Due to the July Fourth holiday, most of the studios are giving themselves a breather this week when it comes to new DVD and Blu-ray releases. Even so, there are still a few good reasons to head out to your local video store.
My pick of the week is Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot, newly released on Blu-ray in a spectacular two-disc collector's set from Sony that includes both the 149-minute theatrical version and the 208-minute director's cut. If you haven't seen Das Boot, you're missing out on one of the greatest war movies of all time. The Blu-ray is a substantial improvement on previous releases, especially in the sound department. I'm sure some will complain that the disc omits the even longer miniseries version of the film but as far as I'm concerned, this disc is top-notch.
Another classic arriving today is Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice, newly remastered and arriving on DVD and BD from Kino. For Civil War buffs, Warner Home Video presents a lavish box set collecting the director's cuts of Gettysburg and Gods And Generals (DVD/BD). The set comes packed with booklets, maps, and even a commemorative bronze Lincoln coin.
Magnolia Home Entertainment's Magnet division brings two future cult classics home, starting with Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins (DVD/BD). At his best, Miike is a masterful filmmaker and 13 Assassins is his most accomplished movie in years. If you're a fan of Seven Samurai (and if you're not, you should be), this one is not to be missed.
Also from Magnet, Rutger Hauer stars in Hobo With A Shotgun. In case you're not familiar with the origins of this flick, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez held a fake trailer contest back in 2007 for the release of their movie Grindhouse. The winner was Jason Eisener's Hobo With A Shotgun. The trailer became such a hit that Eisener was able to turn it into a feature, even attracting the great Hauer to the title role. The movie is available as both a single or double-disc DVD and on Blu-ray.
Finally this week, the critically acclaimed French film Of Gods And Men (BD/DVD combo) from Sony. The movie follows a brotherhood of monks in Algeria who must decide whether to abandon their monastery and return to France or keep the faith when their lives are threatened by Islamic terrorists.