This week on Blu-ray, giant kaiju stomp major cities to rubble while Tom Hanks violates your privacy and steals all your personal data. I ask you, which is the bigger monster, really?
Unfortunately, none of this week’s titles are available on Ultra HD.
‘The Circle‘ – Within the span of just six weeks, Emma Watson starred in one of the biggest box office hits of 2017 and also one of the biggest box office disappointments. In the latter, she plays an idealistic twenty-something who works for a fictional social media/technology mega-corporation run by Tom Hanks doing his best Steve Jobs impersonation. Adapted by author Dave Eggers from his own novel, the story is meant to be both an incisive social satire about our media-saturated times and a suspenseful corporate espionage thriller. The withering reviews suggest that the movie version accomplishes neither particularly well.
‘Colossal‘ – Nacho Vigalondo, the demented Spanish auteur behind ‘Timecrimes’ and ‘Extraterrestrial‘, comes to Hollywood to deliver a peculiarly oddball spin on the giant monster attack genre. Anne Hathaway plays a hot mess party girl who discovers, after waking up from her latest binge-drinking bender, that her alcohol-fueled antics are somehow directly tied to a monster rampage across the globe in Seoul, South Korea. That’s a wacky premise right up Vigalondo’s alley, but the studio lost faith in the movie after test screenings and dumped it in theaters with little promotion. Reaction was mixed. Luke hated the movie when he saw it at Sundance, but Phil (and a number of other critics) thought more highly of it. Viewers were similarly split, some finding it hilarious and clever while others thought it was stupid and boring.
‘Shin Godzilla‘ – More kaiju action comes from the home of such things in Japan. Toho Pictures reclaims the King of the Monsters for a brand new reboot entrusted to the hands of ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ creator Hideaki Anno. The writer/director made the decision to focus more on the human response to a giant monster crisis than the monster itself, and plays the movie as a satire of government bureaucracy and inaction, a parable for the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011. Surprisingly, a lot of fans were on board for this.
‘Going in Style‘ – As a director, Zach Braff branches off from his insufferable exercises in cinematic narcissism to instead do a studio remake of Martin Brest’s 1979 comedy about a trio of old codgers (originally George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg) who hatch a plan to rob a bank. The new version stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin. Critics were not impressed by the results, but the movie quietly did enough business to become profitable.
‘The Lovers‘ – Three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger hadn’t landed a lead role in a feature in a number of years. If I’m not mistaken, her last was 1993’s ‘Shadowlands’ opposite Anthony Hopkins. Here, she and Tracy Letts play an aging couple who have long since drifted apart into the arms of others. Just as they’re about to pull the plug on their marriage for good, something unexpected happens and they fall for each other again. Is it cheating to have an illicit affair with your actual spouse? Both actors received rave reviews for the dark comedy.
‘Obit.‘ – The morbid career of writing newspaper death notices is examined in a documentary about the obituary staff writers at the New York Times. Phil was a big fan of this, as were most other critics.
Hot off the success of his mega-budget ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequel, Scream Factory digs up James Gunn’s darkly comic creature feature, ‘Slither‘. The movie was a box office failure back in 2006, but found a cult audience on video. Its appearance on Blu-ray now ends years of HD DVD exclusivity.
After that, Scream Factory celebrates director John Carpenter with new SteelBook reissues of ‘Escape from New York‘, ‘The Fog‘ and ‘They Live‘. I’m fairly certain that these are all the same discs released previously, just in new packaging that’s a little too Pop Art-y for my taste.
The Sony Choice manufactured-on-demand program offers BD-R copies of Rob Reiner’s notorious flop ‘North‘ (the film that caused Roger Ebert to coin the phrase “I hated, hated, hated this movie”) and Frank Capra’s controversial 1933 wartime melodrama ‘The Bitter Tea of General Yen‘.
Universal marches out the military bio-pic ‘MacArthur‘, starring Gregory Peck as the famed WWII general.
Remember when adorable Macaulay Culkin tried to get edgy by starring in a psycho thriller about a murderous young boy? Kino dredges up ‘The Good Son‘, along with the 1968 ‘Dirty Dozen’ knockoff ‘The Devi’s Brigade‘.
I have no doubt that HBO’s stupidly-titled ‘Big Little Lies‘ miniseries will pick up a bunch of Emmys next year, but one episode was more than enough for me.
I somehow completely missed the existence of HBO’s ‘Crashing‘, a comedy about stand-up comics created by and starring Pete Holmes. The first season of that is also available this week.
Finally, PBS delivers the second season of the British mystery drama ‘Fortitude‘.
I’m inclined to rent ‘Colossal’ and ‘Shin Godzilla’. I still have ‘Slither’ on HD DVD, but I recall that being a pretty mediocre disc that might need upgrading.
What are you up to this week?