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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 24, 2012

by Ethan Alter January 24, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I ain't afraid of no ghosts. Except in the Paranormal Activity movies.

Paranormal Activity 3
Usually franchises are showing signs of fatigue by the third installment, but Paranormal Activity 3 bucks the trend by being the best entry in the series, even if some of the original's novelty value has worn off by now. Incoming directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman bring a welcome sense of humor to PA3 and execute several creepy set-pieces, from a clever bit involving a camera strapped to an oscillating fan to a tense final sequence where the film's hero navigates through an unfamiliar house while pursued by a coven of witches. While it's good news that Joost and Schulman are returning for PA4 (out in theaters in October), they'll face an even tougher challenge as it's even rarer for the fourth movie in a franchise to be any good.
Extras: An unrated cut of the film and additional "lost tapes" with more things going bump in the night.
Read our original review here.

50/50
A mostly winning mixture of comedy and tragedy, the semi-autobiographical 50/50 recounts one young man's brush with cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the cancer patient in question and Seth Rogen is his good pal (a role he played in real life for screenwriter Will Reiser, who adapted his own story into this feature). The film's female characters would have benefited from further fleshing out (or, in the case, of Anna Kendrick's psychiatrist, a total personality transplant), but the movie's gently humorous treatment of a serious situation generates genuine laughs and tears.
Extras: A commentary track with the director and writer, deleted scenes and a making-of featurette.
Read our original review here.

Wings
Fun fact: If The Artist wins the Oscar this year for Best Picture, it will be only the second silent film to nab the top prize. The first was this 1927 World War I epic starring Clara Bow, which, coincidentally enough, was also the first-ever Best Picture winner in movie history. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, that's because Michael Bay ripped it off wholeheartedly for his war movie, Pearl Harbor. Two guys fall in love with the same woman and when war is declared, they both sign up to be flyboys in the Air Force. Since there was no such thing as computer graphics at the time, many of the aerial sequences were filmed using actual planes. Take that, contemporary Hollywood
Extras: Three retrospective featurettes about the making of the film and its legacy.

Annie Hall
Manhattan
Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris is one of his better recent efforts, but to see this legendary writer/director at the absolute height of his powers, look no further than this pair of '70s classics, both of which are making their high-def debuts. Annie Hall, of course, beat out Star Wars for Best Picture back in 1977 and before any of you fanboys start grousing, as good as A New Hope is, Annie Hall is absolutely the better picture and, in its own way, just as influential as George Lucas's space opera. Every romantic comedy made since has labored in its long, long shadow. Produced two years later, Manhattan is arguably Allen's most beautifully directed film, a gorgeous ode to New York City scored to the music of George Gershwin and shot in dazzling black-and-white (which looks even more stunning on Blu-ray). Allen has often joked that, even with some 40 films under his belt, he's never made what he considers a genuine masterpiece. These two pictures prove him wrong.
Extras: None, as Woody Allen isn't a big believer in bonus content.

Also on DVD:
It's a Blu-ray bonanza of classic movies this week, kicking off with a trio of high-def re-issues of the Alfred Hitchock thrillers Rebecca (the only Hitchcock film to nab a Best Picture Oscar -- Hitch himself famously never won a Best Director trophy), Notorious, and Spellbound. Criterion also gets into the act, releasing a high-def version of the original (and still the best) Godzilla picture. And for children of the '80s at least, Stripes is a genuine classic. Much as we enjoy the character actor Bill Murray has become, part of us still misses the anti-authoritarian cut-up he used to be. In newer releases, Rachel Weisz stars in The Whistleblower the real-life story of a cover-up in the aftermath of the Bosnian War and Hugh Jackman trains rock 'em sock 'em robots in the family friendly boxing picture Real Steel. Gus Van Sant swings and misses with the painfully affected Harold and Maude homage Restless, about a pair of death-obsessed teens that fall in love with each other largely because no one else can stand to be around them. Finally, David Guggenheim explores the making of one of the '90s best albums Achtung Baby and how it saved a band that was on the verge of splitting up in the behind-the-music documentary, U2: From the Sky Down.

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