Blu-ray Highlights: Week of March 22nd, 2015 – Unbreak My Heart

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?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (3/24/15)?

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New Releases

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!

Catalog Titles

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‘.

My $.02

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?


    • Chapz Kilud

      I’m pretty sure there will be an extended edition. That may not be over. Peter Jackson could still come up with extended edition of LOTR with each movie on single disc instead of two. Now that’s something I might be willing to buy even though I own it already.

  1. I had every intention of seeing Battle of Five Armies at the theater in hfr, but when I finally had the time and energy, there were no more 3d hfr shows at my local cinema of choice. I’ll just have to settle for the comfort of my own home. I’m very interested in The Beyond, but haven’t found any reviews or screen grabs. I use to be able to count on Moviestop picking up at least one copy of these more obscure titles, but lately, they’ve been wishy washy about these type of titles. I miss the days when Best Buy would carry all the weird stuff along with the big studio stuff. Eventually I’m just going to have to buy everything online, but I like to physically look at merchandise, read the back, inspect the packaging. That gets me more excited about owning it. I really miss those days.

    • Chris B

      I know what you mean man, not sure if you guys have it down in the states, but theres a chain of stores up in Canada called HMV. To their credit, they stock most of the obscure stuff from the smaller studios.
      Films, Scream Factory, Blue Underground, Kino, all the Criterion stuff etc. Basically the shit that 90% of the public has no interest in buying. I’m not sure if their business model will be commercially viable that much longer though, music used to make up most of their sales I think and after the record industry tanked, a few of their bigger stores started shutting down. I hope they stick around, it’s the one store in my city where i can find these kinds of releases. Sure I like the convienance of being able to order online and have something show up in my mailbox, but in a way I like the ritual of driving there on a Saturday morning to pick up some obscure, long-awaited release in blu-ray. It’s sort of like how video stores are pretty much kon-existant nowadays…I miss the hunt!

      • Josh Zyber

        HMV used to be a big retail chain in the U.S. as well, but they went bankrupt and closed all their stores several years ago. As you say, their business model is no longer commercially viable in the current market.

        • HMV is a British chain. It really saddened me when the maiden/flagship store (in London) had to close down in 2012, and was just barely saved by a new investor. The store has been around since 1921 (!). Just imagine the kind of stories these walls could tell. So very sad to see institutions like these go or (in this case) struggle.

          • Josh Zyber

            Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, HMV was hampered by being forced to charge at or near MSRP for products that could easily be obtained at significant discounts from online retailers that don’t have any of the overhead expenses of maintaining storefront locations. Then you factor in the public’s shift toward downloads and streaming for both music and movies, and these old institutions just can’t survive in the current market.

        • Chris B

          Yeah, the store i frequent is a two-story retail space in the biggest mall in North America. I can’t even imagine the ungodly amount of money the operators have to pay for rent in such a location. There was a huge store on Robson street in Vancouver, B.C that I used to hit up when I was there on vacation every year, it’s since shut it’s doors. I’m trying to figure out if we’ll even have retail stores that sell these kinds of niche releases in the future. Or maybe it will just be the big studio movies and for all the smaller stuff it will by “buy-online” only. It would be cool if someone could open a small retail space that catered to the kind of movie nerds like us. People who are willing to plunk down cash for this stuff from the smaller studios and have little interest in owning movies via digital downloading or streaming. A lot of people were predicting the demise of physical music sales altogether after all the downloading began. However, since then vinyl has come roaring back in a big way for people who still wanna own physical copies of their media. It would be cool to see the same kind of movement in the film-collecting community as well…

  2. Chris B

    One of my all-time favorite movies is Joe Carnahan’s debut film “Narc”, pretty much his only good movie to date unfortunately.I remember reading he was inspired to write the screenplay for the film after seeing Morris’ The Thin Blue Line. As a result, I’ve been meaning to watch it for years but never got around to it. Now I’m kind of thankful because I’m sure Criterion will do the movie justice. I’m looking forward to picking it up this week,
    I normally never pay full price for Criterions but I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for 13 so screw it! I’m not waiting another 4 months! haha. I’ll
    Probably end up blind-buying Gates of Heaven/Vernon, Florida in July.

    I initially had no interest in seeing Unbroken, then after hearing some good reviews from friends and the fact it was shot by Roger Deakins,
    I decided to at least give it a rent in the near future.

    The samurai flick from Arrow sounds interesting but it’s 35 bucks plus shipping on Amazon?!? Geez that’s pushin it…

    • Chris B

      Ok never mind! I forgot that all Arrow discs are usually region B locked…makes it pretty easy to resist a purchase! Haha

          • Josh Zyber

            Could have been referring to an older copy released in the UK first. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Arrow to release a new disc in the U.S. that can’t be played by anyone in the U.S.

          • Chris B

            That it would not.
            At any rate it’s good news they’ve expanded into our market, hopefully Second Sight films follows suit and starts releasing discs in North America as well.

  3. This household already received Monster High-Haunted from Amazon (good thing too as all the local Walmart has is the DVD version, fuckers and their lack of Blu Ray support has gotten very old)

    Into the Woods was checked off but I ordered the Zavvi Steelbook..
    The Hobbit 3D – will wait for the EE as I have EE’s for the other two already.
    Will probably get Unbroken, then place the remainder of them on my usual “wishlist”
    Those include: Blind Woman’s Curse and Digging up the Marrow.

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