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 families in turmoil and Aussie bike racers.
Our Top 5 Picks for This Week: What to Buy or Rent
1. 'Yi Yi' (aka 'A One and a Two.') Dramatic epic about a family in turmoil. DVD upgrade. Buy.
2. 'BMX Bandits.' Australian kids ride bikes; cheesy but brilliant. Breakout role for Nicole Kidman. DVD upgrade. Buy.
3. 'The Fighter.' Academy Award–winner Christian Bale supports Mark Wahlberg in this rousing family drama. New to home video. Rent.
4. 'Au revoir les enfants.' World War II comes home to a French boarding school. Directed by Louis Malle. DVD upgrade. Rent.
5. 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.' Will Farrell as a '70s newscaster. Yes, it's a comedy. DVD upgrade. Rent.
Cheesy-Sounding But Super-Fun '80s Movie With 16-year-old Nicole Kidman:
There's no way this Australian flick should deliver as much entertainment value as it does, but director Brian Trenchard-Smith ramps up the primary colors and delirious action, with the bonus of teenage Nicole Kidman, showing the assured confidence of a star.
An Intimate Epic That Delivers Rich Rewards:
'Yi Yi' (aka 'A One and a Two')
We admit that a film from Taiwan that runs 173 minutes may sound like a daunting challenge. But give Edward Yang's drama a little time to work its magic on you and you'll forget all about the running time and the subtitles.
Special Feature of the Week:
The extra entitled "The Warrior's Code: Filming 'The Fighter'" sounds like a standard-issue "making of" feature, but DVD Talk says that it's "a true exploration of the Eklund family, and how that combustible interplay was fitted for the big screen. Interviews with cast and crew describe emotions and ambitions, but the real power here is found in the BTS footage, where the real Eklund brothers are revealed in full, making the final film performances all the more miraculous." Running nearly 30 minutes, the short film is presented in high definition and earns our pick as the special feature of the week.
2 Blu-rays to Skip:
'Hereafter.' With the recent terrible news about massive death and destruction resulting from a tsunami in Japan, unfortunate timing for Clint Eastwood's drama is the culprit here.
'The Switch.' Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman star in a romantic comedy that induces more groans than laughs.
Check out all of this week's new DVD and Blu-ray releases
Latest Blu-ray Release Announcements:
'The Manchurian Candidate.' John Frankenheimer's shocking assassination conspiracy flick features Frank Sinatra as a Korean War veteran who comes back to the U.S. in not quite the same shape as he left it. Laurence Harvey is heartbreaking and Angela Lansbury is terrifying. The Blu-ray comes out on May 10 in what looks like a bare-bones edition, but the movie's so good that it goes to the head of this week's class.
'Apt Pupil.' 6/6
'Johnny Mnemonic.' 6/14
'Beverly Hills Cop.' 5/17
'Black Death.' 5/10
'Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.' 6/28
'The Green Hornet.' 5/3
'The Medallion.' 6/21
'I Saw the Devil.' 5/10
'Le Mans.' 5/24
'Street Kings 2.' 4/19
'True Grit.' (2010 version) 6/7
Blu-rays We've Been Watching This Week: Oscar-Winning "New Hollywood"
1967 was the year in which both 'Bonnie and 'Clyde' and 'The Graduate' were nominated for Best Picture. Though 'In the Heat of the Night' won, it marked the starting point for what was later called the "New Hollywood." Watching 'The Graduate' again for the umpteenth time, it's hard to imagine the impact it had originally, but it still soars as a funny, dramatic, touching and weirdly romantic picture. (Mike Nichols won an Oscar for Best Director.) The Blu-ray looks slightly aged but still film-like.
'Dog Day Afternoon' features the galvanizing, immortal "Attica! Attica!", yelled by Al Pacino as a stressed-out man trying (and failing) to rob a bank. Pacino is superb; John Cazale and Charles Durning provide exceptional support in Sidney Lumet's energizing, draining drama. (Frank Pierson won an Oscar for Best Screenplay Adaptation.) The Blu-ray looks quite, quite good.
Poll: (Last week's top vote-getter: 'Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,' with 34.7% of the vote, followed by 'Excalibur' (21.5%) and 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' (11.6%).
If you had enough money to buy one Blu-ray this week, what would it be?