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article imageReview: New on DVD for September 25 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 25, 2012 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include another found footage picture; an original horror series; a dialogue rich, character film; and a complete collection of award-winning television.
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Entertainment One
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388 Arletta Avenue (DVD)
A faceless voyeur's twisted manipulation of a young couple escalates into a deadly cat-and-mouse game, as seen from the perspective of hidden cameras he's concealed throughout their house.
A stalker movie that relies wholly on surveillance style footage to tell its story is both innovative and derivative. There is no dialogue for almost the first 10 minutes of the film; the camera simply follows the couple from a distance. The voyeuristic aspect of the narrative is negated because you almost never see the targeted couple outside of the stalker's perspective. Moreover his behavior escalates quickly, moving from watching to tormenting to physical interaction in a matter of days. Nick Stahl carries most of the film appearing more erratic the further the stalker pushes him, turning in an intense performance that endures for the majority of the movie.
Special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette. (Entertainment One)
American Horror Story – Season One (Blu-ray)
A family of three moves from Boston to Los Angeles as a means of reconciling their past anguish. They move to a restored mansion, unaware that the home is haunted.
This series took a unique approach to the haunted house genre, creating ghosts that regularly interact with the living residents. Each episode begins with the portrayal of a tragedy that occurred in the house from a few years to several decades earlier. Nicknamed "the murder house," it's a wonder they would continue getting buyers over the years - though it is a lovely home. The first season was engaging with various twists, turns and surprises. But it could also be a little over dramatic with too many characters or coincidences. The end of the season is wrapped in a neat little bow, which is expected but somewhat disappointing nonetheless. Having covered so much ground in the first season, it will be interesting to see where the show goes in the new chapter. Though they are already building anticipation with a special murder house app that tells users about murders in their own neighborhoods.
Special features not available. (Fox Home Entertainment)
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
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The American President (Blu-ray)
As President, Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) is immensely popular. As a man, he's a lonely father struggling to raise a daughter. His struggles multiply when his romance with lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening) becomes fodder for both the press and a rival Senator.
If you've ever wondered what a single president would look like, this film brings that impossibility to the screen. Sydney's shocked response to his advances almost gives the impression that it was assumed someone in his position would be asexual. Even his closest friends and advisors believe public courting is off the menu, instead offering him private, discreet relationships to fill his needs. But the president proves persistent and persuasive against all resisters, including the object of his affections. Of course, to further complicate matters, Sydney becomes privy to information that could change the course of the upcoming election.
Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (Blu-ray)
In a bleak and ominous future, superheroes have fallen out of favour, including Batman. Bruce Wayne hung up his cape at least a decade ago. Most of the others have been forced into retirement. Facing the downside of middle age, Bruce now buoys up his life with racing cars and liquor. Yet the bat still beckons as he watches his city fall prey to gangs of barbaric criminals known as the mutants. Based on Frank Miller’s celebrated graphic novel.
Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Damsels in Distress (Blu-ray)
A trio of beautiful girls who set out to revolutionize life at a grungy East Coast College – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men — including slick Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker) and the mad frat boys Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen)—who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.
Writer/director Whit Stillman favors smart, heady dialogue - just see The Last Days of Disco. His characters have a lot happening internally, only some of which reaches the surface. The casting of Gerwig in the lead role is also an extension of his style, as she shares many traits with Disco star Chloe Sevigny. While these girls think they have the interests of everyone else in mind, they are actually elitists (and in some cases neurotics) trying to shape society in their image. The suicide prevention centre they manage is somewhat of a joke on and off screen, withholding donuts and coffee from anyone who is not "serious." It takes a little effort to stay with it all the way through, but the film is well crafted with excellent performances.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Whit Stillman and cast; deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurette; “An Evening with Damsels in Distress: Q&A with Stillman and cast; and outtakes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Delicacy (DVD)
A French woman mourning over the death of her husband three years prior is courted by a Swedish co-worker.
There are no special features. (Entertainment One)
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Fox Home Entertainment
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Family Guy – Volume 10 (DVD)
America’s most dysfunctional family, the Griffins, return with another outrageous, uncensored volume. Follow unconventional dad Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) as he gets up to plenty of antics with the reluctant help of his caring wife Lois (Alex Borstein), their awkward daughter Meg (Mila Kunis), dorky son Chris (Seth Green), maniacal baby Stewie (MacFarlane) and Brian, the family dog who is both a ladies’ man and a heavy drinker.
Released in volumes rather than seasons because of irregular airings in its earlier years, this covers the 2011-2012 season. Episodes include more time traveling by Brian and Stewie, but to a time likely more familiar to fans; TV rules are broken when Meg actually ages, turning 18 and entering Quagmire's radar; Lois gets political again, but for an even more controversial cause; Peter continues to offend at every turn, this time getting a shot at the Amish; and Brian and Stewie once again respond to viewer mail. Celebrity guests include a surprising obsession by Ryan Reynolds and a different mammalian appearance by Ricky Gervais.
Special features include: audio commentary on select episodes; select scene animatics; deleted scenes; “Behind the Music for Road to the North Pole”; “German Guy Fight Sequence”; and “Adam West Star Ceremony.” (Fox Home Entertainment)
Rescue Me: The Complete Series (DVD)
This series portrays the New York City firefighters of 62 Truck, whose duty to save lives puts their own in constant turmoil - on the front lines, in the firehouse and at home. Tommy Gavin (co-creator Denis Leary) is a deeply driven first responder with a combustible personality and personal demons to match. Through seven seasons, we follow his gripping story, along with those of his fellow crew. Provocative, profane, dramatic, humorous and unflinchingly honest, it is an unforgettable journey of courage, conflict and ultimate salvation.
Special features not available. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Resident Evil: Damnation (Blu-ray)
United States Special agent Leon S. Kennedy sneaks into a small Eastern Europe country to verify rumours that Bio Organic Weapons (B.O.W.s) are being used in war. Right after his infiltration, the US government orders him to leave immediately. Determined to uncover the truth, Leon ignores the order and enters the battlefield to end the chain of tragedies caused by the B.O.W.s.
Special features not available. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Surviving Progress (DVD)
Surviving Progress presents the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged. It reveals the grave risk of running the 21st century’s software — our know-how — on the ancient hardware of our primate brain which hasn’t been upgraded in 50,000 years. With rich imagery and an immersive soundtrack, filmmakers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks launch audiences on a journey to contemplate evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers.
Special features include: introduction with Martin Scorsese at the New York premiere; “Behind Surviving Progress: Round table discussion with filmmakers at the Montreal Documentary Festival”; extended interviews with Jane Goodall, Ronald Wright, Michael Hudson and Jim Thomas; portrait gallery headshot sequence with voice-over by Wright and Gary Marcus; and filmmaker and producer biographies. (Alliance Films)
More about American Horror Story, Rescue Me, Damsels in Distress, The American President, Batman the Dark Knight Returns
 
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