Blu-ray Highlights: Week of November 23rd, 2014 – It’s Turkey Week, All Right

It seems to me that, with Black Friday coming up in a few days, this ought to be a really good time to release some major new Blu-ray titles. Instead, as so often happens, the studios have decided to dump a bunch of turkeys on us this week. Thankfully, the selection of catalog titles is more appealing.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (11/25/14)?

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New Releases

The Expendables 3‘ – I guess the nostalgia factor only stretches so far for Sylvester Stallone’s testosterone-fueled, shoot-em-up franchise. Despite wrangling in even more aging former action stars (including Harrison Ford, somehow), moviegoers found the latest ‘Expendables’ sequel to be pretty… well, expendable. Lowering the rating to PG-13 in an attempt to appeal to younger viewers was probably a mistake, as the core audience for this franchise all grew up in the 1980s and expect some hard-R violence and mayhem. If it has no other appeal, the Blu-ray is only the third title released so far with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which may pull in a few extra sales from home theater gearheads.

The November Man‘ – Hoping that people still remember that he used to be James Bond, Pierce Brosnan returns to the spy genre with an alleged action thriller that our theatrical reviewer Phil called “deeply, deeply mediocre.” The film was directed by Roger Donaldson, who has made some excellent movies like ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Thirteen Days’, but also made some very bad movies like ‘Cocktail’ and the misguided remake of ‘The Getaway’. Most accounts put this in the latter camp. The trailer explains the title with a line of dialogue stating: “After you pass through, nothing lives.” Ummm, what? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

The Giver‘ – All the publicity for the latest Young Adult, dystopian future sci-fi flick bent over backwards trying to convince viewers that, no, it’s not just a rip-off of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’. In fact, the Lois Lowry novel it’s adapted from actually predates those other franchises, which were largely ripped off from it. Nevertheless, the movie version would not exist if not for the success of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’, and quite frankly it does look like a generic copycat clone.

A Madea Christmas‘ – Tyler Perry is still cranking these things out? Really? Ugh.

What If‘ – Also known as ‘The F Word’, Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan struggle to determine if men and women really can just be friends. Given that this is a rom-com, the answer is clearly no. Phil says that the movie is moderately charming despite its adherence to formula clichés.

A Merry Friggin’ Christmas‘ – It cannot possibly be a good sign that even containing one of the final screen performances from Robin Williams wasn’t enough to drag this Joel McHale comedy out of direct-to-video oblivion.

Nymphomaniac: Extended Director’s Cut‘ – Nearly six solid hours of cinematic torture from Lars von Trier. Count me out.

Catalog Titles

As I said in the intro, this week’s catalog releases are much stronger than the day-and-date titles.

The Criterion Collection stares into the abyss of alienation and emotional despair with Michelangelo Antonioni’s beautiful, challenging ‘L’avventura‘. The film was the first part of a thematic trilogy with ‘La Notte‘ and ‘L’eclisse‘ (both previously released by Criterion).

I’m not too familiar with documentarian Les Blank, but Criterion’s compendium of 14 of his films, called ‘Les Blank: Always for Pleasure‘, sounds pretty interesting as well.

RaroVideo brings us a new restoration of Bernardo Bertolucci’s early masterpiece ‘The Conformist‘.

Kino, meanwhile, remembers the great Robert Altman with his terrific revisionist noir ‘The Long Goodbye‘ and the period heist caper ‘Thieves Like Us‘.

I will completely understand if most of our readers choose to sit this week out, but personally I find the trio of ‘The Conformist’, ‘The Long Goodbye’ and ‘L’avventura’ almost impossible to resist. Is anyone with me on that?


  1. Chris B

    Nothing for me this week, (although La’aventura looks interesting and my end up going on my wishlist).

    Never even heard of either of the two noir films, but there’s still many seminal works in the genre I have yet to see before I start looking into the underrated gems.

    I can’t believe they’re releasing an even longer version of Trier’s Nymphomaniac. I caught vol. 1 on Netflix a while back….it was repulsive and too long to begin with.

  2. NJScorpio

    I LOVE ‘Don’t Be a Menace…’, but will wait till I can get it at bargain bin prices (which shouldn’t take long).

    “*****, you smell like French fries!”

  3. I wonder if Mel Gibson had anything to do with the Expendables poor box office? . Has he become box office poison? Machete Kills did pretty poorly last year and crazy Mel was in that too, although I wasn’t expecting it to break any records, it seemed to really underperform. The pg-13 rating turned me off. Personally, I still enjoy Mel Gibson as an entertainer and think he has a lot of on screen charisma and would love to see him direct something again. Anyways, I’m picking up Expendables 3 at Moviestop for 14.99 and can not resist that price for a new release. Moviestop always gets Expendables cheap. I have the other two, so might as well have them all. Best buy has Nymphomaniac directors cut vol 1 & 2 for 12.99 so that’s a strong maybe. Samurai Cop? The title is really catchy. I’m going to have to look into that. The rest of my money will go to some Black Friday Deals and maybe one more Criterion title.

    • Josh Zyber

      Honestly, I doubt anyone even realized Gibson was in the movie. He wasn’t highlighted in any of the marketing. Look at that poster art I used for the banner image on this post. Gibson is shoved way in the back, the last face most people will see. I think people are just burned out on the franchise.

      Machete Kills underperformed because nobody who saw the first Machete liked it.

  4. William Henley

    While Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1 comes out tomorrow, the limited edition came out on November 11th. From what I can tell, the limited edition is a digibook or something. They appear to be the same price on Amazozn. The reviews though have been really critical of the video quality, but the subtitled remastered ones they have been releasing on Hulu look pretty good to me. I will probably pick this up when the price gets right – this seems a bit on the expensive side to me right now, especially considering they are on Hulu.

  5. EM

    I’d be wanting some deeply discounted Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu from Amazon if I weren’t already caught up (at good if not so fabulously great prices).

  6. Thank You to the studios for not releasing too many titles this week – with my disposable cash budget limited, it means that Black Friday will get a few of those $4+ movies in my hands. As well as a Roku 1 for my bedroom tv.

    So, for sure have Expendables 3 coming and just a wishlist entry for November Man.

    • William Henley

      Yeah. The UK has some great stuff today that, if the price is right, I will pick up (I Might FINALLY get Star Wars!)

  7. timcharger

    Josh on November Man:
    “The trailer explains the title with a line of dialogue stating: “After you pass through, nothing lives.” Ummm, what? That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

    Yeah, if his name was Grim Reaper or Angel of Death, that would make sense.
    November Man must be the weakest codename for an assassin.
    The other assassins must chuckle behind Pierce Brosnan’s back,
    every time the name is said.

  8. timcharger

    ‘Nymphomaniac: Extended Director’s Cut‘ – Nearly six solid hours of cinematic torture from Lars von Trier. Count me out.”

    “Best buy has Nymphomaniac directors cut vol 1 & 2 for 12.99 so that’s a strong maybe.”

    I bought it. My penchant of getting a good deal made me do it. I hate that I did this.
    If I have 5 hours to watch something, something must be wrong. Of course, I don’t
    have to watch something 5 hours straight.

    I am curious about this Lars von Trier dude. It will expand my knowledge of film.
    But I gotta admit if this film was called:
    Even at $13, I probably wouldn’t have bought it.
    At least I’m honest about it.

    • timcharger

      I even bought a 4 film pack:
      Galaxy Quest, Lost in Space, Red Planet, Mars Attacks!
      for $15.

      When will I have 8 hours to watch this? Though I have seen all 4 films in the past.
      With my collection addiction, it’s rare that a 4-film pack has movies that I DON’T
      already own.

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