The new year is only slowly ramping up with Blu-ray releases. While this week brings a larger selection than the last couple over the holidays, the biggest titles are some TV shows and festival films. If you were hoping for a major blockbuster, hold tight for another week.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Mid90s – Jonah Hill makes his feature directing debut with a coming-of-age tale about skater culture during the title period. Most critics were supportive of the venture, though some felt the result was too thinly sketched and derivative. Still, it was successful enough that Hill could take on more ambitious projects in the future.
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn – Legion co-stars Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement join Craig Robinson and Emile Hirsch in a weirdo crime comedy about a bunch of losers, low-lifes, and a hotel lounge singer (or maybe magic act, I’m not sure?). All the plot descriptions I’ve read are basically incomprehensible, and probably beside the point anyway. Movies like this are made specifically to play at Sundance in the hopes of becoming a breakout cult hit. No such luck in this case. Reviews and word-of-mouth were both poor.
Hounds of Love – Much better buzzed on the festival circuit was this Australian psychological thriller about a young girl abducted by a serial-killing couple, whose only hope of survival is to turn her captors against each other. The movie is said to be unrelentingly harrowing and disturbing (though fortunately not graphic), with more complex characters than your typical horror outing.
Let the Corpses Tan – I guess sometimes style can trump substance. This French/Belgian throwback to the Italian giallo and Spaghetti Western genres charmed most critics enough that they were willing to give it a pass on an allegedly incomprehensible plot.
Debuting in 4k are the first season of Hulu’s Castle Rock and an amusement park-themed horror flick called Hell Fest.
The Criterion Collection closes out the life and career of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (Close-Up, Certified Copy) with his final feature, 24 Frames. More a film experiment than a narrative story, the piece is a collection of 24 short vignettes inspired by still photographs.
I’m not aware that there was anything particularly lacking about the previous Blu-ray edition of the genre-defining Rob Reiner/Nora Ephron nom-com When Harry Met Sally. Shout! Factory celebrates its 30th anniversary by reissuing the film as part of its Shout Select line anyway. The disc promises a new video transfer and one new interview with Reiner and Billy Crystal, in addition to carrying over most of the old MGM supplements.
Joel Schumacher followed up the notorious, campy flop Batman & Robin with the gritty and unpleasant thriller 8MM, starring Nicolas Cage as a P.I. investigating a snuff film. Despite a script by Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, the movie was savaged by critics. Scream Factory digs it up to see if its reputation has improved any over the last two decades.
Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jeremy Piven, and Stephen Dorff have a very bad night being chased by Denis Leary through the mean streets of Chicago in the 1993 thriller Judgment Night, which finds its way out of the Warner Archive.
Arrow Video gets its Blaxploitation groove on with Willie Dynamite, the flashiest pimp in New York, and makes a case for it being the genre’s best movie of the 1970s.
The MVD Rewind Collection upgrades another VHS staple with the 1992 sci-fi thriller Nemesis, from schlock auteur Albert Pyun (Dollman, Cyborg).
Mill Creek pairs together the franchise’s two worst entries with a double-feature of The Karate Kid Part III and The Next Karate Kid.
I can’t find any details about Fox’s 20th Anniversary reissue of Office Space, but it looks to me like a simple repackage of the older Blu-ray.
If you’re not ready for 4k, Season 1 of Hulu’s Stephen King mashup Castle Rock will of course get a standard Blu-ray box set too. Also arriving on the scene is the first season of the USA Network’s spinoff of The Purge.
The only title I was actually excited about this week was a Blu-ray edition of David Mamet’s twisty 1997 con artist caper The Spanish Prisoner, but it looks like that disc has been pushed back to April. Failing that, I’ll leave my wallet unopened, though Hounds of Love and Let the Corpses Tan might be worth a watch if I eventually encounter them on cable or streaming. I like When Harry Met Sally, but I don’t need to buy it right now.
Are you more tempted by anything this week?