As I see it, this slow holiday week doesn’t offer many interesting new Blu-ray releases to spend money on. However, coinciding with the latest Barnes & Noble Criterion Collection sale (which I’ll write more about tomorrow), that may actually work out nicely.
The studios didn’t even bother to put any titles on Ultra HD this week.
‘Blockers‘ – If the title seems vague, all of the movie’s posters attempted to clear that up by putting the image of a rooster in front of or on top of the word. If you still don’t get the joke, weak as it may be, I’m not spelling it out for you. In the raunchy R-rated sex comedy, John Cena and Leslie Mann play parents who go to great lengths to stop their teenage daughters from getting laid on prom night. That plot summary sounds kind of regressively sexist, to be honest. I have to imagine that Kay Cannon, writer of the ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise making her directorial debut (which she didn’t write herself), has some sort of positive or progressive spin to put on it. Reviews were generally favorable and the movie did moderately well at the box office, but it also seems like the sort of thing inevitably destined to have a long rotation on HBO, probably sooner than later.
‘7 Days in Entebbe‘ – Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike star in a historical thriller re-enacting the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight diverted to Uganda for a very tense week. José Padilha, producer of Netflix’s ‘Narcos’, attempts to make amends for directing the failed ‘RoboCop’ reboot. Unfortunately, critics found the movie dull and audiences were hardly aware of it at all.
‘Borg vs. McEnroe‘ – Get your “Resistance is futile” jokes out of the way now. Also based on real events is a sports bio-pic about the 1980 Wimbledon rivalry between tennis superstars John McEnroe and Björn Borg, two men of wildly different temperaments and playing styles. Shia LaBeouf plays McEnroe, which may initially seem like bizarre casting, but the more I ponder it the more I think he may actually be very well suited to depicting one of the sports world’s brashest and most notoriously assholish personalities.
Just in time for the Barnes & Noble sale, the Criterion Collection delivers the impressive ‘Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood‘ box set, containing six classic films starring Marlene Dietrich and directed by Josef von Sternberg. The movies are: ‘Morocco’ (1930), ‘Dishonored’ (1931), ‘Shanghai Express’ (1932), ‘Blonde Venus’ (1932), ‘The Scarlett Empress’ (1934), and ‘The Devil Is a Woman’ (1935). The pair’s most famous collaboration, ‘The Blue Angel’, was made in Germany before they came to America, and thus isn’t covered here. That one was released on Blu-ray by Kino back in 2012.
One week after Criterion released Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Virgin Spring’ on Blu-ray, Arrow Video follows with Wes Craven’s sleazier reimagining of that story, 1972’s ‘The Last House on the Left‘. The film, Craven’s micro-budget directorial debut, has appeared on disc before, typically in grubby fashion. Arrow claims to have remastered three different cuts of it from the original film elements for a new Limited Edition package loaded with supplements. (I expect a less expensive Special Edition version to follow later.)
Also from Arrow is a five-film Spaghetti Western box set called ‘The Sartana Collection‘. The Arrow Academy label then takes aim at Japanese auteur Akio Jissôji, a man whose career swung wildly from the children’s TV series ‘Ultraman’ to the controversial erotic art films in ‘The Buddhist Trilogy‘.
Before he created ‘Miami Vice’ or launched his successful film career, Michael Mann helmed an Emmy-winning TV movie called ‘The Jericho Mile‘. Peter Strauss stars as a Folsom Prison inmate who is allowed to train for the Olympic track trials, which inadvertently causes strife between rivals gangs in the prison population. Kino’s Blu-ray boasts a new remaster and an audio commentary.
If you don’t already own it, Universal is reissuing all six seasons of ‘Grimm: The Complete Collection‘ at a lower price point.
That Dietrich & von Sternberg box set tempts me, but realistically my Criterion dollars will probably go to other titles first at the Barnes & Noble sale.
I’m also curious about ‘The Jericho Mile’, but that’s also not likely to be an immediate purchase.
Do you see anything worth buying from this list?