Blu-ray Highlights for 4/24/12 – All Engines, Full Stop

Pardon the pun (given one of the titles being offered), but the Blu-ray release schedule comes to a crashing halt this week. Even in comparison to recent slow weeks, there’s not much today that catches my attention. Perhaps you’ll feel differently?

Here’s the release slate:


I’ll start with a look at the TV front, since that’s where one of the week’s biggest titles (again, pardon the pun) resides.

In case you hadn’t noticed, 2012 is the year of the Titanic. At least, it’s the second year of the Titanic. In addition to the theatrical re-release of James Cameron’s blockbuster and countless documentary specials about the 100th anniversary of the famous disaster, we also have the new four-part epic miniseries event written by ‘Downton Abbey’ scribe Julian Fellowes. Unoriginally titled simply ‘Titanic‘, the miniseries was greeted by very mixed reviews and word-of-mouth, even from Fellowes’ fans. Common complaints claim that the script lacks focus and emotional heft, and that Fellowes fails to bring any new insight to the story.

If you just can’t get enough Titanic in your life, another big-budget miniseries (this one 12 parts!) called ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’ will premiere in the fall. Even though I haven’t paid much mind to any of these, I already feel Titanic’ed out. Your mileage may vary.

Of more interest to me is the Blu-ray release of the 1979 miniseries adaptation of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘, which features a legendary performance from Alec Guiness as John Le Carre’s master spy George Smiley. This should make a nice compliment to last year’s theatrical adaptation with Gary Oldman.

Also available are the fourth season of Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot‘ (episodes dating from 1992) and the HBO movie ‘Cinema Verite‘. I made it through about five minutes of the latter before losing interest. Perhaps that’s not fair, but the subject matter did nothing for me.

New Releases

Of the recent theatrical releases making their way to video, the highest-profile of them would (sadly) have to be ‘Contraband‘, the latest generic actioner starring Mark Wahlberg. Since this is destined to air on TBS or TNT in a few months, I don’t see much point in buying a copy. But that’s just me.

The misery-porn indie drama ‘Pariah‘ wanted to be the next ‘Precious’, but failed to capture the same sort of attention without the benefit of Oprah’s incessant hype machine. The twist with this one is that the oppressed urban teenage girl is a lesbian, rather than obese or molested. I didn’t think much of ‘Precious’, and it’s probably not fair of me to carry over those feelings to a technically unrelated film that I haven’t seen, but so it goes. My interest in this one is infinitesimal.

Ti West, whose retro ’80s-style horror film ‘The House of the Devil‘ built a fair amount of buzz a few years ago, returns with the haunted motel tale ‘The Innkeepers‘. Like his last movie, this one didn’t do much box office business, but may shape up into a cult item over time. Its chances for Blu-ray sales success, however, may be hampered by the fact that it’s been available on various VOD platforms for several months already.

Speaking of cult horror, this week also sees the return of Robin Hardy, director of ‘The Wicker Man’ (the 1973 original, not the laughable Nicolas Cage remake), with ‘The Wicker Tree‘. Unfortunately, Aaron says in his Blu-ray review that this belated sequel is an idiotic mess, without even the camp appeal of Nicolas Cage in a bear suit punching women.

Catalog Titles

Bernardo Bertolucci’s historical epic ‘1900‘, which traces the lives of two men (Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu) during the turbulent rise of Fascism in early 20th Century Italy, is one of those movies that I keep meaning to watch, but never seem to get there. Its length (four hours in the shortened American cut!) probably has a lot to do with that. I even went to the effort of importing a foreign DVD edition that has collected dust on my shelf ever since. According to the specs on Amazon, the Blu-ray from Olive Films is the 315-minute director’s cut. Yes, that’s just shy of five and a half hours! It’s daunting to even think about that. This is the sort of thing that needs to be broken up like a miniseries over a few nights.

Also on tap: Warner offers up a 45th Anniversary Edition Digibook of the musical ‘Camelot‘, which I might be more interested in if ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ hadn’t ruined Arthurian myth for me forever. Meanwhile, Criterion gives us a 1963 Italian union-labor drama ‘The Organizer‘, of which I know nothing except that it stars the incomparable Marcello Mastroianni.

Do you see anything worth buying today? Tell us in the Comments.



    Just received and enjoyed my under $10 buck Digibook sale copy of THE USUAL SUSPECTS….AND loved it (AGAIN) OF COURSE, I DIDN’T pay $39.95 or even $19.95 but I WOULD have flipped a $20 for it. What was the big deal about it being so sorry?

  2. William Henley

    Yeah, I just purchased The Universe Megaseries from Amazon. I got plenty to watch for a while, because it looks like the next few weeks are going to be slow. Might finally get caught up on my unopened-disc queue.

  3. EM

    Nothing here for me. I liked House of the Devil and would like to give The Innkeepers a rental sometime.

    On the DVD side, I’m quite excited by the release of the second, final season of Car 54, Where Are You?—oo, oo!!