Blu-ray Highlights: Week of November 22nd, 2015 – Baaa to the Bone

This Thanksgiving, if you’re bored with the traditional turkey dinner, perhaps consider mutton on your menu? Mmm, lamb chops… so yummy…

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (11/24/15)?

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New Releases

Shaun the Sheep Movie‘ – Although not as well known on this side of the pond as ‘Wallace and Gromit’, Aardman Animations’ woolier mascot is nearly as beloved in his native England. I’m told that his feature film excursion is delightful whether you’ve seen the TV version or not.

American Ultra‘ – I realize that Jesse Eisenberg isn’t a huge star or box office draw, but I feel like he should be at a point in his career where he’s moved beyond stoner comedies. Here, he reunites with his ‘Adventureland’ costar Kristen Stewart for the tale of a hapless loser convenience store clerk who discovers that he’s actually a brainwashed government assassin after secret code words unlock his mind and his skills. So, yeah, it’s Jason Bourne meets ‘Clerks’. If that appeals to you, well, you’re in the minority. The movie scored mostly negative reviews and was a box office dud.

Ricki and the Flash‘ – Meryl Streep, still determined to convince audiences that she can sing even after ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Into the Woods’ proved otherwise, plays a failed wannabe rocker who reunites with her estranged daughter (Streep’s actual daughter Mamie Gummer). The film also represents the unlikely pairing of director Jonathan Demme with screenwriter Diablo Cody.

No Escape‘ – Remember that small window in time when Owen Wilson tried to be a straight-up, non-ironic action star with ‘Behind Enemy Lines’? I’m not sure that this exactly represents a return to that, but here he stars in a serious-minded action thriller about an American contractor trying to get his family the hell out of Indonesia while the country collapses from a political coup. Audiences didn’t seem too interested in seeing Wilson in something that’s not a comedy, and frankly, neither am I.

A Christmas Horror Story‘ – I guess there’s only room for one Krampus movie on cinema screens this season after all. The one starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette is still scheduled for a theatrical release on December 4th. This one, an anthology of horror shorts connected by William Shatner as a radio DJ, is going straight to video. That’s not necessarily a knock against its quality, though. I mean, it does have the Shat in it, after all.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection delivers a couple of truly essential titles this week: Akira Kurosawa’s stunning, emotionally devastating ‘Ikiru‘ and D.A. Pennebaker’s groundbreaking Bob Dylan concert documentary ‘Don’t Look Back‘.

A label called Zeitgeist Films offers an intriguing box set called ‘The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films‘, featuring 15 works by the legendary experimental animators.

I feel like right now is probably poor timing to release a movie with Charlie Sheen on the cover art. Nonetheless, among the latest batch of licensed titles from Olive Films is John Sayles’ period baseball drama ‘Eight Men Out‘.

In the mood for something scary? Scream Factory has high-def editions of the 1971 ‘Blood and Lace‘ as well as the 1981 ‘Ghost Story‘. Meanwhile, Arrow Video has the 1987 slasher ‘Blood Rage‘ and the 1966 Italian true-crime thriller ‘Wake Up and Kill‘.

Kino delivers the latest restoration from the 3-D Film Archive: the cheeseball 1961 horror flick ‘The Mask‘ (no Jim Carrey involved).


In case you don’t already own them, BBC has bundled together a gift set of all the ‘Doctor Who‘ Christmas specials starring David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

My $.02

I will certainly get myself to Barnes & Noble before the end of this month’s Criterion sale to get a copy of ‘Ikiru’. This recent podcast discussion of the film also has me very interested in ‘Don’t Look Back’. ‘Shaun the Sheep’ looks like a good rental. Finally, that Quay Brothers set will go on my wish list.

Will you drop any coin for new Blu-rays this week?


  1. Csm101

    Hey Josh, the movie from Scream is Blood and Lace, not Bava’s Blood and Black Lace. Interested in renting No Escape, American Ultra, and Shaun the Sheep. I’ve always enjoyed the Shaun the Sheep shorts on the kid channels. Blood and Lace, Ghost Story, and Blood Rage possible future purchases. The only thing I’ve ordered to get this week is The Mask in 3D.

  2. Lord Bowler

    I’m not picking up anything from this list. I’ll probably take advantage of the Barnes & Noble Criterion Sale for Scanners.

  3. William Henley

    Well, I am picking up a few things this week as they go on sale, but nothing on this list. This past weekend, I went to target, as they have a $5 Blu-Ray rack, and then they were running 25% off of those, so Blu-Rays were $3.75. I picked up 9 movies (although I think two of those were off of the $7.50 rack).

    I also picked up the Rogers and Hammerstein collection and Battlestar Galactica The Deffinitive Collection as Battlestar was under $65 and R&H was under $50. But I seriously need to stop buying stuff – I am trying to close on a house, and I just bought a projector to go into what I am going to turn into a theater room. I mean, I got the funds for everything and to buy movies, but those extra funds are supposed to go to buying stuff for the house after I close (that, and you are really not supposed to be making large buys when closing – so bad on me for buying the projector). That said, I may end up picking up a few more. If The Hobbit Trilogy Extended 3D drops under $65 this week, I will probably end up picking that up.

    Picking up 9 movies over the weekend (not including the R&H collection) I have actually completely forgotten what I picked up. I know I got Romancing The Stone and Insurgent and Spaceballs, but no clue off the top of my head what the other movies were.

      • William Henley

        I’ll have to look when I get home, but they have over 4,000 Blu-Ray titles priced under $15. I think this is the only place I know of that has a $5 section – I had no clue until I saw a news article about the sale this weekend.

