Don’t you just hate returning to work after a long holiday weekend? We hope you got your fill of chocolate bunnies, Peeps and jelly beans, because it’s time to look at a new week’s worth of Blu-ray releases.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘The Hateful Eight‘ – After ‘Django Unchained’ proved to be his biggest box office hit yet, Quentin Tarantino started to fancy himself a new Sergio Leone, and immediately set to work making another Western. This time, he really pulled out all the stops, shooting the movie on the long-defunct Ultra Panavision 70 format, roping in legendary composer Ennio Morricone to do the musical score, and coercing theaters across the country to install 70mm film projectors for a special three-hour Roadshow presentation complete with overture and intermission. For all that, reviews of the movie were mixed and audiences had already lost interest in the genre. ‘Hateful’ did about 1/3 the business that ‘Django’ did. The Blu-ray contains only the 167-minute general release version of the film (the Roadshow is undoubtedly being saved for a double-dip down the line), but you can get it in a SteelBook at Best Buy if that interests you.
‘Concussion‘ – Will Smith angled unsuccessfully for another Oscar nomination with a very earnest bio-pic drama about the crusading doctor who uncovered the NFL’s history of downplaying and covering up the effects of head trauma injuries in professional football players. If you ask me, the fact that getting repeatedly smashed in the head might be bad for you seems like a pretty “No Frickin’ Duh!” revelation, but I suppose some people didn’t want to believe it. The movie didn’t fare too well with critics and was a box office dud, but word has it that the Ultra HD Blu-ray version is awfully pretty to look at.
‘Point Break‘ – The remake no one wanted starring a cast full of nobodies was one of the worst reviewed films of last year. Even with a 3D ticket surcharge, it grossed half as much money (domestically) in 2015 than the original ‘Point Break’ did back in 1991. While the remake did better overseas, it’s still decidedly a bomb.
The Criterion Collection tugs at the heart strings with Vittorio De Sica’s classic Neo-Realist drama ‘Bicycle Thieves‘.
Filmed between 1972-1974, the documentary ‘A Poem Is a Naked Person‘ about musician Leon Russell was suppressed for four decades due to a dispute between filmmaker Les Blank and his subject. The legal rights were finally cleared up in 2015, two years after Blank’s death.
Criterion’s third release this week is a reissue of Akira Kurosawa’s ‘The Hidden Fortress‘.
Other Catalog Titles
Shout! Factory resurrects a couple of notorious flops, including TV host Chuck Barris’ woefully misguided ‘The Gong Show Movie‘ and Michael Cimino’s 1987 gangster epic ‘The Sicilian‘ (based on a novel by ‘Godfather’ author Mario Puzo). The latter was the subject of much internal strife between the producers and the director, and was released to theaters in a shortened 115-minute version that was savaged by critics and made no money at the box office. The Blu-ray contains Cimino’s 146-minute Director’s Cut – which, depending on whom you listen to, is either a big improvement or an even worse disaster.
This week’s TV offerings include the sixth season of FX’s animated spy comedy ‘Archer‘ and the first season of AMC’s flawed but intriguing sci-fi drama ‘Humans‘.
I’m both curious about and wary of ‘The Hateful Eight’. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s last couple of movies, and the trailers for this one frankly didn’t look very interesting to me. I’m tempted by the Best Buy SteelBook, but remain on the fence about blind-buying the movie.
The only must-buy title for me is the Criterion edition of ‘Bicycle Thieves’. (I already have the old copy of ‘The Hidden Fortress’.)
Will you shell out money for anything this week?