La La Land

Blu-ray Highlights: Week of April 23rd, 2017 – A Note to Follow Sol

Exciting news! New on Blu-ray this week is the Oscar winner for Best Pict… oh wait, I’m sorry. Forget I said that. Geez, how embarrassing.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (4/25/17)?

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Before I start, I just want to note that this week brings an extremely packed Blu-ray release slate, mostly comprised of movies that I know little to nothing about. All I can do in my write-up is focus on the titles that stand out to me. Inevitably, I may overlook something of great interest to you, the reader. For example, Olive Films is bingeing on Polish exploitation auteur Walerian Borowczyk this week, and I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the guy. If I fail to mention something that you feel deserves attention, please tell us about it in the Comments section.

New Releases (Blu-ray)

La La Land‘ – If nothing else, Damien Chazelle’s big, glossy musical throwback has secured a place in history for the shortest ever reign as a Best Picture Oscar winner. Two minutes is going to be a tough record to beat. Of all the year’s nominees, this is the only one I saw in a theater, and I’ll be honest that I went in with a great deal of skepticism. I don’t generally care for musicals, I’m sick of fan-service movies that constantly quote older movies, and I worried that the film had simply been overhyped. The opening song-and-dance number didn’t do a lot for me and seemed to start on the wrong foot. Surprisingly, however, after that point I enjoyed it a lot. I also found the mini controversy about it being a “White Savior” narrative to be overblown; I think the movie already addresses that on its own. Should it have won Best Picture? I didn’t see enough movies last year to judge that. I plan to add the Best Buy SteelBook to my collection, though.

Underworld: Blood Wars‘ – Vampire Kate Beckinsale returns to fight werewolves for the fourth time, in the franchise’s fifth theatrical entry. (Beckinsale sat out the third movie, ‘Rise of the Lycans’.) I gave up after the first two, and frankly, I didn’t care for either of them. Even fans seem to be in agreement that this one is the worst yet. If you’re a completist for the franchise, the movie is available on Blu-ray and UHD. However, Sony has opted not to release it in 3D, even though it played theatrically that way. (Note that the Best Buy listing for the Ultra HD claims to include a 3D copy, but the cover art image on the same page contradicts that. Best Buy is most likely in error.)

The Girl with All the Gifts‘ – Set in a dystopian future where a fungal infection has turned most of humanity into zombies, Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close play a teacher and a scientist, respectively, who care for hybrid children that can think and act normally so long as they don’t smell human flesh, at which point they turn into uncontrollable monsters. One young girl in their custody seems more special than the others. Cue the zombie attacks and survival horror. Officially based on a novel by author M.R. Carey (who also wrote the screenplay), a lot of people have pointed out that this indie zombie flick looks more than a little like a movie version of the videogame ‘The Last of Us’ – not that this would be a bad thing.

Catfight‘ – Anne Heche and Sandra Oh play former friends whose growing rivalry turns physically violent, sparking a feud that spans years and multiple comas. The dark comedy has a pretty simple premise. When Phil saw it at TIFF, he liked some of the humor but ultimately found it aimless and unsatisfying.

UHD

La La Land‘ sings its way to 4k Ultra-HD Blu-ray this week. ‘Underworld: Blood Wars‘ also sinks its fangs into the format, and Best Buy has an exclusive SteelBook with a Pop Art cover.

Catalog Titles

While writing this week’s post, I noticed that our site’s release calendar had missed last week’s batch of Twilight Time limited editions. Technically, these four discs were released on April 18th, but I think they’re worth mentioning so I’ll do it here. From oldest movie to newest, we start with the 1941 Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth musical ‘You’ll Never Get Rich‘. After that, we jump to 1966 with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Billy Wilder’s ‘The Fortune Cookie‘, plus Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn in William Wyler’s caper comedy ‘How to Steal a Million‘. Things then turn serious with Gena Rowlands and Mia Farrow in ‘Another Woman‘, one of the dramatic films Woody Allen made while in his Ingmar Bergman phase.

In case you still need a little more Peter O’Toole after ‘How to Steal a Million’, Shout! Factory ushers out his 1972 adaptation of the stage musical ‘Man of la Mancha‘.

