After your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping sprees are done, will any new Blu-rays this week entice you to spend a few extra bucks? Depends on how lucky you feel, I guess.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Logan Lucky‘ – I doubt that anyone really believed Steven Soderbergh would stay in self-imposed retirement for long. It’s only been four years since his last theatrical feature, ‘Side Effects’, and he filled the time directing an HBO movie and two seasons of the Showtime series ‘The Knick’. If that’s what the guy thinks retirement is, he’s clearly not familiar with golfing or cruise ships. For his comeback, Soderbergh returns somewhat to the familiar ground of making a comedic heist caper. In this case, however, rather than a team of high-class thieves, he presents a couple of bumbling rednecks (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) trying to rip off a NASCAR speedway. Critics had a blast with the movie, but its marketing didn’t much appeal to audiences. The film was a box office dud, which is a big problem for Soderbergh considering that it was expressly designed to kick off a new independent distribution model bypassing the studio system. I don’t imagine too many other A-List directors will follow his footsteps.
It’s amusing to me that 2017 saw the releases of movies called ‘Logan‘, ‘Lucky‘, and ‘Logan Lucky’. How great would it be if someone could throw together a movie called ‘Lucky Logan’ before the end of the year?
‘Tulip Fever‘ – Based on a popular novel, Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz and Dane DeHaan star in a lavish costume drama set in 17th Century Amsterdam during the brief market bubble where the price of tulips outrageously skyrocketed and then crashed. Despite a screenplay adaptation by Tom Stoppard, the film’s initial test screenings went so poorly that the studio held it back for over two years of extensive reworking, whereupon it was released to withering reviews and negligible box office. The fact that the studio in question was The Weinstein Company probably means that the Oscar campaign that may have once been planned for it is now off the table.
‘Rememory‘ – Peter Dinklage headlines an indie sci-fi thriller about a man investigating the murder of a scientist who invented a device that can play back a person’s memories externally. I support the idea of Dinklage starring in anything where he’s not stunt-cast for his height or typecast in a ‘Game of Thrones’ knockoff, but most reports claim that his performance is the only good thing about the movie, which premiered as a free rental on Google Play before a limited theatrical release and VOD.
‘Woodshock‘ – Hoping to duplicate Tom Ford’s career path, fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy make their filmmaking debut with a highly-stylized drama about a depressed woman (Kirsten Dunst) tripping her ass off on a lot of hallucinatory drugs. Phil called it “a rather pretentious, confusing, and ultimately unsatisfying film.” That seems to be the consensus opinion.
Remember that Target-exclusive ‘Stranger Things‘ Blu-ray set in VHS packaging, that seemed to hit store shelves with no advanced warning or advertising last month? A 4k Ultra HD version has similarly materialized out of nowhere. Target claims it had a street date of November 15th, but we didn’t hear about it until after-the-fact so I’ll mention it now. Be warned that while the discs are encoded in 4k resolution, they do not offer High Dynamic Range, and the audio has been downgraded to lossy quality for reasons I can’t comprehend.
The only other UHD title this week is ‘Logan Lucky‘.
The extent to which Rob Reiner has lost his mojo as a filmmaker in recent years is sad and disheartening. To remind us of better days, Scream Factory offers a Collector’s Edition reissue of his cracking good adaption of Stephen King’s ‘Misery‘.
Owing to my kids, I’ve sat through Pixar’s ‘Cars’ too many times to have any appreciation for Michael J. Fox’s 1991 romantic comedy ‘Doc Hollywood‘ anymore. (The two movies have extremely similar plots.) Julie Warner sure was fetching in it, though. The Blu-ray comes from the Warner Archive.
Olive Films previously released the Cary Grant comedies ‘Operation Petticoat‘ and ‘Father Goose‘ in extremely underwhelming Blu-ray editions. I reviewed the ‘Petticoat’ disc in 2014, and it looked like the film print had been dragged across a gravel road before being scanned. When word came that the movies would be reissued as part of the label’s premium Olive Signature line, both featuring (and I quote) “New high-definition digital restorations,” I kind-of expected that they’d receive some much needed love and attention, starting with improved video transfers. That doesn’t seem unreasonable, does it? Don’t get your hopes up. It seems that Olive’s primary motivation for re-releasing these films was to add some new bonus features. I can’t speak for ‘Father Goose’, but the new copy of ‘Petticoat’ still looks pretty lousy.
Arrow Video rescues from obscurity Steve Buscemi’s second directorial effort, the 2000 prison drama ‘Animal Factory‘.
Kino has eyes for Gene Wilder’s ‘The Woman in Red‘, which played as a romantic comedy in 1984 but today looks more like an apologia for workplace sexual misconduct.
In addition to the ‘Stranger Things’ UHD set, Netflix’s ‘Gilmore Girls‘ revival makes its way to regular Blu-ray.
I plan to rent ‘Logan Lucky’ and put the Collector’s Edition of ‘Misery’ on my wish list. What’s your fancy this week?