Exciting news! New on Blu-ray this week is the Oscar winner for Best Pict… oh wait, I’m sorry. Forget I said that. Geez, how embarrassing.
Before I start, I just want to note that this week brings an extremely packed Blu-ray release slate, mostly comprised of movies that I know little to nothing about. All I can do in my write-up is focus on the titles that stand out to me. Inevitably, I may overlook something of great interest to you, the reader. For example, Olive Films is bingeing on Polish exploitation auteur Walerian Borowczyk this week, and I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the guy. If I fail to mention something that you feel deserves attention, please tell us about it in the Comments section.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘La La Land‘ – If nothing else, Damien Chazelle’s big, glossy musical throwback has secured a place in history for the shortest ever reign as a Best Picture Oscar winner. Two minutes is going to be a tough record to beat. Of all the year’s nominees, this is the only one I saw in a theater, and I’ll be honest that I went in with a great deal of skepticism. I don’t generally care for musicals, I’m sick of fan-service movies that constantly quote older movies, and I worried that the film had simply been overhyped. The opening song-and-dance number didn’t do a lot for me and seemed to start on the wrong foot. Surprisingly, however, after that point I enjoyed it a lot. I also found the mini controversy about it being a “White Savior” narrative to be overblown; I think the movie already addresses that on its own. Should it have won Best Picture? I didn’t see enough movies last year to judge that. I plan to add the Best Buy SteelBook to my collection, though.
‘Underworld: Blood Wars‘ – Vampire Kate Beckinsale returns to fight werewolves for the fourth time, in the franchise’s fifth theatrical entry. (Beckinsale sat out the third movie, ‘Rise of the Lycans’.) I gave up after the first two, and frankly, I didn’t care for either of them. Even fans seem to be in agreement that this one is the worst yet. If you’re a completist for the franchise, the movie is available on Blu-ray and UHD. However, Sony has opted not to release it in 3D, even though it played theatrically that way. (Note that the Best Buy listing for the Ultra HD claims to include a 3D copy, but the cover art image on the same page contradicts that. Best Buy is most likely in error.)
‘The Girl with All the Gifts‘ – Set in a dystopian future where a fungal infection has turned most of humanity into zombies, Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close play a teacher and a scientist, respectively, who care for hybrid children that can think and act normally so long as they don’t smell human flesh, at which point they turn into uncontrollable monsters. One young girl in their custody seems more special than the others. Cue the zombie attacks and survival horror. Officially based on a novel by author M.R. Carey (who also wrote the screenplay), a lot of people have pointed out that this indie zombie flick looks more than a little like a movie version of the videogame ‘The Last of Us’ – not that this would be a bad thing.
‘Catfight‘ – Anne Heche and Sandra Oh play former friends whose growing rivalry turns physically violent, sparking a feud that spans years and multiple comas. The dark comedy has a pretty simple premise. When Phil saw it at TIFF, he liked some of the humor but ultimately found it aimless and unsatisfying.
‘La La Land‘ sings its way to 4k Ultra-HD Blu-ray this week. ‘Underworld: Blood Wars‘ also sinks its fangs into the format, and Best Buy has an exclusive SteelBook with a Pop Art cover.
While writing this week’s post, I noticed that our site’s release calendar had missed last week’s batch of Twilight Time limited editions. Technically, these four discs were released on April 18th, but I think they’re worth mentioning so I’ll do it here. From oldest movie to newest, we start with the 1941 Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth musical ‘You’ll Never Get Rich‘. After that, we jump to 1966 with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Billy Wilder’s ‘The Fortune Cookie‘, plus Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn in William Wyler’s caper comedy ‘How to Steal a Million‘. Things then turn serious with Gena Rowlands and Mia Farrow in ‘Another Woman‘, one of the dramatic films Woody Allen made while in his Ingmar Bergman phase.
In case you still need a little more Peter O’Toole after ‘How to Steal a Million’, Shout! Factory ushers out his 1972 adaptation of the stage musical ‘Man of la Mancha‘.
The Criterion Collection unveils new 4k restorations of Japanese filmmaker Jûzô Itami’s so-called “Noodle Western” ‘Tampopo‘, and Francis Ford Coppola’s largely overlooked ‘Rumble Fish‘ (his second adaptation of an S.E. Hinton novel following ‘The Outsiders’).
The Film Detective investigates the classic 1933 horror picture ‘The Vampire Bat‘.
The acclaimed nature documentary ‘Microcosmos‘ will surely benefit from Kino’s high definition upgrade.
Of no surprise to anyone, Sony uses the excuse of ‘Blood Wars’ to bundle all five of the franchise’s movies into the ‘Underworld: Ultimate Collection‘.
Warner Bros. offers the first season of ‘Animal Kingdom‘, the TNT network’s TV spinoff of the 2010 Austrialian crime drama. Ellen Barkin plays the matriarch of a criminal family, a role first made famous by Jacki Weaver. I haven’t seen the show. The commercials for it didn’t look very good, but apparently enough people felt otherwise that it’s been renewed for a second season.
I’m down to buy the SteelBook of ‘La La Land’, and am curious to rent ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’. Wish list items for me this week include ‘Tampopo’, ‘The Fortune Cookie’, ‘How to Steal a Million’ and ‘Microcosmos’.
Which of this week’s releases make you want to sing?