The music industry’s annual holiday shuttering begins this week. Sure, Motorhead and Rush will battle on the reissue front, with a few other albums from smaller labels looking to pick up a few end-of-year sales, including a hip-hop concept album from Atlanta-based rapper T.I. Beyond that, the labels count on catalog sales carrying the remainder of the season, not wanting a major release crushed by the post-Christmas lull.
Hollywood loves this run-up to Christmas, choosing to issue DVDs and Blu-Rays this week on both Tuesday and Friday, in advance of next week’s annual Christmas new-release blowout in theaters. The studios’ big names set up for battle, including Matthew McConaughey’s NC-17-rated bloody black comedy Killer Joe, Richard Gere’s Oscar bait Arbitrage and Clint Eastwood’s unjustly maligned Trouble with the Curve. And with Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s third film outing and the Glee-light Pitch Perfect coming out the same week, welcome literally to something for every taste.
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New Releases: DVD / Blu-Ray
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger who puts his life on the line every time he sets out on a delivery run. But with someone truly out to kill him, this last-envelope-of-the-day “premium rush” run definitely ups the ante. High-octane action and enjoyable performances buoy this real-time bike messenger action flick, in a film the Minneapolis Star Tribune called “loopy, crazed, dangerous fun.”
The film which put the NC-17 rating back into public discussion, Killer Joe features a scheme which makes the depravity of Fargo look quaint. Tom Long, of the Detroit News, puts it best: “If you like your movies filled with twisted humor, sexual perversion, psychological intimidation and sudden violence, Killer Joe is the flick for you.” Surprisingly, the film comes in an unrated “Director’s Cut” edition as well, suggesting changes were made even to receive its original “kiss of death” rating.
In an age of stat-crunching “moneyball,” Gus Lobel, an old-school scout, struggles to keep up despite a career’s worth of long-term success. Needing to scout the latest hitting phenom despite his failing eyesight, Lobel teams up with his adult daughter for a road trip, learning in the process that bodies fail us but family never will. Though critically reamed during its theatrical run, Eastwood’s sentimental film deserves a second look on Blu-Ray, playing better to its strengths on the smaller screen.
Army Wives: Season Six Part Two (DVD)
Californication: The Fifth Season (DVD)
A Madoff-esque hedge-fund manager attempts to pass off his trading empire to a major bank before anyone can expose his massive financial fraud, but an unexpected bloody error leaves him juggling family, business and crime. Richard Gere hopes to secure an Oscar nomination for his performance, among his all-time best according to Time and Rolling Stone.
Funny or Die Presents: Season Two (DVD)
House of Lies: Season One (DVD)
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“You’ll shoot your eye out!” your mother cries, even as you’ll drool over the ultimate holiday gift for everyone who ever saw A Christmas Story. We’ve also discovered your own personal interactive R2D2 droid and a perfect pair of headphones for the online gamer on your list this week in last-minute gift finds.
PJ Lifestyle: Ultimate Holiday Gifts
For the kid in all of us, or the one living just down the hall, this Daisy Red Ryder youth BB gun brings rich tradition and dependable design together with a lever-cocking action and a 650-shot BB capacity. Whether you’re bringing back past holiday memories or creating new ones with your family, order now and you’ll protect your homestead from Black Bart’s men in no time.
What better way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Star Wars than by bringing this movie-accurate droid into your life? This electronic toy responds to commands, can find and follow you, and plays multiple games, responding to more than 40 voice commands. Though not for small children — the droid’s personality requires patience to learn features parts which risk breakage in small hands — few interactive gifts pack the punch of this 15-inch companion. Once you master R2’s “companion” and “game” modes, move on to “command” mode to plot real-time maneuvering or programmed courses, which your droid will learn to follow. I’m geeking out just thinking about it.
This headset combines premium stereo game sound with crystal-clear communication on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and PC/Mac. For those who long for a truly engaging audio-gaming experience, this product combines a stereo headset for chat sound and an amplified stereo headset for in-game sound, featuring independent volume controls mounted right on the cloth-braided cables. Over-the-ear design allows for optimal comfort as well, making these perfect for any extended session.
Nikon’s most compact FX-format HD-SLR camera, the D600 allows you to share photos and cinema-quality HD video in 1080p, while the 24.3 megapixel sensor allows you to capture every detail in stunning clarity. From Amazon:
Passionate photographers who seek exceptional full-frame, high-resolution performance rely on Nikon FX-format HD-SLRs. For the first time ever, that level of performance is available in a compact, affordable HD-SLR. D600’s 24.3 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor captures every detail with lifelike sharpness. Its EXPEED 3 processing system manages all that data with remarkable speed and accuracy, enabling up to 5.5 fps continuous shooting at full resolution. And the lowlight performance synonymous with Nikon is again proven deserved—shoot crystal clear images from ISO 100 to 6400, expandable down to 50 and up to 25600 for extreme situations.
If you’ve been looking for the right camera to push your passion for photography beyond the amateur level, consider the D600 while Amazon still has it steeply discounted for the holidays!
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Without many major-label albums getting a big pre-holiday push this week, there’s room to find a few nice surprises, including a 16-disc collection of Motorhead’s early albums, and live albums from Buddy Guy, The Pogues and Toots and the Maytals. Meanwhile, a soundtrack battle looms between Les Misérables and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Tuesday New Releases in Music
Beausoleil w. Michael Doucet – Hot Chilli Mama (Arhoolie Records)
Live at Legends features Buddy Guy’s last live recordings from the now-defunct Legends Blues Club in Chicago, captured during his 2010 residency at the venue. The album features a variety of hits spanning his five decades in blues, a perfect introduction to the music which earned him this year’s Kennedy Center honors alongside Led Zeppelin.
John Delafose – Zydeco Man (Arhoolie Records) – Vinyl
Memphis May Fire – Challenger (Rise Records) – Vinyl
Memphis’s post-hardcore answer to southern rock, Memphis May Fire’s latest features fiery grunge-fueled guitar riffs coupled with dueling vocals alternating from pop-punk choruses to full-throated metal-core screams. Out since June, this week’s reissue includes the album on both CD and vinyl.
Motorhead – Complete Early Years (Sanctuary) - 16 Disc Box Set
Soundtrack – Les Misérables: Highlights from the Motion Picture (Universal Republic)
Soundtrack – Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (Universal Republic)
T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head (Atlantic)
The Atlanta-based rapper’s eighth studio album features collaborations with R. Kelly, CeeLo Green, Andre 3000 and Pink, alongside production from long-time collaborators Pharell and DJ Toomp. The LP’s concept, the first in a series inspired by Marvin Gaye’s Troubled Man, seeks to answer the question: “Could you learn to love a troubled man?”
Tilly and the Wall – Defenders (Team Love) – Vinyl Single
Toots and the Maytals – Live (Island)
Toots Hibbert’s career spans the development of Jamaican music over the last four decades, from ska and rock-steady all the way through contemporary reggae. This live performance from 1991 features his band the Maytals, mixing his own songs with creative covers including his take on John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads,” showcasing the range of his talents.
Venom – Fallen Angels: Limited Edition (Universal Int’l)
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That’s all for this week’s edition of Tuesday New Releases! We’re open to your suggestions as we develop this column to best serve you. If you have suggestions for future coverage, or if you have a product you’d like featured or reviewed here, simply email Jonathan Sanders at email@example.com.
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