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FEATURE ARTICLE

New Blu's On the Block - January 15, 2013

 

Rating: Various

Distributor: Various

Released: January 15, 2013

 

Written by Sara Michelle Fetters

 

Editor-in-Chief
www.moviefreak.com

New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for January 15, 2013

There are a ton of terrific catalog titles hitting Blu-ray today, including two hi-def upgrades from Criterion that are close to must-owns sight unseen. The new stuff? There are a couple of intriguing releases, but nothing I’d do backflips over, while the more high profile stuff is arguably some of the worst dreck (or at least monumentally disappointing, either-or) 2012 unleashed on unsuspecting ticket buyers.

 

 

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) – Criterion Collection

Alfred Hitchcock’s first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much was released in 1934 and starred the great Peter Lorre delivering an unforgettably disturbing performance. In some ways, it is far superior to the director’s own 1956 remake staring James Stewart and Doris day, the movie a tighter, more streamlined experience that never once lags or makes you feel like the inherent suspense of the scenario is waning. At the same time, it’s pretty bumpy at times, and it’s easy to see why Hitchcock returned to this well two decades later, the cinematic master improving on certain elements while also delivering a climactic opera house set piece ranking as one of his all-time best. Still, this version of The Man Who Knew Too Much needs to be seen and savored, Hitchcock not quite at his best still far superior to just about everything else there is.

 

 

The Tin Drum – Criterion Collection

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Tin Drum is a stunning triumph that grabs hold of the viewer and then refuses to let go. Criterion’s Blu-ray upgrade of director Volker Schlöndorff’s undisputed cinematic classic is a stunner, close to perfection, and fans of the film owe it to themselves to snatch this disc up the very moment in goes on sale.

 

 

Taken 2

From my theatrical review (read it here): “To put it mildly, Taken 2 is a misfire right from the start. If the original was implausible this sequel ups the ante in that department ten-fold, getting more and more ludicrous as it goes along until the whole thing becomes downright laughable. And I mean out loud laughable. Unintentionally hilarious. Continually. Over and over again. Without ever stopping. Seriously, I think I laughed harder and longer watching this so-called ‘action’ movie than I did in any honest to goodness comedy released in 2012 up to this point.”

 

 

 

Gentleman’s Agreement, How Green Was My Valley

A pair of Best Picture Academy Award winners from 20th Century Fox, both making their respective Blu-ray debuts. The superior effort is without question How Green Was My Valley, John Ford’s adaptation of the Richard Llewellyn novel another feather in the esteemed director’s cap. Filled with indelible moments and superior performances (not the least of which being Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winner Donald Crisp) and brilliantly shot by the great Arthur C. Miller, the movie is a charming coming-of-age stalwart that has charmed generation after generation ever since its original 1941 debut.

 

 

 

Hannah and Her Sisters, Sleeper

A pair of Woody Allen classics get a Blu-ray upgrade, and one imagines their release has undoubtedly been timed to coincide with the next release on this list. While both are great, Hannah and Her Sisters is by far the superior motion picture, the movie nominated for six Academy Awards and the winner of three (for supporting actors Diane Wiest and Michael Caine and for Allen’s original screenplay).

 

 

To Rome with Love

From my theatrical review (read it here): “After reaching a recent high with the Academy Award-winning Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen, the hardest working writer/director in Hollywood, returns with another star-studded affair, this one an ensemble multi-story comedy that attempts to look at all the various stages of love in all its bewildering guises. But whereas that last film tapped into something special, managed to become a universal saga of what it means to live in the now and embrace one’s current reality for the magical wonder it is, To Rome with Love is something of a mystifying, sometimes glorious, oftentimes annoying failure. The movie never finds its footing, and while certainly not the worst thing Allen has ever crafted it’s doubtful this is one any of us will be talking about again at any point in the future.”

 

 

Farewell, My Queen

From my theatrical review (read it here): “Based on the book by Chantal Thomas, Farewell, My Queen showcases acclaimed director Benoît Jacquot (A Single Girl) at the height of his powers. The movie is propelled forward as if by some mysterious energizing force, electrifying every moment with a sinister menace that’s always held just off-screen, as if on the periphery of the frame.” For more on this release, please check out my recently posted Blu-ray Review.

