The Best Blu-ray/DVD Releases of the Week: ‘Cutie and the Boxer,’ ‘Night of the Demons’ and the Acting in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
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Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko have been together for 45 years, but it hasn’t been the easiest of roads. He was a 41 year old art sensation in NYC when the 19-year-old art student met and fell in love with him, and while the time since has seen them struggle and live the life of starving artists, he has always remained at the top of the relationship. This doc looks at the couple, their love and art, and the sacrifices that are sometimes necessary in pursuit of your dreams.
Zachary Heinzerling’s intimate documentary began life focused on Ushio’s life and art, but somewhere along the line, Noriko’s story, both of her art and of her love for her husband, took over the narrative. The result is not only a fascinating look at two artists’ lives but also an incredibly honest exploration of the cost of love, creativity, and persistence. Ushio is a real character, but Noriko is a real person. I’m now in love with a 64-year-old Japanese woman.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
Pitch: “Dare To Live” Because ‘Double Dog Dare To Live’ sounded a bit too frivolous for the subject matter…
It’s the early ’80s, and Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) is a testosterone-filled cowboy whose life consists of smoking, drinking, and bedding ladies (there’s no way to read that wrong), but when he tests positive for HIV his world changes in every way possible. He’s given a month to live by his doctors, but refusing to take that death sentence he chooses instead to stay alive by any means necessary. Together with Rayon (Jared Leto), a different kind of man’s man, Woodruff fights the system and prolongs lives in the process.
This is based on a true story, but it’s also a borderline entry in “the best” category as the movie isn’t that great. It’s fine, but there are numerous issues with the rather generic narrative and structure that leave too much of the drama in their wake. What earns it a spot here is the acting. Leto is quite good, but it’s really McConaughey’s show from beginning to end. The bravado, the sense of humor, the resilience. Even beyond the dramatic weight loss it’s an amazing performance to behold.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette]
Pitch: “You’ll have a hell of a time.” Get it? Because of all the demonic possession…
Angela is throwing a party for a handful of friends, but instead of hosting it at the dorms, she’s having everyone over to the supposedly haunted Hull House. Bad move, Angela. Soon a devilish spirit is invading the partygoers, and one by one they’re succumbing to the dark side. Cue the murderous flesh rendering.
Kevin Tenney’s film was followed by some sequels and earned a recent remake, but the original still has a real charm and sense of fun missing from all the others. The practical effects (from Steve Johnson) still shine, the script is a casually fun affair, and the ending features a couple things that are still rarities in horror films. All this plus the scene where Linnea Quigley inserts a lipstick into her breast via her nipple. Yeah, you’ll want to watch that part of the “making of.” Scream Factory once again delivers the definitive Blu-ray of an ’80s classic.
Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, making of, interviews, trailers, gallery
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) leads a fairly mundane life, but that all changes on the night his father (Bill Nighy) reveals that the men in their family have the ability to travel in time within the confines of their own life. He uses this new skill to improve his lot in life, starting with perfecting a relationship with a lovely young woman (Rachel McAdams). Writer/director Richard Curtis’ latest film is a pleasantly sweet experience, but the script stumbles over itself more than once trying to create obstacles that ultimately make no sense given the film’s premise.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers, music video, featurettes]
A journalist (Katia Winter) sets out to discover the fate of a friend whose exploration into government conspiracies and mind-altering substances ended with his disappearance. She’s surprised when things turn out poorly for her. Ted Levine’s presence helps this one thanks to his over the top portrayal of a Hunter S. Thompson-like author, but he may or may not be enough to make the film worthwhile. The “scares” definitely aren’t.
[DVD extras: None]
Sam (Justin Long) writes novelizations for a living meaning he adapts other peoples’ creations into a different form. He does the same thing when he falls for Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood) by adapting his own personality to match what he believes are her interests and likes. This eventually leads to conflict in their relationship. Moments of sweetness and humor occasionally dot this otherwise generic rom-com, but if nothing else it’s worth watching for the absolutely gorgeous Wood.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailer]
Ray (Sylvester Stallone) is a professional escape artist, but it’s not straight jackets he’s slipping out of, it’s prisons. His job is to escape from an institution in order to help them beef up their security, but his latest assignment may be his last. The Tomb is a supposedly inescapable facility, and making the job even tougher is the fact that someone is going above and beyond to make sure he never sees sunlight again. Arnold Schwarzenegger joins Stallone as a fellow prisoner, and the two of them help make the film a somewhat worthwhile watch. The script does no such favors.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Sadie is the jealous type, but unfortunately for Kevin (Billy Zane) this fact eluded him before he decided to cheat on her. D’oh! The film opens with Zane tied to a chair and AnnaLyne McCord threatening him with a knife before jumping back 28 hours to tell the tale leading up to that moment… that it then reaches again in 15 minutes. What? What follows is a thriller that never convinces, features mediocre acting, and goes out of its way to avoid nudity. But hey, it also features McCord threatening to microwave a puppy unless Zane goes down on a woman tied to the bed. Skip it and watch Swimming With Sharks instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Linda (Tawney Kitaen) and her friends play around with a Ouija board, and soon a vicious spirit is causing mayhem and deaths around them. There are some fun moments and interesting camera work here, and Kitaen has an amazing mane, but the movie’s also surprisingly dry for the subject matter. Fans will enjoy the numerous extras gathered and created by Scream Factory though.
Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, interviews, making ofs, trailers gallery
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
House of Versace
The Hungover Games
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete
Joanie Loves Chachi: The Complete Series
Jules and Jim (Criterion)
Justice League War
Laverne & Shirley: The Seventh Season
Mother of George
Penthouse North (UK)
Romeo & Juliet
The White Queen