If you couldn’t tell by the movies we decided to headline with, this week marked another round of less than stellar new releases on home video. Thankfully, it was somewhat saved again by a handful of worthy re-releases. See below for the full list!
Who better than teen sensation and pop culture idol Miley Cyrus to play the lead in a coming-of-age movie titled LOL, a remake of the 2008 French film of the same name? Directed by Lisa Azuelos, who also helmed the original, LOL follows a few months in the life of high schooler Lola, which includes a lot of relationship drama and a trip to Paris, interspersed with a few tender parent-daughter moments. The movie wasn’t screened for critics, and it quietly slipped in and out of theaters back in March, so there aren’t many reviews available for it. In other words, it’s probably only a safe bet for tweens who are already fans of Ms. Cyrus.
According to most, ATM is a pretty good example of what can happen to an acceptable idea when it is both poorly written and poorly executed. The story revolves around a trio of friends (Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty) on their way home from a Christmas party who decide to stop at an ATM, only to be terrorized by a violent man in a parka outside the booth. Unfortunately for screenwriter Chris Sparling, who found success with a similarly claustrophobic thriller when he penned 2010’s Buried, critics felt the gaps in logic in ATM were just too large and too many to be forgivable, earning first-time director David Brooks a 10% Tomatometer debut.
Leave it to the critically acclaimed foreign language film hitting shelves this week to raise the Tomatometer average of all the new releases. Directed by two-time Oscar nominated Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki, Le Havre tells the story of a young illegal African immigrant named Idrissa and the humble shoeshiner (Andre Wilms) who befriends him and helps him to evade police custody in the titular French port city. As is Kaurismaki’s trademark, the film is sad but sweet, uplifting, and peppered with deadpan humor, and it’s earned a Certified Fresh 99% on the Tomatometer. As they are wont to do every once in a while, Criterion has chosen to tackle the first home release of Le Havre, complete with special features like footage from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and an interview with Wilms.
Paul Verhoeven may never live Showgirls down, but we’ll always remember him for classics like RoboCop and this endlessly quotable, widely beloved Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner. Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Total Recall is a futuristic conspiracy thriller in which an ordinary man named Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger) who dreams of Mars decides to visit a company that specializes in virtual vacations via implanted false memories. When Quaid goes under for the procedure, it triggers a violent reaction, and soon he’s on the run to discover his true identity. Full of fast-paced action, wild twists, and one-liners to spare, Total Recall sports a Certified Fresh 83%, and with the remake opening this week, Lionsgate is releasing a Mind-Bending Edition on Blu-ray that includes audio commentary and a couple of making-of featurettes that previous HD releases lacked.
Jean Renoir’s 1937 masterpiece isn’t just a prison escape movie; it’s also an examination of the waning power of the aristocracy and a bold antiwar statement, and for this, La Grande Illusion was both banned in France prior to World War II and the first foreign film to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The story focuses on a pair of French pilots who are taken prisoner in Germany during World War I and who forge a delicate and complicated friendship with the man who shot them down; after an initial escape attempt is foiled by prison transfers, a second attempt is eventually made, with harrowing consequences for all. Since The Criterion Collection never released a Blu-ray version of the film, Lionsgate and StudioCanal are doing so this week with some nice extras, like featurettes about Renoir himself, the preservation of the original film, and its historical significance.
Possibly in honor of the 50th anniversary of her death (August 5th, 1962), 20th Century Fox is releasing new editions of several of Marilyn Monroe’s most memorable films this week. These are headlined by Blu-ray versions of titles from her 1950s heyday like How to Marry a Millionaire (which also featured Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall), Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and of course, Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch. In addition, we’re also getting Blu-rays for There’s No Business Like Show Business and Otto Preminger’s River of No Return, as well as a collection called “Forever Marilyn” that includes Millionaire, Blondes, Itch, and the big one that’s curiously missing from the list of new individual HD releases: Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot. In other words, if you’re a fan of Ms. Norma Jeane, this week is for you.