Blu-ray Highlights: Week of January 18th, 2015 – From ‘Zero’ to Hero

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!

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (1/20/15)?

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New Releases

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.

Catalog Titles

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‘.

Television

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?

15 comments

  1. Chris B

    I like a lot of Luc Besson’s stuff, and Lucy’s plot does sound kind of cool but I honestly think I’m getting burned out on Scarlet Johansen…might give it a rent down the road.

    The Drop was one movie I was hoping to catch in theatres but never found the time. Will be renting it this week for sure!

    I’m with you on Fright Night Josh, I thought the original was pretty campy, the remake was a lot more enjoyable.

    I tried watching Zero Thereom on Netflix the other night and just couldn’t get into it, even as much as I like Christoph Waltz. Plus, some of the costumes were downright laughable.

    I’m intrigued by “My Winnipeg” partly as someone who suffers brutal canadian winters in a city as well, and maybe a small sense of patriotic duty. It’s going on my B&N criterion list for July.

  2. William Henley

    Just Little House On the Prairie for me, and I always buy two copies – one for me and one for my mom. She has the whole series on DVD, but she was shocked with how well the Blu-Rays look – she said it is the first time that she really noticed a difference between DVD and Blu-Ray, and really looks forward to them, asking me every few weeks when the next season is coming out. She also quite enjoys the fact that the episodes are restored to their original run time (apparently the DVDs did not have that) and the bonus features.

  3. I’m currently reviewing LUCY for the site (review will be up shortly guys, although perhaps not by release day) and actually purchased all three TWILIGHT TIME titles this week: Fright Night, Breaking Away (which I remember seeing in the theater as a kid and wondering if it will hold up), and The Purple Rose of Cairo (which I’ve NEVER seen, but people keep recommending it to me).

    Breaking Away is here, The Purple Rose of Cairo is out for delivery today, but my Fright Night hasn’t even shipped yet…anyone else get theirs?

  4. Deaditelord

    Chalk me up as one of the fans of original Fright Night. Yes the movie is campy, but that’s by intention and I would argue, part of it’s charm. Plus the movie is a love letter to us horror fans that grew up on the local creature feature horror movie shows that used to air each weekend on broadcast TV. One need only look at the character of Peter Vincent – perfectly realized by Roddy McDowell – to see the connection. McDowell is an absolute hoot as the self-proclaimed famous vampire killer and it’s his performance along with Chris Sarandon’s that elevate the movie to it’s beloved cult status. The special effects were pretty impressive at the time the movie is released.

    Note: I actually think the remake is decent, but like many of us who loved the original, I disliked the changes made to Peter Vincent’s character.

    As to Twilight Time and other limited editions releases, this trend of speculators buying out all the copies to jack up the prices on ebay needs to end. It’s gotten to the point now where unless you put your order in within the first few minutes of it becoming available online you can’t get a copy. Limiting buyers to one copy and then enforcing it by having them create an account and link either their paypal or credit card to that account to make said purchase would go a long way in stopping this irritating trend.

  5. I ordered Fright Night, but it’s still pending. WTF??!! I can probably thank all the scalpers for my order not being shipped in a more timely manner. I really enjoyed the remake , but this one has been a favorite for many years and look forward to seeing it on blu even though Netflix has it in hd. Interested in Boxtrolls 3d, but will wait for a price drop, as I’m trying to cut down on bluray purchases. I’m going to redbox The Drop and Lucy when available.

  6. Looks like a relatively overall inexpensive week.
    Must Buys: Boxtrolls 3D, Lucy.
    Preordered: Fright Night
    Strong Maybes: LHOP #4, My Winnipeg
    Maybes but only if I have nothing better to do and money to burn: Atticus institute, On Golden Pond, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, War & Peace and finally Annabelle.

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