New Blu's On the Block - 9/13/2011
Released: Sept 13, 2011
Sara Michelle Fetters
New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for September 13, 2011
This is the officially the most incredible week of Blu-ray releases of the year up to this point so far. There are a good five or six titles I could lead with this week, including that are arguably the most major influence in fueling my passion for cinema. So which did I lead with? Read on and you’ll see for yourself.
Citizen Kane - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Edition
I’m going with Orson Welles’ magnificent 1941 classic because it is arguably the most influential motion picture of all-time. That, and, well, the fact the next release on the list doesn’t include the original versions of three specific motion pictures makes me just angry enough I couldn’t bring myself to list it first. That animosity aside, Citizen Kane is the hallmark masterpiece everything tells you it is. This is a film that must be seen and experienced by anyone with even a passing love for cinema, and even if you aren’t altogether drawn inside the story Welles is telling his absolute transformation of the medium itself is positively undeniable.
Sadly, Warner Bros did not send us a copy of this title for review (why I’m not certain, and trust me I’m colossally bummed about it). That said, reports from all across the internet from people who know are all stating that the studio has down a stupendous job with this release (which comes packed with bonus features including the excellent HBO feature film RKO 281 starring Liev Schreiber as Welles and chronicles the tumultuous production of this landmark motion picture. A must-own for any true cinephile.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy
Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy
While I am sure the Force is with this Blu-ray collection (give Lucas credit, from a purely technical perspective the guy is if nothing a true unabashed perfectionist and I’m sure these hi-def presentations of his Star Wars motion pictures is beyond excellent), the fact the original versions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are not available, and if reports are to be believed that additional changes to the original trilogy has also been made, my anticipation for this release is sadly somewhat muted.
At the same time, how can I NOT want to own this collection? Star Wars is probably the most the single most important film as far as fueling my passion for cinema and setting me on my current career path is concerned. At one point, I used to count how many times I watched the film, the final tally well over 100 viewings. So, as a review copy was not sent my way, and as I won’t be able to control myself, I will be buying Star Wars: The Complete Trilogy collection, showing once again that Lucas is a pro at making suckers out of even the most usually level-headed and mature amongst us all. (Item releases on Friday, September 16, 2011)
My Life as a Dog
From my just posted Blu-ray review (read it here): “Based on the novel by Reidar Jönsson, co-writer and director Lasse Hallström’s 1985 favorite My Life as a Dog is without question the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker’s best film. It is the one undeniable masterpiece on his resume (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? the only other picture that comes even close to equaling it), and even if Chocolat and The Cider House Rules received a bit more love from Oscar that doesn’t mean either is tenth the motion picture in regards to emotional resonance, power or importance that this one is.”
The film that put Danny Boyle on the map and started Ewan McGregor on the path towards stardom, Trainspotting remains one of the most dynamic, influential and mesmerizing depictions of youth drug culture ever put to film these past 15 years. From all accounts this Blu-ray presentation is excellent, Lionsgate continuing their trend of doing a bang-up job of bringing some of the more notable titles in the Miramax catalog to hi-def. A review copy is supposed to be on the way; expect a review as soon as it arrives.
O Brother, Where Art Thou
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 Oscar-winner is as love it-hate it as you can get as far as the brothers’ filmography is concerned. Personally, I love it, find George Clooney’s wack-a-doo performance to be one of his absolute best. Sadly, Disney did not get a review copy out to us, and as much as I adore this particular picture until the price goes down significantly I won’t be upgrading from my DVD copy anytime soon.
Criterion gives Robert Altman’s 1977 classic with Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall a Blu-ray upgrade, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Sadly, a review copy has not as of yet arrived. Hopefully that will change, but just know if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out this quality drama I strongly suggest you drop it into the Netflix queue or login in to Amazon and pick it up immediately.
