Blu-ray Highlights for 3/27/12 – The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Just how many “Ultimate Collector’s Editions” of one movie do we need? We’ll find out this week, as Warner Bros. re-releases one of its most important classics in another fancy Blu-ray box set. Also on tap are some great titles from the Criterion Collection and a handful of recent Oscar hopefuls.

Here’s the week’s Blu-ray release slate:

New Releases

As you may recall, of this year’s nine Best Picture Academy Award nominees, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close‘ is the one that drew the most “Whaaaaa…???” reactions. The film received mostly tepid reviews and had middling box office performance. No one is really sure how it got onto the Oscar short-list. It was certainly never expected to win, in any case. While I haven’t seen the movie, I have read the book it’s based on, which I found emotionally devastating. However, I couldn’t get too enthused for the film version after all the trailers that made it look like a typical piece of watered-down Oscar bait. Both Luke and Aaron here had nice things to say about it, though. Maybe I’ll give it a rental.

David Cronenberg has come a long way since his “body horror” films of the 1970s and ’80s. The director’s latest project is the period drama ‘A Dangerous Method‘, about the inappropriate love triangle between famous psychiatric pioneers Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and their shared patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Film festival buzz called this a potential Oscar contender in at least the acting categories, but critics’ reviews were pretty mixed and the movie failed to land any Oscar nominations at all. It still sounds interesting, and I’ll give anything by Cronenberg the benefit of the doubt.

Another failed Oscar hopeful was ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey‘, the writing and directing debut of actress Angelina Jolie. The movie is a prison camp love story set during the Yugoslavian civil war of the early 1990s. If the title and that plot description don’t already scream pretension, know that Jolie directed the film entirely in the Bosnian and Serbian languages, for verisimilitude or something. In other words, this is one of her social-activist passion projects, like ‘Beyond Borders’ and ‘A Mighty Heart’, and was even less successful than those. The movie was generally scoffed off the few screens where it played, and will likely disappear on video as well.

Shifting gears a little, Roger Corman is one filmmaker who’s never made a piece of Oscar bait in his life. His unapologetically schlocky movies and career are celebrated in the documentary ‘Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel‘. This sounds like fun.

Finally… ugh. We have another dreadful ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks‘ sequel. Why do people keep paying for these things? Shouldn’t parents have higher standards for what they allow their children to watch?


Warner already released ‘Casablanca‘ in an Ultimate Collector’s Edition box set back in 2008 that was rated pretty highly for the day. Nonetheless, the studio returns to that particular well yet again with a brand new 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition. This one features a new 4k restoration that’s said to eke out a smidge of improvement, and an even larger box set filled with new knickknacks and trinkets. Personally, I hope that Best Buy or some other retailer will offer this in alternate Digibook packaging, as often happens with these UCE box sets. If anyone has information on that, please post in the Comments below.

Criterion has an impressive box set of its own this week. The ‘David Lean Directs Noel Noël Coward‘ collection includes new editions of ‘In Which We Serve’, ‘This Happy Breed’, ‘Blithe Spirit’ and ‘Brief Encounter’. This will surely go on my shopping list during Barnes & Noble’s next big Criterion sale.

In addition, Criterion also has a separate release of “that other Titanic movie,” ‘A Night to Remember‘, which is no doubt being timed to coincide with the 3D theatrical re-release of James Cameron’s blockbuster. In contrast to that, the 1958 film was made in a docudrama fashion without frivolous love stories or annoying pop songs, and is often regarded as a more historically accurate depiction of the event.


Still mourning Whitney Houston? The pop diva’s blockbuster hit movie ‘The Bodyguard‘ makes it way to Blu-ray this week. (For what it’s worth, the disc was scheduled prior to Houston’s unexpected death.) I don’t think you’ll find too many people who’d argue that this is a good movie, but it certainly struck a chord with the right audience back in 1992. I was in college at the time, and I still recall the girl who lived in the dorm room next to mine blaring Houston’s song “I Will Always Love You” at deafening volumes in a non-stop repeat loop for days on end until everyone else on the floor finally got together to stage an intervention.

