New Blu's On the Block Blu-ray and DVD Releases for Nov 30, 2010
While it is an extremely slow week on Blu-ray and DVD, there are still some notable titles on the docket. For me, the biggest, most important and the single reason I flew home from my family’s in Spokane a day early because I was so excited to get a look at it is a four-disc two-movie whopper from the folks at the Walt Disney Company. For many others, the third chapter in a certain set-in-Forks vampire/human/werewolf love triangle hitting shelves on Friday will be a reason for extreme twitterpation.
Otherwise there are few additional solid titles to be found hitting shelves, most notably a couple of box office underperformers with major stars that should do better business on Blu-ray and DVD than they did in theatres. There are also a couple of independent features worthy of look, most notably one starring Patricia Clarkson that in a perfect world would be generating Oscar buzz for the actress but sadly isn’t.
Also, if you haven't already please check out our first-ever 2010 Holiday Gift Guide. There are some great ideas here the Blu-ray and/or DVD aficionados are sure to adore to finding underneath their tree or in their stocking come the holiday season.
So, I just got home this afternoon from my trip home to see the family for Thanksgiving and was ecstatic to see this four-disc collection (two Blu-rays, two DVDs) waiting for me. Sadly, that also means I’ve barely just broken the seal on the darn thing and barely had the opportunity to dive in. Here’s what I can say right now: 1940’s Fantasia and 2000’s Fantasia 2000 have never, ever, not even in IMAX (well, maybe in IMAX, I might be engaging in a bit of hyperbole) sounded better than they do in this release. Disney meticulous DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtracks are beyond divine, and audiophiles of all shapes and sizes will find very little, if anything at all, to nitpick about here.
Other than that, I’ve really only had the chance to dive into Fantasia and I must say, other than a few spots here and there (mostly the live action shots with Leopold Stokowski and the orchestra), this is another animated hi-def homerun for the Mouse House. Their transfer and restoration of this revered, if somewhat controversial at times and deeply divisive, classic is beyond extraordinary, and there are moments I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching. Simply put, this is an amazing release showcasing two of Disney’s most challenging and audacious efforts stupendously, and while I’ll have much more to say in my forthcoming review just know I think everyone should buy it and add it to their collections immediately.
To be fair, as directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy) the third chapter in author Stephenie Meyer’s obscenely popular series The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is by far the best one yet. In my June review (read it here) I admitted that, “For the first time in the series, I actually more or less enjoyed my time sitting in the theatre,” and that the filmmaker somehow managed to “lighten up the tone just enough to make all the unbearable angst a bit more palatable.” While still far too long, and while it almost can’t help but take itself way too seriously, and while I still have serious problems with a main character who is supposed to be some sort of female role model who all she wants to do with her life is get married and become a vampire, there are moments throughout Eclipse that are actually kind of fun and in all honesty if I were ever going to watch another of these again this would be the one I pick.
Summit is releases multiple versions to Blu-ray, including both Best Boy and Target special editions apparently featuring extras exclusive to those stores. According to Blu-ray.com both video and audio transfers are outstanding, while both Team Edward and Team Jacob are going to be more than satisfied with the collection of extras no matter which of these editions they choose to add to their libraries.
I loved Knight and Day and it kind of bums my out that this Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz mash-up didn’t fair better at the box office than it did. It reminded me of classic 1980’s French Farce like Francis Veber’s Les Fugitifs, and once I realized that director James Mangold was making a loud, obnoxious and, to me at least, extremely funny comedy sprinkled with abit of light romance I had a heck of a good time and not even the bits that sort of self-destructed annoyed me quite as much as they should have. In my June review (read it here) I said that the movie was nothing short of “lunacy,” albeit “smartly written, consistently engaging and wittily delivered,” but lunacy nonetheless. But I also stated that it was, “light, frothy and hugely enjoyable on a multitude of levels, the entertainment value so incredibly high it practically soars,” and those are words I’m going to stick to as I look to add this Blu-ray to my own personal collection. Expect a full review of the disc from Mitchell very soon.
Another movie that deserved a better fate, Going the Distance might just be the year’s most unjustly ignored and maligned motion pictures. In my September review (read it here) I stated that screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe had “offered up an adult, sometimes vulgar, frequently hilarious and almost always 100-percent honest story that held me positively spellbound,” and that the finished product was “so vibrant and exhilarating” that I was almost “bursting with joy.” None of that has changed in the past couple of months, and I hope to have a full review up of the Blu-ray itself sometime within the week.
Patricia Clarkson should be getting Oscar talk for her performance in Cairo Time. Sadly, she is not, but anyone interested in seeing one of the best performances of the entire year should make sure and take a moment to check out director Ruba Nadda’s blissfully romantic and confidently adult drama. In my August review (read it here) I stated that Clarkson “delivers one of her absolute finest performances,” that the actress made her character “a three dimensional force” and that “by the time this story was over I almost found myself wishing Nadda would tell us another one about her just as long as she made sure to bring Clarkson back along for the ride.” This is a delicate, quiet and highly restrained unrequited love story that held me captivated, and for those looking for an intelligent multilayered marvel full of interesting characters that delivers on almost all it promises Cairo Time is a small-scale wonder worthy of treasuring.
