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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.



March 17, 2010
A Guide to 'New Moon' Exclusives



The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits stores March 20 at midnight, and some retailers are staying open late Friday night so dedicated fans can be among the first to get a copy. Here's a handy guide detailing where to go for retailer exclusives and the best price.

Title: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Street Date:
March 20, 2010
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
List Price: $32.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray
Extras: The regular edition includes commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary and four music videos

Also due March 20 is the companion DVD Twilight in Forks: The Saga of the Real Town, which lists at $19.99.

The guide is based on online promotions and the weekly ad circulars of some retailers. Prices may vary.


Amazon.com

Regular Edition: $16.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $9.99
 

 


Best Buy

BestBuy.com

Regular Edition: $19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray; Doorbuster price (midnight sales): $16.99 DVD, $21.99 BD
Steelbook edition w/cell phone skins: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 BD; Doorbuster price: $19.99 DVD, $24.99 BD
Twilight in Forks: $14.99


Target

Target.com

Regular Edition: $16.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Target-exclusive Deluxe Edition (extra featurettes, deleted scenes): $19.99 DVD, $24.99 BD;
Twilight in Forks: $9.99;
$5 gift card when New Moon DVD or BD is purchased with Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy or Bandslam


Wal-Mart

Walmart.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $17 DVD, $19.96 Blu-ray;
Ultimate Fan Edition (Eclipse preview): $24.96 DVD, $29.96 BD;
Twilight in Forks: $12.86
Gift pack of regular New Moon DVD w/Twilight in Forks: $29.96


Barnes & Noble

BN.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $23.09 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Barnes & Noble version with collectible dreamcatcher bag clip: $27.19 DVD, $39.99 BD
Twilight in Forks: $15.99


Borders

Borders.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $22.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray
Borders exclusive with medallion: $29.99 DVD
Twilight in Forks: $16.99


Toys R Us

ToysRUs.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray


F.Y.E.
(Trans World, Suncoast)

fye.com

Regular Edition: $22.99 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $12.99


Fry's Electronics

frys.com

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $14.99


DVDEmpire.com

Regular Edition: $26.06 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray


Hastings

GoHastings.com

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $11.99

By: John Latchem


March 16, 2010
‘Frog’ Gets Push as Retailers Await ‘New Moon’


The Princess and the Frog with Best Buy's guide book


Among the several decent titles released March 16, most retailers focused their attention on the latest Disney animated flick, The Princess and the Frog. Casting a shadow over the day, however, was the impending release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, due at midnight on March 20, with several retailers showing off promotional displays days in advance.

The major Frog exclusives could be found at Best Buy and Target, and both stores linked their promotion to the purchase of either the single-disc or combo-pack Blu-ray version of the film.

Best Buy offered an Essential Guide book with purchase of The Princess and the Frog, while Target offered a coin purse embroidered with the film’s logo. Target also sold a Princess Tiana doll for $24.99.

Barnes & Noble gave customers $6 savings with the purchase of any version of the film and its CD soundtrack (offered at $16.99).

Timed to the Frog release, Best Buy also offered at $9.99 such Disney favorites as Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Pete’s Dragon, Tarzan and Hercules, all packed with a coloring book and sticker sheets.

Otherwise, retailers were already heavily promoting their New Moon deals. Best Buy even offered discounts on the DVD and Blu-ray for those customers who showed up for special midnight sales Friday night. (See our retail guide to New Moon here).

A Target in Santa Ana, Calif., devoted half a wall in its DVD department to displaying “Twilight” merchandise, from books to toys to puzzles and discs of the first movie.

Target also had a promotion offering a $5 gift card with the purchase of any version of New Moon with any version of Astro Boy, Bandslam or Twilight in Forks, all from Summit Entertainment. Curiously, the shelf card touting the deal indicated it was valid from March 16-20, even though New Moon wouldn’t be available until the last day.

Target's "Twilight" Section

 

By: John Latchem


March 05, 2010
‘Up in the Air’ Should Win Best Picture



The greatest works of literature tend to have an indelible quality rooted in their ability to present a multifaceted story that both entertains and enlightens. Such classics are bound to mean different things to different people, who interpret them as they see fit.

