You know it’s a great week of new releases when an Academy Award-winner for Best Picture ends up being the third title mentioned. That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
On a side note, I do apologize for this column being a couple of days late. Couldn’t be helped, however, as technical issues arose making publication difficult. That said, I will attempt to do better next week and make sure your regularly scheduled columns appear on the site at their anointed times.
The 39 Steps – Criterion Collection
It’s Hitchcock. It’s Blu-ray. It’s Criterion. There’s not a lot more to say. As a review copy sadly didn’t make its way to me, I’m buying this one sight unseen. I suggest you do the same.
The Samurai Trilogy (Musashi Miyamoto / Duel at Ichijoji Temple / Duel at Ganryu Island) – Criterion Collection
This awesome two-disc collection from Criterion I do have (it arrived Saturday), and as of now I’ve only had the time to make it through Samurai I and Samurai II. Be that as it may, even only two-thirds of the way through I’m ready to say fans of director Hiroshi Inagaki’s spectacular trilogy should throw it into their Amazon cart right this very second. Sound, Picture, special features, all of them are awesome. As for the movies? They’re still incredible, and I can’t wait to get the time to give the third and final one a look so I can run a review as quickly as possible.
Last year’s winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture makes its Blu-ray debut. Here’s what I wrote about it back in November (read full review here): “A glorious spectacle that captivates the senses and energizes the mind, The Artist is a full-bodied sensation that had me doing interior cartwheels while I sat in the theatre gluttonously consuming each and every morsel. It is a movie to cherish, and the only thing better than watching it the first time is getting the opportunity to see it for a second.” For more on the film, please check out my recently published Blu-ray Review.
21 Jump Street (2012)
Maybe 2012’s best comedy (at least as of right now), here’s what I wrote about this film back in March (read full review here): “The only thing you need to know about this cinematic remake of the 1980’s television favorite 21 Jump Street is that it’s funny. Plot? Who cares. Acting? Doesn’t particularly matter. Continuity? Narrative structure? Character development? None of it rears its head, and for the life of me while I can’t believe I’m admitting this in all honesty none of it actually needs to. The movie is a surprisingly clever, often hilarious, consistently amusing frolic that plays a bit like a Laurel and Hardy or Marx Brothers comedy only with a seriously R-rated bent.” For more opinions, check out Mitchell’s DVD Review and my Blu-ray Review, as between the two of us I think we’ve given this effort far more in the way of coverage than it maybe, ever-so-slightly deserves.
Deliverance – 40th Anniversary Edition
The sensational Academy Award-nominated classic gets a 40th anniversary upgrade from Warner Bros, and unlike recent double-dips (I’m looking at you, Unforgiven), the studio has in fact struck a new transfer of the film doing a rather nice cleanup job on this John Boorman (Excalibur) directed masterwork. The DigiBook also comes with a new featurette showcasing a roundtable conversation between the film’s four stars Jon Voigt, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty, while all the remaining extras from previous releases (including Boorman’s solid commentary track and the four-part making-of retrospective doc) are also ported over. Highly recommended for those who don’t already own the film, moderately recommended for those who do and consider it a prized part of their home cinematic library.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Bullhead slaps you across the face and has the emotional weight of a ton of bricks falling flat on your stomach. Matthias Schoenaerts is mesmerizing as the lead, showcasing talents that will certainly only grow and blossom as more parts are thrown his way (the reviews out of Cannes for the forthcoming Rust and Bone lead me to believe this is more than true). As for the movie itself, this gutwrenching noir goes to some extreme places but does so with vitality and skill. Without of a doubt, this is one of the week’s must-see new releases.
From my theatrical review (read it here): “Mirror Mirror is a hoot. It skews young, and while it won’t annoy or bore the parents or the older kids it will not delight them in the same way visually fantastical films like Nanny McPhee or Alfonso Cuarón’s The Little Princess have in the past…Tarsem directs as confidently as ever, and while the movie isn’t quite the magical ride it potentially could have been to say I left the theatre feeling fairly happily ever after wouldn’t be too far off the mark.”
Wrath of the Titans 3D
Wrath of the Titans
The press screening for this was the same night as Mirror Mirror. Considering my lack of enthusiasm (that’s putting it lightly) for the Wrath of the Titans remake, I went to Tarsem’s reimagining of the Fairy Tale instead. After reading all the reviews for this sequel, I feel pretty confident I made the right decision. Don’t believe me? Check out Mitchell’s recently posted Blu-ray Review and you’ll get a taste of what I mean.
Lovely French import was one of the highlights of the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival, and why it is just now getting a release on this side of the pond is way beyond me. Simple, seductive and borderline priceless, the movie is a divine little parable that’s got a bit of a darker dark side than you’d imagine it would at the start. But the feelings it leaves the viewer with at the end? How’s euphoric, that’s a good one. Giddy also works, but there are plenty of other happy adjectives I could throw about that would fit the bill just as perfectly.
A Thousand Words
Eddie Murphy’s latest was delayed for ages, wasn’t screened for press and met with the type of box office fate those two issues almost always lead to. Watching it on Blu-ray, the movie isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t very good, either, and had I never took the time to watch it I can’t imagine the loss I’d be feeling would be anything close to existent. A waste of time and money for everyone involved, just a waste of time for those unlucky enough to give it a look.
