This week on the small screen, an animated dog and its owner get up close and personal, a slacker becomes a sleuth and much more.
DVD/Blu-rays This Week
What to Buy
Why It's a Must Own: Back last year when this indie oddity premiered at SXSW, it quickly emerged as favorite among critics. IFC Films nabbed the film and audiences got to see what all the fuss was about when it hit theaters in February. Directed by Aaron Katz, "Cold Weather" combines micro-indie sensibilities with the detective genre to follow Doug (Cris Lankenau), a mopey, Sherlock Holmes fan who gives up on a science career to crash with his sister and laze about. When someone close to him goes missing, Doug morphs into the sleuth he so admires and sets out to solve the mystery behind the disappearance.
Extras: Audio commentary with Katz along with producers Brendan McFadden and Ben Stambler; an alternate ending; and a live performance of the end credits score.
What to Rent
Why Rent: Based on J.R. Ackerley's beloved memoir, "My Dog Tulip," chronicles his 16-year relationship with a German shepherd. This beautifully animated heart-tugger (which qualified for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 83rd Academy Awards) features the voices of Christopher Plummer, Isabella Rossellini and the late Lynn Redgrave. For the dog lover in all of us.
Extras: The making-of featurette "Making Tulip;" theatrical trailer; a sneak peek at the director's latest project "Slocum at Sea With Himself;" and more.
Why Rent: This Sundance charmer from rookie director Jim Kohlberg is based on the case study "The Last Hippie" by Dr. Oliver Sacks, M.D., who also penned the inspiration for the tearjerker "Awakenings." That should give you an idea of what you're in for. J.K. Simmons ("Juno") stars as Henry Sawyer as a straight-laced engineer and father to Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci), a young man who loses the ability to create new memories due to a brain tumor. Cara Seymour ("The Savages") and Julia Ormond ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") round out the strong cast.
Extras: 'Between the Lines,' a behind-the-scenes featurette; outtakes; and previews.
Why Rent: If you like your vampire flicks extra-dark and gory, then be sure to catch this indie horror that drew raves when it premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. Set in a post-apocalyptic America where rabid vampires rule the land, "Stake Land" opens with a teenager witnessing his family being slaughtered and only gets more twisted from there. Under the care of a vampire hunter, the boy sets out to rid the land of the bloodsuckers. Don't watch this one alone.
Extras: An audio commentary with the cast and crew; theatrical trailer; a making-of featurette; the director's pre-production diary;
VOD Picks of the Week
Why Watch: Poor Jodie Foster. With all the negative chatter surrounding Mel Gibson antics of late, her latest directorial effort, "The Beaver," took a nosedive at the box office. It's a shame, given that it boasts a career-best turn from Gibson and assured direction on the part of Foster. In "The Beaver," Gibson plays an emotionally troubled husband and executive who adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communication. His family doesn't take kindly to the new addition. If you feel bothered supporting a Gibson flick, see it for Jennifer Lawrence's bracing supporting turn as a teenager with a big secret.
Where to Find It: Amazon Instant Video as of August 5.
"Discoveries of a Marionette"
Why Watch: This personal documentary tracks the life of sea captain Alf Mørner through the eyes of his director grandson Bjarte Mørner Tveit. Tveit knew he had a film on his hands when his grandfather presented him with countless metal cans containing 8mm film from his life and journeys around the world. The end product is an odd and poetic documentary that alternates between extremely personal episodes and philosophical reflections on matters that affect us all.
Where to Find It: SnagFilms.
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