As we close out the month of April, eight of this year’s nine Best Picture Academy Award nominees are now available on Blu-ray. (The only film still missing is Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’.) This week also brings us several movies that were less than Oscar worthy. Will you buy any of them?
I think we all knew that Jennifer Lawrence would win an Oscar eventually. As one of Hollywood’s new “It” girls, that seemed like an inevitability. The Academy decided to get that out of the way this year by awarding her the Best Actress trophy for the dramedy ‘Silver Linings Playbook‘. The film was also nominated for seven other Oscars, including all the acting categories, Best Picture and Best Director. I haven’t seen the movie and have perhaps an irrational prejudice against it. While I was a big fan of director David O. Russell’s early works, especially ‘Flirting with Disaster’ and ‘Three Kings‘, I absolutely loathed ‘The Fighter‘, which I found so worthless and artistically bankrupt that I lost all respect for the director and never want to see anything else he makes ever again. Is that unfair? Probably. Would I enjoy this one if I forced myself to watch it? Maybe, but honestly, I’m in no rush to do that.
Speaking of ‘The Fighter’, that film’s star Mark Wahlberg headlines the political corruption thriller ‘Broken City‘ with Russell Crowe. I happen to like Wahlberg, but this seems like a mismatch of talent. The movie was directed by Allen Hughes from the Hughes Brothers (‘Menace II Society’, ‘The Book of Eli’), working on his own this time. The studio apparently had little faith in it, and resigned it to a theatrical release in the dead zone of January, where it received mostly mixed-to-negative reviews and died painfully at the box office.
Another mismatched pair, Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, team up for ‘The Guilt Trip‘. Don’t worry, she plays his mother, not his love interest. The trailers look exactly like every other road trip comedy ever made. These things are made or broken entirely by the chemistry of their casts. If the prospect of Streisand and Rogen nagging each other for 95 minutes appeals to you, have at it.
Didn’t the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ franchise already get rebooted with a couple of new movies a few years ago? I’m not exactly clear on whether the new ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D‘ is meant to be a sequel to those or another reboot. Does it really matter, though? This thing exists only to justify its title. If you want chainsaws to massacre people in 3D, here’s a movie that will give that to you, no more and no less. [Sorry, this has been pushed back to May 14th.]
From the indie scene, ‘Sopranos’ creator David Chase makes his theatrical directing debut with the ‘Almost Famous’ clone ‘Not Fade Away‘. Based on its paltry box office reception, the film failed to take its title’s advice. Meanwhile, in ‘The Details‘, Elizabeth Banks and Tobey Maguire play a married couple (you’ve already lost me) whose lives are upended when a family of raccoons infest their property. Darkly comic hijinks are said to ensue. This sounds like the type of movie that does well at Sundance but then is never heard from again, which is basically what happened to it.
To hype this summer’s impending new blockbuster, Paramount has reissued the seven original ‘Star Trek‘ films that were previously only available in box set form as new standalone editions. (The other three had already been broken out separately.) This reminds me that I never finished reviewing the last three ‘Next Generation’ movies. I should probably get back to work on that.
Another reissue, Warner Bros. bilks fans of the romantic weepie ‘The Notebook‘ with a new Ultimate Collector’s Edition Gift Set. Looking through past posts here, I seem to have announced this as being released back in January. I guess it got pushed back, though for what reason I have no idea.
Baz Luhrmann has a new movie coming out soon, which is excuse enough for Lionsgate to foxtrot out a new high-def edition of ‘Strictly Ballroom‘, the first movie in his so-called “Red Curtain Trilogy.” The other two, ‘Romeo + Juliet‘ and ‘Moulin Rouge!‘, were released by Fox in 2010.
Piggybacking on Paramount’s release of ‘The Guilt Trip’, Sony drags Barbra Streisand’s ‘Funny Girl‘ into the high-def realm.
Olive Films offers up another batch of neglected classics. The ones that catch my eye are Fritz Lang’s 1946 thriller ‘Cloak and Dagger‘, Marlon Brando as a paralyzed war vet in ‘The Men‘, and the late Adrienne Shelly’s acting debut in Hal Hartley’s quirky 1989 comedy ‘The Unbelievable Truth‘.
Fans of “Hammer Horror” will want to take note that Scream Factory has put out the studio’s 1970 cult favorite ‘The Vampire Lovers‘.
After bungling the second season Blu-ray release of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ by farming its restoration work out to an inferior contractor, CBS Films has returned to its former high standard of quality with the third season box set. Fortunately, this coincides right with where the show finally starts to get good. Also available is a standlone copy of the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ two-parter. (The first episode was the finale of Season 3. The second half won’t appear in box set form until Season 4.)
If that massive Complete Series box set of ‘Friends‘ released last year was too daunting a prospect to buy all at once, Warner Bros. breaks out the seasons to separate releases, starting with the first two this week.
A good calibration disc is the lynchpin of any home theater. The new second edition of the acclaimed ‘Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark‘ is the first calibration disc on the market to offer proper 3D test patterns. This should make it an essential purchase for any owner of a 3D home theater.
Believe it or not, of all the above, the ‘Spears & Munsil’ calibration disc is the title calling to me the loudest, though I also have some interest in checking out Fritz Lang’s ‘Cloak and Dagger’. I need to catch up with the first two seasons of ‘Star Trek: TNG’ before buying the new one. Where do your interests lie?