Blu-ray Highlights for 12/20/11 – Time for Last-Minute Shopping

Have you been neglectful in completing your Christmas shopping this year? You still have a few days to buy for that movie lover in your life, and the studios have a few interesting new titles on tap, including one of the best films of the year.

Here’s the Blu-ray release slate for the week:

For all of his personal failings and general artistic decline over the last couple of decades, Woody Allen still manages to stumble onto a good idea once every few years or so. ‘Midnight in Paris‘ is easily his best film in ages, and one of the most delightful movies released this year.

With a hot-button topic (the country’s economic crisis), very favorable reviews, and a top-flight cast featuring the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci, ‘Margin Call‘ seems like it should have secured a wide release and a promotional push for Oscar consideration. Instead, the movie virtually disappeared in limited release and is sneaking onto video this week. That’s too bad. It sounds interesting.

I recall how much Luke raved about the MMA movie ‘Warrior‘ when it was released earlier this year. The film also received a lot of praise elsewhere for the performances of stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, but then it bombed at the box office. I blame that on the trailers, which made the movie look like a really formulaic ‘Rocky’ knock-off. I think people got their fill of that with ‘The Fighter‘. (I know I sure did.)

Mysteries of Lisbon‘ is the final film from Chilean-French director Raoul Ruiz, who passed away shortly after completing it this year. The movie is a 4 1/2 hour epic about a 19th Century orphan’s search for his origins, and is frequently described with words like “sumptuous,” “engrossing” and “breathtaking.” While I’m sure that this isn’t light entertainment, it may also be rewarding for those willing to make time for it.

Blackthorn‘ has an interesting premise. The film presumes that an elderly Butch Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived his standoff with the Bolivian army and has been living in seclusion for decades, until a young bandit seeks his help for one last adventure. The movie received mixed-to-favorable reviews. I don’t know that I’d risk a blind purchase, but a rental might be in order.

In comparison to these, the week’s major studio releases seem like a dull lot. ‘Colombiana‘ is the latest girl-power action movie that would have us believe that an 80-pound woman (Zoë Saldana) with frail twigs for arms can beat up hordes of men three to four times her size. ‘Straw Dogs‘ is the unnecessary and unwanted remake of a Sam Peckinpah classic. ‘Dolphin Tale‘ is disposable feel-good family fluff. And the ‘Glee‘ concert movie is something that absolutely no one (not even ‘Glee’ fans) had the slightest interest to see. You can get ‘Dolphin Tale’ in 3D, but not the ‘Glee’ concert.

The only catalog title of the week that catches my attention is Kino’s release of the 1932 adaptation of ‘A Farewell to Arms‘, starring Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes.

Do you plan to pick up any of these last-minute titles for yourself or for gifts?


  1. JM

    Is the ‘Big Tits Zombie’ blu-ray in “3D–Deadly DD-cups”?!?

    Since HDD didn’t review ‘Tokyo Gore Police’ I assume you’re skipping this too, but it might be a good chance for serious film criticism of this genre.

    Any hope for a ‘Big Tits Zombie’ US remake, maybe via Zack Snyder?

    Also, why the fuck does ‘Warrior’ have a 2-Star blu-ray transfer?

    • Drew

      ‘Warrior’ has a 2-star blu-ray transfer on HDD because Luke reviewed it.

      No offense to Luke, but there’s no way that it’s a 2-star transfer. He is wrong.

      The transfer certainly has it’s flaws, but it deserves at least 3-3.5 stars.

      I think you’ll see some very disparate reviews of the ‘Warrior’ transfer. You might even see a few 4 star reviews.

          • JM

            I went to The Reel Place to look up all his ratings.

            Luke reviewed 97 movies in 2011. 10 of them he gave 5 Stars.

            The Descendants
            The Ides Of March
            Captain America
            Harry Potter
            Super 8
            Win Win
            Source Code

            Seriously? These are the 10 Best Movies Of The Year?!?

          • Drew

            Yep, that’s exactly what I was talking about.

            I didn’t look up the statistics, but I knew for certain that he hands out 5 star reviews like they are going out of style.

            10 5-Star reviews out of 97 films.

            That means that Luke thinks that 1 out of every 9.7 films is worthy of the ultimate critical praise. … Pssh

            (I’m not going to start talking about ‘Hook’ here)

            He hands out extreme reviews on the other end of the scale as well.

