New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for October 9, 2012
It’s a great day for catalog releases, some truly outstanding titles making their Blu-ray debuts. That said, something tells me a little Ridley Scott not-really-a-prequel-prequel will be generating the most conversation, all those adds claiming ‘questions will be answered’ certainly getting a lot of fanboys’ and fangirls’ hearts all aflutter.
E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
I’m not saying Steven Spielberg’s 1982 family-friendly science fiction classic has lost anything over the last three decades as after watching it again recently it still knocked me out and had me grabbing for the Kleenex just as strongly as ever. At the same time, this story of a boy and his otherworldly friend does show how the director’s detractors started obtaining their ammunition, Spielberg’s penchant for sentiment and melodrama over anything close to realism starting to rear its head with this production. But what people forget is that those tendencies to jerk out tears works for this story, helps give it its immense power, and while not my personal favorite of the auteur’s works E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial easily remains in my top five, which is saying something when you sit down to think about it.
Dial M for Murder 3D
Strangers on a Train
One great Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece, one lesser, yet highly entertaining and magnificently director classic, added together these two pieces of suspense cinema rank as one of the better double-bills a person is ever likely to see released on any given Tuesday. On top of that, Warner is bringing Dial M for Murder to Blu-ray in both 2D and its original 3D incarnations, making the disc an all-important piece of cinematic history fans of the director and students of cinema history owe it to themselves to take a look at right away.
The great film here, however, is Strangers on a Train, one of Hitchcock’s most outstanding achievements and a hallmark of trickily engineered suspense. This is a movie that playfully builds, showing a softer – yet still undeniably sinister – side that subtly morphs into something altogether insidious by the time the film’s iconic carousel climax builds its circular momentum. A classic in every sense of the word, this is a movie that simply cannot be missed by anyone, anywhere and should be added to a collector’s Blu-ray library sight unseen.
From my theatrical review (read it here): “It is easy to see why, after 30 years, [director Ridley] Scott chose Prometheus as his return to science fiction. It’s chock full of ideas, gives him a massive canvass to work upon and allows him to directly tackle questions he’s tinkered around with in one way or another since 1977’s The Duelists. If the movie ends up leaving something to be desired it isn’t for lack of trying on the director’s part. He’s gone all out in regards to this particular opus, and as far as evolutions go his into Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick isn’t as ungainly or as farfetched as one might initially believe.” Having just re-watched the movie, I’m still torn on a great deal of it, the last third in particular, but Scott does achieve a hypnotic urgency to the proceedings impossible to dismiss. Also, it must be said, Fox’s Blu-ray, both 2D and 4D, presentation is remarkable, a three-plus-hour making-of doc making the set worth the purchase price almost on its own.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
A camp classic? One of the greatest suspense films ever composed? A ghoulish pitch-black comedy? An emotional drama dealing with the traumatic effects of child superstardom after the glory years have faded into distant memory? All of the above? Make what you will of Robert Aldrich’s classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, but the simple truth is that this is a seriously great motion picture featuring a pair of iconic performances by its superstar leading ladies Bette Davis and Joan Crawford that’s deserving of every accolade thrown its way over the decades. Watch it at once.
The Great Mouse Detective
How can one not love Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective, the studio’s inventive adaptation of Eve Titus and Paul Galdone’s Basil of Baker Street book? This 1986 treasure might be minor Disney in some respects, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining, this simple story of a Sherlock Holmes-like mouse detective named Basil doing his best to bring down the nefarious Professor Ratigan (melodiously voiced by the superb Vincent Price) a total hoot beginning to end.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
“Little shop, little shoppa horrors
Little shop, little shoppa terror
Call a cop, little shoppa horrors
No, oh oh, no…”
Rock of Ages
From my theatrical review (read it here): “I’m not sure what one exactly expects when they walk into a theatre to see Rock of Ages. The movie is based on a popular Broadway musical itself inspired by late 1970’s, early 1980’s Hard Rock anthems belted out with overly exuberant gusto by the likes of Def Leppard, Journey, Warrant, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and Guns ‘n’ Roses. As for the story, it revolves around a young woman from the Midwest with stars twinkling in her eyes who comes to Los Angeles to make it big and ends up falling in love with a scruffy-looking, yet totally sexy, of course, bar back looking to take Rock and Roll by storm. In other words, high art this ain’t, and anyone expecting it to be should probably have their heads examined for thinking otherwise.”
