After a busy couple of weeks, the Blu-ray release train slows down considerably this week. The volume of titles being issued on the format is smaller, and the number of interesting discs worth buying is smaller still. Even so, let’s see if we can find a worthwhile thing or two on the slate, shall we?
Here’s what we have to deal with:
- ‘(untitled)‘ (Screen Media Films)
- ‘American Beauty‘ (DreamWorks)
- ‘Being Human: Season Two‘ (BBC)
- ‘Charade‘ (Criterion)
- ‘Delicatessen‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘The Experiment (2010)‘ (Sony)
- ‘Human Target: The Complete First Season‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Modern Family: The Complete First Season‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘The Peacemaker (1997)‘ (Paramount)
- ‘Robin Hood: Director’s Cut (2010)‘ (Universal)
- ‘The Secret in Their Eyes‘ (Sony)
- ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand – The Complete First Season‘ (Starz/Anchor Bay)
- ‘Stomp the Yard: Homecoming‘ (Sony)
- ‘The Third Man (StudioCanal)‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue‘ (Disney/Buena Vista)
- ‘Triple Dog‘ (Well Go USA)
- ‘Vigilante‘ (Blue Underground)
The only big day-and-date title this week is ‘Robin Hood‘, which was a pretty significant box office disappointment for both director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe this summer. A while back, I posted about this film’s history of radical concept changes from original script to final product. In its favor, the Blu-ray contains a new Director’s Cut of the movie – and Ridley Scott has a pretty good track record with Director’s Cuts that actually improve upon flawed theatrical releases (‘Kingdom of Heaven‘ especially). If he can work similar magic here, this might be pretty interesting after all.
And don’t forget to enter our contest to win your own free copy of ‘Robin Hood’. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Everybody loves free stuff.
Fortunately, there are a few worthy catalog titles on deck this week. I haven’t seen ‘American Beauty‘ since its theatrical release in 1999. I remember liking it, but not enough to put it in my Top 10 list for that year. I haven’t given it much thought since. This is one of those Oscar winners that suffered a notable backlash after its award win. This might be a good time to revisit it to see if it was really deserving of the acclaim, or just overrated.
Definitely deserving of its acclaim is the Carol Reed classic ‘The Third Man‘, starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles. The film was already released on Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection back in 2008. Unfortunately, that disc went out of print when rights-holder Studio Canal withdrew Criterion’s license. Now, Studio Canal has reissued its own Blu-ray edition (via distributor Lionsgate in the U.S.). Reports are that the Criterion disc was superior, which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest given Studio Canal’s spotty track record. I’m glad that I bought that Criterion edition when it came out.
Criterion strikes back with its release of another classic, Stanley Donen’s playful espionage fantasy ‘Charade‘. This movie may not have quite the import or weight of something like ‘The Third Man’, but it’s a lot of frothy fun. Have movie stars ever been quite as charming as Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn? Putting them together in a film is a guaranteed recipe for success.
A different sort of classic entirely is the quirky post-apocalyptic cannibalism comedy ‘Delicatessen‘. If the phrase “quirky post-apocalyptic cannibalism comedy” hasn’t already sold you on this, allow me to point out that it was the debut feature of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of ‘Amélie’. Does that give you a better sense of it? This is another Studio Canal/Lionsgate disc, so I’m crossing my fingers that the Blu-ray turns out all right.
On the TV front, we have three new box sets, one of which is actually worth buying. ‘Modern Family‘ has proven to be a pretty great revitalization of the traditional family sitcom. If you don’t believe me, take the Emmy voters’ word for it.
Of considerably less interest is ‘Human Target‘, which I am frankly astounded to learn was renewed for a second season. The pilot episode reminded me of those ultra-cheesy “Action Pack” shows that used to run in syndication in the ’80s and ’90s, and not in a good way. One episode was enough for me. Your mileage may vary.
I don’t get the Starz network, and haven’t ever seen an episode of ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand‘. From what I understand, it plays like an awkward cross between ‘Rome‘ (good) and ‘300‘ (bad), with more leaning toward the latter. On the other hand, ‘Xena’ star Lucy Lawless is said to strut around naked in it a lot, so it may be worth checking out after all.