New to View: Jan. 26

By Bob Bloom

The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, Jan. 26:
Goosebumps (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: PG, scary and intense creature action and images, rude humor
The lowdown: Jack Black stars as author R.L. Stine in this action-comedy that finds Stine’s daughter, Hannah and the new boy-next-door, Zach, helping the author round up the creatures that were accidentally unleashed from their locked manuscripts.
The monsters from Stine’s imagination begin terrorizing the small town. The movie mixes laughs and chills, with Black giving a decent performance as Stine.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English Dolby Atmos and 7.1 TrueHD, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital and English and French audio description tracks; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a beginner’s guide to surviving a “Goosebumps” creature, a strange things happening on-set featurette, an alternate opening, an alternate ending, deleted scenes, a cast blooper reel, a look at the creatures and an “All About Slappy” featurette.

The Assassin (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This highly-acclaimed costume drama tells the story of a general’s daughter who was kidnapped as a child and trained by a nun in the deadly arts of assassination.
As a young woman, she is sent on a mission of revenge. Her target is her once-betrothed love.
This is more than your traditional swordplay feature, as the woman must the assassinconfront her parents, her memories and her feelings about her assigned task.
The movie is slow at times, but the performances as well as a fine musical score compensate for the dead spots.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Dolby digital; English and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a variety of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including a look at the cast and the fight scenes.

The New Girlfriend (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Cohen Media Group
Rated: R, sexual content, nudity
The lowdown: This is a frustrating movie, mainly because writer-director Francois Ozon cannot settle on a constant tone.
At times it feels like a comedy; at other moments, it shifts to erotic romance. Still other scenes play like melodrama.
The film starts with young Claire (Anais Demoustier) giving a eulogy at the funeral of Laura, her closest and dearest friend since childhood.
Before she died, Laura gave birth to a daughter, Lucie, whom her husband, David (Romain Duris), is now caring for.
A few weeks after the funeral, Claire unexpectedly stops by David’s house to see how he and the baby are coping.
She finds David dressed in women’s clothing. Shocked, he explained that Laura knew of his inclination and allowed it as long as he never left the house dressed as a woman.
The death of Laura, he explains, rekindled his desire for cross-dressing.
Slowly and reluctantly, Claire begins helping and enabling David, while keeping her husband, Gilles (Raphael Personnaz), in the dark about David’s predilection.
It is difficult to decide what kind of movie you are watching — a Hitchcockian “Vertigo”-like thriller or a Sydney Pollack-inspired “Tootsie”-esque comedy.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, widescreen picture; French DTS-HD Master audio; English and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and 10 deleted scenes comprise the major bonus offerings.

UnREAL: Season 1 (DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Lionsgate
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This two-disc set features all 10 first-season episodes of the popular TV series set behind-the-scenes at a reality dating competition show, similar to “The Bachelor.”
The series focuses on Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby), a producer of the show, whose main job is to manipulate the relationships to heighten the drama, get outrageous footage and, of course, generate ratings.
The show purports to show what really happens in the strange and sometimes crazy world of unscripted TV shows.
Technical aspects: 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 2.0 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes that look at the cast members and the making of the series.

Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The Ottoman invasion comes to the forefront in the third season of this Starz series.
The Turks use weapons designed by Da Vinci during the siege of the city of Otranto. Someone Da Vinci trusted stole the designs, which, when Rome mounts a crusade, incites the inventor to join the effort.
However, various complications, including murder and politics, threaten Da Vinci’s mission.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD and Spanish monaural; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

Learning to Drive
Release date: Jan. 19
Details: 2015, Broad Green Pictures
Rated: R, language, sexual content
The lowdown: Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley and Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson star in this romantic feature about an author whose husband has left her for another woman.
Being a lifelong New Yorker, Wendy (Clarkson) has never learned to drive, so she hires taxi driver Darwan (Kingsley) to teach her.
Darwan is on the verge of an arranged marriage, and as he teaches her to take control of the wheel, she teaches him how to impress a woman.
This is a predictable movie heightened by the performances of two very fine actors.
Technical aspects: 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A photo gallery is the major extra.

