New to VUDU: Week of December 11th, 2011

This week, in addition to some of the expected new titles, VUDU also adds a notable new documentary that is apparently not getting a Blu-ray release. Times like this are why a good streaming service is useful to supplement a disc collection.

The following titles enter the VUDU stream this week:

  • ‘Circumstance’ (12/13)
  • ‘Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’ (12/13)
  • ‘Fright Night’ (12/13)
  • ‘Fright Night – 3D’ (12/13)
  • ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ (12/13)
  • ‘Senna’ (12/13)
  • ‘The Smurfs’ (12/16)
  • ‘The Smurfs – 3D’ (12/16)
  • ‘Tanner Hall’ (12/13)

The mainstream titles that will catch most people’s attention are, obviously enough, ‘Fright Night‘ and ‘The Smurfs‘, each available in either 2D or 3D. (I mentioned ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ in last week’s post.) Not listed here are ‘Kung Fu Panda 2‘ and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘, which are technically available for purchase this week but won’t open up for rental until later (‘Apes’ on 12/20 and ‘Panda’ on 12/27).

I mentioned Tsui Hark’s new action-fantasy ‘Detective Dee‘ in Tuesday’s Blu-ray update. I’m not a fan of the Chinese director, but some of you may be more excited for this than I am. Here’s the trailer:

The title that most catches my eye is ‘Senna‘, a documentary about Formula One racer Ayrton Senna, who died on the track in 1994. Even though racing isn’t a subject that I’m inherently fascinated with, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this film.

At the present time, ‘Senna’ is not scheduled for a Blu-ray release – probably because a lot of the archival footage is compiled from standard-def sources. Nonetheless, I believe that at least some of it was shot on film.

Josh’s Random VUDU Pick:

This week’s random pick from the VUDU catalog goes to the 1994 drama ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape‘, starring Johnny Depp and an early breakout performance from the young Leonardo DiCaprio. (The lack of question mark in the title is, apparently, intentional.) Still fresh off his stint on ‘Growing Pains’, DiCaprio’s role as the mentally-disabled boy with a fondness for climbing water towers landed the actor his first Oscar nomination (of three so far). This was also the second American film from Swedish director Lasse Hallström, who would later become one of Miramax’s favorite go-to guys for churning out Oscar bait productions. Despite DiCaprio’s nomination, this movie is not just Oscar bait. It’s a very touching and emotional story that will make a good pairing with the director’s earlier ‘My Life as a Dog‘, which was released on Blu-ray recently by the Criterion Collection.

‘Gilbert Grape’ isn’t available on Blu-ray, and Netflix only has it on DVD, but VUDU offers it for streaming in 1080p HDX format.

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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