Down By Law – Criterion Collection
I can’t believe I was only nine-years-old when Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law first hit theatres. I can remember watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert talking about it and I can remember seeing the ad in The Spokesmen-Review when the film played at the Magic Lantern, Spokane’s only art house. But it wasn’t until college, a full decade later when I was at the University of Washington when I first got a look at the film, and believe me when I tell you it was well worth the wait. Maybe Jarmusch’s most incredible achievement, the movie is a sublime masterwork showcasing a talented craftsman working at the very height of his creative powers. In other words, this is one to buy, not rent, and with Barnes & Noble having their 50%-off Criterion sale I’d say there’s very little holding anyone anywhere from doing just that.
The film that by all accounts put Martin Scorsese on the path to becoming a cinematic legend, Mean Streets finally gets a domestic Blu-ray release. There’s not any reason I can think of to not add it to one’s home collection, but for whatever reason if I can come up with one I’ll be sure and let you all know at a later date.
By all accounts Olive Films has done a bang-up job bringing the legendary Western High Noon to Blu-ray for its 60th anniversary, featuring picture quality second to none. But one can’t help but wonder why they didn’t port over the majority of the special features contained on the collector’s edition DVD, making the twenty or so dollar price-point seem rather high for a bare-bones disc that will more than likely see another release (maybe, with Paramount owning the rights it’s awfully hard to tell) at some point down the line.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
“They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next...!” If the thought of that signature moment coupled with that bit of dialogue doesn’t make you smile than you don’t know what you’re missing.
Friends with Kids
Out of the newer titles hitting Blu-ray today, this one is easily the best. As I said in my March theatrical review (read it here): “If not for a final scene that left me vacillating between perplexed, bewildered, enchanted and annoyed (not necessarily in the that order), I’d probably be calling Jennifer Westfeldt’s (she wrote Kissing Jessica Stein and Ira & Abby) directorial debut Friends with Kids an early contender for one of 2012’s best films. Even with that scene, I’m tempted to say the acclaimed character actress has delivered a smart and seductive romantic comedy for adults worth crowing about, so much of the film an outright delight I feel a bit bad about being so ho-hum about the final portions of it.”
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Speaking of films with shaky final acts… From my theatrical review (read it here): “It’s hard to know exactly what to make of Lasse Hallström’s (Chocolat, My Life as a Dog) latest romantic trifle Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Based on the novel by Paul Torday and working from a script by Oscar-winning scribe Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), the movie is a pleasing old school throwback not without significant charms. At the same time, it never quite knows what to completely do with itself, either, the climactic scenes a hodgepodge of melodramatic clichés that come perilously close to erasing all the amity generated by the first two-thirds.:
Casa de mi Padre
From my theatrical review (read it here): “I respected Casa de mi Padre far more than I actually enjoyed it, director and “SNL” veteran Matt Piedmont never striking the right balance between playing things straight and wink-winking at the audience. Much of the farce feels forced, out of balance, and while there are laughs to be found there are frustratingly not enough of them to make attending this rodeo worthwhile.” For more on this release, check out Mitchell’s just posted Blu-ray Review.
From my theatrical review (read it here): “Other than Pierce, who appears to be having a blast doing his best Snake Plissken meets John McClane impersonation, this misfire is an abomination on almost every level. I get that co-writers and co-directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger had some success directing short films and commercials…But the duo’s guiding of [Lockout] is beyond ghastly, and other than a few novel touches (the delivery of the pre-title credits is inspired) overall one wonders how they ever graduated from film school in the first place.”
Get the Gringo
It’s doubtful Mel Gibson will ever be able to get himself back in the good graces of audiences who once upon a time adored his devil-may-care madcap persona, but if he is it’s going to be movies like Get the Gringo that help him do it. Not because they’re good, mind you, but because they feed into his legend, give viewers that adored him in Lethal Weapon, Mad Max and Braveheart something to chew on and support. As for this effort (it went VOD here domestically, Fox deciding against a theatrical release after Jodie Foster’s The Beaver more or less tanked) I haven’t gotten the chance to give it a look as of yet but am certainly hoping to. I may not be a fan of Gibson’s real life tirades and behavior, but I do tend to get a kick out of him when he goes for broke in rolls like this. Here’s hoping I can enjoy the film for what it is and manage to separate the performance, and the film, from the man seemingly self-immolating in public every time he has the misfortune to open his mouth.
