Blu-ray Highlights: Week of June 14th, 2015 – Malfunction, Need Input

From hip-hop gangsta robots to the resurrected dead, this week’s Blu-rays sure do feature some wild tales. Welcome to our latest roundup. Let’s get down to business.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (6/16/15)?

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New Releases

Chappie‘ – When Neill Blomkamp made ‘District 9’, he seemed like an exciting new voice in science fiction. When he followed that up with the idiotic ‘Elysium’, we all hoped he’d just hit a bad sophomore slump and could rebound with his next picture. Unfortunately, with his ungodly mashup of ‘RoboCop’ and ‘Short Circuit’, it looks like his first film was the fluke. His pitch for a new ‘Alien’ sequel that inexplicably brings a bunch of characters back from the dead also sounds like a spectacularly bad idea, and I hope it never goes before cameras. As if to remind you how far the director’s career has fallen, Sony has also bundled ‘Chappie’ with his other two movies in a box set with the stupid name ‘Blomkamp³ Limited Edition Collection’.

The Lazarus Effect‘ – That the Blumhouse Productions studio would make a low-budget knockoff of ‘Flatliners’ does not seem terribly surprising. What’s interesting about the movie, however, is the way it somehow attracted a cast of actors you wouldn’t expect to see in a picture like this, including Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass and Donald Glover. Not to mention that the director previously made the acclaimed documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’. What an odd assemblage of talent! Nevertheless, despite all that, the movie appears to be exactly what you think it is, and no more. That’s too bad. I imagine that the project must have originally started off as something more ambitious than what wound up on screen.

Run All Night‘ – Just as Liam Neeson reinvented himself as an improbable action star with ‘Taken’, the time has come for another change in career direction. His latest effort, a mobster thriller co-starring Joel Kinnaman from the ‘RoboCop’ remake, held no interest at all for audiences and was a big flop.

Unfinished Business‘ – Speaking of flops, Vince Vaughn’s fast-talking jackass routine has worn out its welcome with just about everyone. Here, he and Dave Franco play dipshit businessmen who bumble through Europe trying to lock down an important deal. Hilarity does not ensue.

Welcome to Me‘ – In this surreal indie comedy, Kristen Wiig stars as a clinically depressed woman who hits the lottery jackpot and uses her winnings to produce a daytime talk show all about herself. Despite its quick turnaround to home video (the movie barely opened in theaters a few weeks ago), reports are that the film is charmingly quirky and features an excellent performance from Wiig.

Wild Tales‘ – An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, this blackly comic anthology picture from Argentina tells six disconnected short stories about the twisted things dysfunctional and desperate people will do to each other. Far too often, humor doesn’t translate across a language barrier, but this weird and unpredictable movie is said to live up to its title.

Catalog Titles

Having previously released ‘Vanya on 42nd Street‘, the Criterion Collection brings together the other two collaborations between actor Wallace Shawn and his friend, theater director André Gregory – the delightful cinematic tête-à-tête ‘My Dinner with André‘ and their more recent reunion in ‘A Master Builder‘. If you didn’t already buy ‘Vanya’, you can also get a box set with all three titles bundled together.

With news that the renowned Studio Ghibli’s latest production ‘When Marnie Was There’ may be its last, Disney has finally gotten around to distributing Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved film ‘Spirited Away‘ on Blu-ray in this country. Also available is ‘The Cat Returns‘, a lesser Ghibli title but not without some charms.

Fact: Blu-ray won the high-def format war because Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked HD DVD in the face. It may have taken a while, but Kino honors Chuck’s valor with Blu-ray releases of ‘An Eye for an Eye‘ and ‘Hero and the Terror‘.

Separately, Kino also has a couple titles from director Harold Becker. James Woods delivered one of his early breakout performances in the crime drama ‘The Onion Field‘. Much later, the Alec Baldwin/Nicole Kidman thriller ‘Malice‘ featured an early screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that’s kind of fun but doesn’t hold up very well to logical scrutiny.

Amusingly, the original theatrical posters for William Friedkin’s 1970 drama ‘The Boys in the Band‘ had to explicitly reassure potential viewers that the film was not a musical, lest they be scared off thinking it was. Based on a popular Off-Broadway play about a group of closeted homosexuals, the film is sometimes regarded as a milestone of queer cinema, and sometimes decried for its dated stereotypes. If you should be interested in this, be warned that the DVD edition was one of those notorious botch jobs where William Friedkin recolored the whole movie into weird shades of purple and “pastel” colors for no reason. I have no idea whether the Blu-ray comes from that same transfer or not, but Kino doesn’t often have a reputation for remastering the titles it licenses. [Unfortunately, our reviewer Matthew has now confirmed that the Blu-ray comes from the purple-tinged “pastel” master.]

