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February Blu-ray Releases

February 7, 2013

February is here and it’s time for our monthly column highlighting films making their debut on the high definition video format known as Blu-ray. Here is a look at what’s coming this month and there is quite a variety to behold.

The 1972 winner of eight Academy Awards, director Bob Fosse’s Cabaret (***), is getting a frame by frame restoration courtesy of Warner Brothers, just in time for its 41st anniversary. The new transfer is a joy to behold and will certainly please fans of the film and I’m sure there are many. Other notable releases from Warners during the month of February include the 1976 version of A Star is Born (** ½), the Oscar nominated 2012 film, Argo (*** ½), writer-director Christopher Guest’s 2000 mockumentary involving a dog show, Best in Show (***), and the classic musical Easter Parade (***).

Paramount has a typically light slate for the month of February. Their releases include the 2012 Oscar nominee Flight (*** ½), which features a knockout performance by Denzel Washington as an airline pilot struggling with substance abuse; the recent release Fun Size (not screened) and a 3-D version of the classic 80s action film Top Gun (** ½).

Mike & Sulley, Monsters, Inc., coming

Fox Home Video has a fairly interesting crop of films slated for release during February. These include—via their distribution deal with MGM/UA—the latest James Bond entry Skyfall (***) and several individual releases of older Bond titles which including Goldeneye (***), The Living Daylights (***), You Only Live Twice (***), Octopussy (*** ½), and a double feature of Quantum of Solace (**) and the 2006 version of Casino Royale (*** ½). Fox will also be issuing director Otto Preminger’s classic mystery Laura (***) and the 2012 Oscar nominee, The Sessions (** ½).

The Walt Disney Company will be offering movie fans varied titles during the month of February. These include the animated films, Peter Pan (***) and Monsters Inc. (***), as well as director Michael Mann’s searing 1999 film about the man (Russell Crowe) who blew the whistle on the tobacco companies, The Insider (*** ½).

Independent distributor Olive Films has been licensing the rights to films that the major studios have not seen fit to release for one reason or another. They will continue to do just that by offering such films in February as the 1987 cult favorite The Monster Squad (***), the once in a lifetime teaming of Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr, She Devil (not screened) and the 1984 Ryan O’ Neil-Shelley Long pairing Irreconcilable Differences (** ½), which concerns a child who decides to divorce her parents. Olive will also be issuing That Cold Day in the Park (not screened), which is an early effort from revered director Robert Altman and released in 1969. The plot concerns the mysterious goings on of a spinster (Sandy Dennis) who has her sights set on a youth she chances to meet on a park bench.

Twilight Films released the spy spoof Our Man Flint (***), last month. The film, which stars James Coburn as super spy Derek Flint, also has a sequel and Twilight will be releasing that sequel In Like Flint (***), in February. Both of the Flint films are limited pressings so get ‘em while you can.

Rod Steiger & Marlon Brando in ‘Waterfront’

Universal has in the past months been very prolific in terms of releasing product from their back catalogue. They seemed to have slowed down a bit this month, as they will only be issuing the Tarantino-produced kung fu flick The Man With the Iron Fists (not screened).

Scream Factory, an offshoot of indie distributor Shout Factory, specializing in the release of cult horror films, have at least three interesting titles on their February menu. These include a pairing of the 1986 film, Terrorvision (not screened), with The Video Dead (not screened). Actress Mary Woronov, who appears in Terrorvision, told me during her interview for Focus that she has a deep affection for the film so perhaps that’s a good sign. Scream Factory will also be issuing the Roger Corman-produced take on giant cockroaches run amok from 1988, The Nest (** ½) and the 1988 haunted prison film, Prison (** ½), directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger).

The following titles I’ll just file under the miscellaneous listing. These include a deluxe, special edition release of On the Waterfront (*** ½), courtesy of Criterion; last year’s Celeste and Jesse Forever (**), which is a more of a showcase for star and co-writer Rashida Jones than anything else; the incredibly overrated and just plain strange foreign film Holy Motors (* 1/2); the 1970 horror anthology from Hammer studios, The House that Dripped Blood (***); the infamous and so-bad-it’s good 1971 film, Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (no stars); Alex Cross (not screened), the film where Tyler Perry plays a detective and refrains from wearing a dress for the duration of the film; and last fall’s celebrated film The Perks of Being a Wallflower (***) starring Emma Watson.

That’s it for this month’s look at what will be hitting video shelves. Hope you find something worth seeking out.

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