Jack’s Back (Blu-ray + DVD)
Details: 1988, Scream Factory
Rated: R, violence, language
The lowdown: A thriller set in Los Angeles in which it appears that Jack the Ripper, or a copycat, is back in business, 100 years after the killer terrorized London.
The person with the best chance to solve the case, played by James Spader, also happens to be the prime suspect.
A ridiculous plot twist halfway through the film negates some of the suspense and Spader seems a bit uncomfortable and miscast in the lead.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English Dolby digital monaural.
Don’t miss: Extras include interviews with director Rowdy Herrington, producer Tim Moore, actress Cynthia Gibb and director of photography Shelly Johnson and a commentary track with Herrington.

Kansas City Confidential (Blu-ray)
Release date: Jan. 25
Details: 1952, The Film Detective
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: John Payne stars in this film noir caper classic as a delivery driver accused of taking part in a $1 million armored truck robbery.
Payne’s Joe Rolfe sets out to discover who set him up. The trail leads to Mexico where he encounters a nest of vipers and killers as well as corrupt cops.
Veteran director Phil Karlson was behind the camera. The supporting cast includes Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand and Jack Elam.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English Dolby digital.

Little House on the Prairie: Season Eight: Deluxe Remastered Edition
Release date: Jan. 19
Details: 1981-82, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A six-disc set featuring all 22 episodes from the eighth season of this beloved family-oriented TV series, based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The season includes loss, the death of Mr. Edwards’ son; joy, as the Olesons adopt Nancy; family, as the Wilders and Ingalls share memories when snowed in at Christmas; and faith as Charles pleads for the life of his adopted son.
A new life enters the picture, with the birth of baby Rose. Follow the ups and downs surrounding these brave pioneers.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Two movie specials, “Look Back to Yesterday” and “The Last Farewell,” comprise the extras.

General Spanky
Release date: Jan. 12
Details: 1936, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The Our Gang kids star in this feature-length comedy that, because of the popularity of Shirley Temple’s “The Little Colonel” and “The Littlest Rebel,” is set during the Civil War.
The feature is not politically correct, as it is a product of its time. But it offers charm and laughs as the gang members thwart an approaching force of Union soldiers.
The release is a movie-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wbshop.com, www.warnerarchive.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural.

Sonny Boy: Unrated Version (Blu-ray)
Details: 1989, Scream Factory
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This offbeat thriller stars David Carradine as the transvestite girlfriend of a psychotic petty crook, played by Paul L. Smith, who kidnap an orphaned infant, cage it like an animal and train it to steal and kill.
Years later, the now-grown child, named Sonny Boy, escapes and embarks on a murderous rampage that provokes retaliation from the local residents.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio stereo.
Don’t miss: Extras include a pair of commentary tracks.

The Younger Brothers
Release date: Jan. 12
Details: 1949, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Another white-washed look at famous Western outlaws, this time centering on the Younger brothers.
Cole (Wayne Morris), Jim (Bruce Bennett) and Bob (James Brown) are former bank robbers promised their freedom if they keep out of trouble.
They travel to Cedar Creek, Minn., to join their kid brother, Johnny (Robert Hutton), but run into a problem when a former Pinkerton cop who believes the brothers cost him his job accuses Johnny of murder.
Plus, a female bank robber makes Cole her patsy, so she can escape.
Everything, of course, works out by the end credits in this movie-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection.
The title can be found at www.wbshop.com or www.warnerarchive.com.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural.

Wild Bill Hickok Rides
Release date: Jan. 12
Details: 1942, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Bruce Cabot stars as the famous lawman in what amounts to a glorified B-Western from Warner’s, only with a bigger budget than the usual B-studio sagebrush saga.
Still, to cut costs this feature, in which Hickok thwarts a land grab by a slimy varmint from Chicago, played by Warren William, uses stock footage from earlier studio Westerns as well as retuning some of Max Steiner’s score from the big budget Errol Flynn movie, “Dodge City.”
Ironically, Cabot played the villain in that Flynn feature.
This release is a movie-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wbshop.com or www.warnerarchive.com.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural.

Whiskers & Paws
Details: 2001, 2015, Nickelodeon-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A DVD that kids will enjoy as Shimmer and Shine tame their wild mistake after they create a zoo of animals out of a magic hat.
The disc includes the Paw Patrol, Dora and Friends, Bubble Guppies and Blue’s Clues, among others.
Technical aspects: Full-screen picture; English Dolby digital stereo.

Coming next week: Bridge of Spies
Our Brand Is Crisis

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

 

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