May’s New Releases on DVD & Blu-Ray

If there isn’t much to excite you in the theaters right now, maybe it’s a good time to catch up on some movies at home. There are some good titles coming out in the month of May that are worth watching.
W.E. (May 1 release) – Most movie fans by this point have seen the Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech. If you ever wanted to know more about the story of Bertie’s brother, Edward, this is one to catch for sure. This film, written and directed by Madonna, may surprise a lot of people. Don’t expect a straightforward historical film here, but a well thought out love story.
The Grey (May 15 release) – This film starring Liam Neeson hit the theatres earlier this year to mixed reviews. It’s about a plane crash in the wilderness and the struggle to survive afterwards. The scenes with wolves are a bit beyond reality, so don’t take this film too literally.   
The Woman in Black (May 22 release) – Harry Potter returns! Sort of. And as a lawyer no less. Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a man having trouble dealing with his wife’s death, who is sent to settle the estate of one Mrs. Drablow. Kipps discovers the house is haunted by the ghost of a woman in black, and the townspeople want him gone before he discovers their deadly secret. A great ghost story!
Red Tails (May 22 release) – A film by Lucasfilm, Red Tails is about the Tuskegee airmen in WW2. Although the special effects were good, there is much more that could have been done with the story. A moving subject, but I really can’t put this one in the “great” category. I guess this is the sort of film I have come to expect from George Lucas lately.
Well, those are some of the new releases coming out and my two cents on their merits. Also be sure to look for some movies being re-released in Blu-Ray format this month. For starters, grab a copy of the entertaining Men In Black II (2002) and the incredible Being John Malkovich (1999).
Enjoy the movies! — Jim

April’s New Releases on DVD & Blu-Ray

War Horse  (April 3 release)

The Narracott family is short on money and has to pay rent or be evicted. To make matters worse, Ted Narracott has just bought a thoroughbred horse instead of a sturdy plow horse for the farming season. Ted’s son Albert develops a bond with the horse and names him Joey. Desperately needing money, the family is forced to sell Joey to the British Calvary as WWI is about to break out. Once Albert is of age, he enlists and joins the forces to help fight the war, always thinking and keeping an eye out for Joey, wanting nothing more than to see him again. Does Albert get his wish?

Still unsure about watching it? Just consider its director Steven Spielberg and its nomination for Best Picture of the Year. War Horse does not offer brilliant performances by its cast and has a few “family movie clichés” in it, but it has beautiful cinematography, direction, and overall offers a wonderful story. You can’t go wrong sitting down to watch this one.
Iron Lady
  (April 10 release)

Denis Thatcher passed away, leaving Margaret all alone. As she packs away her late husband’s things, she reflects back on her life. Remembering back to the days when she first met Denis, how he supported her clear up through becoming the first female Prime Minister in Great Britain.
Meryl Streep won her third Academy Award this year for her performance in Iron Lady (although I personally thought Viola Davis or Michelle Williams deserved it more.) Iron Lady also won an Oscar for Best Make-Up – most definitely deserved. Meryl Streep appeared to be a mirror image of Margaret Thatcher. The film as a whole was a bit disappointing, but it is worth watching just for the performances.
A Trip to The Moon  (April 10 release)

Remember the movie Hugo last year? If you saw it, or saw a Smashing Pumpkins music video for “Tonight, Tonight,” then this movie may look familiar to you. A Trip to the Moon is a film by Georges Melies. The memorable shot of the rocket crash landing on the moon graces the cover of this re-mastered limited edition. At the time this film was considered to be one of the most technically innovative films out there. Of course, that was 1902, and we have come quite a ways in movie-making technology since then.

I am very interested to see what is done with the restoration with this film– both the black and white and hand colored versions. I’ll be getting a copy for sure, since I don’t yet own this film on DVD or Laserdisc.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol  (April 17 release)

In a botched attempt to stop a terrorist with nuclear launch codes, a bomb has accidentally gone off, leaving the Kremlin in ruins with the IMF being implicated. The President of the United States has evoked Ghost Protocol, the disavowing of knowledge of any member of the IMF. Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, is forced to track and catch the terrorist to prove their innocence. Their adventure takes them to Dubai, where there are some great action sequences, one on top of a skyscraper and the other in a sandstorm.

