Blu-ray Highlights for May 15th, 2012 – Malkovich Malkovich MALKOVICH!!!

In case you hadn’t noticed (though I’ve certainly complained about it enough), it’s been a pretty dry Blu-ray season over the past several weeks. Fortunately, things at least marginally pick up today with the release of a few rental-worthy new titles, one cult classic, and even some noteworthy budget discs.

Here’s a look at the week’s release slate:

New Releases

I still find myself surprised by the fact that Glenn Close doesn’t have an Oscar yet. I guess I’d just assumed that she was an actress of a certain stature who surely must have picked one up at some point. Perhaps for ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, right? Didn’t she win for that? No, sadly, she’s been denied Oscar gold, despite a few nominations, including one this year for the cross-dressing period drama ‘Albert Nobbs‘. (She lost to Meryl Streep this time, who picked up her third.) Close’s acclaimed performance notwithstanding, the movie itself received mostly mixed reviews. (As I recall, Luke didn’t care for it.) As such, I might be wary of buying it blindly, but this seems like good rental fodder.

Liam Neeson vs. wolves – that’s the pitch behind the nature survival thriller ‘The Grey‘, which opened to pretty solid reviews this year. Animal activists may have complained that the film’s depiction of wolf behavior is grossly inaccurate, but, as with most of these things (see also: ‘The Edge’ with Anthony Hopkins), it’s really about the character versus himself. I hear that some of the CGI wolves are kind of cheesy, though. Again, this strikes me as rental material.

For better or worse, the so-called “found footage” genre (e.g. ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Cloverfield’, etc.) is still going strong, as witnessed by this year’s box office success of both ‘The Devil Inside‘ and ‘Chronicle‘. The former (the one about demonic possession) was almost universally regarded as being unwatchably terrible, and should probably be avoided at all costs. However, the teens-with-super-powers-run-amok ‘Chronicle’ is said to be much better than expected.

“Katherine Heigl ruins everything” is an axiom that the astute Mrs. Z lives by. She found this to once again be true with the release of ‘One for the Money‘, in which the former ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ actress foists her grating unlikeability onto the beloved Stephanie Plum book series by Janet Evanovich. This was intended to be the first entry in a would-be franchise, but lousy reviews and box-office failure have undoubtedly nipped those plans in the bud.

Of all the cast members from ‘Cheers’, isn’t it kind of amazing that Woody Harrelson is the one who became a genuine movie star? The actor has a way of subverting expectations and delivering strong performances in both goofy comedies and serious dramas. He received good notices for his work in the corrupt-cop drama ‘Rampart‘, even though the movie around him was criticized for wallowing in misery and failing to distinguish itself from superior efforts such as the TV series ‘The Shield’.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection picks up a major cult item this week with addition of ‘Being John Malkovich‘, the first collaboration between music video stylist Spike Jonze and wild-card screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. I prefer the pair’s later ‘Adaptation.’ (and Kaufman’s screenplay for Michel Gondry’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’), but this is still a very quirky, weird, clever and funny movie. I haven’t watched it in a while, and look forward to doing so again. I expect Criterion’s Blu-ray to be an improvement over the mediocre-looking HD DVD released by Universal back when that format still existed.

Finally, budget label Mill Creek capitalizes on its licensing arrangement with Disney by dropping a bunch of the latter’s old live action titles on the market. Of these, the ones that catch my eye are the omnibus compilation film ‘New York Stories‘ (which features segments by both Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese), the kind-of-crazy 1988 Dennis Quaid/Meg Ryan remake of ‘D.O.A.‘, and Ridley Scott’s sailing drama ‘White Squall‘. Oh, and the before-she-came-out Ellen Degeneres vehicle ‘Mr. Wrong‘ may not be a great, or even particularly good, comedy, but it has a laugh or two. I wouldn’t expect anything fancy from these discs, like remastered transfers or (heaven forbid!) bonus features, but some of them might be worth fishing out of the bargain bin, depending on your inclinations.

Will you buy any of this week’s releases? Tell us in the Comments.


  1. Drew

    ‘The Grey’ is certainly more than a rental. I got mine yesterday, and I can tell you that it gets better and more rewatchable with each subsequent viewing. It’s definitely “own it” material!

  2. JM

    ‘The Grey‘ I’m hesitant to watch because of the dead wife issue.

    ‘Chronicle‘ is shit, but I’m going to take a whack at it.

    ‘One for the Money‘ I’m compelled to rent, just to see how many ways they fucked it up.

    ‘Albert Nobbs‘ I wouldn’t watch for free, even if it came with free lesbians.

    ‘Being John Malkovich‘ is the only disc I have genuine enthusiasm for. Though, watching it now, it kind of feels like a prequel to ‘Transformers.’

