Blu-ray Highlights for 1/25/11: What Are You Buying?

A fair number of interesting titles are being released on Blu-ray today, including one of the best films of the past decade. That’s not a bad way to wrap up the month of January.

Let’s take a look at the release list:

With Oscar season now upon us, the home video studios are rolling out some of their older prestige pictures as hopeful awards tie-ins. These include Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of ‘The Color Purple‘, Ron Howard’s overrated ‘A Beautiful Mind‘, and James L. Brooks’ ‘Broadcast News‘. The latter comes courtesy of the Criterion Collection and should make a nice set.

Although it was shamefully overlooked for awards during its original release, Michel Gondry’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘ (with script by Charlie Kaufman) is a staggeringly brilliant piece of work that has risen in esteem with each passing year as more people discover it. This is a must-own movie.

As for the week’s day-and-date releases, perhaps the most appealing is the action comedy ‘RED‘, which looks pretty silly but generated some good buzz regardless. (Drew was a fan.) I missed it in theaters, but the image of Helen Mirren with a machine gun is enough to convince me to check it out on video.

This past October, Disney tried to lure fans of ‘Seabiscuit‘ back to theaters for ‘Secretariat‘, which (from the trailers) looks like almost the exact same movie. I didn’t care for ‘Seabiscuit’, personally, and had no problems skipping this one. Andrew O’Hehir at Salon makes an interesting argument against ‘Secretariat’ as “a honey-dipped fantasy vision of the American past as the Tea Party would like to imagine it, loaded with uplift and glory and scrubbed clean of multiculturalism and social discord.” Perhaps he’s reading too much into it, but knowing director Randall Wallace’s political leanings, probably not.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum is ‘Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer‘, the latest documentary from Alex Gibney (director of ‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room‘). I was a big fan of that earlier film, but found this one terribly disappointing. The movie pulls all of its punches, lets Spitzer (a man whose political incompetence almost single-handedly destroyed the Liberal cause in America) totally off the hook for knowingly and repeatedly engaging in criminal activity while acting as Governor of New York, and ultimately even succumbs to abject hero worship of the man – all in order to score easy political points against the other side. The movie is irresponsibly naïve at best. The more I think about it, the more upset it makes me.

If you’re still interested in documentaries about America’s economic collapse, perhaps ‘Freakonomics: The Movie‘, based on the wildly popular book, will be a better bet. I’ve heard good things about this one, but I don’t recall it opening in theaters anywhere near me.

Shifting gears radically, we also get ‘Saw: The Final Chapter‘ in your choice of standard 2D or splatterific 3D. From the title, it appears that this is meant to be the last in the inexplicably popular franchise. But we’ve heard that from “final” installments of other horror series such as ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, haven’t we? I guarantee you that if the studio thinks there might be another dollar to be made, we’ll see more ‘Saw’ movies in the future. Expect a reboot to be announced any day now.

Finally, ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest‘ wraps up the storyline from ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘ and ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire‘. If you already have those first two, you can buy this one individually. If not, all three have been bundled together in the ‘The Stieg Larsson Trilogy‘.


  1. Agree with you about Client 9 (someone actually found a way to make a doc about sex and political corruption boring!), disagree about Eternal Sunshine…don’t hate it, but I do think it’s vastly overrated.

  2. Jane Morgan

    A few years back I was chatting with Steven Pressfield, author of ‘Gates Of Fire,’ who was working with Randall Wallace to pound out the screenplay for ‘Killing Rommel’ (based on Steven’s novel) to turn it into a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

    (If you’ve never read Pressfield, start with ‘The Virtues Of War.’ It’s the greatest story ever told about Alexander The Great. With no gay sex.)

    ‘Killing Rommel’ gets put into development hell, and ‘Seabiscuit 2’ ($59M BO) is already on blu-ray…?

    There is no justice in the world.

    Whoever’s in charge of making movies needs to wax my car. We’ll put Car Wax Girl #3 in charge making movies. Five bucks says the quality of product goes up by thirty percent.

    (On the other hand, Aaron Sorkin’s new TV show is going to HBO, and Keanu Reeves is making ‘The Matrix 4’ to apologize for 2&3, so maybe we should just put The Girl Who Bags My Fruit in charge of Disney.)

    I think I’ll add ‘Red’ to my Netflix Q, Drew’s review sold me.

    And ‘Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’ was indie awesome. They should make more movies about girls with red hair.

  3. The Universe is already up to Season 5? I mean, I like the show, but have only seen like 10 episodes of it (probably because, on my provider, History Channel is tucked between several Spanish stations and I rarely look at the guide in that range to see what is coming on). Now, if Amazon does a deal-of-the-day for the whole series for like, oh, $50, I might pick it up. Otherwise, its a Netflix stream for me. That being said, $20 for a season is not bad. I guess if all 5 seasons are that price, that would add up to $100 for the series. I guess its not too bad of a price. I’ll think about that.