HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-ray Review: Six Chilling Tales in Fantastic ‘The Vincent Price Collection’

The Pit and the Pendulum

CHICAGO – Scream Factory continues to impress with one of the most essential box sets of 2013 for horror fans — “The Vincent Price Collection,” featuring complete remasters of six of the legendary actor’s most beloved films along with hours of archival and new special features. The bonus material is cool but, as with a lot of these Scream Factory releases, it’s the HD remastering that is truly breathtaking. I don’t believe “The Pit and the Pendulum” looked this well-mixed in terms of color and shadow when it was released fifty years ago. It’s a great holiday season option for horror fans.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Monsters University’ Offers Clever Family Fun

Monsters University

CHICAGO – In an incredibly weak time for feature animation (since the glory of 2010, it’s been pretty dark out there), Pixar’s “Monsters University” has enough personality and genuine humor to stand out from its generic competition. It also helps the film’s quest for another Pixar Oscar for Best Animated Film that the recently-released Blu-ray is a gem, loaded with special features and including a spectacula HD transfer. It falls between the amazing “Toy Story 3” and the awful “Cars 2” on the Pixar spectrum but it’s still a good time and will make a lovely holiday season gift.

Blu-ray Review: Antonioni’s ‘La Notte’ Joins Criterion Collection

La Notte

CHICAGO – 1961’s “La Notte” helped build Michelango Antonioni’s international reputation after the success of “L’avventura” and lifted stars Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau to an arthouse plateau. The film hasn’t aged as well as some of Antonioni’s best, in my opinion, although the 4K restoration on the new Criterion Blu-ray certainly helps one appreciate the visual compositions of its incredibly influential director. The release is a bit slight on supplemental material but fans of the filmmaker or star will simply be happy to have one of his more notable works in HD.

What to Watch: Nov. 3-9, 2013

Lovelace

CHICAGO – Another week of a hodge podge of new Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that we call What to Watch. Looking for something new? Something very old? Something rare? Something from TV? There’s a little bit of everything and even a story about porn too. Check it out, ranked in how interesting I find them.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Remasters Five of Cassavetes’ Best

Criterion Cassavetes

CHICAGO – It’s rare that I feel comfortable using this kind of hyperbole in a Blu-ray review but here it goes — having watched it again on Criterion Blu-ray, after not seeing it in years, I’m more convinced than ever that John Cassavetes’ “A Woman Under the Influence” is one of the best films ever made. Maybe it’s because I’m older now and have a family of my own, but my most recent viewing of this masterpiece was heartwrenching in a totally different way. It’s stunning.

Blu-ray Review: Striking Honesty of Brilliant ‘Before Midnight’

Before Midnight

CHICAGO – As the excellent year in film winds to a close, I’m going to be writing a lot about a drama I saw almost ten months ago in Park City, Utah, and is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming services — the amazing “Before Midnight.” Building on the romantic foundation of “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset,” Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, & Julie Delpy examine the truth of what happens after the grand gestures of romance we often see in cinema. It’s a masterpiece, a film that deserves comparison with the work of John Cassavetes in the way it captures pain, beauty, regret, and love in the same moment. There are a few weeks left but it’s still my choice for the best film of the year.

What to Watch: Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2013

The Heat

CHICAGO – There are a few major comedies on New Releases shelves this week along with some interesting, smaller films and one of the most anticipated TV shows of 2013. What options are new in the world of Blu-ray, DVD, streaming and digital TV providers? Some of the most interesting and most unbearable comeedies of the year hit your home viewing radar. Here’s how to rank them from ha-ha to hateful.

Blu-ray Review: Modern Horror Doesn’t Get Much Better Than ‘The Conjuring’

Conjuring, The

CHICAGO – James Wan’s “The Conjuring” is such a remarkable leap forward from the director of “Saw” and “Insidious.” I’ve always thought that Wan was talented but his use of sound, music, and forced perspective in this brilliant horror flick immediately propels him to the top of the list for the best genre directors. He’s reportedly leaving horror behind after this mega-hit ($300 million worldwide) behind (he’s filming “Fast & Furious 7” now). The genre will miss him but it’s understandable that he probably thinks he can’t top this truly great movie.

Blu-ray Review: Sweet, Sentimental ‘The Way, Way Back’

The Way, Way Back

CHICAGO – “The Way, Way Back” made a solid $21 million domestically but I kind of expected it to be an even bigger hit when I saw it back in January at the Sundance Film Festival. I saw several dozen films at this year’s fest and nothing produced a response like Nat Faxon & Jim Rash’s sweet, sentimental comedy. The audience I saw it with LOVED it. And now that it’s on Blu-ray and DVD, I expect it to reach an even bigger audience through word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s a fun, clever movie with some great performances, including a supporting turn by Sam Rockwell that stands with the best of the year.

Blu-ray Review: Wasteful Style of Boring ‘Only God Forgives’

Only God Forgives

CHICAGO – Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” made perfect use of its director’s ultra-stylized, hyper-violent aesthetic in that it became a commentary on the superficial world of moviemaking and crime and the place that they often intersect. It’s a great film. On the other end of the spectrum is Refn’s follow-up, a film that’s practically a quasi-sequel in that it again features Ryan Gosling as a stolid, nearly-silent hero. However, the end result couldn’t be different in terms of quality. Not only does “OGF” get buried in its style but it loses all semblance of anything worth giving a damn about at all. I don’t mind movies that are overly stylish. In fact, I often defend them. But there’s no defending something this boring.

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