Which brings me to Up in the Air, my favorite movie of 2009. (It takes this position over Inglourious Basterds and The Hangover, two films that had been perched near the top spot for a while.) Jason Reitman’s third directorial outing is easily his best. And when your first two films are as good as Thank You for Smoking and Juno, topping them is no easy feat.

The setup is simple enough. Professional journeyman Ryan Bingham (George Clooney in a classic leading-man performance) is the corporate hatchet man whose company hires him out to downsizing businesses that lack the temerity to fire their own employees. He relishes his time on the road, but his free ride is threatened by up-and-comer Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who proposes using Internet chat services to fire client employees from afar, thus creating huge savings on the travel budget.

As a mosaic of the travel industry, the only other film I would think comes close to capturing the isolation of living in a state of perpetual motion is Fight Club, which of course only touches on those themes before veering in a radically different direction. (One of Up in the Air's deleted scenes echoes Fight Club's theory of the single-serving friend, met on a flight and then forgotten, so I'm glad it didn't make the final cut, lest it invite the inevitable comparisons to the earlier effort.)

Since Ryan is not grounded, he has nothing to hold on to. His only goal seems to be accumulating enough miles on his travel account to earn a mythical elite status, but can such a journey sustain him without anyone to share in it?

To show Natalie the ropes of their industry, she is paired with Ryan for one last road trip. Along the way, Ryan encounters Alex (Vera Farmiga), another wayward traveler who appears to be a female version of himself.

The arrangement gives Ryan a chance to learn how to care for others, and Natalie a chance to learn about life. After all, life is better with someone to share the experience, right?

Ryan seems more comfortable in the artificial hospitality created by the travel industry to put its customers at ease, which probably forms the core of his personality, letting him remain charming and persuasive as he’s tearing people from their livelihood without a second thought.

In one discussion I had about this film, I suggested that Ryan was a metaphor for the Grim Reaper, given a chance at life only to be forced to understand his own tragic role in the cosmic ballet. The comparison was met with some skepticism, but consider this pitch Ryan makes when describing the essence of his job to Natalie:

“We are here to make limbo tolerable. To ferry wounded souls across the river of dread and to a point where hope is dimly visible. And then we stop the boat, shove them in the water and make them swim.”

Up in the Air is as much about the idea of its characters as it is a story of their lives. The film lets viewers project their own traits onto whichever parts of the film with which they most identify, raising questions but never providing the hard answers. Like great literature, Up in the Air has so many layers you can watch it multiple times and achieve a different experience with each viewing that is just as fulfilling as the last.

Is it a movie about people on the road? Is it a tragedy about a lost soul or a positive message about embracing who you are? Is it about Ryan and his slow emergence from a self-imposed banishment from the real world? Do you follow Natalie as she comes to the realization that life is more than theories and routines? Is it a treatise on the nature of feminism in the career cycle? Is it a buddy movie in which Ryan and Natalie can learn from each other about the holes in their lives? Is it an examination of the role our careers and families play in defining us? Is it an expression of the importance loved ones play in filling the voids of life's shortcomings? Is it the story of harsh economic realities and the people who nonetheless can take advantage of the system? Is it about a quest that is ultimately meaningless? Is it a warning about the dangers of fantasy escapism? Or do you see it as a parable about a world that has ironically grown more isolated despite the technological innovations that should keep us more connected?

Up in the Air is all these things and more, tightly wrapped in a tidy package at under two hours. So many moving parts, yet under Reitman’s skilled guidance they all manage to come together perfectly. At a time when far too many films try to be about a state of being and forget to tell a story, it’s refreshing to see a movie such as Up in the Air that reminds us it’s possible to do both. While individual scenes may lack the bravura of sequences from Inglourious Basterds or The Hurt Locker, the totality of purpose that Reitman has carved from Walter Kirn's original novel delivers more than enough substance to compensate.

Even the extras on the DVD and Blu-ray add something to the equation. The deleted scenes are so good they play like short films based on the movie, adding character depth and additional meaning. (To see all the deleted scenes you have to get the Blu-ray version. The DVD has only about half of them.)

