This week’s releases include: both the original and remake of a highly controversial rape-revenge movie; an uplifting comedy about finding sanity in an unlikely place; a romcom about unexpected parenthood; the latest horror movie from a legendary director; a sexy romp into a classic tale; a humorous look at being a virgin in high school; and a funny story about an eccentric assassin.

I Spit on Your Grave (1978) on Blu-rayI Spit on Your Grave (1978) (Blu-ray)
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) is an attractive city woman who rents a backwoods cabin to begin writing her first novel. She is soon attacked by a group of local lowlifes and dragged screaming into a nightmare of violence. Left for dead, she devises a horrific plan for revenge.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director Meir Zarchi; commentary by author/historian Joe Bob Briggs; “The Values of Vengeance: Meir Zarchi Remembers I Spit on Your Grave”; poster and still gallery; TV spots and trailers; radio spots; and alternate main title. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

I Spit on Your Grave (2010) on Blu-rayI Spit on Your Grave (2010) (Blu-ray)
A beautiful woman from the city, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler), rents an isolated cabin in the country to write her latest novel. Soon, a group of local lowlifes subject Jennifer to a nightmare of degradation, rape and violence. Left for dead, she returns for vengeance. Trapping her male attackers one-by-one, she inflicts acts of physical torment upon them with a ferocity that surpasses her own ordeal.

As far as remakes are concerned, this version surpasses the original in several ways. First, filmmakers fill in a hole in the original plot by providing a reason Jennifer did not go to the authorities for help, instead choosing to exact her own brand of justice. Second, the way in which Jennifer takes her revenge is significantly altered, opting for systematic brutality instead of a sexual lure. Lastly, while it is extremely difficult to commend a film for its approach to an indescribably vicious gang rape, its depiction is improved from the original as it does not show every act of violation by each of the perpetrators. The atmosphere of the film is very ominous from the moment it begins. Butler’s performance is exceptionally good, especially considering the subject matter – what’s almost equally disturbing as the violence she inflicts is the complete loss of life in her eyes and complexion.

Special features include: commentary by director Steven R. Monroe and producer Lisa Hansen; “The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon”; deleted scenes; and teaser and theatrical trailers. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

It's Kind of a Funny Story on DVDIt’s Kind of a Funny Story (DVD)
Sometimes what’s in your head isn’t as crazy as you think … That’s certainly true for Craig (Keir Gilchrist), a stressed-out teenager who checks himself into a mental health clinic for some time away from the stresses of his everyday life. What he finds instead is an unlikely mentor (Zack Galifianakis), a potential new romance (Emma Roberts) and an opportunity to begin anew.

This film is a great way to put life’s problems into perspective, which is the awakening Craig receives when he spontaneously checks himself into a facility. His surprise at not being released in time for school the following day is really humorous. The great part is the comedy is not particularly dark or over-the-top, which is often the tendency when dealing with mental health; conversely, the narrative is entertaining because it’s quite practical and relatable. In addition, Craig’s fantasies that exaggerate reality are very amusing. Having already established himself as a teen able to portray complex emotions in the United States of Tara, Gilchrist was more than capable of shouldering the weight of an entire film. Furthermore, Galifianakis shows he really does have substance as an actor.

Special features include: deleted scenes; a making-of featurette; outtakes; and footage from the film’s premiere in New York City. (Alliance Films)

Life As We Know It on Blu-rayLife As We Know It (DVD + Blu-ray)
After a distastrous first date for caterer Holly (Katherine Heigl) and network sports director Messer (Josh Duhamel), all they have in common is a dislike for each other and their love for their goddaughter Sophie. But when they suddenly become all Sophie has in this world, Holly and Messer must set their differences aside. Juggling careers and social calendars, they’ll have to find common ground while living under the same roof.

Special features include: “A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting,” in which cast members offer funny child-rearing advice; “Katherine Heigl: Becoming the Best Mom Ever,” shows Heigl’s transformation into a mom overnight; “Josh Duhamel: The Triplet Tamer,” shows how Duhamel  won the admiration of his three “little” leading ladies; additional scenes; and a digital copy of the film. (Warner Home Video)

My Soul to Take on DVDMy Soul to Take (DVD)
In the sleepy town of Riverton, legend tells of a serial killer who swore he would return to murder the seven children born the night he died. Now, 16 years later, people are disappearing again. Adam “Bug” Heller (Max Thieriot) has been plagued by nightmares since he was a baby. But if Bug hopes to save his friends from the monster that’s returned, he must face an evil that won’t rest until it finishes the job it began the day he was born.

