Atomic Blonde

Blu-ray Highlights: Week of November 12th, 2017 – Blonde Ambition

Blondes supposedly have more fun. This week, they kick a bunch of ass. Also causing trouble on Blu-ray are some screwy squirrels and a weirdo in a bear suit.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (11/14/17)?

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New Releases

Atomic Blonde‘ – Let’s get the “Joan Wick” jokes out of the way quickly, shall we? Charlize Theron stars as a tough-but-sexy MI-6 agent in a Cold War spy thriller set in 1980s Berlin. Even without knowing that director David Leitch co-helmed the original ‘John Wick’ movie, the trailers made a comparison with that franchise pretty obvious, from the glossy visuals to the hard-hitting violence. Critics were mixed to positive on the movie, calling it a case of style over substance, but some pretty great style. On disc, it’s available in Blu-ray or Ultra HD options, with Pop Art SteelBooks for both at Best Buy.

Wind River‘ – ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ screenwriter Taylor Sheridan attempts to transition to directing with another politically charged thriller. (Technically, Sheridan also directed an obscure horror flick in 2011, but that was before he had much clout or an Oscar nomination.) This one is about a tracker (Jeremy Renner) and a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigating a murder on a Native American reservation. Most reviews were supportive of the mystery and suspense aspects of the film, but critical of the racial politics of centering this story around a couple of white heroes. The premise reminds me of Michael Apted’s 1992 film ‘Thunderheart’, which had much the same problem but was released in an era less sensitive to such things.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature‘ – Who even remembers the 2014 animated comedy about a bunch of squirrels trying to heist a nut store? Although modestly successful at the time, the movie has been virtually forgotten in the three short years that followed. Nevertheless, here’s a sequel to regurgitate most of the same gags in an even more forgettable fashion.

Brigsby Bear‘ – Eccentric ‘SNL’ supporting player Kyle Mooney wrote and stars in a bizarre dark comedy about a dysfunctional young man determined to make a movie continuing the adventures of his favorite kiddie TV show, which he discovers had been produced exclusively for his own viewing and no one else. As it turns out, the reason behind the show’s creation is pretty messed up. Mooney’s socially awkward hipster shtick can rub some viewers the wrong way and tends to wear thin in more than short doses, but the movie is said to be a strangely heartfelt commentary on modern society’s fetishization of childhood nostalgia.

Catalog Titles

Now available for purchasing during this month’s Barnes & Noble sale are new Criterion Collection editions of Jean-Pierre Melville’s ultra-cool 1967 hitman drama ‘Le samourai‘ and director Donna Deitch’s 1985 lesbian love story ‘Desert Hearts‘.

When Arrow Video released the expensive Scarlett Box limited edition collection of the first three ‘Hellraiser‘ movies last year, I remarked that I don’t care for any of the sequels and would probably hold out for a standalone release of just the first film. Now it’s here, but unfortunately it’s packaged in a Mondo Pop Art SteelBook, so I find myself waiting again.

New to Arrow are the 1976 Blaxploitation horror flick ‘J.D.’s Revenge‘ and the ‘George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn‘ box set, which contains three lesser-known features the director made between his famous zombie movies.

The latest Twilight Time limited editions include Rex Harrison in the 1967 family musical ‘Doctor Dolittle‘ (from a new 4k restoration by Fox), Woody Allen’s 1971 political parody ‘Bananas‘, Sandra Dee in the original “beach party” flick ‘Gidget‘ (1959), Marlon Brando in the interracial romance ‘Sayonara‘ (1957), and the Japanese road trip drama ‘The Yellow Handkerchief‘ (1977).

Previously, the three ‘Psycho‘ sequels were released individually by Scream Factory. Universal has now taken back the rights and bundled them all with the original Hitchcock film in a 4-movie collection. It seems to me that this will just emphasize the huge disparity in quality between the original and its follow-ups.

Shout! Factory gives us a little Lily Tomlin in the 1981 comedy ‘The Incredible Shrinking Woman‘.

Kino gets ‘The Last Laugh‘ with F.W. Murnau’s silent masterpiece about the plight of a working class doorman.

Television

The second season of AMC’s ‘Preacher‘ is perhaps even more uneven than the first, but the show is still overflowing with truly bonkers ideas that no other series would ever attempt, not the least of which is introducing Adolf Hitler as a sympathetic, even pitiable character.

