The middle of August seems like odd timing for a big Blu-ray push, but this week sees a huge volume of new releases hitting the market. Of course, as always, the trick is to find the few actually worth buying hidden among the dross.
‘Muppets Most Wanted‘ – This year’s new big-screen outing for the Muppets didn’t exactly live up to its title. Although not exactly a flop, the movie decidedly underperformed at the box office. That’s a shame, because it appears that this one addresses one of the biggest issues with the last movie (which was really a Jason Segel star vehicle with the Muppets as supporting characters) by putting Kermit and the gang back front and center. On the other hand, it also kind of looks like a retread of ‘The Great Muppet Caper’, and nobody wants to see Ricky Gervais in a kids’ movie. I’m sure that this will probably do better on video, but it doesn’t bode well for the future of the franchise as a theatrical property.
‘A Haunted House 2‘ – Why? Did anyone like the first one?
‘Bears‘ – Aww, aren’t those dangerous forest predators sooooo cute and cuddly? DisneyNature’s latest attempt to anthropomorphize the wild animal kingdom is exactly the sort of thing Timothy Treadwell would watch obsessively… you know, if he hadn’t been eaten by bears.
‘Filth‘ – James McAvoy plays a dirty cop with a fondness for abusing narcotics and extorting sexual favors in this Scottish black comedy based on a novel by Irvine Welsh (‘Trainspotting’). Most reviews praised McAvoy’s performance while expressing mixed reaction to the film itself.
‘Locke‘ – Perhaps gearing up for taking over the ‘Mad Max’ franchise, Tom Hardy spends an entire movie behind the wheel of a car in this indie drama about a man who finds himself pulled in six different directions (figuratively – this isn’t actually ‘Mad Max’!) while driving his pregnant mistress to the hospital. The plot description may not sound terribly exciting, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about the movie.
‘Belle‘ – Well-intentioned, feel-good period piece about a headstrong young mixed-race woman who turns 18th Century British high society on its head and single-handedly ends slavery in England. Can’t you just feel it clawing for awards attention?
Disney rolls out a bunch of not-quite-classics with the arguably-underappreciated ‘Hercules‘ and ‘Tarzan‘, as well as the perhaps-best-left-to-nostalgia ‘Bedknobs & Broomsticks‘ and ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad‘. Also, something called ‘Mickey, Donald and Goofy – The Three Musketeers‘ appears to be a more recent direct-to-video effort.
Ken Loach is often described as the poet laureate of “kitchen sink” dramas about the British underclass. Back in the early 1990s, my local newspaper critic gave a rave review to Loach’s then-new supposed comedy ‘Raining Stones‘. I made the mistake of going to see it with the future Mrs. Z. We both found it murderously dull, and neither of us could make out a damn word that any of the thickly-accented characters spoke. It was an hour and a half of pure torture. Thus ended my interest in the great Ken Loach. Perhaps that wasn’t a fair assessment. At the very least, I imagine that the movie might play better with subtitles turned on. If I should ever decide to give him a second chance, Twilight Time now offers ‘Raining Stones’ in a double bill with ‘Riff Raff‘ (which actually played theatrically with English subtitles, despite all of the characters speaking English).
Other new limited editions from Twilight Time include ‘The Buddy Holly Story‘ (Gary Busey got an Oscar nomination for this! Seriously!), Otto Preminger’s 1946 ‘Centennial Summer‘, Stanley Kramer’s WWII drama ‘The Secret of Santa Vittoria‘, and the Elvis musical comedy ‘Follow That Dream‘.
Elvis also lives on in a couple of new Digibooks from Warner: ‘Viva Las Vegas‘ (a repackaged reissue) and ‘Elvis: That’s the Way It Is‘ (new to Blu-ray).
The Criterion Collection only has one new offering this week. If you ask me, ‘Love Streams‘ is a kind of an icky title for a movie in which John Cassavetes and his wife Gena Rowlands played brother and sister. I get shivers just thinking about the weird dynamic at play there.
Kino Lorber celebrates the ultra-macho Charles Bronson with ‘Breakheart Pass‘ and ‘Mr. Majestyk‘, while Kino Classics goes in a completely different direction with the 1961 Audrey Hepburn/Shirley Maclaine lesbian teacher drama ‘The Children’s Hour‘.
Those goofy schlockmesiters at Troma finally upgrade their iconic mascot ‘The Toxic Avenger‘ to all his gritty and grainy high-def glory, and he brings along the ‘Bloodsucking Freaks‘ to Blu-ray with him.
TV product this week includes the first season of NBC’s ridiculous-yet-entertaining ‘The Blacklist‘, and the latest volume of the ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection‘.
If ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ were offered in a SteelBook somewhere to match the last movie, I’d be all over it. Failing that, I’ll probably settle for a rental for now. I’d also like to rent ‘Locke’. I’ve debated buying Disney’s ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Hercules’ but haven’t made up my mind on those yet.
Will you buy anything this week?