Did you really think the month of June would close out with a huge batch of awesome, must-own Blu-rays? Get outta here…
‘Get Hard‘ – No, despite the title, this is not an extended Viagra informercial, but I can see where you’d be confused by that. His career on a decided downslide, Will Ferrell latches on to the coattails of still-rising comedian Kevin Hart for a buddy comedy about a white collar criminal who seeks out the only black person he knows to help him toughen up before going off to prison. Word-of-mouth was unenthusiastic, but the pairing was at least modestly successful at the box office. The Blu-ray of course includes an Unrated extended version with a few more raunchy jokes, as these things usually do.
‘Danny Collins‘ – I could buy Al Pacino playing eccentric, girlfriend-murdering music producer Phil Spector in that HBO telemovie from a couple years ago, but I don’t think I can buy him playing an aging rock star. I just can’t picture Pacino of any age rocking out on stage. In any case, this formulaic, feel-good romantic comedy about a cranky old coot who rediscovers his youth and vitality via the love of a good woman (Annette Bening) seems beneath the talents of both stars.
‘While We’re Young‘ – This may be purely personal bias, but I am so over movies about middle-aged people acting like teenagers. That theme has played itself out in a thousand strained comedies. Well, now Noah Baumbach of ‘The Squid and the Whale’ puts his pretentious indie spin on the genre when boring yuppies Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts start hanging out with annoying hipsters Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Reviews for this were decent, but… meh… not my thing.
‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter‘ – Do you remember how the Coen brothers’ blackly comic thriller ‘Fargo’ opened with a totally-fake proclamation that the film was based on a true story? According to urban legend, a lonely Japanese woman believed that claim and traveled to Minnesota to search for the hidden bag of cash Steve Buscemi’s character left behind, only to die in a snow bank. That story’s not exactly true either, of course. (The real girl suffered depression and committed suicide, and had been in Minnesota for other reasons.) Nevertheless, now we have an even more fictionalized version of that tale, starring Rinko Kikuchi from ‘Pacific Rim’. At the risk of layers upon layers of reality collapsing in on each other, this still sounds pretty interesting.
‘The Gunman‘ – Having given Liam Neeson a new career as an aging action star in ‘Taken’, director Pierre Morel tries to do the same for Sean Penn in this tale of an assassin hunted by other assassins for refusing to shoot somebody he was supposed to shoot. I feel like I’ve already seen that plot in a hundred different movies. Our theatrical review Phil called the film “an action movie too dour to ever feel fun and a political thriller too stupid to feel insightful.” But the soundtrack’s in Dolby Atmos, so at least you should get some bullets-whizzing-over-your-head effects if you’re suitably equipped.
‘Last Knights‘ – Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman star in a lavishly expensive medieval fantasy epic that you’ve probably never heard of, never saw a trailer for, and didn’t realize had actually been released to theaters for something like a week right after April Fool’s Day. It currently has a pathetic 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That seems high to me.
I’m writing this post on Friday night. The Blu-ray edition of Cameron Crowe’s ‘Vanilla Sky‘ has been delayed so many times that I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it gets pushed back again by the time you read this. However, for the moment, it’s still scheduled for Tuesday. The Tom Cruise star vehicle is a big-budget, overblown remake of a very small Spanish film (‘Abre los Ojos’) with a ‘Twilight Zone’-style twist ending that seemed very clever in the original but kind of silly in the American version. This is the movie that broke up Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman when he cheated on her with co-star Penelope Cruz (reprising her role from the Spanish film), yet the actors somehow have precisely zero chemistry together on screen. This is a love-it-or-hate-it movie for many. I defended it somewhat back in the day, but don’t know how I’d feel about it now. The Blu-ray, if it actually comes out, supposedly has a new alternate-ending cut of the film and some newly-created bonus features. It also carries over the embarrassing “musical commentary” with Crowe and his wife, soft-rocker Nancy Wilson.
The Criterion Collection previously released Bob Rafelson’s ‘Five Easy Pieces‘ back in 2010 as part of the ‘America Lost and Found‘ box set. The standalone reissue claims to have a “Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography László Kovács.” Given that Kovács passed away in 2007, I’m going to assume it’s the same transfer from the ‘Lost and Found’ set, if not that the disc itself is identical and just put into a new case.
Bizarrely, this appears to be a big week for Bob Rafelson. Mill Creek is putting out a Blu-ray of the director’s last feature, the lame Samuel Jackson/Milla Jovovich thriller ‘No Good Deed‘ from 2002 (not to be confused with the lame Idris Elba thriller of the same title from last year). For some reason I cannot comprehend, this is the sole Blu-ray being released on Saturday, the July 4th holiday.
Back to Criterion for a moment, the label’s second title this week is the 1970 Czech fairy tale ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders‘. I’d never heard of it before, but it sounds interesting.
Party on, Wayne! Shout! Factory gathers together all three of Penelope Spheeris’ famous ‘The Decline of Western Civilization‘ rock documentaries.
Meanwhile, Blue Underground celebrates Italian B-movie maestro Enzo Castellari with his gonzo ‘Escape from New York’ knockoff ‘1990: The Bronx Warriors‘, that movie’s sequel ‘Escape from the Bronx‘, and his ‘Road Warrior’ knockoff ‘The New Barbarians‘.
If I didn’t already have the ‘America Lost and Found’ box set, ‘Five Easy Pieces’ would be my top title of the week. As it is, I’m at least curious about the other Criterion title, and might rent ‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’. I’m undecided whether I really need to own ‘Vanilla Sky’ on Blu-ray, but it has my attention.
This is obviously another slow week for new Blu-rays. Does anything capture your interest?