I find it vaguely interesting that there are basically no love- or romance-themed movies being released on Blu-ray this Valentine’s Day (unless you’re the kind of sicko who finds ‘The Human Centipede’ romantic). We seem to have gotten all of those out of the way last week. Today’s focus falls instead to some of last year’s critically acclaimed films that were unfortunately overlooked by both audiences and awards organizations. Well, those and the ‘Human Centipede’ sequel.
The following titles hit store shelves today:
- ‘.hack/Quantum OVA‘ (FUNimation)
- ‘3-D Triple Feature: Dinosaurs Alive! / Wild Ocean / Mummies‘ (Image)
- ‘All Quiet on the Western Front‘ (Universal)
- ‘All Things Fall Apart‘ (Image)
- ‘Beavis & Butt-Head: Volume 4‘ (Paramount)
- ‘Boeing, Boeing‘ (Olive Films)
- ‘The Dead‘ (Starz/Anchor Bay)
- ‘Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe‘ (BBC)
- ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: Deluxe Edition‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Elite Squad‘ (New Group)
- ‘Frontline: The Interrupters‘ (PBS)
- ‘The Geisha Boy‘ (Olive Films)
- ‘The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence‘ (MPI)
- ‘The Littlest Angel‘ (Starz/Anchor Bay)
- ‘London Boulevard‘ (Sony)
- ‘Nature: Kangaroo Mob‘ (PBS)
- ‘Nude Nuns with Big Guns‘ (Image)
- ‘Ocean Heaven‘ (Well Go USA)
- ‘Pal Joey‘ (Twilight Time)
- ‘The Perfect Weapon‘ (Olive Films)
- ‘Robin of Sherwood: Set 2‘ (Acorn Media)
- ‘Rock-A-Bye Baby‘ (Olive Films)
- ‘The Rum Diary‘ (Sony)
- ‘Short Circuit / Short Circuit 2‘ (Image)
- ‘Swamp Water (1941)‘ (Twilight Time)
- ‘Take Shelter‘ (Sony)
- ‘Three Outlaw Samurai‘ (Criterion)
- ‘Tiny Furniture‘ (Criterion)
- ‘Urbanized‘ (New Group)
Michael Shannon’s powerhouse performance in ‘Take Shelter‘ as a decent, upstanding family man who suffers from paranoid visions of an impending apocalyptic disaster was hotly tipped as an Oscar contender, until the nominations actually came out and he was totally bypassed. Some love from the Academy might have helped the film reach a wider audience than it found during its limited theatrical run. Hopefully, viewers will discover it on Blu-ray.
A similar fate befell a couple of the year’s most buzzed-about documentaries. ‘The Interrupters‘ (from Steve James, director of ‘Hoop Dreams’) follows a small group of former gang members who attempt to defuse urban violence in Chicago, basically by inserting themselves directly into the middle of it. While the subject matter might not sound as topical or exciting, ‘Urbanized‘ is the new (final?) entry in the “Design Trilogy” from Gary Hustwit, director of the surprisingly fascinating ‘Helvetica‘ and ‘Objectified’. This one examines the way that our cities are planned and organized.
Also new this week is the far less acclaimed ‘The Rum Diary‘, starring Johnny Depp and based on a novel by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. I’m not a fan of Thompson, but I am somewhat intrigued by the return of ‘Withnail and I‘ director Bruce Robinson. This is his first film behind the camera since the underrated 1992 thriller ‘Jennifer 8′. Unfortunately, the reviews and word-of-mouth on this one were not kind.
Want to go even further against the grain on this Valentine’s Day? Try a horror movie or two. On the schlocky, gross-out end of things, we have the aforementioned ‘The Human Centipede 2‘. Perhaps a little more respectable is ‘The Dead‘, which our reviewer E. calls “one of the best zombie flicks we’ve seen in years.” Check out his review by following the link above.
Classics, Indies, and Whatever You Want to Classify Jerry Lewis
Universal continues its 100th Anniversary celebration this year with a new high-def edition of the 1930 Oscar winner ‘All Quiet on the Western Front‘. Indie label Twilight Time, meanwhile, has licensed the 1941 drama ‘Swamp Water‘ (the first film that famed French director Jean Renoir shot in America) and the Frank Sinatra/Rita Hayworth musical ‘Pal Joey‘ for limited edition releases.
The Criterion Collection gives us a mix of old and new with the 1964 Japanese adventure ‘Three Outlaw Samurai‘ and the 2010 indie cult drama ‘Tiny Furniture‘. For a film of such modest ambitions, the latter has proven to be an incredibly divisive, love-it-or-hate-it affair among viewers. It’s basically a typical disaffected youth/dysfunctional family drama made in a very pretentious arty style that, to be fair, reflects the very pretentious personalities of its characters. I’m divided in my own feelings about the movie (I was only half-watching it while doing other things), but Mrs. Z was paying more attention and liked it better than I did.
The small outlet Olive Films has decided that it’s time to inflict some Jerry Lewis on Blu-ray viewers, and has unleashed the actor’s (ahem) classic comedies ‘The Geisha Boy‘ and ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby‘ (and apparently ‘Boeing, Boeing’ is one of his too.). I am not a Lewis fan and have nothing to say about these except to note their existence. If you are a fan, by all means enjoy.
Wow, ‘The Perfect Weapon‘. That’s a title that I haven’t heard or given the faintest thought about since… frankly, since its original release in 1991. For a very brief moment in time, martial arts B-movie actor Jeff Speakman stood on the verge of becoming the next, umm, Steven Seagal, or maybe Jean-Claude Van Damme. (He had a role as “Mansion Security Man” in Van Damme’s ‘Lionheart’.) ‘The Perfect Weapon’ was intended to be Speakman’s mainstream breakthrough. Didn’t really happen, and the actor went on to do mostly direct-to-video work ever since (kind of like Seagal and Van Damme, to be honest). I have a hard time recommending something like this for a purchase, but if you ever find yourself in the mood for some late-’80s/early-’90s low budget, martial arts cheese, a rental might fit the bill.
Are you buying anything this week? Tell us in the Comments.
Tags: All Quiet on the Western Front, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Highlights, Criterion Collection, Documentary, Frank Sinatra, Human Centipede, Hunter S Thompson, Interrupters, Jeff Speakman, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Depp, Michael Shannon, Pal Joey, Rita Hayworth, Rum Diary, Take Shelter, The Dead, Tiny Furniture, Urbanized, Zombies