Up in the Air hits DVD and Blu-ray Disc March 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Be sure to check it out.

 

By: John Latchem


March 03, 2010
Top 5 Best-Picture Oscar Snubs



While an Oscar can be a valuable marketing tool for a winning film, sometimes movie fans are left scratching their heads over which films the Academy chooses to honor as best picture. Here are some examples of the Academy losing sight of its sensibilities.

1.    Citizen Kane

Warner
1941. Rumor has it media mogul William Randolph Hearst cost Kane best picture in favor of How Green Was My Valley. It is now widely considered the greatest film ever made

2.    Network

Warner
1976. This satirical look at media corruption gone wild took best actor, best actress, best supporting actress and best screenplay, but somehow lost to Rocky for best picture and best director.

3.    Apollo 13

Universal
1995. The Academy recognized Ron Howard’s achievement in winning the Directors Guild Award by not even nominating him for best director. Adding insult to injury, the film not only lost best picture to Braveheart, but best visual effects to the talking pig movie Babe!

4.    Star Wars

Fox
1977. George Lucas’ space opera fundamentally changed the film industry, but Woody Allen’s Annie Hall was more in league with the tastes of Academy voters. The debate rages on.

5.    The Dark Knight

Warner
2008. After earning accolades from critics and audiences alike, the Academy didn’t even bother to nominate it for best picture. The ensuing backlash prompted the academy to expand the nominee field to 10.
 

Other Great Films That Didn't Win Best Picture:

Apocalypse Now (Paramount) 1979
Boogie Nights (Warner) 1997
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Fox) 1969
Fargo (MGM) 1996
Goodfellas (Warner) 1990
The Insider (Disney) 1999
L.A. Confidential (Warner) 1997
Pulp Fiction (Miramax) 1994
Raiders of the Lost Ark
(Paramount) 1981
The Right Stuff (Warner) 1983
Saving Private Ryan (DreamWorks) 1998
Traffic (Universal) 2000

 

By: John Latchem


February 22, 2010
Head-Scratching Over the Saturn Awards



The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films recently announced its nominees for the 36th Annual Saturn Awards, to be given out June 24 in Burbank.

Granted, this isn’t exactly the Oscars as it focuses on the so-called “geek” genres. And I won’t even nitpick why some horrible movies and TV shows were nominated at all, since it’s probably hard to fill all the available slots (so I won’t ask how anyone could consider “Heroes” for best network series, when even the tepid “Smallville” is a better show at this point).

But why is Avatar nominated for best fantasy film? This is the very definition of sci-fi and should be in the science-fiction category. Need to make room for it? How about taking out Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which if anything is more of a fantasy than is Avatar.

On the same subject, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Watchmen aren’t “fantasy” in the strictest sense either, since both rely on (barely) scientific rather than magical explanations for their flights into the realm of the impossible. (Though why Watchmen and Wolverine are in separate categories is beyond me.)

And how is Zombieland a horror film? Why not put it in the action-adventure-thriller category in lieu of the god-awful 2012?

I probably shouldn’t be surprised. This is, after all, the group that gave Batman Begins best fantasy film of 2005, and then put its sequel The Dark Knight (which presumably would be the same genre) in the action-adventure-thriller category, which it won in 2008.

It’s almost as if they are cherry-picking the categories so some movies don’t cancel each other out (so don’t be surprised when Star Trek wins best sci-fi and Avatar wins best fantasy).

Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. Congratulations to all the nominees, and I sincerely hope you check them out on DVD or (better yet) Blu-ray. Which ones are available are noted in the list below.

Enjoy!


