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New on DVD, April 22, 2008

What to Netflix: New DVD Tuesday

All of the new DVD releases hit stores (and Netflix) on Tuesdays. So each week in What to Netflix: New DVD Tuesday, I sort through the best of the batch and tell you what to add to your queue. In addition to the titles below you can also watch the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts political movie Charlie Wilson's War and the horror flick One Missed Call.

With the release of Cloverfield to DVD it seems like this is one JJ Abrams chapter that has officially come to an end (well, at least until the sequel comes out, and the viral marketing campaign for that will surely precede it by about a year). Cloverfield was so overly hyped that I had some reservations going into the movie, but I was happy to report that I had been worried for nothing. It is a frightening monster movie that kept my heart racing.

This movie also earned a reputation for the shaky-cam visual style making some people feel nauseated, though if you were worried about that on the big screen, your home entertainment center will likely make for a much mellower experience. The movie follows a gaggle of 20-somethings at a going away party in New York. When the city comes under attack by a monster, what ensues is a great balance of action, relief, tender moments and "real-life" drama and humor.

As expected, this DVD is packed full of special features including commentary by director Matt Reeves, alternate endings, and the making of the film.

Two more excellent (albeit dark) films out this week, so


The Savages
The Savages has some amazing talent in it, including the incomparable Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman who play siblings, with a touching performance by Philip Bosco as their father. The story centers around a scenario few of us will escape in our lifetime: dealing with an aging parent. In the movie, this situation is made even more complicated by the fact that the father has been estranged from his children for decades. The film was one of the year's best and earned Oscar nominations for both Laura Linney and writer Tamara Jenkins.

Special features include an "About the Savages" featurette, some director's snapshots and an extended scene.

The Orphanage
Omigosh, if Cloverfield isn't scary enough for you, I can guarantee that this film will haunt you for days, if not weeks. Giggle reviewed The Orphanage for me while I worked up the nerve to check it out for myself, and then once I did I totally agreed with every thing she wrote.

This Spanish-language film doesn't rely on CGI effects or grotesque torture scenes to scare the you-know-what out of you. Instead, it's an old-fashioned ghost story that follows a woman who returns to the orphanage of her youth to refashion it as a school for disabled children. But when her son starts to exhibit disturbing behavior, she is pulled into the creepy secrets of the house and thus unfolds a super scary movie. I highly recommend this one but you may need a shoulder to bury your head into or a hand to hold — I would not tackle this alone!

Special featurettes include: "When Laura Grew Up: Constructing the Orphanage"; "Tomas' Secret Room (The Filmmakers)"; and "Horror in the Unknown: Makeup Effects."

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