March gets off to slow start, as far as new Blu-ray releases go. The biggest title of the week is an Oscar nominee that came away empty-handed at the awards last month. Perhaps if you’re a fan of classic singin’ and dancin’, you might have more to be excited about.
‘Foxcatcher‘ – Wearing heavy prosthetic makeup, Steve Carell earned an Oscar nomination for playing nutjob billionaire and wrestling enthusiast John du Pont in this story that would seem too crazy to believe if it didn’t happen to be true. The film was also nominated in four other categories, but took home none.
‘The Humbling‘ – I’m honestly surprised that Barry Levinson is still out there directing. The former Oscar winner hasn’t had a hit since ‘Wag the Dog’ in 1997. I guess he must still have a lot of friends in the industry. In his latest effort, Al Pacino stars as an aging actor suffering a mental breakdown during production of a new stage play. Yeah, that sounds kind of like ‘Birdman’, doesn’t it? The similarities might explain why the film was shelved for a year and had a negligible theatrical release. Our reviewer Phil liked the movie and says that Pacino gives one of his best performances in quite some time.
‘The Last of Robin Hood‘ – Kevin Kline strikes me as very astute casting as screen legend Errol Flynn, even if he is about 17 years older now than Flynn was when he died. However, it’s probably not a good sign that I’d never previously heard of this bio-pic about the last days of the icon’s life, including his affair with an underage girl. The plot description sounds like a reverse-gender ‘My Week with Marilyn’, and the many scathing reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are not encouraging.
Warner Bros. is in a musical mood this week with deep-cut catalog releases of ‘The Band Wagon‘, ‘Calamity Jane‘, and a 3D restoration of ‘Kiss Me Kate‘.
Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘ also has plenty of musical numbers in it. Despite making a lot of money, the film doesn’t seem to be well-loved by many. I enjoyed it, personally, but not enough to double-dip on it. The packaging for the 10th Anniversary Edition boasts an “Exclusive Photo Book,” but otherwise sounds like the same Blu-ray released four years ago, which was in turn a clone of an HD DVD from 2006.
Even the Messiah can’t help bursting into song in Universal’s release of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar‘. However, bear in mind that this is the filmed version of a 2000 stage revival, not the famous 1973 movie version.
Also from Universal are the animated ‘Curious George‘ movie from a few years ago, plus the “Young Guns with Gangsters Instead of Cowboys” flop ‘Mobsters‘ that I can’t imagine anyone has been pining for.
New distributor Lionsgate has reclaimed a number of Miramax titles that were formerly licensed out to Echo Bridge, including ‘The Grifters‘, ‘Full Frontal‘, ‘Equilibrium‘, ‘The Yards‘ and ‘The Lookout‘. (Strangely, that last one is apparently only available in a double-feature with ‘The Yards’, even though you can also get ‘The Yards’ separately.)
Finally, Scream Factory resurrects the Blaxploitation classic ‘Blacula‘ and its sequel.
The Starz network’s time travel romance ‘Outlander‘ is doing that annoying thing where one season gets divided into two halves separated by a long hiatus. While fans wait for the second half to start airing in April, they can content themselves with the first eight episodes on Blu-ray.
The same network’s ‘Da Vinci’s Demons‘, on the other hand, gets a full release of the complete second season.
Warner Bros. previously issued the first two seasons of ‘Longmire‘ exclusively through the Warner Archive. It must have sold well enough for the third season to get a normal retail release.
‘Foxcatcher’ looks like a good rental this week. Maybe ‘The Humbling’ too. I also have some passive interest in ‘Kiss Me Kate’ for the 3D aspect.
I own the original Echo Bridge Blu-ray for ‘The Grifters’, which I bought for $5 and feel was probably $3 overpriced. I would love to own a better quality transfer for this great movie, but my fear is that the new Lionsgate edition will be the same disc in new packaging.
Will you spend any money this week?