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New Releases for June 29

The last week of June features a smallish but nonetheless great batch of interesting new releases: * = also available for rent on Blu-ray @ = available for purchase at the store SALE = click to purchase titles from our online store Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions Box Set@*: We doubt we have to tell you about this one. The long cuts of all three movies and all the extras, on Blu-Ray. What else is there? SALE

SUCKER PUNCH@*: The story of ALICE IN WONDERLAND receives a hyper-violent makeover in WATCHMEN and 300 director Zack Snyder's fantastical tale of a young psychiatric patient who escapes into a vivid world of fantasy after being committed to a mental hospital by her abusive stepfather. Set in the 1950s, SUCKER PUNCH takes viewers on an incredible journey into the mind of Babydoll (Emily Browning), who finds herself at the mercy of her malevolent stepfather after her mother passes away. With no remaining family and no friends to turn to, her stepfather has her committed to a bleak mental hospital, where she is scheduled to receive a lobotomy in five days. As the procedure draws near, Babydoll creates a phantasmagorical alternate reality in which she must seek out five items in order to secure her freedom. Should she fail, her mind isn't the only thing she stands to lose. Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Carla Gugino, and Jon Hamm co-star in a film co-written by Snyder and Steve Shibuya. SALE

Barney's Version*: The publication of a book accusing him of murder leads schlock television producer Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) to reflect on his tumultuous life--from his troubled first marriage to his best friend sleeping with his second wife to his one true love� and how he destroyed the happiest time in his life. By turns comic and self-lacerating, Panofsky is a richly drawn character given vivid life by Giamatti, who's built a remarkable career on prickly people (Sideways, American Splendor, John Adams). Regrettably, the women in his life aren't as fully realized, but the strong performances from the actresses playing them (Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike) do a lot to make up for the thinness of how they're written. Rounding out the cast is Dustin Hoffman as Panofsky's father, a crude but vigorous ex-cop who loves his son unreservedly. Adapted from an award-winning Canadian book, Barney's Version feels, in the best sense, like a novel; small details and incidents build up to the picture of a man's life. The movie depicts that life without judgment, never manipulating the audience for cheap laughs or sentiment--and yet it is by turns wildly funny and achingly sad, largely due to Giamatti. He holds the viewer's attention effortlessly, quietly, never showboating his emotions or flaunting his intelligence. He's simply a superb actor, and this is a superb performance. @

Max Manus: Man of War*: Max Manus: Man of War is an explosive, adrealine-pumping thrill ride and the true story of one man's heroic actions in the line of duty. Max Manus is a Norwegian freedom fighter involved in liberating his country from the occupying Nazi forces. His ability to carry out sabotage attacks on the Germans with pinpoint precision earns him a reputation as one of Norway's elite. Despite his numerous triumphs on the battlefront, Manus struggles to come to terms with the loss of his comrade's lives and the futility of war. Based on true events, this film's moving storyline and stunning visual brings to life this epic chapter in World War II history. @

The Nesting*: Agoraphobic mystery novelist Lauren Cochran decides to leave the city in an attempt to cure her recent writer's block. She rents an old Victorian house in the quiet countryside, unaware of its shocking history. As those around her suffer increasingly violent deaths, Lauren begins to unravel the truth: the house was once an infamous brothel now haunted by the victims of a bloody massacre. Will her terrifying phobia allow her to escape from THE NESTING? Also known as MASSACRE MANSION and PHOBIA, this eerie house of horrors was co-written, produced, and directed by notorious adult filmmaker Armand Weston, and stars Robin Groves (STEPHEN KING'S SILVER BULLET), John Carradine (SHOCK WAVES, THE HOWLING), and Academy Award(r) winner Gloria Grahame (THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, OKLAHOMA!) in her final film role. Long unavailable on home video, THE NESTING has been newly transferred in blood-curdling High Definition from the original camera negative! @

Passion Play*: This one sounds pretty wild. From Amazon: A terrific cast will hold you spellbound in this one of a kind seductive thriller from the screenwriter of The Recruit. The last thing washed-up jazz musician Nate Pool (Academy Award-nominee Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler) wanted to do was betray sinister gangster Happy Shannon (Academy-Award-nominee Bill Murray, Lost in Translation). But it may be the last thing he does unless he can deliver Lily (Megan Fox, Transformers), a beautiful and mysterious carnival sideshow attraction. The stakes can't get any higher for the two lovers as they try to elude the merciless killer who will stop at nothing to keep Lily for himself. Kelly Lynch (Drugstore Cowboy) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) costar in this gritty and unpredictable tale of redemption in the hard-boiled tradition of classic film noir.

Season of the Witch*: Nicolas Cage and his Mullet from "ConAir" are back, this time with Ron Perlman in tow! Watch them fight Witchcraft and the Black Plague! From the esteemed director of "Swordfish" and "Kalifornia". @

The Warrior's Way*: One of those increasingly popular Martial Arts/Action mashups; this one takes its cues from Westerns. Stars Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Dong-gun Jang, and the great Shaw Brothers staple Ti Lung. @

