Let me warn you in advance that this August does not look like a very exciting month for new Blu-rays releases. On the other hand, at least there are a lot of them. By volume alone, you might find something of interest.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Keanu‘ – The comedy team of Key & Peele take their act to the big screen with a spoof of overblown action movies, clearly made in the vein of ‘Hot Fuzz’. The silly plot revolves around a pair of mild-mannered geeks trying to rescue their pet kitten from hostile gangsters. The trailers looked pretty funny, but the movie was a box office disappointment. Most word-of-mouth described it as playing like an over-extended comedy sketch from the stars’ TV show. However, I suspect that it will probably play better at home than it did in the cinema.
‘The Lobster‘ – Yorgos Lanthimos, the oddball Greek auteur who gave us ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘Alps’, makes his English-language debut with a surreal satire about society’s fixation with marriage and relationships. Set in a near-future dystopia where being single is a criminal offense, Colin Farrell plays a lonely nebbish who is required by law to find a romantic partner within 45 days or be turned into an animal of his choosing. (The title gives away his choice.) That’s the sort of concept it takes a very special mind to concoct.
‘High-Rise‘ – In a satirical dystopia of another sort, Tom Hiddleston is the newest tenant in an apartment building that caters to its residents’ every need, as an insular mini-society all its own. The building is organized by social class, from the blue collar workers at the bottom to the wealthy elite at the top, until violent class warfare and revolution break out. Divisive director Ben Wheatley (‘Kill List’, ‘A Field in England’) adapts a 1975 novel by J.G. Ballard that had previously passed through the hands of other notable filmmakers including Nicolas Roeg and David Cronenberg. Unfortunately, it took so long for the film to actually get made that a good portion of the premise was cribbed by the action movie ‘Snowpiercer’ recently, diluting the effectiveness of the official adaptation.
‘Mother’s Day‘ – Garry Marshall’s final film was, sadly, not one of his better efforts. The third in his trilogy of holiday-themed ensemble rom-coms received terrible reviews and was a box office flop.
‘The Bronze‘ – Melissa Rauch from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ wrote and stars in a comedy about a washed-up former Olympic gymnast still living on past glories. As adorable as Rauch may be cursing up a storm in her weirdly squeaky/scratchy voice, the movie looks like one of those ‘SNL’ spinoffs that drags out a single joke to an interminable length.
‘Meet the Blacks‘ – In what seems to be a bizarre mash-up spoof of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘The Purge’, Mike Epps is the father of a stereotypical “urban” (read: black and poor) family that comes into big money and moves to Beverly Hills, only for their arrival to coincide with the annual period where all crime is legal for a day. I’m not exactly in the target audience for a Mike Epps comedy, but even those who are didn’t have much fun with this one.
‘Lazer Team‘ – Rooster Teeth, the production company behind the popular ‘Red vs. Blue’ web series, financed its first feature film through an Indiegogo campaign. A riff on bad ’80s sci-fi flicks, the movie had a limited theatrical run before its primary rollout on the YouTube Red subscription channel, where the buzz on it was mixed-to-negative.
‘Batman: The Killing Joke‘ – Voice stars Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return for DC’s latest direct-to-video animated feature, which adapts one of the most famous ‘Batman’ storylines. Comic book fans seem to like these animated movies a lot better than DC’s mega-budget live action movies. I suppose I’ll have to give them a try one day.
‘April and the Extraordinary World‘ – Since Hayao Miyazaki has (allegedly) retired, French animators Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci attempt to take up his mantle with a steampunk fantasy adventure in the mold of his ‘Castle in the Sky’ or ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Imitating a master is a dangerous game, but they appear to have pulled it off. The film has received widespread critical acclaim.
The week’s only 4k Ultra HD offering is the IMAX nature documentary ‘Humpback Whales‘.
Scream Factory is churning out one Collector’s Edition reissue after another these days. This week’s is a double-dip for Philip Kaufman’s 1978 ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers‘ remake.
Meanwhile, Kino swashes some buckles (or is that buckles some swashes?) with Tyrone Power in the 1940 ‘The Mark of Zorro‘.
The TV scene is very active this week. Among the new collections available are the first seasons of ‘Blindspot‘ and ‘The Girlfriend Experience‘, the second season of ‘The Knick‘, the third season of ‘The Blacklist‘, the fifth through ninth seasons of ‘Murdoch Mysteries‘, and HBO’s Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas docudrama TV movie ‘Confirmation‘.
One year prior to the James Cameron blockbuster, CBS aired a two-part ‘Titanic’ miniseries (later renamed ‘The Titanic‘ to avoid confusion) starring Peter Gallagher, George C. Scott and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It was widely derided for its poor acting, melodramatic script and historical inaccuracy, which makes me wonder why Mill Creek would want to salvage this wreck now.
I have a feeling that ‘Keanu’ will wind up on cable sooner rather than later. I’ll catch it there.
‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and ‘The Mark of Zorro’ will go on my wish list. ‘The Lobster’, ‘High-Rise’, and ‘April and the Extraordinary World’ look to be worth rentals.
All in all, despite the lack of any huge blockbusters, this week has more going on than it appeared at first glance. What catches your eye?