This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Game of Thrones, The Big Short, Carol

This Week: The gutwrenching 5th season of Game of Thrones, Best Picture nominees The Big Short and Brooklyn, and the baffling Best Picture omission Carol.

► How did GAME OF THRONES follow up its instant classic fourth season? By having Tyrion see dragons in Season 5. By having Tyrion meet Kaleesi. By having the White Walkers finally make their move. By having Sansa marry the show’s new reigning scumbag Ramsay. By having Kaleesi rescued by one of her dragons in a scene so fantastic I nearly punched myself in the face pumping my fist. In other words, ‘Game of Thrones’ is as awesome, intense and as gloriously addictive as ever. Our national obsession returns April 24, but in the meantime the Season 5 blu-ray includes a breakdown of the grueling ‘Mother’s Mercy’ episode, a day-in-the-life involving production in three different countries, and a feature on the downfall of the dragons narrated by characters from past seasons.

► It is hard to overstate just how thoroughly the big banks destroyed the economy back in 2007, and you’ll feel plenty of rage after Adam McKay’s excellent THE BIG SHORT. But it’s also plenty funny, highlighting the greed and short-sighted stupidity in a methodical, easy-to-access way that has proven tough up until now. Basically, a weird hedge fund manager (Christian Bale) saw the U.S. housing market about to collapse and takes steps to profit from it. When an unscrupulous trader (Ryan Gosling) catches wind of the plan, he convinces another hedge fund manager (Steve Carell) to join in on the impending financial apocalypse. It is never less than appalling this bullshit actually happened, and McKay’s film is a fascinating primer on the people that nearly sent us into a new depression. And still might. Brad Pitt as a brilliant retired banker is an awesome bonus here.

► A distant cousin to his 2002 film ‘Far From Heaven,’ Todd Haynes’ CAROL once again looks at an illicit romance in 1950s New York. Rooney Mara is a department store clerk who starts a relationship with a woman (Cate Blanchett) stuck in a stale marriage. Gorgeously shot, flawlessly acted (Kyle Chandler plays Blanchett’s wounded hubby) – that Best Picture snub is a head scratcher, especially since Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes had this as the best reviewed film of 2015.

► So old fashioned I was expecting Cary Grant to appear, BROOKLYN follows an Irish immigrant (Oscar-nominated Saoirse Ronan) who leaves behind her struggling family for a better life in the U.S. She gets off to a rough start, but eventually warms up to her new home and the Italian boy chasing her. But bad news from back home forces her to decide where she’ll stay. Lots of nice character touches (every scene around the boarding house dinner table is gold) and some nuanced nostalgia. Fans of ‘Call the Midwife’ will love this one.

► Safe to say, fans of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler didn’t become fans because of lazy, slapstick humour. So why does SISTERS pile on the prat falls and physical punchlines like they want to be Jim Carrey? They play siblings called home before their parents’ divorce to clean the family home so it can be put up for sale. They decide to have an epic party to mark the occasion. Fey, Poehler and director Jason Moore do commentary, none of them really acknowledging they’re slumming.

► On the same day the biggest movie in history opened in December, we also got ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP. Somewhere out there is a poor dad whose kid insisted they see this instead of Star Wars. Stay strong, bro. For everyone else who somehow resisted, those little CGI bastards butcher more songs and give Jason Lee another check to cash. Believing Dave (Lee) is going to propose to his new girlfriend and dump their little rodent asses, they head to Miami to stop him. Worldwide box office: $227 million. These things aren’t going away.

► Man, to have been in a theatre in 1962 to see THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE blow everyone’s mind. Criterion Collection chose well here, giving John Frankenheimer’s hugely influential Cold War classic a new 4K digital transfer to go with essential extras like a 1997 commentary by Frankenheimer, a new interview with Angela Lansbury, and a vintage discussion of the film with star Frank Sinatra shot in 1987. Mandatory viewing for every film buff.

► Before he made the immortal ‘Troll 2,’ Italian director Claudio Fragasso gave a sign of things to come with his laughable 1984 feature debut MONSTER DOG. Alice Cooper plays a rock star who returns to his home town to shoot a music video, and is confronted by the demonic dog prowling the woods. Everyone blames Alice, of course. Blu-ray includes a making of doc and trailer, but sadly no commentary from Fragasso.

Also out this week:





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