After more-or-less being off the radar for five years, legendary horror director Wes Craven returned to the scene with a thrilling story reminiscent of his supernatural serial killers, pre-Scream. This is a quality, bloody mystery that is interesting from beginning to end as more of the teens are murdered, but the suspect list remains unchanged. Thieriot is convincing as the highly emotional, confused teen who is struggling with his hormones as well as the sudden deaths of his friends.

Special features include: commentary by director Craven and cast members Thieriot, John Magaro and Emily Meade; alternate opening and endings; and deleted and extended scenes. (Alliance Films)

Tamara Drewe on Blu-rayTamara Drewe (Blu-ray)
The film is a modern take on Thomas Hardy’s romance novel, Far From the Madding Crowd with its present day English countryside a far cry from Hardy’s Wessex. Stocked with pompous writers, rich weekenders, bourgeois bohemians, a horny rock star, and a great many Buff Orpington chickens and Belted Galloway cows, the town of Ewedown is a much funnier place. When Tamara Drewe sashays back to the bucolic village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamara – once an ugly duckling – has been transformed into a devastating beauty (thanks to plastic surgery). As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighbouring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play using the oldest trick in the book – sex appeal.

Special features include: commentary by actors Gemma Arterton and Luke Evans; a making-of featurette; and “Reconstructing Tamara Drewe.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Wild Cherry on DVDWild Cherry (DVD)
Helen McNicol (Tania Raymonde) and her friends Trish (Kristin Cavallari) and Katelyn (Rumer Willis) attend Dover West High. But during their senior year, they learn about the legendary “Bang Book” – a list kept by the school football team that documents their sexual conquests and is passed down from year to year. Helen is skeptical that her perfect boyfriend Stan (Ryan Merriman) would be a participant – however she isn’t completely convinced. After sneaking into the boys’ locker room to read the book and discovering that all of their names are listed, the girls make a pact: not only will they not have sex before graduation, but they will make the guys pay for what they have done.

One of the best things about this film is it doesn’t sugar coat the awkwardness of most teens’ first sexual experiences. The interview snippets from Katelyn’s documentary are entertaining, but also fairly realistic. The rest of the film is goofy, immature hijinks as the girls try to teach the guys a lesson and the boys attempt to convince them of their sincerity. Rob Schneider is a surprise as the moderate, concerned dad who is funny without being over-the-top. Overall, this is a mindlessly amusing teen flick that offers just enough to keep you entertained.

There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment)

Wild Target on DVDWild Target (DVD)
Uptight Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) is a middle-aged, solitary assassin who lives to please his formidable mother Louisa (Eileen Atkins), despite his own peerless reputation for lethal efficiency. His professional routine is interrupted when he finds himself drawn to one of his intended victims, Rose (Emily Blunt). He spares her life, unexpectedly acquiring a young apprentice in the process, Tony (Rupert Grint). Believing Victor to be a private detective, his two new companions tag along while he attempts to thwart the murderous attentions of his unhappy client (Rupert Everett).

This film is low-key comedy greatness. Nighy is excellent as the slightly neurotic hit man who has definite mommy issues and is socially ill-adjusted. However, his slow transformation into a somewhat more personable human is enjoyable. Blunt’s maddening disobedience is consistently comical. Furthermore, it’s a welcome change to see Grint’s charm outside of the Harry Potter-verse. His combination of sweet, naïve and instinctive is very engaging. The casting of these three actors together is a brilliant match that works on every level.

Special features include: interview “On Target with Emily Blunt.” (Entertainment One)

America America on DVDAmerica America (DVD)
This saga begins with young Stavros (Stathis Giallelis), who leaves his war-torn homeland behind to begin a new life. With his family’s meagre fortune and his father’s blessing, Stavros encounters both allies and adversaries on a dramatic trek. He ultimately achieves his dream through sheer determination and will, thereby earning his nickname: America America. Saluting the masses that sailed toward the Statue of Liberty’s shining torch, director Elia Kazan (A Streetcar Named Desire) uses little-known talents here rather than stars.

Special features include: commentary by historian Foster Hirsch. (Warner Home Entertainment)

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