Blu-ray Highlights for 2/28/12 – Slow Going This Week

Wow, this is a very slow week for new Blu-ray releases. Like, ridiculously slow, even for this time of year. Only one major title will hit store shelves today. While some of the catalog titles look interesting to me, I doubt that any of them will be big sellers. I suppose our wallets needed a break.

Here’s a look at today’s release slate:


That major title alluded to earlier would of course be Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated children’s film ‘Hugo‘, available in your choice of 2D or 3D options. Because I’m writing this post in advance of the Oscar ceremony, I don’t know at this moment whether the movie won the big Best Picture prize, but if I had to guess, I’d assume probably not. Regardless, this is a very acclaimed film, and Scorsese’s use of 3D is said to be particularly impressive.

Personally, I’m saddened that the studio forced Scorsese to repeatedly dumb down the movie’s title. Originally, it was to be ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, which is the name of the book it’s based on. Later, that was shorted to ‘Hugo Cabret’ and eventually to just ‘Hugo’. This reeks of the studio having no faith in the film. I suppose we’re lucky it didn’t wind up as ‘H’.

Other than that, the day-and-date scene is pretty bleak this week. Rowan Atkinson’s ‘Johnny English Reborn‘ is the long-delayed sequel to a movie that nobody much cared about the first time around – aside from the British, anyway. Both comedies were hits in England. Universal offers both on Blu-ray today.

In his Blu-ray review (linked above), Aaron describes the Sundance turkey ‘I Melt with You‘ as “soul-crushing” and “an excruciating dive into the moronic nature of nothingness.” Ouch. Based on the movie’s pathetic 13% Rotten Tomatoes score, this seems to be a common sentiment. I particularly like the quote from The AV Club that calls it a “movie about self-absorbed douchebags that wallows in their douchebaggery.” I think I’ll pass on this one.

Catalog Titles

I hate to say that even the most appealing catalog releases of the week are mostly obscure titles. After all, some of them were made by major filmmakers of their days. Nonetheless, beyond the dedicated cineaste audience, these aren’t the type of movies that Best Buy or Walmart are even likely to carry, much less to sell in volume. Still, film lovers may want to give them a look.

The latest addition to the Criterion Collection is Louis Malle’s metatextual ‘Vanya on 42nd Street‘, in which a group of actors (including Julianne Moore and Wallace Shawn) come together for a closed-door workshop of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ in a dilapidated urban theater. David Mamet wrote the Chekhov adaptation, and theater director Andre Gregory (as in ‘My Dinner with Andre’) wrote the film’s screenplay. The most interesting aspect of the film is way that it seamlessly drifts from the rehearsal and behind-the-scenes activity into the play itself and back again. I’ll be honest, I saw this movie when it was originally released and it didn’t make a big impression on me. However, considering all the talent involved, I’m willing to give it another shot.

Indie label Olive Films is pretty busy this week with four classic titles (by which I mean movies more than 30 years old, not necessarily that they’re all well-regarded or acclaimed). First up is the pirate adventure ‘The Buccaneer‘, starring Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston. This was the only directorial effort by actor Anthony Quinn. Next are two films by director Edward Dmytryk (‘The Caine Mutiny’): the suspense thriller ‘The Mountain‘ starring Spencer Tracy, and the pulpy potboiler ‘Where Love Has Gone‘ starring Bette Davis and based on a trashy bestseller by Harold Robbins. Lastly, the studio offers the 1980 bio-pic ‘Nijinsky‘, about the famed ballet dancer and directed by Herbert Ross (‘Steel Magnolias’). I’d be willing to take a look at ‘The Buccaneer’ and ‘The Mountain’, but the other two don’t overly interest me. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, Kino gives us Fritz Lang’s 1945 film noir ‘Scarlet Street‘, which was nominated for the AFI’s Top 10 Gangster Film list in 2008.

Are you buying anything this week?


  1. JM

    ‘Vanya on 42nd Street’! – Reminds me of Pacino’s ‘Looking For RIchard.’

    ‘Baba Yaga’ – Blue Underground is the little studio that could.

    ‘Mandrill’ – The finest assassin in Chile has revenge on his mind.

    It’s a damn dirty shame that ‘Miss Bala,’ ‘Rabies,’ and ‘Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil’ are only releasing on dvd, otherwise this would be a killer week.

  2. I am looking at Hugo 3D. I got a new 3D set, so I am picking up practically every 3D title I can put my hands on. It reminds me of the early day of HDTV when I watched Get Out on HDNet because it was the only thing on in HD. That and Jay Leno. I am hoping to move in to a place that had 3D channels in their cable package.

  3. EM

    I’ve placed a hold request for Vanya with my public library. I’m enough of a My Dinner With Andre fan to want to give this one a try.

    • JM

      ‘Uncle Vanya’ was first staged in ’88 with Christopher Walken as Dr. Astrov.

      He opens the play dramatically, by refusing tea.

  4. Drew

    William, I’m happy to hear that you got a shiny new 3D set. Congrats. Which one did you get? Are you happy with it so far?

    ‘Hugo 3D’ for me. Nothing else this week. Thank God! It feels like it has been expensive since the first of December!


      I am extraemely happy with it! I also picked it up for $499. My only real annoyance is it doesn’t have a setting to squish a 16×9 picture back to 4×3 (my toshiba 2D has that, comes in really handy on cartoon network and a couple of other channels). The picture quality was also much better than I was expecting, in both 2D and 3D. In fact, the quality rivals every other LCD set I have seen. I was also happy with the default color settings – I haven’t even gotten around to calibrating the set because, out of the box, the settings are pretty darn accurate. The 3D mode is better than what I see at theaters. So I couldn’t be happier with it (except that I REALLY want that squish mode – Vizio, PLEASE put that in a future firmware update)

      • Josh Zyber

        William, some TVs will only pillarbox 4:3 content on SD signals, but lock that feature out on HD signals. What resolution is your cable/satellite box set to output SD channels at? If it upconverts them to an HD res, try setting it to output SD as SD.

  5. August Lehe

    Baba Yaga,
    Lola Montez,
    and Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    Then, I remembered how much I missed 1945’s ‘Vacation from Marriage’ or, ‘Perfect Strangers’ in UK. Doubt I’ll live long enough to see that one on Blu Ray. You would think somebody would be begging for a forgotten Robert Donat-Deborah Kerr classic!