Weeks like this are exhausting. I spent hours cleaning up our site’s Blu-ray disc listings for the huge volume of releases this week, and then putting together the poll and writing summaries of notable titles for this post, and at the end of it, honestly, I don’t see much I’d personally want to spend money on. Do you?
No fewer than 75 new discs will hit the market this week, and yet there’s not a single 4k Ultra HD on the list.
Tag – Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones and, oddly, Jeremy Renner (who’s not exactly known for his comedic chops) come together for a zany comedy about a group of friends since childhood who continue to play a never-ending game of Tag well into adulthood. Supposedly based on a true story. Renner claims that he broke both of his arms early in production and the arms you see in some scenes are CGI. Reviews were mixed-to-positive and the movie made decent money, but I bet most people have already forgotten it even existed. Wait a few weeks and I’m sure it’ll turn up on HBO.
Upgrade – Leigh Whannell, creator of the Insidious franchise and co-creator of Saw, directs a sci-fi revenge thriller about a guy (Logan Marshall-Green) who’s paralyzed during a mugging and agrees to become half-cyborg in order to exact vengeance on those who hurt him and killed his wife. That plan is complicated when he discovers that he doesn’t have total control over his own body anymore. This is a low-budget flick that didn’t get much of a theatrical release, but most of those who saw it (including our Deirdre) considered it a fun B-movie.
American Animals – Evan Peters and Blake Jenner lead a small group of friends who believe they can pull off the perfect heist to steal a valuable collection of rare books because they’ve watched Ocean’s Eleven and other movies of its ilk a bunch of times and figure it’d be a lot of fun to act one out in real life. This half-assed plan does not go well for them. That’s a nifty premise, and the movie was hotly buzzed at Sundance earlier this year, but like most Sundance hits it couldn’t find much of an audience in later release.
Book Club – Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen are women of a certain age who somehow find reading Fifty Shades of Grey to be a life-affirming experience and take its lessons about self-actualization to heart. Amazingly, this was not directed by Nancy Meyers.
Mary Shelley – Elle Fanning plays the Frankenstein author in a bio-pic replete with opulent costumes and period detail. Sadly, buzz from the festival circuit was largely negative, with many reviews comparing it to a poorly-researched book report.
RBG – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is given a loving hagiography that traces her journey from humble attorney to pop culture icon. The film was produced by CNN and will air on the network next week if you’d rather watch it for free.
Universal is extremely busy cranking out horror franchises this week. Nearly a year after releasing the entire Chucky series in a big box set, the label breaks out standalone editions of Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3, Bride of Chucky, and Seed of Chucky. Next are reissues of Psycho II, Psycho III, and Psycho IV, all reclaimed from Scream Factory.
If you’re a completist for the studio’s Classic Monsters movies, you can now round out your collection with Legacy box sets for The Invisible Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. A separate copy of Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man is also available on its own. Or you can just buy them all in one shot with a massive Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection set.
Scream Factory delivers a cheesier form of horror with 1994’s Brainscan, starring Edward Furlong.
Now part of the Criterion Collection is the 1968 Cuban drama Memories of Underdevelopment.
Just hearing the title, I expected The Naked and the Dead to be something very different than a war movie. The WWII drama directed by Raoul Walsh makes its way out of the Warner Archive this week.
Despite a handful of Oscar nominations in its day, Tucker: The Man and His Dream remains one of Francis Ford Coppola’s most underrated movies. Lionsgate brings it to Blu-ray.
Revisiting the lesbian crime thriller Bound now that its creators have transitioned from brothers to sisters may throw the film’s gender dynamics into a whole new perspective. The Wachowskis’ first feature is the latest addition to the Olive Signature line.
Kino has an interesting pairing this week of heartland farming dramas starring Jessica Lange. The actress received an Oscar nomination for 1984’s Country, and was apparently so convincing in the role that Congress actually called her to testify about farm foreclosures. Much less acclaimed, unfortunately, was 1997’s A Thousand Acres, a contemporary reworking of Shakespeare’s King Lear that critics did not care for one bit.
Also from Kino is Straight to Hell, Alex Cox’s 1987 Spaghetti Western spoof starring a cast of musicians (including Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, and members of The Pogues and the Circle Jerks) goofing around when a planned concert tour of Nicaragua fell through. The movie was viewed as a massive disappointment coming after the successes of Repo Man and Sid & Nancy, and is largely considered the beginning of Cox’s steep career decline, but has a small cult audience who might appreciate it. Note that the Blu-ray only includes the 2010 Director’s Cut that made significant changes to the film.
Fox’s Lucifer and ABC’s Once Upon a Time end their runs with their third and seventh seasons, respectively.
Meanwhile, The Flash is still running, though the fourth season is incredibly messy and frustrating.
The only discs I’d consider buying this week are Tucker: The Man and His Dream and Bound, and even those I’m comfortable letting sit on my wish list for a while until they come down in price. I might also do a streaming rental for Upgrade.
I’m sure the Universal Classic Monsters discs are all quality products (and the 30-Film set is actually quite a value at the current asking price of $150), but I already have all the movies from that franchise I’m likely to ever rewatch.
Maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Are you more excited for some of this week’s releases?