    • Barsoom Bob

      The grey is a tough watch, but a good movie. I can’t see myself watching it again, but I am glad I saw it. The dead wife is the least of your “I see dead people” issues you are going to have to endure.

      BTW You have said that you would have like to see Robert Rodriguez’ version of John Carter. Well the pre-production art work for Kerry Conran’s version, which looks like it might have been pretty close to RR’s, is up on thejohncarterfiles site. Including a partially live action, 7 minute pitch reel for the film to the studio. If only someone had the balls to have brought this to fruition.

      • JM

        Kerry Conran’s art, to me, felt halfway to awesome.

        It made me want a Bioware RPG of Mars.

        In order for ‘Star Wars’ to make enough money to support its budget, it took lightsabers and force powers.

        ‘Chronicle’ was made for $12M, and grossed $125M.

        If John Carter was a modern-day guy, transported to Mars in an alternative universe of spacetime, and his weapons/superpowers were advanced one hundred levels beyond ‘Star Wars’…

        Would you accept the changes, if it gave the movie a bigger audience?

        I don’t think we have a failure of ball size. We have a cost-vs-profit dilemma.

        • Barsoom Bob

          Curious, what would have gotten you all the way to awesome?

          Don’t laugh, Riddick was keep alive by two video iterations and now we are getting a third movie.

          My impression of Rodriguez and Conran is that they work fast and cheap. They could probably have produced that vision for half of what Disney/Pixar/Stanton spent, which would have made it profitable and probably start a franchise, even with the “biggest flop in history” B.O.

          Oh, dem Changes ( props to Buddy Miles and JH )
          Everybody is talking about them changes. Read a piece at Rolling Stone about the ten big changes between HBO Thrones and G.R.R. Martin Thrones.
          There is a major point of contention debate over at JCfiles about the changes to the John Carter character.

          Personally, in this case, I would prefer less changes because it is trying to bring a visualization to a classic piece that has never been visualized before. I would expect the director, even within those stylistic boundaries, to still make an exciting and engaging movie. Modernized iterations have already been created as ripped off properties SW & Avatar. The alternative to this choice of being faithful to the original vision, is Journey 2. Jules Verne pretty much dispensed with.

          Yes, I know before you even say it, Journey 2 probably made twice as much money as JC for about a third the cost. And that is why I sing de Blues.

          • JM

            Maybe if John Carter looked like Hugh Jackman.

            If Dejah Thoris looked like Sofia Vergara.

            Frazetta paints men with muscle and women with fat, then cranks the style to eleven. It looks like art. And I love the harshness.

            Conran looks like a comic book. And a little too dainty. Almost like the cover of a cheap romance novel. He had some better creature designs, though I would have given the job to Neville Page.

            The pitch video only had one landscape I thought was awesome, the rest suffered from genericness.

            Stanton’s entire vision looks like he’s trying to sell toys to kids.

            The problem with Rodriguez is I don’t trust him with the script.

            Obviously if JC had a $60M budget and grossed $300M the movie would be considered a financial success, and all the conversation would be about the artistry.

            Do you want Stanton’s sequels? Or Disney sequels, with a new director? Or a clean reboot?

            I think my bias is that I discovered JC by way of Frank.

            Thus, I’m more excited about Rodriguez’s ‘Fire and Ice’ reboot.

  3. Drew

    The ‘Being John Malkovich’ transfer is the same one used for the HD DVD, so I’m good.

    ‘Chronicle’ is complete shit. I feel it is one of the worst films of the year so far. You’ll have to watch it and see how you feel.

    ‘Albert Nobbs’ looks utterly unbearable.

  4. William Henley

    No “must-haves” for me this week. I may pick up “Princess Diaries” and the new “Titanic” eventually, but nothing really jumps out at me.

    I rented “Being John Malkovich” a few years ago on HD-DVD, and wasn’t really impressed. The film is interesting enough, but its just not my style. Even if it was, the transfer was ugly.

    • William Henley

      Oh, and may pick up The Universe Season Six before too long. I just picked up the first five seasons, and am still working through the first DISC of season one.

      Aerial America sounds interesting, and its at a price that may interest me in a blind-buy

  5. Drew

    I just rented ‘One for the Money’. A decade ago, every girl friend I had was obsessed with the novels. I was even persuaded to read a few of them, although, let’s just say I had an ulterior motive for doing so ;). Anyway, the books are actually pretty good, and would make for excellent film adaptations in the right hands. I decided that I needed to, to quote Jane, “see how many ways they fucked it up.”

  6. EM

    Nothing compelling for me. I am not bothered by these dry spells—I have trouble enough catching up with my acquisitions as it is!