Thor: Limited 3D Edition
As if to prove just how awesome this week truly is, I totally dug the Marvel Comics adventure Thor both when I saw it in theaters (read my Theatrical Review) and after I viewed it again multiple times at home (read my Blu-ray Review) and yet I’m listing it seventh – that right, seventh – in my list of this week’s new releases. Make of that what you will.
Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season
Sam and Dean Winchester reunite after the latter has started to live a normal life and the former has descended into the deepest pits of Hell after being possessed by Lucifer himself. This sixth season of my favorite program on network television just arrived so I’m just now starting to dive into it. Know this, while my reservations for a sixth season were more than noted back in my review of Season Five (read that review here), only four episodes in all I can say is that producers have done a stupendous job of continuing the Winchester saga and I can’t wait to discover where the story is going to go next.
Glee: The Complete Second Season
My review copy for this still hasn’t arrived, and as I did an excellent job of missing all of Season Two’s episodes when they originally aired I can’t tell you anything one way or the other in regards to this one. But I review copy will arrive, probably in the next day or so, and as soon as it does I’ll have the full Gleek report on whether this second year at McKinley High is worth watching or whether creator Ryan Murphy and company suffer a sophomore slump.
From my original theatrical review posted back in May (read it here): “Based on the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad, director Denis Villeneuve’s (Polytechnique) powerfully devastating Incendies is a movie that sticks with you long after the closing credits fade. A nominee of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this stunning motion picture is a human story that grabbed me by the throat and then refused to let go. It digs into corners and heads into places I wasn’t sure I wanted to journey yet in the end felt all the better for traveling, and as depressing and downbeat as much of the film can be its showcasing of the power of the human spirit is miraculous and inspiring.”
The Tempest (2010)
From my original theatrical review posted in December of 2010 (read it here): “Based on the classic play by William Shakespeare, director Julie Taymor’s The Tempest is arguably her richest, most fully realized and deeply passionate work since her last adaptation of one of the Bard’s immortal works, 1999’s Titus. While there are problems and inconsistencies galore, in the end I was completely captivated by this colorful and ravishing tale of romance and revenge, this robust and ribald adventure one I couldn’t help but enjoy.”
I missed Kelly Reichardt’s polarizing Western with Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood and Paul Dano when it screened for press earlier this year, but I’ll definitely be making it a priority to check it out before compiling my year-end retrospective in December. Love it or hate it, this feels like a motion picture that simply cannot be missed no matter what.
Hesher features a great performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a near-great one from Rainn Wilson and not a heck of a lot of note after that. Co-writer and director Spencer Susser’s motion picture just sort of sits there – quite literally at time – searching for a reason to exist, and as much as I respect certain aspects of it on the whole this isn’t a movie I cared all that much about at all. Fans of Gordon-Levitt should probably give it a look, maybe, but otherwise there’s not a lot here to talk about.
Directed by fabled fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, True Legend features one of the most eye-popping opening action sequences I’ve seen this year. After that? Well, True Legend offers up one of the most eye-popping opening fight sequences I’ve seen this year (and you can read into my repetition of that sentiment what you will).
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Supposedly very good documentary/concert film chronicling Conan O’Brien’s life just after the debacle over his time hosting “The Tonight Show” and his eventual dismissal by NBC that I have as of yet not seen (and, in all honesty, probably won’t be seeing anytime soon).
The Frighteners: 15th Anniversary Edition
Peter Jackson’s wonderful thriller/comedy/horror/action hybrid starring Michael J. Fox that has only gotten better and more interesting as the years have gone by gets a 15th anniversary Blu-ray release from the folks at Universal.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
I’m a big time defender of writer Joss Whedon’s cinematic introduction to the Buffyverse, but even I have to admit this inconsequential and somewhat forgettable effort pales in comparison to the guy’s landmark television show of the same name. Still, for Buffy fanatics, this Blu-ray is close to a must, and only helps fuel the fire that at some point Fox will release all seven seasons of the series in hi-def as well.
