Blu-ray Highlights: Week of July 31st, 2016 – Laugh It Up, Fuzzball

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.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/2/16)?

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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‘.

Catalog Titles

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.

My $.02

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?


  1. Bolo

    I really loved ‘The Lobster’. It’s probably the best movie I’ve seen so far this year. I saw it with a bunch of friends and it really rubbed some of them the wrong way, I’m not sure if that was because it hit too close to the bone in its mocking of relationships or if the style of humour just didn’t work for them.

    I’ll rent ‘High Rise’ at some point.

    I never saw the anime ‘Samurai 7’. Could be fun.

    • Timcharger

      “it hit too close to the bone in its mocking of relationships or if the style of humour just didn’t work for them.”

      Or the biting satire was reduced too simplistically
      and thus failed to offer penetrating insight to
      HUMAN (I’ll explain) relationships.

      (Not spoiler-ish, but non-viewers probably can’t
      make sense of this.)
      Oversimplifying every individual to ONE DEFINING
      CHARACTERISTIC didn’t hit too close to the bone in
      mocking society. Complex human motivations,
      complex emotions were reduced to 1 single trait.
      This resulted in movie with biting satire of the
      relationships of robots, automatons, not humans.

      The fallacy of a single cause, reduction to the
      absurd. And when the film uses it for rather unique
      characteristics: daily nose bleeds, uncommon
      limps, or even a macabre cruel personality. Those
      infrequent traits can be connections to pair and
      bridge people. But common traits like
      nearsightedness is a DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC?!

      A simple tweak would have solved this problem
      and stayed within the plot development…

      (Warning spoiler-ish below:)

      …Make Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell have the
      uncommon feature of one green eye and one blue
      eye. And the forced surgery blinds one (only one
      [I think this is important to add plausibility to Colin’s
      decision]) of Rachel’s eyes. Now what Colin decides
      to do next is now more effective, and less
      reductively absurd.

      • Josh Zyber

        Just to be clear, you’re complaining about too much absurdity in a movie whose central premise is that the main character will be turned into a lobster if he doesn’t find a girlfriend soon.

        • Timcharger

          Josh, I think this is another situation
          that you should see it before you slam/mock/
          dismiss it (or comments about the film). Just
          about every sci-fi film has a level of absurdity
          that the audience is asked to accept. There’s
          nothing wrong with accepting the absurd
          premise, but demanding reasonable/logical/
          believable actions elsewhere in the film.

          My earlier comment “complains” (as you wrote)
          but I also solve the problem with a minor tweak.
          Which you should avoid (spoiler-ish), until you
          see the film.

          • Josh Zyber

            Anyone who watches the trailer for The Lobster can plainly see that it is supposed to be surreal and satirical. If you went into a movie from the director of Dogtooth expecting something “reasonable/logical/believable,” ain’t nobody at fault there but you.

          • Timcharger

            It’s not a 100% farce film.
            It’s not an everything-up-is-down film.
            All actions are without reason or meaning?
            That’s not what it is.

            You accept the absurdity of rules, the film
            establishes, but everything beyond that
            absurd premise, we apply our reason/our
            logic to it.

            And I don’t just speak in abstract concepts.
            I listed concrete examples in the film to
            explain my point.

            All of which would makes sense, If. You’ve.
            Seen. The. Film.

            Let’s discuss afterwards, Josh.

      • EM

        While I didn’t love The Lobster, I think that the film’s running gag of the “defining characteristic” (a buzzword in its world’s matchmaking institution) was an adroit satire on the superficialities in real-world relationships. I would say the film’s overarching problem was not in that concept, nor was it in the (main) characters’ being correspondingly one-dimensional (they weren’t); rather, I would say that the film’s detached style of humor left the characters a little too unrelatable—quite ironically, considering they were in a highly relatable situation.

        • Timcharger

          Shouldn’t a Defining Characteristic be DEFINING?
          Why introduce this concept, but have it so poorly
          executed with nearsightedness?

          Which seems out of place? Which doesn’t seem
          unique or defining?
          A) near daily nose bleeds
          B) limp from jumping into a wolf enclosure at a zoo
          C) nearsightedness

          Shouldn’t someone have asked the writer: Wait!
          What? You’re choosing nearsightedness as the
          defining characteristic?! Should our hero’s wife
          left him on day 1 of their marriage? She must have
          met other nearsighted people on their honeymoon?

          • EM

            You are aware that this is a film not about a utopia but about a dystopia, where things tend away from the optimal?

          • Timcharger

            EM, I’m not saying the “overarching problem”
            was the concept of a Defining Characteristic.
            Clearly for some characters, it wasn’t superficial
            at all. The macabre cruel woman, that wasn’t
            a superficial characteristic to her. That truly
            captured her essence.

            So, I’m citing examples in the film to, in good
            faith, to respond to you.

