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:
- ‘Assassin’s Creed: Lineage‘ (New Group)
- ‘Beginners‘ (Universal)
- ‘Being Human: The Complete First Season (2011)‘ (eOne)
- ‘Bellflower‘ (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
- ‘The Big Lebowski (Non-Digibook)‘ (Universal)
- ‘Bleach The Movie: Fade to Black‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Dreamworks Dragons‘ (DreamWorks)
- ‘Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn: 25th Anniversary Edition‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘Farscape: Season 1‘ (A&E)
- ‘Farscape: Season 2‘ (A&E)
- ‘Farscape: Season 3‘ (A&E)
- ‘Farscape: Season 4‘ (A&E)
- ‘Farscape: The Complete Series‘ (A&E)
- ‘Flypaper‘ (MPI)
- ‘Gettysburg (Non-Digibook)‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis‘ (Kino)
- ‘Gods and Generals: Extended Director’s Cut (Non-Digibook)‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Griff the Invisible‘ (Indomina Releasing)
- ‘Infernal Affairs‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘Larry Crowne‘ (Universal)
- ‘Last Exile: The Complete Series‘ (FUNimation – November 14th)
- ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1 – Ultimate Collector’s Edition‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Main Street‘ (Magnolia)
- ‘Make the Yuletide Gay‘ (TLA Releasing)
- ‘My Fair Lady‘ (Paramount)
- ‘Ozzy Osbourne: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne‘ (Eagle Rock)
- ‘Pound of Flesh‘ (Cult Epics)
- ‘The Rules of the Game (1939)‘ (Criterion)
- ‘Santa Claus (1959)‘ (VCI)
- ‘Sea Rex: Journey to a Prehistoric World – 3D‘ (Universal)
- ‘Spy Kids: 3-Pack Giftset‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘Three Colors Trilogy‘ (Criterion)
- ‘Tom Cruise Collection‘ (Paramount)
- ‘The Treasure Hunter‘ (FUNimation)
- ‘The Ultimate Gift‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Vietnam in HD‘ (A & E)
- ‘West Side Story (2-Disc Collector’s Edition)‘ (MGM)
- ‘West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition Limited Edition Collector’s Set‘ (MGM)
- ‘WWII in HD: Collector’s Edition‘ (A&E)
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?