Fame: Go in with low enough expectations and you may find yourself lulled into contented sedation in this remake of the 1980s TV show and movie, set at the fictional New York City High School of Performing Arts. A bunch of bright-eyed dancers, singers and actors compete and collaborate in a cut-throat bonanza of silly performances and melodrama. The Blu-ray includes a digital copy for those not too embarrassed to watch this on your iPhone in public.
Boogie Nights Blu-ray: The brilliant and devastatingly sad 1997 look at the 1970s porn scene stands out as one of the best films of its decade, if not the century. Mark Wahlberg came of age as Dirk Diggler, the unlikely skin flick star who rises to fame and crashes twice as hard. Along with Magnolia, this is one of two fine movies from director Paul Thomas Anderson to debut on Blu-ray this week. (Boogie Nights has been available exclusively at Best Buy for about a month until now). Director and cast commentary, deleted scenes and an in-depth look at Wahlberg’s co-star John C. Reilly bolster the standout selection of extras.
Magnolia Blu-ray: Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling 1999 opus follows interrelated Los Angeles-area characters in a deep, hilarious and trippy look at the human condition. Tom Cruise is a standout as an outspoken misogynist self-help guru who gets a humiliating comeuppance. Extras include a video diary from the movie and extended/deleted scenes.
The Bourne Trilogy Blu-ray/DVD Combo: It seems Disney doesn’t have the monopoly on cleverly packaging Blu-rays with their DVD counterparts to coax collectors into upgrading without losing any versatility. Matt Damon‘s exploits have already been captured on Blu-ray, and that set is tough to find for less than $50 used. Since Amazon has each of the sold-separately Blu-ray/DVD combos available for $18, it’s pretty much a no-brainer to pick up this new version of the trilogy.
Cliffhanger Blu-ray: Sylvester Stallone‘s cornball 1993 mountaineering classic grunts and climbs its way to high-def. John Lithgow bubbles as a way-over-the-top villain — a gangster who’s too foolish to realize he’s no match for Stallone, an ironhearted mountain rescuer with a troubled past. The disc is loaded with extras, including deleted scenes, storyboard comparisons, a making-of doc and commentary by Stallone and director Renny Harlin.
Post Grad: Adorable Gilmore Girls alum Alexis Bledel stumbles into a weak romantic comedy about a jobless college grad suffering a quarterlife crisis. Bledel is cute and peppy but she can’t even begin to save a wretched, all-too-predictable script. Consequenceless deleted scenes highlight an uninspired extras package.
The Sopranos Season 1 Blu-ray: It’s obscene that the stunningly gorgeous Blu-ray version of the first season of the best TV series to ever air is $42 on Amazon, whereas the DVD version is $54. The two-part season 6 is apparently the only other Sopranos series on Blu-ray so far, and it stands to reason that eventually the whole series will be sold in a single box that will save you money from buying them individually. But if you can’t wait for the unspecified date to see the series in its best looking form, just try to stop yourself from buying this set.
Weeds: Season 5 The witty and gripping pot-dealing dramedy, starring the indomitable and ageless Mary-Louise Parker, maintains its level of excellence as it hits the half-decade mark. This season features a love triangle, a life-saving pregnancy and biting insight into the Mexican political system. The DVD and Blu-ray versions include the same extras, including comentary on some episodes, making-of and retrospective featurettes.
Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, is available on Amazon.