            I would be curious to know how many 0, 0.5, and 1 star reviews he gave out this year.

            It seems like he gives out as many of these, as he does 5-Star reviews.

            Reverse bell curve? Or can we coin a new phrase for Luke?

            Let us not forget his 2-Star review of ‘TTSS’ either.

          • Um, those WERE the ten best movies of the year. Super and Captain America were 5 stars, IMHO, with Harry Potter being maybe a 4.5. Source Code, while one of the better movies of 2011, was no 5 star. I haven’t seen the others yet, but Hanna is on my rental queue.

          • Drew


            You say that those were the 10 best movies of the year, and then contradict yourself with every word you say after that.

            You even admit to having not seen most of them.

            You clearly don’t agree that these are the ten best movies of the year.

            It’s an impossibility for you to agree, because you haven’t seen them.

            These 10 films are most definitely not the 10 best of the year in anyone’s estimation.

            The interesting thing is that even though these are the 10 films that Luke gave 5-star reviews to, I’ll bet he wouldn’t even make an argument for them being the 10 best of the year.

            1 film out of every 9.7 is not worthy of the highest critical reward.

            That is a fact.

            Luke will become more conservative with his handing out of stars as he ages and his critical intellect becomes refined.

            Ten years from now, you won’t see Luke handing out a 5-star review to 1 out of every 9.7 films.

          • JM

            22 *
            15 **
            17 ***
            33 ****
            10 *****

            Luke is a reverse bell curve, shifted to the negative.

            Bizarrely, I feel his 1-Star reviews help me enjoy mediocre movies more than I otherwise would. Which I consider a valuable service.

            To make his opinion more useful to my personal habits, I have created The Luke Hickman Review Translation Algorithm. All negative scores are rounded up to 3 stars. All positive reviews are adjusted down by one star. And all Michael Bay movies get an extra bonus star.

            Based on the Peck-On-Hick “Tinker” experiment, it seems like critics disagree with each other just as frequently as they try to shame the masses.

            In fact, the only thing that bothers me is his bi-weekly “Don’t Watch This! Help Save The Art Form!” naiveté. Otherwise, I enjoy the Utah Valley perspective.

          • JM

            William, the actual 10 Best Movies Of The Year are as follows…

            The Artist
            Midnight In Paris
            The Muppets
            13 Assassins
            Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
            Martha Marcy May Marlene
            Attack The Block
            Tucker & Dale VS. Evil
            The Raid!!

            Luke only got one right! And he’s a professional!

          • Drew

            I hereby vow to start using The Luke Hickman Review Translation Algorithm immediately.

            I’m going to set up a macro and plug in any film that he hands out less than 2.5 stars into it.

            I have a feeling I’ll be as tickled as you are by the results.

    • JM, a lot of what gets reviewed and what doesn’t depends on what studios send.

      TGP is from Tokyo Shock. those people couldn’t even get the packaging right on the release, in concerns to how many discs are in the package. their incompetence knows no bounds, so i doubt they know how to write an address on a fucking envelope.

      BTZ is coming from FUNimation. sometimes the studio sends stuff early, sometimes after street, sometimes not at all. I am not 100% sure HDD is even on the live action mailing list, as i was slated for a couple that never showed.

      TGP is on my “i really want to fucking review this!” pile, near the top, alongside Bad Biology, but we’ll see how that goes. i don’t want to throw my editor or his bosses under the bus by saying anything yes or no. “:we’ll see how it goes” is about as committal as i can get on this particular title, and if HDD doesn’t want a review on a film with the word TITS in the title (it doesn’t exactly scream safe for work reading material…)…you may see a certain Nate Boss take a stab at it at his other playground!

  2. Drew

    ‘Midnight in Paris’, ‘Margin Call’, and ‘Warrior’ for me this week.

    Josh, if you hated ‘The Fighter’, I think ‘Warrior’ just might be right up your alley.

    ‘Warrior’ is essentially the opposite of ‘The Fighter’. It’s also a solid, if not strong film.

    Check it out.

  3. also, god damn, just read the rest of this thread after replying to a post that was something kinda in my territory.

    LUKE IS ENTITLED TO HIS OPINION AS MUCH AS ANYONE ELSE IS. damn, guys. disagree with him all you want, but don’t throw someone under a bus and then proceed to go from drive to reverse a few thousand times over him.