The Blu-ray scene looks awfully dark this week. The release calendar is kind of slim and the biggest title of the week is a sequel nobody wanted. If you’re hoping to find something worth buying, you’ll have to dig a little. Let’s see what we can find.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Fifty Shades Darker‘ – The original ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the sort of improbable cultural phenomenon that could never be recreated. Most of the people who paid to see it did so ironically, or were just curious to find out what all the fuss was about. Did anyone actually like the movie or care about its characters? I can’t imagine. Just about the only merit in its favor was that the producers were wise to let a woman direct it. With a huge box office gross, naturally a sequel had to follow. And of course, the woman got canned in order to put a man in charge this time. Sadly, that man was James Foley, who once made the outstanding ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ but is now reduced to doing softcore ‘Twilight’ fan fiction. His big idea was to turn the follow-up into a ‘Fatal Attraction’-style thriller. Reviews were brutal (as was to be expected), and the movie only grossed about 2/3 as much as the original. However, with a modest $55 million budget, it still turned a comfortable profit and we may yet see a conclusion to this epic trilogy. On disc, Universal is lavishing Part 2 with a Blu-ray and a UHD. Best Buy will carry a SteelBook for the former.
‘Things to Come‘ – In her second acclaimed performance of 2016 (after ‘Elle’), Isabelle Huppert plays an aging philosophy professor forced to reinvent her life when her husband of 25 years announces that he’s had enough and is leaving her for his mistress. The French drama from director Mia Hansen-Løve scored very enthusiastic reviews from critics.
‘VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media‘ – The title of this documentary produced by Troma Films sounds like it’ll be right up the alley of most of our site’s readership. The film details the detrimental effect that the death of the neighborhood video store has had on indie filmmaking.
Hoping to squeeze a little more out of it, Universal is giving a full court press to the ‘Fifty Shades’ franchise. Not only will ‘Fifty Shades Darker‘ get a 4k Ultra HD edition, so will the original ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘, as well as a double-feature set that includes both movies.
Michael Mann is the type of filmmaker who never stops tinkering with his movies. Every time he watches one, he makes more changes to it. Even the first Blu-ray edition of his crime epic masterpiece ‘Heat‘ removed a couple lines of dialogue from the original theatrical version. Now, Mann has given the film another pass at the editing table for a so-called “Director’s Definitive Edition.” Exactly what’s different this time, I’m not yet sure. The biggest appeal of the disc is likely the new video transfer from a 4k remaster.
Criterion’s latest offering is Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles‘. If you think that title is long-winded, wait until you see the movie’s nearly three-and-a-half hour runtime. The 1975 drama follows three days in the life of a widowed housewife (Delphine Seyrig), apparently playing out many of her mundane daily activities in nearly real-time. From what I gather, this is done with purpose and builds toward something meaningful. Nevertheless, it may take some patience to get there.
I could have sworn that Lawrence Kasdan’s bittersweet, lovely adaptation of ‘The Accidental Tourist‘ was previously released on Blu-ray, but apparently the new disc from the Warner Archive marks its first appearance on the format. William Hurt plays a travel writer left in an emotional vacuum after the death of his son, and Geena Davis (deservedly) won an Oscar for her supporting role as the quirky woman who helps bring some humanity back to his life.
From there, the Warner Archive moves on to ‘The Loved One‘, Tony Richardson’s madcap 1965 satire of the funeral industry.
You’ll never make the mistake of wearing white after Labor Day again when you see John Water’s delightful black comedy ‘Serial Mom‘, in which Kathleen Turner plays a homicidal housewife who takes such fashion etiquette deadly seriously. The movie gets a well-deserved Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory.
Perhaps hoping to rehabilitate the movie’s image, or perhaps simply using the recent ‘Bates Motel’ series finale as a convenient excuse to dump a related title on the market, Scream Factory’s other release this week is Gus Van Sant’s misbegotten 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho‘. I still maintain that the movie is a fascinating artistic thought experiment. If you take a movie widely regarded as a masterpiece, and copy it nearly shot-for-shot as closely as possible, would the copy also be a masterpiece? Unfortunately, the answer is an emphatic no. It’s pretty awful.
Arrow Video adds to its growing catalog of horror schlock with Frank Henenlotter’s 1988 ‘Brain Damage‘.
TV box sets this week include the first season of HBO’s ‘Divorce‘ and the fourth season of Netflix’s ‘Orange Is the New Black‘.
I preordered the Director’s Edition of ‘Heat’ when I saw Amazon’s $7.88 asking price. That’s almost impossible to pass up. I’d also like to add ‘The Accidental Tourist’ and ‘Serial Mom’ to my collection. ‘VHS Massacre’ sounds like a worthy rental.
Do you plan to spend your week with Christian and Anastasia, or did you have something different in mind?