Ahoy, earth people! Welcome back to Daily Grindhouse’s weekly list of what’s new and interesting in the world of Blu-Ray and DVD releases. Everything that follows is available to purchase online or in stores as of today. If any of the following titles catches your eye, please click through the cover icons to buy them through us — it helps keep the lights on here (literally).
LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE (2012)
Criterion’s major release for the week is this, the most recent film from Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian filmmaker whose films I will regretfully admit I have very little experience with. I can’t see everything! The good news, for me, is that after theatrically, the best way to get to know a film is through companies like Criterion, who treat each release with care. I have heard nothing but superlatives about this film, about a prostitute and a widower, which Kiarostami shot in Japanese, in Tokyo. I love cross-cultural works of art. This is at the top of my to-view list.
GANG WAR IN MILAN (1973)
I see the name Umberto Lenzi and I get nervous. My most recent encounter with his work was the 1988 haunted house monstrosity GHOSTHOUSE, which you can hear me react to on this episode of the Daily Grindhouse podcast. A wildly inconsistent filmmaker, Lenzi made as many travesties as watchable films, but Raro Video has been releasing a ton of little-known poliziotteschi gems lately, so I have high hopes for this one.
NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (1979)
Scream Factory kills it yet again with this release of Werner Herzog’s collaboration with his best fiend, Klaus Kinski, on a re-envisioning of F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU. I’ve written about NOSFERATU here and a little bit about Klaus Kinski here, but in short, there is no better re-casting of Max Shreck’s Count Orlok than Klaus Kinski. (Although Willem Dafoe was an excellent second.) And in Isabelle Adjani, Herzog and Kinski have a daring leading lady who can keep up with their swirling brands of crazy. Though he still makes fiction films, and has alternated all along, Herzog is far better known today as an eccentric documentarian who makes unique and ruminative films about the natural world. If that’s all you know, it’s worth looking into Herzog’s five collaborations with Klaus Kinski, a ferocious and unhinged creative partnership.
*** PICK OF THE WEEK! ***
There are a lot of movies this week I can’t wait to see for the first time, but this is probably the one I’m most excited about. Elijah Wood plays a concert pianist who, while playing to a packed house, is menaced by an unseen sniper — played by John Cusack! One of the more beloved actors among people of my generation, I’ve wanted to see him play a bad guy for years. The movie sounds like a mix of Argento and De Palma, set in a single location, a stage, which sounds challenging to make cinematic. I love a challenge, and everyone I know who’s seen GRAND PIANO has only raved about it. Check out the official website!
THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014)
Sometimes you can see a trailer so many times in advance of a movie’s release that you never end up going. That happened to me with THE MONUMENTS MEN. I meant to go see it, because holy crap look at that cast, but I never ended up getting around to it, because I saw that trailer — no exaggeration — at least twenty times throughout 2013. If you went to the movies even once last year, chances are you saw it too. It’s enough to trick your brain into thinking you already saw it, when of course you didn’t. And if you squint, it’s kinda OCEAN’S ELEVEN meets SAVING PRIVATE RYAN meets Bill Murray, which is basically every home video library in the country.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT (2014)
A remake of the 1986 film which itself was based on a 1974 David Mamet play called Sexual Perversity In Chicago, this version of ABOUT LAST NIGHT refreshingly recasts all four lead roles from its lily-white predecessor, so that Rob Lowe becomes Michael Ealy, Demi Moore becomes Joy Bryant, Jim Belushi becomes Kevin Hart, and Elizabeth Perkins becomes Regina Hall. That all sounds about right. Steve Pink, who co-wrote GROSSE POINTE BLANK and HIGH FIDELITY, directs this new version and the talented Michael Barrett (KISS KISS BANG BANG) is on hand as cinematographer. I didn’t make it out to the theaters but this seems from the looks of it like a fine at-home date movie. In the meantime I challenge you all to tell me why Regina Hall isn’t a much bigger deal: She’s pretty wonderful, cute as it gets, a deft and witty comedienne who consistently dominates every scene she appears in. Go work on that one, because it baffles me.
VAMPIRE ACADEMY (2014)
This might look like just another young-adult franchise, but the screenwriter is Daniel Waters (HEATHERS) and the director is his brother Mark Waters (MEAN GIRLS). That alone is enough to make it worth seeing — the movie was in theaters for less than a minute but that feels to me like a marketing failure. How do you not get people into theaters to see a high school movie from two people who made two of the most popular high school movies of all time? Are people that sick of vampires? Not possible.
3 DAYS TO KILL (2014)
Despite being an action movie from a grown man who calls himself “McG” and starring Kevin Costner who — let’s face it, aside from a few exceptions — is one of the most boring movie stars ever, Luc Besson co-wrote 3 DAYS TO KILL. When Luc Besson is at peak performance level, he does LA FEMME NIKITA and LÉON (THE PROFESSIONAL), classics, and when he does trash, it’s still pretty entertaining. Recent high points include TAKEN and SPACE PRISON. I don’t have much faith in a person named “McG” but I’ll usually give Luc Besson the benefit of the doubt. Also, the presence of Amber Heard means I will probably get around to it eventually, whether I want to or not.
