New Blu's On the Block Blu-ray and DVD Releases for April 12, 2011
Keeping this short this week, mainly because thanks to last week’s minor site outage and my own computer troubles I’m way, way, WAY behind on getting updates down. So, without any further ado, on to this week’s new releases on Blu-ray and DVD!
Disney and Pixar’s Blu-ray release of one of their many favorites (and Academy Award winners for Best Animated Feature) The Incredibles is every bit as outstanding as you could hope for. Last year I named this 2004 instant classic as one of my Top 50 Films of 2000 – 2009, and in my original theatrical review (read it here) I said that it was “a movie with wit and heart, a complexly infatuating fable of family and responsibility that speaks to so many different people in so many different ways I can’t imagine any person of any age not finding something of which to relate.”
The Bu-ray comes with beyond amazing picture and sound, and while it sports over all of the special features from the original DVD release it also comes with some sensational new additions (like a wonderful picture-in-picture audio commentary on the delightful “Jack-Jack Attack” short). Disney and Pixar have done a bang-up job with this one, and I’ll expound on my thoughts in that regard even more in my upcoming full Blu-ray review which I should have posted later this week.
From my November 2010 theatrical review (read it here): “But as mesmerizing as much of [Deathly Hallows] is that doesn’t make me completely satisfied. The film obviously ends in a cliffhanger, a dour and depressing one at that. [Director David] Yates and company didn’t send me out of the theatre feeling anything close to euphoria, leaving me in a place of wreckage and devastation almost akin to the one the characters themselves are going through.” I still can’t wait to watch this one again, but only when I get to do so as a double feature with Part II (hopefully in July). You can now read Rachel's Blu-ray review of this 3-disc combo set. (Please note: Item is officially released on Friday, April 15, 2011)
The Criterion Collection brings director Jean-Pierre Melville’s (Army of Shadows) 1970 crime classic Le Cercle Rouge to Blu-ray with spectacular results. While all the special features (which are excellent) are ported over from the previous DVD edition, picture and sound quality have an eerie ethereal quality to them that fits the nature and tone of the film itself perfectly. Filled with outstanding moments and incredible performances from Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volonte and especially Yves Montand, this story of a heist gone wrong features a stellar final 40 minutes ranking as some of the best the esteemed filmmaker ever put to celluloid. I’ll say more in my upcoming Blu-ray review, but until then just know you can’t go wrong adding this wonderful French classic to your hi-def collections.
Criterion’s second Blu-ray release of the week is nearly as awesome, Claire Denis’ (Nenette and Boni, Chocolate) latest White Material is a fascinating and complex effort featuring a spellbinding turn by the great Isabelle Huppert. She plays a white plantation owner in an unnamed African country, unable to effectively deal with new realities when race riots threaten to change things forever. The movie is raw and visceral, the emotional cruelty embedded at the center of it beyond shocking. In short, it’s fantastic, and I’ll say more when I post my full review of the Blu-ray later this week.
Marwencol (Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)
From my November 2010 theatrical review (read it here): “The 2010 Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle award-winner for Best Documentary, [Marwencol is an] intricate and intimate little film [and] is a glorious and thought-provoking journey through one man’s fractured psyche. It is a human drama and a human mystery all at the same time, who Mark Hogancamp is and what he is doing with his life a breathless enigma in search of answers only he himself can ever hope to answer.” Point blank, this is one of 2010’s best documentaries, and anyone with even a passing interest should see it right away.
Great music. Strong performances. Weak script. Bad movie. Need more? Here’s what I wrote in my original review last January (read it here): “Country Strong starts on a bad note and then proceeds to go downhill from there. No one is actually playing a character so much as they’re playing a character type, the script giving them very little room to breathe and evolve making all of them sadly one dimensional no matter how hard the actors try to make things otherwise. This film is as predictable as a flock of buzzards hovering over a rotting carcass; you just know they're going to devour the remnants the only question when.”
Highwater(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)
From my September 2010 theatrical review (read it here): “There just isn’t any meat Highwater, no flesh encasing the bones allowing for any of these personal moments to last. In the end I just didn’t care about them, a huge part of me wishing I could cut out all of these human interest scenes entirely, get rid of all the dialogue, turn up the volume one the music and sound effects and just sit back and allow all the visual splendor to wash over me like one of Oahu gigantic waves.”
(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)
I’m dying to get my hands on this set. I adore Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, and as I’ve seen every single one of their projects multiple times (save 1942’s Keeper of the Flame, that one I’ve never gotten the chance to watch) it goes without saying that this is a collection I’d get ample usage out of. Writer Roy Earle raves about the collection in his recently posted review (read it here), and by all accounts fans of the actors should pick it up immediately.
Burlesque was one of America's most popular forms of live entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. Gaudy, bawdy and spectacular, the shows entertained thousands of paying customers every night of the week. And yet the legacy of burlesque is often vilified and misunderstood, and left out of the history books. By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Black Heaven(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)
When teen lovers Gaspard and Marion stumble upon a cell phone, they decide to track down the owner and find him, dead, in a mysterious suicide ceremony. Next to him lies a half-conscious girl, Audrey. Possessing femme fatale looks and an enigmatic tattoo, Audrey lures Gaspard into Black Hole, a dangerously addictive online game. Gaspard s avatar encounters beautiful but poisonous singer Sam, who attracts victims in the virtual world and seduces them to commit suicide in real life. Could Sam s alter ego in the real world be Audrey? Could Gaspard be her next victim? He will have to journey deeper into Black Hole to learn the terrible truth. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Heartless(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)
Acclaimed visionary director Philip Ridley (The Reflecting Skin, The Passion of Darkly Noon) returns to the screen after a fourteen-year absence with this chilling tale of supernatural forces unleashing “a delirious London nightmare” (Cath Clarke, The Guardian). Jamie Morgan (Jim Stugess, Across the Universe) is a talented young photographer whose disfiguring birthmark makes him feel an outsider in the rough patch of East London he calls home. Developing pictures he’s taken in an abandoned lot, Jamie sees a hooded figure peering from behind a window. Investigating, he stumbles into a horrific world of reptilian monsters posing as street gangs, violence inflicted on the most innocent, and a demon (Joseph Mawle) with the power to offer Jamie everything he’s ever dreamed of -- at a deadly price. This dark ‘urban fairy tale’ (Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice) offers echoes of both Donnie Darko and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. The superb British cast includes Ruth Sheen (Vera Drake), Timothy Spall (The King’s Speech), Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky), and Clemence Poesy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). This ‘bracingly ambitious mixture of Faustian fantasy and graphic urban thriller” (Allan Hunter, The Daily Express) is like nothing else, heartstopping and darkly beautiful. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Mandrake(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon.)
An expedition led by adventurer Darren McCall and funded by the wealthy Harry Vargas braves the impenetrable jungle to retrieve a fabled bejeweled dagger from an ancient burial ground. But pulling the dagger from its rightful resting place awakens the beast. Part plant and part animal, the massive mandrake awakens thirsty for human blood. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Long delayed 2008 effort from acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom (24-Hour Party People, A Mighty Heart) starring recent Academy Award winner Colin Firth, Hope Davis, Catherine Keener and Willa Holland about a recent widower moving his two daughters to Italy in hopes of starting anew. It sounds fairly interesting I have to admit, one daughter seeing the ghost of her dead mother while the other starts opening up to her own blossoming sexuality, and anything with Firth, Keener and Davis piques my interest. But the fact it never got a domestic release isn’t a great sign, and the fact it was made before The Killer Inside Me but released afterwards is a worse one. Still, I’m throwing it into the Netflix queue all the same, the pedigree behind this effort too strong to ignore.