DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for October 30, 2015


Happy Halloween to all you readers out there. It’s time for a look at the highlights coming your way on Blu-ray and DVD. Just because it’s the time for trick-or-treating doesn’t mean there aren’t options in all kinds of different genres. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try.

Big New Releases!

A Borrowed Identity - This co-production between Israel, Germany and France follows a Palestinian teen who is sent to a boarding school in Jerusalem. He struggles to fit in but eventually finds his place, only to run into further complications when he begins dating a young girl from a different background. The press responded favorably to the film, stating that it begins like a typical teen drama, but begins to delve into much deeper content without resorting to heavy-handedness. Sounds like a solid drama for foreign-language film enthusiasts.

The Gift - This creepy little thriller follows a couple who move to the husband’s hometown. Upon their arrival, an old high school acquaintance begins to show up with presents, slowly creeping the pair out. Notices were extremely strong for this subtle and low-key effort. The cast were all praised for their strong performances, and mentioned that the script effectively builds a growing sense of unease as events get out of hand. It stars Jason Bateman, Olivia Williams, Joel Edgerton, David Denman and Busy Phillips.

Pixels - In this comedy, a group of grown-up 80s arcade enthusiasts are corralled to fight off an alien invasion in which the attackers take on the appearance of characters from games like Donkey Kong, Centipede and Galaga. It’s an amusing concept, but the press didn’t care for the end result. They suggested that the visuals were wasted on a lazily written script with juvenile humor that never takes advantage of its premise. The movie stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox and Sean Bean.

Max - A US soldier’s military dog is adopted by his family back home after he is killed in Afghanistan. Also struggling with PTSD, the dog takes a shine to his master’s younger brother and the pair attempt to cope with the loss. Write-ups were poor for this family drama. Some warned that it’s actually quite violent, while others called it a fairly standard and run-of-the-mill effort that becomes too melodramatic for its own good. Josh Wiggins, Lauren Graham, Thomas Haden Church and Jay Hernandez headline.

Southpaw - A boxer loses everything after a personal tragedy and enlists the help of a trainer to help him get his life and career back on track. This gritty drama split the critics, although it seems as if there were a few more positive reviews than negative ones. While almost all were impressed by the lead actor’s physical transformation and performance, many criticized the movie for being far too predictable and formulaic to resonate. The cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, 50 Cent and Naomi Harris.

From the Past!

Wow! Olive Films have really gone to town this week, delivering 18 Blu-rays of catalog titles from all sorts of genres. Guess the best approach is to go alphabetically through them. A Black Veil For Lisa (1968) is an early Italian “Giallo” thriller about a man who hires a hit man to murder his wife. Blue City (1986) is a thriller starring “brat pack” members Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and David Caruso. If memory serves it was an attempt a more serious turn for its stars.

The End (1978) is a black comedy starring Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise and Sally Field about a man with a terminal illness who attempts suicide, but finds he just can’t finish the job. If science-fiction serials are more your speed, Flying Disc Man From Mars (1950), which features Martians and Nazis teaming up to take over the world. Will they be stopped? Also arriving on Blu-ray is the period Chopin biopic Impromptu (1991) which casts Hugh Grant as the famous composer and Judy Davis as his romantic interest.

The Deadly Bees (1966) is a fun little English B-horror flick from Amicus about a celebrity who suffers a nervous breakdown, goes on a holiday and finds herself surrounded by a sinister beekeeper and a nasty swarm. If that sounds to your liking, you should also give Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965) a try. It’s an entertaining anthology flick from the same production company that features a great cast, including Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Donald Sutherland amidst many other familiar faces.

And there’s even more from Olive. Charles Bronson takes down a prostitution ring in the Cannon Films title Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989). Mandingo (1975) tells the story of a slave in the 1840s who becomes a bare-knuckle boxer. Ken Norton and James Mason take on the lead roles. And Messenger of Death (1988) is another cheesy Bronson action vehicle in which he plays an investigative reporter who eventually tosses his pen away to get in the middle of a family squabble and do battle with some nasty politicians and businessmen.

Partners (1982) is a comedy that stars Ryan O’Neal as a cop who goes undercover with his gay partner, played by John Hurt, in order to investigate a series of murders in the LGBT community. Phase IV (1974) is an odd little sci-fi horror flick from Saul Bass (famous for creating elaborate title credit sequences, like those for Vertigo, Psycho and Spartacus) about killer ants. Obviously, there’s more of an emphasis on visuals than story.

Finally, Olive are releasing a Blu-ray of Stephen King’s Sometimes They Come Back (1991). It’s an adaptation of one of the author’s short stories about a an adult who returns to his hometown and is promptly stalked by the ghosts of his high school bullies.

Shout! Factory have a big title arriving on Blu-ray this week. Admittedly, if you are a fan of the title you probably already own a couple of versions. Army of Darkness (1992) is the hilarious third chapter in the Evil Dead series. This release features the theatrical cut, director’s cut, international version, and international television cut (with additional footage). That’s a lot of cuts. They’re also newly transferred scans of the inter-positive and come with tons of bonuses (including commentary tracks). There is also some original material that includes a feature-length “making of” special, as well as never before seen behind-the-scenes footage.

“Silencio!” David Lynch enthusiasts will be able to pick up the intriguing and mysterious Mulholland Dr. (2001). The Criterion Blu-ray arrives with some very interesting features. There’s new interviews with the cast and crew, footage taken on the set, a deleted scene and publicity materials. It should be more than enough to keep fans of the unusual entertained.

Sony Pictures have a few curious Blu-rays as well. They’ve started a new line (called Supreme Cinema Series) of very high quality transfers of some of their biggest movies - two of them arrive on store shelves this week and they both classic Luc Besson titles. The Fifth Element (1997) Cinema Series and The Professional (1994) Cinema Series promise even higher quality transfers of these already gorgeous looking movies. And of course, The Professional disc contains both the US and European cuts of the movie. Finally, Sony are releasing a “Limited Edition Castle Catapult Gift Set” Blu-ray of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). It’s as crazy as it sounds, coming in a little castle set with a catapult and some rubber farm animals.

Warner Archive have some notable DVDs that you can order from their site. They include The Chief (1933) and the goofy Alec Guinness comedy, Hotel Paradiso (1966). Also arriving is It’s In the Air (1935) and Man-Proof (1938). The Archive also have a new collection of pre-code titles in their 9th volume of their Forbidden Hollywood collection.

Musical fans with be happy to see the My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray arriving. The box promises a “magnificent new restoration” of the 1964 Oscar-winning classic (which would make it 51 years old, but who’s counting?).

And to wrap things up, there’s a Blu-ray coming from Blue Underground for the Spaghetti Western, Get Mean (1975), Kino have the Sidney Poitier Oscar-winner Lilies of the Field (1963), and the Frank Zappa Family Trust are putting out Roxy the Movie, a Blu-ray that features archived concert footage from the music legend.

You Know, For Kids!

And here are the week’s options for the little ones.

Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure

Octonauts: The Great Penguin Race

Thomas & Friends: Thomas’ Christmas Carol