Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. Between the new Oscar nominee, the latest Pixar epic, some cult horror flicks and a handful of genuine movie classics, this is a pretty busy week for new Blu-ray releases. Let’s see if we can shine a light on some titles of interest.
‘The Good Dinosaur‘ – Pixar’s second theatrical feature of 2015 was also its first outright box office disappointment. Delayed and reworked over the course of several years, the final product hardly looks like Pixar at all. It’s virtually indistinguishable from a second-tier DreamWorks production. Set in an alternate history where dinosaurs never went extinct and lived side-by-side with cavemen, if you told me this was ‘The Croods 2’, I would never question it.
‘Spotlight‘ – The story of the Boston newspaper reporters who brought the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal to light could have been made into a terribly self-important Issue movie with a capital “I.” In fact, it might have been more likely to win some of the Oscars it’s currently nominated for if it had. Instead, director Tom McCarthy (‘The Visitor‘, ‘Win Win‘) dialed down the hysterics and delivered a low-key character drama about a group of dedicated men and women who worked diligently and patiently not just to break the story before anyone else could, but to do it the right way.
‘Secret in Their Eyes‘ – The 2009 Argentinean movie of the same title won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, yet not even Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor could convince anyone to see the American remake. The trailers looked bland and forgettable, and most critics’ reviews were underwhelmed.
‘Krampus‘ – Of 2015’s two horror comedies about the demented German anti-Santa, this is the one with Adam Scott and Toni Collette, not the anthology pic with William Shatner. Movies that are produced with the specific intention of trying to be cult classics often fail miserably at the task, but this one did unexpectedly decent business and had strong word-of-mouth for what it is. [Looks like ‘Krampus’ has been delayed until April, sorry.]
‘My All-American‘ – Aaron Eckhart plays a football coach in an inspirational sports melodrama from the writer of ‘Hoosiers’ and ‘Rudy’. That may sound more exciting to fans of those earlier movies than it does to me.
‘Entertainment‘ – No doubt a disciple of Andy Kaufman, confrontational comedian Gregg Turkington commits fully to the persona of “Neil Hamburger,” the world’s worst stand-up comic, on stage. Now he brings the character to the movies with an uncomfortable dark comedy about the seedy underbelly of the show business world. Read Phil’s theatrical review for more.
‘Extraction‘ – Oh Bruce Willis, is there no depth you won’t sink to for an easy paycheck? Playing second fiddle to Kellan Lutz in a glorified cameo just so the studio can plaster your face on the cover of his generic direct-to-video action flick is pretty low, even for the guy who sleepwalked through the last ‘Die Hard, ‘RED’ and ‘G.I. Joe’ sequels.
Criterion Collection, you’re trying to seduce me. With that newly remastered and feature-packed edition of Mike Nichols’ dysfunctional youth classic ‘The Graduate‘, I have to admit that you’ve succeeded.
Criterion’s second release this week is ‘I Knew Her Well‘, a 1965 Italian drama about a naïve country girl who moves to the big city of Rome hoping to become an actress, the reality of which isn’t as glamorous as she’d dreamed.
The Warner Archive celebrates the legendary pairing of Bogie and Bacall with ‘The Big Sleep‘ and ‘Key Largo‘, two of the four movies they appeared in together.
Kino unearths a couple of Fritz Lang’s lesser-known early movies: the 1929 sci-fi opus ‘Woman in the Moon‘ and the 1930 espionage thriller ‘Spies‘. After that, Kino has a lovely day out with Eric Rohmer’s 1983 relationship drama ‘Pauline at the Beach‘.
Aficionados of cult horror have a pretty good selection this week, including Wes Craven’s ‘The Serpent and the Rainbow‘ from Scream Factory, Dario Argento’s ‘Tenebrae‘ from Synapse, Bob Clark’s ‘Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things‘ from VCI, and the exploitation spoof ‘Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death‘ from Full Moon.
TV options this week include the second season of FX’s ‘Fargo‘, a complete series collection of Syfy’s ‘Warehouse 13‘, BBC’s latest ‘Doctor Who‘ Christmas special, and Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 ‘Jesus of Nazareth‘ miniseries.
The two must-own titles for me this week are ‘The Graduate’ and ‘The Big Sleep’. Although I’m not particularly excited about it, the Pixar completist in me is compelled to buy the UK SteelBook edition of ‘The Good Dinosaur’ as well.
Meanwhile, ‘Key Largo’, ‘Woman in the Moon’ and ‘Spies’ will go on my wish list for the future. I’m also curious about ‘Tenebrae’, though I’ve never been much of a Dario Argento fan.
What do your plans look like this week?