February ends with a touch of magic as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme materializes on Blu-ray this week. Also available: last night’s Best Picture winner and a beloved art film trilogy.
‘Doctor Strange‘ – I have very mixed feelings about the way Marvel has introduced magic and mysticism into the current phase of its Cinematic Universe. The studio barrels full-tilt in that direction with its latest blockbuster, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a brilliant surgeon who becomes a wizard. The movie was pretty well received by fans, though many found its standard-issue comic book origin story plot less interesting than its visually elaborate and inventive magic sequences. The Blu-ray is available in 2D or 3D, either of which can be gotten in SteelBook packaging at Best Buy. Sadly, Disney still does not support Ultra HD.
‘Moonlight‘ – I’m writing this post in advance of the Oscar ceremony, but my guess is that Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed drama about a boy growing up gay and black in Miami was probably passed over for Best Picture. [Update: Wow, was I wrong!] Nonetheless, the film received rapturous praise from critics.
‘Allied‘ – Robert Zemeckis’ WWII romantic thriller starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard was clearly designed as a throwback to the glossy Hollywood studio pictures of yore – most specifically, to ‘Casablanca’. Unfortunately, critics were mixed on it and audiences had no interest. The movie flopped pretty badly at the box office. The trailers looked just a little too artificial – the stars too pretty and perfect, the costumes too immaculately clean, and the sets (those not obviously digital) too stagey – all traits that may prove even more distracting in 4k UHD.
‘Rules Don’t Apply‘ – Warren Beatty hadn’t directed a movie since 1998’s ‘Bulworth’ and hadn’t even acted in one since 2001’s ‘Town & Country’. He returned in both capacities with a period piece romantic drama about a young actress (Lily Collins) and a chauffeur (Alden Ehrenreich) who fall in love while both employed by neurotic billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty). By most accounts, Beatty should have stayed in retirement. Reviews were largely unfavorable and the film was box office poison.
‘Shut In‘ – I didn’t realize that Naomi Watts’ career was in such bad shape that she had to star in a no-budget horror flick about a child psychologist tormented by a ghost while trapped in her home during a winter storm. Surely, the actress deserves better than this?
Criterion continues its relationship with director Richard Linkater (whose ‘Slacker’, ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Boyhood’ are already in the Collection) by finally tackling his masterwork, ‘The Before Trilogy‘ – comprised of the delightful walking-and-talking romantic dramas ‘Before Sunrise’, ‘Before Sunset’ and ‘Before Midnight’. This marks the first appearance of ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’ on Blu-ray. It’s also the first time all three movies have been bundled into one package, which entailed wrangling the rights from both Warner Bros. and Sony. I just wish the box art didn’t look like someone blew their nose into a salmon-colored hanky. (Seriously, what’s that about? It’s hideous.) The interior art on the individual cases for each movie is somehow even worse.
The Warner Archive remembers a time ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth‘, a sort of loose follow-up to ‘One Million Years B.C.’ produced by Hammer Films.
Kino goes ‘A*P*E‘ for the latest classic B-movie restoration from the 3-D Film Archive.
If you grew up in the VHS era, there’s a very good chance that the schlocky 1987 horror flick ‘The Gate‘ got a lot of play in your VCR. Lionsgate adds this gem to its Vestron Collector’s Series.
Meanwhile, Scream Factory resurrects ‘Deadtime Stories‘, a 1986 horror anthology film in the vein of ‘Creepshow’ or ‘Cat’s Eye’. Years ago, the director of this movie emailed me asking for help locating a copy of it on Laserdisc. I wonder if he ever found one?
I have both the ‘Doctor Strange’ SteelBook and the ‘Before Trilogy’ on preorder. (I was very fortunate to get in on Amazon’s short-lived pricing error for the latter.) I’ll also try to find time to rent ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Allied’.
Where will your money go this week?