Blu-ray Highlights: Week of May 17th, 2015 – Rubber Baby, Buggy Bumpers

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.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (5/19/15)?

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New Releases

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?

Catalog Titles

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.

Television

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.

My $.02

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?

19 comments

  1. Lord Bowler

    Well the obvious pick up is ‘American Sniper’, which I already have pre-ordered from Target in Steelbook.

    The only other possible is ‘Peter Benchley’s Creature’.

    I already own the Jack Deth collection (1-5) on DVD, so I’ll wait until a complete blu-ray set is available.

    I may revisit ‘Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man’ as a rental… Don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen this film, but I’ve heard of it.

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize American Sniper was out this week. That rubber baby is priceless! I’ll rent before buying. Leviathan has been on my radar for a while, if memory serves right, Phil gave it a pretty good review and sold me on it. Maybe Netflix will get it quick. I love my Osterman Weekend dvd, back when Anchor Bay was on top of things, I’ll probably get this. It! TTBS looks pretty sweet as well. The 3D bee movie for the right price will be in my collection. I haven’t bought any 3d in a while. Stigmata might be cool if there is a decent upgrade to blu. It can wait. I love Orange Is the New Black, but I’ll wait for. 9.99 sale. I didn’t know Zombeavers was coming out as a BB exclusive at such an enticing price. Goddamnit, I’m going to have to squeeze this one in. I’m going to have to do some research on Peter Benchley’s creature as that seems to be right up my alley.

      • It still amazes me that people go after what is essentially 5 seconds of a 2-hour film.

        I’m also surprised none of those people that noticed the fake baby in Bradley’s arm picked up on the fact that it was also fake just seconds before in Sienna’s arms. The difference? They CGI’d in some hand movement to make the baby look real. The CGI is pretty obvious, as they didn’t get the hand size right (it’s a little larger than it should be). They didn’t do that with Bradley, so he instead moves the baby’s hand to try and make it look real.

  3. Chris B

    I’m a little surprised William didn’t already mention this as he seems to be quite the anime fan, but Ninja Scroll is out this week!
    It’s one of the best anime/martial arts films of all time and it’s finally getting a blu-ray release. I watched it countless times in Junior high but haven’t seen it in years, will be picking it up this week. Other than that I’ll probably rent Leviathan. I’d like to see The Osterman Weekend but I’m not sure about blind-buy. Does anyone know what’s up with the T2 reissue? Any new features? transfer? anything?

    • I think it’s just the Skynet edition with a digital copy for your digital library. Different cover art, more like the theatrical onesheet.

    • William Henley

      There are many genres of anime. 🙂 Mechs, bring them on! Fighting girls, heck yeah! Humanoid robots, goddesses and angels, yep, I am into that. Boy who has issues talking to girls and is suddenly surrounded by them, or girl who just likes to have fun and flirts and is oblivoius that her friends are gay and have crushes on her, yep, like that. Dragonball Z, yep. Tenchi, bring it on

      Dislikes – cyberpunk (Lain, Ghost In the Shell, etc), overly cute (Pokemon), tentical rape, most anime made before late 80s (such as Speed Racer, Lupin, etc), vampires and wearwolfs, most martial arts (except for Dragonball) including samurais and ninjas, and the really weird (such as Attack on Titan, Cowboy Bebop)

      Stuff like Fairy Tale, I am Meh on

      • Chris B

        You uh….you don’t like Cowboy Bebop?! Hmmmm well to each their own. Ninja Scroll is really pretty great though…even if you’re not the biggest fan of ninjas.

      • Deaditelord

        I’ll give you Attack on Titan William, but I’m curious as to how Cowboy Bebop’s basic sci-fi backdrop with emphasis on highly stylized action and gunplay is weird? In fact, I see Cowboy Bebop as being relatively grounded when compared to a lot of anime that makes it to the US. I would argue that something like Neon Genesis Evangelion (another popular show that I personally HATE with a passion) contains far more weird, WTF moments than Cowboy Bebop. Heck Fist of the North Star has numerous scenes of people exploding after a single punch. It doesn’t get much weirder than that 🙂

  4. Deaditelord

    Unless the transfer somehow is inferior to previous blu-ray release,, it’s quite likely that I’ll pick up Ninja Scroll this week. I can’t bring myself to blind buy Trancers 2 since I haven’t seen it, but it seems like something I might enjoy if I could find it to rent or stream. Although I’m growing weary of “based-on-true-story” movies, I’ll probably give American Sniper a rent.

  5. C.C. 95

    Don’t forget- American Sniper was the highest grossing movie of 2014 in the U.S.
    Not Guardians, not Transformers, X-Men, Cap 2, Lego or Hunger Games.
    Pretty incredible.

      • Timcharger

        Agree. I’m sure very few Americans want to see a film about a
        foreign sniper who has the record kills of Americans. Even if
        that foreign film is an anti-war film.

  6. Although I did put a vote for American Sniper, I am not buying it this week. For what’s included, $25 is a bit steep. Perhaps it will be $19.99 at Best Buy next week or the week after, then I might lose all will power and buy it.
    For wishlist items, meaning they’re on a list and if I see them on sale or give in to impulse buying; Captain Z, Maya the Bee Movie, Osterman Weekend, Peter Benchley’s Creature.

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