Bigger Than Life - In 1955, Director Nicholas Ray stunned the film world with Rebel without a Cause, the quintessential teen angst classic that made instant stars of James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo. Even before Rebel, Ray himself was considered something of a rebel, having directed several great, mostly over-the-top cult melodramas or noirs (like Johnny Guitar, On Dangerous Ground and In a Lonely Place), and in 1956, he returned to the ripe melodrama with a vengeance, first with an entertaining pulp film about gypsies called Hot Blood with Jane Russell and Cornell Wilde (which is sadly not available on DVD yet) and this amazing true drama about a likable school teacher and family man who discovers he has a rare disease that must be treated with an experimental drug called Cortisone. The drug works well at first, but he soon becomes addicted to it, turning him into basically a psychotic madman in full Technicolor CinemaScope. Although there are many forgotten or undiscovered masterpieces from the Fifties, this film belongs in the top echelon, despite being a box office disappointment, which was understandable since this was released during the height of the Eisenhower Era. James Mason gives a remarkable performance, clearly one of his best, in the lead role as he transforms from complacent father to a totally different person or rather persons. Barbara Rush plays his bewildered wife, and Walter Matthau appears in one of his earliest roles. A must see for fans of Ray and cult films or ripe melodramas. With commentary, a rare TV interview with Ray and extra interviews. 1956. 16x9 Widescreen. 95 minutes. Unrated.
Blind Side, The  - Sandra Bullock follows in the footsteps of America's other sweethearts Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon by winning the Best Actress Oscar for a role that goes against her usual type. Bullock is excellent in this true story about an upper middle class white family who take in a bulked-up abandoned African-American teen (nicely played by Quintin Aaron) who eventually wins a football scholarship thanks to his stepmother's prodding and inspiration. Bullock, in uncharacteristic blonde locks and deep Southern accent, embues the character with a steely strength and dignity that earned her the award. Although the feel-good outcome is predictable (thank you, spoiler trailers), the movie still works, with the movie's success mainly falling on Bullock's slim but sturdy shoulders. Also starring Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates. Directed by John Lee Hancock. With additional scenes. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 128 minutes. PG-13.
Brothers - In this moving drama, Tobey Maguire gives an intense performance as a family man and career Marine Captain who is sent to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, his ex-con brother (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) drops in on his wife (Natalie Portman) to help her while he is away. When Maguire is presumed dead in a copter crash, Gyllenhaal redeeems himself and helps his brother's wife cope, but Maguire is not dead and returns to confront his wife and his brother while dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome. Maguire was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe Award and probably would have been nominated for the Oscar too if he hadn't been so surly on camera when he lost the Golden Globe to Jeff Bridges. It's a shame too since Maguire is superb and went through the rigors of losing lots of weight to look like a soldier who has been captured and tortured. [Advice to Tobey: next time, suck it up and smile and clap or you won't be picking up many awards in the future. Watch The Oscar with Stephen Boyd and also watch Eddie Murphy's reaction to losing the Best Supporting Actor Oscar a few years back to Alan Arkin. Hollywood prefers humility to hubris and so does most of humanity]. Co-starring Sam Shepard. With commentary and featurettes. Directed by Jim Sheridan. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 105 minutes. R.
Fantastic Mr. Fox - Director Wes Anderson (Rushmore and The Royal Tannenbaums) brings his quirky cult humor to this wickedly funny and beautiful animated tale about a family of foxes, lead by a wily fox (wonderfully voiced by George Clooney) who plots a great chicken heist that endangers his family and friends. The animation is clever, appealing, and distinctive and can you get better acting voices than Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson? Based on a story by the great dark children's writer Roald Dahl (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach), it should appeal to both families and cult film fans. With featurettes. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 87 minutes. PG.
Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove - Bindi Irwin, the late Steve Irwin's daughter, stars in this fourth installment of the family film series obsessed with freeing whales. In this outing, cute Bindi goes to live with her grandfather (Beau Bridges) in South Africa and discovers an abandoned baby orca, which she names Willy (what else?). Her mission is to get the baby home before the villain can grab the whale and train it for his amusement park. You can guess the ending, but kids will like it. Direct to video release. With featurettes, video diary, and deleted scenes. Directed by Will Geiger. 2010. 16x9 Widescreen. 101 minutes. PG.
Mad Men: Season 3 - Already one of the best TV drama series ever made, this fascinating, funny, moving and biting exploration of the politically incorrect Sixties world of Madison Avenue continued its winning ways in this third season, which won the Best Drama Emmy Award, the DGA Award for Best Directing of a Nighttime Drama Series, the PGA Award for Best Produced TV Series, and the Screen Actors Award for Best Ensemble Cast TV Drama. Jon Hamm is terrific as always as the seemingly unflappable lead Don Draper, whose secrets and secretive behavior finally start to catch up with him. The equally brilliant cast includes January Jones, Elizabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Henricks, Aaron Staton, Michael Gladis, Rick Sommer, John Slattery and Robert Morse. Also, as with Seasons 1 and 2, the production values are superb, sumptuously recreating the fashions and sleek interior design that marked the Sixties. With commentaries, documentary, and featurettes. 13 episodes spread across 4 discs. 4 separate rentals. 2009.16x9 Widescreen. 611 minutes. Unrated.
Make Way for Tomorrow - Considered one of the most depressing movies ever made, this rarely seen drama is one of the few that reflected the Depression Era in a realistic way as it deals with a married couple whose life and marriage go awry when they try to move in with their grown children and find no one wants them. Ironically, it was directed by Leo McCarey who was more known for his carefree comedies (like The Awful Truth). Starring Victor Moore, Beulah Bondhi, Fay Bainter, Thomas Mitchell and Porter Hall. Black and white. 1937. 92 minutes. Unrated.
