New on DVD and Blu-Ray: June 12, 2012

Once again the list of my most anticipated movies is dominated by Criterion Collection releases. Most of the movies getting released on DVD and Blu-Ray this time of year were released in the early months of the year, which are not typically known to be a hotbed for great cinema. Luckily there is an endless library of classic films that have yet to be released on Blu-Ray that will at least give us something to anticipate.

Here are the 5 movies that I am most anticipating this week:

Top 5 New Releases:

5) Too Big to Fail (2011)

This HBO original film premiered last May to much critical acclaim and left people who don’t have HBO (like me) eagerly anticipating its release to the masses. Over a year later we are finally able to check it out on DVD or Blu-Ray. Directed by Curtis Hanson, Too Big Too Fail dramatizes the real life events that unfolded during the early months of the financial collapse. The film stars Paul Giamatti, Ed Asner, William Hurt, James Woods, Cynthia Nixon, Billy Crudup, and many more. Blu-Ray includes a making-of documentary and interviews with the cast and crew about their take on the financial crisis.

4) Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (2011)

I was not particularly impressed with the first Sherlock Holmes film, but I have heard from several critics that the second film improves on the first in a few key ways. This seems like a good film to throw into the DVD player on a casual Summer afternoon. It is difficult not to find Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law at least somewhat amusing and I imagine that both of them can transcend any flaws in Guy Ritchie’s direction (not saying there are any).

3) In Darkness (2012)

This Polish film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last year’s Academy Awards and it received a U.S. theatrical release early this year. I missed it in theatres, but hope to catch up with it on DVD to see how it compares with Footnote and Monsieur Lazhar, the two other nominated films I have seen. It tells the story of a man who rescued Jewish refugees through the sewers of Poland during World War II. The concept sounds overdone and Oscar-baity, but I will give it a look nonetheless.

2) Harold and Maude (1971)

One of Hal Ashby’s greatest films gets the Criterion treatment this week with a new digital restoration. This hilarious film tells the story of a wealthy young man (Bud Cort) who is obsessed with death and the unlikely relationship he forms with a lively senior citizen (Ruth Gordon). It has a fantastic soundtrack with most songs by Cat Stevens and some memorable supporting characters, like the one-armed military uncle. The Criterion Blu-Ray includes commentary by Hal Ashby’s biography Nick Dawson, interviews with Cat Stevens, and an essay from film critic Matt Zoller-Seitz.

1) The Gold Rush (1925)

The Criterion Collection continues their Charlie Chaplin series with a brand new digital transfer of one of his best loved movies. The Gold Rush features such memorable comic bits as the dinner roll dance scene, epitomizing loneliness in the most charming way possible, the cabin fight scene, where you genuinely fear for Chaplin’s life at certain points, and the shoe-eating scene. The Criterion Blu-Ray includes commentary from Chaplin’s biographer Jeffrey Vance, special features about the film’s history, visual effects work, and score (by Chaplin himself), and a short documentary about Chaplin.

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Other new titles on DVD and Blu-Ray today include Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which needs no explanation, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, which I know nothing about, the independent film Thin Ice, which has received decent buzz, and the Criterion Collection release of Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, which is an early effort from the director that I have not seen.

Streaming Pick of the Week:

Into the Abyss (2011) and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

Available on Netflix [Abyss | Cave].

Enjoy a Werner Herzog double feature as both of the director’s acclaimed 2011 documentaries are now available for instant streaming on Netflix. In Into the Abyss, Herzog interviews deathrow inmates to investigate why human beings destroy. In Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Herzog explores some of the first known cave art to investigate why human beings create. The two films make a thematically relevant, although mildly depressing, double feature.

Which new movie on DVD, Blu-Ray, or streaming are you most excited about?

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