Top 5 Blu-Ray/DVD Releases
5 – Dark Shadows
Tim Burton’s okay, tongue-in-cheek retelling of the classic horror soap arrives today in three versions: DVD, Blu-Ray, combo. The special features are just fansite-like featurettes, so it’s not really worth it to buy the more expensive combo pack, unless you like the film more than I did. In either case, it’s another film where Johnny Depp does a very amusing schtick among meticulously constructed sets and unconvincing special effects—both of which are probably destined for Oscar noms. If that’s worth $30 to you, go crazy.
4 – Cinderella
Four different versions of Disney’s classic hit stores today, including a five-disc Blu-ray featuring the 1950 classic and its two sequels. Yes, they made sequels to Cinderella. Apparently, children are no longer satisfied by “Happy Ever After” and need the concept expounded upon with banal songs and bright colors. Even if the Rogers & Hammerstein version is more your cup of tea, the original animated Cinderella is still a delight, and one of the single-disc editions should more than satisfy. As with most Disney releases, buy soon, or it goes back in “The Vault” until some new format arrives to replace Blu-Ray.
3 – In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-Wai’s lush, low-key romance gets Criterion’s Blu-Ray treatment. This would probably be #1 on Alex’s list, given that it’s his 13th favorite film of all time. Criterion does their expected magic here with a new restoration presented just for this Blu-Ray release, Wong Kar-Wai’s own documentary chronicling the making of his film, deleted scenes, film festival press coverage, and a book featuring the story the film is based upon. Fans of the director, gorgeous cinematography, romance, or films in general can do no harm by adding this to their Criterion pile. We all have Criterion piles, right?
2 – Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
A great Blu-Ray boxed-set, out with enough time to purchase before Halloween, featuring Universal classics Dracula (both English and Spanish versions, 1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), The Phantom of the Opera (1943), and The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Oddly, this same boxed-set of region-free discs (!) is available in the UK with much cooler packaging (a tiny coffin), for half the price. Something to think about if you decide to add this to your collection.
1 – The Princess Bride
“Inconceivable!” “My name is Inigo Montoya: You killed my father. Prepare to DIE.” “Is this a kissing book?” “As You Wish.” “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means a-what you think it means.” “I’m not a witch I’m your wife! But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I wanna be that anymore.” “I am not left-handed!” “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” “You mean, you put down your rock, and I put down my sword, and we’ll try to kill each other like civilized people?” “Life IS pain, highness; anyone who says differently is selling something.” “Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.” “Oh, you mean THIS gate key.” “There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world; ‘twould be a pity to damage yours.” “You ARE the Brute Squad.” “And what is that worth: the promise of a woman?” “Mawwage! Mawwage is wot bwings usff togeder tooday!” “Rest well, and dream of large women.” “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” “Sorry, Inigo. I didn’t mean to jog him so hard.” “Murdered by pirates is good!” “You mocked me once, never do it again! I died that day.” “There will be blood tonight!” “Drop…your…sword.” “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”
The Princess Bride is on Blu-Ray. You should already understand why this is significant, or you’re never allowed to read one of my articles again.
Elsewhere in the world…
Atomic Brain Invasion is out today, finally satisfying all film fans’ craving for a movie about aliens kidnapping Elvis. Unfortunately, the sun keeps coming out for Annie, the pathetic Oliver! clone that people keep liking for some reason, on Blu-Ray for the first time. A Golden Christmas and its sequel, the cleverly-titled A Golden Christmas 2 are now available for people who like bad movies chock-full of ADORABLE LITTLE PUPPIES. With ADORABLE LITTLE PUPPIES, how bad could it be?
On the horror front, we have The Hole, which is sadly not the thoughtful Tsai Ming-Liang film, rather the latest from director Joe Dante. The back of the box says “When the hole is exposed, evil is unleashed,” and I’m just going to leave that alone. The Satanic Rites of Dracula gets a Special Deluxe Edition—basically the regular DVD with a soundtrack CD featuring music by Pitbull Daycare, Two Witches, Leather Strip, New Skin, and Icarus Witch. An interesting boxed-set comes to us from Warner Home Video: the complete Stephen King miniseries The Shining, It, and Salem’s Lot. Six DVDs for $20 may not be too bad, as each of those series is actually quite good. Just don’t look for many special features or HD. Sound of My Voice, Séance: The Summoning, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and Killjoy Goes to Hell (tagline: “The Bad Clown is Going Down,” which sounds like an alternate tagline for The Hole) round out the scarefest.
TV fans get a complete House, as well as seasons of 90210, Downton Abbey, Ghost Hunters, How I Met Your Mother, Nikita, and the incomparable VR Troopers.
Finally, People Like Us comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray today. I wasn’t going to mention it, but felt bad at the last minute.
Streaming Pick of the Week
The Turin Horse
On Netflix. Bela Tarr’s stark, haunting swan song is a serious contender for best film of the year so far. The film depicts the repetitive, ascetic existence of the titular horse’s owner and his daughter. With such a simple, Samuel Beckett-inspired scenario, Tarr manages to make grand statements about God, existence, communication, creation, and the end of the world. Typical of Tarr’s films, this one is very, very slowly paced (there are 30 shots in a 152 minute film), so keep that in mind before watching. But if you do decide to watch, the experience will be richly rewarding, culminating in an ending that left me stunned in its simplicity and perfection. An unforgettable film.
Next week: Prometheus, A Cat in Paris, E.T., and ALL THE CARE BEARS.