Blu-ray Highlights: Week of January 17th, 2016 – Gangsta Gangsta

When it came time to recognize the contribution that black artists and performers made to cinema during 2015, it appears that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ran all outta nominations. Sorry, people of color! At least we can still watch your movies on Blu-ray.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (1/19/16)?

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New Releases

Straight Outta Compton‘ – To cut the Academy some slack, I must note that the voters in fact did nominate this bio-pic about legendary hip-hop band N.W.A for a Best Screenplay Oscar (ironically, all four nominated writers are white), though nothing else. I also have to admit that I expressed skepticism about the movie when it was released, because all the trailers made it look like a piece of narcissistic self-glorification from producer Ice Cube (who cast his own son to play himself, which is just uncomfortably weird). However, I’m told that the movie is better than it looked. I’m interested enough to see it, even if I wasn’t ever a big N.W.A fan back in the day.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl‘ – Also overlooked by the Oscars was the acclaimed coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old girl growing up in 1970s San Francisco, who starts a secret affair with her mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend. Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard, and young actress Bel Powley are all said to deliver terrific performances. Many critics marked first-time filmmaker Marielle Heller as an exciting new talent. (No women director nominees at the Oscars this year either, huh.)

Everest‘ – Although this survival adventure thriller recounts the true story made famous by Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into Thin Air’ (and Krakauer is a character in it), my understanding is that the film isn’t specifically based on that book, but rather on a combination of accounts of that disastrous attempt to climb the highest peak in the world. Regardless, it promises plenty of spectacle, available in 3D and Dolby Atmos. (Spoiler Alert: The trip doesn’t go very well for any of the climbers.)

All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records‘ – Actor Colin Hanks branches out into directing with a nostalgic documentary about the history of his favorite music store – and, by extension, the huge changes that the music industry has undergone as a result of the transition from physical media to digital delivery.

The Intern‘ – Robert De Niro takes an internship working for Anne Hathaway, which is funny because the boss is young but her intern is sooooooo old. Ha ha ha… Yeah, that’s the full extent of the joke in Nancy Meyers’ latest comedy. Your mom will probably think it’s cute.

Jem and the Holograms‘ – Exactly whom is this movie made for? Is there really any nostalgia out there for the dopey ’80s cartoon? This isn’t ‘Transformers’ or ‘The Smurfs’. The property hasn’t been part of the pop culture consciousness for thirty years. The few people who remember ‘Jem’ were all offended that the movie wasn’t faithful to their childhoods. Nobody else had ever heard of it in the first place. Unsurprisingly, it was one of the biggest box office bombs of the year.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection feels that the Coen brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis‘ was unjustly overlooked and too quickly forgotten during its brief run in 2013. It didn’t do particularly well on home video either. Perhaps a Blu-ray re-release with the cachet of Criterion behind it will bring the film some new attention?

Criterion’s other offering this week is the 1946 Rita Hayworth film noir ‘Gilda‘.

Twilight Time had originally planned to release the 3D anime adaptation ‘Harlock: Space Pirate‘ back in December. That release got pushed back due to technical issues and is finally coming out today. Other new Twilight Time limited editions include two Hal Ashby films (the Jack Nicholson star vehicle ‘The Last Detail‘ and the Depression-era Woody Guthrie bio-pic ‘Bound for Glory‘), one by George Roy Hill (the James Michener epic ‘Hawaii‘), one by Richard Brooks (the divorce drama ‘The Happy Ending‘), and one by Mark Robson (the Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward melodrama ‘From the Terrace‘).

Scream Factory unearths ‘The Guardian‘ – no, not the Coast Guard movie with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. This one is William Friedkin’s horror flick about an evil tree. It’s one of the low points of that director’s career.

Another guilty pleasure comes from the Warner Archive with the 1980s sci-fi cheesefest ‘The Ice Pirates‘.

After that, Warner Bros. gets serious for a moment with Paul Schrader’s ‘American Gigolo‘.

Olive Films has Gary Sinise’s acclaimed adaptation of ‘Of Mice and Men‘, plus a very interesting collection called ‘Let There Be Light: John Huston’s Wartime Documentaries‘.


I wasn’t too impressed with the pilot episode of Syfy’s ‘12 Monkeys‘ spinoff series and never gave it another shot. The show has some fans, however. Perhaps I bailed on it too early? Does it get better?

Likewise, I was never able to get into the same network’s ‘Continuum‘, which nonetheless celebrates its fourth season on Blu-ray.

My $.02

‘Straight Outta Compton’, ‘Everest’ and ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ all look like strong rental candidates for me.

I still haven’t seen ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, so the Criterion disc could be a good opportunity to catch up with the film. That and ‘Gilda’ are my strongest purchase candidates of the week.