            About your utopia/dystopia point, I don’t think
            I’ve suggested any expectation of an “optimal”

            And my tweak, my solution is very bleak, very
            dystopic. She still undergoes the forced eye

      • Bolo

        The decision to keep the supporting characters as mostly one-dimensional was vital to the satire. It’s also how the protagonists (Farrell and Weisz) see the other characters and their relationships. The perspective that everybody else is shallow, cruel, and absurd is why Farrell and Weisz fail to connect with any of them.

        • Timcharger

          I think the film is also saying that Farrell
          is shallow too, once he meets a woman who is
          also nearsighted. And once he meets a rival who
          is also nearsighted, Farrell is quite cruel too.

          In the end, we see what Farrell is about to do,
          and that is strong evidence about how shallow
          he is. He “sees” their relationship as that “one-
          dimensional” that he must preserve their
          common Defining Characteristic.

          • SuperSugarBear

            You are focusing on the wrong things. The defining characteristics are just a tool. The overarching satire is about how an absurdist society wants everyone to “couple”. Having simplistic traits is just a shallow means to couple people. Once you are firmly disgusted by this absurdist situation, our hero flees to the realm of the single “others”, which should be utopia – but turns out to be the flip side of the exact same coin, with the singles having their own absurd “rules” and laws. (And a form of “different, but exactly the same” -kind of hypocricy).
            The ‘similar trait’ angle was just an absurdist way to show people trying to connect in the most shallow way, because it is the only way they CAN see connection.

          • Timcharger

            Yes, SuperSugarBear, I did catch the
            absurdity of both the coupling society and
            the individualistic society. And I agree that
            the Defining Characteristic is “just a tool.”

            And that is my tweak. It is a “tool” that is
            wielded so poorly by the film for the main
            characters: Farrell and Weisz. Everyone
            else’s Defining Characteristic (be it,
            superficial or essential) was defining, was
            unique, or at the very least uncommon.

            My tweaked suggestion was to give both
            Farrell and Weisz heterochromia. This
            Defining Characteristic tweak also keeps the
            eye surgery plot in place.

            Satire and parodies should have bold
            metaphors. Things are amp’ed up to a
            near or at an absurdist level. Why pick
            nearsightedness that affects 33%-40% of the
            population? By that logic, Farrell should
            have easily coupled up in that coupling-
            society. Picking heterochromia as a
            Defining Characteristic would better
            communicate the difficulty finding a mate in
            30 days.

            There is a reason why the film selects a bold
            metaphor of a macabre cruel woman for
            Farrell to fake a connection with. How less
            effective would it be, if her Defining
            Characteristic is that she leaves the cap off
            the toothpaste and that’s the extent of how
            Farrell needs to fake-connect with that.

            I hope you can tell that I see much wit and
            insight the film provides. I just see a glaring,
            UNdefining Characteristic that could have
            easily been tweaked.

          • Timcharger

            Aren’t we here for our passion (or mania)
            for 1 particular art form?

            You always hated that other kid who read
            all the things you read, and knew exactly
            what you were talking about, and may have
            saw things you missed? That other kid
            probably would have been a great friend to
            have in this world of ignorant bullies.

  2. William Henley

    Blind buying 3 movies this week (I must be brave) – Rawhide, The Mark of Zorro and The Titanic. World Break looks interesting, but I rarely buy Anime on Blu-Ray, as it is usually easier and cheaper to binge watch an anime on a VOD service (Hulu, Crunchy Roll, Funimation). When I can pick up a series or season (or part of a season) for around $25 or less, than I will pick up the Blu.

    So yeah, three blind buys and a show that I may watch later on a VOD platform for me this week.

  3. Lord Bowler

    I’ve pre-ordered “The Killing Joke” and “Invasion of The Body Snatchers” (1978 Collector’s Edition).

  4. Csm101

    I’m interested in Killing Joke, Lobster, High-Rise, Keanu, Bite, and Humpback Whales uhd/3d combo, but I’m not sure I’ll pick up any of them this week.

  5. Chris B

    I’ve heard The Lobster is great from several of my friends. Hopefully it’s on Netflix soon. Other than that nothing really interests me this week.

  6. EM

    April and the Extraordinary World has piqued my interest, but it’s still making the arthouse rounds locally. I was going to see it over the weekend with friends, but we ended up postponing—I’ll see it this weekend, I hope. I’m not going to seek it out on home video in the meantime.

    If I didn’t already have Invasion of the Body Snatchers ’78 on Blu, I would be all over the new release. The new one has even more special features and reportedly an incrementally better PQ, but I don’t feel compelled to fall in line and get it like some pod person. Maybe I’ll pick it up sometime if I find it at a fabulous sale price…or maybe one night, if I’m lucky, aliens will simply replace my current copy with the new version!!

  7. Deaditelord

    Definitely will pick up The Killing Joke this week. I might buy Samurai 7 again, but I’m waiting to see if the new blu-ray set is an upgrade over the previous release. I’m guessing not since it’s being released under Funimation’s Anime Classics line. I’ll rent Bite at some point too.

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