February is here, and now that we’re done with all that macho football stuff, the greeting card and chocolate candy industries would very much like to move us into Valentine’s season. To that end, Hollywood has also started rolling out the romance-themed movies on Blu-ray. That’s not all we have this week, of course, but the trend is pretty clear.
‘About Time‘ – This may not be the first movie to combine romance and time travel (‘Somewhere in Time’ and ‘Kate & Leopold’ spring to mind), but with Richard Curtis (‘Love Actually’, ‘Pirate Radio’) at the helm, it’s surely the one with the best soundtrack. Despite Rachel McAdams headlining, the film didn’t do much business at the box office. Reviews were mixed, but our Luke called it his favorite movie of last year.
‘Romeo and Juliet‘ – This latest retelling of the Shakespeare staple stars Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet and was scripted by ‘Downton Abbey’ creator Julian Fellowes. You’d think those elements could ensure at least a competent adaptation, but the critics who saw it (and pretty much no one other than critics saw the film) called it a massive botch job. What a waste.
‘Baggage Claim‘ – Paula Patton is an appealing actress. She deserves better material than a regressively sexist rom-com in which she plays a hot flight attendant who just can’t seem to find a good man to take care of her.
‘Escape Plan‘ – From romance to bromance, over-the-hill action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger finally team up together on screen (assuming you don’t count Arnold’s cameos in the ‘Expendables’ movies). Had they done this circa 1988, it probably would have been a big deal. In 2013, hardly anyone noticed, much less cared.
‘Dallas Buyers Club‘ – Back in the days of ‘Failure to Launch’ and ‘Sahara’, the notion of Matthew McConaughey ever getting an Oscar nomination seemed entirely ridiculous. The actor has had quite a career renaissance over the past couple of years, capped by this true-story drama about a homophobic straight man who contracted AIDS in the mid-1980s and formed a lucrative business by helping fellow victims get medications that the medical and insurance industries withheld from them. The film is also nominated in other categories, including Best Picture. Jared Leto is buzzed as a shoe-in for the Supporting Actor trophy, and McConaughey himself stands a good chance of winning Best Actor.
‘Cutie and the Boxer‘ – Another notable Oscar nominee is this documentary about a Japanese painter in New York and his wife, who decided to make a career for herself after 40 years of subjugating her own talent and potential as an artist to support her overbearing husband.
‘Free Birds‘ – A CG animated movie about turkeys who travel back in time to change the menu at the first Thanksgiving… Yes, this really exists. Ugh.
Francois Truffaut’s ‘Jules and Jim‘ is a French New Wave classic that never really connected for me. The Criterion Collection’s new Blu-ray will give me an opportunity to revisit it.
Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winner ‘Million Dollar Baby‘ was an early Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. The studio has seen fit to reissue it in a new 10th Anniversary Edition that recycles the same old (but solid) video transfer. Fortunately, the disc adds lossless audio (which the old copy lacked) and a handful of new supplements.
Also getting an anniversary edition (its 40th) is the Charles Bronson revenge thriller ‘Death Wish‘, just in case you haven’t caught this recently during its incessant airings on the AMC network. It’s kind of a piece of crap, but if you’re into trashy ’70s exploitation movies, this is a milestone of that genre. Steer clear of the increasingly awful sequels, though.
Moving forward a decade, Scream Factory brings us the ’80s cult horror flicks ‘Night of the Demons‘ and ‘Witchboard‘.
On the TV front, Starz offers up the British miniseries ‘The White Queen‘ (which I’ve heard next to nothing good about), and BBC rolls out the sixth season of ‘Doctor Who‘.
‘About Time’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ will go in my rental queue, while ‘Jules and Jim’ will get added to my wish list for Barnes & Noble’s next Criterion sale. How does this week look for you?