Even with a pair of new action-filled epics on store shelves, the most exciting Blu-ray releases of the week are a set of old documentaries. How often does that happen?
‘Unbroken‘ – Ostensibly a bio-pic about the very eventful life of Olympic distance runner and World War II P.O.W. Louis Zamperini, publicity for the film became more about Angelina Jolie’s naked ambition for a Best Director Oscar nomination. Despite its huge battle scenes and mountains of inspirational uplift, not to mention extensive script doctoring by the Coen brothers, the ploy failed. The movie was dismissed by critics and ignored by the Academy. It nevertheless made enough money that Jolie will no doubt get another chance in the future. In the meantime, the Blu-ray has a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, so there’s that to look forward to.
‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies‘ – Peter Jackson finally concludes his gargantuan ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel trilogy, which is of course based on a slender novel you can read in less time than it takes to watch his first movie. Even most Jackson apologists felt that this last installment was just a lot of filler and wearying overkill. Oh, but wait, it’s not over yet, is it? Jackson still has an Extended Edition on tap for later in the year. Oy…
‘Into the Woods‘ – Didn’t ‘Mamma Mia!’ teach anyone to keep Meryl Streep the hell away from musicals? Adapting from a beloved Stephen Sondheim mash-up of Grimm fairy tales, director Rob Marshall (‘Chicago’) was apparently oblivious to the fact that casting young children in roles originally written for much older teenagers has the unintended consequence of turning the lecherous Big Bad Wolf character (Johnny Depp, wearing normal everyday Johnny Depp attire) into a full-on pedophile. Great job of not pointing that out to him, Disney!
Using the cinematic techniques of a Hollywood suspense thriller, Errol Morris’ riveting investigative documentary ‘The Thin Blue Line‘ reinvented everything that anyone thought a documentary could be, and saved an innocent man from being executed for a crime he didn’t commit. This week, Criterion enshrines this very important work in its Collection, along with a double-feature of Morris’ also-fascinating earlier pieces ‘Gates of Heaven‘ and ‘Vernon, Florida‘. These will make an excellent marathon with the existing Criterion disc of ‘A Brief History of Time‘.
Shout! Factory taps into more ’80s nostalgia with a 30th Anniversary Edition of the John Cusack sex comedy ‘The Sure Thing‘.
Olive Films latest batch of licensed titles include Robert Altman’s Vincent van Gogh bio-pic ‘Vincent & Theo‘, Wim Wenders’ preachy morality play ‘The End of Violence‘, and the documentary ‘John Ford: Dreaming the Quiet Man‘.
In cult offerings, Grindhouse Releasing finally delivers the delayed 3-disc Collector’s Edition of Lucio Fulci’s ‘The Beyond‘, while Arrow Video unsheathes the 1970 samurai revenge thriller ‘Blind Woman’s Curse‘.
I’m quite eager for both of Criterion’s Errol Morris discs, but that’s probably it for me this week. Does anything grab you?