Disc Deals and Steals: Let Me In at $14 (DVD), Best Buy Exclusives and More

Here at Inside Pulse Movies, we compile all the best deals for DVD and Blu-ray releases, as well as report on some that are so good they’re criminal. DISCLAIMER: Inside Pulse is an Amazon affiliate (therefore we make a small percentage of every sale). So just know that every dollar earned helps run the site.

This week, Best Buys across the nation began offering a number of exclusive titles on Blu-ray. The practice is nothing new, but the number of titles surely is. As many as sixteen titles are hitting store shelves ready to be scooped up by customers making their weekly trek in search of new movies for the format. To help customers, the store even as a website page specifically for exclusive titles. At last check the number was up to twenty-one. Every brick-and-mortar store is different when it comes to pacts they have with studios in order to gain exclusivity. For months Target offered The Goonies as an exclusive title before it was finally available to purchase at competing stores and online. Currently, Target has an exclusive on MGM titles Overboard starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Honeymoon in Vegas with Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker and James Caan, and Four Weddings and a Funeral starring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell.

Among the highlights that Best Buy is offering this week are Heavy Metal, Almost Famous (“Bootleg Cut”), the original Manchurian Candidate and Thomas Crown Affair. and Out of Sight. Thankfully being an exclusive doesn’t necessitate a premium, as all the MGM exclusives at Best Buy have a sale price of $9.99 ea.

Days leading up to this latest column I had a eureka moment of sorts on how I could tie together Bad Boys (1983), Pleasantville and Let Me In, two catalog titles and a new release arriving on the Blu-ray format this week. Then it hit me as I was watching Sean Penn brandish a shank in Bad Boys: humble beginnings. Each of these films feature actors that were, or is currently, fresh faces in Hollywood. And all three films are about a different kind of disenfranchised youth.

Chloe Moretz may have been acting since 2004, but 2010 was definitely her breakout year with roles in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Kick-Ass (who could forget her as Hit-Girl?), and especially Let Me In. Depending on how you view it, Let Me In is either a remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In or an American produced adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel. In terms of remakes it is one of the better Hollywood offerings of recent years. Matt Reeves, who previously helmed the surprise hit Cloverfield, sticks to what made the Swedish film so revered at the time of its release. Helping him was a quality lead in Chloe Moretz, who plays Abby, a peculiar little girl who befriends Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) when she and her father (Richard Jenkins) move in next door. Because Let the Right One In was so strong a film, Reeves was taking a calculated risk at trying to adapt it for American audiences who don’t care for subtitles let alone foreign films.

One of the big changes Reeves made was the decision to make Abby’s sexual orientation less ambiguous. As a result, the film is able to play up Owen’s awkwardness and his being able to relate to Abby who, I should point out, is a vampire, and is also awkward in her own regard. Richard Jenkins gives a nuanced performance as Abby’s father figure, playing a man who very protective of the girl, wary of Owen’s presence in her life.

In terms of special features, the DVD and Blu-ray releases are nearly identical sporting a director’s commentary, two making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, trailers, poster art, and a step-by-step breakdown of the car crash sequence featured in the film. Other than enhanced picture and sound, the Blu-ray release comes with a digital copy of the film and an exclusive featurette titled “Dissecting Let Me In.”

1983’s Bad Boys, not to be confused the Michael Bay film starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, arrived seven months after Sean Penn had his breakthrough performance as everybody’s favorite stoner, Jeff Spicoli, in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. While he may be lauded as one of the best actors today, the proof was evident as far back as this film. Because after Bad Boys he took on meatier roles (The Falcon and the Snowman, At Close Range) that further explored his depth as an actor. Revisiting Rick Rosenthal’s film on Blu-ray I was struck by its relevancy in society now. The story revolves around Chicago teen Mick O’Brien (Penn), an all-around bad boy who snatching purses, vandalizes, and gets into fights. When one of his exploits results in the accidental death of a local hood’s kid brother he’s sent to juvie. It is in that second act where the film finds its groove, and it is probably one of the best depictions of a juvenile detention ward in cinema. Penn’s slowly transforms from being emotionally shut off to someone who wields bravado as he takes on a managerial role among the other juvenile delinquents, giving out work assignments and getting a cut of the action – smokes, bets, etc.