36th Annual Saturn Award Nominations:

I put a star next to what I would pick, though bear in mind I don’t get an actual vote

FILM CATEGORIES

Best Science Fiction Film
The Book of Eli (Warner, not yet on disc)
*Knowing (on disc from Summit)
Moon (on disc from Sony Pictures)
Star Trek (on disc from Paramount)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (on disc from Paramount/DreamWorks)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (on disc from Fox)

Best Fantasy Film
Avatar (Fox, not yet on disc)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (on disc from Warner)
The Lovely Bones (Paramount, on disc April 20)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (on disc from Warner)
*Watchmen (on disc from Warner)
Where the Wild Things Are (Warner, on disc March 2)

Best Horror Film
The Box (Warner, on disc Feb. 23)
Drag Me to Hell (on disc from Universal)
Frozen (Anchor Bay, not yet on disc)
The Last House on the Left (on disc from Universal)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Summit, on disc March 20)
*Zombieland (on disc from Sony Pictures)

Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
2012 (Sony Pictures, on disc March 9)
Brothers (Lionsgate, on disc March 23)
The Hurt Locker (on disc from Summit)
*Inglourious Basterds (on disc from Universal)
Law Abiding Citizen (on disc from Anchor Bay)
The Messenger (Oscilloscope, on disc May 18)
Sherlock Holmes (Warner, on disc March 30)

Best International Film
*District 9 (on disc from Sony Pictures)
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Sony Pictures, not on disc)
Lorna’s Silence (on disc from Sony Pictures)
Red Cliff (Magnolia, on disc March 23)
Taken (on disc from Fox)
Thirst (on disc from Universal)

Best Animated Film
A Christmas Carol
(Disney, not yet on disc)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Fox, on disc March 23)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (on disc from Fox)
Monsters vs. Aliens (on disc from Paramount/DreamWorks)
The Princess and the Frog (Disney, on disc March 16)
*Up (on disc from Disney)

Best Actor
*Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes
Tobey Maguire, Brothers
Viggo Mortensen, The Road (not yet on disc)
Sam Rockwell, Moon
Denzel Washington, The Book of Eli
Sam Worthington, Avatar

Best Actress
Catherine Keener, Where the Wild Things Are
*Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Alison Lohman, Drag Me to Hell
Natalie Portman, Brothers
Zoe Saldana, Avatar
Charlize Theron, The Burning Plain (on disc from Magnolia)

Best Supporting Actor
Woody Harrelson, Zombieland
Stephen Lang, Avatar
Frank Langella, The Box
Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
*Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress
Malin Akerman, Watchmen
*Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Rachel McAdams, Sherlock Holmes
Lorna Raver, Drag Me to Hell
Susan Sarandon, The Lovely Bones
Sigourney Weaver, Avatar

Best Performance by a Younger Actor
Taylor Lautner, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
*Bailee Madison, Brothers
Brooklynn Proulx, The Time Traveler’s Wife
Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road

Best Director
J.J. Abrams, Star Trek
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Neill Blomkamp, District 9
James Cameron, Avatar
Guy Ritchie, Sherlock Holmes
Zack Snyder, Watchmen
*Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Writing
Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell, District 9
James Cameron, Avatar
Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers, Where the Wild Things Are
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Star Trek
*Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Alex Tse, David Hayter, Watchmen

Best Music
Brian Eno, The Lovely Bones
Michael Giacchino, Up
*James Horner, Avatar
Taro Iwashiro, Red Cliff
Christopher Young, Drag Me To Hell
Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes

Best Costumes

Colleen Atwood, Nine (not yet on disc)
*Jenny Beavan, Sherlock Holmes
Anna Sheppard, Inglourious Basterds
Jany Temime, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
Michael Wilkinson, Watchmen
Tim Yip, Red Cliff

Best Makeup
Barney Burman, Minday Hall, Joel Harlow, Star Trek
Joe Dunckley, Sarah Rubano, Frances Richardson, District 9
Sarah Monzani, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Gregory Nicotero, Howard Berger, The Book of Eli
Gregory Nicotero, Howard Berger, Drag Me to Hell
*Mike Smithson, John Rosengrant, Terminator: Salvation (on disc from Warner)

Best Production Design
Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Avatar
Scott Chambliss, Star Trek
Stuart Craig, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
Sarah Greenwood, Sherlock Holmes
*Philip Ivey, District 9
Alex McDowell, Watchmen