THE CRITERION COLLECTION Three new additions to Criterion's amazing catalog arrive this week. Black Moon*: Louis Malle (The Lovers, Au revoir les enfants) meets Lewis Carroll in this bizarre and bewitching trip down the rabbit hole. After skirting the horrors of an unidentified war being waged in an anonymous countryside, a beautiful young woman (Cathryn Harrison) takes refuge in a remote farmhouse, where she becomes embroiled in the surreal domestic odyssey of a mysterious family. Evocatively shot by cinematographer Sven Nykvist (Cries and Whispers, Fanny and Alexander), Black Moon is a Freudian tale of adolescent sexuality set in a postapocalyptic world of shifting identities and talking animals. It is one of Malle�s most experimental films and a cinematic daydream like no other. @ SALE People On Sunday*: An early experiment in neo-realist filmmaking, MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG is a low-budget drama about two men, a cab driver and a salesman, who find themselves with nothing to do on a Sunday in Berlin. The friends pick up a couple of young women, and the four spend the day wandering the city streets before heading to a beach in Wannsee, where they go swimming and enjoy an idyllic afternoon by the lake. After a genial but determined attempt at seduction by the two men, the foursome returns to Berlin, with the depressing prospect of another working week looming before them. MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG is most notable today for the behind-the-camera contributions of several young German filmmakers who would later win greater fame after expatriating to the United States following the rise of the Third Reich, among them Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Curt Siodmak. @ SALE Zazie dans le Metro: Another Louis Malle. Here, a brash and precocious eleven-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (La Pointe Courte�s, Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for in this anarchic comedy, which treats the City of Light as though it were a pleasure island just waiting to be destroyed. Based on a popular novel by Raymond Queneau that had been considered unadaptable, Malle�s audacious hit Zazie dans le m�tro is a bit of stream-of-conscious slapstick, wall-to-wall with visual gags, editing tricks, and effects, and made with flair on the cusp of the French New Wave. @ SALE NEW ANIME Demon King Daimao: Demon King Daimao, (also known as Ichiban Ushiro No Dai Mao) follows the high school life of Akuto Sai, in a world in which magic not only exists, it's a normal way of life. Quiet, kind-hearted and unassuming, he hopes to become a member of the highest order of the church. However, to his horror, he finds out that he is destined to become the next Demon King. As a result, he has beautiful girls wanting to marry him or kill him. Sometimes, it's both. Magical Witch Punie-Chan: On the outside, Punie-chan looks like your average magical girl. She's a cheery princess from another land, she's attending school on Earth for the year, and she has an adorable animal sidekick. But cross her and prepare to pay the price. The sweet young lady becomes a merciless force of destruction, leaving bodies, utterly broken by her signature submission holds, in her righteous wake. And while it seems that she has more enemies than friends, and that even her sidekick Paya-tan is out to get her, no one can deny that Punie-chan is irresistible in one shape or form. Rideback: Complete Series: After an injury forces Rin to trade her stage career for college life, she finds new thrills as a member of the RideBack Club. When she discovers an unusual connection with one machine in particular � Fuego � she is forced into the middle of a revolution. The tyrannical new government rules with an iron fist, and Rin is reluctant to take them on. But as her dearest friends suffer, and the insurgency struggles to topple the increasingly powerful regime, Rin may have no choice but to gun Fuego�s engines and speed directly into the heart of the fight for freedom. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Blu-Ray): Mars. Days before Halloween 2071. Villains blow up a tanker truck on Highway One, releasing a deadly virus that kills hundreds. Fearing a bigger, even more devastating biochemical attack, an astronomical reward is offered for the arrest and capture of the person behind the destruction. On the spaceship "Bebop," Spike Spiegel and his crew of bounty hunters (Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Ed and Ein) are bored and short of cash. But with the news of the reward everything changes. Based on the wildly popular TV series, Cowboy Bebop, the big-screen smash Cowboy Bebop: The Movie pits Spike and Co. against their deadliest adversary ever. Featuring stunning, state-of-the-art animation, this action-packed sci-fi adventure builds to a breath-taking, nail-biting climax, guaranteed to keep you hanging on the edge of your seat. New from WARNER ARCHIVE and MGM LIMITED: some more rare, great Manufacture-on-Demand titles you can only rent at Scarecrow! Haunted Summer: Romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, along with Shelly's future wife, Mary, and her beautiful stepsister, Claire, travel blissfully through Switzerland one summer. Both women share Shelley's bed, while the tortured Lord Byron flounder in a secret relationship with his physician. They experiment with opium, "free love", and the nature of good and evil. The events form the foundation for Mary Shelley's famous novel, FRANKSTEIN. This drama is part surreal, part historical - of lust and fantasy, of ecstasy and horror, of the inner strings of creativity. Hennessy: After his wife and child are killed during violence in Belfast, an Irishman plots to assassinate the Queen of England in revenge...by bombing the British Parliament when the Royal Family is in attendance. Stars Rod Steiger, Lee Remick and Trevor Howard. Naughty Marietta: Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald first teamed in this lively Victor Herbert operetta about the romance between a swaggering soldier and a French princess. Determined to avoid an arranged marriage, the royal takes on her maid's identity and hops aboard a cargo ship headed to New Orleans. But when the vessel is hijacked by pirates, she unexpectedly finds love with her rescuer. With Frank Morgan, Elsa Lanchester; songs include "Live for Today," "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp," "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life," and more. Phaedra: From the great director Jules Dassin (Rififi). The wife of a Greek shipping tycoon (Melina Mercouri, Dassin's real-life wife) has a love affair with her stepson (Anthony Perkins). Sweethearts (1938): The time-worn stage chestnut is a "play-within-a-film" for this frothy Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy musical comedy, written by Dorothy Parker (!) and Alan Campbell. MacDonald and Eddy play a married acting couple who plan to leave Broadway for Hollywood, but impresario Frank Morgan plots to stop them. With Ray Bolger, Florence Rice, Mischa Auer. White Line Fever: My personal favorite release this week. Returning from a stint in the Air Force, Jan-Michael Vincent borrows money to buy a truck, hoping to make enough money hauling produce to marry his girlfriend Kay Lenz and set up housekeeping. He discovers that the long-haul business is run by racketeers and decides to fight the corrupt forces that control the trucking business. This is a classic hicksploitation film that features some killer truck stunts. Directed by the great Jonathan Kaplan, who also did "Truck Turner".� Don't miss it.

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