From rocking musicians to disgraced politicians, bio-pics take center stage on Blu-ray this week. Don’t stop me now. I’m having such a good time.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Bohemian Rhapsody – After director Bryan Singer was fired in the middle of production, forcing Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle) to step in and finish the shoot, and intensifying rumors about Singer’s sexual misconduct made him toxic in the industry, it sure looked like his bio of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was doomed. Tepid reviews of the final product didn’t help matters. Somehow, the film overcame all those adversities and triumphed. It was a huge box office hit, won a couple of major Golden Globes, and scored nominations for several Oscars, including Best Picture. Star Rami Malek’s very charismatic portrayal of Mercury likely deserves most of the credit for all that. He appears to be a strong contender to win Best Actor.
At Eternity’s Gate – If Malek doesn’t win the Oscar, the trophy could go to Willem Dafoe for his turn as troubled artist Vincent van Gogh. The fact that Dafoe is a good 26 years older than van Gogh ever lived to doesn’t seem to have bothered many critics or viewers. If anything, the added years seem fitting for a depiction of the artist’s deteriorating health in his final days. The movie was directed by Julian Schnabel, a famed painter himself whose previous film work includes an acclaimed bio of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Reviews were very strong with lots of praise for Dafoe.
The Front Runner – Less successful at courting Oscar’s attention was Jason Reitman’s profile of notorious former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, whose 1988 presidential campaign crumbled as a result of an infidelity scandal. Hugh Jackman plays the politician, with Sarah Paxton (Shark Night) as his mistress, Donna Rice. The cast also includes J.K. Simmons and Vera Farmiga. Critics were unimpressed with the film, calling it a toothless political drama. Audiences had little interest, and the movie failed to lock down any awards of significance.
Bohemian Rhapsody is the only 4k Ultra HD release this week. Best Buy has a SteelBook with ugly artwork.
The Criterion Collection is very busy this week, starting with a high-def upgrade for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s monumental 15-hour TV miniseries Berlin Alexanderplatz. The 1980 epic follows the struggles of an ex-convict attempting to keep his nose clean amidst the corruption of 1920s Weimar Republic Germany.
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1960 courtroom drama La vérité (a.k.a. The Truth) was a huge box office success despite (or perhaps due to the attention gained from) star Brigitte Bardot’s alleged suicide attempt during production. The movie was highly acclaimed and landed an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
Finally from Criterion is a single-disc reissue of the 1955 Douglas Sirk melodrama All That Heaven Allows, which was previously available in a Blu-ray + DVD package.
Arrow Video delivers a remastered Special Edition of Takashi Miike’s 1999 shocker Audition, then invites Hammer Films fans to hop aboard the Horror Express with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
Devaluing the once-rare limited editions from Twilight Time, Sony has taken back its rights to the 1985 horror comedy Fright Night and reissued the movie with a host of bonus features. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the three-hour 2016 retrospective documentary called You’re So Cool, Brewster! is even included.
The Conjuring and all of its various sequels and spinoffs to date get bundled into a Conjuring Universe 5-film collection from Warner Bros.
Synapse repackages the 1991 slasher Popcorn into a Collector’s Edition SteelBook.
Flicker Alley investigates the case of 1929’s Der Hund von Baskerville, the last silent film based on a Sherlock Holmes story.
Shout! Factory celebrates the classic rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral with a 25th Anniversary Edition as part of its Shout Select line.
Perhaps to humor Todd Phillips, whose Joker movie is in production and will be released later this year, Warner Bros. digs the director’s lame 2004 cop comedy Starsky & Hutch out of the Warner Archive.
Syfy canceled its excellent space drama The Expanse to make room for the spaceship-bound horror thriller Nightflyers, based on a story by George R.R. Martin. This was not the wisest idea. The first (and likely only?) season was a big disappointment.
If you haven’t already bought them individually, Warner offers a bundle of Seasons 1-3 of Dan Harmon’s animated comedy Rick and Morty.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the 1995 miniseries version of Pride & Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is still considered to be the definitive adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. The program was released on Blu-ray in 2009 and reissued a couple times. The latest copy promises a “beautifully remastered French edition.” I’m not sure what that means, but one can hope it offers improvement in some area.
I nearly bought Berlin Alexanderplatz on DVD during a Criterion sale a while back, believing it unlikely to ever see high-definition. That, La verité, and Pride & Prejudice are going on my wish list, while I’ll reserve Bohemian Rhapsody and At Eternity’s Gate for rentals.
Do any titles this week rock you?