Have you ever noticed how much director Rob Cohen loves the word “Dragon”? He’s made no less than three movies with that word in the title. What, you haven’t noticed? I guess nobody gives Rob Cohen as much thought as I do. Fair enough. Anyway, the fantasy adventure ‘DragonHeart‘ was considered a breakthrough for photorealistic CGI back in 1996. The visual effects have dated poorly in the meantime, and the rest of the movie around them was always a giant piece of crap, but I suppose this might be on someone’s guilty pleasure list.

Speaking of mid-’90s junk, Universal also dumps the Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner ‘The Quest‘ on Blu-ray today. This is not one of the star’s better-remembered flicks, but I suppose JCVD fans will take what they can get.

Olive Films continues to inflict more Jerry Lewis on us. This time, the distributor offers up the screwball comedy ‘Who’s Minding the Store?‘. Separately, it also has the Dean Martin vehicle ‘Who’s Got the Action?‘ (which was not a collaboration with Lewis) and Frank Sinatra in ‘Come Blow Your Horn‘. If you’re a fan of any of these performers, well, enjoy.


Has ‘South Park‘ really been on the air for sixteen seasons? I feel so old. I stopped watching with any consistency years ago. If you’re still an active viewer, Paramount has a box set of The Complete Fifteenth Season for you today.

Will you open your wallet for any of this week’s titles?


  1. Bryan

    Target has a slip-less, non-digibook edition of “Casablanca” debuting today at $19.99. As far as disc-based supplements compared to the UCE, it’s missing “You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story,” “The Brothers Warner,” and “Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul.” That’s a lot of documentary footage right there (about 7 1/2 hours), but none of it exclusively focused on the film itself.

    • Josh Zyber

      Thanks for the info, Bryan. Shame about the lack of a Digibook. I find it a little ridiculous that The Town can get a Digibook but Casablanca can’t.

  2. Random Commenter

    The Casablanca box should be on it’s way to me already(Target has a single disc version of the new transfer for $20 if anyone needs that.) Also, I’ll also be getting A Night to Remember and the David Lean box, though David Lean will probably wait for a Barnes and Noble sale.

  3. I am afraid your information is a bit outdated. Funimation announced back in January that they were canceling Dragonball Z Levels 2.1 and later, due to issues and the sheer amount of work remastering the original film elements. The links to the Amazon pages show the titles are not in stock.

    • So, other than that, there is nothing I am looking to buy this week. I may pick up Casablanca when it comes down in price, simply because I want all the bonus features, but until then, my HD-DVD is holding up just fine.

    • The bottom of CrunchyRoll also states, however, that they are discontinuing production on Dragonball Kai. If you click the link, you will see that is misleading – the link states that they are not making the early seasons anymore – ie, once they are out of stock, there won’t be anymore. They are still finishing up with Kai, as they released a release a couple of weeks ago – The Cell Game Saga.

  4. EM

    Another release of interest this week is Flicker Alley’s edition of the restored hand-colored “Trip to the Moon” by Georges Méliès. I received my copy in yesterday’s mail. The film is gorgeous. Among the extras is a nice hour-long documentary on Méliès, the movie, and its restoration. I wish I could like the modern score applied to the film, but I can’t. I’m going to have to find other audio programs to play when watching it.

    • Amazon has a release date on this movie of April 10th. I want it, but I just lost my part-time job (it was hard making ends meet on that), so $36 for a movie is probably not in my cards. Sigh. I really wanted this one too.

    • Barsoom Bob

      I saw this recently and the documentry was terrific, divided between early Melies’ history, some of his early shorts and the modern techniques used to salvage the only remaining hand colored copy of Voyage to the Moon. They have a photo of a factory in France with 200 women, working at desks, hand coloring each frame, of each copy, of each release print for the movie.

      The feature itself is short and kind of underwhelming, I am a fan of Air, the French synth pop group, but they were way off base on their choices for scoring this historical film. I’m with you, I’m going to put on some Moby or Pink Floyd.

      • EM

        When watching the included interview with the musicians, I tend to agree (or at least not disagree) with their statements about how to approach the project…it’s only when listening to the results that I am disappointed.

