As the summer season enters its second half, we’d like to take a moment to look up from our poolside lounge chair, put down our icy drink with the little umbrella, and let you know about some of the hottest DVD and Blu-ray releases for August (Okay, actually we’re sitting in the MovieFanFare offices with a warm can of soda, but you get the idea). From recent hits to vintage favorites and special collector’s editions, there’s plenty here for all tastes until Labor Day passes and school bells start ringing again:
Aloha (2015) — A delightful all-star cast and beautiful Hawaiian scenery highlight writer/director Cameron Crowe’s quirky romantic comedy/drama. Sent to Hawaii to supervise the launch of a weapons satellite, a defense contractor (Bradley Cooper) finds himself caught up in a love triangle with an unhappily married former flame (Rachel McAdams) and the charming Air Force officer (Emma Stone) assigned as his chaperone. John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin, and Bill Murray also star.
Big Game (2014) — The life of the U.S. president (Samuel L. Jackson) in the hands of a 13-year-old boy? That’s the setup for this explosive adventure. When Air Force One is shot down over Finland by terrorists and crashes in the mountainous wilderness, Jackson’s Commander-in-Chief is left stranded and in the company of native teen Oskari (Onni Tommila)–who was deer hunting before being pressed into “protective detail” in a race to outwit the assassins now pursuing them. With Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, and Felicity Huffman.
Citizenfour (2015) — In January 2013, journalist and documentarian Laura Poitras began receiving encrypted e-mails under the name of “Citizenfour,” asserting the existence of illegal surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Administration. The trail took her to the Hong Kong hotel room of contractor/programmer Edward Snowden–and her as-it-happened chronicle of his public whistleblowing, and its explosive immediate aftermath, captured the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Dark Shadows: The Greatest Episodes Collection: The Best of Angelique and The Best of Quentin — Fans of the supernatural ’60s soaper won’t want to miss these special compilations of the most frightening episodes spotlighting the bewitching Angelique Bouchard and werewolf Quentin Collins, hosted by stars Lara Parker and David Selby, respectively.
Day for Night (Criterion Collection) (1973) — Winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar, Francois Truffaut’s engrossing character study details a movie company shooting a love story in Nice. Truffaut appropriately plays the film’s director, obsessed with controlling his actors both on and off the set. Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Valentina Cortese, and Jean-Pierre Leaud also star. Special edition includes “making of” documentary, featurette, interviews and theatrical trailer. In French with English subtitles.
The Dovekeepers (2015) — Two-part miniseries focuses on the lives of three women living in 70 A.D. in the mountain fortress of Masada, where Jews who were driven out of Jerusalem made a stand against the Romans. Shirah (Cote de Pablo), a woman once accused of witchcraft, her daughter Aziza (Kathryn Prescott), and Yael (Rachel Brosnahan), who is haunted by her past, tend to the city’s doves while Roman forces close in on their community. With Sam Neill, Diego Boneta also star.
Dressed to Kill (Criterion Collection) (1980) — A bored housewife (Angie Dickinson) opts to pursue a sexual encounter with a stranger, and pays with her life as she’s slain after leaving the liaison. A call girl (Nancy Allen) who gets caught up in the crime scene starts a pursuit of the dead woman’s therapist (Michael Caine), who may hold the key to solving the murder. Brian De Palma’s stylish, erotic suspenser co-stars Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz. Special edition includes “making of” documentary, interviews, featurettes, photo gallery and theatrical trailer.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Criterion Collection) (1981) — In Victorian England, researcher Charles Smithson (Jeremy Irons) loses a battle with his better judgment and embarks on an affair with scandalized ex-governess Sarah Woodruff (Meryl Streep). This challenging take on the John Fowles novel from director Karel Reisz and screenwriter Harold Pinter offers a parallel storyline for the leads, as actors cast in an adaptation of the book, and caught in their own ill-fated liaison. David Warner, Leo McKern, Richard Griffiths also star. Special edition includes a featurette, a 1981 TV interview, the theatrical trailer and more.
Gene Autry Collection 11 — The legendary B western hero shows how to fight bad guys and belt out songs at the same time (well, not really, but you get the idea) in this two-disc set featuring four of Gene’s finest, and earliest, frontier flicks. Included are Guns and Guitars and The Singing Cowboy from 1936, along with 1937’s Round-Up Time in Texas and Springtime in the Rockies.