This week, Lionsgate has become a repository for failed Oscar bait vanity projects: ‘The Shipping News‘ for Kevin Spacey, ‘Blindness‘ for Julianne Moore, and ‘Proof‘ for Gwyneth Paltrow. The latter two come in a double feature.

The Warner Archive offers the film version of Neil Simon’s play ‘The Sunshine Boys‘, about a former Vaudeville team that reunites for a TV special. The movie scored an Oscar nomination for Walter Matthau and a win for George Burns.

In cult properties, Arrow celebrates Takashi Miike’s bizarre horror-comedy ‘The Happiness of the Katakuris‘, Scorpion visits the island of rubber puppet dinosaurs in ‘The Land that Time Forgot‘, and Shout! Factory pairs up a double-bill of the schlock creature-features ‘Tentacles‘ and ‘Reptilicus‘.


Due respect to Shannon, our recapper who enjoyed the show far more than I did, but I’m grateful that HBO has finally put Aaron Sorkin’s insufferably self-aggrandizing drama ‘The Newsroom‘ out of its (and our) misery. The series was a mess from the start, and its final season bent over backwards to demonstrate that Sorkin no longer has any idea how the television broadcast industry, popular culture, or even plausible human behavior work. The finale episode in particular is just awful. I feel relieved that I never need to watch this show again.

My $.02

Miyazaki’s wonderful ‘Spirited Away’ really ought to be the title of the week, but I hesitate a little because Disney has a history of screwing up its Studio Ghibli Blu-rays with lousy “dubtitle” translations of the foreign dialogue. I will await confirmation of how this disc fares before committing to a purchase.

In the meantime, ‘My Dinner with Andre’ is the disc that goes highest on my wish list.

How do you feel about the Blu-ray selection this week?


  1. Chris B

    I’m probably going to pick up Chappie this week. I still have some cash left on a BB gift card and there’s a steelbook for it. I didn’t love the movie but I thought it was fun and I liked it a lot more than Elysium. Plus it”ll make a great demo disc for my newly acquired big screen. I’m curious as to why you disliked it so much Josh…

    I’m also interested in picking up The Onion Field. I’ve heard about the movie for years but have never gotten around to seeing it, and James Woods is a badass.

  2. Lord Bowler

    My only pick up this week will the ‘The Land that Time Forgot’, this is one of my favorite movies starring the great Doug McClure.

  3. 1. “Fact: Blu-ray won the high-def format war because Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked HD DVD in the face. It may have taken a while, but Kino honors Chuck’s valor with Blu-ray releases of ‘An Eye for an Eye‘ and ‘Hero and the Terror‘.” made me laugh out loud. Brilliant, just brilliant. We need more jokes like this on Monday.

    2. ‘Blomkamp³’? 🙂 Is this a hint towards his Alien³ sequel plans?

    3. ‘My Dinner with Andre’: really want to check this out! TV Tropes called it one of the most ‘trope-less’ movies out there, because it’s original and almost devoid of clichés. I wonder if Wallace Shawn pays for his personal intimate projects with the big bux he gets from Pixar – a modus operandi I totally understand.

  4. Wow, Chappie made it quick to home viewing. I will be picking this one up. I think I may of left Malice out in my voting, but want it. Rentals- Lazarus Effect, Run All Night. I actually saw Hero and the Terror in theaters and wouldn’t mind picking this up. The real Chuck Norris gem I’ve been awaiting is Silent Rage, that’s gotta be right around the corner for a blu release. The Land That Time Forgot and the Scream Factory Double feature are on my wish list.

  5. William Henley

    I don’t see the appeal of Spirited Away – I think its interesting, but its my least favorite Studio G film. That said, I will still pick it up as well as The Cat Returns to round out my collection. I will pick them up from Disney Movie Club and I think this should fulfill my membership requirements.

    I also chose other, but they are not new this week. I went to go stick in Interstellar this past weekend, and realized that I never bought it. I was wanting the Wal-Mart exclusive, but they were sold out online when it was released, and I never got around to getting to a physical location (I HATE that store and avoid it if I can). It was like $12 on Amazon (not the special edition packaging) so I went ahead and pick it up.

