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Blu-ray Highlights for November 13th, 2012 – The Trick Is Not Minding That It Hurts

This is another big, expensive week on the Blu-ray front, featuring some huge box sets, including one of the most monumental movies of all time. My wallet is begging me for mercy. How’s yours doing this year?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (11/13/12)?

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An Epic of Epic Epicness

Promised since practically the birth of the Blu-ray format, Sony Pictures put plans to release David Lean’s masterpiece ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ on hold until the studio could really do it right with a meticulous restoration. The results of that effort are finally available now in a 50th Anniversary Edition, which can be purchased as either a basic 2-disc package or an elaborate box set with a further disc of extras, a soundtrack CD and all sorts of fancy swag. The 2-disc version was released in Europe a couple months ago, and by all accounts, it’s a stunning achievement. ‘Lawrence’ is a special movie, and I need to go all out for the box set on this one.

Maybe not quite as grandiose or, well, perfect a film as ‘Lawrence’, Warner Bros. gives us a 25th Anniversary Edition of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Empire of the Sun‘. I haven’t seen this in years. I recall thinking that it was one of the director’s most underrated movies. I look forward to revisiting it to see if those feelings hold up.

New Releases

While Pixar still hasn’t quite bounced back from the fiasco that was ‘Cars 2′, the studio’s latest effort, the Scottish fairy tale ‘Brave‘, was received at least somewhat better – in as much as that most viewers only called it “disappointing,” rather than “atrocious.” Even so, the once infallible Pixar must be feeling pretty humbled at this point. Personally, I couldn’t muster enough interest to see this in the theater, but I’ll check it out on Blu-ray, for the 3D if nothing else.

Also coming up short this year was Oliver Stone, whose attempt to rekindle some of the old ‘Natural Born Killers’ madness with the thriller ‘Savages‘ was greeted with lousy reviews and even worse box office. Will Stone ever get his mojo back?

I don’t understand what Fox’s marketing department was thinking with ‘The Watch‘. The movie has a similar premise to last year’s British action-comedy ‘Attack the Block‘, in which aliens attempt to invade a small neighborhood, forcing the residents to band together and fight them off. However, you wouldn’t know that at all from the trailers and ads, which only highlighted the goofy Neighborhood Watch antics and made no mention of aliens. Yet the movie was released just a few months after the real-life Trayvon Martin tragedy. You’d think the studio would want to play up the sci-fi angle and distance the film from Neighborhood Watches, not the opposite. Color me perplexed. Regardless, everyone who saw the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Jonah Hill comedy said that it was terrible anyway.

From the indie film scene, Julie Delpy once again writes and directs ‘2 Days in New York‘, a sequel to her 2007 comedy ’2 Days in Paris’. In this one, her character has dumped Adam Goldberg and taken up with Chris Rock. Is that an upgrade? I’m not sure. I thought that the first movie was pretty funny and charming, so this might merit a rental.

We also have the acclaimed documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles‘. Aaron had good things to say about this film when it played at Sundance.

Catalog Titles

One of the smartest “dumb” movies ever made, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure‘ is still Keanu Reeves’ one shining moment as an actor. With talk of a much-belated third movie in the works, MGM brings the original to Blu-ray this week. No sign of ‘Bogus Journey’ yet, though.

In more highbrow developments, the Criterion Collection offers up Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Trilogy of Life‘ and Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Weekend‘. These are two filmmakers that I have very mixed feelings about, though I have admittedly not seen any of these specific movies.

Warner has made the interesting decision to release both versions of ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice‘, both the original 1946 classic noir and its 1981 remake, side-by-side. Despite the reunion of Jack Nicholson with his ‘Five Easy Pieces’ director Bob Rafelson, the remake was a critical and box office dud in its day, but has developed a following of appreciative fans.

Also from Warner comes another re-release of ‘Watchmen‘, this time in a fancy box set that contains all three versions of the movie (theatrical cut, Director’s Cut, and Ultimate Cut), in case you missed any of those the first time around.

To tie in with ‘Brave’, Disney has a second volume of ‘Pixar Short Films‘. Even though most (all?) of these shorts are also available separately as bonus features on various Pixar Blu-rays, I find it useful to bundle them together into collections like this.

Kino tries to piggyback on some of the publicity for Steven Spielberg’s new movie ‘Lincoln’ with a release of D.W. Griffith’s 1930 bio-pic ‘Abraham Lincoln‘, which stars Walter Huston in the title role.

HBO packs even more lazy stereotypes and sitcom clichés into a 10th Anniversary Edition of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘. Your mother-in-law will love it when you give her this for Christmas.

Finally, Fox digs up The Duke with new high-def editions of ‘The Big Trail‘ and ‘The Barbarian and the Geisha‘.

Television

It’s a big week in TV land too. Warner has a Complete Series box set with all ten seasons of ‘Friends‘, and Image does likewise with all five seasons of ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show‘. I imagine that it was a massive effort to remaster both shows into high definition.

Meanwhile, BBC unveils the latest season (or half-season) of ‘Doctor Who‘ and FUNimation rolls out the second season of ‘Lost Girl‘.

‘Lawrence’ is a definitive must-buy for me. I have interest in several other titles, but finances insist that I prioritize. Where will your dollars go this week?

6 comments

  1. Drew

    I’ve had ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Empire of the Sun’ for quite a while. Therefore, only ‘Brave – 3D’ and ‘The Trilogy of Life’ are coming home, this week. I pre-ordered both.

  2. William Henley

    I think I am most excited about Bill & Ted. Been wanting to see this in HD for a while – will probably stick it in tonight – just got the text from Amazon that it was delivered.

    Brave 3D is also coming in today.

    Lawrence of Arabia is a future buy for me. I like the movie, but it’s not a “must-own”, but I want the collectors edition for display. So I will wait for the Amazon Lightning Deal on this.

    The David Selznick collection sounds interesting.

    Doctor Who I will probably catch on Netflix. I am almost caught up with Doctor Who, I think I am almost done with the sixth season.

    As much as I want Dick Van Dyke, I cannot justify paying $300 for any set. Not all at once. I hope they will break it up into seasons, or better yet, the HD versions will be available on Netflix. I just watched the first two seasons of I Love Lucy in HD on Amazon – man, did it look amazing!

    • William Henley

      I am looking for under $40. If Amazon doesn’t have it in the lightning deals over the next week or so, they will have it in a couple of months for that price. I will wait. Like I said, as much as I like the movie, its not a must-have-day-1 title for me. If it was, i would have preordered the two-disc set a few months back from amazon.co.uk. Actually, I did have it preordered, but canceled because I wanted teh box set. So yeah, just hold on a couple of months, and I will get a great deal out of it.