RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Conjuring, Before Midnight, and More

We run down the most notable home video releases in film and television.

This week on home video, we don't have a lot of TV releases to talk about, but we've got quite a few from the world of film. The biggest titles include James Wan's haunted house hit, Richard Linklater's third Before romance, a respectable coming-of-age film, the latest from Nicolas Winding Refn, and a failed Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn collaboration. Then we've got a few well-reviewed docs and indies and a few notable film collections. Read on for the full list:

The Conjuring

86%

Although its unclear whether director James Wan is, in fact, done with the horror genre, he had a pretty decent run at it for a while, beginning with his franchise-spawning feature debut, Saw. His most successful film, both critically and commercially, came earlier this year in The Conjuring, a true story-based haunted house flick with some old school scares. The film centers on the Perron family, who move into a new home on a 200-acre property and begin experiencing some freaky domestic disturbances. In hopes of ridding themselves of the malevolent presence, they call on renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), who help the Perrons confront and banish the evil entity. Certified Fresh at 87%, The Conjuring was regarded by critics as one of the more effective horror movies to hit the big screen in recent memory, infused with a creeping dread and more than a handful of earnest scares. For those interested, we have a nifty new infographic related to the movie, which you can see here.

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The Internship

34%

The first time Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn joined forces for a comedy, the result was a crowd-pleasing success (Wedding Crashers). Unfortunately, even their chemistry and charisma could do little to elevate The Internship. Nick (Wilson) and Billy (Vaughn) are two aging salesmen having trouble adapting to the digital age. In an effort to get with the times, the pair accept internships at Google, where they're forced to compete with younger, more tech savvy hopefuls. Directed by Shawn Levy (The Pink Panther, Night at the Museum, Real Steel), The Internship relied a bit too much on the interplay between its stars, neglecting to provide a fresh, focused narrative as a framework for their antics. As a result, critics panned it to the tune of 35% on the Tomatometer, likening the film to a stale, extended ad for Google.

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The Way, Way Back

85%

This year in particular, we saw a good number of surprisingly good coming-of-age films, and The Way, Way Back was one of 2013's summer successes in this category. The directorial debut of Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, the Oscar-winning writers of The Descendants, The Way, Way Back depicts one summer in the life of teenaged Duncan (Liam James), who spends a couple months with his mother (Toni Collette), her boyfriend (Steve Carell), and her boyfriend's daughter (Zoe Levin) at a vacation home in Cape Cod. Introverted and awkward, Duncan has some trouble fitting in until he surreptitiously takes a job at the local water park and makes some new friends. The Way, Way Back hits all the familiar notes of its genre, but most critics thought the film was charming and funny, bolstered by a strong, talented cast, and it's Certified Fresh at 85%.

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Before Midnight

98%

Richard Linklater's Before films are arguably the most romantic trilogy in cinema, charting the brief but meaningful interactions between two star-crossed travelers first in 1995's Before Sunrise and then in 2004's Before Sunset. Set another nine years after the events of Sunset, Before Midnight drops in again on Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), revealing that the pair have indeed become a couple, with twin daughters, no less. While Jesse struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with his son, who lives with his ex-wife, Celine is faced with a career decision of her own, and the two of them contemplate their relationship and their future together. The strength of this series has always lain in the writing -- a collaboration between Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke -- and the performances, and Midnight is no different. Certified Fresh at 98%, the film is an intelligent, powerful examination of the nature of love and a fitting end to Celine and Jesse's story.

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Only God Forgives

40%

The films of Nicolas Winding Refn are characterized by long stretches of relative quiet punctuated by bursts of graphic violence -- notable in his last film, Drive, which turned off a lot of casual moviegoers who were expecting an action extravaganza. Only God Forgives is another visually stylish effort from Refn that follows the same principle, though critics were considerably less enamored by it. Drive star Ryan Gosling is Julian, a smuggler in Thailand who moonlights as a boxing club owner. When his brother (and smuggling partner) Billy (Tom Burke) is suddenly murdered, their mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) flies in from London and compels Julian to take revenge. Only God Forgives is beautifully shot, as Refn's films typically are, but most critics found insufficient narrative substance in the story to ground its darker themes, making its characters flat and unrelatable. At 40% on the Tomatometer, Only God Forgives is likely to appeal mostly to Refn fans.

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Also available this week:

  • The Waiting Room (100%), a documentary centered on a public hospital and the bureaucracy its staff and largely uninsured patients must navigate to provide and receive treatment.
  • Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (91%), a documentary profile of the prolific writer-illustrator who wrote both adult erotica and children's books, among other things.
  • Paradise: Faith (75%), the second film in German director Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise" trilogy, focusing on a devout X-ray technician whose husband unexpectedly returns home after years of absence.
  • Austrian import The Wall (72%), an adaptation of 1963 feminist novel about a woman who takes a trip to the Austrian mountainside, only to find upon her return home that civilization has been cut off via an invisible wall.
  • I Give It a Year (55%), a rom-com about a happy newlywed couple facing opposition from friends and family who think they won't last.
  • Season 3 of Nikita (80%), starring Maggie Q in a TV adaptation of French film La Femme Nikita about a woman who escapes a covert government organization and returns for revenge.
  • A Blu-ray collection of Vincent Price films including The Fall of the House of Usher (88%), The Haunted Palace (80%), The Masque of the Red Death (62%), and The Pit and the Pendulum (81%), as well as bonus features for each film.
  • The Bruce Lee Legacy Collection on Blu-ray, which includes The Big Boss (60%), Fist of Fury aka The Chinese Connection (92%), Way of the Dragon (100%), and Game of Death (75%), as well as two documentaries and a disc of bonus content.
  • And lastly, two choices from The Criterion Collection: the classic 1944 ghost story The Uninvited (77%) is newly available, and the previously available collection of five John Cassavetes films, including Shadows (100%), Faces (88%), and A Woman Under the Influence (92%), as well as a documentary about the filmmaker, is now available on Blu-ray.

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