This is not the greatest week for new releases. In fact, aside from a couple of good choices, this week quickly turns into one huge disappointment. Let’s start with the good and work our way down.
- Seven Psychopaths (2012): From director Martin McDonagh comes this dark comedy about a screenwriter named Marty (Colin Farrell) who gets involved with a gangster (Woody Harrelson), after Marty’s friends steal the gangster’s dog in order to collect a reward. Although the initial plot may sound crazy, “Seven Psychopaths” has earned positive reviews for being an entertaining and extremely funny film. Director Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell previously worked together on “In Burges” (2008), another dark comedy that is definitely worth checking out. “Seven Psychopaths” also stars Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Olga Kurylenko, Tom Waits and Abbie Cornish as the other five psychopaths.
- Hotel Transylvania (2012): What if all of our favorite horror villains needed a place to get away from the commotion of scaring everyone? Where would they go? Your answer: “Hotel Transylvania”. This animated tale tells the story of hotel owner and manager, Dracula. He is preparing to throw his daughter a 118th birthday party, with the who’s who of the monster world invited, until a 21 year old human shows up, threatening to spoil everything. Now Dracula has to prevent his daughter from falling in love with a human. “Hotel Transylvania” is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and includes the voice talents of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher, David Spade and Jon Lovitz.
- White Zombie (1932): In today’s world there are only minor delays between new zombie films. They are extremely popular, and most of them prove to be financially successful as well, but before they could grow into a genre of their own there had to be an original. “White Zombie” (1932), starring the great Bela Lugosi, is the first ever full length zombie film. From Kino Classics, this breakthrough film tells the story of a young woman (Madge Bellamy) who is taken by a voodoo master and transformed into a zombie.
- The Duellists (1977): Before he made “Blade Runner” (1982), even before “Alien” (1979), Ridley Scott directed… “The Duellists”. Alright, so it isn’t that dramatic, but it is still the directorial debut of one of the most popular directors of his generation. This film takes place in the early 1800′s and revolves around two French soldiers (Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine) who take every available opportunity to duel. Their fights become more sporadic as they both become entangled in the ongoing Napolionic Wars, but somehow they still manage to find time to hate one another. This film is making its blu-ray debut this week, and also stars Albert Finney and Cristina Rains.
- That Obscure Object of Desire (1977): This is the final film of legendary director Luis Bunuel, and revolves around the love of a middle aged Frenchman and a young attractive flamenco dancer. Nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film as well as Best Adapted Screenplay, this highly acclaimed film has been extremely hard to find over the years, and is a welcomed addition to any blu-ray collection.
- Paranormal Activity 4 (2012): Considered by far to be the worst of the “Paranormal Activity” films, this fourth installment brings back the star from the first film, Katie Featherston, but there is nothing she can do to save this film. Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, “Paranormal Activity 4″ has earned some of the worst reviews I have seen, and appears to be easily forgettable; and we all know that’s not what you want in a horror film.
- Best of Warner Brothers Collections (1932-2010): And then this week we have two enormous home movie collections from one of the greatest studios of all time, but of course they have made every possible mistake with these sets and movie fans are left with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. Warner Brothers is releasing a 100 film DVD collection and a 50 film blu-ray collection, but unfortunately they seemed to have forgotten what films are considered Warner Brothers films. Just because they own the rights now, doesn’t mean they can take credit its creation. “Grand Hotel” (1932), “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1935), “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), “Gone with the Wind” (1939), “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) are not Warner Brothers movies. Also, with having such an immense and prolific history, one would think that WB would be more inclined to celebrate the highlights from their own illustrious studio, and not the achievements from everyone else. Could they not find 50 or 100 films of their own? Truthfully, the 100 DVD set does a much better job than the blu-ray collection, which seems to have left out some of WB biggest stars (like Bette Davis and James Cagney) completely. Both sets offer plenty of great films, but they seem to be mixed with less than brilliant films as well. Does “The Bodyguard” (1992), “Risky Business” (1983) or “The Blind Side” (2009) really belong in a 50 “best of” collection? In the end, these misguided box-sets don’t make us ooh and awe, but rather leave us completely underwhelmed. I could sit here and list all the films in this collection, but its really rather unnecessary. You can see a complete list of films on amazon, or you can just look at your own DVD or blu-ray collection and you will probably see most of these films already sitting there.