Best Special Effects
Tim Burke, John Richardson, Nicholas Aithadi, Tim Alexander, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
John DesJardin, Peter G. Travers, Joel Whist, Jessica Norman, Watchmen
Volker Engel, Marc Weingert, Mike Vezina, 2012
Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton, Star Trek
Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros, Matt Aitken, District 9
*Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones, Avatar


TELEVISION CATEGORIES

Best Network Series
“Chuck” (NBC, on disc from Warner)
“Fringe” (Fox, on disc from Warner)
“The Ghost Whisperer” (CBS, on DVD from Paramount/CBS)
“Heroes” (NBC, on disc from Universal)
*“Lost” (ABC, on disc from Disney)
“The Vampire Diaries    “ (CW, not yet on disc)

Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series
“Breaking Bad” (AMC, on disc from Sony Pictures)
*“Battlestar Galactica” (SyFy, on disc from Universal)
“The Closer” (TNT, on disc from Warner)
“Dexter”    (Showtime, on disc from Paramount/CBS)
“Leverage” (TNT, on disc from Paramount/CBS)
“True Blood” (HBO, on disc from HBO)

Best Television Presentation
Doctor Who: The End of Time (BBC America, on disc from BBC Video)
“Alice” (SyFy, on disc March 2 from Lionsgate)
The Prisoner (AMC, on DVD March 23 from Warner)
*Torchwood: Children of Earth (BBC America, on disc from BBC Video)
“The Tudors” (Showtime, on disc from Paramount/CBS)
“V” (ABC, not yet on disc)

Best Actor in Television
Josh Holloway, “Lost”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Matthew Fox, “Lost”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Zachary Levi, “Chuck”
Stephen Moyer, “True Blood”
*David Tennant, “Doctor Who”

Best Actress on Television
Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”
Jennifer Love Hewitt, “The Ghost Whisperer”
Evangeline Lily, “Lost”
Anna Paquin, “True Blood”
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”
*Anna Torv, “Fringe”

Best Supporting Actor on Television

Jeremy Davies, “Lost”
*Michael Emerson, “Lost”
Aldis Hodge, “Leverage”
Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”
John Noble, “Fringe”
Alexander Skarsgard, “True Blood”

Best Supporting Actress in Television

Morena Baccarin, “V”
Gina Bellman, “Leverage”
*Julie Benz, “Dexter”
Jennifer Carpenter, “Dexter”
Elizabeth Mitchell, “Lost”
Hayden Panettiere, “Heroes”

Best Guest-Starring Role in Television
Bernard Cribbins, Doctor Who: The End of Time
Raymond Cruz, “Breaking Bad”
Michelle Forbes, “True Blood”
*John Lithgow, “Dexter”
Leonard Nimoy, “Fringe”
Mark Pellegrino, “Lost”

DVD CATEGORIES

Best DVD Release
*The House of the Devil (on disc from MPI/Dark Sky)
Laid to Rest (on DVD from Anchor Bay)
Not Forgotten (on disc from Anchor Bay)
Nothing But the Truth (on DVD from Sony Pictures)
Pontypool (on DVD MPI/IFC)
Super Capers (on DVD from Lionsgate)
Surveillance (on disc from Magnolia)

Best TV DVD Release
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (on disc from BBC Video)
Torchwood: Children of Earth (on disc from BBC Video)
Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles — The Complete Second Season (on disc from Warner)
Primeval Vol. 2 (on DVD from BBC Video)
*Lost: The Complete Fifth Season (on disc from Disney)
Life on Mars: The Complete Series (on DVD from Disney)

Best DVD Special Edition
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut
300: The Complete Experience (on Blu-ray from Warner)
*Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (on disc from Disney)
District 9
Terminator 2: Judgment Day — Skynet Edition (on Blu-ray from Lionsgate)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Best Collection
Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 (on DVD from Sony Pictures)       
The Hannibal Lector Anthology (on disc from Fox/MGM)
Hellraiser Boxed Set (on disc from Anchor Bay)
Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection (on DVD from Sony Pictures)
*Star Trek Original Motion Picture Collection (on disc from Paramount)
The William Castle Collection (on DVD from Sony Pictures)
 

By: John Latchem





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