There is no reason for Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice to even exist, while releasing it the same day as the Blu-ray debut of Fantasia only adds insult to injury. Still, for a while there I thought this one would buck conventional wisdom and actually prove at least semi-worthy. This doesn’t come to pass, of course, and thanks to a final third that’s almost unbearable the whole thing ends up collapsing into a pile of not very imaginative nothingness. I closed my July review (read it here) by stating: “For my part, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was a movie I was surprised to be enjoying. But like a magician vanishing behind a puff of smoke that enjoyment rapidly disappeared, and the only bit of magic remaining by the end was the slightest remembrance that I ever was fond of the darn thing in the first place.” I’m sure we’ll have a review up soon. Thankfully, I do not believe I’ll be the one having to write it.
Vampires Suck is an Airplane style takedown of the Twilight movies, something I do not have a problem with and actually would almost like to applaud. The movie is made Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the minds behind Epic Movie, Date Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans and a lot of other bad, bad, bad, bad joke-a-second comedies that border on being downright unwatchable. Add all that together and you end up with a comedy that, no matter how much I support its intentions, I have absolutely no wish to watch suffer through whatsoever.
Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers make their Blu-ray debuts in anticipation of December’s release of Little Fockers which re-teams Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro for a third time. Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand also return. I wasn’t a huge fan of Meet the Fockers (read my theatrical review here), although I thought Streisand was rather wonderful in it. As for Meet the Parents, Dennis got the job of reviewing that one (read it here) and while I agree it’s pretty darn good his love for the thing is somewhat astonishing and I’d be more than curious to discover if, ten years later, he still feels the same.
I haven’t heard of this series before, but it sure sounds interesting, if somewhat familiar territory. After a lunar nuclear waste dump explosion sends the moon out of Earth’s orbit, the men and women of the Moonbase Alpha find themselves propelled on a journey across the universe where they encounter bizarre life forms and strange phenomena all the while struggling to survive as they’re left with no way home, so they must search the realms of outer space for new worlds. All 24 episodes from the first season are collected here, along with new special features, such as commentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, image galleries, trailers, and more.
Much like The Office, Parks and Recreation, which stars Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones, started off with a 6-episode premiere run, and then settled into its second season with the standard 22-24 episode order, in which it found its comedic footing, according to fans. I haven’t watched the show myself, but it’s coming back to NBC for a third year mid-season and perhaps one of these days I’ll give it a shot. Ultimately fans of the show and of comedy in general should be pleased with this DVD release.
I’ve heard awesome things about Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool, but sadly the film never made its way to Seattle so I’ve been unable to check it out. Thankfully Kino is bringing this hardened import about a merchant sailor returning to his home in Tierra del Fuego to DVD so I can add it to my Netflix queue. The movie made huge waves at both Cannes and Toronto in 2008 and was proclaimed “one of the best undistributed films” by INDIEWire and Film Comment as well as being named “Best Film of 2008” by Cinema Scope.
Part of me can’t help but wish that if someone was going to put out a "70th Anniversary Collector’s Edition" of a Frank Capra classic like Meet John Doe that they’d gone the same route as Warner Bros. so often does and release the darn thing on Blu-ray. At the same time, I totally understand their not wanting to go through the time and expense of a hi-def transfer for a title like this one. While awesome, it isn’t as well known as many of the director’s other favorites (like It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or It Happened One Night), and unlike say Lost Horizon or American Madness it’s not very visually adventurous. But it is a great film, a downright perfect one at times, its searing expose of journalism and politics far ahead of its time and a movie the folks at Fox News, MSNBC and in both political parties could use taking a look at and (hopefully) learning a few lessons from. Starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, if you’ve never given this one a look than do yourself a favor and make sure and do so now.
Another one for the Netflix queue, this film did press screen here in Seattle and I totally forgot to attend. Based on a true story (and culled by director and co-writer Marco Amenta from the main character’s extensive diaries), the film follows 17-year-old Rita Atria as she breaks her community’s long sacred vow of silence gives evidence against the Sicilian mafia, of which both her father and brother were members. Really looking forward to this one and Rachel will have a review of the DVD early next week, and this is one title I’m going to get around to viewing sooner rather than later.
This is the third film in Tony Blair trilogy, scripted by Oscar-nominated Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) and directed by Richard Loncraine, HBO Films presents The Special Relationship chronicling the human side of iconic world leaders Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid) and Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). Once elected Prime Minster, Blair entered into a ‘special relationship’ with U.S. President Clinton that endured through triumph, conflict and person scandal. The DVD comes with a making-of featurette.
Oh, how I wish this one were coming out on Blu-ray as well, director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, the Pusher trilogy) a visual master whose compositions were just made for high-definition. Sadly, this IFC feature is only hitting DVD here domestically, barely receiving a theatrical release just a few scant months ago. Set in 1000 A.D., it is the story of a mute warrior named One Eye (the great Mads Mikkelsen) who is being held captain by a Norse chieftain only to escape into the wilderness thanks to the help of a young slave boy. This one never came to Seattle and I wasn’t about to watch it via OnDemand, so you can rest assured this one is going into the Netflix queue immediately.
This documentary tells the true story of how Disney regained its magic after the animation studio had endured hardships, box office flops, and a clashing of creative talent in which the new were hungry to innovate but the old timers unwilling to relinquish control. It was the mid-1980s, and then something happened; over a 10-year period the studio output (now classic) hits that include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, revitalizing its animation department. The DVD is filled with all-new special features, and a review will be forthcoming in the next week.