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.
A nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars, "No" takes the viewer back to Chile in 1988, when dictator Augusto Pinochet was being taken to task after years of overseeing an oppressive regime. Gael Garcia Bernal plays René, an advertising executive who spearheads a creative marketing campaign to persuade citizens to vote Pinochet out of power. With "Mad Men" just ending its season, fans of the AMC show may gravitate towards "No" and its portrayal of advertising, although the sociopolitical stakes in the film are much higher.
Extras: Interviews with director Pablo Larrain, Bernal and Eugenio Garcia, the real-life ad exec who inspired Bernal's character; a behind-the-scenes featurette; and an image gallery.
Finally landing a stateside home video release after premiering in its native UK in 2011, "Black Pond" is a bitter tragicomedy about a family dealing with death under strange circumstances. When a recent acquaintance of the father dies at their dinner table, the Thompson family decide to secretly dispose of the body. Word about what they've done gets out to the press, causing a fury of vilification that affects and intensifies the dynamics between all of the family members.
Extras: Deleted scenes and a short film by directors Will Sharpe and Tom Kinglsey.
Extras: Video essays by director Patrick Wang as well as filmmakers H.P. Mendoza and Kevin B. Lee; behind-the-scenes footage; a booklet of essays by Godfrey Cheshire, Michael Guillén, David Boyle, and Brian Hu; and a theatrical trailer.
It is estimated that 50 million people in the United States are living in food-insecure conditions. Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush's documentary tackles the dismayingly pervasive hunger epidemic plaguing out nation, taking a look at people who struggle with hunger first-hand, as well as interviews from sociologists, nutrition policy leaders, and even activist/actor Jeff Bridges.
Extras: Deleted scenes; cast and crew interviews; deleted interviews; AXS TV's look at "A Place at the Table"; commentary with Jacobson and Silverbush; and the theatrical trailer.
Director Luis Preito adapts Nicolas Winding Refn's cult gangster trilogy from the streets of Copenhagen to London, where drug pusher Frank (Richard Coyle) borrows money from his supplier on a get-rich-quick scheme, only for it to go wrong, leaving his supplier out to get him. Refn, who has since moved on to Hollywood visibility with recent films like "Drive" and the upcoming "Only God Forgives," executive produced the remake.
Extras: "The Making of Pusher" featurette; the theatrical trailer; and footage from a Q&A session that was held after the film's England premiere.
Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour landmark documentary "Shoah" gets the Criterion Blu-ray treatment. First released in 1985, Lanzmann's epic documentary on the Holocaust is known for not containing any historical footage, but rather interviews with survivors, bystanders and perpetrators in 14 countries, with visits to places where the atrocities took place. It went on to win prizes from the National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics, BAFTA (Best Documentary), Césars (Honorary) and IDA Awards.
Extras: Three additional films by Lanzmann ("A Visitor From the Living," Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.," and "The Karski Report"; a new conversation between Lanzmann and critic Serge Toubiana; an interview with Lanzmann from 2003; a new interview with Caroline Champetier, assistant camera person on "Shoah," and filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin; and the theatrical trailer.
Starring the undervalued Dermot Mulrooney, this 2013 Sundance selection is not about a man who won’t shut up. Rather, it focuses on a recently released convict who decides to search for his long-lost brother rather than take an easy job and put up with a no-good girlfriend. "The Rambler" marks director Calvin Reeder’s second feature and was adapted from his 2008 short of the same name. Both got into Sundance, and both co-star Lindsay Pulsipher.