Archive for the ‘Blu-ray’ Category

‘Liquid Sky’ Blu-ray/DVD Review”: Strange Trip

April 24, 2018


Liquid Sky is one of those movies I can recommend, but with trepidation. That’s because it’s not for everyone — not by a long shot — and I don’t want to encourage the wrong audience, who will hate it. But for those who can handle the film’s perverse pleasures — namely, its twisted beauty offset by an ugly, corpse-filled, drug-drenched sci-fi plot amid New York’s early ’80s club scene — then this strange trip is for you.

I say this with deference to qualifying remarks because I recall showing another gritty, edgy New York indie to a couple who once visited my wife and me — with emphasis on the word “once,” since we never saw them again. That film was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which I found to be an inspired rock odyssey of raw yet oddly tender sexual passions. Yet if you’ve seen it, you know that Hedwig isn’t for everyone, either.

So for Liquid Sky (slang for heroin), you’re both warned and encouraged. As a Rocky Horror sign would say, enter at your own risk.

Due April 24 in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome, this 1982 film is as strange as they come. How strange?


Blu-ray review: ‘Bad Influence’

May 18, 2016

Bad Influence

The clunky computers. The overwrought synth-rock. The shoulder pads and big hair. The fiercely photogenic Brat Pack.

Gotta love the ’80s, which Bad Influence represents, though the indie film was released in early 1990.

As a suspense-thriller, the film is darkly entertaining and not without humor — starting with its absurdly simplistic and understated title.

Bad Influence? That’s like calling Saving Private Ryan “Unpleasantness at the Beach.”

Making its Blu-ray debut May 24, Bad Influence top-bills Rob Lowe as Alex, a strange stranger who insinuates himself into the life of bookish, meek and up-tight L.A. financial whiz Michael (James Spader). Alex does this as sort of a Robin Hood for hell-raising, giving Michael’s life jolts via reckless good times.

The sudden friends soon become enemies, as sociopath Lowe’s cruelly twisted intentions become apparent.

You don’t wreck a guy’s engagement to an overly controlling woman by surprisingly showing video of him having sex with another chick at the big anniversary party of his henpecking fiancee’s parents. You just don’t — unless you are a Troublemaker with a capital T, right here in River City.


Blu-Ray/DVD Review ‘Magic Mike’ and Matthew McConaughey: Match Made in — heathenism?

October 28, 2012

I must admit: As a former University of Texas boy, I enjoy seeing another fellow alum, Matthew McConaughey, show his Longhorn spirit on screen.

I don’t mean when he’s domesticated for romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Matthew, after all, didn’t go to Baylor. I mean when he’s a life-loving, boisterous, cocky, roguish scoundrel as in Dazed and Confused, Tropic Thunder and now Magic Mike, new on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros.

As the owner of a male strip club in Florida, Matthew’s “Dallas” is the kind of guy that extends naturally from his own Austin persona. You know — playing bongo drums naked while enjoying a smoke, if you know what I mean. But he’s also a savvy businessman at heart who gets the job done, from showing his newbie “dancers” the ropes to making sure he makes as much profit as possible from the “ladies” who frequent his club. (more…)

Blu-ray/DVD Review Glee: The Complete Third Season

August 19, 2012

If you love Glee as I do, you record episodes as they air and quickly watch them again, so having them on Blu-ray or DVD is an archival kind of thing. One day, I plan to watch the entire series again in sequence — or “From the top!”, as Will said in the pilot. But until then, the things that grab me the most about having Glee on discs is the extras. And Glee: The Complete Third Season, new from Fox on Blu-ray and DVD, has plenty of them.

Unfortunately, Season Three on disc doesn’t have all of them, which is even more glaring given the fact that Twitter newbie Ryan Murphy has recently unveiled several deleted scenes from Glee’s third season, NONE of which, that I can see, appears on the new Blu-ray (and, I’m assuming, the new DVD). (more…)

Blu-ray/DVD Review ‘New Year’s Eve’: All-Stars go only so far — but no disaster

April 29, 2012

The world hasn’t seen name-dropping all-star casts like this since the disaster-movie binge of the ’70s. But is New Year’s Eve (due Tuesday from Warner) a disaster?

Not really, despite scathing reviews and a tepid total domestic  box office of $54 million. The film should play better on video, anyway, since it’s not about spectacle so much as sentiment — though often to a fault.

OK, director Garry Marshall (culprit of the similar and even lesser Valentine’s Day) isn’t as amusing and charming as he used to be. But he runs a fun set, and the huge cast clearly enjoyed this romp through NYC on Dec. 31, with many (too many) stories and characters entwining as the film leads up to the big Times Square “Happy New Year!”


