Searching for a new movie to watch this week? I hope you’re feeling lucky.
Former wedding crashers Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite to invade Google headquarters in ‘The Internship‘. Trailers for the movie suggested that it’s little more than a two-hour product placement ad for the internet superpower. By all accounts from those who’ve seen it, the alleged comedy is a lazy, unfunny mess. Surely, you can do better than this.
‘Saw’ director James Wan has had a very busy and very successful last couple of years. In between his popular ‘Insidious’ chapters, Wan also had the biggest hit of his career with the haunted house thriller ‘The Conjuring‘, which is supposedly based on the exploits of the same paranormal investigators who inspired the original ‘Amityville Horror’. Although the film doesn’t appear to strike any new ground for the genre, both viewers and even critics praised its old-school approach to generating scares with atmosphere and suspense rather than over-relying on digital trickery.
As readers of this blog may remember, I wasn’t a fan of Nicolas Winding Refn’s overhyped, overrated ‘Drive’. Frankly, I thought it was a steaming pile of crap. The three dozen other people in the world who actually paid to see that movie in a theater disagreed with me on that, sometimes violently. Yet even the biggest fans of ‘Drive’ seem to have reached a unanimous conclusion that the director’s follow-up with star Ryan Gosling, called ‘Only God Forgives‘, is unwatchably awful. Perversely, that may actually give me a tiny inkling of desire to see this one. Just a tiny smidge, though. I doubt I’ll follow through on that.
Much more exciting for me is ‘Before Midnight‘, the latest sequel to the wonderful ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’. (I hesitate to call this a trilogy, because director Richard Linklater and writers/stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have all said that they’re eager to do more of these every nine years.) I was unfortunately not able to catch this in the theater, but word-of-mouth is that this one is just as good as the prior two.
Another big hit from the indie scene this year was ‘The Way, Way Back‘, the coming-of-age drama from Nate Faxon and Jim Rash, Oscar-winning writers of ‘The Descendants’. (Yes, that’s the same Jim Rash who plays Dean Pelton on ‘Community’.) Less acclaimed or successful was the rom-com ‘I Give It a Year‘, starring Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall.
The story behind Shout! Factory’s ‘Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection‘ box set has gotten very convoluted. The 11-disc package (containing four Blu-rays, four duplicate copies on DVD, three supplement DVDs and a book) was scheduled for release back in July, but was pulled at the last minute after word leaked that all of the Blu-rays contained upconverted standard-definition transfers of the four movies: ‘The Big Boss’, ‘Fist of Fury’, ‘The Way of the Dragon’ and ‘Game of Death’. At first, the studio denied these claims, but later admitted that the owners in Hong Kong had provided the wrong HD masters. The set was delayed in order to re-author the Blu-rays with true high-definition transfers. While that appears to have happened, word now is that the new transfers suffer serious coloring issues that, ironically, the upconverted copies didn’t. Sadly, this set appears to be a huge clusterfuck, and I have a hard time recommending that fans shell out $100 for it. It seems inevitable to me that Shout! Factory will remaster and reissue the films again in a couple of years.
One can hope for better treatment from the Criterion Collection’s ‘John Cassavetes: Five Films‘ box set. Then again, Cassavetes’ movies are so rough technically that it may be difficult to tell the difference between a well-mastered and poorly-mastered Blu-ray anyway. Despite his influence in shaping the American independent film scene, I’ve never been a huge fan of the actor-turned-director. I’ve always found his movies very alienating. However, it’s been so long since I’ve seen any of them that I feel I really ought to give them another shot. After all, Seymour Cassel is in most of these, and he’s pretty awesome.
Criterion’s other offering this week is the 1944 Gothic ghost story ‘The Uninvited‘, starring Ray Milland.
More Halloween treats await in ‘The Vincent Price Blu-ray Collection‘, which includes six of the star’s classic horrors: ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, ‘The Haunted Palace’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ and ‘Witchfinder General’.
If you’d like to catch up on a little TV this week, Warner has the third season of ‘Nikita‘ while E1 has a Complete Series box set of ‘Primeval: New World‘, which I understand to be a spin-off of the cheesy British dinosaur-hunting adventure drama ‘Primeval’.
Wider Is Better
Constant Image Height viewers may wish to take note that the following movies this week are presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio:
- ‘The Conjuring’
- ‘I Give It a Year’
- ‘The Internship’
- Bruce Lee Collection: ‘The Big Boss’ (a.k.a. ‘Fists of Fury’)
- Bruce Lee Collection: ‘Fist of Fury’ (a.k.a. ‘The Chinese Connection’)
- Bruce Lee Collection: ‘The Game of Death’
- Bruce Lee Collection: ‘The Way of the Dragon’
- Vincent Price Collection: ‘The Fall of the House of Usher
- Vincent Price Collection: ‘The Haunted Palace
- Vincent Price Collection: ‘The Masque of the Red Death’
- Vincent Price Collection: ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’
I’m definitely eager to see ‘Before Midnight’. I will also add the Vincent Price and John Cassavetes box sets, as well as ‘The Uninvited’, to my wish list. Will you pick up anything this week?