Previously only available as part of Fox/MGM’s Hannibal Lecter box set collection along with The Silence of the Lambs, Ridley Scott’s Hannibal and Michael Mann’s Manhunter finally get individual Blu-ray releases. Specs are supposedly exactly the same as the editions contained in that set meaning those, like me, who believe Manhunter is the best of the Lecter flicks will still be holding onto their two-disc extras-packed DVD special editions released by Anchor Bay released all the way back in 2001.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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(Read Mitchell's Blu-ray Reviews for Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and Camelot - The Complete First Season; Read Sara's Theatrical Reviews of The Hills Have Eyes and The Hills Have Eyes 2)
· The 10th Victim
· 35 and Ticking
· The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season
· Brand New Day
· Camelot: The Complete First Season
· Circus Maximus
· The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
· Don’t Say a Word
· The Exterminator
· Ghost Hunters: Season 6, Part 1
· Halloween II
· Hide and Seek
· The Hills Have Eyes: Complete Collection
· It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 6
· Lake Placid 2
· The Last House on the Left (1972)
· Le Quattro Volte
· Love Wedding Marriage
· Poltergeist II: The Other Side
· Reach for Me
· Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season
· Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
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Bill Cunningham New York
From my original theatrical review posted back in April (read it here): “I loved Bill Cunningham New York. I found it moving, thought-provoking, emotional and very entertaining, and as far as 2011’s docket of documentaries are concerned it immediately jumps to the head of the pack and will undoubtedly be one of the few I’m still waxing poetic about by the time we get to December.”
Eating: 20th Anniversary Edition
Eating is the only movie – I do mean the ONLY movie – in somewhat esteemed director Henry Jaglom’s (Last Summer in the Hamptons, Irene in Time) career that I actually like. This cinema vérité style production is a showcase for its talented female cast, and while some of it is as sophomoric and as rudimentary as many of the other films littering Jaglom’s resume there is something about this motion picture that gets to me each and every time. I’ll have a full review of this release posted soon.
Not all that interesting, Just Peck is a typical coming of age comedy-drama about a geeky 15-year-old (Keir Gilchrist) who is mysteriously befriended by one of the most popular seniors in his High School (Brie Larson). Even though the film offers up a better than average cast (including Marcia Cross, Adam Arkin and Camryn Manheim), the movie isn’t exactly special, and I can’t say I was working up anything remotely akin to enthusiasm while watching it. Perfectly harmless in most respects, there’s so little special about this title I can’t begin to come up with a single reason why I’d even give it a passing recommendation.
Killer Double Feature (Bad Dreams / Visiting Hours)
A pair of cult slasher favorites, one of which I was surprised by just how entertaining it proved to be and the other by just how boringly stupid (and shockingly vapid) it ultimately was, this two-disc DVD collection certainly is not without its merits. The plum of this set is easily 1988’s Bad Dreams. While far from perfect, this nifty little psychological thriller offered up just enough in the way of twists and turns to keep me interested for every single one of its relatively short 80 minutes. Niftily directed by Andrew Fleming (The Craft), the movie builds quite beautifully and offers up a number of sensational little scares, everything leading to a fairly satisfying conclusion I got a very large kick out of.
As for 1981’s Visiting Hours, the less said about this disastrous and semi-disgusting horror effort the better. Just know the film wastes an outstanding cast (including Academy Award winner Lee Grant and Star Trek captain William Shatner) and offers up characters and ideas so risible they’re almost offense. It also does nothing with a gruesomely detailed and exacting performance by Michael Ironside as the killer out to end feminist television personality Grant’s life, the guy giving his all even though the movie is nowhere near his almost Herculean efforts.
Great dancing; soggy wet noodle of a motion picture, that’s the bottom line where it comes to Leading Ladies. Featuring a cadre of dancers made (at least semi) famous by their appearances on “So You Think You Can Dance,” this movie is your typical underdog story of redemption and victory given something of an LGBT twist. It’s nice enough at times, perfectly harmless in all respects, really, and the dancing is semi-spectacular, but the movie is so humdrum familiar watching it proves to be something of a minor chore as things progress. I don’t know, fans of ‘SYTYCD’ will probably want to give it a look, and when it appears on Logo I’ll hardly feel the compulsion to change the channels if I’m washing dishes or doing laundry. Not sure that amounts to much of a recommendation, but sadly it is the best I can muster up as far as this particular title is concerned.
