A part of me is grateful for slow periods like this. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on Blu-rays right now anyway. Regardless, I still covet at least one disc this week.
‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘ – DreamWorks finishes off its Panda trilogy, if indeed this is meant to be just a trilogy. Considering that the box office returns for Part 3 fell significantly below the first two, I expect that this will be the end of the line for poor Po. On the other hand, the movie opened in January, whereas the first two were summer releases, so I have to think the studio knew it was taking a risk there. I loved the first one of these but never got around to watching the second. I should probably do that. Annoyingly, if you’re a fan of 3D, the studio has relegated that format to a Best Buy exclusive for this title.
‘Eye in the Sky‘ – Still trying to redeem himself for the bloated and idiotic ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (and to a lesser extent the failed adaptation of ‘Ender’s Game’), director Gavin Hood dials way back to deliver a small-scale but tense military thriller about modern drone warfare. Helen Mirren plays an Army colonel faced with a moral dilemma about whether to risk civilian collateral damage to potentially take out a major terrorist. The film’s subject matter is pretty timely and it received a number of strong reviews from critics.
‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot‘ – The trailers for the new movie from ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ filmmakers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa coudn’t quite decide whether to sell it as a comedy or a drama, and audiences were apparently not interested in seeing Tina Fey play a semi-serious role as an American journalist who gets in over her head when she takes an assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. Based on a comedically-tinged memoir by real journalist Kim Baker, the film was greeted to mixed reviews and was a box office dud.
‘Clouds of Sils Maria‘ – The Criterion Collection continues its working relationship with director Olivier Assayas (whose ‘Summer Hours‘ and ‘Carlos‘ it already released). Juliette Binoche plays a neurotic aging actress trying to make a comeback in the theater, and Kristen Stewart is her much-abused assistant. Phil dismissed the film as an even-more-pretentious, feminine version of ‘Birdman’. Most other critics were kinder to it, and Stewart (yes, the ‘Twilight’ star) even won an acting trophy at the French César Awards.
‘Precious Cargo‘ – Bruce Willis will do anything for an easy paycheck these days. For his latest exercise in slumming, he receives top billing for what actually amounts to a glorified cameo in a generic action flick starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar from ‘Saved by the Bell’. The movie had a very brief theatrical release, but would have gone direct-to-video if not for Willis’ name being attached. (He did the same thing for Kellan Lutz recently as well.)
‘The Sound and the Fury‘ – James Franco directs and stars in an adaptation of William Faulkner’s classic tragedy. Seth Rogen and Danny McBride are also in it, which would lead one to believe that it’s some sort of comedy spoof of the story. Apparently not. This is Franco’s second crack at Faulker after a movie version of ‘As I Lay Dying’ a couple years ago that likewise went nowhere. I’m not 100% certain that this is actually coming out on Blu-ray this week, but Amazon currently says so.
Twenty-four years after the label released the movie on Laserdisc, the Criterion Collection finally brings Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece ‘Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb‘ back into the fold. This is great news, though I’d perhaps be more excited if Sony hadn’t already put out its own excellent Blu-ray of the film back in 2009. Aside from the prestige branding, Criterion has some work to do to top that disc.
Meanwhile, Arrow Video celebrates another truly classic comedy that has almost the same stature and legacy as ‘Strangelove’. I’m speaking, of course, about George Clooney’s finest hour, the brilliant ‘Return of the Killer Tomatoes!‘.
Currently in its 14th season, the ‘Halo’ spoof ‘Red vs. Blue‘ is apparently unstoppable.
Even though I already have the earlier Sony Blu-ray, I feel compelled to upgrade to the Criterion edition of ‘Dr. Strangelove’. ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ will probably also eventually wind up in my collection, after I make myself watch ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’.
Does anything excite you this week?