What to Watch: Dec. 17-31, 2013

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And so 2013 ends with one final What to Watch to carry you through to 2014. Have some gift card money burning a hole in your wallet? Want something to stream while your family bickers over the holiday? Just need a break from it all? Here are the latest and greatest new releases, listed in the order we’d put ‘em on an Amazon wish list.

Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Photo credit: IFC

“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”

David Lowery’s Sundance hit is a 2013 film that I can guarantee you will grow in esteem as time goes by. Future generations will be surprised that it didn’t get enough attention on its initial release. I’ve been stunned at its complete absence in the year-end conversation. It’s not a perfect film but there’s a lot to like here from Bradford Young’s gorgeous cinematography to great performances by Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, & Ben Foster to Daniel Hart’s mood-setting score. Check this out before history corrects the record on its remarkable quality. It’s a film I like more each time I see it.

From my theatrical review: “When I saw “Saints” on a cold, early morning in Park City, I knew I was too tired to fully appreciate it, but it’s a film that truly grew on me on second viewing. It’s rich, mesmerizing, and remarkably technically accomplished, while also buoyed by three stellar central performances. Don’t miss this one.

Academy Award Nominees Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects) and Casey Affleck (The Killer Inside Me, Gone Baby Gone) star as a pair of doomed lovers separated by prison bars and miles of desert wasteland in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a moody collision of love and crime in the tradition of Bonnie and Clyde.

Four years ago, impassioned young outlaw couple Bob Muldoon (Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Mara) were apprehended in the Texas hills during a shootout that left a local officer wounded by a bullet from Ruth’s gun. Taking the blame, Bob was sentenced to 25 years in prison. After having engineered a daring escape, Bob is now determined to reconnect with the love of his life and meet the daughter who was born while he was incarcerated. But the journey back won’t be easy, and the powers that be threaten to keep the two lovers apart forever. Co-starring Ben Foster (The Messenger) and set against the gritty landscape of 1970s Texas Hill Country, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a breathtaking and exquisitely photographed meditation on the fragility and transience of love.

Special Features:
o Making Of Documentary
o Deleted Scenes
o Music Video
o Behind The Scenes
o Teasers
o Trailer
o St. Nick - Director David Lowery’s First Feature

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

Family Guy: Volume Twelve
Family Guy: Volume Twelve
Photo credit: Fox

“Family Guy: Volume Twelve”

FOX’s “Family Guy” isn’t the creative force that it once was, LONG past its peak in terms of writing and cultural importance but Fox still knows how to put together a notable home release for a show that wouldn’t exist any more if not for its popularity on DVD. Much like they do with the award-winning season sets for “The Simpsons,” they load these things up with special features, although I’m still puzzled as to why the company continues to embrace DVD-only releases. These should be HD and Ultraviolet. Don’t you want to take the Griffin family with you when you go?

Family Guy reaches new heights of hilarity in this outrageous collection of 22 uncensored episodes, including fan-favorite “Into Fat Air,” where the Griffins rock Mount Everest, plus the comedy jackpot “Roads to Vegas” and the milestone 200th episode “Yug Ylimaf,” in which Brian and Stewie develop a curious case of reverse aging thanks to a time machine foul-up. It’s a complete season of laughs with celebrity guest voiices Johnny Depp, Jon Hamm, Sofia Vergara, and more!

Special Features:
o Commentary by Series Writers, Directors, Producers and Cast Members on Select Episodes
o Deleted Scenes
o 200 Episodes Later
o 200th Episode Read
o Select Scene Animatics
o 2012 Comic-Con Panel

Where to Watch: DVD, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes, Netflix

Burn Notice: Season Seven
Burn Notice: Season Seven
Photo credit: Fox

“Burn Notice: Season Seven”

“Burn Notice” never quite lived up to the potential displayed in its first few seasons but the show had loyal, devoted followers up to the very end, making it one of USA’s biggest hits of the last decade. I’m happy they went out on their own terms and now you can own the entire run of this saga of a spy with difficulty staying under the radar and, most of all, the people who love him. That’s what “Burn Notice” always was — the tale of how an ex-spy’s mom, best buddy, and true love kept him out of trouble. At its best, it was one of the coolest shows on TV.

It all comes down to this - the thrilling final season of one of television’s hottest shows, where everything is finally revealed. Separated from his friends and family, and on the verge of losing it all, Michael Westen goes deep undercover, joining forces with a mysterious woman and infiltrating a sinister terrorist network. With time running out, Michael must do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect his loved ones; but now, he may be forced to go too far. Packed with explosive action and exciting plot twists, Burn Notice: Season Seven comes fully equipped with exclusive bonus features available only on DVD.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary On Forget Me Not Featuring Matt Nix, Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless and Writer Ben Watkins
o Deleted Scenes
o Gag Reel
o Final Mission: Ending The Series

Where to Watch: DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

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