The Criterion Collection unveils new 4k restorations of Japanese filmmaker Jûzô Itami’s so-called “Noodle Western” ‘Tampopo‘, and Francis Ford Coppola’s largely overlooked ‘Rumble Fish‘ (his second adaptation of an S.E. Hinton novel following ‘The Outsiders’).

The Film Detective investigates the classic 1933 horror picture ‘The Vampire Bat‘.

The acclaimed nature documentary ‘Microcosmos‘ will surely benefit from Kino’s high definition upgrade.

Of no surprise to anyone, Sony uses the excuse of ‘Blood Wars’ to bundle all five of the franchise’s movies into the ‘Underworld: Ultimate Collection‘.

Television

Warner Bros. offers the first season of ‘Animal Kingdom‘, the TNT network’s TV spinoff of the 2010 Austrialian crime drama. Ellen Barkin plays the matriarch of a criminal family, a role first made famous by Jacki Weaver. I haven’t seen the show. The commercials for it didn’t look very good, but apparently enough people felt otherwise that it’s been renewed for a second season.

My $.02

I’m down to buy the SteelBook of ‘La La Land’, and am curious to rent ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’. Wish list items for me this week include ‘Tampopo’, ‘The Fortune Cookie’, ‘How to Steal a Million’ and ‘Microcosmos’.

Which of this week’s releases make you want to sing?

15 comments

  1. Lord Bowler

    Nothing for me this week.

    Although, I’ll be renting ’24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters’ (FilmRise). Because I love movie posters and am interested in seeing this doc.

    I’ll also see La La Land and Underworld eventually.

  2. Csm101

    I’m feeling very highbrow this week. I shall wear dark glasses, a turtleneck and smoke clove cigarettes as I await my copies of Psycho Cop Returns and Exterminator 2. I’m interested in renting La la Land. I openly admit that I very much like the Underworld movies, but I’m pissed at Sony for not releasing a 3D version. If they’re going to omit 3D, then I demand Atmos on my blu. I will only rent this latest one for now. If I really like it, I will wait for bargain bin prices to own it, if that.

  3. Whoa, they extended Dragonball Z Kai to include the Majin Bu series? I may have to pick these up! (And go back and rewatch Dragonball Z for the umpteenth time!) That’s actually pretty big news – Many people were wondering why Kai did not go past the Cell series, and the creators said that was all they intended to do, because that was where the Manga ended or something. I guess money talks.

  4. NJScorpio

    I just watched One Punch Man on Netflix, and please, if you enjoyed any Anime ever, check this one out!

    I thought it was hilarious, played with compelling ideas, had awesome art and character design. After watching it, I started buying the digital releases of the mangas (never did that before) and I’m tempted to buy the series on Blu-Ray.

    Really, really good stuff.

      • Deaditelord

        It may just be my preference to older anime that is more action-oriented and less comedic, but I remember watching the first (and maybe the 2nd) episode of One Punch Man on Crunchyroll during it’s simulcast a couple years ago and not thinking much of it. Without getting too much into spoilers, does something happen in later episodes that makes the show more compelling?

        • NJScorpio

          There is no extremely compelling overall conflict. What sold it for me was first the comedy aspect, essentially mocking some of the stereotypical anime tropes (for instance in the first episode has him knocking out a Titan). Those over the top characters in juxtaposed to OPM’s casual attitude, to me, is hilarious. I think they did a great job of expanding on how a character would be that had so much power that they became bored, that they weren’t intimidated, and it creates for great interactions with the other characters.

          • Deaditelord

            Hmm… I think the lack of legitimate threat or conflict will probably be a deal breaker for me, but I’ll give One Punch Man another shot on Netflix since I know the show has a huge, Cowboy Bebop-like, following.

  5. EM

    Scream Factory unearths the horror classic ‘I Bury the Living’ this week. Its intriguing premise, about a man who accidentally discovers that filling in a cemetery’s map causes people to die, makes for a gripping ‘Twilight Zone’-style thriller (which just happened to precede ‘The Twilight Zone’ by a year). It’s a burial plot that must be seen to be believed, but it remains to be seen whether the Blu-ray is worthy of the upgrade from DVD.

      • EM

        I couldn’t resist the pun opportunity; but as Josh called upon us to write up releases that he didn’t, my overarching style goal was to write à la Zyber. Alas, I goofed in my attempt to boldface ‘I Bury the Living’. I am consoled by your burying me in praise.

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