This week’s Blu-ray releases are tinged with sadness. The most promising new title available reminds us of the recent loss of its talented young star.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Green Room‘ – Anton Yelchin was poised for great things. His breakout role in the ‘Star Trek’ franchise brought him a lot of exposure, and this indie thriller from ‘Blue Ruin’ director Jeremy Saulnier was one of the best reviewed films of the year. Yelchin plays the leader of a small-time punk band that make the mistake of playing a Skinhead venue, where they witness a crime backstage and find themselves under siege from Neo-Nazis looking to tie up loose ends. At the time of its theatrical release, the film was perhaps more notable for its villainous turn from Patrick Stewart, but its video debut just a few weeks after Yelchin’s passing will, unfortunately, be viewed in an entirely different context – one of such tremendous potential cut short.
‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant‘ – I imagine that heads must be rolling at Lionsgate over this fiasco. Even though the first two ‘Divergent’ movies were only modest hits, the studio committed to not just adapting the final book in Veronica Roth’s trilogy, but splitting it into two movies – a strategy that was very successful for the ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Hunger Games’ franchises. Sadly, audiences finally realized that the premise of this series makes no sense at all, and the third movie was a huge box office bomb. Next year’s fourth movie will surely suffer the same fate, but it’s too late to stop it. Adding to the franchise’s woes, everyone involved in the creation of the movies seem to have given up caring about them. The cast all look visibly bored, even in the trailers, and the visual effects are almost laughably awful. How is it possible that this cost $110 million to make?
‘Everybody Wants Some!!‘ – Widely and incessantly described as a so-called “spiritual sequel” to ‘Dazed and Confused’, Richard Linklater’s latest follows a group of college slackers trying to navigate that awkward middle ground between high school and adulthood in the early 1980s. The title, unnecessary punctuation and all, is taken from a Van Halen song – a reference that was apparently lost on moviegoing audiences, who were turned off by the exclamation points and decided to give this one a pass.
‘Miracles from Heaven‘ – I have no idea what Jennifer Garner’s real-life religious beliefs are, but starring in “faith-based” religious schlock that directly advocates for parents to ignore doctors in favor of curing their deathly ill children with prayer is certainly a career low, if not a knock against her as a human being. And I liked her so much in ‘Alias’!
In addition to an Ultra High-Def edition of ‘Allegiant‘, Lionsgate also upgrades its predecessors ‘Divergent‘ and ‘Insurgent‘ to the 4k format.
Twilight Time will definitely get some money from me this week. Among the label’s latest titles are two of my favorite movies – the underrated John le Carré adaptation ‘The Russia House‘ and Woody Allen’s brilliant satirical mockumentary ‘Zelig‘. I was just contemplating recently, as I considered purchasing a streaming version of the movie on VUDU, that ‘The Russia House’ would make a great selection for Twilight Time… and then the disc was announced shortly afterwards.
Twilight Time’s other new limited editions are the family-friendly sequel ‘The Black Stallion Returns‘, the Busby Berkeley musical ‘The Gang’s All Here‘ and the Rita Hayworth musical ‘Miss Sadie Thompson‘ (restored in 3D!).
If you’re still hankering for another musical after that, the Warner Archive brings us Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in ‘Silk Stockings‘ (a remake of the non-musical Greta Garbo classic ‘Ninotchka‘).
Meanwhile, Criterion gets spooky with the low-budget B-movie chiller ‘Carnival of Souls‘.
Kino investigates ‘The Ox-Bow Incident‘, William Wellman’s powerful 1943 Western about the dangers of the lynch mob mentality.
Fans of Italian horror can look forward to Lucio Fulci’s ‘Cat in the Brain‘, now available from Grindhouse Releasing.
Amazon claims that Universal has a reissue of ‘American Graffiti‘ on tap this week, but the only thing new about it is the “pop art” cover.
Warner belatedly offers the first two seasons of ‘iZombie‘ in high-def, while Scream Factory has the first season of something called ‘Slasher‘, which is apparently the first original programming for the Chiller network. I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of the Chiller network until right now.
As mentioned, ‘The Russia House’ and ‘Zelig’ are immediate purchases for me. I don’t expect that many of our readers will be as excited for them as I am.
‘Green Room’ seems like a strong rental candidate.
‘Carnival of Souls’ and ‘The Ox-Bow Incident’ will go on my wish list for later.
As much as I adore Richard Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy, I must admit that I’ve never cared for much of anything else he’s ever made (not even ‘Dazed and Confused’). As such, the ‘Dazed’ follow-up holds very little interest for me.