The month of May gets off to an inauspicious start for movies on Blu-ray. Before you pull your hare out looking for something interesting to buy, let’s review what’s new this week.
‘Peter Rabbit‘ – Talk show host James Corden voices an obnoxious CGI bunny in a movie that’s said to do a terrible disservice to Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s book character. That didn’t stop it from making a lot of money, of course. It’s not like parents were going to bring their kids to go see the ‘Fifty Shades’ sequel that opened the same day.
‘12 Strong‘ – Shortly after 9/11, a U.S. Special Forces team was deployed to Afghanistan to take out a Taliban warlord. Chris Hemsworth headlines a 130-minute military recruitment video reenacting this true story with plenty of Hollywood embellishment. From the posters, I understand that some horse riding is involved.
‘Winchester‘ – The Spierig brothers, whose vampire flick ‘Daybreakers’ was kind of cool but whose other movies are mostly junk, somehow lured Helen Mirren into starring in a period piece ghost story that was liked by almost no one who saw it. The Oscar winner plays a wealthy heiress who finds her extravagant mansion haunted by the spirits of victims killed by the rifle that bears her family name. You can guess the rest. Doors creek, windows mysteriously slam shut all on their own, and spooky things go Boo! in the middle of the night, etc.
‘The Insult‘ – A Lebanese man and a Palestinian refugee engage in a petty dispute over a broken drain pipe that escalates to violence, legal action, and eventually national attention. Part thriller and part political parable, the movie was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars earlier this year.
‘In the Fade‘ – After her husband and son are killed in a terrorist bombing, a grief-stricken woman seeks justice first in the courtroom and then on her own. Diane Kruger reportedly delivers an excellent performance and the movie won a Golden Globe, but most reviews also emphasize the dark and unsettling nature of the story. While the majority of critics liked it, a few complained that it turns into a routine revenge thriller in the final act.
‘Nostalgia‘ – Director Mark Pellington (‘Arlington Road’, ‘The Mothman Diaries’) attempts to weave an ambitious mosaic film featuring Ellen Burstyn, Jon Hamm, Catherine Keener and others in intersecting storylines about the title theme. Sadly, it would seem that Pellington is no Robert Altman. Word-of-mouth from the festival circuit was pretty negative.
‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower‘ – Anime director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (‘The Secret World of Arrietty’, ‘When Marnie Was There’) may not work for Studio Ghibli anymore, but he continues its tradition with a fanciful tale about a young girl who discovers a flower that grants her magical powers. It sounds delightful.
While Sony’s ‘Peter Rabbit‘ hops right into Ultra HD, Universal upgrades the dreadful musical ‘Mamma Mia!‘ to 4k in anticipation of its impending sequel.
Money, money, money… If you’re not equipped for Ultra HD yet, Universal also inflicts a corresponding 10th Anniversary Edition of ‘Mamma Mia!‘ onto regular Blu-ray as well.
Kino picks up two films from director Ron Shelton: the 1989 political satire ‘Blaze‘ and the 1999 boxing comedy ‘Play It to the Bone‘. The former provided a breakout role for Shelton’s future wife, actress Lolita Davidovich. Other than that, neither movie is especially memorable.
Also from Kino are two Jim Abrahams comedies: 1988’s ‘Big Business‘ and 1998’s ‘Mafia!‘ (a.k.a. ‘Jane Austen’s Mafia!’). Maybe someone out there remembers these with fondness, but it’s not me.
Now that we’ve had eight years to forget the awful M. Night Shyamalan live-action movie, Paramount brings a complete series set of the original animated ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender‘ to Blu-ray. The disc will be a Best Buy exclusive for a couple months before general release in June.
Although ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’, ‘The Insult’, and ‘In the Fade’ all sound pretty interesting (especially ‘Witch’s Flower’), I’ll be honest that I don’t plan to buy anything this week or even to put those on my wish list. I’ll watch them if I come across them on cable or steaming, though. My wallet is content to sit this week out. Is yours?