This week’s releases include: a loveable TV alien; an athletic biopic; murderous space invaders; a passionate love story; an examination of environmental terrorism; an in-depth look at a historical figure; a minute look at Earth’s tiny creatures; an indecent camouflage; a striking exploration of the animal world; an unexpected romance; a bizarre, erotic tale; an acclaimed picture; a couple of different terrorist movies; two couples struggling to keep it together; and down-to-earth romantic comedy.

ALF - The Complete Series on DVDALF – The Complete Series Collection (DVD)
A furry alien wise guy comes to live with a human family after crashing into their garage.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, ALF was a household name. Likely a source of inspiration for Roger on the current TV series American Dad, the alien life form lived secretly with an average family whose lives he frequently turned upside down with his crazy antics. In addition, cats are a delicacy on his planet so it was a constant struggle to keep him from devouring the family pet. This was wholesome viewing with a fun twist and a great marketing opportunity that included stuffed ALFs, a cartoon and bed sheets.

Special features include: interactive menus, hosted by ALF; the original unaired pilot; outtakes reel; trivia facts; and ALF cartoons. (Alliance Films)

The Boy in Blue on Blu-rayThe Boy in Blue (Blu-ray)
Ned Hanlan (Nicolas Cage) is a juvenile delinquent who rises to become a world-class rower. Seeing in Hanlan a chance to make some fast cash, Bill (David Naughton), a gambler, has Hanlan trained as a sculler and begins to promote him on the racing circuit. Eventually, Hanlan’s ability grows, and so does his fame, but success comes at a price when Hanlan falls prey to a ruthless businessman (Christopher Plummer). Through it all, Hanlan becomes a world champion, garners awards on three continents and becomes the first to successfully utilize the “sliding seat.”

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The Darkest Hour on Blu-rayThe Darkest Hour (Blu-ray)
Arriving amidst a mysterious lightening storm, young Internet entrepreneurs Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) land in the vibrant Russian capital to pursue their business dreams in the international economic centre, full of new money but unscrupulous business practices. Travelers Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor), stranded in Moscow by an unscheduled stop over en route to Nepal, make the best of it by seeking adventure in one of the nightlife capitals of the world. The two pairs of best friends meet amid the glitz and glamour of the Zvezda Nightclub, the hot spot for the international and the beautiful in Moscow, but the club is quickly transformed to a scene of terror when aliens invade and everything goes dark.

A surprisingly unique concept for an alien race with an attractive method of eliminating its enemy. Their purpose and hunting mechanism are eventually revealed, though it’s a bit of a stretch for the average Joe to figure it out so easily and with such accuracy. This action sci-fi picture always keeps its characters on the move or under threat, maintaining a high tempo from beginning to end. In the presented situation, the end provides an adequate solution (or delay) to the destructive force – even if it’s too late for most of the world’s population. Nonetheless, it manages to remain quite shallow in regards to the characters and the invaders. Though there are a few questionable elements in the film, for the most it’s a pretty entertaining alien movie.

Special features include: filmmaker commentary; deleted scenes; “Survivors”; and “Visualizing an Invasion.” (Entertainment One)

Don Juan DeMarco on Blu-rayDon Juan DeMarco (Blu-ray)
A well-respected psychiatrist (Marlon Brando) has a run-in with a young man who thinks he is Don Juan (Johnny Depp). The Don Juan becomes his patient, and as the days pass, the psychiatrist starts to see that maybe just because a person has his own reality doesn’t mean he’s crazy. Don Juan, through recounting his past, instills the psychiatrist with a new fire for life and love, changing his life.

There is nothing spectacular or especially noteworthy about this film, except that it united two excellent but quirky actors. The picture demanded almost nothing of them, but they breathed life into their characters and created a lighthearted romance that is charming and humorous. Not surprisingly, they appear to share a certain understanding both on and off screen that is noticeable in their scenes together. The tale of Don Juan is soft core fantasy similar to that found later in Casanova, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front on DVDIf a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (DVD)
On December 7th, 2005, federal agents conducted a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front – an organization the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrrorism threat.” This is the remarkable story of the group’s rise and fall told through the transformation and radicalization of one of its members, Daniel McGowan. Filmmaker Marshall Curry weaves a chronicle of McGowan facing life in prison and a dramatic investigation of the events that led to his involvement with the ELF. The result is a film that is equal parts a coming-of-age tale and a cops-and-robbers thriller. Using never-before-seen archival footage and intimate interviews – with cell members and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them – the film asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Special features not available. (Alliance Films)

Iron Lady on DVDThe Iron Lady (DVD)
Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) is the enigmatic, highly controversial figure who became the first and only female Prime Minister of England. Much more than a biographical epic, it’s a surprisingly intimate journey of a “common” grocer’s daughter whose social ambition and steel will — along with the love of her husband and confidant, Denis (Jim Broadbent) — propelled her to unprecedented power in a world dominated by men.

Special features: a making-of featurette; “Recruiting the young Margaret Thatcher”; “Denis: The man behind the woman”; “Battle in the House of Commons”; and “Costume design: Pearls and power suits.” (Alliance Films)

Microcosmos on Blu-rayMicrocosmos (Blu-ray)
The film captures the fun and adventure of a spectacular hidden universe. Marvel at a pair of stag beetles dueling like titans amid the thunderous clashing of their horns. A magnificent army of worker ants race to stock their larder while trying to avoid becoming some feisty pheasant’s dinner. And you’ll have a front-row seat to witness an amazing transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, the remarkable birth of a mosquito, and several other minute miracles of life.

