Blu-ray Highlights for 11/15/11 – When You’re a Jet, You’re a Jet All the Way

Musicals are back in fashion once again. This week sees the Blu-ray releases of two major classics from the golden age for the genre. Also, in something of a hell-freezes-over development, a notorious and long-suppressed musical reworking of a famous science fiction masterpiece is finally set free from video oblivion.

Here’s a look at what’s on deck this week:

The two musical classics I referenced above would of course be ‘My Fair Lady‘ and ‘West Side Story‘. The Blu-ray edition of the latter is the subject of some controversy, unfortunately. Noted film restoration expert Robert Harris has voiced his disapproval for some of the errors that MGM’s restoration team let slip through. Maybe it’s just me, but some of his complaints don’t really sound that bad to me. I mean, perhaps if I was a really huge fan who knew the film on a frame-by-frame basis, I might be more upset that a two-second dissolve transition has been turned into a fade-in/fade-out. But, personally, I wouldn’t have ever known there was a problem here if Harris hadn’t complained about it. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

Speaking of controversial restoration efforts… Once upon a time, back in the dark ages of the year 1984, disco music producer Giorgio Moroder attempted to mount his own restoration of Fritz Lang’s long-neglected science fiction masterpiece ‘Metropolis‘. What he created was an 80-minute version of the movie with an all-new pop/rock soundtrack featuring songs from the likes of Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar and Adam Ant. The result was certainly more Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Metropolis’ than Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, and was very controversial among film buffs. At this point, it’s kind of a fascinating historical curiosity. Although ‘Metropolis’ as a movie has been in the public domain for quite some time, this particular version has long been unavailable on video due to music licensing issues. Apparently, Kino has finally straightened all that out, and offers Moroder’s ‘Metropolis’ as an addendum to the more recent, and much more comprehensive restoration that the studio released on Blu-ray a year ago.

Other notable catalog titles include a new and hopefully improved edition of ‘Evil Dead II‘, and the very suspenseful Hong Kong thriller ‘Infernal Affairs‘, which of course was the film that Martin Scorsese remade as ‘The Departed’. Fans have argued the merits of ‘Infernal Affairs’ over ‘The Departed’ ever since the latter was first released, but really they’re both great movies.

The Criterion Collection offers up new high-def editions of Jean Renoir’s classic ‘The Rules of the Game‘, as well as a box set of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s ‘Three Colors Trilogy‘, which is very frequently held up as the greatest example of anything in the history of forever. It’s my own personal admission of film snob heresy to say that I totally freaking hate the ‘Three Colors’ movies. Haaaaaaaaate them. Hate them hate them hate them hate them hate them. I’ve seen all of them twice in order to give them a second chance, and I thought they were even worse the second time around. I’m sure that whoever winds up reviewing the Blu-rays for the site (I’m writing this post in advance) will probably have the opposite opinion of the movies, and I hope that fans get what they want out of the Criterion edition, but goddamn I loathe everything about these movies.

OK, with that off my chest, let’s talk about the week’s day-and-date titles, which are pretty weak on the whole. The biggest release would have to be the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts rom-com ‘Larry Crowne‘. As I recall, Luke here thought this was pretty swell. He seems to have been in a minority with that opinion, though. Rotten Tomatoes ranks it at a paltry 34% among critics. I haven’t seen it myself, so I’m not passing judgment. The trailer didn’t do much for me, but sometimes trailers are misleading.

More interesting (to me, at least) is the indie film ‘Bellflower‘, about two anarchists waiting (and hoping) for a global apocalypse to come. I’ve heard pretty good things about this one.

Finally, A&E is releasing the whole four-season run of ‘Farscape‘ on Blu-ray. Sadly, I’ve heard rumblings that the entire thing has simply been upconverted from standard definition.

Which of the week’s titles interest you?


  1. Once I catch up on bills and have some money to spend, I’m in for West Side Story, My Fair Lady and maybe Evil Dead II (I’ll probably wait for the review on that though.)

  2. Random Commenter

    Didn’t Atlas Shrugged Part 1 come out last week? Not that anyone necessarily cares, just wondering.

    • Josh Zyber

      You are correct. I wrote this post in advance, and it looks like the street date got corrected in the meantime. I’ve removed that item from this list and added it to last week’s post. Thanks.

  3. Drew

    ‘My Fair Lady’, and ‘West Side Story’. They both arrived yesterday.

    No interest in anything else this week.

    Especially that dog of a movie called ‘Larry Crowne’!

  4. Well, my Harry Potter movies are still trickling in. There are a couple on this list that I want to get, but they are going to be spaced out over a couple of weeks. I am looking at West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Vietnam In HD, Looney Toons and Farscape.

    I already own the collectors edition of Gettysburg which also came with Gods and Generals

    • I also just added Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis to my Blockbuster Queue, but its showing up as unavailable. I am not sure why Blockbuster does that – half my movie queue has “unavailable” next to it. I am not sure why they let me add movies to my queue if they don’t have them.

  5. EM

    I’ll not buy any this week, but there are some attractive titles on the roster. Looney Tunes looks good. Maybe I’ll add it to my public wish list on Amazon—not the overpriced “ultimate” edition, though. I’ve never seen the Giorgio Moroder version of Metropolis, but I’ll have a chance soon, as I have a hold on it with my local public library. I’m not sure I’ll want to buy a copy afterward, but we’ll see.

    Congratulations to William on the discovery of the B tags.

  6. I’ve ordered Looney Tunes with express shipping. Hope to have it by Thursday. I actually went for the Ultimate edition. I don’t know what I actually want the extra swag for, but I’m sure it’ll look nice on a shelf 🙂

    There’s been a lot of complaints that this Blu-ray is almost completely filled with cartoons that were already released on the Golden Collection DVDs. I can agree with that, to a degree. While it’s certainly nice to finally get the cartoons in HD, it would’ve been nice to get some “new” cartoons as well. There are, after all, almost 600 Looney Tunes shorts that still hasn’t been released on DVD (of which 244 are available on Laserdisc).

    However, I understand the need for making this first Blu-ray a huge seller, and avoiding all the 440 cartoons they’ve already put out on DVD would be imposssible. I hope there’s considerably less overlap on the next volume, though.

    Anyway – I really look forward to this one, and I can’t wait until I get my hands on it.

  7. Josh,

    That statement or the rumors you heard about the new Farscape Blu-Ray’s are not entirely factual. The show was produced in Australia i believe. While we in the US saw the show in 480i (i believe) the show was actually mastered in 576i PAL video. This while not true HD of course is the best that the show can look and what has happened is pretty amazing and really the best we farscape fans can hope for.

    They have taken the 576i Masters, and performed a very professional remastering by upscaling them. But this is not your TV or your PS3 doing upscaling from a DVD (which is still superior as its usually in 480p on DVD) but they used some very expensive software to upscale each frame, and only then did they encode it for for Blu-Ray. At the same time they remastered the audio I believe to 5.1 audio in TrueHD if I’m not mistaken. So while it may not be a true Blu-Ray of Farscape where they go back to the original Film Negatives and rebuild the entire shows from scratch, it really is the best we can hope for with this series.

    To be honest I never thought they would go back and rebuild the TNG episodes so this does give us hope for other shows that were mastered to video at lower than HD qualities. Although in the case of Farscape I don;t believe the original film negatives were in shape to be used for any re-master so I believe this is the best we will ever get unfortunately.