    There was something else I picked up, and this may surprise many people, but I picked up Game of Thrones seasons 2-4 as they were $30 a season (season 1 is sitting on my shelf unopened). If you have been following me at all, this may come as quite a surprise because of how much I have put down the show in the past. I have only seen the first episode of season 1, and am now reading the books. I am enjoying the books quite a bit, so I am going to give the show another chance after I finish reading (that said, it will probably be like a year before I am finished as I am a slow reader). So why pick up seasons 2-4 if I am not sure if I will like it? Well, $30 was such a good price, I figured that if I do go back and give season 1 another chance and still don’t like it, if I leave seasons 2-4 unopened, I can resale for as much if not more than I paid for it.

    There was another series that I was like that on. I was dragged to the first two Twilight movies (first by my goddaughter, second time by a girlfriend) and HATED them. After much pestering, I went in and read the books, and LOVED them. So I went back and rewatched the movies and realized that they are actually pretty good, and the reason I hated them in the first place is because they follow the books a bit too well, and the books are told from Bella’s perspective, who happens to be manic-depressant and a self-centered recluse. if you go back and rewatch the movies realizing it is being told from her perspective, it makes the movies much more enjoyable.

    I also had a similar experience with Dune. Hated the movie for years, until I read the book. As such, I feel that Game of Thrones deserves a second chance after I finish reading at least the first book (a book on average takes me 3-9 months to read, depending on the book, unless I want to lock myself in a room for an entire weekend and read from the time I wake up to when I go to sleep, which I did with Harry Potters 5-7).

    • Chris B

      I was skimming through your comment and for a second I thought you wrote “my GODDAMN daughter” hahaha. None of te Twilight movies are what I’d call “good”, they might be enjoyable for the fans but they’re all pretty bad by anyone else’s standards. I like Spirited Away but I see what your saying about it being a little over-praised. I think The Wind Rises is actually their most overrated film though, I saw it in the theatre and nearly fell asleep…at an afternoon screening to boot.

      • William Henley

        That one is still in shrink-wrap. Out of the ones I have seen, I think my favorites are a tossup between My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

        Spirited Away is probably the most beautiful of their movies, but I don’t care for the story at all.

        Yeah, I wouldn’t say Twilight are great movies, but they are much more enjoyable after reading the books. When I first saw the movies, I thought characters, other than Edward, were really flat, but when I realized that the books were told from her perspective and she never bothered to form deep relationships with anyone other than Edward, it all made sense.

        Yeah, Goddaughter is a strange word. You hear GodParent, Godfather, Godmother, and occassionally Godson, but goddaughter still sounds strange to me to say it.She was 10 or 11 when I became her godparent (mainly as both parents became temporarially disabled), so it was really awkward at first. I THINK I took her and her best friend to see the movie (which came out shortly after I became godfather), but I have slept since then.

  6. William Henley

    Hey Josh, just buy Spirited Away, rip it with DVD Fab, download srt subtitles from OpenSubs, and throw on a Plex server. Actually have a few movies I am doing this with now that i imported from germany that do not have english dubs or subs on the discs, and am having to get FanSubs

  7. Wow, Wiliam, you buying ‘Game of Thrones’ is indeed a major surprise! Good for you! Hope you eventually like the show. Changing one’s opinion is one of the harder things in life.

  8. EM

    My Dinner With Andre is the only film listed that I find compelling, but I’m not sure I’ll upgrade from DVD. In spite of its title, the film is not a visual feast, save for the imagery the conversation conjures in my mind’s eye.

  9. EM

    I’ve been reminded that today is the release date for Flicker Alley’s 3-D Rarities collection. I have that preordered.

    • I’m very interested in that one as well, but I think it’s out next week. Hometheater forum wrote a gushing review for it that has got me quite excited for this one.

    • Thanks for the tip! I wantz as well. Do you happen to know or have a coupon code? Cause the release is quite steep with shipping to Europe ($43.65 total)

      • Unfortunately I don’t. It’s going to cost me about 36 dollars and depending on where it ships from, sales tax. I think it will be worth the extra $$. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the price drops a little over the weekend. That isn’t uncommon with major releases, but with a smaller release like this, who knows.

      • William Henley

        That sounds about right. Its a 3D release through a small company. Even through Amazon, after taxes its costing me about $38, and that is with free shipping.

    • William Henley

      Is it? I am pretty sure I had preordered that. It may be sitting in my mailbox – I didn’t check mail yesterday. I didn’t open my e-mails from Amazon as I had ordered a few things and knew what I was getting.

    • EM, from whom I preordered, claims June 16. I don’t have my copy yet either, but then I didn’t expect next-day shipping.

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