The Three Stooges
According to who you talk to, Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s The Three Stooges is either an inspired homage to comedy greats or one of the worst films you’ll have the misfortune of trying to sit through all year. As I missed the press screening and, as of this writing, still haven’t seen the film for myself, I can’t tell you where I fall on that particular spectrum. Quite frankly, as I am neither a Farrelly brother fan nor a devotee of the Stooges I probably never will. I’m just saying.
Dirty Pretty Things, “O”
Two Miramax catalog titles courtesy of Echo Bridge, both of which are pretty great and deserving of a look. Dirty Pretty Things was one of my favorites from 2003 and holds up beautifully, and in my theatrical review (read it here) I happily stated, “[Director Stephen] Frears and first-time screenwriter Steven Knight have crafted an elegantly grimy thriller that gets under the skin like the sweat from a hard day of physical labor.” As for “O”, actor-turned-director Tim Blake Nelson does a bang-up job transforming Shakespeare’s Othello into a dynamic High School tragedy, giving then rising stars Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett two of the best roles they as of this writing still have ever had.
OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES
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· 4:44: Last Day on Earth
· The Blood Beast Terror
· Burke & Hare (1972)
· The Butterfly Effect
· Cellular (Read Sara’s Theatrical Review)
· Code of Silence
· Hard to Kill
· Just Cause
· Lone Wolf McQuade
· Murder in the First
· Next of Kin
· A Perfect Murder
· Sanctuary – The Complete Fourth Season
· The Turin Horse
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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Nacho Vigalondo’s follow-up to his cult favorite Time Crimes (read my Theatrical Review) is never quite what you expect it to be, and how satisfying you find it is going to depend entirely on your ability to enjoy its numerous narrative flights of fancy. But if you get into the filmmaker’s vibe, if you can embrace the giddy surrealistic, and somewhat romantic, hooey he’s selling, the whip-smart Extraterrestrial is a total kick in the pants. Is it the end of the world? Are there aliens among us? Can chaos and calamity lead to love, forgiveness and sacrifice? Or is it all a put-on, a royal treat of misdirection and slight-of-hand meant to charm and bring a smile to the face but nothing more? Again, that’s going to depend entirely on the individual viewer, and to say anything more than that would ruin each and every one of Vigalondo’s deftly delivered surprises.
Poetry, politics, madness, and desire collide in the true story of the woman hailed as South Africa’s finest poet. In 1960s Cape Town, as Apartheid steals the expressive rights of blacks and whites alike, young Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten, Valkyrie, Black Book) finds her freedom scrawling verse while frittering through a series of stormy affairs. Amid escalating quarrels with her lovers and her rigid father, a parliament censorship minister (Rutger Hauer, Batman Begins), the poet witnesses an unconscionable event that will alter the course of both her artistic and personal lives. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Set against the gorgeous landscape of Armenia, Here chronicles a brief but intense relationship between an American satellite-mapping engineer (Ben Foster, The Messenger, 3:10 to Yuma) and an expatriate photographer (Lubna Azabal, Paradise Now, Incendies) who impulsively decide to travel into uncharted territory. As their trip comes to an end, the two must decide where to go from Here. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Midnight Son is the story of Jacob, a young man confined to a life of isolation, due to a rare skin disorder that prevents him from being exposed to sunlight. His world opens up when he meets Mary, a local bartender, and falls in love. Tragically, Jacob’s actions become increasingly bizarre as he struggles to cope with the effects of his worsening condition. Forced by the disease to drink human blood for sustenance, he must control his increasingly violent tendencies as local law enforcement narrow their focus on him as a suspect in a series of grisly murders. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
(Supprt this site! Click title to buy from Amazon!)
· Alphas: Season One
· Bill Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home
· Eureka: Season 5
· The Inbetweeners – The Complete Series
· Leverage: The 4th Season
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
· The Five-Year Engagement (Aug 28, 2012)
· Piranha 3DD (Sept 4, 2012)
· American Horror Story: The Complete First Season (Sept 25, 2012)
· In the Mood for Love – Criterion Collection (Oct 2, 2012)
· Pet Sematary (Oct 2, 2012)
· The Princess Bride – 25th Anniversary Edition (Oct 2, 2012)
· The Forgiveness of Blood – Criterion Collection (Oct 16, 2012)
· Sunday Bloody Sunday – Criterion Collection (Oct 23, 2012)
· Rosemary’s Baby – Criterion Collection (Oct 30, 2012)