Special features include: a making-of featurette; “The world of Microcosmos”; and “The story of 5 Cesars.” (Alliance Films)

Nuns on the Run on DVDNuns on the Run (DVD)
Brian (Eric Idle) and Charlie (Robbie Coltrane) are good-guy London gangsters who decide to leave the criminal life forever by stealing $1 million in drug money from the Chinese Triads. But when their getaway goes wrong, they grab the loot and hide inside a nearby convent school. Now disguised as ‘Sister Inviolata Of The Immaculate Conception’ and ‘Sister Euphemia Of The Five Wounds’, Charlie and Brian find themselves chased by their vicious former gang, Hong Kong’s most lethal killers, the local police, Brian’s myopic girlfriend, several nubile college girls and one very groping priest.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

One Life on Blu-rayOne Life (Blu-ray)
Over five billion years, life on Earth has evolved into the incredible richness and variety we see today. This film is a celebration of the most brilliant and imaginative stories of survival from the natural world. Cutting-edge cinematic techniques capture unprecedented and beautiful sequences of animal behaviour and ingenuity. The story takes us from birth through to the creation of the next generation – then takes us one step further – revealing that, whether we have wings or flippers, eight legs or two, the triumphant story of life connects us all.

Special features include: commentary by directors Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes; two making-of featurettes; a behind-the-scenes featurette; animal film clips; and interviews. (Alliance Films)

The Prince and the Showgirl on DVDPrince and the Showgirl (Blu-ray)
When a dazzling American showgirl captures the monocled eye of an imperious European monarch, it’s clear proof opposites attract. He’s Prince Regent of Carpathia (Laurence Olivier), an arrogant stuffed shirt visiting London for the 1911 coronation of King George V. She’s Elsie Marina of Milwaukee (Marilyn Monroe), short on social graces but long on common sense, in London as a third-blonde-from-the-left Gaiety Girl.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Sleeping Beauty on DVDSleeping Beauty (DVD)
Lucy (Emily Browning) is a young university student possessed by a kind of radical passivity, letting coin tosses decide random sexual encounters and enduring her menial jobs with an uncomplaining patience. After answering an ad in the student newspaper for a lingerie waitress, Lucy is secretly initiated into the job of a Sleeping Beauty, for which she is sedated and given in absolute submission to her clients. As this unnerving experience begins to bleed into her daily life, Lucy develops the courage to break the spell and discover what happens to her while she sleeps.

There are no special features. (Entertainment One)

A Streetcar Named Desire on Blu-rayA Streetcar Named Desire (Blu-ray)
The original restored version is the film moviegoers would have seen in 1951 had not Legion of Decency censorship occurred at the last minute. Disturbed Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) moves in with her sister (Kim Hunter) in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law, Stanley (Marlon Brando), while her reality crumbles around her.

Tennessee Williams was a brilliant writer and this film does every scene he committed to paper justice. Each character is portrayed perfectly, capturing just the right balance of anger, fear and vulnerability for each. Brando and Leigh’s chemistry is mesmerizing, each delivering career performances. This story is tragic in so many ways, but director Elia Kazan’s imagery is constantly stunning. Shouting “Stella” is a recognizable part of our culture, while the film has been paid tribute by a variety of other icons, including The Simpsons.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

The Terror Experiment on Blu-rayThe Terror Experiment (Blu-ray)
A terrorist sets off an explosion that rocks the Federal Building and unleashes a toxic gas throughout the ventilation system. His purpose: to expose the government’s secret biological warfare weapon – a deadly virus that instantly attacks a person’s adrenal system, causing them to become inhumanly aggressive, with an uncontrollable urge to kill each other.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The Terrorists on Blu-rayThe Terrorists (Blu-ray)
Nils Tahlvik (Sean Connery) is the tough-as-nails security chief of a wealthy Scandinavian country.  Tahlvik faces his ultimate challenge when a ruthless group of terrorists takes the British Ambassador hostage and hijacks a passenger jet.  Tahlvik’s government orders him to cooperate fully – but he’s not about to give in.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Trust the Man on DVDTrust the Man (DVD)
Overachieving actress, Rebecca (Julianne Moore), must come to grips with her failing marriage to stay-at-home dad, Tom (David Duchovny). While Rebecca’s slacker brother, Tobey (Billy Crudup), can’t seem to commit to his aspiring-novelist girlfriend, Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As both relationships spin out of control, the two couples embark on a hilarious quest to rediscover the magic and romance of falling in love in New York.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The Truth About Cats and Dogs on Blu-rayTruth About Cats and Dogs (Blu-ray)
Abby (Janeane Garofalo), a savvy, witty veterinarian who hosts her own radio talk show, is anything but confident when it comes to love. A petite brunette, she describes herself as tall and blonde when Brian (Ben Chaplin), a caller who is smitten with her radio persona, asks her on a date. She then talks her tall, blonde neighbour Noelle (Uma Thurman) into assuming her identity, setting off an escalating series of hilarious and romantic crises.

To some extent, this was a romantic comedy for the every woman represented by Garofalo. She is smart, witty and good looking, but suffers from a lack of self-confidence and unnecessary comparisons to her actress neighbor. Of course the moral of the story is it’s what’s inside that counts since the object of her affection falls for her personality over the phone and radio before ever meeting her in person. This all sounds very hokey, but it’s wrapped in a relatively funny little package of self-deprecation and clever banter.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

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