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Blu-ray Releases In January 2013

January 10, 2013

With January already here, it’s time for our monthly look at what’s coming down the pike on Blu-ray. In the past, I’ve tended to accentuate the catalogue title releases, but beginning this month, and continuing once a month throughout the year, I’ll not only include the older titles but will also make mention of the newer films. Without further introductions here are some of the highlights of what you’ll find on Blu-ray this month, along with my ratings of the films.

In terms of recent film releases, there are quite a few worth noting that will be making their disc debuts. Tim Burton’s animated film, Frankenweenie (***), a feature length version of one of his early short films, will make its appearance along with the excellent cop film, End of Watch (*** ½); the Liam Neeson sequel, Taken 2 (**); Nicole Kidman’s recent film, The Paperboy (not screened); Woody Allen’s latest ensemble film, To Rome With Love (**); the made for HBO dramatization of the 2008 presidential campaign, Game Change (*** ½); and Seven Psychopaths (** ½), the second film from, Martin McDonagh, the creator of the Oscar nominated 2008 film In Bruges.

Speaking of Woody Allen, two films from distinctly different periods in his career will be making their debut on Blu-ray. First there is Sleeper (***), a film from his earlier comedic period wherein Allen plays a character who awakens 200 years into the future; Diane Keaton co-stars.

James Coburn in In Like Flint - now on Blu-ray

The other film is Hannah and Her Sisters (*** ½), a tale of the romantic woes of four sisters, following the characters from one Thanksgiving to the next. The film was one of the director’s early forays into ensemble filmmaking and resulted in Michael Caine netting an Oscar for his performance in the film.

With all of the hoopla surrounding the 2012 release of the musical version of Les Miserables, it’s interesting to note that the 1958 non-musical version of Les Miserables (** ½) will be making an appearance on disc during the month. The film, which runs 210 minutes and is often shown in two parts, stars Jean Gabin as Jean Valjean and is a French-German co-production.

The 1976 adaptation of Nicholas Meyer’s novel The Seven Percent Solution (***), a speculation about what happens when Sigmund Freud and Sherlock Holmes team up, is a wonderfully acted film with multitudes of fans. It’s also well directed by Herbert Ross (Steel Magnolias).

The controversial 1979 foreign film Oscar winner The Tin Drum (***), will be getting an upgrade courtesy of Criterion. The fantasy film tells the story of a boy who physically ceases to grow when the Nazis take over, all the while banging out his frustrations on his drum.

Four films from the early days of Hollywood will also be going hi-def during the month. The Jazz Singer, from 1927 (** ½), is well known as the first talking picture although only a small portion of the film actually contains sound. The plot of the film, which stars Al Jolson, concerns itself with the tensions between a cantor (Jolson) and his son when the son decides to become an entertainer. Another release is the 1932 film Grand Hotel (***), which features an all-star cast in a soap opera type plot set in a Berlin hotel. It was remade many times and eventually became a musical. The 1941 film How Green Was My Valley (** ½), a film that infamously beat out Citizen Kane in the Oscar race for best picture, will be issued by Fox. Finally, the original 1934 version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (***) will be getting the deluxe treatment courtesy of Criterion.
For horror and suspense film fans there are plenty of options during the month. Lionsgate will be issuing a 30th anniversary edition of the Stephen King adaptation Cujo (***), while Universal will be issuing the original 1962 version of Cape Fear (***) in which Robert Mitchum goes after the attorney (Gregory Peck) who withheld evidence, resulting in Mitchum’s character’s incarceration. It was remade—and improved upon—by Martin Scorsese in 1991. Universal will also issue the 1996 thriller Fear (***). The film stars Mark Wahlberg as the obsessed boyfriend of Reese Witherspoon who will stop at nothing to be with her. Scream Factory will be issuing director Wes Craven’s horror tale of a religious cult Deadly Blessing (** ½), in a deluxe edition. The film stars Ernest Borgnine and Sharon Stone. Finally, Twilight Time will be issuing Blake Edwards’ 1962 thriller Experiment in Terror, in which bank teller Lee Remick is terrorized by extortionist Ross Martin.

Two notable action films will be appearing on Blu-ray in January. First, Twilight Time will be issuing the action-packed spy spoof Our Man Flint (***). The film stars James Coburn in the lead and spawned a sequel In Like Flint, which will be issued next month. Also, Criterion will be issuing the car-chase film Two Lane Blacktop (***), which stars singer James Taylor in his only starring role. Dennis Wilson, the drummer for The Beach Boys, and Warren Oates also star.

Finally, a number of critical favorites will be appearing for the first time in hi-def before month’s end. These include director Ridley Scott’s first film The Duelists (***), which stars Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine as dueling military officers. Also appearing will be Gentleman’s Agreement (***), director Elia Kazan’s 1947 adaptation of Laura Z. Hobson’s novel. Warners will be issuing the 1989 Oscar winner for Best Picture, Driving Miss Daisy (*** ½), while Lionsgate will issue iconic director Luis Bunuel’s final film from 1977, That Obscure Object of Desire (*** 1/2).

That’s it for this month. Hope you find something to your liking.

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