Hot Pursuit (2015) — As the one woman on the San Antonio P.D., tightly wound patrolwoman Rose Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) drew the detail of shepherding Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara), the sultry widow of a drug kingpin, to Dallas in order to turn state’s witness. Soon, however, the mismatched–and possibly overmatched–duo is on the run from determined cartel assassins out to cut their trip short! Raucous lady-buddy farce co-stars Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, John Carroll Lynch.
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2014) — Integral to the education and entertainment of children for decades, 80-year-old “Sesame Street” performer Caroll Spinney–who portrays both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on the beloved PBS program–shares his surprising and inspiring life story. This touching documentary surveys the long history of his work with Muppets creator Jim Henson, while also revealing how Spinney transformed personal challenges into sources of joy for fans both young and old.
I Am Chris Farley (2015) — If you’re not living in a van down by the river, you’ll want to check out this affectionate and informative documentary that focuses on the late, great Chris Farley. Before his tragic and untimely death at age 33, Farley left a lasting impression on the world of comedy as a popular member of the cast of “Saturday Night Live” and the star of several hilarious films. Features interviews with Lorne Michaels, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, David Spade, Christina Applegate, Molly Shannon, and more.
It Happened Here (2014) — What is it like to endure a sexual assault on your college campus, only to have the disclosure of your story met with disbelief, inaction, or even condemnation? In filmmaker Lisa Jackson’s gripping and often unsettling documentary, five student survivors share their personal experiences with the indifference or outright hostilities they encountered as they confronted obstacles to justice both in their schools and in the courts.
The Knick: The Complete First Season (2014) — New York City, 1900: At the always-challenged Knickerbocker Hospital, skilled chief of surgery John Thackery (Clive Owen) had his own struggles with the then-prevailing limitations of his craft, the exodus of top talent and wealthy clientele from the facility, and the demons of his substance abuse. Remarkable period medical drama from Cinemax and Steven Soderbergh co-stars Andre Holland, Juliet Rylance, Michael Angarano, and Jeremy Bobb. All 10 episodes from the debut season are featured in a four-disc set.
La Grande Bouffe (Blu-rayDVD Combo) (1973) — A judge, a chef, a pilot and a TV personality decide to end their lives of boredom by partaking in a session of total debauchery in a Paris villa. Their goal: to eat themselves to death. Along the disgusting road to ruin, they partake in wild sex with a teacher and some prostitutes and have a cinematic meal that is not to be missed. Marcello Mastroianni, Philippe Noiret, and Ugo Tognazzi star in Marco Ferreri’s notorious cult favorite. In French with English subtitles.
The Rebel: The Complete Series — Series co-creator Nick Adams starred as Johnny Yuma, a former Confederate soldier and aspiring writer who roamed the 1860s American West settling moral dilemmas and fighting injustice with help from his cap and ball pistol and sawed-off shotgun. The 1959-61 series which aired on ABC and, later, NBC also featured the popular theme song “The Ballad of Johnny Yuma,” sung by Johnny Cash. All 76 episodes are featured in an 11-disc collector’s set.
The Runner (2015) — The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 serves as the backdrop for this impassioned drama in which Nicolas Cage plays a Louisiana congressman determined to obtain financial restitution for the affected residents of the Gulf region. Powerful interests conspire to strip the lawmaker of his office via a sex scandal–without reckoning upon how strongly a community might rally to stand behind one of their own. With Connie Nielsen, Sarah Paulson, and Peter Fonda.
Throne of Blood (Criterion Collection) (1957) — Akira Kurosawa transforms “Macbeth” into an outstanding samurai saga starring Toshiro Mifune as the tragic ruler fated by the forewarnings of three witches. Soaked in eerie atmosphere and brimming with horrific imagery, Kurosawa’s first stab at Shakespeare revels in “sound and fury” worthy of the Bard. Also stars Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura. Special edition includes audio commentary and the theatrical trailer. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Unfriended (2015) — The cyber-shaming that led to a teen’s suicide comes back to haunt her peers in this unconventional horror story told from the perspective of online video chatting. On the anniversary of the girl’s death, her friends find their gab sessions on the web disrupted by an online user who claims to be their dead classmate; is it an elaborate prank, or a supernatural predator privy to their secrets and hungry for revenge? Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, and Renee Olstead star.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season (2014) — Okay, so just how do Rick and the gang get out of that Terminus train car they were locked up in at the end of season four? All 10 episodes from season five of the hit AMC series are featured in a five-disc set.
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