VOD is all the rage right now, and for good reason (check out of June VOD list). But while it's gratifying to know that you can watch pretty much anything with the simple click of a button, there's something comforting about tearing into a DVD/Blu-ray case and popping the disc into your player. That, and not even a VOD film in HD can rival the clarity a Blu-ray disc offers. To keep you up to date with the current goings-on in the home video marketplace, here are the new releases worth your time and money.
"House of Cards: The Complete First Season"
After premiering exclusively on Netflix this past February, "House of Cards" makes its debut in the traditional home video market. An adaptation of the BBC series of the same name, the thirteen-episode political drama stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a Democratic Congressman who works to seek his revenge on those who betrayed him after being snubbed the position of Secretary of State. The cast also features Robin Wright as Frank's wife, as well as Kate Mara as an aspiring political journalist.
"The Newsroom: The Complete First Season"
Aaron Sorkin's return to the small screen after winning a screenwriting Oscar for "The Social Network," "The Newsroom" is a behind-the-scenes look at fictional news station Atlantic Cable News (ACN), starring Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, its right-leaning television anchor. Also featured amongst the ensemble is Emily Mortimer as the station's returning executive producer and McAvoy's former flame, as well as Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda as the station's division president and CEO, respectively.
Extras: Selected audio commentaries with Sorkin, Daniels, Mortimer, and others; a conversation with Sorkin, Daniels, Mortimer, Waterston, and executive producers Alan Poul and Greg Mottola on their experience making the show; a behind-the-scenes tour of the Atlantic Cable News sets with the cast and crew.
"Wild Strawberries (Criterion Collection)
The late Swedish master Ingmar Bergman's 1957's film features Victor Sjöström in his last onscreen performance as Isak, an aging professor who takes a road trip to receive an honorary degree. With death just around the corner, this journey causes forces Isak to confront his past and reevaluate his life along the way. Among the many accolades for "Wild Strawberries" include the Golden Bear at the 1958 Berlin Film Festival and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Extras: This new Blu-ray edition of the film includes features extras not included on the previous Criterion release, including an introduction by Ingmar Bergman, behind-the-scenes footage, as well as an essay and audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie, and a 90-minute documentary entitled "Ingmar Bergman on Life and Work."
With total disregard for Hollywood convention, oddball writer-director-musician Quentin Dupieux last made a mark with his gonzo killer tire horror pic "Rubber." The Frenchman is now back with "Wrong," an even more eccentric vision about one man's journey to find his missing dog that takes so many detours it plays like several mind-bending shorts all strung together into one absurd whole. The film premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival where Indiewire' Eric Kohn called it "'Groundhog Day' remade by Luis Buñuel."
Extras: A making-of doc, some behind-the-scenes footage, theatrical trailers, and a 20-page booklet featuring an introduction by Eric Wareheim.
"Dead Man's Burden"
Western fans of all kinds should be pleased with Jared Moshe’s directorial debut that premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2012. Set in the years following America’s Civil War, "Dead Man’s Burden" focuses on a mining company trying to buy the land of a struggling New Mexican family. While it’s not a shoot-em-up style western like the immortal "Tombstone," Indiewire’s Eric Kohn said the film "maintains the Western requisite that bullets must find their targets." "Dead Man’s Burden" also showcases newly minted country western star Clare Bowen — made so by the hit television show "Nashville." She may not be crooning along with Connie Britton, but her cowboy boots carry just as much kick.
"How to Survive a Plague" (Blu-ray)
A chronicle of AIDS activism in New York, David France's acclaimed doc -- which premiered to great acclaim at Sundance earlier this year -- shows how a group of men and women fought against a homophobic establishment to help bring life-saving drugs to America. It's a remarkable part of American history that too few are aware of, and one that comes to theaters exactly 25 years after ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) -- the activist group at the core of "Plague" -- held its first demonstration.