Happy MLK Day, everyone. I contemplated taking the day off, because the home video studios usually slow down their Blu-ray releases on holiday weeks, but this one actually brings us a few interesting titles. Let’s take a look!
‘Lucy‘ – After directing a handful of crappy kids’ movies, a couple of misguided awards-bait pictures, and a comedy that nobody had any interest in (not to mention writing and producing a bunch of lousy movies for other directors), Luc Besson finally got his mojo back with a gonzo action flick in which Scarlett Johansson turns superhero and kicks much ass while breaking all the laws of physics. Unfortunately, the plot is based around that stupid “Humans only use 10% of their brains” myth, which is pure BS. Some viewers were not able to get past that, but those that could generally found the movie fun.
‘The BoxTrolls‘ – Laika Animation, the studio behind ‘Coraline’ and ‘ParaNorman’, brings us its latest elaborately-crafted stop-motion spectacular. Although based on a popular children’s book (‘Here Be Monsters!’ by Alan Snow), the story about a human boy raised by trolls was perhaps too weird for regular moviegoing audiences. The film didn’t make much money, despite mostly positive reviews from critics.
‘The Zero Theorem‘ – Hoping to remind people that he was once the director of ‘Brazil’ and ’12 Monkeys’, Terry Gilliam returns to the realm of dystopian sci-fi. Christoph Waltz plays a scientist in the near future attempting to prove categorically that life has no meaning. Sadly, Gilliam appears to have run out of good will. Reviews and word-of-mouth on this one were mixed to negative, even among his faithful fans.
‘Annabelle‘ – That creepy doll from ‘The Conjuring’ gets her own prequel movie. Does the world really need such a thing?
‘The Drop‘ – In his final film role, James Gandolfini stars with Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in a slow-burn crime drama written by author Dennis Lehane. Even with that much pedigree, critics were heavily divided over the film’s merits, and audiences didn’t show much interest.
‘White Bird in a Blizzard‘ – Shot before but released after her big mainstream blockbuster ‘Divergent’, Shailene Woodley reaffirmed her indie cred by working with director Gregg Araki (‘Mysterious Skin’) in a heavy drama about a teenage girl coping with her mother’s disappearance. Woodley’s performance was singled out for praise, but not much else in the film was.
Responding to complaints that its original 3,000 copy Limited Edition Blu-ray of the 1985 horror comedy ‘Fright Night‘ sold out too quickly, Twilight Time reissued the movie in a 30th Anniversary Special Edition that has again already sold out by the time you read this. I have to assume that most of these copies were bought up by speculators hoping to mark up the price and profit on eBay. Personally, I found ‘Fright Night’ to be an incredibly cheesy, downright terrible movie, and it mystifies me how it could possibly have so many fans. Maybe that’s just me.
Other new Limited Editions from Twilight Time (these in less danger of immediately selling out) include the Best Original Screenplay-winning cycling drama ‘Breaking Away‘, the Indian historical adventure ‘Bandit Queen‘, Francois Truffaut’s revenge drama ‘The Bride Wore Black‘, and Woody Allen’s delightful period fantasy ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo‘.
Meanwhile, the Criterion Collection gives us a peculiar pairing of location-specific movies: Preston Sturges’ 1942 comedy ‘The Palm Beach Story‘ and Guy Maddin’s 2007 surreal docudrama ‘My Winnipeg‘.
In the run-up to this year’s Academy Awards, Shout! Factory reminds us of the two acting wins for Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in 1982’s ‘On Golden Pond‘.
Back in 1956, Henry Fonda also appeared with the other famous (yet unrelated) Hepburn – Audrey – in King Vidor’s epic adaptation of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace‘. Yes, once upon a time, Hollywood would pour huge sums of money into making a 3.5 hour movie based on an acclaimed literary masterpiece. Today we get ‘Twilight’. How times have changed.
Among the titles that Olive Films has licensed for this week, the one that stands out for me is French Surrealist Alain Robbe-Grillet’s 1983 ‘La belle captive‘.
I have no idea how well the various box sets for ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ are actually selling, but I admire Lionsgate’s commitment to putting out the ongoing restoration of this classic show at a reasonable price.
‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ is one of my favorite Woody Allen movies, and it’s the Blu-ray I’m most excited for this week. Possible rentals for me include ‘Lucy’, ‘The BoxTrolls’ and ‘The Zero Theorem’. (I still feel the need to give Gilliam the benefit of the doubt.) Going on my wish list for possible future purchase will be ‘Breaking Away’, ‘The Bride Wore Black’, ‘The Palm Beach Story’ and ‘La belle captive’.
What will you spend money on this week?