Another long weekend has flown by too quickly. Let’s start the new week as we always do, by looking at all the latest Blu-ray releases. As few as there may be this week, perhaps you’ll find a disc of interest?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘ – “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith was a hilarious parody of Jane Austen that was surprisingly faithful to the text of the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – just with the addition of zombies and ninjas to spice it up a little and keep the kids interested. Admittedly, trailers for the movie didn’t look great, critics’ reviews were underwhelmed, and it bombed at the box office. This wouldn’t be the first time that Hollywood screwed up a book adaptation. Even so, I’m amused enough by the concept to give this a rent.
‘Gods of Egypt‘ – I hardly thought he could ever do worse than the howlingly awful ‘Knowing‘, but director Alex Proyas proved me wrong with a ridiculous mashup of ‘300’, ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘Escape from New York’ (seriously!) that looks astoundingly terrible on every level. Released in the midst of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the movie was widely criticized for its 100% non-Egyptian cast all playing Egyptian characters, but honestly that seems to be the least offensive thing about it. Personally, I cannot imagine anyone wanting to watch this gaudy eye sore of CGI visual diarrhea on purpose, but if you were so inclined anyway, you have a choice of 2D, 3D, SteelBook or UHD options available to you. Have fun with that.
‘Race‘ – It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Hollywood would eventually churn out a bio-pic about legendary track and field star Jesse Owens, the man who humiliated Adolf Hitler and his Aryan regime at the 1936 Summer Olympics. The subject begged for an inspirational feel-good drama to be made about it, and now we have one. It does surprise me quite a bit, however, that the director of ‘Predator 2’ and ‘Lost in Space’ would get the job. (I know, maybe that’s not fair. He’s done a lot of decent TV work since then. Still…) Comedian Jason Sudeikis plays Owens’ coach, which is also weird. From most accounts, the movie is exactly what it looks like and exactly what you think it will be, clicking off every checkbox on the bio-pic cheat sheet as is goes.
‘Triple 9‘ – The new movie by John Hillcoat, director of ‘The Proposition’ and ‘The Road’, is a crime thriller about crooked cops working for mobsters to plan a big heist. Unfortunately, despite a pretty impressive cast (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Gal Gadot and Kate Winslet, among others), the film didn’t garner much enthusiasm from anybody.
In addition to the simultaneous day-and-date 4k editions of ‘Gods of Egypt‘ and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘, the UHD format also catches a catalog title this week with the ridiculously nonsensical thieving magicians caper ‘Now You See Me‘, timed to promote the impending sequel that nobody asked for.
Criterion’s box set for Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy contains three of the filmmaker’s seminal early works: ‘Alice in the Cities’, ‘Wrong Move’ and ‘Kings of the Road’. It’s been years since I’ve seen any of these. (I went through a German cinema phase in film school). I recall struggling a bit through the first half of the three-hour ‘Kings of the Road’, but feeling that it really pulled together in the second half. Don’t let an early scene in which a character does something disgusting on camera turn you off from watching the rest.
His 1980 ‘City of Women‘ is pretty typical late-career Federico Fellini – a phantasmagoria of outrageous images strung together over a barely coherent plot. Viewed with modern sensibilities, Fellini’s sexism is also perhaps more uncomfortable than usual in this one. However, to be fair, the movie clearly shows the filmmaker trying to work out his issues with women. I wouldn’t recommend this as anyone’s first exposure to the maestro, but fans should still get something out of it.
If your tastes lean more towards exploitation cinema, Vinegar Syndrome offers ‘The Human Tornado‘ (a sequel to the Blaxploitation favorite ‘Dolemite’) and the supernatural slasher ‘Psychic Killer‘, while Arrow Video attempts to put together a comprehensive release of Roger Corman’s ‘Blood Bath‘.
The Wim Wenders box set will go on my list for the next Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble. I’d also like to pick up ‘City of Women’. I’ll reserve ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ for a streaming rental.
Do you see anything you like this week?