Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a staid and dignified look at Cecil Gaines, the White House’s head butler through eight presidential administrations from 1952 through 1986. Gaines, played with a superb white gloved touch by Forest Whitaker, witnessed the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, the rise and fall of the Iron Curtain, numerous wars, and immeasurable changes to the landscape of American society, all from the vantage of the most powerful residence in the world. Whitaker is joined by an all star cast including Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, and Liev Schreiber. The Blu-ray and combo pack releases by Starz/Anchor Bay contain several extras: deleted scenes, a music video by Gladys Knight and Lenny Kravitz, a gag reel, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and a featurette on the original freedom riders.
Starz/Anchor Bay has another big, racially-charged release today with Fruitvale Station; the film was coincidentally produced by Forest Whitaker and stars Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Melonie Diaz, and Chad Michael Murray. Writer/Director Ryan Coogler’s first feature-length film is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young San Francisco Bay-area man who was killed by transit police on New Year’s Day 2009. It follows his interactions and experiences during the last hours of his life and contains some actual amateur footage of the fatal shooting and its aftermath. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic Film; it also screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best First Film.
Lionsgate’s release You’re Next might seem like the stuff of nightmares: a gang of masked crossbow-wielding murderers crashes a family gathering in a remote location. They have no idea who is attacking them or what they want. The family is trapped and terrified knowing they will be picked off one by one with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. That is, until a member of their party decides to fight back. So who’s next now? The thriller by director Adam Wingard stars Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, AJ Bowen, Wendy Glenn, and Joe Swanberg.
Riddick is a sci-fi tale of revenge of the sweetest kind: Riddick (Vin Diesel) is betrayed and abandoned to die on a foreign planet. He must battle the alien inhabitants for survival, an exercise which hones his deadly skills in time for a wave of bounty hunters bent on destroying him. He uses the situation to his advantage in order to mete out his revenge on those who betrayed him and return to his home planet in time to save it from certain destruction. Co-starring the underrated Bokeem Woodbine Writer/Director David Twohy’s threequel to The Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black is a lean mean killing machine that delivers on the action and special effects. The Blu-ray edition contains the 119-minute theatrical cut of the film as well as the meatier 127-minute unrated director’s cut which extends Riddicks rule of the Necromongers. The Blu-ray also contains The Twohy Touch (a six-minute discussion of the appeal of the series and how this particular project came about), Riddickian Tech (a look at the specialized technology imagined for the film), Vin’s Riddick (which discusses the evolution of Vin Diesel’s action character), Meet the Mercs, The World of Riddick, and Riddick Blindsided (a promotional motion comic).
Other notable releases include:
Riddick: The Complete Collection
The Spectacular Now
In the Heat of the Night
Short Term 12
20 Feet from Stardom
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
The Universe in 3D: A Whole New Dimension
I’m in Love with a Church Girl
Taisho Baseball Girls
Nova: Making Stuff 2
Yellowstone: An American Legacy
Pride and Prejudice (Keepsake Edition)
I Cannibali: The Year of the Cannibals
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