Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD & Blu-ray: Lee Daniels’ The Butler Is In Love With A Church Girl

After a pretty long stretch of not a whole lot, the DVD release schedule is back into full-swing and this week marks the release of a lot of worthy films.  For real.  Even if the Oscar-baiting Lee Daniels’ The Butler isn’t your thing, we’ve got new movies starring Vin Diesel, Chloe Grace Moretz, James Gandolfini, Adam Scott, Sam Rockwell, and Ja Rule.  We’ve got movies about troubled teens both telekinetic and non-telekinetic. We’ve got movies about home invasions and seaside vacations. We’ve even got a movie about burglars who do parkour. If that’s not enough for you, we’re even including a bonus movie that hits VOD today.  That’s top-notch value, folks.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Enough Said
Short Term 12
The Spectacular Now
You’re Next
Fruitvale Station
A Single Shot
Blue Caprice
Rewind This!
Big Sur
Plus One
I’m In Love With A Church Girl

Bonus VOD Selection:
The Great Chicken Wing Hunt

I wasn’t kidding -most of these movies look genuinely promising.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say that before.  Of course ‘most’ is not ‘all’ and one or two of them look downright terrible, so continue reading and you’ll know which is which. I mention a few celebrity encounters I’ve had and I even share a story about the time my middle school science teacher was investigated for exposing his students to porn.  It’ll be a good time, I promise.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

First things first: This is not the legendarily well-known and universally beloved Edwin McKim film from 1916 starring Davy Don and Patsy De Forest. No, my friends, this is the one about the African-American gentleman who gets a unique, front-row view to history in the making while serving as butler to eight U.S. presidents. It stars Forest Whitaker as the butler, and co-stars Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Clarence Williams III, Oprah, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Live Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and Jane Fonda.

Evidently there’s a lot of demand to work with the guy whose last film involved Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron and whose film before that included a character that was a child with Down Syndrome named Mongo. At any rate, Warner Brothers has gone out of their way to make sure that we, the easily confused movie-going public, do not mistake this movie for their short film from 1916, and any claims from certain Hollywood moguls that this was all a bullying tactic to get some more money from The Hobbit are simply unfounded.  Never mind the curious fact that there was another film entitled The Butler produced last year that got no such heat from Warner Brothers.  It’s all about the purity of the art, I’m sure. What all this means, however, is that the actual title of this movie really is Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and I for one think all movies should have the director’s name as part of the title.  It’s not that I think it would result in directors being more concerned about making better films, I just think it would be funny to think about each and every movie like it was the work of an auteur.  Dennis Dugan’s Grown Ups 2Michael Tiddes’ A Haunted House. Leonard Nimoy’s 3 Men And A Baby.  The possibilities are endless.  Of course there would be the occasionally unwieldy title like Elizabeth Banks’, Steven Brill’s, Steve Carr’s, Rusty Cundieff’s, James Duffy’s, Griffin Dunne’s, Peter Farrelly’s,  Patrik Forsberg’s, Will Graham’s, James Gunn’s, Brett Ratner’s, Jonathn van Tulleken’s, and Bob Odenkirk’s Movie 43, but I’m willing to live with it.  If nothing else, Lee Daniels should’ve been doing this all along.  Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire) just sounds confusing, but Lee Daniels’ Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire) sounds confusing and classy.  For those wondering, yes, the official complete title of that film really is Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire).  Just like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, that title was changed from the originally intended title, Push, to avoid confusion with another film –a now mostly forgotten action film about kids with telekinetic powers starring Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans. You know what?  I’ve just decided that you should disregard everything I’ve written about wanting directors’ names included in film titles because now I wish the revised title of The Butler was The Butler (Base On Arkl A Blr Wl Srvd Bi Thz Ecshn By Wlay Gud) (Based On The Article ‘A Butler Well Served By This Election’ By Wil Haygood). It just rolls off the tongue, you know?


Vin Diesel’s back for another installment in the sci-fi franchise about a big burly guy who can see in the dark.  Or something. Plenty of people seem to like these films, but it almost seems like they are apologetic about it.  It’s always, “Actually, Riddick wasn’t that bad.  In fact, it was pretty good for what it tries to be…” which might as well be code for catch it on home video.  So now’s the time, I guess.  I don’t have anything against these films, I just haven’t been interested enough to dive in.  If I’m being honest, I think it’s because I don’t really buy Vin Diesel as a leading man –although if there were ever a leading role for a bulked up, gravel-voiced mumbler, it’s probably as an outer space mercenary who has to wear sunglasses. So do what you will.  I’ll probably see this and its predecessors eventually. Or I won’t.  Nothing against Vin Diesel mind you, he seems nice enough, his movies just aren’t very high on my list. I’m completely serious about him seeming nice, by the way, because I met the guy once.  I was the only customer sitting at a hotel bar, I was nursing a beer and minding my own business when some big guy sits down a few empty seats away from me and politely asks for water with lemon. The guy sounded just like Vin Diesel so I stole a glance and immediately turned back to facing forward because damned if it wasn’t the man himself.  I must’ve turned too quickly because he noticed, and he says, “Hey pal…”  “Yeah?” I reply.  “It’s okay.  I’m used to it.” The bartender hands him his water, and now I’m faced with a choice.  Do I admit I was freaked out to see Vin Diesel or do I try to play it cool?  It might’ve been the beer, but I decided to choose neither option and instead  act like I didn’t know him so I asked him, “Used to what?”  “People surprised to see me.  You didn’t expect it.  I get it.”  I could’ve just agreed, but instead I insisted that I didn’t recognize him.  I don’t know why. I guess I was just bored.  He listens to my denial, and then with a  big smile he says, “Sure you do.  I’m the guy.”  At this point the bartender chimes in with, “You know, from the Fast Furious car movies.”  I persist in my lie that I don’t know him, and I apologize saying, “I don’t really get to too many movies or follow Hollywood news, so, don’t feel bad, but I don’t know you.”  Vin says, “You’ve seen Saving Private Ryan, right?  Everybody’s seen that.”  Again, I lie.  “Nope, like I said, I don’t really see a lot of movies.”  “Well you should see that one, it’s from Steven Spielberg –he made Jurassic Park- and it stars Tom Hanks.  And I’m in it.”  I agree to look it up some day, and as he’s finishing his water, Vin smiles and tells the bartender to give me another beer, on him.  He leaves more than enough money at the bar takes a step closer to me and says, “You should check out some of my movies, and when you do, you can tell the people you’re with that you met me once and I bought you a beer. Name’s Vin.  Diesel.”  The trouble is, that was over two years ago and I still haven’t gotten around to watching any of his movies.  Nice guy, though. Nothing like the time I ran into Christopher Reeve in an adult bookstore. F*cker tried acting like there was more than one Clark Kent-looking paralyzed dude tooling around in a motorized wheel chair. He ended up just buying a shit-ton of edible underpants.  Really weird.