killer, and dispatched him on a mission to kill Shozo on sight. Now in order to get to Kurawaki, Shozo will have to go through his best friend first.”
Bizet’s Carmen: The Metropolitan Opera
For the opera-inclined amongst you (which in a small way includes myself, though in no way can I claim to be well-versed on the subject whatsoever) comes one of the most well-known and oft-performed works this week. With the Grammy Award-winning Latvian mezzo-soprano, El?na Garan?a, playing the eponymous Carmen, The Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 production of Georges Bizet’s historic opera is being re-released on Blu-Ray for the first time here in the UK.
Strippers vs. Werewolves
DVD and Blu-Ray
After a limited release in UK cinemas last weekend, Jonathan Glendening’s Strippers vs. Werewolves now makes its way to the small screen, featuring small roles from classic horror actors Robert Englund and Steven Berkoff.
“When werewolf chief Jack Ferris is accidentally killed in a strip club the girls who work there have until the next full moon before his bloodthirsty wolfpack seek murderous retribution.”
Re-Released on Blu-Ray This Week:
Also being re-released on Blu-Ray this week are a number of brilliant classic and contemporary classic films, including Richard Kelly’s follow-up to cult film Donnie Darko, Southland Tales; Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black I and II; Rob Cohen’s Dragonheart; Ted Demme’s Life with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence; Michael Gordon’s 1959 film, Pillow Talk, with Rock Hudson and Doris Day; Bill L. Norton’s More American Graffiti, the sequel to George Lucas’ original American Graffiti; and Ron Howard’s Parenthood, starring Steve Martin, as well as a young Keanu Reeves and Joaquin Phoenix.