It’s the end of a month and a holiday week. The assortment of interesting new Blu-rays is a bit thin. You’ll have to look beyond the recent theatrical releases to find a few goodies hidden among the catalog titles.
The studios aren’t even bothering to release any movies on Ultra HD this week.
‘The Shack‘ – After his young daughter is brutally murdered by a serial killer, grieving Sam Worthington receives a letter inviting him to the scene of the crime, where God appears in the form of Octavia Spencer and teaches him valuable lessons about the importance of forgiving child murderers. After all, it was God’s plan that the little girl be violently slaughtered. Let’s not go blaming the poor guy who was only acting as His/Her instrument… Yes, this is a real movie, and the people who made it can all go to Hell.
‘Fist Fight‘ – Charlie Day is a high school English teacher who gets called out by rival teacher Ice Cube and challenged to a fight after school. Of course, he spends the whole day fretting about what he’s going to do, because this is an obvious twist on ’80 teen comedy ‘Three O’Clock High’ but with the adults acting like children this time. Day is a funny guy on TV, and Cube has proven to be a reliable straight man in other comedies, but reviews and word of mouth on the movie were pretty savage. If you still hope you might get a few laughs out of it anyway, it’ll turn up on cable soon enough.
‘Before I Fall‘ – Zoey Deutch stars in a YA knockoff of ‘Groundhog Day’ in which a selfish teen girl is forced to relive the same day over and over again until she learns to be a better person. The young audience that this was made for will probably be less bothered by its derivativeness than anyone who’s actually seen ‘Groundhog Day’. Deutch is said to be more appealing than the movie around her.
Based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff’s adaptation of ‘Ghost World‘ is a keenly-observed drama about two pretentious teens (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) whose friendship starts to drift apart as they navigate the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood. (The ghosts of the title are metaphorical, you see.) The movie is insightful and tonally perfect, and both actresses give great performances. The Criterion Blu-ray will no doubt be a huge upgrade from the dated DVD edition.
Also from Criterion is ‘Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2‘, which gathers restorations of six obscure (to North American viewers) but important films from countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Turkey.
Film Movement offers a 30th Anniversary edition of ‘Pelle the Conqueror‘, the 1989 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film. Max von Sydow stars in the period piece from Bille August as a Swedish immigrant who struggles to start a new life for himself and his young son in 1850s Denmark.
Newly licensed by Kino are Billy Wilder’s 1961 Cold War and Capitalism satire ‘One, Two, Three‘, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1947 courtroom drama ‘The Paradine Case‘, and the Rudolph Valentino silent classics ‘The Sheik‘ and ‘The Son of the Sheik‘.
Mixed in with a bunch of anime that I know nothing about, Lionsgate has put together a complete collection of the original 1960s ‘Speed Racer‘ cartoon, consisting of 52 episodes spread across five discs. Go! Go! Go!
‘Ghost World’ was my favorite film from the year 2001 and I’m excited for the Criterion Blu-ray. That’s about all I need this week.
Will you open your wallet for anything?