Hoping for a shopping break after all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? This week doesn’t bring much in terms of new movies on Blu-ray, but classic film fans may not be able to resist Criterion’s latest offering.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Searching – John Cho stars as a desperate father trying to track his missing teenage daughter through her social media trail. The thriller is the latest entry in a weird little genre of movies that play out almost entirely in windows on computer or smartphone screens, a la the Unfriended series (which were also produced by Timur Bekmambetov, who has a couple more similar projects in the works as well). Made for next to no money, the movie was well buzzed at Sundance, with a lot of praise for Cho’s performance. It went on to make a strong profit despite next to no mainstream media advertising.
Jonathan Demme’s courtroom drama Philadelphia won Tom Hanks his first Oscar. The film now gets a 4k upgrade from Sony.
Beyond that, the only other Ultra HD release this week is a reissue of Atomic Blonde in a second Pop Art SteelBook available at Best Buy. Whether this case art is better or worse than the last one is a matter of opinion. I don’t care for either one, but fortunately I caught the movie on cable and didn’t think it was a keeper anyway.
Orson Welles followed his masterpiece Citizen Kane with an ambitious period drama that many fans believe could have been an even greater work. Unfortunately, studio RKO panicked after the prior film’s box office failure and the smear campaign waged by William Randolph Hearst, and famously cut almost an hour out of the running time against Welles’ wishes. That footage was allegedly destroyed and has never been seen again. Sadly, there’s not much the Criterion Collection can do about that, but the label revisits The Magnificent Ambersons three decades after issuing it on Laserdisc with a new restoration of the surviving 88 minutes and a scholarly assortment of bonus features.
In addition to that, Criterion examines True Stories, the only feature directorial effort from David Byrne. The movie is almost as odd as you’d expect something from the Talking Heads frontman might be.
In a peculiar bit of scheduling, one of Robert Altman’s most successful films and one of his least successful hit Blu-ray on the same day from separate labels. First, Arrow Academy pays a visit to Gosford Park, the director’s delightful 2001 drawing room mystery scripted by future Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. Meanwhile, the Warner Archive digs up his 1970 Brewster McCloud, an absurdist black comedy about a teenage boy living in the Huston Astrodome who wants to build a pair of mechanical flying wings while being hunted by a detective who believes he’s a serial killer.
Also coming out of the Warner Archive is another notorious ’70s flop, Mame, the musical remake of Auntie Mame starring a musically-challenged Lucille Ball.
The exact street date for the Warner Archive edition Howard Hawks’ 1951 sci-fi horror classic The Thing from Another World is uncertain. Until a few days ago, Amazon listed it as “Unavailable” with no date mentioned. It still can’t be found on wbshop.com. However, from out of the blue, Amazon recently changed its status to “In Stock.” Hopefully that holds true.
At 12-years-old, I was probably too young for the horror comedy Critters. That didn’t stop my mother from taking me to see it in the theater for some reason. I don’t remember exactly how that transpired, but I had nightmares afterwards. Of course, I would later come to realize that it’s a profoundly goofy movie, but at 12 it was a little much for me to handle. The movie was popular enough to spawn three sequels, one of which even marked the big screen debut of future Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio. Scream Factory’s Critters Collection box set allows you to relive all that fine cinematic glory.
Blue Underground delivers more horror with a 4k restoration of Lucio Fulci’s 1979 gorefest Zombie (a.k.a. Zombi 2 or Zombie Flesh Eaters) in your choice of three different cover art designs. This is the movie that famously features an underwater fight between a zombie and real shark.
The MVD reissue of Basic Instinct 2 that I mentioned earlier this month was apparently rescheduled. That comes out this week alongside the 1988 Billy Crystal dramedy Memories of Me.
A couple of notable miniseries (or “limited series,” if you must) hit Blu-ray this week. Amy Adams stars in the HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, while Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones leads the cast of the Australian TV remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock. The former was a lot better received than the latter.
I announced both Season 5 of The 100 and the complete series collection of the classic anime Patlabor previously. Both were pushed back so I’ll mention them again.
I will try to pick up both The Magnificent Ambersons and Gosford Park during the respective Criterion and Arrow Video sales at Barnes & Noble this month. I also have interest in True Stories, The Thing from Another World, and maybe even Brewster McCloud, but not enough to buy right away. The Patlabor box set is also still tempting me.
What are you searching for this week?
‘Jonathan Demme’s courtroom drama Philadelphia won Tom Hanks a second Oscar. The film now gets a 4k upgrade from Sony.’
First Oscar. His second was for ‘Forrest Gump’, one of your most-hated films.
Weird that Sony decided to release the 4K, after previously allowing Twilight Time to issue the Blu-ray (where it wasn’t a fast seller).
You’re of course correct. I got the order of those two movies mixed up. Thanks.
I have Zombie (cover c) and Critters ordered. I’m also interested in Gosford Park. I missed it while scrolling down, but I also would like to add The Thing From Another World to my collection. I’ve never seen Philadelphia, but this is a nice way to entice me.
I noticed The Thing From Another Worldʼs availability over the weekend and placed an order. Talk about Thingsgiving!
Thing From Another World arrived at my house today so like 2001 at least some of us are getting them.
Might get Philadelphia 4k and True Stories down the road, but put them off to spend more on Black Friday sales. Got a lot of 4k discs for $10 or less.
I’m picking up The Critters Collection, my favorite one is Critters 4: In Space!
The Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera disc sounds interesting, but knowing me, it might be something I watch once, so it makes it hard to justify a blind buy.
I picked up Its a Wonderful Life in 4k this week. I had to look for it – the press release and trailer said that it would be on digital stores, but Vudu and Amazon only had the HD version. I finally hooked up my dusty Apple TV 4k, and there it was, on the iTunes store. If it was going to be an iTunes exclusive, they should have stated so, it would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. Anyways, it looks good – the best it has ever looked, but it is not THAT much of an upgrade over the Blu-Ray I already had, with maybe the exception that the film grain actually felt natural, which I don’t think I could ever say that before. The HDR also didn’t seem to offer too much that I could see – so far. So yeah, everything is razor sharp, and there is an uptick in resolution, but the previous Blu-Ray was so good, its hard to recommend to someone who already has the Blu-Ray.
I also picked up the Yanni Acropolis 25 disc, an if anyone is thinking about getting it, DON’T! The Blu-Ray is an absolute mess -The show was shot in 1993 in SD video 4×3, so its an upconvert, which I was expecting, but they also cropped it, so they are not upconverting 480i, they are upconverting 360i. BUt the worst part of the video is probably that they also did a REALLY BAD framerate conversion from 29.976 to 24fps, and it stutters like crazy! Then there is banding and macroblocking and bad filters applied, it is an absolute mess! The DTS MA 5.1 audiotrack also doesn’t seem to really add anything – I could get better surround by taking the stereo track and having my receiver matrix the sound. It is just a really badly done disc.
Dinosaur King TV series brings back memories. I ordered those and the Critters Collection. I’ve got interest in a couple other B titles this week as well, but with so much begging “buy me” I have to pick and choose.