Here we are in 2015. The year starts off with a bunch of new Blu-ray releases, a few of them kind of interesting. I feel good. I knew that I would now.
‘Boyhood‘ – One of the most praised movies of 2014 and very likely to be recognized come Oscar time, Richard Linklater’s indie drama was filmed over a span of twelve years, following the same cast through a decade worth of domestic turmoil. Primary star Ellar Coltrane ages from a child actor to a young man before your eyes. It’s an ambitious conceit, if kind of gimmicky, but the majority of critics and viewers say it pays off.
‘Get On Up‘ – Chadwick Boseman, who earned strong notices last year for portraying Jackie Robinson in ‘42‘, scored even bigger raves for taking on James Brown. The movie itself looks like pretty standard bio-pic stuff, but the performance and infectious music may elevate it in much the same way that ‘Ray‘ was fairly entertaining and watchable despite hitting every note in the bio-pic playbook.
‘The Guest‘ – Our theatrical reviewer Phil has been raving about this satirical, genre-smashing, ’80s-style thriller since he saw it at the Toronto Film Festival. It didn’t get much of a release outside of festivals, so the Blu-ray should finally provide an opportunity for folks to catch up with it.
‘Horns‘ – Daniel Radcliffe plays a guy who mysteriously grows demon horns out of his forehead after being accused of murdering his girlfriend in a black comedy from Alexandre Aja, the director of ‘High Tension’ and ‘Piranha 3D’. Most reviews were tepid despite how fun the premise sounds.
‘Left Behind‘ – Nicolas Cage, no stranger to embarrassing himself in awful projects, takes over from Kirk Cameron in a theatrical reboot for the dead-stupid religious fantasy series. It turned out about as well as you’d expect.
‘No Good Deed‘ – Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson both deserve better than some generic suspense thriller that looks like it would have gone direct-to-VHS in the early ’90s. Nevertheless, the movie had a surprisingly huge opening weekend that unseated ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (admittedly in its seventh week) and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (in its sixth) from the top of the box office back in September. I guess it was marketed well to its target audience.
‘Atlas Shrugged, Part III: Who Is John Galt?‘ – I find it hilarious that this epic yet amateurish three-part adaptation of Ayn Rand’s infamous ode to the glories of selfishness and greed has lost its creators and investors huge chunks of their personal wealth that they may never recover. Because no actors are willing to subject themselves to being in more than one of these things, the third part of the narrative recasts every role again, after that had already happened once with ‘Part II’.
‘The Longest Week‘ – It can’t possibly be a good sign that I’d never heard of this rom-com starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde, Billy Crudup and Jenny Slate (who’s currently on a hot streak since ‘Obvious Child’). Did the movie even get a theatrical release?
‘The Houses October Built‘ – A found-footage horror flick about Halloween thrill-seekers who get more than they bargained for, but probably exactly what they deserved, when visiting off-the-beaten-path haunted house attractions. Apparently, this is a real phenomenon, and portions of the movie consist of interviews with people who actually run these things (but are presumably not really sadistic serial killers). Although the premise sounds somewhat interesting, word-of-mouth on the movie was generally unkind.
Someone at the Criterion Collection sure loves samurai movies. This week’s offering is the 1966 ‘The Sword of Doom‘. I mean, I get the appeal of the genre, but after a while the various titles just blur together.
In either really bad or really good timing, depending on your perspective, Universal and Fox are both releasing movies from the late Mike Nichols on the same day: ‘Charlie Wilson’s War‘and ‘Working Girl‘ respectively. To be fair, both discs were scheduled before the director’s recent death. Just thinking about this, I’ve now got the lyrics to Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” stuck in my head.
‘The Princess Bride‘ has already been released on Blu-ray twice previously. What can a new 25th Anniversary Edition offer, beyond a convenient tie-in with Cary Elwes’ book about the making of the movie?
The Clive Barker adaptation ‘Candyman’ was not a particularly great horror movie to start with, but it has a cult audience. The pointless sequel ‘Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh‘, much less so. Interesting trivia, however: This was the first theatrical feature for future ‘Gods and Monsters’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ director Bill Condon. I guess that explains how he got roped into doing two ‘Twilight’ movies.
Nazi hunter Laurence Olivier uncovers a wild conspiracy while tracking down the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck) in the crazy sci-fi-ish thriller ‘The Boys from Brazil‘, now resurrected by Shout! Factory.
Robert De Niro has only directed two films, and I’m apparently one of the few viewers who liked his slow but absorbing spy drama ‘The Good Shepherd‘. This is a former HD DVD exclusive title that Universal has finally gotten around to porting to Blu-ray.
Also from Universal is the John Le Carre adaptation ‘The Constant Gardner‘, which was better received and I also enjoy.
TV box sets this week include the fifth season of ‘Archer‘, the third for ‘Girls‘, and the first respectively for ‘Looking‘ and ‘Black Sails‘.
I’m very eager to see ‘Boyhood’. Other potential rentals for me include ‘Get On Up’ and ‘The Guest’. Some of the catalog titles are also OK, but I don’t feel a burning desire to purchase any of them this week.
How will you start the year?