Looks like the Miramax makes the hits, Lionsgate releases the glitz love fest continues and we’re joining in on the celebration with peaks at some of their latest in the collection of films to hit Blu-ray.  (You’re money, Lions and Mira!)  This week’s releases available August 23 include "Rounders," "Hostage," "Swingers," plus we take an early bonus look at the August 30 Blu-ray release of Gus Van Sant’s "Good Will Hunting."  Con Artists, playboys, negotiators and math geniuses beware and check out the info below!




   Title: "Rounders"

   Grade: 4

   Cast: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich

   Director: John Dahl

   Rating: R

   Runtime: 121 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate

   Website: www.lionsgatebluray.com  



The Flick: "Rounders" is a well-written, superbly acted and sleek directed flick.  The story is fascinating (even for those who know nothing about poker!), the performances are standout stuff (Norton is a perfect slimeball and Malkovich a wonderfully wacky Russian!) and John Dahl knows when to be creative, but also when to let the games play out in captivating stillness.  The only flaw of "Rounders" is the miscasting of baby-faced lead man Matt Damon, who comes off way more like a tourist than a card shark playing the room – the magic of movies.

Best Feature: Between the 'audio commentary' and section with 'cool tips' from pro poker sharks Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker and Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson every amateur fan is gonna have a shot to go pro!

Best Hidden Gem: In the featurette 'Inside Professional Poker' where you get to see first hand Hollywood Damon loose to a pro even while holding a pair of kings – tough break!

Worth the Moola: If you can get past Damon in a high-end sweater as a kiddie card player, the rest is a full house.




   Title: "Hostage"

   Grade: 4

   Cast: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster

   Director: Florent Siri

   Rating: R

   Runtime: 113 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate

   Website: www.lionsgatebluray.com  



The Flick: "Hostage" is a flick that knows where its action roots come from (they have the Willis for crying out loud!), but still manages to conjure up some cool twists (the writing here is clever indeed!) and trippy performances via innovative director Florent Siri.  Add some personal family kidnapping to Willis’s hostage negotiator and one truly creepy turn by Ben Foster as a silent psycho and "Hostage" manages to breath fresh life into a familiar film theme. 

Best Feature: Sometimes 'Deleted Scenes' are out for a reason – good show!

Best Hidden Gem: Hearing Ben Foster in the featurette 'Taken Hostage' compliment the acting prowess of Willis – very interesting.

Worth the Moola: Tough Willis and wacko Foster + unpredictability = good buy.




   Title: "Swingers"

   Grade: 3 1/2

   Cast: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston

   Director: Doug Liman

   Rating: R

   Runtime: 96 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate

   Website: www.lionsgatebluray.com  



The Flick: "Swingers" does seem a tad more dated now then when it first hit theaters, but it’s still great to see the early acting prowess of all involved.  From actor turned director Jon “Iron Man” Favreau to Vince “Wedding Crashers” Vaughn (even a little Ron “Office Space” Livingston throw in for good measure!) it’s a who’s who of cool cats before they hit the big time.  Plus with a great LA vibe and vocabulary all it’s own, Swingers deserves a place in indie Hollywood history.  

Best Feature: The four part mammoth-sized doc that covers every aspect of "Swingers" from writing to filming and even life after – if you’re a fan this one is the money!

Best Hidden Gem: Hearing Director Doug Liman in the featurettes (NOT the commentary!) talk very candidly about his love of working on this one and not so much for later big budget flicks – speak loud, speak proud Doug!

Worth the Moola: The movie and the Liman honest and not purchasing would be like scaring off a nice baby who’s ready to party!  (But still dated!)




   Title: "Good Will Hunting"

   Grade: 3

   Cast: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck

   Director: Gus Van Sant

   Rating: R

   Runtime: 126 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate

   Website: www.lionsgatebluray.com  



The Flick: Watching this one so many years later I’m hit by how effective Gus Van Sant’s hands-off directing approach is and how so-so the script feels.  Don’t get me wrong, the role and speeches by the amazing Robin Williams deserve Oscar praise, but the rest of the script is a ho-hum tale of discovering hidden feelings.  The actors do elevate the material beyond the page – Stellan Skarsgard and Minnie Driver especially – but this one now feels a tad underwhelming.

Best Feature: There are some 'Deleted Scenes' and an interesting 'Alternate Opening' that adds more Boston flavor.

Best Hidden Gem: The commentary is full of the Affleck/Damon insight into everything from fame to relationships and more – telling stuff.

Worth the Moola: If you don’t mind weeding through a bad Affleck Boston accent, then Williams will warm your Will Hunting heart.