My Two Cents
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 13:48

Criterion's March slate includes Hoop Dreams, plus new Olive BDs, Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies & more

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Today’s update is going to be relatively quick, because I’m trying to spend as much time as I can reviewing this week. There are a few new Blu-ray reviews that I really want to get posted over the next few days, but it takes time to go through them all.  [Read on here…]

The big news this afternoon is that Criterion has just announced their March slate of releases, set to include François Truffaut’s The Soft Skin (Cat #749 – BD and DVD) on 3/10, Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse (Cat #750 – BD and DVD) on 3/17, Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line (Cat #753 – BD and DVD) and a double feature of Morris’ Gates of Heaven/Vernon, Florida (Cat #751/752 – BD and DVD) on 3/24, and Steve James’ Hoop Dreams (Cat #289 – BD and DVD) and Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers (Cat #101 – BD and DVD) on 3/31. Click here for more details and be sure to check out the cover artwork below.

Also today, Scream Factory has set The Phantom of the Opera for Blu-ray release on 2/17, starring Robert Englund. Extras will include audio commentary with director Dwight H. Little and Englund, the Behind the Mask: The Making of The Phantom of the Opera documentary (featuring new interviews with Little, Englund, actors Jill Schoelen and Alex Hyde-White, screenwriter Duke Sandefur, special make-up designer Kevin Yagher, special make-up effects artists John Carl Buechler, Everett Burrell and John Vulich, and composer Misha Segal), plus the film’s trailer.

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Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set Big Driver and Más Negro Que La Noche for DVD only release on 1/27, followed by Green Street Hooligans: Underground, Julius Jr.: Pirates and Superheroes, Mountain Men: Season 3, The Master, and Final Prayer all on DVD only on 2/24.

Anchor Bay will release The Color of Time on DVD only on 1/27, followed by The Red Road: The Complete First Season on DVD only on 3/10.

Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company will release The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby on Blu-ray and DVD on 2/3. Both the DVD and Blu-ray versions will include the film itself, directed by Ned Benson and starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, plus The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her as bonus films, thus “giving the consumer the complete picture of the story as it was intended to be seen.”

Arc Entertainment has Zarra’s Law coming on DVD only on 1/13.

Millennium Entertainment will release 88 on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/6.

PBS Distribution has set the documentaries Navy Seals: Their Untold Story and Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power for DVD only release on 1/6 as well.

And Olive Films has just announced a number of new classic catalog titles for Blu-ray release on 2/17, including The Road to Hong Kong (1962), How to Murder Your Wife (1965), Muscle Beach Party (1964) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965).

Finally today, a few comments on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, which hits theaters widely around the country starting tomorrow night. I had the chance to see the film myself in Real 3D last night. Some of you will already know that I’ve been a fan of Jackson’s Middle Earth films since the beginning. As a fan, I must say that I wasn’t disappointed by what I saw last night. Five Armies is easily the best of the Hobbit trilogy and it ties these films together with the Rings trilogy quite nicely.

Now… while I’ve certainly enjoyed the Hobbit films, my feeling is that they’ve lacked much of the dramatic heft that the Rings films had, and it’s never seemed that any of the characters has suffered for their choices nor paid much of a price for their involvement in the quest to take back the Lonely Mountain. Well, that certainly ends here. Without spoiling anything, there’s a very dear price for the characters to pay in this concluding chapter, a price that makes the end of their journey feel much more rewarding and well-earned. It also makes Five Armies the lynch pin of the entire series in many ways. It gives the later Rings films new impact because, at the point they begin, you now know how much blood has been spilled to get there. Suffice it to say that, if you’ve been a fan of these films so far, I think you’ll find The Battle of the Five Armies to be a very satisfying final chapter.

All right, here’s a look at the cover artwork for those new Criterion titles...

Hoop Dreams (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    The Thin Blue Line (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    Cries and Whispers (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

Ride the Pink Horse (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    Gates of Heaven/Vernon Florida (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    The Soft Skin (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

Check back later today and tomorrow morning for some of those new Blu-ray reviews. Stay tuned…

Bill Hunt


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