New York, I Love You – Inspired by the French anthology Paris, je t’aime, this collection of shorts rounds up loads of stars and big name directors, including Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner, Orlando Bloom, Blake Lively, Rachel Bilson and Shia LaBeouf, for NYC-set slices of life and love. Extras include deleted shorts and director interviews.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Blu-ray – Terry Gilliam’s wild 1998 adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson book, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro, sizzles in high definition, although the nearly nonexistent extras fall flat. The movie looks brilliant on Blu-ray, but you may want to hold off for the inevitable special edition that incorporates features from the old DVD, and hopefully some new retrospective stuff.
The House of the Devil — A throwback to Satan-cult-obsessed, 1980s-style horror flicks, this intentionally campy flick stars Jocelin Donahue as a college girl who takes an ill-advised babysitting gig at a creepy house. As she tries to avoid becoming a human sacrifice, her night of terror packs some genuine thrills — and more laughs. Special features are the same on the DVD and Blu-ray (and since the movie looks intentionally bad, there’s no need to spend more for HD): cast and director commentaries and deleted scenes.
Love Happens — Aaron Eckhart stars as a self-help guru in need of a mental makeover himself. He rediscovers his passion for life by hooking up with a flower shop owner (Jennifer Aniston) who helps ground him. It’s standard, uninspired stuff, but the stars help carry the film. The Blu-ray doesn’t offer any more than the DVD in terms of special features: filmmaker commentary, a look at the visual effects and deleted scenes.
Planet Hulk – Marvel puts a considerable amount of effort and expense into its direct-to-video animated films, and this beefy adventure is no exception, outclassing both recent live-action Hulk films in sheer entertainment value. The story is a play on Gladiator and Spartacus, with Hulk imprisoned and sent to a planet where he must perform for crowds as a gladiator before he leads a slave revolt. The Blu-ray includes a digital copy and far more bonus features — including motion comics and music videos — than the DVD, which is a relatively bare-bones affair.
Zombieland — The zombie comedy genre is wearing thin, but consider this a nice send-off before the entertainment world begins a collective moratorium on the topic for at least a decade. Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson play some of the few remaining survivors of the zombie apocalypse, who take pleasure in disposing of the undead in creative fashion as they struggle to press on. The Blu-ray version lets you transfer a digital copy to PS3s and PSPs, and both versions include commentary from the cast and behind-the-scenes, making-of documentaries.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is available on Amazon.