Movies about dancing top the Blu-ray releases this week. One is among the most divisive films of 2018, while the other stumbled badly. Also available: a new Oscar nominee and some failed Oscar bait, among other things.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Suspiria – Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) seems an odd choice to remake Dario Argento’s famed horror thriller, but the weird and creepy trailers had film fans abuzz. Dakota Johnson, eager to escape the shadow of Fifty Shades, stars as a dance prodigy who discovers that the elite boarding school she’s attending is actually a front for a coven of witches. In almost too-perfect casting, Tilda Swinton is the stern headmistress/grand witch. Our Deirdre loved, loved, loved the movie, while our Jason hated, hated, hated it. That divide seems to be pretty common. A typical complaint is that Guadagnino felt the need to add nearly an extra hour onto the run time without sufficient justification in the narrative.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – Likely expecting to launch a whole franchise of new fantasy films, Disney commissioned Lasse Hallström to direct a big-budget, overwrought spectacle loosely based on the Balanchine ballet. Joe Johnston was later brought in for reshoots, and the two amicably shared co-directing credit. Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren star, all decked out in gaudy costumes while marching through lots of CGI and ‘tween-friendly adventure tropes. I’m not really sure what audience Disney thought this would appeal to, but the answer was not much of one. Reviews were poor and the film’s weak box office precludes the possibility of sequels.
The Wife – Nominated for Oscars six times previously, Glenn Close may stand her best chance yet of winning one for her role as the long-suffering spouse of a narcissistic writer (Jonathan Pryce) who’s just won a Nobel prize. Close’s performance is said to be reserved but emotionally powerful. The film around her met with mixed reactions overall, but that didn’t stop Julianne Moore from winning the Oscar a few years ago for a movie nobody even remembers at all today.
Boy Erased – Already both Oscar winners, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe went gunning for additional nominations with a drama about a religious couple who ship their teenage son off to gay conversion therapy. While they came up short, Lucas Hedges did score a Golden Globe nomination, which is something, I guess. The film was directed by actor Joel Edgerton, who also has a supporting role. Although many reviews were supportive of the project’s good intentions, most were also put-off by its obvious awards-bait-ness.
Hunter Killer – Gerard Butler captains a submarine patrolling Russian waters in a low-rent Tom Clancy knockoff that you probably never noticed when it was briefly released to theaters last year. Fresh off his Oscar win, Gary Oldman pops in to cash an easy paycheck as an admiral who yells a lot. Word-of-mouth on this is about par with most Gerard Butler movies, which is to say very poor.
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl – Deirdre was decidedly not a fan about this anime about a young girl’s adventures drinking and partying through the night while being followed by a sensitive stalker pining for her love.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms waltzes onto the Ultra HD format with a SteelBook option at Best Buy. I’m not sure which has less appeal to SteelBook collectors, that or Hunter Killer. The Nutcracker case art is prettier.
The only other 4k release this week is DC’s newest animated feature, Reign of the Supermen.
Last released on Blu-ray by MGM in 2014, the Criterion Collection revisits Norman Jewison’s Best Picture winner In the Heat of the Night with a fresh remaster that’s reportedly a big improvement over the old one. Also available is a reissue of Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz that drops the redundant DVD copy.
Perhaps hoping that Suspiria will put fans in the mood for more giallo, Severin moves Sergio Martino’s All the Colors of the Dark and the trailer compilation All the Colors of Giallo to wide retail. Both were previously Black Friday exclusives on the company’s web site.
The Lord of the Apes heads abroad in the 1962 Tarzan Goes to India and the 1963 Tarzan’s Three Challenges, both now swinging out of the Warner Archive.
In 1983, Penelope Spheeris followed her acclaimed music documentary The Decline of Western Civilization with another examination of the punk scene, in drama form with Suburbia, now joining the Shout Select line.
Also in 1983, an actor named Wings Hauser went from TV bit player to DTV star with the low-budget action flick Deadly Force, which became a staple on VHS and cable syndication. Shout! Factory offers that one too.
It seems pretty appropriate for a label called Scream Factory to release the 1995 sci-fi flick Screamers, a Philip K. Dick adaptation starring Peter Weller as a soldier fighting against robots (kind of ironic for the star of RoboCop).
Finally, Disney has a so-called “Multi-Screen Edition” reissue of Willow that adds a digital code to what is probably the old Blu-ray from 2010.
Those who like HBO shows but don’t actually subscribe to the network now have a chance to catch up with the second season of Crashing and the fourth season of Ballers.
Despite mostly existing the shadow of HBO’s Westworld, the robot drama Humans has lasted three seasons on AMC (and Channel 4 in the UK).
The eleventh season of Doctor Who is the first with new star Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to play the role, which of course brought out the best in all the fanboys’ behavior.
Two years after her Oscar nomination for The Exorcist, Linda Blair starred in the TV movie Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, directed by Richard Donner (who’d have his own horror breakthrough the following year with The Omen).
In the Heat of the Night is the only title on my to-buy list, but I might watch The Wife or Suspiria if I come across them on Netflix someday. (I’m not a fan of the original Suspiria and don’t have much expectation for the remake.)
What looks good to you?