About Time – Universal Studios – Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Richard Curtis
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Tom Hughes, Rachel McAdams,Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander. Full cast + crew
It’s certainly easy to talk about About Time as being one of the best romantic comedies of 2013, but I’ll go a step further: it’s one of the best films of 2013, no matter what easily marketed niche it can fall in. It’s the latest film from the director of Love, Actually, which is a film I’ve actually never fallen in love with despite it seeming like the rest of the modern world has. About Time, however, is just an utterly delightful story that uses a playful time-travel mechanic to tell not only a solid love story between a guy and a gal, but more importantly, it shows us a truly tremendous relationship between a boy and his father. Domhnall Gleeson is brilliant in it, and we hope it’s one of many, many leading man performances from him for years to come.
Highly, highly recommended.
Special Features: Commentary with the director and cast; deleted scenes and blooper reels; a music video; three featurettes on the making of the film.
Witchboard – Shout! Factory – Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Kevin S. Tenney
Cast: Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite, Burke Byrnes. Full cast + crew
There’s certainly a very heavy dose of nostalgia that factors in to how much you’ll like Witchboard. And that doesn’t really matter if you grew up loving this 1986 film about friends who start dying after they dabble with a Ouija Board, or if (like myself) you’re just now discovering Kevin Tenney’s film.
Every character in it is kind of insufferable. They’re horrible to one another, and they do absolutely nothing to endear themselves to the audience, either. But, because this falls in with other ’80s staples that all take their ridiculous plots sincerely, it still kind of works. It’s far from one of the best horror movies the late ’80s had to offer, but if you’re a fan of movies like Waxwork and Shocker, and other silly movies that don’t just wink at the audience, you’ll probably get a kick out of Witchboard.
Special Features: As is typical with most Shout! Factory Blu-rays, Witchboard is pretty loaded with features, including two commentary tracks (one with cast and crew, another with the director and producers); “Progressive Entrapment: The Making of Witchboard” (45 minutes), a look back with the cast and crew on the making of the film; after that there’s nearly two hours of vintage footage, including old interviews and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. If you’ve got deep nostalgia for the ’80s, this has a lot to offer.
Other Notable New Releases
As a whole, Dallas Buyers Club is a bit of an uneven film. It’s got a great story about a stubborn, heterosexual man fighting AIDS and the confused, angry culture that erupted around it in the ’80s, but the film wavers a bit between insightful drama and movie-of-the-week territory. However, as an acting showcase alone, it shines. Matthew McConaughey is a fierce, dedicated force in it, and Jared Leto just flat out disappears.
And speaking of disappearing in roles… none of that happens in Escape Plan. This is the kind of movie you check out because you want to see Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger barely pretend to be other people. And if that’s all you want, you’ll probably have a great time with it. And sticking with similarly obtuse films, there’s Free Birds, which should get the job done for most kids under the age of 10, but will not satisfy adults on their own.
Million Dollar Baby is 10 years old. Can you believe that? Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like that much time has passed since Clint Eastwood’s movie was taking home Best Picture. Anyways, Warner Bros. has put out a new, 10th anniversary edition of the film on Blu-ray. The video transfer is the same, but it does come with an upgraded lossless audio track, and two new special features (in addition to everything from the last release): a commentary from producer Albert Ruddy, and a 26-minute short documentary with the cast and crew looking back on the difficulties of getting the movie made.
Lastly, if you like Witchboard, Scream Factory is putting out another one of Kevin Tenney’s films this week: the cult classic Night of the Demons. If all you’ve seen is the 2009 remake starring Shannon Elizabeth, you’re definitely going to want to check out the vastly superior original. This low-budget film about some friends who host a party at an abandoned funeral parlor has some really excellent and practical makeup effects, and it’s a pretty energetic, gory good time. Plus, this new Blu-ray has a few exclusive special features looking back at the film’s creation.
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