Poirot: Series 5
More Hercule Poirot awesomeness from the folks at Acorn Media. Seriously, this could be the finest hi-def release of the Agatha Christie detective the distributor has assembled as of yet, meaning that fans should consider it for a purchase the very second it goes on sale.
Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham (and Other Stories) – Deluxe Edition
He’s Sam I am. He’s got green eggs and ham. There’s a fox. There might be a box. If I remember correctly there’s even a mouse with a house. Just watch the darn thing, you know you want to.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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· Christopher Nolan Director’s Collection
· The Decoy Bride
· Father’s Day
· The Hangman
· Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)
· The Night of the Grizzly
· Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
· Oranges & Sunshine
· Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here
· Sector 7 3D
· The Spirit is Willing
· Tales that Witness Madness
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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Damages – The Complete Fourth Season
From Roy Earle’s DVD review (read it here): “Although this fourth season is definitely not up to par with the previous three, Damages remains one of the most riveting series on television (broadcast or cable) today. The performances are flawless, the writing of individual scenes is impeccable, surprising plot twists abound and the direction is watertight.”
Sound of Noise
From my theatrical review (read it here): “For those who say there are no original ideas left in the world (cinematically speaking, of course) I hereby give you directors Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson’s Sound of Noise…This movie is a shimmering and eloquent symphony of ideas and concepts that I’m still mulling over, the whole thing a melodic delicacy I’m positive to be savoring far into the remainder of 2012.”
Ici et Ailleurs
Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless) initiated his radical video period with this startling film that combines videotape and film, enabling him to superimpose more than two images simultaneously. Made as part of the "Dziga Vertov Group", with Jean-Pierre Gorin and Anne-Marie Miville, the film was commissioned by the Palestinians and originally titled Until Victory. The film's original purpose was to examine life in the Palestinian camps. But following the defeat of the Palestinian army in the Six Day War, Ici et Ailleurs was radically transformed becoming a meditation on how cinema records history. Godard, Gorin and Miville contrast a French family (Here) with an impressionistic portrait of Palestine (Elsewhere) reflected and transmitted by television, books and pictures. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Love in a Cold Climate
Bestselling author Nancy Mitford’s wickedly witty novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate draw on her own experiences as a child of Britain’s aristocracy between the two world wars. Adapted by Simon Raven (The Pallisers, Edward & Mrs. Simpson), this eight-part ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ presentation stars Oscar winner Judi Dench (Iris), Michael Williams (A Fine Romance), Michael Aldridge (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Vivian Pickles (Harold and Maude).
Linda Radlett (Lucy Gutteridge, A Christmas Carol), daughter of Lord and Lady Alconleigh, follows her heart in and out of adventures, marriages, and dalliances, much to the dismay of her parents. Her dear friend Polly Hampton (Rosalyn Landor) maintains a cooler head (and some say, a colder heart) in her romantic entanglements. Seamlessly weaving together the two women’s tangled love affairs, this “literate…and entertaining” (People) drama is set against a backdrop of the English nobility’s golden age—and a looming world conflict that would alter that life forever. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
The Perfect Family
Suburban supermom Eileen Cleary (Academy Award nominee Kathleen Turner) is the ultimate Catholic, and when she's nominated for the coveted Catholic Woman of the Year Award at her local parish, it looks like she's about to get the plaque to prove it. Only one final test remains - introducing her family to the church board for the seal of approval. Now, she must finally face the truth about her nonconformist family - a truth she has been glossing over for years. Her gay daughter, Shannon (Emily Deschanel), is about to marry her life partner. Her unhappily married son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) is having an affair with the local manicurist. And Eileen's own marriage to a recovered alcoholic is pulling at the seams.
This heartfelt dysfunctional family comedy boasts a memorable performance from Academy Award nominee Turner as the conflicted and comical matriarch, alongside a bright ensemble cast including Richard Chamberlain and Michael McGrady. Newcomer director Anne Renton keeps the pacing taut and crafts an honest, modern family tale, and writers Claire V. Riley and Paula Goldberg infuse just the right amount of seriousness and levity into their script, reminding us that family is never truly perfect. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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· Law & Order: Criminal Intent – Year Seven
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
· Strike Back: Cinemax Season One (Aug 7, 2012)
· Glee: The Complete Third Season (Aug 14, 2012)
· Bernie (Aug 21, 2012)
· Chimpanzee (Aug 21, 2012)
· A Separation (Aug 21, 2012)
· Wargames (Aug 21, 2012)
· The Lucky One (Aug 28, 2012)
· Sons of Anarchy: Season Four (Aug 28, 2012)
· Ed Wood (Sept 18, 2012)
· Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (Sept 18, 2012)
· Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Saboteur / Shadow of a Doubt/ Rope / Rear Window / The Trouble with Harry / The Man Who Knew Too Much / Vertigo / North by Northwest / Psycho / The Birds / Marnie / Torn Curtain / Topaz / Frenzy / Family Plot)
· Dial M for Murder 3D (Oct 9, 2012)
· Strangers on a Train (Oct 9, 2012)