Blu-ray Highlights: Week of February 15th, 2015 – You Wanna Get Nuts? Come On! Let’s Get Nuts!

We took yesterday off for the President’s Day holiday. Which President did you celebrate? At my house, we favor David Palmer. He may be fictional, but I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. Anyway, this may be a short week, but it’s packed with new Blu-ray releases, including some big Oscar nominees to catch up with before the awards this weekend.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (2/17/15)?

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New Releases

Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance‘ – As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Michael Keaton plays an actor once famous for starring in a superhero franchise who is plagued by hectoring visions of his former alter ego on the eve of launching a comeback role in the “legitimate” theater. Allegedly, the film was not actually written with Keaton in mind, as much as it may seem so. Taking a cue from his pal Alfonso Cuarón, director Alejandro González Iñárritu stages almost the whole movie to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot. The black comedy is perhaps the most divisive of this year’s Oscar nominees. Although Keaton’s performance has received nearly universal praise, viewers seem to either love or loathe the movie itself.

The Theory of Everything‘ – If anyone steals the Best Actor trophy from Michael Keaton this year, it’ll likely be Eddie Redmayne for his performance as Stephen Hawking in this bio-pic about the famed physicist’s early life. The Academy loves to give acting awards to bio-pics, especially when the subject has some sort of physical disability. For as acclaimed as the lead performance may be, the movie is said to be a very sanitized, “inspirational” account of a man whose life was a lot more complicated than the movie depicts. I think I’d rather rewatch Erroll Morris’ documentary of ‘A Brief History of Time‘ instead.

The Interview‘ – It’s the movie Kim Jong-un doesn’t want you to see! Seth Rogen and James Franco make endless dick and gay-panic jokes, just like they do in all their movies, but this time at the expense of the Supreme Leader. With its theatrical release scuttled, the movie has been available on VOD for months already. If you had any interest in seeing it, you’ve probably already done so by now.

Dumb and Dumber To‘ – The popularity of the original ‘Dumb and Dumber’ is a mystery to me. Why anyone would want a sequel to it 11 years later is an even bigger mystery. I guess that’s just how far the careers of Jim Carrey and the Farrelly brothers have sunken that they needed to trot these characters out again.

St. Vincent‘ – I’ve heard countless stories about how particular Bill Murray is in selecting projects to star in, and the crazy process any filmmaker must go through to court his attention. Strange, then, that he’d make one of these formulaic “Bad Mentor” comedies in the vein of ‘Bad Santa’ or ‘Mr. Woodcock’. Was Billy Bob Thornton not available for this one?

The Homesman‘ – For his second feature as director, Tommy Lee Jones makes a very dour Western about how absolutely grueling and miserable and awful life in the Old West really was. Sounds like exactly the sort of thing Jones would consider a fun time at the movies, doesn’t it?

Life Itself‘ – America’s most famous film critic, Roger Ebert, led a pretty fascinating life worthy of its own movie. Now that he has passed on, he gets exactly that courtesy of his friend, documentarian Steve James (whose ‘Hoop Dreams’ Ebert had been a huge champion for). I’ve heard many good things about this.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya‘ – An Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature, this is the latest Studio Ghibli production by ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ director Isao Takahata. All of that is enough to get my attention.

V/H/S: Viral‘ – The Found Footage anthology series eschews its title gimmick involving VHS tapes in favor of cell phone viral videos. Why not just call it something else, then? Even fans of the first two entries didn’t seem to think too much of this one.

Dying of the Light‘ – Quick quiz: Whose career has slid further down the crapper, Nicolas Cage’s or Paul Schrader’s? We expect Cage to appear in disposable direct-to-video garbage to pay off his mountains of debt, but after the Lindsay Lohan flop ‘The Canyons’ and this lame-looking spy thriller, the once-acclaimed screenwriter of ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Raging Bull’ has a lot of penance to do.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection spends ‘An Autumn Afternoon‘ with master Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s final film.

Here we are in the dead of winter, and Olive Films taunts us with the summer shenanigans of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in ‘Beach Blanket Bingo‘ and ‘Muscle Beach Party‘.

In fact, Olive is spending a lot of time in the 1960s this week. In addition to the beach pictures, the label has Jack Lemmon in the black comedy ‘How to Murder Your Wife‘, Dean Martin and Kim Novak in Billy Wilder’s comedy romance ‘Kiss Me, Stupid‘, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in their final road picture ‘The Road to Hong Kong‘, and Peter Fonda in Roger Corman’s biker flick ‘The Wild Angels‘.

Best Buy has limited-time exclusives on Steven Spielberg’s historical drama ‘Munich‘, Robert Wise’s virus thriller ‘The Andromeda Strain‘, and Robert Redford’s spy caper ‘Sneakers‘. All of these will hit general release later in the year.

At the height of the popularity for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical, Robert Englund (yes, Freddie Krueger himself) starred in a schlocky horror version of ‘The Phantom of the Opera‘ in 1989. Hey, it can’t be much worse than Joel Schumacher’s shitty film adaptation of the Webber play, can it?

Television

If you didn’t catch it on HBO and need to get caught up before the new season starts, don’t miss ‘Game of Thrones: Season Four‘ on Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, BBC has ‘Doctor Who: Last Christmas‘, the first of the show’s holiday specials since Peter Capaldi took over the role.

My $.02

Honestly, I’m interested in quite a lot this week. I will definitely rent ‘Birdman’, ‘Life Itself’, ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’ and possibly ‘The Theory of Everything’.

