The biggest film available in home video this week comes in the form of Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, but the smaller releases may warrant more attention. These include a Certified Fresh follow-up to an Indonesian action hit, an erotic two-part drama from Lars von Trier, and a documentary on one of the greatest movies never made, among others. Read on for details:

Bad Words


After years of playing the put-upon straight man in everything from Arrested Development to last year’s Identity Thief, Jason Bateman made his directorial debut with Bad Words and cast himself as the primary purveyor of the film’s titular profanities. Guy Trilby (Bateman) is a middle school dropout who discovers a loophole in the rulebook of a national spelling bee and promptly enters, seeking to make a mockery of the competition. What he didn’t count on was the presence of Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), a 10-year-old fellow speller who endears himself to Guy and soaks up his bad habits. Critics were fairly kind to Bad Words, rewarding Bateman’s first effort behind the camera with a 64% Tomatometer and calling the film funny and gleefully amoral. Special features on the disc include a commentary, some deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Raid 2


Gareth Evans scored a surprise hit with 2012’s The Raid, an inventive Indonesian actioner, so when a sequel was announced, fans were eager to see if the feat could be repeated; as it turned out, The Raid 2 came pretty close. Set just moments after the end of the first film, the sequel picks up with Jakarta cop Rama (Iko Uwais), who is asked to join a task force to expose the corrupt police commissioner. Rama soon discovers that a larger criminal organization is pulling the strings, and he must go undercover as an underworld thug to end the threat to his family. Critics found The Raid 2 a worthy successor to the adrenaline-fueled first installment, with plenty of thrilling sequences and gritty action, though they agreed its hyperviolence might appeal most to genre aficionados. The Blu-ray comes with a handful of making-of featurettes and a deleted scene, among other things.

Nymphomaniac: Volume I and Volume II


There are two points few will argue against when it comes to Danish director Lars von Trier: he is quite demanding of his lead actresses, and he is not one to shy away from controversy. Cue the film provocatively titled Nymphomaniac, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg. The framing device is a chance encounter between an aging bachelor (Stellan Skarsgård) and the woman (Gainsbourg) he finds beaten in an alley; over the course of 240-plus minutes split into two films, the woman recounts her lustful, graphic history of nymphomania to the man as he tends to her wounds. Critics had slightly different things to say about Volume I and Volume II of the film (the former of which is Certified Fresh at 75%), but most agreed that Gainsbourg’s performance and von Trier’s bold, unique vision make the saga worth a watch. Each volume is available for purchases separately, but they’re also being released in a single package, along with interviews with Gainsbourg, Skarsgård, and co-stars Shia LaBeouf and Stacy Martin, and a Q&A with a few of the cast members.

Jodorowsky’s Dune


Once upon a time, Alejandro Jodorowsky — director of cult favorites like The Holy Mountain and El Topo — had his hands on the rights to Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 sci-fi novel Dune. Though the book did eventually make it to the screen (where it unfortunately bombed) in the hands of David Lynch, Jodorowsky’s vision for the film included music by Pink Floyd, art design by H.R. Giger and Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius), and Mick Jagger, Salvador Dalí, and Orson Welles in the cast. Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune explores the inception and ultimate doom of the film that never was, utilizing interviews with Jodorowsky himself, Giraud’s storyboards, and Giger’s character designs to offer an interpretation of what could have been. Critics raved about Jodorowsky’s Dune to the tune of a Certified Fresh 99% on the Tomatometer, calling it both a loving tribute to the filmmaker and a bittersweet examination of the inner workings of Hollywood. The only special features of note are a series of deleted scenes from the film, but this is probably a worthy pickup for any Jodorowsky fans.

Also available this week:

  • Roger Michell’s Certified Fresh Le Week-End (89%), starring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan in a drama about a long-married couple trying to rekindle their romance in Paris.
  • Maidentrip (81%), a documentary about 14-year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker’s quest to be the youngest person to sail around the world alone.
  • Watermark (80%), a documentary exploring the relationship we share with water all around the world.
  • Stage Fright (33%), a musical horror comedy about a mysterious killer who stalks his victims at a performing arts camp.
  • There’s a new Blu-ray release of the 1960 adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine (76%), which includes a lengthy retrospective featurette from 1993.
  • And lastly, there’s also a rerelease of the 1967 crime thriller Point Blank (97%), starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, which includes a commentary track with director John Boorman and Steven Soderbergh.

Guess we’ll just keep hearing newer and juicier "Mummy 3" rumors until Universal sends out an official press release, but here’s what we’ve learned so far: Rob Cohen will be directing, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz might be returning — and has Jet Li been cast as the new villain?

From we hear that Mr. Li is most definitely in talks to appear in "The Mummy: Curse of the Dragon," and the general assumption is that he’ll be playing, well, the dragon. Universal is shooting for a summer 2008 release date, so you can expect more concrete info some time soon.

For those with short memory spans, I’ll remind you that 1999’s "The Mummy" grossed about $415 million in worldwide box office, while the 2001 sequel ("The Mummy Returns") pulled in about $433 million around the globe. With numbers like that … more sequels are simply inevitable.

John Vernon, the Canadian actor best known for his role as the evil Dean Wormer in "Animal House," died in his sleep Thursday after complications from Heart Surgery. He was 72. Wormer made his film debut in 1967 in "Point Blank;" he also appeared in such varied work as "Dirty Harry," Alfred Hitchcock’s "Topaz," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," and "I’m Gonna Git You Sucka."

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