Welcome back from the July 4th festivities. We hope you got your fill of parades, backyard barbecues, and watching stuff blow up while classical music plays. As is so typical during holiday weeks, you shouldn’t expect any major new movies to be released on Blu-ray right now. This is a time to dig some titles out of the studios’ deep catalog.
Personally, the movie I’m most interested in is one that I’m sure very few of our readers have ever heard of.
‘By the Sea‘ – For her latest effort as a director, Angelina Jolie scales way back from the epic scope of ‘Unbroken’ to instead emulate the art house musings of Michelangelo Antonioni. In a period piece set in the 1970s, Jolie and her real husband Brad Pitt play an American couple pondering the existential angst of their faltering marriage while vacationing in France. In his theatrical review, Phil said: “If you like watching beautiful people stare sadly into the distance with the occasional hint of drama to come that never really develops, you’ll be in heaven. For everyone else… well… it looks nice.” That seems to be right in line with the critical consensus.
‘The Family Fang‘ – Another actor struggling to establish himself as a director, Jason Bateman follows his amusing but financially unsuccessful ‘Bad Words’ with a quirky dysfunctional family dramedy straight out of the Sundance playbook. Bateman and Nicole Kidman play adult siblings whose lives were totally messed up by their wacky performance artist parents. At its widest release, the film played in only 52 theaters and made less than $15,000 (yes, thousand). That sounds pretty bad, but since Starz picked up distribution, expect it to get a lot more shelf life on cable.
‘I Saw the Light‘ – Of the approximately 87 musical bio-pics released to theaters so far in 2016, this one about Country/Western legend Hank Williams, Sr. has been, by some margin, the worst reviewed. That isn’t the fault of star Tom Hiddleston, who reportedly does a good job of capturing the singer while the movie he’s stuck in fails him. Most complaints claim that the film is a very formulaic string of bio-pic clichés.
‘Cabin Fever‘ – Eli Roth’s 2002 splatter-fest was hardly a classic for the ages, but it was somehow successful enough to spawn a couple sequels and now a remake. Even people who liked the original say that the new one is atrocious.
Forget the lousy remake with Michael Douglas. (Let’s be honest, you already forgot it.) Arthur Hiller’s very funny screwball comedy ‘The In-Laws‘ gets the Criterion treatment this week. This is of course the 1979 original, with Alan Arkin as a mild-mannered dentist who, on the eve of his daughter’s wedding, gets tied up in a bunch of crazy misadventures with the groom’s father (Peter Falk), a man claiming to be a government agent.
‘Suture‘ is a movie I feared would be lost to obscurity. On its most basic plot level, the film is ostensibly a Hitchcockian thriller about a man (Dennis Haysbert) whose identical twin brother tries to kill him in order to fake his own death. Although he survives, he suffers amnesia and everyone assumes he is the brother. He spends the remainder of the running time trying to figure out who he really is and why anyone would want to kill him. The gimmick behind the very arty movie is that one of the actors is black while the other is white and they look nothing at all alike, yet no one in the film can see this or is aware of it. In fact, when Haysbert needs reconstructive surgery, doctors use photographs of the brother to piece his badly-burned face back together. It’s a pretentious conceit, but the film does some interesting things with it and is very stylishly photographed in striking black & white scope widescreen. Until now, the movie was only available in a crappy non-anamorphic letterbox DVD. I honestly expected that it would never make the transition to Blu-ray and am very grateful that Arrow Video has chosen to rescue it from video oblivion.
For a title that might actually sell a few copies, Arrow also offers Mario Bava’s seminal giallo thriller ‘Blood and Black Lace‘ in both a standard case or a SteelBook. Bava’s use of vibrant colors should hopefully translate very well to high definition.
MGM released ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three‘ (the 1974 original with Walter Matthau) on Blu-ray back in 2011, but has licensed the rights over to Kino for a reissue. According to our reviewer Matthew, the bizarrely titled 42 Anniversary Special Edition has the same video transfer but superior audio and some worthwhile supplements.
Finally, Universal offers the studio Ghibli anime classic ‘Only Yesterday‘ from ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ director Isao Takahata.
Hey! Hey! Rhino has promised a complete collection of all 58 episodes of ‘The Monkees‘ for what seems like forever now. Every time a release date approached, the set kept getting pushed back again and again and again. I can’t be sure that it will actually be released this week, but as I’m writing this the preorder page still says 7/8/2016. The box set also includes the feature film spinoff ‘Head’ (already available on Blu-ray as part of Criterion’s ‘America Lost and Found’ collection) and a lot of bonus features. One thing you won’t find in it, however, is the deservedly short-lived 1987 reboot series called ‘New Monkees’.
If you favor drama over comedy and you don’t subscribe to Netflix, you can also get the fourth season of ‘House of Cards‘ on disc now.
I’ll be very glad to add a decent copy of ‘Suture’ to my collection. I don’t expect anyone else to be as excited for that as I am. I’ll also put ‘The In-Laws’, ‘Blood and Black Lace’ and the new edition of ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ on my wish list.
Will you open your wallet for anything this week?