 

 

Won’t Back Down

From my theatrical review (read it here): “I feel sorry for both Davis and Gyllenhaal, and while I get why they were probably drawn to the characters the simple fact is they deserved a heck of lot better from the script and the film then what they were ultimately handed. Won’t Back Down does have the seeds of an important story germinating within, they just aren’t given the opportunity to blossom, making the final picture nothing more than a failed exercise in tedium that doesn’t come remotely close to achieving a passing grade.”

 

 

The Possession

I’ve actually heard decent things about this supernatural exorcism thriller, but as it did not screen for press here in Seattle and a review copy never made its way to my doorstep I can’t say I’m going to go all out to give it a look. Sure, at some point I’m positive I’ll give it a watch, but for right now at least I’m more than content to add it to the Netflix queue and move on to more pressing titles I need to review post haste.

 

 

The Paperboy

The Paperboy, Lee Daniels star-studded follow up to Precious, isn’t so much a disaster as it is a totally forgettable melodramatic potboiler made bearable thanks to a wildly enthusiastic turn by Nicole Kidman and an unhinged final 20 or so minutes that are a totally, I’m assuming unintentional, hysterical hoot. See it for those reasons, just be prepared to be completely underwhelmed by the majority of the rest of the motion picture.

 

 

Branded

Branded is an interesting, thought-provoking idea stuffed into a nonsensical modern day science fiction morality play that never achieves anything close to coherence. A satirical thriller involving public relations, marketing and the corporate branding of products, filmmakers Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain – both of whom wrote, directed and produced this independently financed enterprise – never bringing their ideas to a state where they could possibly resonate filling the screen with odd images and one-dimensional performances that never take flight as they potentially could have. An intriguing failure, but sadly nothing more.

 

 

OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES

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·         30 Night of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

·         About Cherry

·         Being Human: Season 4

·         Experiment in Terror – Twilight Time

·         I Am Bruce Lee

·         Jackie Chan: Crime Story / The Protector

·         Jackson Five: The Complete Animated Series

·         Lightning Bug

·         Love Me

·         Merlin: The Complete Fourth Season

·         The Notebook: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

·         Our Man Flint – Twilight Time

·         Wake in Fright

·         Wild River

 

 

NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

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China Heavyweight

Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) returns to China for another riveting documentary on that country s ever-changing economic landscape this time through the lens of sports. In China Heavyweight, Chang follows the charismatic Qi Moxiang, a former boxing star and state coach who recruits young fighting talent from the impoverished farms and villages across Sichuan province. Boys and girls are selected for national training centers, with the hope of discovering China s next Olympic heroes. But will these potential boxing champions leave it all behind to be the next Mike Tyson? Cinematically rich and intimately observed, China Heavyweight is all at once thrilling sports drama, astute social commentary and a beautifully crafted portrait of an athlete. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

Detropia

Detroit's story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century: the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now... the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, Detropia sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

 

The Other Dream Team

Everyone knows Magic Johnson Michael Jordan and the other members of the 1992 American Olympic Dream Team. This is the story of the Other Dream Team. They didn't bring their country the gold medal they brought something much more valuable. After leading the USSR to a gold medal (and victory over the U.S.A.) at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis were poster boys for the Soviet sports machine. Four years later after the fall of the Soviet Union they emerged as symbols of democracy helping their country break free from the shackles of Communism and willing newly independent Lithuania to the medal stand at the Barcelona Olympics. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)

 

OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES

(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon!)

 

·         Men of Certain Age: The Complete Second Season

 

 

NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

 

    

 

·         Little White Lies (Feb 5, 2013)

·         Yelling to the Sky (Feb 5, 2013)

·         Top Gun 3D (Feb 19,2013)

·         The Master (Feb 26, 2013)

·         The Intouchables (March 5, 2013)

·         Schindler’s List – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition (March 5, 2013)

·         The Collection (March 26, 2013)

·         Hemingway & Gellhorn (April 2, 2013)

 

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