A few of last year’s most acclaimed movies hit Blu-ray this week, but are any of them really the sort of thing you’ll run out to buy?
‘The Big Short‘ – If it weren’t for the perplexing adulation that ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ received, I’d call this the most unexpected of this year’s Best Picture shortlist. Who could have guessed that the man who made ‘Talladega Nights’ and countless other goofy Will Ferrell comedies would one day be an Oscar winning screenwriter and a Best Director nominee? Nevertheless, that’s just what Adam McKay did with his star-studded dramedy about the 2008 housing market financial crisis. I suppose the fact that anyone could make an entertaining movie about a topic like that shocked the hell out of everyone.
‘Brooklyn‘ – Saoirse Ronan scored her second Oscar nomination as the lead in a delicate period piece drama about an Irish immigrant torn between her lives in her old country and her new one. Scripted by novelist Nick Hornby (based on a book by someone else), the film also landed in the Best Picture mix, though never stood a real chance in that category. If that sort of thing matters to you.
‘Carol‘ – Having struggled to find his groove in anything else, director Todd Haynes returns to the 1950s melodrama genre that proved successful for him in ‘Far from Heaven’. Along similar lines as that film, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star as secret lesbians in the highly repressive era. Both actresses received Oscar nominations, as did the screenplay by Phyllis Nagy based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. Although the movie may not have made much money or actually won any gold statues, it managed to return Haynes to some relevance for a moment.
‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip‘ – If you’ve already tired of me harping on Oscar nominations, we’re safely out of awards territory here. How is it possible that this stupid franchise is already up to four movies? Reportedly, this is the worst one yet. As a parent, I will admit to watching a lot of questionable content with my kids, but we have to draw the line somewhere, people.
‘Sisters‘ – Everyone knew it was inevitable that BFFs Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would eventually have to star in a movie together. Too bad it couldn’t have been something better than this raunchy slapstick farce about a pair of moron siblings who throw one last house party when their parents put their childhood home up for sale. The material seems really beneath the both of them. [Reader HuskerGuy reminds me that Fey and Poehler also starred in 2008’s ‘Baby Mama’, which I had completely blanked from memory. How sad that the movies these talented ladies make together are so forgettable.]
‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine‘ – In case that bio-pic with Michael Fassbender (or that earlier bio-pic with Ashton Kutcher) didn’t fill your obsessive need to know everything about the megalomaniacal Apple founder, documentarian Alex Gibney tells the non-fiction version of his story with lots of footage of the actual man. This is approximately the 75th documentary that Gibney has directed in the past five years, so you know he put a lot of time into researching it.
‘Band of Robbers‘ – Mark Twain’s famous childhood heroes Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn get rebooted as adults in the modern day for a quirky crime comedy co-starring Supergirl herself (Melissa Benoist) as Becky Thatcher. Expect Redbox kiosks to be well-stocked with this one.
‘Love‘ – The Blu-ray edition of Gaspar Noé’s artsy 3D porno flick was apparently delayed a couple of times since I last announced its release back in January. I’m writing this post on Friday afternoon and Amazon currently says it’s scheduled to street on Tuesday the 15th. Let’s see if that holds through the weekend. [Update: As feared, it’s been delayed again, this time to April 19th.]
MGM released John Frankenheimer’s classic 1962 Cold War thriller ‘The Manchurian Candidate‘ as a very basic, no-frills Blu-ray back in 2011. The Criterion Collection hopes to improve on that with a feature-packed and freshly remastered reissue. Depending on your mood, this should make a good pairing with the existing Criterion editions of either Frankenheimer’s ‘Seconds‘ or the John le Carré thriller ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold‘.
The Cohen Film Archive somehow nabbed a Jean-Luc Godard title away from Criterion with the director’s 1964 infidelity drama ‘A Married Woman‘.
Sidney Poitier made cinema history as the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar with ‘Lilies of the Field‘, which is now available as a limited edition from Twilight Time. Other stars featured in the latest Twilight Time batch include Ingrid Bergman in the 1956 historical drama ‘Anastasia‘; Richard Burton in the sword-and-sandal epic ‘Alexander the Great‘; Paul Newman in ‘Exodus‘, Otto Preminger’s 1960 drama about the creation of the state of Israel (scripted by Dalton Trumbo); and John Hurt in the 1971 true crime thriller ‘10 Rillington Place‘.
Arrow’s latest cult title is the 1987 ninjasploitation revenge flick ‘Rage of Honor‘.
Among the week’s many guilty pleasure offerings (which also include a Jean-Claude Van Damme 5-pack and a bunch of ’80s sex comedies), Universal bestows upon us Olivia Newton-John’s legendary musical flop ‘Xanadu‘.
Good news for ‘Game of Thrones‘ fans who also happen to be Dolby Atmos listeners, the Blu-ray box set for the show’s fifth season will include Atmos right out of the gate, so there’s no need to wait around for a SteelBook reissue like the prior four seasons (unless you’re also a SteelBook fan).
As I suggested in the intro to this post, not a lot this week inspires me to part with any money right away. I’d like to see ‘Brooklyn’, ‘Carol’ and ‘The Big Short’, but I can wait for cable or Netflix for all of those. The closest thing to a must-buy title for me is the Criterion edition of ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, but even then my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that I happen to own the previous release. ‘Lilies of the Field’ is another wish list item for me.
What are you up to this week?