Me & Orson Welles
From my original November 2009 theatrical review (read it here): “There aren’t a lot of surprises here. At its heart, Me and Orson Welles is a rather straight forward coming of age comedic melodrama about discovering what your heart truly desires. Dreams are both made and shattered, and while none of what transpires is earth shattering there isn’t any reason that I can think of as to why it needed to be. This is nothing more than an exceedingly simple story told with both passion and skill, [director Richard] Linklater setting the perfect tone right from the start and never once wavering from maintaining it.”
The Silent House
From my original theatrical review posted last May (read it here): “The final outcome is a waste of time. Worse, it isn’t frightening, only stupid, and as far as final twists go this is one not worthy of the film it has been printed on. The Silent House may have technical merit, and as an example to students as to what can be accomplished when you put your mind to it this is close to being without par. But as a standalone motion picture, a scary one at that, the final product falls to pieces, leaving a jumble of ideas and concepts in its wake I found deeply unsatisfying.”
Ten individuals set out to find themselves in an alienating world, filled with heartbreak, deception and tragedy. With so much at stake, these strangers struggle to overcome their fates and find their place in a frequently harsh and unforgiving world. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Outsourced: The Complete Series
Welcome to India: a diverse country of exotic cuisine fascinating cultures unique social customs…and the home of the Mid America Novelties call center. Unsuspecting management trainee Todd Dempsy is shocked when his job and department are relocated to the chaotic city of Mumbai. With no other career options the Kansas native makes the jump himself and discovers that his most important work might just be teaching his eclectic group of Indian customer service reps what being American is all about. Developed by writer Robert Borden (The Drew Carey Show) and director Ken Kwapis (The Office) it’s 22 episodes of fun and hilarity where laughter is never lost in translation. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Rescue Me: The Complete Sixth and Final Season
The acclaimed, groundbreaking series from creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan comes to an unforgettable end in this remarkable set combining both the tumultuous Sixth Season and emotional Final Season. As troubled NYPD firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) confronts his need for rescue and redemption, the crew of 62 Truck wages their own climactic struggle to survive and persevere — both on the front lines and in their personal lives. Embraced by critics and viewers alike for searing, true-to-life performances and unflinching storytelling, Rescue Me closes out its astonishing run with the most compelling seasons of the series. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Wishful Drinking brings the unique sensibilities of actress/author Carrie Fisher to HBO via a 76-minute adaptation of her acclaimed one-woman stage production. As she demonstrates in this uproarious and often poignant performance, Carrie Fisher is not just an accomplished actress, screenwriter and best-selling author. She’s the offspring of show-biz royalty, daughter of celebrated actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher, whose very public affair with Elizabeth Taylor ended a storybook marriage. Despite growing up around movie stars and experiencing early fame of her own (she was cast as Princess Leia in Star Wars at 19), Fisher’s life was hardly enviable. She faced more than her share of challenges: tragic relationships, drug and alcohol addiction, stints in rehab, bipolar disorder, and electroshock therapy. That she has survived and even prospered in the face of such adversity is a tribute to Fisher’s resiliency, intelligence and, above all, heroic sense of humor. Wishful Drinking reveals the not-so-glittering side of being a celebrity, combining wry wit and raw facts to humanize Fisher’s topsy-turvy life, while de-stigmatizing the struggle of those living with mental illness. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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· Blue Bloods: The First Season
· Blue Mountain State: Season Two
· Glee: Season 2, Vol. 2
· Grounded for Life – Season 1
· Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Seventh Season
· He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Second Season
· Marvel Knights: Thor & Loki Blood Brothers
· Never Back down 2: The Beatdown
· Private Practice: The Complete Fourth Season