New on DVD & Blu-ray: June 19, 2012

Posted: June 19, 2012 in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week’s releases include: a zombie period piece; a not-so-sexy story about a stripper; an eccentric comedy from a rising brother team; an epic shindig; a collection of tragedies; and an updated version of Harvey.

Exit Humanity on DVDExit Humanity (DVD)
In the aftermath of the Civil War an unexplained outbreak of the walking dead claims the life of Edward Young’s wife while his son disappears. This sets him off on a harrowing journey into the plagued countryside. Facing off challenges not just from the ferocious undead but also from the living, will Edward find an exit to the grotesque caricature of what humanity has become? The War might be over but the fight has just begun.

As if civil war era pictures were not depressing enough, writer/director John Geddes decided these disparate people also needed to worry about a zombie epidemic. The narrative is divided into chapters, accompanied by a stunning illustration. Moreover, there are certain scenes presented via stunning animations rather than live-action sequences, which really adds another quality, visual element to the picture. This is a great story of despair as their triumphs are always quelled by some other obstacle that must now be addressed. Moments of happiness are short and dampened by the constant threat of the undead scourge. This makes for a film with a lot of tension, which can also be quite a draining experience. Unfortunately, the first two chapters are needlessly long and could benefit from some tightening.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director John Geddes and actors Adam Seybold and Mark Gibson; commentary by Geddes and producers Jesse Thomas Cook and Matt Wiele; a making-of featurette. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Exotica on Blu-rayExotica (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
The action revolves largely around the strip club that lends the film its name, a faux-tropical hothouse where young female dancers cater to their customers’ sexual and psychological needs. Among the regulars is Francis (Bruce Greenwood), a troubled taxman haunted by Christina, a young stripper (Mia Kirshner). As the film hypnotically unfolds, their relationship is slowly explored, the narrative dovetailing with the stories of a gay pet shop owner (Don McKellar), the Exotica’s pregnant owner (Arsinee Khanjian) and its embittered DJ (Elias Koteas).

The title and location suggest a very sensual film experience, but the narrative remains typical of director Atom Egoyan’s interweaving tale of personal struggles. The scenes in the club are somewhat uncomfortable rather than sexy, and Kirshner’s stage performance to Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” is sad rather than arousing. The complexity of the characters’ relationships increases as the narrative progresses, secrets are revealed and mistakes are made. The dark aesthetic adds to gritty feel to the story that explores the underbelly of need.

Special features include: commentary by director Atom Egoyan and composer Mychael Danna. (Alliance Films)

Jeff Who Lives at Home on Blu-rayJeff Who Lives at Home (Blu-ray)
As slacker Jeff (Jason Segal) stumbles towards enlightenment, he uncovers answers to his nagging family’s problems. Jeff has no idea where he’s going but when he finally gets there, he might just find out what it’s all about.

The Duplass Brothers have a knack for dark and quirky comedies, whether behind or in front of the camera. In this case, they direct an entertaining journey of multiple, life altering discoveries. Jeff is an oddball so taken by the movie Signs that he attempts to apply its theory to his own life by following various white rabbits or “Kevins.” His brother (Ed Helms) and mother (Susan Sarandon) seem more balanced, but then they become similarly occupied with finding answers of their own. The conclusion is done incredibly well, tying off all loose ends and creating questions regarding the validity of Jeff’s theory.

There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)

Project X on Blu-rayProject X (Blu-ray)
Three seemingly anonymous high school seniors attempt to finally make a name for themselves. Their idea is innocent enough: throw a party that no one will forget. But nothing could prepare them for this party. Word spreads quickly as dreams are ruined, records are blemished and legends are born.

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

The Sweet Hereafter on Blu-rayThe Sweet Hereafter (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
Following a tragic school bus accident, opportunistic lawyer Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm) descends upon a small town. With promises of retribution on behalf of the grieving community, Stephens sets to work on a class action lawsuit. But beneath the town’s placid surface, he discovers a tangled skein of deceit and forbidden desire that mirrors his own troubled life. Everyone, it seems, has secrets to keep.

This isn’t a depressing look at a tragic event. Instead, it’s somewhat of a mystery that the lawyer plants himself in the middle of with little interest in gaining all the clues to solve the case. He disguises his grief about his own daughter by aggressively seeking retribution for these families and ignoring the wishes of those who’d rather not relive the event. The overlapping timeline works very well with the distanced events effectively informing each other as they unfold.

Special features include: new commentary by writer/director Atom Egoyan; commentary by Egoyan and novelist Russell Banks; “Before and after The Sweet Hereafter,” a video discussion of the book and film with Banks and Egoyan; Q&A interviews with members of the cast; “The Charlie Rose Show” interview with Egoyan; “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” by Richard Browning and illustrated by Kate Greenaway; isolated score by music composer Mychael Danna; and theatrical trailers. (Alliance Films)

Wilfred Season 1 on Blu-rayWilfred – Season 1 (Blu-ray)
The story of Ryan (Elijah Wood), a manic depressive man who inexplicably is the only one who can see his neighbor’s dog as full grown man in a dog suit.

Special features not available. (Fox Home Entertainment)

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