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Abandoned (PG-13) (Blu-ray)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Remember watching Chris Farley's posthumous films and thinking, "Geez, he looks horrible! No one around him noticed that and said something?" That's what it's like watching Brittany Murphy's final film, Abandoned. She's sadly torn-up and saunters through the movie in a daze. Which is too bad because, for the most part, this thriller is like a great paranoid whodunit that would have made a fantastic episode of a TV anthology show, but is unnecessarily stretched-out to 90 minutes. Murphy takes her boyfriend to the hospital for a routine outpatient surgery, only to find him missing with no record of his stay. Is she crazy? Is this all part of some hospital plot? Or something bigger? You keep guessing, but even the fun in solving the mystery is shrouded by the real-life horror behind it. A sad end to a promising career, and not fitting whatsoever. — Louis Fowler

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The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season (NR) (Blu-ray)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Season 13 of the long-running and extremely iconic Simpsons hits Blu-ray, containing 22 of the last good season's episodes. They first premiered between 2001 and 2002 and, when I think about it, that was the last time I watched the show in first run. From the few later episodes I've seen, it started reaching for the same laughs, repeating the same formula one too many times. Season 13 has such classic episodes as Homer getting his jaws wired shut and Moe opening a pretentious hipster bar. This is a required purchase for Simpsons completists, but, sadly, these are also the same episodes run on syndicated television all the time, so I doubt the casual viewer will run out to grab this immediately. On the other hand, it does make me morbidly look forward to future releases, just to see if I've missed any gems during my sabbatical. — Louis Fowler

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Withnail and I (NR) (Blu-ray)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

The brutally acerbic British comedy Withnail and I was pushed on me continually by every drama kid when I was in high school, but I was too busy obsessing over Dolemite to really give it the time of day. Now, about 15 years later, I've finally given it a chance, and damned if it isn't one of the funniest British films I've seen in a long time. Two perpetually self-destructive and neurotic '60s proto-slackers, tired of living in their suburban squalor, head off for a holiday in the country, only to become immersed in a very specialized type of rural poverty. Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant are hilariously anarchic as the unlovable duo, but Richard Griffiths steals the show as the flamboyant, lascivious uncle who tries to seduce McGann at every turn. And, just as a side-note, Grant's final quote from Hamlet ... yeah, if I was in Drama Club, I would have performed it. — Louis Fowler

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Marmaduke (PG) (Blu-ray)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

I absolutely loved Marmaduke. Sue me. But, before you call a lawyer, let me give you some background: After sitting though and embarrassingly bawling my eyes out during Marley and Me, I made the plan to write my own screenplay called Naughty Puppy about a hilariously mischievous canine rascal that gets into all kinds of trouble, played for laughs. And, most importantly, he'd live in the end. You don't need to teach the audience about the importance of life by having man's best friend die in the end, right? Marmaduke, Tom Dey's live-action adaptation of the long-running comic strip, gives me all the hilarious dog misadventures I can handle — including dog-surfing — and none of the agonizing mortality. Yeah, it's a stupid kids' movie, but who cares? I had a great time and laughed all the way through. And, if anything, it's only strengthened my belief in Naughty Puppy. — Louis Fowler

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9th Company (R) (Blu-ray)

Go Well USA

America wasn't the first country to wage war with Afghanistan. Some of us tend to forget that the Soviet Union attempted the same thing in the '80s, only to pull out after realizing the futility of battling an enemy with nothing to lose. The brilliantly powerful 2005 Russian film 9th Company intensely retells the final year of the war through the eyes of a fresh-faced cadre of recruits thrown right into battles with the mujahideen, in particular the Battle of Hill 3234, where the new soldiers are slaughtered mercilessly, no matter how valiantly they fight back. It ranks right up there with Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, not only making the point that Afghanistan was Russia's Vietnam, but that war can change any of us, no matter what side we're on. — Louis Fowler

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