In the film’s final act everything comes full circle when Paco (Esai Morales), the older brother of the kid Mick kills, finds himself committed to the same juvie hall as Mick. His incarceration was the result of brutally attacking Mick’s girlfriend (Ally Sheedy in her first film role). As soon as Paco enters the hall the audience knows that sooner or later one will reach his boiling point and try to kill the other. The fight is the climax of the film and it is more than worth the wait. Sean Penn and Esai Morales aren’t fluid in their movements as they tangle throughout the main concourse of the hall, picking up whatever weapons they find. The ending is a little hollow, but the first two thirds are so strong that it is easy to overlook the shortcomings of the denouement. A rough diamond in the rough to be sure.

“Nothing is as simple as black and white,” this was the tagline for Gary Ross’ directorial debut, Pleasantville. At the time of its release, Reese Witherspoon had already gone to A Far Off Place, returned to Lonesome Dove, was Fearful of Mark Wahlberg, got stuck on a Freeway with a big, bad, wolf not yet known as Jack Bauer, and was in a movie called Twilight that didn’t feature vampires, werewolves and didn’t play a ditzy teen named Bella. As for co-star Tobey Maguire, he had already shared scenes with friend Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy’s Life, was billed as a “Goon” in The Wizard and played a hitchhiker getting a ride from Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo on their way to Las Vegas for some Fear and Loathing. In some ways, Pleasantville is a bridge to the two actors’ careers, as they would gain much more visibility a few years later in films like Legally Blonde and Spider-Man.

This is a film I love and I’ve revisited it every year or so, just because it is such a unique movie in terms of its subject. People who are infatuated with television have at one time or another had their own visions of what life would be like in a TV show. Imagine being transported to Mayberry and smelling one of Aunt Bee’s famous apple pies as you pass by her house, or maybe you discover that you live in a neighborhood where your next door neighbor is named Mr. Wilson. Yet what if it came to life? That’s the idea behind Pleasantville, as twins David (Maguire) and Jennifer (Witherspoon) are transported to the fictional town of Pleasantville and are trapped. On the surface it seems like the model society. Always 72 degrees with no precipitation. Twin beds for mom and dad. Firefighters who rescue cats out of trees and nothing more. But that model society is skewed by Gary Ross and co. as they explore themes of racism, literacy, sex, and womanhood. You want some double feature action, pair this with Back to Future because either way “you’re gonna see some serious shit.”

Also new this week: Boys Don’t Cry (BD), The Double Life of Veronique: Criterion Collection (BD), Welcome to the Rileys (BD / DVD), You’ve Got Mail (BD), Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary (BD), Hatchet II (BD / DVD), Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (BD / DVD), All About Eve (BD), An Affair to Remember (BD), Conviction (BD / DVD), Never Let Me Go (BD / DVD), Monsters (BD / DVD), A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop (BD /DVD)

Two Best Deals of the Week

Format: Blu-ray
Deal: $9.99 at Best Buy (After $10 Disney Rewards Coupon – expires 02/07/11)

WWII IN HD (Amazon’s Blu-ray Deal of the Week – Sale ends 02/05/11)
Format: Blu-ray
Deal: $16.99 at Amazon

Best Buy offers the best B&M pricing for Let Me In, Never Let Me Go and Conviction on DVD. They are all selling for $13.99.

Target has selected DVD titles at $4.75, including Children of Men. The Fight Club Blu-ray release has a sale price of $12.99 this week.

A good thing to remember is that Amazon routinely matches the sale prices of Best Buy and Target weekly, so if you want to avoid the crowds or pay tax, Amazon is always the way to go. And this week the online retailer has a number of good deals going on. See for yourself below.

Body of Lies – $9.49
Romancing the Stone – $9.49
The Green Berets – $10.49
Rush Hour – $10.99
Fantastic Mr. Fox (BD+DVD) – $12.99
Three Kings – $12.99
Grease – $13.99
The Losers (BD+DVD) – $15.49
How to Train Your Dragon (BD+DVD) – $17.99
Faster (Pre-Order) – $22.99
127 Hours (Pre-Order) – $24.99

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