Plenty of great new blu-ray releases to pick from this month. First up is Fighting, the tale of a bare-knuckle boxer’s streetfighting career in New York. Written and directed by the excellent Dito Montiel, the man responsible for A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, Fighting is everything you’d expect and want it to be; gritty, brutal and somehow romantic all at once.
Adventureland gets its eagerly anticipated outing on blu-ray this month too. Whilst it seemed that the film was going to struggle with critics and cinema-goers alike just for being what the guy wrote Superbad did next, Adventureland never struggled to get out of its shadow. It is a hilarious tale of a young student forced to take up a job in a decaying old amusement park – played by the believable Jesse Eisenberg. The story is a sweet tale, but it is the script that excels here, await Greg Motola’s next work keenly!
I Love You Man appeared from trailers to be a simple rehash of You, Me and Dupree. Fortunately it isn’t and when I’ve coaxed you back out from hiding behind the sofa in fear that it might be another turgid Owen Wilson flop, you’ll be relieved to hear that the film is a rather raucous comedy that will appeal to both men and women alike and is thus a fantastic choice for a night in with your significant other. As is Duplicity, a comedy stroke espionage thriller stroke romance, with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Although it is a bit more polished and a bit more sanitised, it is still great middle of the road viewing.
A quick mention should also be made to 17 Again – the new film starring the ridiculously popular Zac Efron. Honestly you’ll be hard pushed to find a critic speaking warmly of this film, but that won’t stop it selling like tamiflu at the moment!
Of course with blu-ray being a brand-new format, older films are being remastered and re-released all the time. Here are some of the highlights out this month. The Andy Kaufman biopic, starring Jim Carrey – ‘Man on the Moon – gets released on blu-ray for its 40th Anniversary Edition. Carrey’s detractors are certainly a numerous crowd, commonly criticising his over-the-top style and his perceived inability to play the more serious roles. However his convincing portrayal of the troubled and unusual comedian, or rather ‘song and dance man’ in Kaufman’s own typically perverse words, is an absolute tour-de-force and earned Carrey a Golden Globe, as well as considerable critical acclaim. Completely overshadowing what are, in their own right, great performances from Danny De Vito, Courtney Love and Paul Giamatti. Darkly funny rather than traditionally hilarious and touchingly tragic in other places, the film is a fitting tribute to a comedian renowned for his dislike of telling jokes and his open admittance that he did not know how to entertain his audience.
Another actor who inspires a similar mix of adulation and antipathy, Adam Sandler, has his film The Waterboy re-released in high definition this August. Unlike Carrey, Sandler seldom tries to reprise his roles as gawping, idiotic, childish, mouth-breathing morons with anything altogether more respectful. However if all you want after a hard day is some easy laughs at a gawping, idiotic, childish, mouth-breathing moron, Sandler has very much cornered the market. The Waterboy is capable of raising a chuckle from even the most curmudgeonly of viewers with its likeable blend of slapstick humour and well, barefaced asininity.
Classic 80s horror film Children of The Corn also gets the blu-ray treatment this month. For the uninitiated, it is based on a characteristically dark Steven King short story and tells the tale of a small rural community where the adults are all dead and the children worship a malevolent force lurking in the corn fields surrounding the town. If some slasher action with creepy children is what you’re after for some strange reason, forget going to see Orphan in the cinema and book yourself a night on the sofa with Children of The Corn.
Big Trouble In Little China, the cult classic Kurt Russell film, also from the 80s is re-released too. It flopped in the cinemas, but made a killing on home video sales thanks to its humorous all-action plot, that in the day caused to Time magazine to gush: “Little China offers dollops of entertainment, but it is so stocked with canny references to other pictures that it suggests a master’s thesis that moves.” It still as good as it ever was.