The summer movie season may be heating up at the theatrical box office, but things are a lot slower on home video. Unfortunately, the beginning of July doesn’t offer much in the way of blockbuster smashes on Blu-ray. Perhaps you might find a smaller title to catch your fancy, however.
In ‘The Fog of War’, his Oscar-winning interrogation of Robert McNamara, documentarian Errol Morris found the former Secretary of Defense surprisingly candid and reflective about the mistakes of the Vietnam War. For his follow-up, ‘The Unknown Known‘, Morris turned his lens toward more recent Sec-Def Donald Rumseld, and (not surprisingly at all) received a very different reaction. Morris’ films are always fascinating, and even if he doesn’t get anything out of Rumsfeld, that in itself may reveal a lot about his subject.
Universal has its finger on the Guilty Pleasure button this week with high-def upgrades for the cheertastic ‘Bring It On‘, the Schwarzenegger comedy ‘Kindergarten Cop‘, and the campy period piece ‘Cry-Baby‘. Despite the seemingly inspired pairing of director John Waters with a young Johnny Depp, the latter is not one of the cult filmmaker’s more successful efforts. The Schwarzenegger picture has serious tonal problems as it swings between moments of intense violence and kiddie hijinks (not to mention a totally implausible premise), but of course features the immortal “IT’S NOT A TUMAH!!” scene. ‘Bring It On’, however… that’s just gold.
Although most people may think of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ as the movie that spawned the Found-Footage horror subgenre, the format goes back at least as far as Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 Italian exploitation flick ‘Cannibal Holocaust‘, which was banned in numerous countries in its day for its (supposedly) gruesomely realistic gore. Distributor Grindhouse Releasing describes the film as an “uncompromising masterpiece of cinematic nihilism.” Huh. Apparently, that’s a really fancy way of saying “unpleasant, gross-out schlockfest.”
The closest thing to a classic this week is the Blake Edwards naval comedy ‘Operation Petticoat‘, which puts Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in charge of a pink submarine. Before you scoff, this was one of the biggest hits in Cary Grant’s career and was even nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
I caught a few episodes of the Syfy network’s ‘Helix‘ during its first season. Although the show (about a zombie-like outbreak at a top-secret, high-tech research lab in the arctic circle) is well put-together and reasonably suspenseful, I found it just a little too derivative of ‘Resident Evil’, among other things, to hold my interest while I had other shows clogging up my DVR. I can see this being a good candidate for a marathon viewing of the season, though.
Notable in animation is the second volume of the ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ spin-off ‘The Legend of Korra‘. I’ve never seen either of these shows, but I’m told that I should give them a try.
‘The Unknown Known’ looks like a very worthy rental, but beyond that, I don’t think I’ll actually buy anything this week. For as much as I enjoy ‘Bring It On’, that’s the sort of movie that I’ll stop to watch if I come across it on TV. I don’t think I need to own it. (Also, as a Universal catalog title, I have concerns about likely video transfer issues.) ‘Operation Petticoat’ also interests me, but again, not enough to purchase right now.
How about you? Do you find something compelling enough to spend some money on?