This week’s classic home video releases are headlined by an enduring animated classic and the first film of a major documentarian. The first is Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” coming out on Blu-Ray a month ahead of the home video release of its live-action retelling “Maleficent.” The studio spent nearly a decade working on the film, and while it’s not their strongest work on a narrative level, it features some of the most vibrant animation DIsney ever did, particularly whenever the film focuses on Maleficent’s gorgeously sepulchral lair. On the other end of the budget spectrum is the Blu-Ray release of Michael Moore’s “Roger & Me,” still the director’s most personal and most effective film. Moore’s anger about the closing of the GM plant in Flint, Michigan is righteous rather than self-righteous here, and even his typically on-the-nose musical choices (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice”) feel right.
Also out on Blu-Ray on the classic film front: Kino Lorber has a host of releases with Jules Dassin’s heist movie “Topkapi,” the Michael Caine secret agent film “Billion Dollar Brain” (directed by a for-hire Ken Russell), the neo-noir “Mulholland Falls” and the underseen 1981 crime drama “True Confessions,” starring Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall as brothers, the former a priest, the latter a detective. This week also sees the Criterion re-release of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent,” the Blu-Ray release of Sergio Leone’s “Duck, You Sucker!” and “On Strike! Chris Marker and the Medvedkin Group,” a collection that includes both “Be Seeing You,” a documentary by Marker and Mario Marret on a 1967 textile workers strike in France, and “Class of Struggle,” a film by the workers after they noted their unhappiness with “Be Seeing You” and Marker trained them to make their own films.
The big new release is the confusingly retitled Tom Cruise sci-fi film “Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow,” which turns the film’s theatrical title into a subtitle (personally, I’m still calling it by the original title “All You Need Is Kill”). Whatever it’s called, it’s one of the best movies of the summer, a playful, ingenious action film that features Cruise’s most vulnerable performance since his collaborations with Steven Spielberg. Those looking for something a bit less explosion-filled can check out the Jenny Slate-starring “Obvious Child,” about a stand-up comedian dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, the Jon Hamm-starring baseball film “Million Dollar Arm,” the wry German comedy “A Coffee in Berlin,” or the Criticwire Sleeper “To Be Takei.” Anyone who missed “Sharknado 2” on TV can catch up with it on Blu-Ray, and anyone willing to lower their expectations significantly might not hate the Seth MacFarlane comedy-western flop “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”
More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:
Nick Schager, The A.V. Club
This understated indie deepens its portrait of growing up by suggesting, ultimately, that anyone who thinks wasting time is a reasonable course of action needs to wake up. Read more.
Keith Phipps, The Dissolve
For all the impressive special effects on display in the film—and there are many—the most disorienting tricks here come from the editing, which plays with time and perception in a way that’s only possible in film. Sometimes scenes cut off abruptly, thanks to Cage’s unexpected death. At other times, it only becomes apparent midway through a scene that what we’re seeing for the first time, Cage has already lived through many times over. Read more.
“Million Dollar Arm”
Criticwire Average: B-
Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune
Dan Schindel, Screen Picks
“A Million Ways to Die in the West” doesn’t offer much to fans of westerns or comedies. MacFarlane is fond of braying punchlines loudly, sometimes even to the point of ruining perfectly good gags through redundancy. Read more.
Guy Lodge, HitFix
It’s a familiar setup that Robespierre handles with unusually brisk liberal pragmatism: rare is the American film that depicts the abortion process as a personal rather than a moral choice, and while Donna can’t resist finding morbid humor in the situation both on and off stage, the film handles her bittersweet decision with a tender, moving grace.
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Outside of the sweet, amusing peeks at the couple’s home life, however, “To Be Takei” mainly outlines Takei’s career by drawing a contrast between his uneven early days and more recent successes as a public figure. Kroot hilariously pokes at the not-so-subtle sexual dimensions of the original “Star Trek,” particularly in relation to Takei’s character, and explores his frustrations with playing racist Asian stereotypes before he hit it big. Read more.