The PhilmGuy's DVD Review: 'Let Me In'; 'The Tillman Story'

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Feb. 1 2011, Published 7:40 a.m. ET

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Let Me In – A superb remake of Let the Right One in features rising star Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) as a sullen, withdrawn young vampire who develops a tenuous friendship with a lonely neighbor (Kodi Smit-McPhee). The anti-Twilight, Let Me In scraps the vampiric melodrama to focus on the cerebral aspects of the undead. Director Matt Reeves deftly mixes the horror and coming-of-age genres to moving results. The Blu-ray includes a digital copy, Reeves’ commentary, deleted scenes and a look at the special effects.

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Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Blu-ray – The trippy 1951 classic is even more mind-blowingly messed up than you remember, making Tim Burton’s take on the Lewis Carroll story seem stiff by comparison. High definition ratchets up the visuals several notches above any version of the film previously released. Disney held nothing back in terms of devising special features, providing an invaluable side mode that identifies the references to the source material. In addition to all the previously released extras, there’s a previously unreleased intro from Walt Disney himself and pencil-drawn test footage of a scene of Alice shrinking.

All About Eve – In a twisted take on A Star is Born, the 1950 drama stars Anne Baxter as a young ingénue who methodically upstages a veteran actress (Bette Davis), stealing her friends and career. Despite over-theatrical acting, the movie remains relevant and intriguing 61 years later. The Blu-ray is packaged as a book that explores the film’s history and trivia.


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Almost Famous Bootleg Edition Blu-ray – Writer/director Cameron Crowe’s semiautobiographical 2000 tale of a high school kid (Patrick Fugit) who talks his way into writing for Rolling Stone and tagging along with a rock band. The writer comes of age as he encounters the excesses, pleasures, travails and hypocrisy of the rock industry. The superb cast includes Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Paquin and Frances McDormand. Exclusive to Best Buy, the Blu-ray includes all the extras from DVDs, although nothing new.

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Conviction – In this piece of based-on-a-true-story Oscar bait that got no nibbles, Hilary Swank plays a woman who becomes a lawyer in order to get her falsely convicted brother (Sam Rockwell) out of jail. The by-the-numbers drama is nothing special, and seems exactly like something you’d see on Lifetime. The film doesn’t include many special features.


Pleasantville Blu-ray – The visually stunning 1998 film follows teens (Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire) who are sucked into a black-and-white 1950s sit-come world, bringing their evolved 1990s sensibilities with them. As they show various characters the light, helping them snap out of their stiff stereotypes, the world changes into color. The disc is light on extras.

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Ray Blu-rayJamie Foxx’s 2004 tour de force, in which he captures the look, sound and spirit of Ray Charles in an Oscar-winning performance, struts its stuff on Blu-ray. The blind musician overcame countless obstacles to find legend status, including blindness, family tragedy and racism. Director Taylor Hackford provides commentary and there are several deleted and extended scenes.

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10 Dudley Moore is a burned-out middle-aged musician who abandons his wife (Julie Andrews) to chase an ill-advised relationship with the newlywed daughter (Bo Derek) of his dentist. The 1979 film looks as stunning as its iconic poster, with Derek jogging in a flesh-toned bathing suit, and the mesmerizing storytelling from writer/director Blake Edwards has held up well over the years. It’s a shame Warner Bros. didn’t expend more effort in the threadbare extras department.

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Welcome to the RileysJames Gandolfini is a traveling businessman who becomes a father figure for an underage stripper/prostitute (Kristen Stewart), shielding the relationship from his spurned wife (Melissa Leo). You can never quite tell where the drama is going, and it’s nice to see the typecast Gandolfini and Stewart break out of their standard roles. Leo, Oscar nominated for The Fighter, turns in yet another stunning, layered performance. The Blu-ray is bare bones.

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You’ve Got Mail Blu-ray – The AOL e-mail obsessed 1998 romantic comedy seems as quaint as something from the 1930s, but the charms of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan helps the movie stay relatable. The duo play business rivals who fall in love anonymously via this newfangled invention of Al Gore. The movie includes the Jimmy Stewart comedy The Shop Around the Corner, which inspired the film.

The Tillman Story – My favorite documentary of 2010 tells the heartbreaking story of the family of Pat Tillman, who quit his NFL career to join the Army Rangers. The military lied to the family about the cause of his death in Afghanistan, at first portraying him as a hero before grudgingly admitting – thanks to the family’s research – that he was killed by friendly fire. The film includes a documentary about Tillman’s life and career.


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