Although I’m not in a rush to buy them right now, ‘The Last Detail’, ‘Bound for Glory’, ‘The Happy Ending’ and ‘From the Terrace’ will go on my Twilight Time wish list.

I’ve also always liked Sinise’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, and would be pretty interested to watch the John Huston war documentaries.

What catches your eye this week?


  1. Csm101

    Everest 3D more than likely will be my only purchase today. I saw The Guardian in theaters back in the day. I kind of want to revisit it. I think Space Pirate is a cg movie kind of like Final Fantasy. it was on Netflix, but not in 3d. I want this but am strapped for$$$. Twilight Time has released a 3d title before, Man In the Dark. I’m interested in Straight Outta Compton, but I’ll probably rent it first. I really liked Gary Sinise’s adaptation of Of Mice and Men. He was perfect in the role of George although I wouldn’t of thought of John Malkovich for the role of Lennie. He did a fine job. I’ll wait for a review of the bluray quality before a purchase. Olive titles can be iffy.

  2. Deaditelord

    Harlock: Space Pirate could be a pickup along with Everest 3D, but I want to rent or stream them first. Everything else doesn’t interest me.

  3. Chris B

    I find it kind of ironic that it’s perfectly fine to refer to non-whites as “people of color”, but referring to them as “colored” is incredibly offensive. I know that the term colored has a long and sordid history before and during the civil rights movement, but the two expressions are almost identical when you think about it. At any rate I’ll be picking up Straight Outta Compton when the price drops, it’s a great movie but one I can wait a while to watch again.

    I’ve never seen Inside Llewellyn Davis, I really enjoy the Coen bros stuff but the subject matter of this one leaves me a little cold. Maybe I’ll get around to watching it on Netflix in the next few weeks.

    Wasn’t “Gilda” the movie all the convicts watch in The Shawshank Redemption? The one where Rita Hayworth “does that shit with her hair”? Might almost be worth watching for that reason alone…

    • I’m glad I know now, because knowing is half the battle. I never knew ‘colored’ was offensive, because ‘a colored mayor’ is an expression in ‘Back to the Future’. I thought it just meant ‘a mayor of color’, I never made the distinction between appropriate and non-appropriate. Glad I found out before I accidentally (and without any bad intentions) used it in a conversation.

      • Yeah, I believe there’s scene in Ocean’s 11 that highlights this fact. Matt Damon refers to Bernie Mac’s character as ” colored”which results in a near fist-fight. Of course the fight is staged because they’re working together to rob the casino, but it still illustrates how the expression can rile people up in a hurry.

      • EM

        This can be a complex topic.

        Colored and of color are not synonymous. Colored, as used in the 1950s America depicted in Back to the Future, specifically refers to black people. Of color, on the other hand, encompasses all persons who are not of unmixed white heritage. (People of mixed white and nonwhite heritage are often considered strictly nonwhite, which strikes me as yet another inequity.)

        You may find other usages. In South Africa, Coloured refers to a somewhat heterogeneous group that includes both persons of mixed black-white heritage and persons of some other ethnic backgrounds.

        In America, I have not noticed the adjective colored being considered “incredibly offensive”, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it is to some folks or if there has been a general groundswell of opposition to the term that I have missed. In my experience, it’s simply an archaic term, and it is likely to raise questions as to whether its user’s attitudes are equally archaic. Of course, I’m sure that insistence on using it in lieu of currently preferred alternatives could cause offense, just as insistent defiance of any other established naming preference could cause offense. Even if the term is not offensive, the use very well might be! One major exception to the general rule is the United States’ preëminent organization for black people, the NAACP, whose initials stand for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. When the organization was founded in 1909, colored was a perfectly polite adjective, and the group name has remained despite changes in the language.

        On the other hand, you might find colored more automatically offensive as a noun. (But so far as I know, the noun Coloured is still quite acceptable in South African usage.)

        But in any case, you’ve probably already formed a sensible conclusion, which is to avoid using colored as anything but a verb, unless you’re quite sure of what you’re doing.

  4. C.C.

    Bound for Glory had the first Steadicam shot ever.
    …and “(No women director nominees at the Oscars this year either, huh.)”?!!
    These things are based on MERIT not sex or color. Is it possible no women directors merited being nominated? (Also- no one-legged, three breasted prostitute directors are represented this year either).

  5. Everest 3D is en route from Zavvi in a Steelbook Edition.
    List of interest: All Things Must Pass, Condemned 2, The Guardian, Ice Pirates, Nightmare Weekend, Straight Outta Compton

    List of interest is an interest at first glance or a strong maybe.

  6. Bolo

    I really liked James Michener’s novel of ‘Hawaii’ and look forward to checking out the two films adapted from it. That’s probably the only thing of interest for me this week.

    I did see ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in cinemas and quite liked it, partly for nostalgia reasons and I think it is a fascinating time in music history. But I don’t need to see it again any time soon.

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