Blu-ray Highlights: Week of April 24th, 2016 – Along Came Folly

This week’s big Blu-ray releases include a Christmas movie (in April!) and a dumb sequel nobody asked for. Frankly, I’m fine with that. I didn’t need to spend any money right now anyway.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (4/26/16)?

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New Releases

Ride Along 2‘ – 2014’s buddy-cop action comedy ‘Ride Along’ was a surprise hit that propelled Kevin Hart to a genuine movie career. The studio barely finished counting its opening weekend box office before locking down Hart and costar Ice Cube for a sequel. Honestly, did this really need to be a franchise? Bereft of other ideas, the follow-up moves the action to Miami and cribs almost the entire plot of ‘Bad Boys II’ – adding Ken Jeong and Olivia Munn to the cast for comic relief (in a movie that’s purportedly already a comedy) and eye candy respectively. With a higher budget yet a smaller box office gross, the prospects for a ‘Ride Along 3’ are looking dicey at the moment.

Krampus‘ – Of 2015’s two horror comedies about the demented German anti-Santa, this is the one with Adam Scott and Toni Collette, not the anthology pic with William Shatner. Movies that are produced with the specific intention of trying to be cult classics often fail miserably at the task, but this one did unexpectedly decent business and had strong word-of-mouth for what it is. Still, who wants to watch a Christmas movie in April?

Son of Saul‘ – It’s almost a running joke at the Academy Awards that, whenever the option is available, Oscar voters will give the Best Foreign Language Film prize to whichever movie is about the Holocaust. Although that did happen again this year, Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes tries to bring something new to the genre by focusing on the “Sonderkommando,” the concentration camp prisoners who were made to dispose of the bodies of their fellow inmates. To depict the tunnel vision-like state a person needed to adopt in order to get through such a horrific experience, Nemes locks the camera onto his lead character’s face in tight Academy Ratio and rarely leaves it. The entire film is limited to his field of view and hearing. Most critics found this device very powerful, though some accused it of being a gimmick.

Jane Got a Gun‘ – Natalie Portman stars in a Western revenge thriller (that alone already seems like an odd decision) that suffered serious behind-the-scenes turmoil when original director Lynne Ramsay (‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’) feuded with the producers and didn’t show up for work on the first day of filming. Gavin O’Connor (‘Warrior’) was brought in to replace her the next day. The movie was completed in 2013 but shelved for three years and eventually sold to The Weinstein Company, which dumped it in theaters this past January with no advertising at all. Despite all that drama, is the movie any good? Not really, according to most critics who saw it (and frankly, critics are pretty much the only viewers who saw it).

The Last Man on the Moon‘ – What an amazing accomplishment it was for humanity to leave the confines of this Earth and set foot on the moon. How sad it is that, having done that, we gave up and haven’t gone back in over 40 years. This documentary profiles Gene Cernan, the last astronaut who made the journey and planted his footprints in the lunar dust.

Catalog Titles

New to the Criterion Collection’s is the 2014 German film ‘Phoenix‘, which has one hell of a plot synopsis about a disfigured Holocaust survivor who tracks down her Gentile husband (who doesn’t recognize her) to find out if he betrayed her to the Nazis. Following this is a collection of ‘The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates‘, in which the documentarian followed John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail and into the Oval Office. Finally, the label breaks out a standalone release of ‘Brief Encounter‘, previously found in the 2013 David Lean/Noël Coward box set.

Coming off the hot streak of his ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, Robert Zemeckis had his first significant career disappointment with the black comedy ‘Death Becomes Her‘. Starring Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn as a pair of nasty rich bitches who discover the downside to immortality after obtaining it through a magic potion, the movie won an Oscar for its visual effects but was mauled by critics and underperformed at the box office. I saw it in the theater and recall it being vaguely amusing, but haven’t felt any need to revisit it since. Scream Factory hopes to scare up a cult audience for that, as well as the schlocky 1973 horror flick ‘Sssssss‘.

Vinegar Syndrome caters to aficionados of Blaxploitation action with ‘Dolemite‘ and ’80s porno comedy with ‘Trashy Lady‘.

Arrow Video gives us John Milius’ 1973 gangster bio-pic ‘Dillinger‘ and the 1986 horror/action mash-up ‘The Zero Boys‘.

It’s safe to say that Roman Polanski’s head was in a pretty messed-up place in the early 1970s, following the murder of his wife Sharon Tate. Nonetheless, the director made two of his strongest films during that time, his acclaimed adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ and his masterpiece ‘Chinatown’. Directly between those was a movie that has largely (and perhaps justifiably) been forgotten to time, a weird sex comedy called ‘What?‘. Concerning the erotic adventures of an American hippie girl hitchhiking through Europe, the movie was an embarrassing box office bomb (its opening week is said to have grossed only $64). Considering that it features a very prominent rape theme that’s played for laughs, I have to imagine that it’s a difficult watch today, especially in light of the director’s later rape scandal.

My $.02

‘Son of Saul’ seems like good material for a streaming rental, and I might be in the mood for ‘Krampus’ about nineeight months from now, but I don’t see anything worth buying this week. Am I missing something that you’re excited about?


  1. Krampus is finally here! I’ll be watching it tommorow night and if it’s as good as I’ve heard….probably nine months from now as well.

    I’d like to see Jane Got a Gun but don’t feel like paying full price for it. I’ll wait for Netflix to get it or for it to wind up in the bargain bin at BestBuy.

    I’m debating blind-buying Dillinger. I’ve been on a bit of a Warren Oates kick lately and since I’m working a ton of OT at the moment I have a bit more disposable income than usual. I’d be interested to compare this version to Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Which seemed to have everything going for it to make a thrilling crime film but ended up being kind of dry. Has anyone seen this version? Thoughts?