Blu-ray Review ‘A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas’: Jolly holiday

February 7, 2012

Yes, it’s outrageously improper, even feigning pot, cocaine and ecstasy highs for a toddler. But A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is no more disturbingly real and thus truly disturbing than its stoners’ most fanciful dreams. In fact, that’s what the entire film feels like, making its drug-laced trips seem like dreams within a dream.

This third foray in the pot-puffers’ series has Kumar (Kal Penn) and Harold (John Cho) reconnecting on Christmas Eve after an estrangement fueled by Harold’s entry into respectable society. He’s married, has a steady job, owns a large home and is about to start a family. He doesn’t need weed-loving Kumar to enter that equation and upset it with the usual crazed trouble that follows them whenever they share a bong. (more…)

Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray and DVD review: Hits and misses

December 23, 2011

Yes, Glee: The Concert Movie flopped in theaters — was not boffo at the b.o. during its limited two-week run — but there’s no shame in that. It did gross over $18.6 million in domestic and foreign markets, which was twice its production cost, and it’s sure to get many more viewers now via the new  Blu-ray and DVD release.

Plus, what all the nay-sayers and doom predictors of Glee conveniently overlook when they trample a trifle such as this concert flick is that the show they dismiss is an iTunes powerhouse. When Glee delivers strong contemporary pop instead of stale Broadway standards, it’s boffo, all right — in music sales. And music is what drives this show, sets it apart and makes it so special, whether delivered in episodes on the air, on a sold-out concert tour, in a mismanaged concert movie, on CD or via downloads.

Was Glee’s recent mashup of Adele’s Rumour Has It and Someone Like You a stiff? Does it reflect a slide in Glee’s popularity? Actually, no. It’s part of Glee’s 36 million-plus digital singles sales and was #1 on iTunes. So while TV ratings plateau, here’s a no-brainer alert: Glee’s music still matters. It serves stories as on other TV series. It makes people happy. It’s impactful. It sells. Haters, deal with it.

But I will say the concert movie is an inviting target.  It didn’t fully work. And why is that?

What I see here is a missed opportunity — make that many misses. (more…)

Blu-ray/DVD Review ‘Rise of Planet of the Apes’: No boos for reboots

December 13, 2011

From Star Trek to Batman to, now, Planet of the Apes, reboots have proven their mettle. Reboots are good. In fact, as in such simian cinema, reboots can be fantastic.

Yes, let’s get to the superlatives for this reboot of the 1968-born Apes series, rather than the unsatisfying “re-imagining” of the first two films by Tim Burton in 2001. It was time — and this time, they got it right by entwining the tale with an Outer Limits-style story of a scientist who dares to do great things but, in his bold reach, unleashes twisted results in the process.

These involve an Alzheimer’s cure turning into a monkey brain steroid, leading to a revolt of the San Francisco Bay Area’s simians, and I don’t mean bikers. From testing labs to the zoo, apes erupt onto SF’s scenic settings in a scary yet applaudable attack on human repression. And if that means facing down SF SWATs on the GGB, then it’s more than an anachronym. It’s anarchy — and deliriously entertaining.

I’ve lived in San Francisco, and there’s no more scenic city — and no better setting for a movie, especially one with warped weirdness.   From Vertigo to 1978’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, there’s a strange symbiosis between sinister doings and a city where a chilly fog drifts across steep hills in the dead of night. And Apes, while also ranging beyond SF, taps that element.

OK, I’m not the biggest James Franco fan, but he does the job here with gravity and sincerity as the scientist whose “cure” turns tables on human-ape dominance. The tale also recalls Flowers For Algernon (Charly, to movie fans) as well as The Outer Limits’ The Sixth Finger, an accelerated evolution story with perhaps the greatest character arc in screen history.

So yes, Apes is damn interesting and intriguing, apart form all the action and flash. And the CG is as good as it gets. Go Ape. You’ll be glad you did.

— Bruce Westbrook


Blu-ray/DVD blog review: Glee The Complete Second Season

September 20, 2011

OK, I know you’re stoked for Glee’s third season premiere tonight. But can we not forget that our beloved show also is newly available in The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD from Fox — especially since those discs offer lots of new special features?

I know I’m straddling the Glee fence right now, because while I avidly await tonight’s premiere, I’m also buoyed by the beautiful transfers (especially on Blu-Ray) for the second season, and such fun new extras as Shooting in New York, a 10-minute look at production of Glee’s previous episode, the second season finale (which I loved, big-time).

NYC may be big, but Glee seems bigger. Throngs of fans belly up to barricades to watch exterior filming in Times Square (and, to a lesser degree, Central Park and Lincoln Center), and even Mayor Bloomberg leaps on Glee’s bandwagon. Some fine on-camera cast interviews arise, and Cory Monteith documents it himself, with point of view shots as he approaches awe-struck femme fans. (more…)