This week’s new Blu-ray releases include some real dogs, but come hell or high water we’ll dig through them until we find something interesting to watch. (It won’t be that hard. Honest.)
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Hell or High Water‘ – Chris Pine and Ben Foster play brothers from rural Texas who go on a bank robbing spree. Jeff Bridges is the lawman on their trail, and it turns out that the boys have an agenda behind their actions beyond just getting rich. The gritty neo-noir scripted by ‘Sicario’ screenwriter Taylor Sheridan was one of the most acclaimed films released over the summer. Unfortunately, it didn’t get much of a release and many viewers who were eager to see it couldn’t find it at a theater near them. Now it’s on Blu-ray to give us all a chance to catch up with it.
‘War Dogs‘ – ‘Hangover’ director Todd Phillips strains to add social commentary to his latest outrageous comedy by adapting the true story of a pair of obnoxious douchebags (Miles Teller and a bloated Jonah Hill) who became major gun-runners supplying illegal weapons to the American military during the Iraq War. Wanting to be equal parts ‘Lord of War’, ‘Three Kings’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, Philips was perhaps out of his depth with this one. The film was met with mixed reviews and poor box office, though Hill was praised for his performance.
‘Kubo and the Two Strings‘ – Sadly, it’s getting to be next to impossible to sell kids today on the idea of stop-motion animation. This samurai fantasy adventure is the most elaborate and ambitious production yet from Laika, the studio behind ‘Coraline’ and ‘The Boxtrolls’. Yet despite promises of lots of action and monsters and magic, it was also the studio’s poorest-performing picture to date. Critics were very supportive, though many pointed out that the film’s visuals were more inventive than its rather formulaic Hero’s Journey story. The Blu-ray is available in 2D or 3D options.
‘Mechanic: Resurrection‘ – Jason Statham’s 2011 action flick ‘The Mechanic’ (a very loose remake of a superior Charles Bronson thriller from 1972) was a box office bomb in the United States, but did just barely well enough overseas and on video that someone thought they could make a franchise out of it. This was a mistake. The sequel was an even bigger flop. What the hell is Tommy Lee Jones (sporting a ridiculous soul-patch) doing in this as the villain?
‘Hands of Stone‘ – Sylvester Stallone had great success transitioning his Rocky character into a mentor role for a younger boxer in ‘Creed’. When former ‘Raging Bull’ star Robert De Niro tried much the same thing in this bio-pic about real boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), nobody cared. Given the plethora of other boxing movies drawing attention away from it this year, I doubt the movie will find much attention on video either.
‘Yoga Hosers‘ – Kevin Smith just plain doesn’t give a shit anymore. He makes movies solely for his own amusement and whatever is left of his existing fan base, unconcerned about reaching a broader audience. I’m sure that, from his perspective, it must feel liberating to throw off the shackles of anyone else’s expectations so that he can toss together a weird comedy about a pair of Canadian teens (played by his daughter and Johnny Depp’s daughter) fighting off an invasion of tiny alien sausage people. Good for him, I guess? As an outsider looking in, I am utterly baffled at how in the hell he managed to scrape together $5 million to make this.
Even though either ‘Kubo’ or ‘Hell or High Water’ look like they’d offer a lot more visual eye candy in 4k HDR, the only movies to get Ultra HD releases this week are ‘War Dogs‘ and ‘Mechanic: Resurrection‘.
Marlon Brando’s sole effort as a director was the 1961 Western ‘One-Eyed Jacks‘. Plagued with production problems and met with mixed reviews when it was released, the film fell into obscurity for many years but found important fans in Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who backed the new 4k restoration that makes its way to Blu-ray via the Criterion Collection.
Criterion’s second title this week is Noah Baumbach’s dysfunctional family drama ‘The Squid and the Whale‘. The folks at Criterion are obviously fans of Baumbach, having previously released his ‘Kicking and Screaming’ (on DVD) and ‘Frances Ha’, as well as his two collaborations with Wes Anderson (‘The Life Aquatic’ and ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’).
MGM released William Friedkin’s high octane crime thriller ‘To Live and Die in L.A.‘ on a fairly adqueate if unexceptional Blu-ray back in 2010. Shout! Factory revisits the title now with a Collector’s Edition featuring a new video remaster and new bonus features. Fun fact: I have this movie’s soundtrack as one of the very few albums on my phone.
Scream Factory follows up on its recent release of David Cronenberg’s ‘Dead Ringers’ with a Collector’s Edition of the director’s early feature, ‘Rabid‘.
In the Comments to last week’s post, we had some confusion about whether Arrow Video’s Blu-ray for the ’80s horror schlockfest ‘C.H.U.D.’ had been delayed or not. At the time the post was published, Amazon still claimed a street date of November 15th. Looking at Amazon today, that listing now says November 22nd. Since I already mentioned it last week, I elected not to add it to today’s poll. However, Lionsgate has conveniently added the sequel ‘C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD‘ to its Vestron Collector’s Series this week. Also part of that line is ‘Return of the Living Dead 3‘.
Finally, Flicker Alley continues its run of Cinerama travelogues with ‘Cinerama’s Russian Adventure‘ and ‘The Best of Cinerama‘.
I should have a review of the new edition of ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ soon. Both ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ look like promising rentals, while ‘One-Eyed Jacks’, ‘The Squid and the Whale’ and ‘Rabid’ will go on my wish list for later.
What appeals to you this week?