A Better Life (Blu-ray) Criticize This! Pick of the Week – Directed by Chris Weitz (About A Boy), A Better Life tells the story of an illegal immigrant (played by Demián Bichir) living and working in East L.A. while trying to keep his son (played by José Julián) on the right path and away from from the local gangs. It’s an emotionally charged father-son portrayal with great performances, direction, and writing. It’s also one of my favourite films of the year and is highly recommended for anyone looking for a solid drama. The Blu-ray has a clean, crisp image and an excellent sound mix. Special features include audio commentary with director Chris Weitz, deleted scenes, and more. Film **** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).
Cars 2 (Blu-ray) – After multiple home viewings of Cars 2 at the request of my son, it has finally grown on me and I actually find it much more enjoyable than the original Cars now. That said, it still has some flaws with the story and more Mater is not necessarily a good thing for parents to sit through (although the kids just love him). Now, the Blu-ray release is quite spectacular and looks so much better than the 3-D version that was in theatres. And the 7.1 surround sound mix is jaw-dropping awesome. Special features include audio commentary with directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, the animated shorts Air Mater and Hawaiian Vacation, and trailers for some upcoming Disney titles, including the animated film Planes. A regular DVD is also included. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
Beginners (Blu-ray) - Beginners is an interesting little movie about a son (played by Ewan McGregor) who finds out, after his mother passes away, that his 75-year-old father (played by Christopher Plummer) is gay. He also finds out his dad is dying and the movie actually takes place after the fact, jumping between past and present. The film is semi-autobiographical of writer-director Mike Mills’ own experience with his father and is wonferfully crafted and executed. Special features on the Blu-ray release include audio commentary with director Mike Mills, a making-of short film, and a promo. A regular DVD of the film is also included. Film **** Blu-ray ** (out of 5 stars).
Trespass (Blu-ray) – Trespass is a terrible mess directed by Joel Schumacher about a family being terrorized during a home invasion. Even with a short 82-minute running time it stinks. The problem is that none of the characters are likable and therefore when they’re being tortured there’s no feeling for them. Also, Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman do not make a good onscreen couple and both appear to be phoning in their performances. The Blu-ray release is mediocre at best. Special features include a making-of featurette, interviews with the cast and crew, and more. A regular DVD of the film is also included. Film ** Blu-ray ** (out of 5 stars).
Scrooged (Blu-ray) – Halloween is over, bring out the Christmas movies! Scrooged, the comedic retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray, is one of my least favourite holiday movies of all time. Certain parts of the film work, but overall I find it hugely annoying. So when I got the Blu-ray for it to review it felt more like a burden to watch than something of enjoyment. The movie is still annoying, but the quality of the high-def image actually helped make it watchable. Sadly, the only special feature included is the theatrical trailer so this is a bit of a wasted release and one I can’t recommend to even fans of the film. Film ** Blu-ray * (out of 5 stars).
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Top image: A scene from A Better Life. Courtesy eOne Films.