It’s Valentine’s week and, curiously, almost no romantic movies are available on Blu-ray to capitalize on that. In fact, catalog releases are heavily weighted with gory horror flicks. I wonder what kind of message that’s supposed to send?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Wonder‘ – Do you remember the 1985 movie ‘Mask’, in which Eric Stoltz wore heavy makeup to play a boy born with serious facial deformities who struggled to find acceptance in the so-called normal world? Yeah, well, here’s that again, but based on a fiction YA novel this time instead of a true story. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play the parents, blowing an obvious opportunity to bring back Stoltz. Released over the holiday season and perfectly timed to fill a drought of heartwarming family dramas, the movie was a stealth blockbuster. Although it never hit the top of the box office, it held over extremely well from week to week and slowly amassed over $200 million, based on a small $20 million budget.
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.‘ – After failing to win that third Oscar he wanted for last year’s ‘Fences’, Denzel Washington tries again with a character study about a small-time lawyer with a big-time afro who allows himself to be wooed into corruption. That’s typically not a good idea, generally speaking. Washington indeed landed another Oscar nomination (his eighth so far), but seems unlikely to win. Aside from his performance, the movie was met with mixed reviews.
‘Blade of the Immortal‘ – Prolific Japanese cult auteur Takashi Miike delivers his 100th feature, a bloody supernatural revenge tale about an immortal (but not invincible) samurai. Best Buy carries an exclusive SteelBook.
‘Hellraiser: Judgment‘ – Long after the movies stopped being worth releasing to theaters, the horror franchise originally spawned by Clive Barker churns out yet another DTV sequel. Original Pinhead star Doug Bradley bowed out a couple entries ago, so this one brings in fright icon Heather Langenkamp (‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’) for some marquee value. She’s credited as “Landlady,” which I assume means she has a prominent role as the lead character. Barker keeps threatening to reboot this franchise with a new theatrical feature, but that project appears to be stalled so we keep getting these cheap cash-ins instead.
Lionsgate owns the 4k landscape this week with a day-and-date release for ‘Wonder‘ and a catalog upgrade for ‘Hell or High Water‘.
Both George Romero’s zombie classic ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ and Jonathan Demme’s Oscar winner ‘The Silence of the Lambs‘ were previously released on Blu-ray in subpar editions. The Criterion Collection now offers new and hopefully definitive copies of both.
I thought I was pretty familiar with most of Federico Fellini’s filmography, but I have somehow missed his 1978 television movie ‘Orchestra Rehearsal‘ over the years. Arrow Academy cues it up for rediscovery.
Mill Creek rescues the canine cutesploitation classic ‘Benji‘ with a new restoration from the original 35mm.
Kino’s new 50th Anniversary Edition of ‘The Thomas Crown Affair‘ (the 1968 version with Steve McQueen, obviously, not the Pierce Brosnan remake) promises a 4k remaster to replace the middling edition that MGM put out back in 2011.
The first volume of Arrow’s ‘Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years‘ project contains five movies made by the eccentric Japanese filmmaker between 1958 and 1965.
The Horror, The Horror…
If you missed out on last year’s Limited Edition copies of Dario Argento’s giallo thriller ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage‘ or Stuart Gordon’s splatterfest ‘Re-Animator‘, Arrow Video repackages them into streamlined Special Edition versions.
Scream Factory drags Sam Raimi’s ‘Drag Me to Hell‘ back to Blu-ray with a new Collector’s Edition.
The Warner Archive serves up ‘Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III‘ while Mondo Macabro dishes out one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movies, ‘The Blood Spattered Bride‘.
The latest TV box sets include the first season of HBO’s ‘The Deuce‘, the second season of TNT’s ‘Animal Kingdom‘, the fifteenth season of the ‘Halo’ parody web series ‘Red vs. Blue‘, and a collection of ‘Doctor Who: The Complete Peter Capaldi Years‘.
This is actually a pretty good week, in my estimation. I’m down for ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Night of the Living Dead’, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’, and ‘Orchsestra Rehearsal’. I never bought the Limited Edition of ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’, so the Special Edition will replace that on my wish list.
Does anything excite you this week?