//New on DVD and Blu-Ray: July 10, 2012

New on DVD and Blu-Ray: July 10, 2012

This week’s newest Blu-Ray releases feature a couple of old classics, one highly acclaimed 2011 doc, one sharply divisive indie flop and one low-brow cash-in on a forgotten franchise. Which movies do you think I’m talking about?

Here’s what we have to look forward to on DVD and Blu-Ray this week:

Top 5 Releases:

5) American Reunion (2012)

Critics warned the public to steer clear of this one. The public either followed suit, or simply did not care to watch yet another shameless attempt to revitalize a long-dormant franchise, because this one barely broke even domestically. While I understand hardly any of the American Pie movies is particularly good, I can’t actually deny the nostalgic attachment I have to the comedy series preceding its devolution into a reliable straight-to-DVD license. American Reunion is probably no good, but that will not stop me from Redboxing it the next time I am bored on a Friday night.

4) Senna (2011)

People went over the freaking moon last year for Asif Kapadia’s film about the late Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna. It became one of 2011’s highest-grossing documentaries, in addition to receiving incredible acclaim. Admittedly, the subject matter is of little interest to me, and so I had a bit of difficulty getting into the movie at first. Regardless of my own biases, though, Senna is nonetheless an engaging character study of the racing legend’s connection to faith, family and Formula One.

3) Chariots of Fire (1981)

A potential future Blind Spot write-up for me, Hugh Hudson’s film about two British track athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics is best remembered less for winning the Best Picture Oscar over the Warren Beatty epic Reds than for the countless times it has been parodied. Honestly, until I read the IMDb synopsis just now, all I knew about the movie was that it at some point features a slow-motion run across the finish line, with a the gentle push of Vangelis’ piano in the background, and nothing else. I guess now is as good a time as ever to catch up.

2) Altered States (1980)

This is yet another classic movie everybody seems to have seen with the sole exception of me. Ken Russell’s mind-f*k masterpiece is likely the most challenging film on this week’s list of top releases, which unfortunately explains why it is the one pick on this list I am least likely to see right away. But I suppose if I was able to survive the likes of Eraserhead or Videodrome, I should finally get this one under my belt.

1) Margaret (2011) — Theatrical & Director’s Cuts

Is there any other movie from the past five years plagued with a more notorious post-production shit-storm than Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret? A near-casualty of studio lawsuits and inflated egos, a miniscule number of viewers were treated last year to this divisive, 150-minute compromise. Some felt the movie, featuring an incredible performance from Anna Paquin, was equal parts frustration and brilliance. Personally, I found the movie to be sort of brilliant because it was so frustrating. That 150-minute theatrical cut is available on the Blu Ray, but I just might give the 3-hour extended version included in this package a glance first, if only to affirm the rumor that there exists a superior cut of Margaret. — review coming soon!

If you’ve seen all the big comic book adaptations currently in theaters, the releases of Blade II and Spawn: The Director’s Cut make for appropriately darker comic book fare to get you in the mood for next week’s The Dark Knight Rises. Hero director Yimou Zhang’s latest film The Flowers of War was released earlier this year, but it got a fairly pitiful American release despite the star power of Christian Bale – now might be the time to see if it’s any good. As for TV fans, HBO is re-issuing the first season of its mega-popular show A Game of Thrones, this time with notably fewer decapitated George W. Bush heads on spikes.

Streaming Pick of the Week:

Far From Heaven (2002)

Currently available on Netflix.

Though less than prolific, Todd Haynes is one of my very favorite filmmakers working today. Even twenty years after his film Poison launched the New Queer Cinema movement, he continues to churn out challenging and transcendent work that continually pushes the dialog on how society influences the politics of sexuality and body expression. Far from Heaven, an irony-free Douglas Sirk simulacrum that explores these same issues, is perhaps Haynes’ most accessible filmic work (though his Mildred Pierce mini-series has a lot of mainstream appeal). Heaven is also a tremendously devastating depiction of systemic racism and homophobia, wielding classic melodrama in a way that provokes a remarkable amount of reflection around some truly weighty topics. As the wife of a man struggling with his own sexuality, Julianne Moore gives one of the truly great screen performances of the past decade or so.

Justin has been subjecting the masses to his online movie ramblings since 2009, and has been writing for Film Misery since 2011. When he isn’t wasting his hours defending the value of Steven Spielberg’s latter-year output or...Full Bio.