The most divisive movie of 2017 comes home to disc this week so that everyone can commence arguing about its merits (or lack thereof) all over again. In the words of Darth Vader: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘ – I picture George Lucas, wearing a black hood and sitting with his fingers tented, cackling with evil delight. His prequel trilogy and Jar Jar are no longer the most hated things in the ‘Star Wars’ universe anymore. The funny thing is that when Lucasfilm and Disney first announced that writer/director Rian Johnson (‘Brick’, ‘Looper’) had been hired to make the next official episode in the saga, most fans greeted the news with excitement. Then the movie came out and the reaction to it was all over the place. The film received mostly favorable reviews, was the biggest domestic box office hit of last year, and even led our own poll for Favorite Blockbuster Movie of 2017. At the same time, its detractors were incredibly vocal about how much they haaaaaaated it, and the movie also led our Most Disappointing Blockbuster of 2017 poll too. I don’t expect any of that to prevent it from selling like crazy on video. To that end, Target has an exclusive Blu-ray Digibook while Best Buy carries SteelBooks for both Blu-ray and 4k options. If you’re looking for 3D, you’ll have to import from overseas.
‘Deliver Us from Eva‘ – L.L. Cool J and Gabrielle Union star in a rom-com about three sisters who hire a smooth-talking playboy to date their meddling older sister and distract her from interfering in their lives. Naturally, he falls in love with her for real. Yes, this sounds like another update of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, which may be a classic Shakespeare comedy, but the story’s sexual politics seem uncomfortably regressive to be regurgitated at this particular moment in time.
‘Last Men in Aleppo‘ – An Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature details the day-to-day hell of the first responders who pull victims and innocent bystanders from the rubble of the Syrian city’s distressingly frequent bombings and airstrikes. By all accounts, the film is very compelling, albeit harrowing.
‘Survivors Guide to Prison‘ – Channeling a little Morgan Spurlock, filmmaker Matthew Cooke throws together a stunt documentary in which celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Deepak Chopra and RZA prattle about the injustices of the American justice system while Danny Trejo allegedly provides a guide to surviving prison (see title) in the event that you should be wrongfully incarcerated. Phil wasn’t impressed.
The Criterion Collection presents a new restoration of the 1930 musical revue ‘King of Jazz‘, featuring an early screen appearance from Bing Crosby. The movie may be pretty obscure even by Criterion standards, but it’s notable for surviving almost fully intact in its original two-color Technicolor format. Most similar productions from the era are now either incomplete or exist only in black-and-white reduction copies. As such, this may be most film buffs’ best opportunity to see the process in as close to its original quality as is currently possible.
After that, Criterion welcomes British provocateur Ken Russell into the collection with a release of ‘Women in Love‘, his 1969 adaptation of a sexually-charged romantic novel by D.H. Lawrence. Controversial upon its release for the homoerotic undertones between characters played by Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, the film is nonetheless perhaps one of the most accessible in Russell’s oeuvre. The movie was even nominated for several Oscars, of which star Glenda Jackson won Best Actress. (Try to remember that Ken Russell was once nominated for Best Director while spinning up his campy 1988 horror flick ‘The Lair of the White Worm‘, I dare you.)
In a rare three-title week, Criterion also has a single-disc reissue of David Cronenberg’s ‘Scanners‘, which the label previously released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in 2014.
In the descriptively titled ‘Sacha Guitry: Four Films 1936-1938‘ box set, Arrow Academy assembles a quartet of classic comedies from the prolific French actor/playwright/filmmaker, whose ‘La Poison‘ recently made its way into the Criterion Collection.
As if to capitalize on last week’s Criterion release of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’, Kino resurrects the Hollywood telling of the story in 1948’s ‘Joan of Arc‘ starring Ingrid Bergman.
Scream Factory offers a Collector’s Edition of the 2006 slasher mockumentary ‘Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon‘, followed by a pair of Pop Art SteelBook reissues for John Carpenter’s 1976 ‘Assault on Precinct 13‘ and 1987 ‘Prince of Darkness‘.
Postponed since its originally announced release date last month, Fox’s 25th Anniversary Edition of ‘The Sandlot‘ finally arrives, boasting of a booklet and set of trading cards to distinguish it from the earlier 20th Anniversary Edition.
New TV box sets include the first season of FX’s crazy ‘X-Men’ spinoff ‘Legion‘ and the third season of USA’s ‘Mr. Robot‘.
There is nothing wrong with your television set! Kino delivers the first season of the classic sci-fi anthology series ‘The Outer Limits‘ promising freshly remastered video.
I didn’t bother to see ‘The Last Jedi’ in theaters. (Nor did I see ‘The Force Awakens’ theatrically, and honestly was OK with that decision.) I’ve been waiting to catch up with it on Blu-ray. I’ll try to keep my expectations as low as I can.
I have some curiosity about ‘King of Jazz’ and ‘Women in Love’, but not enough to rush out and buy them right away.
What are your plans for the week?