        • Al


          I’m not sure if you saw this, yesterday…

          Happy to hear that you stepped into the projector world! Which one did you purchase? How big of a screen will you be going with?

          Anyway, congrats. Moving to a projector is the single best thing that anyone could ever do for their home theater.

          • William Henley

            After a ton of research, I settled on the BenQ HT1085ST, and have been extremely happy with it so far. I also placed the price of replacement bulbs and the price of glasses, and it just seemed to be the best all-around deal. I am not sure if I needed the short-throw, but decided the less distance I had to throw, the better (and brighter) the image.

            I have not settled 100% on a screen yet – I am going to wait until after I close, then take the projector to the house, see how big it throws, and determine from there. However, my thought is to go with a 115″ gray 2.35:1 screen from Silver Ticket, but with the way this Short Throw is working, I may go even larger.

            Fox News was on while I was keystoning the projector, and I was shocked at the image. Not that I was WATCHING Fox News, it was just the random channel that was on on my Tivo (I’ve had it randomly come on to Spanish stations before, so go figure). I stuck in Dune just because it is what Josh did, and snapped a couple of shots to show some friends, and ended up watching the entire movie, so that unintentianally ended up being my first movie (shown on a wall, but still, had 90 inch image in the apartment). Second movie ended up being Sound of Music, and was amazed that something I always assumed was a gritty picture ended up being very fine film grain and it looked amazing on a screen that large. I did watch a scene from Frozen to test out, but first full 3D disc was 3D Rarities as I had not opened it yet. First show-type disc I watched was James and Mike Mondays, which actually looks REALLY good, and I might use as a demo disc. First Youtube videos I watched was stuff from my church and some gymnastics competitions. I’ve also watched some High School football and Vollyball (because professional isn’t on when flipping through channels).

            So yeah, so far I have been really happy with it. I will probably end up burning the bulb out in 2-3 years with this kind of use (its rated 3000 hours and I am currently using it about 5-6 hours a day), but bulb replacement is only $100.

          • Josh Zyber

            Don’t use electronic keystone correction. That just adds nasty scaling artifacts to the picture. If your projected image does not have proper geometry on your wall, you want to adjust that by physically moving the projector to align it squarely with the wall.

          • William Henley

            Yes, I know. 🙂 This is temporary location while I am in the apartment. It is keystoned like crazy, which is why I am surprised it still looks as good as it does. Once I move into the house, it will be properly mounted

          • Al


            That’s awesome! I promise that this will be the best HT decision you ever make!

            You can’t even imagine how much you’re going to love using a projector! You won’t even think about buying another TV, no matter how many “Ks” are thrown into them. 🙂

      • Spaceballs, inception (thought it was insurgent, oh well, still a good movie), last airbender, the expendables, the brothers Grimm, hot tub time machine, tomb raider, highlander, and romancing the stone

          • William Henley

            That’s tough to say. I think Last Airbender is along the same lines as Dune (and I don’t mean that as an insult to either movie). What I mean is that, both movies on their own fall on their face, but if you are familar with the source material, both are really good. Last Airbender is pretty faithful to the cartoon show, but what made it suffer is they try to fit an entire season of the show into a single movie, and so you loose character and story development, and someone who has not watched the cartoon could easily get lost.

            So none of these were must-have movies for me (except for Spaceballs), but at $3.75 a disc, I couldn’t pass them up

          • Chris B

            Years ago my wife bought me the special collector’s edition of Inception. came in a metallic briefcase and had a bunch of collectible cards and even a little totem to remind me to always make sure I’m not in a dream. I don’t love the movie as much as I used to, but it’s one of my favorite “special editions” that I own.

    • Al


      Happy to hear that you stepped into the projector world! Which one did you purchase? How big of a screen will you be going with?

      • William Henley

        Sorry i did not see this earlier, things are super crazy right now – not only am I moving, but am preparing to go back to school and am writing admissions essays and stuff

  4. Chris B

    I’d like to watch American Ultra, No Escape and A Christmas Horror Story but I can’t justify spending any money to do so. I’ll wait for them to show up on Netflix. I’ve heard Ikiru is a great movie but I’m in no rush to see it. This year has been pretty shitty for me personally so I don’t feel the need to be emotionally devastated by a movie anytime soon.

  5. CC

    -“I realize that Jesse Eisenberg isn’t a huge star or box office draw, but I feel like he should be at a point in his career where he’s moved beyond stoner comedies. ”
    Umm- dude…American Ultra IS a Stoner Comedy.
    And does anybody remember Martin Campbell’s NO ESCAPE??
    Quay Brothers disc for me.

  6. EM

    Nothing I’m set to purchase, but I am interested in seeing A Christmas Horror Story (I thought it had a limited theatrical release?), The Mask, and the Quay Brothers shorts.

    I saw Shaun the Sheep in the theater and liked it, but I’m not interested in a purchase.

  7. Al

    I don’t know is this is necessarily the appropriate post to put this in, but it’s Black Friday week, and I thought a lot of people that are buying new blu-rays may want to upgrade their equipment, right now.

    This sub is normally $679. It’s being sold for $399, while supplies last. SVS makes extremely high quality products.

  8. Must Buy this week? Meh. Might order Shaun the Sheep Steelbook from UK but it’s not a priority. Christmas Horror Story is a strong maybe.
    The titles that go on my list of interest: American Ultra, Dragonal Academy (Anime,) Larger Than Life, Mister Saturday Night, Reichsfuhrer (thanks for the review HDD) – Looking overseas to see if Turkey Hollow is being released on BD, the USA is dvd only.

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