From my theatrical review (read it here): “[On] the whole, Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare’s script never finds solid footing, and although the early murders are inventively intriguing, as [The Raven] goes on they slowly but surely lose their power to startle, amaze and perplex. It’s almost as if the filmmakers aren’t interested in the killings, don’t care about supplying actual clues that could help lead the characters, let alone the audience, to the identity of the murder, instead more concerned with trying to figure out how to get Poe on that park bench which historically was the precursor to his deathbed.”
There are some significant issues with writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman’s (Saw II, III & IV) latest venture The Barrens, but ambition and acting sure aren’t two of them. “True Blood” favorite Stephen Moyer delivers an impassioned performance as a father grieving over the recent death of his father taking his family on a camping trip into the New Jersey woods to dispose of his ashes, the actor going all out to make the director’s emotionally-driven scenario click. He’s terrific, as is Mia Kirshner of Exotica and “The Vampire Diaries,” both of them giving their all even if Bousman’s overly tricky script doesn’t always know what to do with itself. For genre fans, however, this is one little fright fest worth giving at least a passing glance to.
Werewolf: The Beast Among Us
Okay, I admit it, I kind of want to see this one, so what if it’s basically a straight-to-DVD release that bypassed theatres. It looks like an agreeable bit of grisly B-movie horror fluff, and considering it’s October that’s just the sort of thing I enjoy watching this month making it perfect for a late night turn-off-all-the-lights-and-pop-some-popcorn-cuddle-under-the-covers screening.
Red Dawn (1984)
OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES
· Bones: The Complete Seventh Season
· A Cat in Paris
· The Courier
· Dead Ringer
· Enemy Mine – Twilight Time
· Find Me Guilty (Read Sara’s Theatrical Review)
· Hostel / Hostel Part II (Read Sara’s Blu-ray Review)
· Ice Station Zebra
· It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season Seven
· The League: The Complete Season Three
· Night of the Living Dead (1990) – Twilight Time
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
Eclipse 36: Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures: The Man in Grey, Madonna of the Seven Moons, The Wicked Lady (Criterion Collection)
During the 1940s, realism reigned in British cinema—but not at Gainsborough Pictures. The studio, which had been around since the ’20s, found new success with a series of pleasurably preposterous costume melodramas. Audiences ate up these overheated films, which featured a stable of charismatic stars, including James Mason (Lolita), Margaret Lockwood (The Lady Vanishes), Stewart Granger (King Solomon’s Mines) and Phyllis Calvert (Indiscreet). Though its films were immensely profitable in wartime and immediately after, Gainsborough did not outlive the decade. This set brings together a trio of Gainsborough’s most popular films—florid, visceral tales of secret identities, multiple personalities and romantic betrayals. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Truth or Die
Four teenage friends are taken hostage by a vengeful psychopath and forced to play a party game with life or death consequences. With a hot and fresh-faced young British cast and a murderous spin on the traditional party game, Truth or Die is an exciting new addition to the teenage horror genre. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
· Care Bears: The Original Series Collection
· Whitney: Season One
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
· Death Ship (1980) (Nov 4, 2012)
· ParaNorman (Nov 27, 2012)
· Sparkle (2012) (Nov 30, 2012)
· Babes in Toyland (Dec 11, 2012)
· Dick Tracy (Dec 11, 2012)
· Heavyweights (Dec 11, 2012)
· The Joy Luck Club (Dec 11, 2012)
· Arbitrage (Dec 21, 2012)