Trapped right between the hustle and bustle of last week’s Marvel onslaught and next week’s giant monster smackdown are a handful of movies that you may have forgotten were released earlier this year. In some cases, that could be for the best.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
The Hustle – Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway star in a gender-flipped remake of the classic con artist comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Viewers were the ones who felt conned watching this one. Reviews and word-of-mouth were both very unkind (and not just from misogynists, though I’m sure they were unhappy about it as well).
Brightburn – What if li’l Kal-El from Krypton grew up to be an evil psycho instead of a do-gooder superhero? The world would be pretty screwed, huh? That’s the elevator pitch that producer James Gunn delivered for the script written by his brother and his cousin. They got a studio to bite, but critics had a mixed reaction and audiences weren’t overly interested.
A Dog’s Journey – When I came across a trailer on TV one day for a schmaltzy inspirational family film starring Dennis Quaid and a dog whose thoughts are voiced by Josh Gad, my immediate reaction was: “Didn’t somebody already make this movie?” In fact, they did. It was called A Dog’s Purpose in 2017. This is the sequel. As much as I can tell, it looks to be exactly the same movie, just with a slightly different title.
I Trapped the Devil – Deirdre was a fan of the indie horror drama about a couple who are distressed to learn that the man’s brother has kidnapped and locked someone in his basement. The brother is convinced that his hostage is Satan himself. The couple assume he’s nuts. But is he?
Brightburn shines as the only 4k release this week.
Criterion has a Magnificent Obsession with the films of Douglas Sirk. The director’s 1954 Technicolor melodrama stars Rock Hudson as a playboy who inadvertently causes the death of a doctor and then falls in love with the man’s wife (Jane Wyman).
Arrow Video offers up William Friedkin’s problematic 1980 thriller Cruising for re-evaluation. Al Pacino stars as a cop who goes undercover into the New York S&M scene to catch a serial killer. Although likely made without ill intent, the film was broadly criticized for its less than enlightened depiction of gay subculture.
The 1972 Jamaican crime drama The Harder They Come is perhaps best known for its soundtrack album by star Jimmy Cliff, which introduced raggae music to much of the world. The movie itself now enters the Shout Select line as a Collector’s Edition alongside Edward James Olmos’ 1992 directorial debut, American Me.
Scream Factory acquires another title from the Hammer Films library with 1970’s Horror of Frankenstein, a semi-parody of the studio’s earlier Frankenstein films.
Kino has picked up the rights to Alain Resnais’ 1961 French New Wave art film classic Last Year at Marienbad. Although previously released on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection, the new edition contains a recent 4k restoration performed by Studio Canal. Unfortunately, Studio Canal’s track record for restorations is spotty at best, which leaves me skeptical about whether this disc will really be an improvement over the old one or not.
Other titles on Kino’s docket include a 1927 silent adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a new restoration of the 1969 Bob Fosse musical Sweet Charity (from a hit play by Neil Simon), and the notorious Alec Baldwin/Kim Bassinger 1991 flop The Marrying Man (also written by Neil Simon).
Cohen Media delivers a third volume from the Buster Keaton Collection. This one contains the silent comedian’s 1925 Seven Chances and 1926 Battling Butler.
Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches casts a spell over the Warner Archive this week.
Twilight Time has a small slate of just two titles this month. Charlton Heston and Susan Hayward star in The President’s Lady, a 1953 bio-pic about Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel. On a very different note is the 1961 Elvis musical Wild in the Country.
The very messy and frustrating second season of Starz’s American Gods was a huge letdown from the first.
Other new TV box sets include the seventh season of Arrow and the ninth season of The Walking Dead.
Nothing compels an immediate purchase this week, but I’ve long been curious about Cruising and will put that on my wish list, along with Magnificent Obsession and The Witches.
Do you have a burning desire to buy any titles this week?
The only release of this week I ordered was Cruising. I saw Brightburn theatrically and thought it was decent, but I can wait for a price drop. American Me and Horror of Frankenstein will go on my wish list.
The chapter on ‘Cruising’ in Friedkin’s memoirs was really interesting. After reading it, it got me to revisit the film, which is pretty good. He had a lot of friction with Pacino during the shoot. Then they completely split when Pacino saw the finished film because Friedkin used editing to imply something about Pacino’s character that was not part of the initial concept. Pacino was angry because he was never directed to play the character that way and says he would’ve given a different performance if he’d known that’s what Friedkin was going for.
Ordered The Witches, but it has a delivery date of Sep 17ish. Warner Archive titles are so fun to try to get!
Wishlist: Brightburn 4K, American Gods SSN2, Arrow SSN 7, Dinosaurus,The Hustle, Orphen & Ronja.