An interesting side effect of the pre-Oscar winter season is that retail shelves start to get packed with new releases of catalog films banking on the name recognition their stars are currently receiving thanks to fresh awards buzz. Been hearing a lot about Natalie Portman’s performance in Black Swan? Oh, hey, Closer is now on Blu-ray. Mark Whalberg is been taken seriously again thanks to The Fighter? Why not remember his goofy professional killer flick, The Big Hit? Sofia Coppola’s new film Somewhere is making waves? Here’s Lost in Translation on Blu-ray… You get the picture.
This means there’s a new rash of catalog films hitting Blu-ray, but unfortunately they’re mostly unceremonious releases that carry over the same feature set as previous DVDs and instead only offer new HD transfers. That’s not a terrible thing, but if you already own any of the catalog films out this week on DVD, the Blus aren’t exactly going to be screaming “BUY ME!”.
Top Shelf – Any elaborate collector’s editions or box sets.
Middle Shelf – Standard releases of fairly well known movies available at a reasonable price.
Bottom Shelf – Titles that are either A) suspiciously cheap or B) being released with very little fanfare.
The Movie: When a director swings for the fences like Christopher Nolan regularly does, the normal result is a film that is either instantly loved or hated, yet there’s far more middle ground on Inception than recent, high-profile blockbusters from auteur directors. There appears to be a lot of people who have a profound respect for Nolan’s ambition and style, but they fall short of embracing the film because of how high-concept, low-character the script is. And yet because they do acknowledge its technical mastery, it’s hard to actively dislike the film.
That in-between zone is a tough spot to be in and I think it’ll take a few years before there is a wider consensus as to whether or not Inception is an important entry to the sci-fi genre or if it’s just an interesting footnote in Nolan’s greater career. As it stands right now, I think that it will ultimately end up being an interesting talking point in his filmography, but that it falls just shy of being a new classic in the genre.
The Features: If you’re anything like me, the main thing you’ll want to dive into on an Inception Blu-ray will be the making-of features. Apparently the producers of this disc disagree, however, as they’ve made it kind of a pain to actually dive in. Most of the real goodies on the first disc are hidden inside of an “Extraction Mode” that’s intended to be watched concurrent with the movie (basically, it interrupts key points in the movie to play the corresponding making-of segment), and while it is possible to access each segment individually, it’s not ideal.
The second disc features a rather lengthy feature called Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious, but there’s not much in it that feels new or particularly insightful. It’s kind of like an Intro 101 on the psychology of dreams, which is great if you’re a freshman psych major, but for the rest of us you’ll probably pop it on for a few minutes and get about all you need from it.
Who Should Buy It: Those who out-and-out loved Inception on the big screen. Those of us who want to go a bit more behind-the-screen will probably be best served waiting for another, more comprehensive release down the line.
got a soft spot for this ’90s hitman flick, but even I can see that
it’s really not all that great of a movie. I imagine the only reason
it’s hitting Blu this week is to capitalize on the release of The Fighter.
Rhames, in a prison, fighting suckers. That’s about all you need to
know to know whether or not a straight-to-video movie called Caged Animals is up your alley.
I actually haven’t seen Guillermo del Toro’s breakthrough film, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about this Spanish-language twist on what it means to be a vampire. Now that it’s gotten the Criterion Collection treatment, however, I really should get around to catching up with it.