Bad parents are a running theme through this week’s new Blu-ray releases, from the neglectful to the obnoxious to the outright homicidal. Having Mel Gibson play one of them is potentially problematic all on its own.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Daddy’s Home 2‘ – It appears that redemption may be possible for a disgraced Hollywood star after all. While viewers (and Oscar voters) seemed to be OK letting Mel Gibson direct movies again, it remained questionable whether anyone would want to see him back in front of cameras. Making that return in a PG-13 family comedy was also a pretty risky proposition, but the plan somehow worked out for him. Although critics were scornful (not just of the casting, but of the sequel’s existence as a whole), the movie was a solid box office hit. To be fair, personal scandals aside, Gibson may actually be a good fit to play Mark Wahlberg’s father in a comedy (and John Lithgow is an inspired choice for Will Ferrell’s). Still, the way the trailer played up jokes about women fawning over Gibson’s virile masculinity were cringe-inducing. Frankly, did the world really need a sequel to 2015’s middling ‘Daddy’s Home’ in the first place?
‘Mom and Dad‘ – Brian Taylor, one half of the infamous Neveldine/Taylor team responsible for the gonzo insanity of the ‘Crank’ franchise, goes solo with a blackly comic horror thriller about a mysterious outbreak that causes parents (Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair, primarily) to go nuts and try to kill their kids. This is the type of movie made specifically to play in Midnight Madness screenings at film festivals. The main selling point, of course, is the opportunity to let Cage tear loose with the full brunt of the manic intensity he’s kept in check in recent years. Phil approves.
‘The Florida Project‘ – Largely overlooked for Oscar nominations, the new film from ‘Tangerine’ director Sean Baker is the story of young kids living below the poverty line in a dumpy motel on the outskirts of Disney World. Don’t let that description sound like too much of a downer, though. Although the movie is heart-wrenching, it also captures the exuberance of joy of childhood, and can be extremely funny at times. (I don’t mean to suggest that it’s a comedy, but there’s more to it than just some bleak misery-fest.) Willem Dafoe was rightly recognized for his supporting turn as the kindly but conflicted motel manager. Performances across the board are equally terrific, especially young Brooklynn Prince in the bratty lead role and newcomer Bria Vinaite as her negligent mother, a woman who means well but is completely unequipped for parenthood.
‘Loving Vincent‘ – Isn’t it awfully soon for a double-dip? The oil-painted, animated bio-pic about Vincent van Gogh just came out on Blu-ray last month, yet distributor Cinedigm already offers a Special Edition re-release. This one adds some postcards and a digital download, so there doesn’t seem to be much point to buying it unless you’re a huge fan.
‘Same Kind of Different as Me‘ – Greg Kinnear gets trapped in another feel-good, faith-based schmaltz machine much like his 2014 ‘Heaven Is for Real’. This time he drags Renée Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight down with him. Originally produced for Paramount, the movie was shelved for three years until Pure Flix picked it up.
Paramount brings the original ‘Daddy’s Home‘ to Ultra HD in concert with ‘Daddy’s Home 2‘.
The Criterion Collection is on a kick this week for foreign films from the 1960s about actors. From Japan comes Kon Ichikawa’s 1963 ‘An Actor’s Revenge‘. After that is Indian master Satyajit Ray’s 1966 ‘The Hero‘.
Twilight Time is still on board the Woody Allen train even as everyone else abandons him. The label’s latest stop is the director’s 1993 comedy ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery‘, starring Allen and Diane Keaton as a married couple who believe their neighbor has murdered his wife. Keaton also appears in the 1976 heist comedy ‘Harry and Walter Go to New York‘ with James Caan and Elliott Gould. Other new limited editions from Twilight Time include the 1967 thriller ‘The Incident‘ (featuring an early screen role for Martin Sheen), and Paul Newman’s 1972 directorial effort ‘The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds‘.
Shout! Factory investigates Robert Mitchum’s run as famed private eye Philip Marlowe in a double-feature of the 1975 adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s ‘Farewell, My Lovely‘ and the 1978 remake of ‘The Big Sleep‘.
Kino goes digging ‘Underground‘ and comes up with Serbian auteur Emir Kusturica’s dramedy epic about two opportunistic friends attempting to profit from their country’s many years of war. The three-hour film (edited down from a five-hour television miniseries) won the Palme d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.
The Christmas special ‘Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time‘ features the final appearance of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and also serves as an exit point for divisive show-runner Steven Moffat. I’ve never been a fan of the series, but most of my Whovian friends are fed up with Moffat’s writing. I hope for their sake that some fresh blood in the coming season will get the show back on track.
Based on another book series by author Charlaine Harris, NBC’s dopey supernatural drama ‘Midnight, Texas‘ plays like a really lame, watered-down ‘True Blood’ knockoff. I couldn’t make it through one episode. Somehow, the show survived a whole season and has another on the way.
Available from Kino is a complete collection of the kung-fu cheesefest ‘The Master‘, starring Lee Van Cleef as a retired (and very white) ninja master who drives around in a van helping people in need, like a one-man A-Team. Even by the standards of 1984 television, a time when such a premise may have sounded like a good idea, the show only lasted 13 episodes on the air. It’s best remembered for being lampooned in a couple episodes of ‘Mystery Science 3000’.
I loved ‘The Florida Project’ and would like to add that to my library. I remember enjoying ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’ back in the day, but am being very selective in adding Woody Allen movies to my collection.
The description for ‘An Actor’s Revenge’ sounds fascinating, so I definitely want to check that out.
What looks good to you?