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DVD Pick of the Week: The African Queen

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Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles, and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

The African Queen (also Blu-ray). This has been a long time coming. It has been many, many years since I have seen this. If I am not mistaken, this is the first region 1 DVD release for this classic film. Humphrey Bogart won an Oscar for his portrayal of the hard-drinking boat captain giving a Christian missionary a ride up river. The film is a classic, featuring Bogart and Katherine Hepburn as a bickering duo stuck on an adventure of necessity. It is going to be nice seeing this one again.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (also Blu-ray). Oscar nominated animated film is quite charming. This is Wes Anderson's first attempt at an animated feature and it has a lot of charm. It is the story of a fox (voiced by George Clooney) who tries to leave his thieving life behind while his son attempts to find himself. It has humor and endless creativity; besides, it is one of the more unique family films to come around in some time.

The Blind Side (also Blu-ray). I never bothered with this on the big screen, now I may need to check up on it. The film was very well received and garnered a number of Oscar nominations, winning Best Actress for Sandra Bullock. The film tells the true story of a homeless teenager taken in by a well-to-do family. I never bothered with it as the trailer looked pretty bad.

Toy Story (Blu-ray), Toy Story 2 (Blu-ray). I saw the 3D releases of these films and they were quite spectacular. I had forgotten just quite how good they are. I mean I always knew they were good but seeing them again just brought all those memories back. Pixar does a great job of bringing the technique together with skilled storytelling and great characters.

The Men Who Stare at Goats (also Blu-ray). This is an entertaining if insubstantial film. It centers on a program that sought to create psychic soldiers. George Clooney stars as the brightest of said soldiers and Ewan Mcgregor is the reporter who tags along and writes his story. Definitely worth checking out but is low on the replay value.

Red Cliff Parts I and II (also Blu-ray). This is also available in theatrical form, which is to say the two-parter edited down to one film. This is a movie I have been quite looking forward to seeing. It is John Woo's latest, an epic centering on a the battle of the Three Kingdoms and stars Jet Li and has a lot of good word swirling around it.

Brothers (also Blu-ray). I did not particularly care for this melodramatic tale of love, loss, and recovery in the wake of the war. Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal play brothers; one is a soldier, one is a screw-up and the one thing they come to have in common is Tobey's wife, Natalie Portman. It is not a bad movie, it just did not work for me.

After Dark Horrorfest Vol. 4 (Dread / The Final / The Graves / The Hidden / Kill Theory / Lake Mungo / The Reeds / Zombies of Mass Destruction). I did not get to see any of these on the big screen. Has anyone seen them or can tell me which ones are the better ones? Generally they are not that good, but there are always a couple that are worth checking out. I kind of want to see Zombies of Mass Destruction. These titles will also be available separately.

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