HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Reviews

What to Watch: Jan. 14-27, 2014

Enough Said

We’re breaking form this week and going alphabetical instead of preference order because of the INCREDIBLE diversity of product available for you to rent, buy, or stream over the next ten days. How does someone really compare “Sunrise” to “You’re Next”? Why bother?

Blu-ray Review: Neon Brilliance of Michael Mann’s Influential ‘Thief’

Thief

Michael Mann’s “Thief” is a crime movie that’s more about the criminal than his illegal acts. It’s about a man who has been torn down to nothing who slowly puts pieces back into his life, like a love affair and a family, only to learn that he has to give all of them up for his own safety. It’s a fascinating film, stunning in its technical acumen and with stellar performances from James Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Robert Prosky (making his film debut). It’s also a great inclusion in The Criterion Collection, perfectly remastered and with some interesting interview insights.

What to Watch: Jan. 7-13, 2014

We Are What We Are

What a great start to the year. We’ve got hot stars, big hit TV shows, an indie horror flick that you really must see, an Oscar winner, and two from a legend. Pick your favorites to start 2014. Here’s how I’d rank ‘em…

Blu-ray Review: Spend New Year’s with the Beales of ‘Grey Gardens’

Grey Gardens

Do you think Albert and David Maysles knew they were creating not just a documentary but launching cultural icons when they filmed the mesmerizing “Grey Gardens,” now available in a Criterion Blu-ray edition? The film about “Little Edie” and “Big Edie,” relatives of American royalty in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, became a cult phenomenon, inspiring a follow-up (which is included in this release), an award-winning fictionalized version of their story with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, and even a full-length musical.

Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Set For Altman’s Beloved ‘Nashville’

Nashville

When I expressed excitement over the fact that Robert Altman’s stunning “Nashville” was being released in a Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition a few months back, a colleague asked me why I loved the film and I had trouble verbalizing my feelings about Altman’s sprawling, brilliant tapestry of characters. Watching the excellent new documentary about the making-of the film on the Criterion release makes it clear that I’m not alone.

What to Watch: Dec. 17-31, 2013

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

And so 2013 ends with one final What to Watch to carry you through to 2014. Have some gift card money burning a hole in your wallet? Want something to stream while your family bickers over the holiday? Just need a break from it all? Here are the latest and greatest new releases, listed in the order we’d put ‘em on an Amazon wish list.

Blu-ray Review: Great Release of ‘Mary Poppins’ Tied to ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Mary Poppins

Disney knows how to cross-promote better than anyone in the business. With “Saving Mr. Banks” hitting theaters and earning Oscar buzz for Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, it makes total sense to re-release “Mary Poppins” on Blu-ray. If you’re not familiar, “Banks” is the story of the making of “Poppins” and fans of the new film will love the opportunity to check out what resulted from this mostly true story.

Blu-ray Review: Fascinating Satire of ‘Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion’

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Elio Petri’s “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and Grand Prize at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, has been inducted into the Criterion Collection, the most important series of Blu-ray releases on the market. This is such a unique, bizarre film, one that I wasn’t familiar with until this release, which continues to prove that Criterion isn’t just a great company for known classics like Robert Altman’s “Nashville” but some films that may have fallen through the cracks of cinema history as well.

Blu-ray Review: Riveting ‘Prisoners’ Connects Even on Repeat Viewing

Prisoners

Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” seems to have been lost in the awards season conversation and that’s a shame. Not only is Richard Deakins’ cinematography some of the best in his career but Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman’s emotional work here deserves more credit than it’s been getting. Newly released on a gorgeous Blu-ray (with, sadly, scant special features), “Prisoners” is the kind of adult drama that seems certain to pick up more fans on the home market. It’s really worth your time.

What to Watch: Dec. 10-16, 2013

Argo

What to Watch prides itself on often offering a wide variety of material from TV seasons to On Demand exclusives to remasters of classic flicks. Not this week. All six of the New Releases that you may be drawn to in your favorite store or on your favorite service are movies, and all released in the last 18 months. But the variety within those movies is remarkable. A Best Picture winner, action flicks, a superhero, and two indie drams that waste talented casts. Pick your favorites. Here’s how we would rank ‘em.

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