My $.02

‘Atomic Blonde’, ‘Wind River’ and ‘Brigsby Bear’ are all strong rental candidates for me. ‘Le samourai’ deserves a purchase. ‘The Last Laugh’ will go on my wish list for later. I’m going to continue holding out a little longer for the Arrow edition of ‘Hellraiser’.

What looks good to you this week?

12 comments

  1. Chris B

    I’m tempted to blind-buy Atomic Blonde but will most likely rent it first.

    i liked Hell or High water but wasn’t as nuts about it as a lot of other people were. To me the social commentary felt really heavy-handed and too on-the-nose. I’ll wait for Wind River to show up on cable.

    I watched Le Samurai on a DVD copy I got from my local library and loved it (the opening shot us one of my all-time favorites). I’ll probably pick it up during the B&N sale.

    That Romero box set looks tempting, unfortunately it’s not part of the Arrow Video sale that kicked off today so I’ll wait on it a bit.

    That sale includes Hellraiser by the way Josh. I know you said you’re not a big fan of the artwork but the price is right at the moment.

    I thought Kyle Mooney was the best thing about the otherwise terrible Zoolander 2. I’ll keep an eye out for Brigsby Bear on Netflix

  2. NJScorpio

    I dug ‘Atomic Blonde’ but I felt it was a bit off balance. It has some fantastic (seemingly) continuous shot fight scenes, but it seemed to be more heavily loaded with action toward the back, with the beginning more of a snappy Guy Ritchie vibe, grinding to a halt whenever it cut to Theron quietly sitting in a hotel room. I will definitely watch it again.

  3. Bolo

    I’m half interested in ‘Atomic Blonde’. I definitely prefer this type of action that is a little more grounded and relatable. However, I’m a little bored with movies that revolved around master lists of all the real identities of spies. That’s a macguffin they need to retire. Also, although Charlize Theron is both an excellent actress and physically credible as a threat, I find her a bit of a downer. She’s great at playing miserable people, but sad people aren’t always the easiest action heroes to root for.

    • NJScorpio

      It’s tough to come up with a compelling macguffin. I appreciate when a film doesn’t waste much time explaining the details of the macguffin, or why exactly it is important. Just “everyone wants this!” and then start. The easiest is to use something that has clear dollar value (like a bag of diamonds). Of course everyone wants it, no need to explain why.

      One rarely used MacGuffin I enjoy is babies. It adds something a bit different, like in ‘Shoot ’em Up’ or ‘Hard Boiled’.

        • NJScorpio

          No no, not at all. The story is the character development and interaction as they all respond to the Macguffin (either looking for it, running from it, whatever). The catalyst is unimportant, it’s the story that follows that is important. For example: You can have a great movie about 4 people locked in a house together. Why are they locked in the house? Zombies outside? Plague? Really, it doesn’t matter, because the story is what happens due to being trapped together. So in a spy movie, it doesn’t matter what the object is they are chasing, or the backstory as to why it is important, but the journey along the way. Hell, just look at the classic ‘The 39 Steps’!

  4. Les

    Even though it finally showed up in my local theater 6 to 8 weeks after it was released, I did go and see Wind River in the theater and immediately purchased it on Digital HD a couple of weeks ago. Great movie!

  5. William Henley

    The three releases from Opus caught my attention. I actually love this kind of thing (operas, symphonies, plays, ballets), but I only have a handful on disc – as classical music discs / plays / operas / ballets are usually always released by small distributors and targeting a niche audience, the discs are usually crazy expensive, and that is what we are seeing here. As such, I think I am going to hold off (and sadly, probably forget about them) and give my wallet a break this week, as I have been ordering Christmas presents, working on home automation, upgrading PCs, and buying 4k movies lately, and I got to start bringing down that balance on those credit cards

    • You can put those Opus discs on your Amazon wish list? That’s what I do when I can’t afford something, but don’t want to forget about that something either.

      • William Henley

        Oh! Didn’t think about that! I was thinking about Camelcamelcamel, but as these discs are usually sold directly by the distributor, prices almost never come down.

  6. Csm101

    Atomic Blonde for sure. I’m interested in Wind River as well, but will either rent or blind Buy at a 10 dollar price point. I’m kind of wanting to check out Le Samourai after reading about it.

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