Blu-ray Highlights: Week of April 28th, 2013 – You Have Poor Social Skills

As we close out the month of April, eight of this year’s nine Best Picture Academy Award nominees are now available on Blu-ray. (The only film still missing is Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’.) This week also brings us several movies that were less than Oscar worthy. Will you buy any of them?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (4/30/13)?

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New Releases

I think we all knew that Jennifer Lawrence would win an Oscar eventually. As one of Hollywood’s new “It” girls, that seemed like an inevitability. The Academy decided to get that out of the way this year by awarding her the Best Actress trophy for the dramedy ‘Silver Linings Playbook‘. The film was also nominated for seven other Oscars, including all the acting categories, Best Picture and Best Director. I haven’t seen the movie and have perhaps an irrational prejudice against it. While I was a big fan of director David O. Russell’s early works, especially ‘Flirting with Disaster’ and ‘Three Kings‘, I absolutely loathed ‘The Fighter‘, which I found so worthless and artistically bankrupt that I lost all respect for the director and never want to see anything else he makes ever again. Is that unfair? Probably. Would I enjoy this one if I forced myself to watch it? Maybe, but honestly, I’m in no rush to do that.

Speaking of ‘The Fighter’, that film’s star Mark Wahlberg headlines the political corruption thriller ‘Broken City‘ with Russell Crowe. I happen to like Wahlberg, but this seems like a mismatch of talent. The movie was directed by Allen Hughes from the Hughes Brothers (‘Menace II Society’, ‘The Book of Eli’), working on his own this time. The studio apparently had little faith in it, and resigned it to a theatrical release in the dead zone of January, where it received mostly mixed-to-negative reviews and died painfully at the box office.

Another mismatched pair, Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, team up for ‘The Guilt Trip‘. Don’t worry, she plays his mother, not his love interest. The trailers look exactly like every other road trip comedy ever made. These things are made or broken entirely by the chemistry of their casts. If the prospect of Streisand and Rogen nagging each other for 95 minutes appeals to you, have at it.

Didn’t the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ franchise already get rebooted with a couple of new movies a few years ago? I’m not exactly clear on whether the new ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D‘ is meant to be a sequel to those or another reboot. Does it really matter, though? This thing exists only to justify its title. If you want chainsaws to massacre people in 3D, here’s a movie that will give that to you, no more and no less. [Sorry, this has been pushed back to May 14th.]

From the indie scene, ‘Sopranos’ creator David Chase makes his theatrical directing debut with the ‘Almost Famous’ clone ‘Not Fade Away‘. Based on its paltry box office reception, the film failed to take its title’s advice. Meanwhile, in ‘The Details‘, Elizabeth Banks and Tobey Maguire play a married couple (you’ve already lost me) whose lives are upended when a family of raccoons infest their property. Darkly comic hijinks are said to ensue. This sounds like the type of movie that does well at Sundance but then is never heard from again, which is basically what happened to it.

Catalog Titles

To hype this summer’s impending new blockbuster, Paramount has reissued the seven original ‘Star Trek‘ films that were previously only available in box set form as new standalone editions. (The other three had already been broken out separately.) This reminds me that I never finished reviewing the last three ‘Next Generation’ movies. I should probably get back to work on that.

Another reissue, Warner Bros. bilks fans of the romantic weepie ‘The Notebook‘ with a new Ultimate Collector’s Edition Gift Set. Looking through past posts here, I seem to have announced this as being released back in January. I guess it got pushed back, though for what reason I have no idea.

Baz Luhrmann has a new movie coming out soon, which is excuse enough for Lionsgate to foxtrot out a new high-def edition of ‘Strictly Ballroom‘, the first movie in his so-called “Red Curtain Trilogy.” The other two, ‘Romeo + Juliet‘ and ‘Moulin Rouge!‘, were released by Fox in 2010.

Piggybacking on Paramount’s release of ‘The Guilt Trip’, Sony drags Barbra Streisand’s ‘Funny Girl‘ into the high-def realm.

Olive Films offers up another batch of neglected classics. The ones that catch my eye are Fritz Lang’s 1946 thriller ‘Cloak and Dagger‘, Marlon Brando as a paralyzed war vet in ‘The Men‘, and the late Adrienne Shelly’s acting debut in Hal Hartley’s quirky 1989 comedy ‘The Unbelievable Truth‘.

Fans of “Hammer Horror” will want to take note that Scream Factory has put out the studio’s 1970 cult favorite ‘The Vampire Lovers‘.


After bungling the second season Blu-ray release of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ by farming its restoration work out to an inferior contractor, CBS Films has returned to its former high standard of quality with the third season box set. Fortunately, this coincides right with where the show finally starts to get good. Also available is a standlone copy of the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ two-parter. (The first episode was the finale of Season 3. The second half won’t appear in box set form until Season 4.)

If that massive Complete Series box set of ‘Friends‘ released last year was too daunting a prospect to buy all at once, Warner Bros. breaks out the seasons to separate releases, starting with the first two this week.

Special Interest

A good calibration disc is the lynchpin of any home theater. The new second edition of the acclaimed ‘Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark‘ is the first calibration disc on the market to offer proper 3D test patterns. This should make it an essential purchase for any owner of a 3D home theater.

Believe it or not, of all the above, the ‘Spears & Munsil’ calibration disc is the title calling to me the loudest, though I also have some interest in checking out Fritz Lang’s ‘Cloak and Dagger’. I need to catch up with the first two seasons of ‘Star Trek: TNG’ before buying the new one. Where do your interests lie?


  1. HuskerGuy

    Just Silver Linings for me. The wife and I enjoyed it a lot in the theater.

