We’re now exactly half-way through the year, and there are plenty of DVD releases yet to come. With the exception of unannounced and obscure titles, here’s a list of this examiner’s top 16 most anticipated DVDs to come in the next 6 months:
16.)Casa de mi Padre (July 17th) – This Spanish-language Will Ferrell comedy was a bit of a bomb at the box-office and quickly slipped from the public consciousness. If history has taught us anything, however, it is that modern comedies can find new life in the home market. Here’s to hoping its impending DVD release gets Casa de mi Padre the love and attention it deserves.
15.)Boardwalk Empire season 2 (August 28th) – While Boardwalk Empire hasn’t quite captured the nation’s attention like its predecessor, The Sopranos, this tale of prohibition era gangster life makes for gripping television. The second season ratchets up the drama, building to a finale that should have plenty of people tuning in for season 3.
14.)The Pirates! Band of Misfits (August 28th) – Despite their occasional dalliances with CGI, Aardman studios will always be synonymous with beautiful stop-motion animation, and their latest feature is their most technically impressive yet. As always, Aardman bring to the table an array of dazzling slapstick routines and a wealth of their trademark wit to the story of a hapless collection of swashbucklers. Considering how well Aardman films lend themselves to repeated viewings, the DVD may just be the ideal means of digging in to this adventure.
13.)Bernie (August 21st) – Richard Linklater is one of the best, most versatile directors around, and his pseudo-documentary take on the real-life story of a most unassuming murderer seems tailor-made to his sensibilities. The real draw, however, is Jack Black delivering perhaps his best performance to date as the titular character.
12.)Kill List (August 14th) – The premise alone had this examiner hooked from the word “go”: a genre mashup of hitman crime drama and tense psychological horror. It’s always a delight to find an idea that feels like it should have been made years ago.
11.)Adventure Time Season 1 (July 10th) – Finally, after all the tentative water-testing with its previous sampler discs, Adventure Time gets its first genuine seasonal volume. While the episodes themselves may be a bit uneven, the real draw here are the special features, a lacking of previous releases, especially considering the show’s prolific cult following and the deep personal investment of its creative staff.
10.)Moonrise Kingdom (Late 2012) – The latest from auteur Wes Anderson is a spirited take on the director’s typical blend on nostalgia as aesthetic. When a pair of troubled youth run away for a romantic getaway, it’s up to a collection of dysfunctional adults (including Hollywood all-stars like Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray) to bring them home. The film’s ever-widening scope and pacing make it the closest thing to an adventure film Anderson has done to date, and it’s most definitely an adventure you’ll want to bring home.
9.)Margaret (July 10th) – For whatever reason, a film studio may choose to hold off on releasing one of its movies to the public. In the case of Margaret, an epic-length teen drama about a young woman’s tragic twist of fate, Fox Searchlight kept the film on the shelf for over five years, only recently letting it loose to limited fanfare and screenings. While critical reception has been somewhat mixed, when one of the best film critics on the internet cites it as being one of the best movies ever, you tend to stand up and take notice.
8.)The Cabin in the Woods (summer) – Speaking of long-delayed films, this devilishly clever subversion of the entire horror industry waited for three years for the fallout from MGM’s bankruptcy to blow over before getting a theatrical release earlier this year. The oncoming DVD release is the final step in its full ascension to cult-classic status.
7.)A Separation (August 21st) – The most critically acclaimed film of last year was also the first Iranian film to win Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Granted, this very esteem did the film few favors in making it accessible to the average moviegoer (same goes for the limited theatrical releases such films tend to get), so for many of us, the DVD release really will be the grand premiere. And based on word-of-mouth, it would seem to be most grand indeed.
6.)Community season 3 (August 14th) – Community (and, to a lesser extent, its fans) just cannot catch a break. When the series was finally renewed for a 4th season, the news was somewhat dampened by the fact that it would be a paltry 13-episode order. The worst was to come, however, when the show’s mastermind, Dan Harmon, was unceremoniously fired by NBC shortly thereafter. Regardless of how good the show is upon its return this October, it’s doubtful that Community will ever be like it was before. At the very least, its third season provided the Harmon-era with a graceful, touching, and endlessly hilarious farewell, and really couldn’t come to DVD soon enough.
5.)The Avengers (September 25th) – Actually, while the Joss Whedon-helmed blockbuster on its own is more than deserving of a place on this list, more keen to my mind is the inevitable box-set of the complete-to-date Avengers series. This series represents a landmark achievement in cinema, one absolutely deserving of all the commentaries and featurettes that will surely be included.
4.)Down by Law (July 17th) – Prison films typically thrive on being oppressive tales of men struggling against insurmountable odds. Down by Law is a bit more light-hearted (though just barely) about the prospect of imprisonment, but it’s no less artful than the very best. A terrific cast and script and hypnotic cinematography all draw the viewer in, making escape not only impossible, but unappealing.
3.)Umberto D. (September 4th) – Thanks to the justifiably classic Bicycle Thieves, many people may be under the impression that films of the Italian neorealist movement have to be oppressively sad and bleak. Umberto D. is the perfect rebuttal to such claims. Granted, the film has its share of downer moments, but ultimately this stands as one of the most life-affirming films ever made. Naturally, the Criterion treatment is a no-brainer.
2.)Beasts of the Southern Wild (Late 2012) – Positioning itself as this year’s The Tree of Life, only with more whimsy, Beasts tells a tale of survival in the midst of potentially apocalyptic chaos. Most refreshingly, it does so with an air of exuberant wonder, buoyed by stellar performances from non-actors like young Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy, the films hero. Look out for this to be one of, if not the, best picture of the year.
1.)Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection (October 2nd) – In keeping with a grand tradition of “we’re only just getting this NOW?” blu-ray transfers, this 8-disc set finally sees some of the most iconic movies ever made (never mind “horror”) brought to hi-definition for the first time. Classics like Dracula and Frankenstein are placed alongside the equally great Spanish-language Dracula and Bride of Fran kenstein, as well as all the other legendary Universal monsters (including the 1943 Phantom of the Opera, as oppose to the more famous and trademark entangled silent film). Naturally, such a momentous set brings with it a scary (sorry) amount of bonus content, all of which drives home just how essential these films really are. Look to see every dedicated cinephile snatch this set up in time for a very special Halloween.