        • I saw a clip of it on YouTube. Weird music. Not sure if it was the one used on the Blu-Ray, but it is so freaky, I am not sure if I want to listen to it.

          Out of curiosity, how long is the feature? I am assuming that it is only about 5 or 10 minutes long, based on when it came out, but I really know nothing about it. Are any of his other films included on the disc?

          • EM

            The color “Trip to the Moon” runs about 15½ minutes, including roughly a minute and a half of credits and text introduction. There is also a nearly 13-minute black-and-white edition as well. Two other Méliès films, “The Astronomer’s Dream” (3 minutes) and “The Eclipse; or, The Courtship of the Sun and Moon” (9 minutes), are also included (B&W only).

          • Seems awfully expensive for 40 minutes worth of material – its like you are paying a buck a minute. Thanks – this will definitely help with my decision making process on this. Just not quite ready to blind-buy this one yet.

            How is the quality on the Blu-Ray? Another reason I am hesitant is I just don’t see this being much better than the quality that has been floating around on the internet for years, just because of the age of the material.

          • EM

            You can do the math a lot of ways. The B&W “Trip to the Moon” has three different audio options. The aforementioned documentary is over an hour long. The interview with Air (the musicians on the color restoration) runs about 10½ minutes. The package includes both Blu-ray and DVD. Myself I paid only $29.96 (preorder direct from Flicker Alley). I considered it a little expensive, but I look upon it in part as a contribution to continued restoration and preservation.

            The question of color aside, the picture quality on the Blu-ray and even the DVD is a great improvement on the PQ of the instances of “A Trip to the Moon” that I already have on DVD (Méliès the Magician and the first volume of Landmarks of Early Film). That said, it’s not, of course, a pristine-looking presentation of this ancient film. It’s merely the most fabulous-looking video presentation to date.

          • Yeah, I agree. It’s just that I am unemployed at the moment (although I did just land a job which I should be starting in a couple of weeks), and I have been for quite a while. Where a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about this, $36 for a movie right now makes me think – that is 3/4 a tank of gas, that is a gas bill, that is a week of food. I have picked up a couple of movies recently in the under-$15 price range, but $36…. It is just SO hard for me right now, because this movie is just so iconic, influenced me from a very early age, etc. What REALLY bothers me is just how limited of a release it is – most other movies, I would be like, “Oh, no problem, I will just pick it up in a few months”. But they are making, what, only 3,000 copies of this? So this is my problem – pick it up now when I really don’t have the extra cash, or wait about 3-4 months when I am on my feet, and risk it not being available.

        • EM

          It’s a limited release of this edition. Almost certainly the color restoration will be back, possibly in an even more attractive collection. The major question is, When?

  5. JM

    ‘A Dangerous Method‘ combines my two favorite things. Pretty costumes and firm spankings.

    “Orgasming was a huge part of what I was doing a lot of the time. I asked psychoanalysts. They said sex and anything like it is trying to release pent-up emotion. So I sat in my bathroom and pulled faces at myself, for two days. Then I got on Skype with David Cronenberg and went, I’ve come up with this, or, I’ve come up with that, and he went, That One!” – Keira Knightley

      • JM

        Rupert Everett in a victorian fingerbang comedy is exactly my cup of tea.

        I remember getting excited by the TIFF reviews. I added it to my Q. Thanks!

    • Barsoom Bob

      Dangerous Method was one of my top tier favorite movies from last year. Deliciously perverse, thought provoking and challenging. I’m still trying to decide if it was a cautionary tale or a call to arms to go all the way to where you are supposed to be.

      Cronenberg is very good at this moral ambiguity stuff. Was Viggo doing his good, tough cop work or was he the uber mobster that had just eliminated his compition in Eastern Promises?

  6. JM

    Aaron’s blu-ray review of ‘Blood and Honey’ has me curious.

    When Mel Gibson debuted his war porn in ’95, his direction felt like we were given a new cinematic talent.

    But I haven’t read anything about Angelina Jolie’s direction in terms of visual artistry that has persuaded me to accept the atrocities of her script.

    I wish Jolie and David Fincher could get ‘Cleopatra’ into production, though I’m leery that they’re using the screenwriter of ‘Forrest Gump.’