Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 2/17/15

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but as a few of today's new releases on Blu ray and DVD are notable Oscar-wise, I thought I'd give it another go.

First up, there's Alejandro González Iñárritu's BIRDMAN, which is going neck and neck with Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD in the Best Picture race right now. Whichever film takes home that coveted Academy Award next Sunday night, Michael Keaton deserves to win Best Actor for his dual role as actor Riggan Thompson and his alter ego, his gravelly voiced inner Birdman. Edward Norton and Emma Stone also received nominations, as did cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for his amazing camerawork that captured the narrative in extremely immersive extended takes. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely one to catch up with before this Sunday. Available in both single disc Blu ray and DVD editions. Read my review from last October.

Special Features: A 33 minute behind the scenes featurette entitled “Birdman: All Access” (subtitled “A View from the Wings”), A Conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (14 min.), and Gallery: Chivo's On Set Photography (3 and a half min.)

Another Best Picture nominee, James Marsh's Stephen Hawking biopic THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, which I hope doesn't win anything, drops today in 2-disc Blu ray and single disc DVD sets. Don't get me wrong, Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones as his wife Jane (whose book the film is based on) put in performances that are charmingly solid, but the film itself a bland piece of Oscar bait. Special Features: Commentary by Marsh, Deleted Scenes, and a 7 minute featurette (“Becoming the Hawkins”).

Bill Murray's turn as the title character in Theodore Melfi's ST. VINCENT (not to be confused with the art rock singer/songwriter) didn't get an Oscar nomination, but it's a likable lark nonetheless (my review). Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts also star in the comedy drama about Murray's schlubby, boozing Brooklynite befriending his 12-year old neighbor (Jaeden Lieberher). Special Features: An almost 20 minute featurette, “Bill Murray Is St. Vincent: The Patron Saint of Comedy,” consisting of the Q&A session from the Toronto International Film Festival with Writer/Director Melfi, Murray, McCarthy, Watts, Chris O'Dowd, and Lieberher; and a bunch of brief deleted scenes.

It was a real surprise to me that Steve James' excellent Roger Ebert biodoc LIFE ITSELF (my #3 film of the year) wasn't nominated for Best Documentary, but that shouldn't stop the film from making lots of new fans as it releases today in both single disc Blu ray and DVD editions (it's also available for digital download on all major online platforms, including AmazoniTunes, Youtube, and Google Play). Read my review from its theatrical release last summer). Special features: Over 20 minutes of deleted scenes (essential viewing for Ebert fans), an almost 11 minute interview with director James, “AXS-TV: A Look at LIFE ITSELF (2 min.), the Sundance Tribute from when Ebert posthumously received the Sundance Vanguard Award in June 2013 (7 min.). Those last two bits of bonus material have a lot of shared footage with the actual film so they're less essential. 

Also out on Blu ray/DVD this week: Tommy Lee Jones' weird Western THE HOMESMAN,
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's killing Kim Jong-un action-comedy THE INTERVIEW (doesn't the controversy over this look even sillier now?), the Farrelly Brothers' 10 years in the making (not really) sequel DUMB AND DUMBER TO, and Paul Schrader's horrible Nicholas Cage thriller DYING OF THE LIGHT (I've seen it and yes, the 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes doesn't lie).

More later...

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