Will the heightened clarity of Blu-ray only serve to make Bradley Cooper’s ridiculous doll baby even more distracting? That’s one of the questions posed by this week’s batch of new titles on the format.
‘American Sniper‘ – By most accounts, Clint Eastwood redeemed himself from the late career slump that culminated in his flop musical ‘Jersey Boys’ with this gripping war drama about Chris Kyle, the American military’s most deadly target-shooting assassin. The movie was the highest grossing of any Eastwood has directed, and received a bunch of Oscar nominations, including Best Actor (for Bradley Cooper) and Best Picture. Nevertheless, the film was dogged by complaints about its alleged Right-Wing political slant and its whitewashing of some of the real Kyle’s less-than-saintly qualities. Also, that rubber baby was cited as a prime example of Eastwood’s increasingly lackadaisical filmmaking style. (His ‘J. Edgar’ had a similarly sloppy use of terrible old-age makeup.) Personally, although I’m not a fan of Eastwood’s politics, I am a fan of most of his movies, and I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for anything short of the rubber baby. The Blu-ray has a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and Target will carry a SteelBook exclusive.
‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2‘ – To be blunt about it, the first ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ sucked. Yes, I get that it was supposed to be a deliberately stupid movie, but its stupidity went far beyond its minimal entertainment value. Somehow, it generated a sequel, which doesn’t even have John Cusack in it. What kind of masochist would want to watch this? Not me.
‘Girlhood‘ – Despite its obnoxious retitling to cash in on the success of Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’, this French drama about a wayward teen who joins a girl gang was widely praised for the strength of its performances and its exploration of life in the lower class French suburbs.
‘Leviathan‘ – No, it’s not that deep sea ‘Alien’ knockoff with Peter Weller. This Oscar-nominee about corruption in a small Russian coastal town is said to be incredibly bleak yet compelling.
‘Zombeavers‘ – Just read the title. This movie has beavers that are zombies! Why aren’t you watching this RIGHT NOW?
The Criterion Collection delivers a very strange pairing this week with the Charlie Chaplin talkie ‘Limelight‘ and the Bette Midler musical ‘The Rose‘. If you’re looking for a thematic link between these two, I’d imagine it has something to do with fading artists struggling in the back-ends of their careers.
Of nearly as much esteem as either of those, Shout! Factory bestows upon us the Don Johnson/Mickey Rourke biker and cowboy team-up masterwork ‘Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man‘. How the Oscars failed to recognize such genius is a travesty for the ages.
Did Humphrey Bogart sing? The iconic Hollywood tough guy is one of many stars appearing as fictionalized versions of themselves in the 1943 showbiz musical ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars‘, which also features Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and more. This one comes courtesy of the Warner Archive, naturally.
Olive Films reminds us that the vintage sci-fi B-movie ‘It! The Terror from Beyond Space‘ was one of the chief influences for a little film called ‘Alien’ that you may have seen.
In his later years, legendary director Sam Peckinpah had a lot of trouble getting work due to alcohol and drug problems and a reputation for feuding with his producers. His final film was the nearly incomprehensible spy thriller ‘The Osterman Weekend‘, based on a Robert Ludlum novel that Peckinpah reportedly hated. It’s not a particularly good movie, but Peckinpah completists will be glad to file it away on their shelves next to the equally-terrible ‘Convoy‘, which Kino just released a few weeks ago.
HBO compiles a complete collection of ‘Boardwalk Empire‘, BBC delivers the fourth season of ‘Call the Midwife‘, and Lionsgate lets the second season of ‘Orange Is the New Black‘ out on good behavior.
This is a pretty slow week. My only rental plans are ‘American Sniper’ and perhaps ‘Leviathan’. I don’t see anything I need to buy right away. Do you?