Men who Stare at Goats - George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Robert Patrick and Goat star in this outrageous true(!) comedy about a reporter who comes across a military leader who is purportedly creating a Special Ops unit for the U.S. government that uses psychic powers to stun the enemy. !!! You will probably either love of hate this outlandish farce directed by longtime Clooney associate/co-actor Grant Heslov (who also produced Good Night and Good Luck with Clooney). Clooney seems to be having a lot of fun playing the conservative, gung ho op. With commentaries, featurettes and deleted scenes. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 94 minutes. R.
Monk: Season 8 - Multi-award winner Tony Shalhoub returns for one last season as the obesseive compulsive titular detective and he is as squirrely as ever alongside guests Elizabeth Perkins and Daniel Stern, among others. The fine supporting cast includes Traylor Howard as his patient assistant, Ted Levine as his exasperated boss, and Hector Elizondo as his psychiatrist. 16 epis spread across 4 discs. 4 seprate rentals. With commentary and featurettes. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen.
Phantom Punch - Ving Rhames stars as troubled boxing great Sonny Liston, who was a champion until a young boxer named Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) beat him. This docudrama deals with Liston, warts and all. Co-starring Nick Turturro, Stacey Dash, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, and David Prova. Directed by Robert Townsend, who is more known for his comedies, like Hollywood Shuffle. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 104 minutes. R.
Prisoner, The [2009 Miniseries] - In 1968, Patrick McGoohan co-created and starred in one of the greatest TV series ever, The Prisoner, about a government spy who decides to resign and ends up as a prisoner in a bizarre village on a secluded and inescapable island populated by odd people. AMC decided to remake the 17 episode British show into a 6 hour miniseries. They cast Jim Caviezel (The Passion of Christ) as the hero only known as Number 6 and Ian McKellan as Number Two, the silky but evil overseer of the prison, and they oddly re-set the village in a desert (!). When it was aired late last year, it drew mostly mixed to negative reviews from both neophytes and fans of the original series, but you be the judge. Co-starring Hayley Atwell, Ruth Wilson and Lennie James. With commentary and featurettes. 6 episodes split across 3 discs. 3 separate rentals. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen.
Red Cliff Parts I & II: Original International Version - John Woo (The Killer and Face/Off) returned to China to direct this epic war film that depicts the end of the Han dynasty. The story deals with a Han Prime Minister turned General who decides to get rid of two troublesome warlords, but things go awry when the warlords team up to battle their mutual enemy. Starring Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi and a literal cast of thousands. Probably the most expensive film shot in China, the film is a dazzling triumph for Woo. The U.S. version was edited down to 148 minutes, but we are carrying the original uncut 288 minute version. 2 discs. In Mandarin with English subtitles. With featurettes. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 288 minutes. Unrated.
Seraphine - In this true story, Yolande Moreau gives a memorable performance as artist Seraphine Louis, a housekeeper who takes up painting in her spare time. However, her talent goes undiscovered until the German art critic (Ulrich Tukur) she works for as a maid, accidentally finds her work. Winner of 7 Cesar Awards (France's equivalent of the Oscar), including Best Picture and Best Actress. In French with English subtitles. With featurette and stills of her paintings. Directed by Martin Provost. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 125 minutes. Unrated.
Sita Sings the Blues - This offbeat and colorful animated feature is a visually dazzling mix of Indian folklore, humor, romance, and Indonesian shadow puppetry, using vintage 1920's songs by Annette Hanshaw as a good portion of its soundtrack. Comic strip artist Nina Paley took years to create this acclaimed musicomedy that intercuts between the story of Hindu goddess Sita's woes with her suspicious husband and Paley's own romantic problems with her husband. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 82 minutes. Unrated.
South Park: Season 13 - All 14 uncensored epis of Season 13 spread across 3 discs, 3 separate rentals. 2009. 308 minutes. Unrated.
Suicide Girls: Guide to Living - Various Suicide Girls from around the world gather in Las Vegas to discuss and flaunt their lifestyle. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 87 minutes. Unrated/adults only.
39 Steps  - This 2010 BBC version of the Alfred Hitchcock classic is supposed to be even better than the original. Rupert Penry-Jones stars as a man falsely accused of murder who has to break a German espionage ring to prove his innocence in this almost non-stop escape thriller. Also starring Lydia Leonard, Alex Jennings, David Haig, Patrick Malahide, and Eddie Marson. 2010. 16x9 Widescreen. 85 minutes. Unrated.
Twilight in Forks - This documentary explores the Washington town of Forks, the real town that author Stephanie Meyer used as the basis for the setting of her three Twilight books. Directed by Jason Brown. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 77 minutes.
Twilight Saga, The: New Moon - This second entry in the Twilight Saga series proved to be even more phenomenally successful than the first film (grossing almost $300 million to Twilight's $191 million). In this outing, the budding romance of vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) takes a hit when Edward abruptly leaves out of fear that he and his biting lifestyle may endanger his love. The heartbroken Bella takes up with Indian friend and wolfboy Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who tries to protect her while putting the moves on her, and two gleefully evil vampires (wonderfully played by the incredibly versatile Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning) make plans to put a stake in Edward & Bella's endless love...to be continued. Also starring Ashley Greene, Rachelle Leevre, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Frazer, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, and Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick. 2 discs. With commentary, a 6-part documentary, rehearsal footage, and music videos. Directed by Chris Weitz. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 130 minutes. PG-13.
African Queen, The
Blind Side, The
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Mad Men: Season 3 - Spread across 3 Blu-rays. 3 separate rentals.
Red Cliff Parts 1 & 2: The Original International Version
Twilight Saga, The: New Moon
Descriptions written by manager Steven Y. Mori