Fifty Shades Darker

Blu-ray Highlights: Week of May 7th, 2017 – Throwing Shade

The Blu-ray scene looks awfully dark this week. The release calendar is kind of slim and the biggest title of the week is a sequel nobody wanted. If you’re hoping to find something worth buying, you’ll have to dig a little. Let’s see what we can find.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (5/9/17)?

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New Releases (Blu-ray)

Fifty Shades Darker‘ – The original ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the sort of improbable cultural phenomenon that could never be recreated. Most of the people who paid to see it did so ironically, or were just curious to find out what all the fuss was about. Did anyone actually like the movie or care about its characters? I can’t imagine. Just about the only merit in its favor was that the producers were wise to let a woman direct it. With a huge box office gross, naturally a sequel had to follow. And of course, the woman got canned in order to put a man in charge this time. Sadly, that man was James Foley, who once made the outstanding ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ but is now reduced to doing softcore ‘Twilight’ fan fiction. His big idea was to turn the follow-up into a ‘Fatal Attraction’-style thriller. Reviews were brutal (as was to be expected), and the movie only grossed about 2/3 as much as the original. However, with a modest $55 million budget, it still turned a comfortable profit and we may yet see a conclusion to this epic trilogy. On disc, Universal is lavishing Part 2 with a Blu-ray and a UHD. Best Buy will carry a SteelBook for the latterformer.

Things to Come‘ – In her second acclaimed performance of 2016 (after ‘Elle’), Isabelle Huppert plays an aging philosophy professor forced to reinvent her life when her husband of 25 years announces that he’s had enough and is leaving her for his mistress. The French drama from director Mia Hansen-Løve scored very enthusiastic reviews from critics.

VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media‘ – The title of this documentary produced by Troma Films sounds like it’ll be right up the alley of most of our site’s readership. The film details the detrimental effect that the death of the neighborhood video store has had on indie filmmaking.

UHD

Hoping to squeeze a little more out of it, Universal is giving a full court press to the ‘Fifty Shades’ franchise. Not only will ‘Fifty Shades Darker‘ get a 4k Ultra HD edition, so will the original ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘, as well as a double-feature set that includes both movies.

Catalog Titles

Michael Mann is the type of filmmaker who never stops tinkering with his movies. Every time he watches one, he makes more changes to it. Even the first Blu-ray edition of his crime epic masterpiece ‘Heat‘ removed a couple lines of dialogue from the original theatrical version. Now, Mann has given the film another pass at the editing table for a so-called “Director’s Definitive Edition.” Exactly what’s different this time, I’m not yet sure. The biggest appeal of the disc is likely the new video transfer from a 4k remaster.

Criterion’s latest offering is Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles‘. If you think that title is long-winded, wait until you see the movie’s nearly three-and-a-half hour runtime. The 1975 drama follows three days in the life of a widowed housewife (Delphine Seyrig), apparently playing out many of her mundane daily activities in nearly real-time. From what I gather, this is done with purpose and builds toward something meaningful. Nevertheless, it may take some patience to get there.

I could have sworn that Lawrence Kasdan’s bittersweet, lovely adaptation of ‘The Accidental Tourist‘ was previously released on Blu-ray, but apparently the new disc from the Warner Archive marks its first appearance on the format. William Hurt plays a travel writer left in an emotional vacuum after the death of his son, and Geena Davis (deservedly) won an Oscar for her supporting role as the quirky woman who helps bring some humanity back to his life.

From there, the Warner Archive moves on to ‘The Loved One‘, Tony Richardson’s madcap 1965 satire of the funeral industry.

You’ll never make the mistake of wearing white after Labor Day again when you see John Water’s delightful black comedy ‘Serial Mom‘, in which Kathleen Turner plays a homicidal housewife who takes such fashion etiquette deadly seriously. The movie gets a well-deserved Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory.

Perhaps hoping to rehabilitate the movie’s image, or perhaps simply using the recent ‘Bates Motel’ series finale as a convenient excuse to dump a related title on the market, Scream Factory’s other release this week is Gus Van Sant’s misbegotten 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho‘. I still maintain that the movie is a fascinating artistic thought experiment. If you take a movie widely regarded as a masterpiece, and copy it nearly shot-for-shot as closely as possible, would the copy also be a masterpiece? Unfortunately, the answer is an emphatic no. It’s pretty awful.

Arrow Video adds to its growing catalog of horror schlock with Frank Henenlotter’s 1988 ‘Brain Damage‘.

Television

TV box sets this week include the first season of HBO’s ‘Divorce‘ and the fourth season of Netflix’s ‘Orange Is the New Black‘.

My $.02

I preordered the Director’s Edition of ‘Heat’ when I saw Amazon’s $7.88 asking price. That’s almost impossible to pass up. I’d also like to add ‘The Accidental Tourist’ and ‘Serial Mom’ to my collection. ‘VHS Massacre’ sounds like a worthy rental.

Do you plan to spend your week with Christian and Anastasia, or did you have something different in mind?

