This week on DVD and Blu-ray: Kenneth Lonergan's long-delayed and widely praised follow-up to his breakout indie "You Can Count On Me"; the latest drama from "About a Boy" director Paul Weitz; China's most expensive film ever; a harrowing look at Mixed Martial Arts; and every episode of one of the most beloved shows of all time.
Chances are you've heard of "Margaret," Kenneth Lonergan's follow-up to "You Can Count On Me," but have yet to see it. Well, here's your chance.
Lonergan's sophomore feature opened in only two theaters last Septembers via Fox Searchlight, after years of troubled post-production that saw the filmmaker get sued and cut multiple versions of the film. Once "Margaret" finally did land, it didn't stand much of chance given its extremely release, despite a stellar ensemble cast that includes (wait for it) Anna Paquin, Matthew Broderick, Mark Ruffalo, Jean Reno Matt Damon, Allison Janney, Jeannie Berlin and J. Smith-Cameron.
"Many of the critics who did get to see the movie hailed it as a masterpiece, but even naysayers couldn't deny its ambition," Eric Kohn wrote in his review. "The story of privileged Manhattan teenager Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) coping with her role in a tragic accident while coming to grips with the larger world around her displays a fierce commitment to Lonergan's epic, empathetic vision, blending its coming of age narrative with experimental tangents and operatic crescendos of city life. It's a hard movie to shrug off."
The film's profile has risen since its initial release thanks to an aggressive Twitter campaign — and its legacy is destined to widen even further with today's release of the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack that includes both the theatrical cut and a highly touted "extended" cut that runs over three hours.
Extras: Just the extended cut, sadly.
#2. "Being Flynn"
In "Being Flynn," writer Nick Flynn sees his life brought to the screen by acclaimed filmmaker Paul Weitz ("About a Boy") via an adaptation of his 2004 hit memoir, "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City." In the drama, Paul Dano portrays Nick in his younger years, as a writer seeking to define himself. Still coping with the loss of his mother (Julianne Moore) who took her own life, Flynn is thrown for a loop when his father, Jonathan Flynn (Robert De Niro), reenters his life after an 18-year absence.
Go HERE for a First Person exclusive to Indiewire in which Flynn opens up about seeing his life on celluloid.
Extras: Unfortunately, all you’ll find is a behind-the-scenes featurette.
At a hefty $90 million, Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War" boasts the largest production budget in China's history. The country's official entry for last year's Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award certainly looks expensive, and thankfully it's also grand entertainment. Set in 1937 during Japan’s invasion of China, "The Flowers of War" stars Christian Bale as an American mortician who impersonates a priest in order to save a convent’s schoolchildren. Another storyline follows local prostitutes also seeking shelter in the convent.
Extras: This almost two-and-a-half-hour film has a five-part feature length "making of" documentary. And while that’s about it, the features are stocked full of good stuff — from meeting Bale to seeing where the film was set.
In the bracing documentary "Fightville," filmmakers Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker ("Gunner Palace") take a thorough look at the inner circle of Mixed Martial Arts competitors by following a group of young would-be fighter stars in Southern Louisiana. "The footage is gorgeously shot, bloody and dominated by enough excessive libido-fueled rage to please anyone enthralled by the sport," wrote Eric Kohn in his review.
Extras: Nothing, unfortunately.
#5. "Dark Shadows: The Complete Original Series"
If you have a few hundred dollars to throw around, you could do a lot worse than purchasing the "Dark Shadows: The Complete Original Series" box set. Priced at a hefty $599.00, the release comes in a coffin (clever), and runs a whopping 30,000 hours over 131 discs. The brainchild of producer Dan Curtis, "Dark Shadows" is legendary for pumping out a remarkable 1,225 episodes during its five-year run. The show is best remembered for the character of Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid), a 200-year-old vampire fresh from the grave and hellbent on saving his family's cannery in Collinsport, Maine from the vengeful hands of the beautiful witch Angelique who initially cursed him back in the 18th century. "Dark Shadows" is also fondly remembered for its infamous bloopers (looming boom mics frequently made an appearance) thanks to the fast-paced environment which didn't allow for second takes — or editing for that matter. Here's your chance to revisit those on set hiccups with the pause button!
Go HERE for our chat the show's original stars Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott.
Extras: A lot of good stuff here, since bonus features take up the last five discs. The DVD set, which has over 130 discs, contains a signed picture of Jonathan Frid; a 96-page booklet of all the episodes on the set, complete with synopses and stills from the show; 100+ interviews with actors from the show; a 25th Anniversary Special; footage of the cast reunion from a 1991 convention; a 30th Anniversary Retrospective; a film tribute; horror moments reel; promos; bloopers and outtakes. Can you ask for anything more?