Every week, we sift through all the new Blu-ray releases and single out the "must see" titles. Look for the column every Monday. This week: two Oscar nominees, a Miyazaki classic and a rousing King Arthur epic.
Our Top 5 Picks for This Week: What to Buy or Rent
1. 'Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.' Miyazaki. Dying planet, warring nations, dreams of peace; beauty, grace and power. Buy.
2. 'Excalibur.' King Arthur with blood and sex. DVD upgrade. Buy.
3. 'Inside Job.' Academy Award-winning documentary. New to home video. Rent.
4. 'Four Lions.' Terrorism can be funny. New to home video. Rent.
5. 'Exit Through the Gift Shop.' Academy Award-nominated doc. DVD upgrade. Rent.
Old Classic That Sounds Boring But Isn't:
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are given a lusty and vigorous reworking under the direction of John Boorman in this 1981 dramatic epic, featuring a great performance by Nicol Williamson as Merlin and early appearances by Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart and Helen Mirren.
Oscar Favorite You May Have Missed:
Charles Ferguson lays out a infuriating case for the culpability of those responsible for the 2008 economic crisis. Very good movie -- it's no wonder it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary -- though it has low replay value.
Special Feature of the Week:
'Exit Through the Gift Shop'
Befitting the subject matter of the documentary, the special feature here is the packaging itself, which is similar to the previously released DVD edition. The package could be considered a work of art; it includes a set of 2D glasses, post cards, sticker and the standard definition DVD.
2 Blu-rays to Skip:
'Jackass 3.' If you love these guys, you've yucked it up in a theater and will be buying the Blu-ray. The rest of us can go on living our safe, boring lives.
'Every Day.' Liev Schreiber and Helen Hunt as a married couple, dealing with challenges such as her sick father moving in with them and their son coming out as gay. This could well be better than it sounds, but it sounds pretty dour. Skip.
Check out all of this week's new DVD and Blu-ray releases
Latest Blu-ray Release Announcements:
'American Graffiti' will be hitting Blu-ray on May 31 and deserves a place in your library. The film is shockingly good in presenting the details of high school in Modesto, California in 1962, and a poignant, timeless commentary on youth and desire. The special edition includes a picture-in-picture video commentary by director George Lucas, a "making of" feature and screen tests.
'IMAX Hubble.' 3/29 (Best Buy exclusive)
'Scream 2' 3/29
'Scream 3' 3/29
'Romeo and Juliet' (1954) 4/26
'The Dilemma' 5/3
'The Hit List' 5/10
'Vanishing on 7th Street' 5/10
'The Nesting' 6/28
Blu-rays We've Been Watching This Week: 'Planet of the Apes' Series
Recently, yours truly has been going ape-crazy.
How do you follow-up a movie that featured the end of the world? Easy, just time travel back a couple of thousand years. 'Escape From the Planet of the Apes' reunited Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter as Cornelius and Zira, transporting them to modern-day Los Angeles for an upbeat sequel -- the lightest in the series, yet still full of social commentary. The Blu-ray looks great, especially in all the bright Southern California locations.
The series took a darker turn with 'Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,' set 20 years later. Roddy McDowell gives a very strong performance as Caesar, the son of Cornelius and Zira, who leads the uprising of the apes. Don Murray is terrific as the angry, terrified human leader. The unrated version is bloodier and more potent. The Blu-ray, however, doesn't do the movie any favors; much of the filming was done in low-light on a budget, and the source material don't allow for as much visual wow as the other installments in the series.
Please share what you've been watching in the comments section!
Poll: (Last week's top vote-getter: 'Bambi,' followed closely by 'Out of Sight.')
If you had enough money to buy one Blu-ray this week, what would it be?