Perhaps due to a desire not to draw attention away from the Oscars, or perhaps simply due to a shortage of worthwhile product to release, the Hollywood studios have chosen to go light on notable new Blu-ray releases this week. However, at least a couple of acclaimed films and one cult comedy managed to slip through.
Aside from some controversy generated by the expected quarters, director Paul Thomas Anderson’s fictionalized account of a religious cult leader patterned after L. Ron Hubbard, called ‘The Master‘, failed to generate either the critical or fan enthusiasm that his last film, ‘There Will Be Blood‘, did. Early trailers practically demanded that the film be labeled another masterpiece. While that didn’t quite happen, the movie’s performances were highly praised, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, both of whom were nominated for Oscars. Even Joaquin Phoenix seems to have redeemed himself from the fiasco of his career burn-out a couple years ago. In a very rare move, Anderson shot the entire movie on 65mm film, so (if all goes well) it should make for quite a visual treat on Blu-ray.
One of the film festival sensations of last year, ‘Holy Motors‘ is a surreal fantasia from French director Leos Carax (‘Pola X’) in which a man (Denis Lavant) travels through Paris, adopting completely different character personas at each stop. Reviews called the movie bizarre, insane and possibly even brilliant. That sounds like something worth seeing to me.
Gerard Butler didn’t have such a great year in 2012. Both his rom-com ‘Playing for Keeps’ (in which he plays a soccer star) and his surfing drama ‘Chasing Mavericks‘ were big flops. At least the latter, which was co-directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted (Apted stepped in to complete the picture due to Hanson’s health issues), received some politely respectable notices from critics. This doesn’t seem like anything I’d rush out to buy, but the movie’s pedigree has me a little curious.
The Warner Archive, through which Warner Bros. has issued manufactured-on-demand DVDs of some of the studio’s limited-interest catalog titles for a few years now, finally stepped up to offer Blu-rays earlier this year. This week brings us a title that has grabbed my attention, the Coen brothers’ cult comedy ‘The Hudsucker Proxy‘. Unfairly maligned during its theatrical release back in 1994, the movie is a lot of silly fun.
The Criterion Collection delivers high-def editions of two more classics, the influential 1961 cinéma verité documentary ‘Chronicle of a Summer‘ and the Japanese period piece drama ‘Sansho the Bailiff‘.
Finally, Olive Films continues to roll out a bunch more old catalog titles licensed from major studios that can’t be bothered to do anything with them. Two that catch my eye this week are Jean Renoir’s ‘The Diary of a Chambermaid‘ and Anthony Mann’s film noir ‘Strangers in the Night‘.
I enjoy ‘The Hudsucker Proxy’ enough to own a copy. After that, I’m interested to rent ‘The Master’ and ‘Holy Motors’. Will you buy or rent anything this week?