Did you all take advantage of the slowdown in Blu-ray releases over the past couple of weeks to save up a few dollars? I hope so, because December will have no mercy on your wallets.
Obviously, the biggest gun (or bat, as the case may be) this week is ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. One of the most anticipated films of the year, the movie was also one of the biggest box office hits of the year (though it lagged considerably behind ‘The Avengers’ in that regard). I wasn’t terribly impressed with it, personally. Certainly the weakest of the trilogy, I found it dull, sloppy and incoherently plotted. I seem to be in a minority with that opinion, but so be it. Sadly, my completist collector impulse will force me to buy the Blu-ray anyway, especially since Best Buy has an exclusive Steelbook that will go nicely with the previous two Batman flicks.
The darling of the Sundance Film Festival, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘ is one of the indie sensations of the year. Often praised for its amazing visuals, the film should be quite a treat on Blu-ray.
Also from Sundance, though not nearly as acclaimed, is ‘V/H/S‘, the latest in the played-out “Found Footage” horror genre. This one’s about a collection of VHS tapes that have spooky stuff recorded on them. Whatever.
Poor Jennifer Garner hasn’t had much luck this year. Mrs. Affleck starred in two indie duds that both come to video this week: ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green‘ and ‘Butter‘. I saw the latter, a Midwestern satire about competitive butter carving, at the Toronto Film Festival over a year ago. While not a great movie, it’s reasonably entertaining and features an appealing turn from Garner, who plays the whole thing as an unofficial sequel to Alexander Payne’s ‘Election‘. This is decent rental material.
Pixar finally brings one of its most popular classics, ‘Finding Nemo‘, to Blu-ray this week, in both 2D and newly re-rendered 3D versions, along with a 3D re-release of ‘Up‘ (which played theatrically in 3D originally).
Even more exciting is Criterion’s long-awaited high-def upgrade of Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece ‘Brazil‘. While Universal previously released the film’s theatrical cut on Blu-ray, Criterion gives us the Director’s Cut with a copious bounty of supplemental features.
Criterion has another gem this week as well, René Clément’s 1960 ‘Purple Noon‘, which was the first cinematic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’.
Don’t write off the ‘Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection‘ from Lionsgate without taking a good look at it. At first glance, this appears to be a simple bundled re-release of the existing Blu-rays for ‘Apocalypse Now‘ (both versions), ‘The Conversation‘ and ‘Tetro‘. However, the fifth film marks the Blu-ray debut of Coppola’s fascinating musical ‘One from the Heart’, which was a notorious box office bomb in its day but has developed a passionate following in the ensuing years. Given that Amazon currently sells the whole 5-Film Collection for less than $29, that’s a fair enough price for ‘One from the Heart’ on its own, much less with the other movies thrown in.
Also notable this week are: Steven Spielberg’s entertaining ‘Catch Me If You Can‘, David Cronenberg’s trippy mind-screw ‘eXistenZ‘, the 1998 non-musical adaptation of ‘Les Miserables‘ (well timed to tie in with the new musical), the Marlene Dietrich classic ‘The Blue Angel‘, and the popular documentary ‘Comic Book Confidential‘. All that, plus ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians‘! It’s a big week!
CBS Digital’s high-def overhaul for the first season of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ was a wondrous thing to behold. Unfortunately, excitement for the second season has been greatly tempered by word that CBS outsourced the work to another firm that hasn’t done nearly as good a job. I’ll reserve judgment until I see the results for myself (controversies like this have a tendency to get blown out of proportion in the home theater community), but if true, the news is certainly disappointing.
I remain utterly mystified at how unfunny “comedian” Danny McBride has managed to accumulate a fan base. Has his dire HBO sitcom ‘Eastbound & Down‘ really been on the air for three seasons? One episode was enough to put me off the show forever.
In other TV developments, Fox brings us the fifteenth season of ‘The Simpsons‘ (which is currently on Season 24, in case you’ve lost count), while Lionsgate launches the miniseries ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel‘ and something called the Complete Season collection of ‘Power Rangers Super Samurai‘. Some Googling tells me that ‘Super Samurai’ is the 19th season of the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise, which has undergone many name changes during its run. I was quite a bit too old for the ‘Mighty Morphin’ phenomenon by the time it started, and am a little baffled by its enduring popularity. Was the stuff I watched as a kid this lame? Probably, huh?
As I already mentioned, I’ve resigned myself to purchasing ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ even though I didn’t really care for it. I’m much more excited for ‘Brazil’, as well as ‘Purple Noon’, the two Pixars, the Coppola set, ‘eXistenZ’ and even the ‘Star Trek’ season (despite its reported quality issues). Budgetary constraints will prevent me from buying all of these at once, but ‘Brazil is already pre-ordered.
Where will your dollars go this week?