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Catalog Blu-ray Releases

For December

November 29, 2012

With the month of December fast approaching, it’s time for our monthly column highlighting older and in some cases classic films making their debut on the high definition video format known as Blu-ray. Here is a look at what’s coming next month and there is quite a variety to behold.

Criterion is a company that has been in existence for well over two decades. Their specialty is issuing classic films with breathtaking video transfers and copious extras highlighting the creation of these films. This month Criterion continues their winning slate with several notable new releases. The December roster includes such films as director Rene Clement’s 1960 adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley entitled Purple Noon; director Jane Campion’s Portrait of a Lady; Terry Gilliam’s highly regarded 1985 satire Brazil and Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan’s debut film Following.

Twilight Time is a video distribution arm that has been licensing films for Blu-ray release from major studios that seem to have no interest in issuing them. Twilight Time’s previous offerings include the 1959 version of Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 1985 version of Fright Night. The catch is that Twilight Time’s offerings are generally limited to a 3,000-unit run, which means that when they’re gone folks, they’re really gone. Many of the company’s previous releases are now fetching high dollar amounts on Ebay so take this as fair warning. December will see Twilight Time issuing two cinematic remakes for your consumption, the 1980 version of The Blue Lagoon and the 1973 version of Lost Horizon, which incidentally features songs written by the legendary team of Burt Bachrach and the late Hal David. They will also be issuing the 1959 drama Beloved Infidel, an adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

Fright film fans are in store for some delights in December. First off, several notable horror films are being issued courtesy of the Scream Factory. The company is an offspring of Shout Factory and specializes in marketing special edition Blu-ray sets of films from the horror genre that have a cult following.

Dory & Nemo in Finding Nemo

In December the Scream Factory will be issuing director Michael Ritchie’s 1980 adaptation of the Peter Benchley novel The Island, starring Michael Caine. The company will also issue the 1982 fright flick and early 80s HBO staple Death Valley which stars Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story) and Paul Lemat (American Graffiti). Other notable horror/ sci-fi offerings from other companies during the month include Kino’s release of director Mario Bava’s 1972 fright flick Baron Blood, starring Elke Summer and Joseph Cotton and Echo Bridge’s release of Godzilla versus Biolante, one of the later and better in that series of films.

It is also worth noting that the previously mentioned distribution arm Shout Factory will be issuing the 1970 Paul Newman film Sometimes a Great Notion, before month’s end.

Disney will be issuing several films from its catalog during December. One is the holiday themed, 1961 version of Babes in Toyland starring Tommy Kirk, Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello. Another family favorite from Pixar, Finding Nemo, will also find its way to Blu-ray in both 2-D and 3-D versions and the company will issue the 1995 family oriented film Heavyweights, which features Ben Stiller among its cast. Through its Touchstone Pictures distribution arm the company will also issue the moving 1993 film, The Joy Luck Club a film that was in much need of an upgrade. The company’s 1990 Warren Beatty-directed, big screen adaptation of Dick Tracy will also get a high definition release before month’s end.

Victor Hugo’s oft-filmed novel Les Miserables is getting yet another adaptation this Christmas in the form of Tom Hooper’s star studded musical version. For those looking for a more straightforward telling of the classic tale, minus the singing and dancing, Sony Pictures will be reissuing its well-regarded 1998 version, directed by Bille August and starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.

Warner Brothers’ slate of Blu-ray releases are a bit slow for the month of December but at least one notable title is being issued by the company. The 1952 version of Hans Christian Andersen featuring Danny Kaye is being released as a disc with accompanying book. The company will however issue all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films through its New Line Cinema Subsidiary label.

Another notable film a about a real life figure, Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, which recounts the strange-but-true tale of Frank Abagnale, Jr., (Leonardo DiCaprio) a man who spent four years in prison for impersonating an airline pilot, is being issued by Paramount in December.

Finally, two unrelated films with cult followings will be issued during December. These are cult director David Cronenberg’s 1999 film Exitenz and the 1978 action film The Wild Geese which stars Roger Moore, Richard Burton and Richard Harris.

That’s it for the Blu-ray release list for the month for this month. Hope you find something that turns you on in a cinematic way and satisfies those on your wish list with a craving for movies.

Questions or comments? Filmfan1970@hotmail.com or find me on Facebook. Also, you can hear my weekly radio show, Cinemascene, on Fridays at 6pm on 88.3 FM WGWG or online at www.WGWG.org.


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