Mid-June kicks off with fantastic new 25th Anniversary 4K SteelBook editions of two of the most popular movies ever, Gladiator and Braveheart. In Gladiator, Russell Crowe plays Maximus, a powerful Roman general who is stripped of his rank by a new Emperor, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and condemned to fight in the gladiator games until his death. But Maximus is determined to rise as the best gladiator alive so he can find a way to get revenge on the Emperor.
Braveheart is the story of William Wallace (Mel Gibson), a Scottish rebel who leads and uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan) who wants Scotland for his own. Wallace’s following grows as he becomes something of a living legend, inspiring the country to rise with him and fulfill the quest to make Scotland free once and for all.
Both Gladiator and Braveheart arrive in these 4K special editions with absolutely beautifully designed new Steelbook presentations. The art is striking and the package for both movies contain the movies in 4K, and Blu-ray, plus a disc of special features. Gladiator also included both the theatrical and Extended editions on both formats. The movies are modern classics for a reason. Although Braveheart takes some liberties with history, it is a sweeping, action packed epic full of stunning photography and solid performances across the board. The same can be said for Gladiator, with even more impressive performances, a powerhouse performance by Crowe, jaw dropping CG effects to bring ancient Rome to live, and gigantic action set pieces. Both of these movies have been out many times before, but if you are a hardcore fan, the new package design on these 25th Anniversary SteelBook editions are a must have.
Next up is a new documentary, What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael. The film delves into the life and influence of New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, who was an outspoken critic for over 25 years. Her unique perspective and writing style pioneered the art form of film criticism and was powered by her unstoppable determination, confidence and her love for the arts. The films of the 20th Century are also seen through her eyes as the film covers Kael’s life and struggles as she grows with the film industry. Kael’s importance and influence are examined through over 30 interviews with the likes of David O. Russell, Quentin Tarantino, Camille Paglia, Molly Haskell, Alec Baldwin Greil Marcus, Paul Schrader, John Guare and more.
Any movie fan out there really should check out What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael. It is a fascinating journey through film from a new perspective and one that is often overlooked. Kael was a really interesting person and going through her history and the effect she had on a whole industry just by commenting on it is amazing. A true cinephile treat, What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael is a unique look into movies.
Lastly this week is the Blu-ray debut of one of the most unique movies of the 2000’s, Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django. Inspired by the historical rivalry between the Genji and Heike clans, which ushered in the era of samurai dominance in Japanese history, Sukiyaki Western Django is set "a few hundred years after the Genpei War". The Genji and Heike gangs face off in a town named "Yuta" in "Nevata", when a nameless gunman comes into town to help a prostitute get revenge on the warring gangs.
Sukiyaki Western Django is a loving tribute to the spaghetti westerns of yesterday blended with traditional Japanese storytelling. The gunslingers carry six shooters and samurai swords. All the actors are Japanese and learned their English lines phonetically, which is an amazing achievement in itself. But like so many other Miike films, this one is impossible to pigeonhole. It has elements of so many genres but somehow works beautifully in its own world. Miike films are not like other films, they are a classification all their own. But if you like fantastically choreographed action, great humor, mashed up themes and stunning photography and camera work…and want something different unlike anything you have seen before, check out Sukiyaki Western Django. Oh and you also get a great cameo by Quentin Tarantino! This new Blu-ray special edition from the MVD Marquee Collection features hi def transfers of both the regular version of the film and the 159 minute extended cut as well as a nice collection of special features and beautiful reversible artwork. Highly recommended.
Also of note this week is a cool new SteelBook edition of the original Friday the 13th and the comedy Three Christs with Richard Gere, Peter Dinklage and Bradley Whitford.
Until next week movie lovers, stay safe!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday June 16, 2020
A Soldier's Revenge (2019)
Braveheart 4K Special Edition Steelbook
Braveheart/Gladiator 4K Double Feature
Bunker of Blood 7: Killjoy's Carnage Caravan
Columbia Classics Collection: Volume 1 4K
First Snow* - MVD Marquee Collection
Friday the 13th 40th Anniversary Limited SteelBook Edition
Gladiator 4K Special Edition Steelbook
Impractical Jokers: The Movie
Jungle Queen: 2K Restored Special Edition
Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations*
LEGO DC: Shazam! - Magic and Monsters
Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath
Nemesis 2/Nemesis 3/Nemesis 4: Triple Feature
Pretty in Pink (1986)* - Paramount Presents Edition
Sniper: Assassin's End
Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)* - MVD Marquee Collection
The Cameraman (1928)* - Criterion Collection
The Etruscan Smile (2018)*
The Giant Spider Invasion*
The Hills Run Red (2009)
The Most Important Thing: Love a.k.a. L'important c'est d'aimer (1975)*
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976)*
Three Christs (2017)*
Universal Horror Collection: Volume 5 (1937-1946)*
Voodoo – Wild Eye Raw & Extreme
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael
*Catalog Blu-ray debut