    Josh, what exactly was it about The Fighter that bothered you so much? I understand someone not liking a movie and all, but it sounds like this one really got under your skin.

    • Josh Zyber

      When I get home later today, I’ll dig up the review I wrote for print publication elsewhere. Long story short, if the movie had been called “Rocky, Jr.” and nothing else about it changed, no one on Earth would have questioned that. The film is painfully formulaic and by-the numbers, with absolutely no effort made to distinguish it from any other sports drama ever made. I did not find one single second of it interesting on any level. It’s the work of a filmmaker who just didn’t give a crap about what he was doing.

      • HuskerGuy

        I’ll be interested to see the full review. I really enjoyed the film and thought the story/characters were interesting.

      • Timcharger

        If you hated the Fighter, you must LOATHE the Warrior. Is that true, Josh? I actually enjoyed both, but I can see why they can easily be ridiculed. “Distinguishing sports drama” is almost impossible. He gets knocked down. He gets up. Needs a Hail Mary pass. There’s a chick. There’s a old mentor/father. City/nation needs to be uplifted. Throw in a death or plane crash or drugs. Doesn’t matter which sport you pick. Blend that all up, and you get a delicious sports drama smoothie.

  2. I absolutely loved SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK…I saw it twice during its theatrical run, and will be picking up the Blu-ray at some point (although probably not this week). Jennifer Lawrence absolutely earned her Oscar with this one, and Bradley Cooper shows he’s just been slumming in some of his other movies with a knockout performance here.

  3. EM

    Just TNG season 3 & the “Best of Both Worlds” reëdit for me.

    I disagree with the common refrain that season 3 is, as Josh puts it, “where the show finally starts to get good”. Clearly, season 3 does mark an increase in production values, and I would agree that the dialogue gets more consistently polished. Yes, the series becomes more comfortable with season 3. But I believe that as a vehicle for ideas, the series was well invested from the beginning and made for exciting, engaging viewing. There were some clunkers in the first two seasons and some truly great episodes afterwards…but the reverse is also true.

    I enjoyed part 1 of “The Best of Both Worlds” when it was new, but I always felt let down by part 2. When I heard the news of this spliced edition, I experimented with watching the two episodes in close succession, which I had never done before. I admit they work better together than I had expected. Perhaps the problem was that part 2 was all falling action. Anyway, I look forward to the meld, which I expect to be even better than just watching the separate episodes right in a row.

      • EM

        Or hath Dutch been using English spelling? 🙂

        In English, use of the dieresis (umlaut) on the second of two identical, separately pronounced vowels at a morpheme boundary is long-established…but somewhat uncommon. Other words that sometimes exhibit this spelling feature include reënter, reëstablish, preëminent, coöperate, and microörganism. If one does not use the accent mark, one either simply does without or, for some words, inserts a hyphen between the vowels (e.g., both reenter and re-enter are correct).

          • William Henley

            I think the problem is that most native English speakers do not know proper English, nor do they care.

            naïve is actually of French origin. English is not a pure language, so when you borrow words from other languages, you suddenly run into the weirdness of deciding if you are going to use the rules of the language that the word comes from, or if you are going to place English rules on them.

            You then have the issues of different spellings and meanings of a word based on where English is spoken (ie differences between British and American English).

            In the end, umlauts, hyphens, and now, with the younger generation, apostrophies, will just get thrown out. It doesn’t make it right, and whether or not it’s acceptable depends on who you are talking to. To make matters worse, rules can even vary depending on which gramatical rule book you are looking at (rare, I can’t think of a specific example off of the top of my head, but I have seen it happen – I am THINKING I was looking up how to punctuate something in lyrics).

            It reminds me of My Fair Lady where they are complaining about the murder of the English language, and how people just don’t care. And that came out in, what, the 1950s?

  4. William Henley

    3D Media has got to be the WORST company at sticking to release dates. Yellowstone 3D has been pushed back to May 30th. I got like two or three of their titles preordered, and they keep getting pushed back.

    I wish Cloak and Daggar was the 1980s version. Love that movie. I got it on both DVD and Vudu. The Vudu version is SD, but it SEEMS to be a better transfer than the DVD is. Maybe its just placebo.

    Nova: Earth From Space intrests me, but the $25 price tag has me reluctant. Seems a bit high for a two hour documentary.

    The two I am getting for sure is Star Trek TNG Season 3 and Star Trek The Best of Both Worlds. Kinda sad, the last several things I had preordered from Amazon, they delivered on Monday, but they haven’t even shipped yet. Oh well, I already have plans tonight to test out a theory for Josh.

  5. “I absolutely loathed ‘The Fighter‘, which I found so worthless and artistically bankrupt that I lost all respect for the director and never want to see anything else he makes ever again. Is that unfair? Probably.”

    Yeah. What happened to the Zyber adagium “Everyone deserves a second chance”? Might not be a Zyber adagium.

  6. Kevin

    I’m primarily interested in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” season 3 and “The Best of Both Worlds”, which I should be getting in the mail tomorrow.

    I may pick up “Silver Lining’s Playbook” come payday.

    If I hadn’t already taken the plunge on buying the UK version of the complete series set a couple months ago, I might have been interested in the “Friends” sets.

  7. William Henley

    This reminds me that I never finished reviewing the last three ‘Next Generation’ movies. I should probably get back to work on that.

    First Contact: Great movie (BTW, I think I am going to put that on the second chances roundtable – I HATED this movie the first couple of times I saw it), okay transfer.

    Insurrection – Almost as bad as Final Fronteir, horrible recycled transfer. For Fans Only

    Nemesis – Meh.

    Done. 🙂