NIKITA: THE FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON (TV)
Meanwhile, Luc Besson has nothing to do with this show, which outside of casting the excellent Maggie Q as the deadly assassin of the title, adds absolutely nothing else original to the core concept. The premise doesn’t probably sustain four seasons of story — there are only so many crosses and double-crosses one spy show can manage. Drink every time someone growls the phrase “We need to take down Division,” and then die of alcohol poisoning.
People sure loved GLADIATOR. Wouldn’t GLADIATOR be cooler if a volcano was farting lava all over the place? Let’s put Kiefer Sutherland in there for some reason. Man, making movies sure is easy.
WAY OF THE WICKED (2013)
The editorial staff here at Daily Grindhouse has encountered some confusion around this title. Today, Tuesday May the 20th, is its official street date, and indeed you can find it at a store near you today. However, I personally saw a copy in a store two weeks ago. I’m sure about that because I remember thinking that cover art makes Christian Slater look like he suffers from fire-crotch. How did WAY OF THE WICKED get a jump on its release date? Was I the only one to encounter it early, or was this a widespread anomaly? How does one come down with such a severe case of fire-crotch? We can all agree that the answer to all these questions is black magic.
For a much more intelligent take (on everything), check out Paul Freitag-Fey’s fresh new review of WAY OF THE WICKED!
Not to be confused with THE MECHANIC. But how could you avoid it? Say both titles out loud.
McCANICK. MECHANIC. McCANICK. MECHANIC. McCANICK. MECHANIC. McLINTOCK!
THE EVIL DEAD (1981) (Steelbook)
Did you know there are more editions of the EVIL DEAD films on DVD and Blu-Ray than there are species of birds in the world? It’s true! This latest in a very long line of EVIL DEAD releases is a steelbook, which are those fun metal casings for what is otherwise the same Blu-Ray or DVD you probably already own. There are a bunch of new steelbooks available this week and I’ll list them all quickly, with links to reviews I’ve already done. I don’t have an EVIL DEAD review but here’s me blabbering on about my love for ARMY OF DARKNESS, its sorta-second-sequel.
DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012) (Steelbook)
A very strong #2 on my list of top ten favorites of 2012! You may have heard of this one already.
LAWLESS (2012) (Steelbook)
A much more overlooked period action film from 2012, I’d argue LAWLESS is worth your time!
KILLING THEM SOFTLY (2012) (Steelbook)
Another alumnus of my 2012 top-ten list, KILLING THEM SOFTLY is a apparently love-it-or-hate-it proposition. But I bet all the haters can’t top my review. Love wins!
THE LORDS OF SALEM (2013) (Steelbook)
Surely Rob Zombie’s best-made film to date, I didn’t love THE LORDS OF SALEM as much as some people do and in fact as much as I really wanted to, but I still had plenty more to say about it than I do many movies I like better.
HANG ‘EM HIGH (1968)
Didn’t expect when I woke up this morning to end up saying something nice about Wal-Mart, but they’re releasing a slew of titles to Blu-Ray with exclusive cover artwork that I kinda dig. Above is the design for their HANG ‘EM HIGH disc, a neat image for a Clint Eastwood Western that otherwise isn’t the most dynamic. Other titles in this series include THE TERMINATOR, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, ROCKY, PLATOON, THE USUAL SUSPECTS, HOOSIERS, and THE PRINCESS BRIDE. And here are a few more…
THE DELTA FORCE (1986)
The movie that pairs one of my very favorite actors with one of my very least favorites. I like this artwork because it suggests Chuck Norris has caught on fire and Lee Marvin is safely on a helicopter far above the inferno.
THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)
This movie is great for so many reasons. For one thing, it stars all the coolest members of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN — McQueen, Bronson, and Coburn. For another, it’s got Donald Pleasence. And then there’s the Elmer Bernstein score. As “The Cooler King”, American POW Virgil Hilts, Steve McQueen had his defining role, the quintessential cool guy who doesn’t even need to win at the end for you to want to be him. I like this artwork, a South Park rendition of the iconic moment where McQueen escapes the prison camp by motorcycle.
I wrote a ton about the original ROBOCOP in my recent review of the new one, but that right there is Robocop Classic, and the only more fitting design for a ROBOCOP release would be a steelbook version.
ROB ROY (1995)
This one made my list of the top ten worst date movies of all time. That’s all I can think about whenever it comes up. Please learn from my mistakes. I’ve made so many! No matter what you’re looking to learn about, you can find a mistake I made that corresponds appropriately.
So that’s another week of releases for the books. Next week brings two of my very favorite movies of last year, so be sure to check back here to read all about ’em!
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