Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide: August 2

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Like the last edition, this Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide is going to be short. Only one title caught my attention this week. But it’s a good one (or at least I really hope it is).

Here’s my pick for August 2, 2016.

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GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) – An Empty Spirit with No Heart

Ghostbusters PosterWhen I came out of the theater after watching the new reboot of Ghostbusters, I had a very hard time deciding how I felt about it. It was funny…in parts. It was interesting…at times. But was it actually Ghostbusters?

The original Ghostbusters, released in 1984, is one of my favorite films of all time. I watch it at least once a year with my wife around Halloween. It’s a brilliant movie, and still hilarious. Not that anyone had to twist my arm, but I watched the original film a couple days before seeing this one so it was fresh in my mind. Director and co-writer Paul Feig made himself ripe for comparison by making a reboot of an almost-perfect comedy classic.

It took me a while to come to the conclusion that this new Ghostbusters is not good. The film is kind of funny in places, but it really lacks what made the original endearing, and comes across as a shallow cash-grab of a venerated film franchise. To paraphrase Ghostbusters‘ Dean Yeager from 1984, it’s humor can be the worst kind of popular tripe, the filmmakers’ methods were sloppy, and their conclusions were highly questionable.

In other words, definitely not Ghostbusters.

“I ain’t afraid of no SPOLIERS!”

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Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide: July 19

Here we are with the second edition of my Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide. As Boris the Hangman said in Blazing Saddles, “This one is a doozy!” However, it’s not due to a plethora of new releases. It’s just one release with multiple editions.

Here are my pics for July 19, 2016.

BvS RegularBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition)
Warner Bros.
Written by Chris Terrio
Based on characters appearing in DC Comics
Directed by Zack Snyder

While it had its problems, I very much liked Zack Snyder’s approach to Superman in Man of Steel. It was an interesting take on a character I’ve known all my life. His follow-up, Batman v Superman, was a little less interesting, however. There were a lot of problems – problems I just couldn’t avoid. But there was a still a lot to like about the movie. I even like where the story ended up at the end.

This “Ultimate Edition” is a director’s cut – putting about 30 minutes of footage back into the film. I’m hoping that this additional footage fleshes out some of the gaps in logic I witnessed in the theater. Judging by the early reviews, it indeed looks like that’s the case. Each of these editions comes with both versions of the film.

Amazon: Includes collectible statues of Batman or Superman (you have to choose either one or, if you want both, buy the movie twice).

Best Buy: Two different versions – one that includes a “best of” Batman/Superman comic book, and another that’s just a SteelBook edition.

Target

Target: Digibook packaging with exclusive 64-page excerpt from “making-of” book.

My Pick: Since there’s no difference in actual bonus content in any of these releases, I’m going to have to go with the Best Buy SteelBook edition. I don’t much care for overpriced statues (seriously…$116 for a movie?), and I’d rather have the whole book if I’m going to get a “making-of” volume. The comic doesn’t really interest me that much, either. Besides, I have Man of Steel in SteelBook, and I have to admit that I’m one of those anal-retentive nerds who would prefer that all the movies in a series match on my shelf.

Other Notable Releases

Night and FogNight and Fog (Criterion Collection)
Argos Films
Narrated by Michel Bouquet
Written by Jean Caryol
Directed by Alain Resnais

There have been a few films of note that have been made about the Holocaust. It seems that everyone’s go-to film about this horrific event is Schindler’s List, and rightfully so. It’s a wonderful film for what it is. However, for a bare-bones, undramatized, unflinching look at the horror of the Holocaust, this 32-minute documentary from 1955 is what to see.

I watched Night and Fog for the first time fairly recently on TCM, and it stayed with me for days after. It’s succinct in its storytelling and uncompromising in its images. The film is a brilliant retelling of the entire story of Hitler’s “final solution” – from the rise of the Nazi Party to the liberation of the concentration camps. The graphic footage, captured by the Allies upon the discovery of the Auschwitz concentration camp, may be too much for some. But it is a visceral reminder of the evil of which man is capable.

Being a student of history (especially the World War II era), this film is definitely going on my shelf. Criterion always does a great job with their releases, so I’m sure this one will be no different.

That’s it for this edition of Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide. Happy hunting!

John Wayne’s America

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July 4 is both a day to celebrate and reflect. The fireworks displays are always amazing, and the barbecues are good ways to fellowship with people and enjoy some awesome food. But I also pause on July 4 to remember the sacrifices of those men in Philadelphia in 1776. Most of us will never realize just how much those men put on the line for their freedom – risking everything for a dream, and relying on the providence of God to see them through it.

This is a great country. America is a a miracle – an anomaly in a world besieged by dictators, plutocracies, kings and tyrants. Today more than ever, Americans need to be reminded of the greatness of their land.

JohnWayne

My recent review of The Searchers caused me to think of a simple piece of patriotic audio. In the 1970s, John Wayne – one of the biggest icons of American culture – recited a simple poem that reflects both the physical beauty and the ideological courage that makes America what it is.

Happy Independence Day, and God bless America.

Reviewing the Classics: THE SEARCHERS

searchersI love a good western. It is the quintessential American genre. A portrait of ourselves at both our most noble and most despicable. A genre of selfless heroes and terrible villains. A showcase of the American landscape, as seen by the men and women who first braved to cross it – full of wonder and awe.

There is no better western than The Searchers.

Sixty years ago this year, The Searchers made its debut and forever changed the western – even though it was tepidly received upon its initial release. Today it is revered by casual filmgoers, critics and filmmakers as one of the most important films of all time. It is one of director John Ford’s best films and arguably star John Wayne’s best performance of his career.

The film follows a former Confederate soldier, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), and his kinsman, Martin Pauley (Jeffrey Hunter), as they brave obstacles (natural and unnatural) and the slow passage of time to attempt to find a member of their family kidnapped by the Comanche Indians. The journey becomes an unhealthy obsession, as Ethan’s quest to find his niece Debbie slowly devolves into  vengeance-fueled madness.

The Searchers has influenced many filmmakers in the six decades since its debut. Legendary director Martin Scorsese has often cited The Searchers as one of his favorite films, and has talked extensively on the film. Its staying power is derived from its themes and characterizations. The film has a lot to say about thematic concepts that are just as relevant to today’s world.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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