Blue Jasmine box
Blue Jasmine Blu-ray
If you were to have (or do have) a stack of Woody Allen films in your home and you were about to watch one with a group of friends, Blue Jasmine would not be at the top of the pile. In fact, it probably would be at or very near the body of the pile. Not because it lacks humor. Not because it lacks a decent cast or a well-written script. Blue Jasmine is a fine movie, with all of the necessary elements to earn it a few Oscar nods, but it's also an uncomfortable one.

Blue Jasmine refers to Jasmine, a former socialite who paints herself as a jilted woman who is in a bad situation and is just beginning to work through it. In reality, she is a monster of her own making, despised or, at best, tolerated by those who can see beyond her socialite façade. The role wasn’t written with Cate Blanchett in mind, but she does perfectly embody the character, who wears last season’s bags on her thin arms and uses a constant frown to convey her displeasure at her life post-money.

Through all of this, Allen gives us plenty of flashbacks to Jasmine’s former life, flashbacks that convey how a woman who used to have plenty has come to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Flashbacks that explain how she has no other family or friends to lean on or support her and that explain her slippery former husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin). He putzes around a world that is filled with prime real estate and plenty of fashion expeditions and then juxtaposes it with a new world featuring bad food joints and boxy apartments. It’s masterful work, but it’s rarely pleasant, even when the comedy seeps in.

Even if the film might not be the one to pull out during social gatherings, there are few female characters on film that are as deftly written and as visually acted as Jasmine, and if you get the opportunity to engage with the film, we highly suggest doing so.

You can order Blue Jasmine over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: As far as extras go, the Blue Jasmine disc is unremarkable. Somehow, I can’t imagine Woody Allen sitting around and patiently explaining his process during a "Making of" featurette, but the disc is still fairly lackluster. The cast does pop up in both of the extras on the disc, so if you want to hear about the actor’s experience or how they felt about working with Allen, you are pretty good to go. There’s not really a best extra on the disc, but both bonus features are worth a perusal if you enjoyed the movie.

Other Special Features:
"Notes from the Red Carpet"
Blue Jasmine Cast Press Conference
Theatrical Trailer
Machete Kills box
Machete Kills Blu-ray
Director Robert Rodriguez is not a man who shies from sequels if he feels like he has a story to tell. Right now, he’s working on the second film in the hit Sin City franchise, but last year he put together Machete Kills, a film starring Danny Trejo in yet another fuck ‘em up adventure, filled with blood, eye patches and plenty of Lady Gaga.

The story is a pretty detailed one. Following the death of his partner, Santana (Jessica Alba), Machete (Trejo) is devastated. He doesn’t have much time to think about his feelings, however, as he gets tasked by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen) to take down a deranged arms dealer. This leads him on a trail of misadventures that includes heading into a brothel, getting targeted for death by a group of prostitute assassins, meeting up with corrupt businessmen, and much, much more. As Machete journeys, he is forced to converse or fight with a lot of people, and this gives Rodriguez plenty of room to pull people in for guest spots and major roles. In the course of an hour and 45 minutes, Mel Gibson, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara and Lady Gaga all pop up in pretty big roles. On top of that, Antonia Banderas, Walton Goggins, Vanessa Hudgens and Cuba Gooding, Jr., also put their stamp on the film. If you are looking for a lot of famous eye candy and you don’t have Movie 43 handy, Machete Kills is a much better substitute.

The story is wilder and the kills aren’t quite as enthralling and unusual this time around, but if you are a fan of the first film in the Machete franchise, Machete Kills offers enough points of interest and imaginative kills to entice fans to purchase. Still, the violent and sometimes even goofy nature of the film will be a put-off to others, and probably won’t bring new fans to the table. Regardless, that’s probably not why Rodriguez signed on to produce a second film, anyway.

You can order Machete Kills over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: The deleted and extended scenes are probably the best extras available on the disc, although the actual deleted scenes are a little more interesting than the extended fodder. Several of these scenes feature nudity, including a moment in a hot tub and another when a baby Machete in a tube is revealed. I actually really enjoyed all of the extra Mel Gibson sequences available in the bonus features. If you want to sample the bonus footage, you can check one out, here.

Other Special Features:
"Making Machete Kills"
Captain Phillips box
Captain Phillips Blu-ray
After a lull in releases just after the holiday season, the home entertainment divisions of studios are working in full force. This week’s releases include a few Criterion gems, a few seasons of television, and one critically acclaimed film that also managed box office success, pulling in more than $215 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. That film is Captain Phillips, a tough seafaring drama starring the well-liked Tom Hanks. While the man did get snubbed by the Oscars, the film is doing quite well and you can support the movie by buying a copy this week.

Additionally, you can take a look at some more of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, films are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.

Other January 21 Releases:
Robocop 4K Remastered Edition
It’s a Mad, Mad World Criterion Collection Blu-ray
Instructions Not Included
Comedy Bang Bang: Season 1 DVD
The Starving Games
Crossing Lines: Season 1 DVD
In a World
Charlie Countryman
Counting Cars: Season 2, Vol. 2 DVD
Best Man Down La Vie De Boheme Criterion Collection Blu-ray
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