The Circle

Blu-ray Highlights: Week of July 30th, 2017 – Circle Gets the Square

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?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/1/17)?

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Unfortunately, none of this week’s titles are available on Ultra HD.

New Releases

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.

Catalog Titles

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‘.

My $.02

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?


  1. Chris B

    Slither has been available on Blu-Ray for awhile. I’m assuming this release is just a beefed up collector’s edition with better A/v and special features. At least it will include subtitles as the last release didn’t which I thought was kind of pathetic.

  2. Csm101

    Shin Godzilla is my main title of interest this week. I’m kind of bummed that my Best Buy is looking like it won’t carry them in store, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they appear as available tomorrow. I might have to stop at Wally World and see if they will carry it. Another strike against Best Buy is that Slither isn’t on their website at all. I was going to use a gift card to have it shipped to my house, but I can’t find it. BOO!! Colossal is also a title of interest. Another title showing as not available at Best Buy. I find it hard to believe they won’t carry this or Shin Godzilla on release day. I guess I’ll know for sure tomorrow….

    • Barsoom Bob

      My gripe with Best Buy is that they have stopped bringing in the 3D releases and have remo9ved their 3D section in the store. Had to order Kong 3D and Ghost in the Shell 3D because BB didin’t bring in any copies, I was there at 10 am on their release Tuesdays and nada. This is so stupid on the marketing departments part, The 3D copy of Beauty and the Beast that I had to order from Amazon UK is just beautiful in 3D.
      Just curious, has anybody here tried viewing a Blu-ray 3D disc through a Playstion 4 VR headset ? Or, any other real VR headset ?
      If so, care to give an evaluation of the experience ?

  3. Lord Bowler

    I’ll be picking up the excellent WWII film ‘The Devil’s Brigade’ starring William Holden.

    I may pick up ‘MacArthur’, if the price is good enough.

    I’ll be renting: The Circle, Colossal, Going in Style, The Ottoman Lieutenant, Phoenix Forgotten, Wakefield, and S.W.A.T.: Under Siege.

    I may pick up ‘Blackbeard’ (Mill Creek), if it’s in the bargain bin. This is like the third release of this decent mini-series.

  4. Shin Godzilla sounds interesting, so I may have to blind buy it.

    Fruit Basket has been on my bucket list for years, but I have never seen it at a decent price. I may have to look and see if it is available on a streaming platform

  5. Deaditelord

    Slither and They Live I might pick up if they go on sale cheap. I’m also probably going to give Shin Godzilla a chance once it shows up on Netflix, although my hopes for it are very low given how much I despised Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    • Barsoom Bob

      William, Deaditlord, I saw Shin Godzilla last year at one of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters. Josh isn’t kidding when he says they favored the Government inaction over the big green guy. Really, a 75/25 ratio at best. But that being said, The Godzilla parts are very good, this is going to make great fodder for a fan edit ! Rent before you buy.

      • Deaditelord

        That’s a bummer. When I watch a Godzilla film I want to see him on the screen as much as possible. Still will give it a chance on Netflix if/when it shows up.

  6. “If I’m not mistaken, her last was 1993’s ‘Shadowlands’ opposite Anthony Hopkins.”
    I think Debra Winger also had a lead role two years later in Billy Crystal’s ‘Forget Paris’.

    Always liked ‘The Good Son’, but it sure was an unpleasant movie.

  7. Csm101

    Although I’m not interested in rebuying the three John Carpenter steelbook reissues from SHOUT/SCREAM, I did see them at Best Buy this morning for 14.99 a piece. That’s a sweet deal if one doesn’t already own them.

        • Deaditelord

          Swung by my local BB in Florida and they did have all 3 Carpenter films in stock at $14.99, although at low quantities (4 copies of Escape from New York, 2 copies of They Live, and 5 copies of The Fog). Debated about picking up Escape from New York, but limited my purchasing to They Live.

          • Csm101

            Good to hear. You know what I also thought strange is that my BB was carrying Death Wish II and Nighthawks from Shout! as well. I picked up the Death Wish II for the unrated cut. I hope to pick up Nighthawks at a future time. I wish they carried more Shout!/Scream titles consistently.

  8. Deaditelord

    I also find that my local BB is very inconsistent with what movies/games they have in the store. My local BB is a relatively small store though. Having said that, I almost always try to pre-order movies/games from their website now unless it’s noticeably cheaper on Amazon as I normally receive them before street date.

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