A friend of mine who lives in Canada has asked me to grab all three Best Buy exclusives for him, and I might pick up extras of ‘The Andromeda Strain’ and ‘Sneakers’ for myself when I do so.

What are you plans this week?

20 comments

  1. Lord Bowler

    I’ll be picking up:

    ‘Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season’ (HBO)
    ‘The Andromeda Strain’ (Universal)
    ‘Sneakers’ (Universal Studios)

    The original Andromeda Strain still holds up after all of these years and is frightening in its realism. The remake lost much of the suspense of the original.

  2. William Henley

    The only one I had preordered was Theory of Everything. This was an awesome movie, and I plan to see it again and again.

    However, there are quite a few I am interested in that I did not realize was coming out today. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a must.

    I am interested in the two Beach Party movies, depending on price (I want them, and have seen them, but they are bargain bin movies), I want to see Munich, and want to see Doctor Who

  3. If I was going to buy one title this week, it would be Caveman. Another childhood favorite that still holds up for me today. Birdman is also on my list and I would Ike to get it watched before the Oscars. Maybe I’ll on- demand it. VHS viral, and Englund’s Phantom of the Opera slightly interest me. So many movies, so little $$$$. : (

  4. Deaditelord

    I’ll probably rent Birdman, Life Itself, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and (against my better judgment) Dumb and Dumber To. Purchase wise, my funds are pretty tight this week since the New Nintendo 3DS system I preordered arrives today, but I’d definitely be interested in Munich and perhaps Sneakers if the transfers are good, I’ll also pick up Patlabor and Space Dandy at some point when they are on sale.

      • Chris B

        I would but I’m really tryna cut down on the blind-buys this year, I’ll most likely rent it on saturday night to prep for the oscars. The whole “magic-realism” aspect if the film seems like something that could go either way so I’m being cautious.

  5. Drew

    So…

    Who has tried to buy ‘Munich’, ‘The Andromeda Strain’, or ‘Sneakers’ from Worst Never Buy?

    Classic WNB story…

    Prior to yesterday (release day), all of these titles were showing up on the WNB website as “Shipping only”, so I ordered ‘Munich’ and ‘The Andromeda Strain’. WNB canceled my order, this morning, and stated that these titles are only available for in-store pickup. I replaced my order, and chose in-store pickup. I received an email about a half hour later, that stated the store that I chose no longer has the items. At this point, I decided to go to WNB. They didn’t have any of the titles. One of their customer service reps called their corporate offices, and they were told that none of these titles is available at any store within 200 miles, and none of them are available for shipping.

    Was anyone able to buy any of these titles?

    • William Henley

      A quick search on Worst Buy’s website returned similar issues for me – cannot order online, no stores within 200 miles have them in stock, and I am in one of the largest metro areas in the US.

      However, judging from past experience with Worst Buy exclusives, they will probably be available online in 2-4 weeks.

      • Drew

        Thank you, William, that’s very helpful. I’m not in an area (San Francisco Bay area) that is quite as large as yours, but I figured that if I couldn’t possibly buy these, nobody would be able to. Why is WNB still in business?! Why can’t exclusives like these just go to Amazon?!

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          I believe these three titles hit general retail in a couple months. Amazon has a listing for Munich on May 5th. The preorder is currently more expensive than the Best Buy price, unfortunately.

          • Drew

            That doesn’t soften the blow. Worst Buy consistently does things like this. The general public should be able to buy these titles when they’re available, not a couple of months later.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            The reality of the situation is that very few people are chomping at the bit to buy titles like Munich or Sneakers. Most will not care if they have to wait a couple months or longer.

          • Drew

            That’s not the point. The titles are irrelevant. The fact that a company that has consistently proven that it can’t handle exclusive releases is still being given access to them is the problem. You know very well that WNB has done this with some very big releases and SteelBooks. They simply should not get access to exclusives. That’s indisputable.

            P.S. I disagree that there aren’t many people chomping at the bit for ‘Munich’, but that’s neither here, nor there.

          • William Henley

            I would assume that, despite how horrible they are, they are the largest brick & mortor electronics-focused store still around. I mean, who is still around? CompUSA still has a few stores, and there is Conn’s, MicroCenter and Fry’s Electronics, but I think Best Buy has more stores within 100 miles of me than all the other electronic chains combined.

            If not Best Buy, who is left? Target and Wal-Mart? And both of those do get exclusives.

            As much as I loathe Best Buy, I put up with them because there really isn’t an alternative (well, actually, I do have a Fry’s in my area that is closer than Best Buy) as far as brick and mortor stores are concerned

  6. Scott bushnell

    Check this out.I go in there last Thursday & BBC has both Sneakers & Munich on the shelf.I knew they came out Tues.so I snag them,roll up to the register & the register beers & the guy calls a manager & they ask me where I got them &so on.So I take them over to where the movies are o the shelf & they grab them start lancing about a $5000 fine……..they gave me both @half price on Tues.though…….hahahahaha

  7. All the titles I am interested this week are not available at my local Walmart.
    Birdman – plenty of empty spots for the Blu Ray, never came in. Ordered today via Amazon
    Animal – Not even an empty spot, actually no spot, dvd only.
    Phantom of the Opera – They don’t seem to ever get catalog Blus in
    Caveman – Ditto ^^
    Hozuki’s Coolheadedness – They only carry Anime if it’s on dvd. Something about this one though intrigues me, I don’t usually get much Anime, especially on release week. A comedy about the bureaucracy of running hell (!!!)
    Tale of Princess Kayugo – Distant Wishlist item, which will mean Walmart might actually have this one !!!

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