Universal’s dominance over the theatrical box office this year carries through to another week where the studio is sure to top the Blu-ray sales charts.
‘Pitch Perfect 2‘ – My wife is a huge fan of the original ‘Pitch Perfect’ and rushed out with her friends to see the sequel opening weekend. She liked it, but not as much as the first movie. That seems to match the consensus opinion, that the second entry is mostly a slightly inferior copy of the first. Nevertheless, it grossed nearly three times as much money (and crushed ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ the same weekend), mostly because people who only discovered the original via TV syndication didn’t want to miss this one in the theater. Producer and co-star Elizabeth Banks directs this time.
‘Results‘ – What strange casting. I don’t exactly think of Guy Pearce as a great comedic actor, but he tries his hand at being funny opposite Cobie Smulders as personal trainers who compete over a wealthy client (Kevin Corrigan). The indie comedy was directed by mumblecore auteur Andrew Bujalski (‘Funny Ha Ha’, ‘Computer Chess’), here trying for something slightly more mainstream. The film received some fairly positive notices from critics when it played at Sundance, but audiences disagreed and rated it very poorly. (The 81% critical vs. 43% audience split at Rotten Tomatoes is a very wide divide.)
‘Alleluia‘ – This gruesome French thriller takes the true story of the so-called Lonely Hearts Killers (an American couple in the 1940s who swindled and murdered wealthy widows) and moves it up to the present day, substituting newspaper personal ads with the modern age’s equivalent – online dating. As if you didn’t already have enough reasons to be wary of Match.com.
‘Saint Laurent‘ – No, it’s not a sequel to ‘Saint Vincent’. Gaspard Ulliel from the misbegotten ‘Hannibal Rising’ plays Yves Saint Laurent in a bio-pic that chronicles the fashion mogul’s peak years from 1967 to 1976. Reviews were mixed to negative. You’d think that after three failed bio-pics about Coco Chanel (who actually led a pretty fascinating life), producers would realize that audiences don’t have a lot of interest in movies about fashion designers.
We all knew this was coming eventually. Criterion officially adds Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom‘ to its collection. By this point, any fan of the director should know better than to buy the initial Blu-ray releases of his movies. (Yes, Criterion will get ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ eventually as well.) For my money, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is still Anderson’s best film. It has a heart and emotional connection that his other works don’t often engage with.
With three titles in all, Criterion is quite busy this week. The other two both come from director Bruce Beresford. The better known (and all-around better) movie is his period drama ‘Breaker Morant‘, which tells the true story of three Australian Army officers who were court-martialed for war crimes during the Second Boer War at the turn of the 20th Century. I imagine that Criterion probably got roped into also releasing ‘Mister Johnson‘ as a package deal to secure Beresford’s participation. The latter film is another period drama, this time about the British colonialization of West Africa. Produced immediately after his ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, it seemed to be another blatant Oscar bid, but was criticized for its superficial and culturally patronizing treatment of the subject matter. (To be fair, those are traits the movie shares with the 1939 source novel it’s based on.)
Warner Bros. re-releases Sidney Lumet’s ‘Dog Day Afternoon‘ in a new 40th Anniversary Edition that upgrades the audio to a lossless codec and adds a new documentary. The video transfer has not been remastered, though our reviewer David says it still holds up pretty well.
Also celebrating its fourth decade is ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘. As far as I can tell (though I’m no expert on the film), Fox’s basic 40th Anniversary Edition is a straight reissue of the 35th Anniversary Edition from 2010, while the Ultimate Collector’s Edition puts the disc in fancier packaging with some physical bric-a-brac.
More anniversary editions come from Sony, both rather middling family fare from the studio’s catalog. Frank Oz’s adaptation of ‘The Indian in the Cupboard‘ is 20-years-old, while Jon Favreau’s ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure‘ (the sequel to ‘Jumanji’) is 10-years-old.
Olive Films dumps a big slew of titles on the market this week, most of them garbage like the idiotic 1987 comedy ‘Mannequin‘ and its even worse sequel, or the 1990 John Laraquette/Kirstie Alley vehicle ‘Madhouse‘. However, mixed in with these are at least one movie of some interest (Denzel Washington’s Caribbean mystery thriller ‘The Mighty Quinn‘) and one genuinely excellent film (‘Prick Up Your Ears‘, Stephen Frears’ bio-pic of gay British playwright Joe Orton).
Kino offers John Sturges’ biohazard thriller ‘The Satan Bug‘, the plot summary of which sounds like it must have been a big influence on Michael Crichton when he wrote ‘The Andromeda Strain‘.
Horror fans should take note that Scream Factory has Michael Winner’s 1977 Satanist thriller ‘The Sentinel‘, while Arrow Video has Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’, the 1976 evil-redneck sleazefest ‘Eaten Alive‘.
Shifting gears and genres, Arrow also offers the 1967 Spaghetti Western ‘Requiescant‘.
On the TV front, Warner gives us the first season of ‘The Flash‘ and the third season of ‘Arrow‘.
BBC already issued the eighth season of ‘Doctor Who‘ (the first with Peter Capaldi) on Blu-ray late last year, but now breaks out the final two episodes (‘Dark Water’ and ‘Death in Heaven’) in a special 3D edition.
My primary interest this week is in the Criterion editions of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and ‘Breaker Morant’. I’d also like ‘Prick Up Your Ears’, though I’m inherently skeptical of the quality of anything Olive releases.
I would buy ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ for my wife, but you know it’s going to wind up in an endless rotation on cable pretty quickly.
What are your plans for the week?