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Leaving the Multiplex Behind

Notable DVD Releases – December 20, 2011

Posted by Jonathan Sullivan on December 20, 2011

Someone just reminded Forest Whitaker he was in VANTAGE POINT.

This week on DVD: Bruce Willis continues dipping his foot into the direct to DVD waters, another indie by Michael Polish finally gets distribution, we play catch up with an aging Butch Cassidy and, in the spirit of Christmas, IFC throws us a foreign horror import about a murderous Saint Nicholas. You know, for the kids.

Catch .44

Starring: Malin Akerman, Forest Whitaker, Nikki Reed, Bruce Willis

Directed by: Aaron Harvey

Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Plot: Three ruthless female outlaws (Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, Deborah Ann Woll) scheme to intercept a lucrative drug shipment for a notorious crime boss (Bruce Willis with hair!), and get drawn into a dangerous series of double crosses.

Thoughts: Watching the trailer and reading the synopsis, it’s easy to think that Catch .44 is going to be something very reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino movie. That can either be a good or bad thing, depending on your love of Tarantino and hatred of original ideas. But despite that and the fact I’m not the biggest Akerman fan on the planet (she nearly killed Watchmen all by herself), Catch .44 does look entertaining and could end up being a good mindfuck of a heist movie. And if that ends up not being the case, at least we’ll get Whitaker talking in a ridiculous sounding fake accent so there’ll be some chuckle worthy moments.

Buy Catch .44 on DVD (or Blu-ray)

Stay Cool

Starring: Mark Polish, Hilary Duff, Sean Astin, Josh Holloway, Winona Ryder

Directed by: Michael Polish

Distributed by: Arc Entertainment

Plot: Henry McCarthy (Mark Polish), the 30-something author of a popular 80s-themed novel, returns to his suburban hometown to deliver the commencement speech at his former high school. Despite his success as an author, Henry’s return home has sparked all of the youthful dreams, desires and particularly disappointments he’s never quite gotten over, specifically his unrequited affection for the girl who is now the local pharmacist: the elusive Scarlet Smith (Winona Ryder). Between run-ins with the outcast friends he left behind Big Girl (Sean Astin) and Wino (Josh Holloway), the school principal (Chevy Chase) and a seductive senior, Shasta O’Neil (Hilary Duff), Henry is sent spinning through a time warp that incites all the old emotions and challenges of the world he grew up in. Henry can only hope to ”Stay Cool” and make it, once again, to graduation day.

Thoughts: Another week, another Michael Polish movie finally sees release. Much like last week’s The Smell of Success, Stay Cool made its debut on the film festival circuit two years ago and has sat on the shelf since. I fail to understand why, really; yes it looks to be a bit on the bland side but it’s got a cast that can push DVD sales (at least curious rentals) and judging by the trailer it does look at least a little bit funny. Who doesn’t love a little Hilary Duff in their lives? Hey wait, where you going? COME BACK AND SING ALONG TO “WHY NOT?” WITH ME!

Buy Stay Cool on DVD

Blackthorn

Starring: Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Directed by: Mateo Gil

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Plot: It’s been said that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In Blackthorn, Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the U.S. and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. But when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal (Eduardo Noriega) derails his plans, he is thrust into one last adventure, the likes of which he hasn’t experienced since his glory days with the Sundance Kid.

Thoughts: Blackthorn got a limited theatrical run of 21 screens, so there’s a good chance you missed it. Reviews have been mostly positive and I like the alternate history take on the legend of Butch Cassidy. If you’re looking for something that could be considered legitimately good instead of “straight to DVD good” (a stigma that unfortunately exists) this week, this’ll be your best bet.

Buy Blackthorn on DVD (or Blu-ray)

Saint Nick

Starring: Huub Stapel, Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen

Directed by: Dick Maas

Distributed by: IFC Films

Plot:  Saint Nick re-imagines the jolly old saint as a bloodthirsty bishop fulfilling a grisly prophecy every 32 years under the Christmas full moon. Slain by the villagers he tormented, the medieval marauder swears a ghostly revenge on their descendants. Centuries later, the story has settled comfortably into innocuous folklore, until a bloody encounter with the ghoul forces local teen Frank to believe in Santa all over again. Teaming up with discharged cop and fellow believer Goert, Frank must save the city of Amsterdam in an all-out bloody battle against the wrathful “Sinterklaas” and his minions.

Thoughts: First off, whoever decided that dubbing Belgium horror import Saint Nick was a good idea needs to be fired immediately for this simple reason: it makes a cool premise look absolutely hokey as a result. I love this idea, and the fact it has nothing to do with the Santa Claus character that spun off of Saint Nicholas, and hope this as well as Rare Exports shows a trend into making more Christmas-themed horror movies. But I want to watch it with subtitles; this is a movie that deserves to be seen, not mocked.

Buy Saint Nick on DVD

So that’s what’s available this week. Looking forward to any of these? Feel free to leave a comment below.

[Special thanks, as always, to the excellent DVDReleases.org for all the information provided]

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