Blu-ray Releases For April & Goodbye, Roger Ebert
April 11, 2013
April is here, meaning it’s time for my monthly column highlighting films debuting on the high definition video format known as Blu-ray. While Spring is now currently springing forth, there is also much joy to be found on video shelves for movie fans. Here is a look at what’s coming this month. Hopefully you’ll find something to your liking.
Lionsgate will be issuing a double feature of romantic comedies from 2001, Kate and Leopold (***) and Serendipity (***), which star Meg Ryan and Kate Beckinsdale, respectively, while Criterion will be issuing a deluxe special edition of director David Cronenberg’s William S. Burroughs adaptation, Naked Lunch (** 1/2). Criterion will also be putting together special editions of the classic 1953 tale of unrequited love from Japan, Gate of Hell (not screened) and the 1984 cult film, Repo Man (***), which stars Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton.
Several high-caliber, award nominated films from late last year will be getting Blu-ray issues in April. These include The Impossible (****), Silver Linings Playbook (*** ½) and Django Unchained (*** ½). Another fairly well reviewed film from late last year, dealing with the effects of oil fracking on a small town, Promised Land (***), will also see the light of day on home video. One more end of year release that didn’t fare so well, Hyde Park on Hudson (not screened), will also hit shelves.
Many studios will be raiding their vaults in order to capitalize on high-profile movie releases that are soon to hit theaters. These include Universal’s decision to release all of the Fast and the Furious films on Blu-ray and Paramount’s choice to release all of its Star Trek films as well. I won’t try to review these films individually as there are simply too many but their releases are surely tied to the new Fast and Furious and Star Trek films due to hit theaters in May. Along the same lines, Warners will be issuing the ill-fated 1974 version of The Great Gatsby (not screened), no doubt tied to director Baz Luhrman’s version of the film, which hits theaters in late May.
Several not so memorable film releases from earlier this year will be hitting stores in April as well. These include Gangster Squad (**), Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D (* ½), Broken City (** ½) and A Haunted House (**). Also, Sopranos creator, David Chase’s big-screen debut, Not Fade Away (not screened), which was released wide in January to not much critical fanfare, will also hit shelves.
Fans of Barbra Streisand will have much to get excited about in April as three of her films, Funny Girl (***), Hello Dolly (**) and The Guilt Trip (**), will be available on video shelves by month’s end.
Shout Factory will also be busy in April as it plans to release the Jackie Chan films, Police Story 1 and 2 (***) in a single Blu-ray set. They will also issue one of director Quinten Tarantino’s favorites, the 1977 revenge thriller, Rolling Thunder (** ½). Before the month is out, the company’s subsidiary, Scream Factory, will also issue the 1970 cult horror film, The Vampire Lovers (***).
Various other things to look for in April include a video release of Jurassic Park 3-D (***), Tom Hanks’ directing debut from 1996, That Thing You Do (***) and a Warner Brothers release of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (** ½).
Before I sign off for this week, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of film critic Roger Ebert, who finally lost his courageous battle with cancer last week at the age of 70. Ebert began his professional life as a film critic and it was in that capacity that most of us knew him for many years, both on television and in print.
Roger Ebert in the 1970s
It was only after the passing of his television partner, Gene Siskel, that Ebert began to share some of the more personal parts of his life with his readers. After losing the ability to speak, eat and drink as a result of treatment for his cancer in 2006, Ebert became not only one of the most important voices in film criticism, but one of the most important celebrities involved in social networking. It was through his prolific blogs and tweets, not to mention his fantastic 2011 autobiography, that he allowed us to know him on a more personal level and share in his life’s struggles and joys.
I know I’ll miss his take on films but, more importantly, I’ll miss his compassionate and empathetic views on life just as much, if not more. His courage in the face of adversity, coupled with his willingness to not let calamitous events get in the way of life by making do with what one has, should give us all pause for thought. RIP Roger Ebert. You will be missed.
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