I’m not sure which is the more depressing prospect – that the top Blu-ray release for the last week of January is a leftover Halloween movie, or that it’s also a ‘Madea’ movie. Either way, it doesn’t speak well for the new discs on offer.
‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween‘ – Tyler Perry’s seemingly unstoppable cross-dressing franchise had been on a downturn in recent years until getting an unexpected bump with 2016’s inexplicably popular ‘Boo! A Madea Halloween’. Perry moved quickly to capitalize on that with a quickie sequel cranked out one year later. Although still a box office hit, the movie cost more to make than the original and did much less business. In fact, domestically, it was his lowest-grossing movie with the Madea name in the title. Could this suggest that even the media mogul’s fans are growing tired of his shtick?
‘Last Flag Flying‘ – Based on a novel by author Darryl Ponicsan that was originally written as a sequel to ‘The Last Detail’ (famously adapted by Hal Ashby in 1973), Richard Linklater’s new film stars Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell as aging Vietnam vets (the story is set in 2003 to explain how the actors’ ages fit the timeline) who reunite when one’s son is killed in Iraq. Reviews were respectable but not enthusiastic, and its theatrical attendance was so poor as to hardly be measurable. That’s perhaps largely due to the downer subject matter, but the trailers also didn’t look terribly interesting.
‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women‘ – Writer/director Angela Robinson (a producer on several notable TV series including ‘The L Word’ and ‘Hung’) delivers a bio-pic about William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the man who created Wonder Woman. More to the point, the movie is also about the unconventional polyamorous lifestyle he led with his wife (Rebecca Hall) and another woman (Bella Heathcote), and the rather kinky ideas that infused the origins of his famous comic book character. Despite being rushed through production to capitalize on its association with the summer’s big ‘Wonder Woman’ blockbuster, and also despite utterly failing to attract any of that audience, I’ve heard the film mentioned in a number of critics’ year-end lists (often as an honorable mention).
Pabst! Blue! Ribbon! The Criterion Collection honors influential German auteur G.W. Pabst with new restorations of his 1930 and 1931 World War I dramas ‘Westfront 1918‘ and ‘Kameradschaft‘.
Olive Films looks back to 1992, the year that Penélope Cruz first made an international splash with two playfully sexy art films, ‘Belle Epoche‘ and ‘Jamón Jamón‘.
Arrow Academy cheers ‘Viva l’Italia‘ for Roberto Rossellini’s 1961 Neo-Realist bio-pic of 19th Century Italian general and politician Giuseppe Garibaldi. The label claims that the film had never previously been released on home video in North America.
The main Arrow line, meanwhile, goes in a sleazier direction with a Special Edition of Wes Craven’s 1977 exploitation horror classic ‘The Hills Have Eyes‘. The disc appears to be a reissue of the 2016 Limited Edition, minus the postcards, poster or booklet.
Lionsgate continues its Vestron Collector’s Series with Ken Russell’s 1986 acid-trip period horror film ‘Gothic‘, as well as the dopey 1990 robot-teacher sci-fi flick ‘Class of 1999‘.
In case you just can’t get enough of historical soap operas about British royalty, PBS offers the second season of ‘Victoria‘.
Kino then compiles ‘The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1‘, featuring 20 shorts starring Inspector Clouseau’s animated mascot.
I expect that I’ll save my money this week. Both of Criterion’s G.W. Pabst releases sound interesting, but not enough for me to rush out and buy them right away. Although I have some interest in ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’, I can wait for it to turn up on Netflix or cable. I can’t muster much excitement for ‘Last Flag Flying’, because Richard Linklater’s work typically doesn’t do much for me outside of the ‘Before…’ trilogy.
Does anything appeal to you?