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New to VUDU: Week of January 1st, 2012

January is a slow time of year. After the holidays, consumer spending drops precipitously. As a result, studios release fewer movies, either to theaters or video. The pickings on Blu-ray were pretty slim this week, and VUDU follows suit with only a small slate of new titles. Even so, the streaming service has a couple of good rentals in there if you want them.

The following titles enter the VUDU stream this week:

  • ‘Bridesmaids: Extended Cut’ (1/5)
  • ‘Contagion’ (1/3)
  • ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ (1/3)
  • ‘The Guard’ (1/3)
  • ‘Puncture’ (1/3)
  • ‘Shark Night’ (1/3)

I expect that most viewers will gravitate toward the all-star viral outbreak thriller ‘Contagion‘. The talent behind it is certainly appealing. In addition to director Steven Soderbergh, the film stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, John Hawkes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and more. Luke hated the movie, but Aaron loved it. I should be catching up with this one soon, since I just received a screener Blu-ray for my other gig at Home Theater.

The title I’m most looking forward to renting is ‘The Guard‘, which stars Brendan Gleeson as a surly, smart-aleck cop whose small Irish town is turned upside down by the intrusion of an American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) on the hunt for drug runners. Aaron raved about the movie in his Blu-ray review, and the trailer is pretty damn funny.

Josh’s Random VUDU Pick:

With Steven Soderbergh on my mind, I scoured the VUDU catalog and found a trio of the director’s older movies that haven’t hit Blu-ray yet. It’s difficult for me to recommend ‘Full Frontal‘ for most viewers. Despite another star-studded cast (Julia Roberts, Catherine Keener, David Duchovny and Blair Underwood, among others), this zero-budget sort-of-comedy is one of Soderbergh’s more experimental and alienating works. Most people who saw it during its release hated it. I think a lot of that has to do with bad marketing. This is pretty far from a typical Julia Roberts rom-com. I don’t dislike the movie, but it’s not one of my favorites either (though I will say that Nicky Katt makes a hilarious Hitler). I should also note that the movie was shot on standard-def video and was intentionally designed to look as cruddy as possible, so there’s not a whole lot of point in spending extra for the 1080p HDX rental.

I still haven’t seen ‘The Good German‘, Soderbergh’s homage to 1940s post-war film noir with George Clooney, Tobey Maguire and Cate Blanchett. The reviews during its release were fairly damning, and something about it just didn’t catch my interest. I’m sure that I’ll catch up with this eventually.

My pick of this bunch is the director’s remake of ‘Solaris‘, also starring Clooney. (The original Russian sci-fi classic is available on Blu-ray, but the remake is not.) This is one of Soderbergh’s most underrated movies. It’s a slow and contemplative, existential drama, not the action-adventure flick you might expect given James Cameron’s producer credit, but the movie has a lot on its mind and offers rewards if you’re open to them.

All dates provided refer specifically to rental availability. Check VUDU for sell-through availability, if interested. Be sure to also check for VUDU’s $0.99 Movie of the Day offers, which are announced each day on the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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