I have some good news! Whatever money you normally have allocated for your weekly Blu-ray addiction can be saved for other purposes, because this week does not offer much worth buying.
‘Seventh Son‘ – In what may prove to be the most misguided ‘Big Lebowski’ reunion ever, respected A-List actors (and now both Oscar winners) Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges somehow got roped into a cheesy medieval fantasy epic about an evil witch and a grizzled monster hunter. After sitting on the studio shelf for over a year, the film was dumped into theaters this past February where it immediately sank without a trace. The trailers looked atrocious and most reviews confirmed as much. It’s basically this year’s ’47 Ronin’. Even though the movie played theatrically in 3D, Universal has opted not to bother offering the 3D version on Blu-ray.
‘Cut Bank‘ – After his work on the ‘Fargo’ TV series, director Matt Shakman apparently got stuck in a Coen brothers frame of mind. As such, he threw together a little suspense thriller in the ‘Blood Simple’ or ‘Fargo’ mold and populated it with Coen-approved casting choices like Billy Bob Thornton, John Malkovich and Michael Stuhlbarg. For some reason, he then put block-of-wood Liam Hemsworth in the lead. Reviews were unkind.
‘The Loft‘ – Karl Urban and James Marsden star in a remake of a Belgian thriller (adapted by the original director) about a group of buddies who share a secret love nest penthouse to use for cheating on their wives. This genius plan goes awry when they find the body of a dead girl, and each member of the group suspects another as the killer. Our Belgian reader Julian is a fan of the original film, but the 12% Rotten Tomatoes score for the remake suggests that something got lost in the translation.
‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus‘ – How sad is it when a new Spike Lee movie flies so far under the radar that I hadn’t even heard of it until writing this post? From what I gather, this is a remake of the 1973 Blaxploitation vampire cult film ‘Ganja & Hess’. Lee funded the extremely-low-budget project through Kickstarter, shot the whole thing in just 16 days with a mostly unknown cast, and released it simultaneously in a tiny number of theaters and on VOD. The few people who saw it gave it a lukewarm reception. After ‘Oldboy’ and this, I think Lee should stay away from doing any more remakes for a while.
‘Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles‘ – I can’t say I really understand the recent trend of celebrating the 100th anniversary of a famous dead person’s birthday, but I guess somebody decided to make a marketing hook out of that pointless trivia tidbit. In any case, here’s a profile of the legendary filmmaker put together buy a guy mostly known for assembling the film clip montages that play during the Oscars. Peter Bogdanovich is of course interviewed, because, you know, you can’t talk about Orson Welles without Bogdanovich horning himself into the conversation. I’m sure Henry Jaglom is probably in there somewhere as well.
The most respectable of this week’s catalog titles come from the Criterion Collection, which offers up a batch of three discs rather than the usual two. First are a pair of 1970s political thrillers – ‘The Confession‘ and ‘State of Siege‘ – from one of the masters of that form, Costa-Gravas. Next is ‘The Merchant of Four Seasons‘, a satirical melodrama made by iconic German filmmaker R.W. Fassbinder during his Douglas Sirk phase. (See also Criterion’s earlier release of ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul‘.)
In the mood for something a little less highbrow? Kino caters to your craving for ’80s cheese with the Golan-Globus epics ‘Enter the Ninja‘ and its sequel ‘Revenge of the Ninja‘, while Olive Films will shame you into admitting that you watched the dopey comedy ‘Ski School‘ more than a few times on HBO or Cinemax.
Fans of schlock horror have a veritable feast of the stuff with high-def editions of ‘Cannibal Ferox‘, ‘Island of Death‘, and double-features of ‘Frogs‘ & ‘The Food of the Gods‘, as well as ‘Empire of the Ants‘ & ‘Jaws of Satan‘
In 1983, half the members of ‘Monty Python’ reunited for the pirate comedy ‘Yellowbeard‘. Two of them, John Cleese and Eric Idle, would later name it one of the worst movies ever made. They were perhaps exaggerating about that – a little bit, anyway.
I enjoyed the Showtime drama ‘Ray Donovan‘ just enough to watch it through the first season, but when the second season came around, I let all the episodes pile up in my DVR until I was finally forced to admit that I’d never watch them. It’s a decent enough show, but I just lost interest and had other things taking up my time.
The three Criterions are interesting enough to at least go on my wish list, but that’s it for this otherwise very dreary week. Am I missing something that you’re more excited about?