    • Bolo

      ‘Dillinger’ is top notch machismo. Milius delivers in top form. Go for it! I also did not care for Michael Mann’s film. I just never really got what Depp’s take on the character was supposed to be. Oates and Milius do a good job depicting him as an entitled macho man in love with his own legend.

    • C.C.

      Don’t forget to revisit STRIPES and Warren Oates as Sgt. Hulka! Nothing like following up Alfredo Garcia’s Head with Sgt. Hulka’s big toe!!

      • Lol, I actually forget he was even in Stripes.
        Speaking of Garcia, I’m planning on picking up the Twilight Time re-release of the BD when it comes out in August which I missed the first time around. Re-issues like this probably drive some people nuts as it ruins the whole “limited edition” collectibility factor but meh. Hopefully they do the same thing with Wild at Heart.

  2. Deaditelord

    Really looking forward to watching Krampus. Heard so many good things about the movie that I’m almost tempted to blind buy it, but I’ll rent it first to decide if it is worth buying. Otherwise, not a whole lot that I would want to watch, let alone buy, this week.

  3. Csm101

    I hope to pick up Krampus this week as well. I have interest in Dolemite, Death Becomes Her, The Inspector, and The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons. The synopsis for Phoenix seems really interesting, I wonder if Netflix streaming has it…

  4. Lord Bowler

    The only one I may pick up is the ‘Sssssss’ (Scream Factory) for Dirk Benedict. I remember the movie being pretty good, but haven’t seen it in years.

    I’ll rent a few others on the list like Krampus and The Last Man on The Moon.

  5. C.C.

    Revisited Death Becomes Her a few weeks ago. I remember when it was released, and all the hubub about the special effects. It really was a special effects reel with a Tales From The Crypt episode around it. It isn’t that great. Very unfunny black comedy.

  6. William Henley

    The Last Man on the Moon sounds interesting, but I rarely blind buy documentaries. Netflix is pretty good at picking up Docs, so I will see if they have it for VOD.

    The Ant and the Ardvark, The Inspector and Crazy Leg Crane I remember from when I was a kid, but I haven’t seen them in probably 30 years. I remember liking The Inspector alright, but I think on the others, I would get annoyed because I just wanted to see Pink Panther, and these shows were played sometimes alongside the Panther. I am not sure how I would like them now, I just know I did not care for them as a kid.

    Also being released this week are Henry V and Handel’s Hercules. Also we get Bizet: Les Pêcheurs de Perles and Minkus: Don Quixote. I am not sure about these – I usually am very happy when I pick up ballets, plays and classical concerts on Blu-Ray, but I am unfamilar with all 4 of these. These type of discs never get reviewed by any site, and $40 a disc makes me wary of blind buys.

      • William Henley

        I think part of the reason these discs are so expensive is that they are probably being imported. Most of the Symphonies and Operas I have, even though I bought them from Amazon US, were actually made and produced by German companies (sometimes down to the point that even the back cover and the menus are in German). So its possible that the high prices are due to them being imports. Other than demo discs, I honestly cannot think of an American company that makes them. Actually, come to think of it, back in the days when I actually bought CDs, most classical music was produced by German companies, even if the Orchestra performing was from outside of the German-speaking world.

        I think this is partly due to most American’s indifference to classical music. In fact, radio stations that play classical in the US are usually non-profits supported by schools or cities. If you can find an event with someone like the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony or Boston Pops, the venues are usually small, and tickets are stupidly expensive (The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, for example, does a summer series outdoor at the Botanical Gardens. Tickets START at $100 each). Finding operas and ballets are almost impossible (believe me, I have been looking) and here, we are normally limited to getting the Moscow Ballet once a year performing The Nutcracker or Swan Lake.

        So sadly, the average American’s exposure to classical music, opera or Pop is probably limited to Beethoven Symphony 5 and 9, Handel’s Messiah, Flight of the Valkaries, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, anything in Fantasia, and the extremely cultured may be familar with some Mozart and Wagner, and The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Carmen, The Magic Flute, The Barbera of Seville, La Boheme, Tosca, Faust and Madame Butterfly.

        So I like classical, ballet and opera, and sometimes go out of my way to acquire stuff, but I think my culture has meant limited exposure to a lot of it. I honestly have never heard of Bizet or The Pearl Fishers. That doesn’t mean I would not enjoy it, it just means that it is a bit tough to swallow a $40 blind buy on it.

        • EM

          Then there are those of us who love listening to classical music…but love listening to it. I personally have never been a fan of opera or ballet (I’m into Phantom of the Opera more for the phantom than for the opera) and don’t care much to plop down on the sofa to watch a symphony being played. For me a CD is better. (I do attend live concerts, though…)

  7. For a ho-hum week it actually is pretty pricey for me! I usually have 1, sometimes 2 have to own titles and then a handful of wishlist items. This week is different.

    Bought Krampus, Ant & The Aardvark, Crazy Legs Crane & The Inspector.
    Import wise my copy of Goosebumps tv series SD on BD has shipped from Amazon.De.
    So now the wishlist: Death Becomes Her & Sssssss. Unless I find a decent price on Death Becomes Her I will be importing it.
    FWIW – Because Amazon chooses to still experiment with packaging, instead of a regular box I got this weeks movies in one of those mini pizza box shaped boxes instead. As a result my Crazy Legs Crane disc case is shattered. Replacement expected Friday. Did not open it, let them sell it to someone else via Warehouse Deals.

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