24 comments

  1. Chris B

    Just “Heat” for me this week, although that Troma documentary sounds rather interesting so I’ll keep an eye out for it. As far as what’s different about the new “Heat” Release? It’s a 4K remaster so detail in the image is better and it seems like they’ve altered the colour-timing to make the movie less stylized and toned down the bluish hues. I hope they didn’t go overboard though as that’s always been the movie’s signature look. In the screenshots I’ve seen though, everything looks a lot warmer this time around. Also, there’s a new audio mix which I’m looking forward to hearing because the original 2009 Blu-Ray lacked a lot of “oomph” to use a technical term. The cut of the film is the same apparrently, so Verona’s “demetrius” line and Hanna’s “Ferocious aren’t I?” both remain excised. I’m not sure about the special features at the moment, but at such a low asking price I feel like the release is worth checking out for even a casual fan of the movie. Really looking forward to it!

  2. photogdave

    If you’re a cat lover then A Street Cat Named Bob is a must-watch. Even if you’re not, it’s still a pretty engaging movie. The real-life cat from the story plays himself. Evidently no other cat actor was up to Bob’s standard.

  3. Bryan

    The most important release to me on Blu-Ray in the past couple of years didn’t even make your list. “Real Genius” finally comes to Blu-Ray this week (mine is out for delivery today from Amazon). Technically not a wide release (I believe it’s part of Sony’s archival collection), but it’s still on the market. While not a full-fledged special edition, it does have a commentary track. I’ve been waiting for this film on blu-ray since the inception of the format!!!

  4. Csm101

    Heat remastered. Can’t pass that up for 7.88. I’m also hoping for a little more oomph in the new audio track and look forward to comparing the pq of this new version with my old disc. I don’t hate the Psycho remake, although it’s been several years since I’ve last seen it. That along with Heat, should arrive at my mailbox this week. Brain Damage is of high interest and so is Serial Mom. My wife really enjoyed the Fifty Shades sequel so I’m debating picking it up as a Mother’s Day present. Maybe a nice dinner instead? Last week I went to Walmart and picked up The Autopsy of Jane Doe and while I was there, they had American Mummy already for sale. Since it was a 3D release, I picked it up. Decent 3D for a low budget crapfest. I wasn’t sure what the Troma release was, but knowing its a documentary about video rental stores has piqued my interest. I love the first two seasons of Orange Is the New Black, but haven’t caught up with the last two. Eventually I will.

  5. Wow, a Belgian movie on a Criterion disc? What an honor. Chantal Akerman was one of our most critically beloved directors, but not a lot of people have seen her work (me included) or would even know her name. Sadly, very few Belgian female director have had domestic box office success.

  6. Deaditelord

    I’m not sure if I’m going to buy Heat this week or not. While the price is fantastic, I’m wondering if a UHD release might be on the horizon now that the film has been remastered to 4k. I’m trying to avoid double-dipping on current releases so I may wait and see if something gets announced. Outside of that, Brain Damage is a likely buy once it goes on sale. I’ll also check out VHS Massacre once it’s available to rent/stream as it sounds like it a could be an interesting documentary.

  7. Darkmonk

    -“And of course, the woman got canned in order to put a man in charge this time.”
    Sam Taylor-Johnson LEFT the franchise and the studio had to find a new director.
    She was NOT ousted in favor of a man.
    This is not an SJW conspiracy.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I’m going to give you one warning, because you’ve done this before and I have no patience for it. Any comment made on this blog that uses the term “SJW” or some variation thereof will automatically be deleted. This isn’t Breitbart. You can take that hatemongering bullshit elsewhere.

      If you feel that you have a valid point to make, find a less assholish way to say it. If you can’t manage that, you will not be welcome here any longer.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Regarding Sam Taylor-Johnson leaving the franchise, do you honestly expect us to believe that there were literally no other women in the entirety of the worldwide filmmaking community who could have replaced her, rather than a man whose last four features were all box office flops?

      • DalekFlay

        You still say “canned in order to put a man in charge” with no evidence that was the case. Seems pretty presumptive to try and make a political point.

  8. EM

    I imagine one could get to 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles within the movie’s run time from anywhere in Belgium. For some reason I further imagine that it would take less patience to get there than to the “there” Josh mentions.

    • Oh, how right you are. You can drive from the north to the south of Belgium in under four hours. And since Brussels is in the middle, it will never take you more than two hours (unless there’s a traffic jam). Super funny comment, EM!

  9. Deaditelord

    For those who don’t mind importing from the UK, I found out that the original Fright Night was recently released there and is available for about $20. According to the review I read from thedigitalbits, the blu-ray is region-free and uses Twilight Time’s recent 4k remaster, but with a sight adjustment to contrast that the reviewer found to be a minor improvement over the Twilight Time release. Unfortunately, not all the extras made it to this version as there is no isolated audio track or commentaries. However, considering what the Twilight Time blu-ray goes for online, I snapped this up immediately. I’m finally going to own a decent version of Fright Night on blu-ray!

  10. Josh Zyber
    Author

    It’s been brought to my attention that the Fifty Shades Darker SteelBook sold at Best Buy is Blu-ray only, not UHD. I’ve made an edit to the poll in this post, and have asked someone else to correct the listing on our site’s release calendar.

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