This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Dallas Buyers Club, Escape Plan ...
This week: We live in the age of McConaughey. Also: Vintage Bronson, the spawn of Happy Days, and Arny & Sly together again.
► With DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, Matt McConaughey got the Oscar nomination he should have gotten last year for ‘Magic Mike.’ In this true story, also up for Best Picture, he plays a homophobic cowboy given the news he has HIV and 30 days to live. Suddenly an outcast with his friends and family, he starts smuggling in unapproved drugs, and starts selling them to other HIV patients. Jared Leto is up for Best Supporting Actor as a transgender woman who benefits from his supply. If DiCaprio doesn’t get what’s long overdue this year, it could be McConaughey walking away with the Oscar.
► When Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor, we all worried he wouldn’t make movies again. Now that he’s making movies again…no one cares. ESCAPE PLAN was his second huge flop since the comeback began, as even the dream team with Sylvester Stallone fizzled (had this movie come out in 1986, it would have been bigger than the Super Bowl). Stallone plays an engineer who tests the escapability of prisons, and when he’s wrongly incarcerated he needs the help of a fellow inmate (Arny).
► Rom-com king Richard Curtis goes sorta sc-fi with ABOUT TIME, in which Domhnail Gleeson discovers he has the family knack for time travel, so he uses it to help his dad’s friend out from a disastrous opening night at the theatre. But in so doing, he erases his blind date with Rachel McAdams, forcing him to try and find her from scratch. Some fun ‘Back to the Future’ complications ensue, though of course you can nitpick the plot holes all night. Curtis does commentary to try and explain some of them.
► Don’t let the fact it’s 40-years-old fool you – DEATH WISH is still a bad-ass little movie with stuff that’s brutal to watch today. A grimy classic that made Charles Bronson an icon (he never did anything remotely as good again), it’s one of the quintessential New York movies of the ‘70s, before it got cleaned up (I’m positive this flick had something to do with it). After Bronson’s wife is killed and his daughter raped by muggers, he snaps and starts cleaning up the streets himself. The vigilante message was ripped by critics at the time, but the film struck a nerve with audiences as the U.S. crime rate rose. Avoid all the terrible sequels, this is the only one that matters.
► There was a brief time in the early ‘80s when Erin Moran stopped being the dorky kid sister on ‘Happy Days’ and was suddenly a hottie. So they paired her up with co-star Scott Baio, who was already a Teen Beat regular, and made the unholy spin-off JOANIE LOVES CHACHI. I can distinctly remember the night it premiered and Baio sang that rancid theme song in the intro…it was already dead to me. No amount of Fonzie cameos could save it. It somehow ran for two seasons before joining TV’s list of all-time blunders.
► For whatever reason Paramount has stopped releasing ‘Happy Days’ on DVD (Season 4 in 2008 was the last one) but LAVERNE & SHIRLEY keeps chugging along. Even bad ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ for which Season 7 qualifies. This was the second season of the ill-fated move from Milwaukee to Burbank, and the last full season with Cindy Williams, who bolted Season 8 after two episodes. While there’s a sporadic reminder why this was TV’s #1 show for awhile, the scripts are repetitive and drained of all their old charm. But Williams and Penny Marshall were such an iconic pair by this point, even a dog season like this finished #20 in the ratings.
► It’s hard to explain why some terrible horror movies become ‘classics.’ Take the Evil Dead rip-off NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, which was awful in 1988, is still awful now, but somewhere in-between came to be regarded as some sort of landmark horror flick. Enough to get a souped-up special edition from Shout! Factory with commentaries, new interviews and TV spots. The unrated blu-ray includes more Linnea Quigley, which can’t be a bad thing.
► A group of power-hungry people during a time of war backstab and manipulate everyone in their quest for the throne. This, uh, seems a bit familiar. But the British series THE WHITE QUEEN is based on a historical novel about three women fighting for the reins of England during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century. At least one critic found it “less historically plausible than Game of Thrones” … and that show has dragons.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!