Simon Pegg is back as Benji, and new to the team is recent Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner. If you liked the previous Mission Impossible movies, this Tom Cruise action film falls right in line. It will not disappoint.

Pop some popcorn and enjoy the feature presentation! — Jim

Singin’ in the Rain’s 60th Anniversary

Singin’ in the Rain was first released on March 27, 1952 in New York City. This comedy musical stars Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds and is directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography. It offers a comedic depiction of Hollywood’s transition from silent films to “talkies” in the 1920s. It pays homage to the roots of cinema.

Since its debut 60 years ago, several DVD collections of Singin’ in the Rain have hit the shelves in celebration of MGM’s “Technicolor Musical Treasure.” And, rumor has it that Warner Brothers plans to release the film on Blu-Ray this summer.

Here’s the famous, namesake musical number featuring Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain.

If you’ve never seen it before, you simply must! Singin’ in the Rain is a classic! A delightful melody of vintage music, dance, comedy and romance. It’s the kind of lighthearted musical that will get you whistling or humming a tune.

Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo, Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo – Meredith

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

New Releases on DVD & Blu-Ray

Greetings, fellow movie fans. Now that the Academy Awards are behind us and there are slim pickings for new releases at the theater, it is a good time for new DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Here are some of my top picks.

Hugo (February 28 release)
Winner of five of this year’s Academy Awards, this film surprised me. I went into it thinking it was a simple kids’ movie, but Hugo is an absolutely wonderful film about an orphan boy who fixes clocks at the local train station. His only connection left with his father is an automaton that needs a heart shaped key. The boy discovers that a shop owner at the station has a history with the automaton, a history that will help him rediscover his long lost love of film making. Highly recommended: a must see for sure!

Plan 9 From Outer Space (March 6 release)
One could argue this is the worst movie ever made, but this Ed Wood film has quite the cult following by being a so-bad-it’s-good guilty pleasure.  It is known for its crazy mistakes and complete lack of attention to detail– in one scene, night becomes day, and then back to night (with no explanation), and the graveyard is made of plywood and cardboard. This is one fun train wreck of a movie, and one you can now see with a crystal clear picture and digital sound via its Blu-Ray release.

The Adventures of Tintin (March 13 release)
You can’t really go wrong with the combination of Steven Spielberg as director and Peter Jackson as producer. Tintin has just bought a model ship at the local market and becomes quite curious when Mr. Sakharine seems so insistent on buying it from him. For Tintin, the adventure is on, with his faithful dog Snowy. A great cast voices this one, including Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot), Nick Frost and Edgar Wright (duo from Shaun of the Dead) and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. A fun romp of a movie done with that Spielberg flare.

The Descendants (March 13 release)
OK, don’t let the trailers fool you, because I went into this film thinking it had some comedy to it — it is much more serious than that. However, it was a very well done and well acted film. It won the Oscar for Adapted Screen play a week ago, and of course it was up for Best Picture, with George Clooney up for Best Actor. This is one you have to be in the mood for, but I am looking forward to watching it again with a different mindset.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (March 20 release)
This is one of the best spy movies I have seen in a very long time. Gary Oldman gives a superb, understated performance, which earned him his first Best Actor nomination. This film takes place during the cold war and involves a plot in which one of their own is in fact a spy for the Russians as they discover and flush out the mole in their own organization. 

When you’re looking for movies on DVD or Blu-Ray, remember to check your local Half Price Books. And if you’re upgrading your DVDs to Blu-Ray, HPB will give you cash for your used movies. Or, if you’re a collector like me (or the HPB Adventure Ladies), check out the selection of Laser Discs and other treasures in the racks at HPB.

— Jim