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HD Report | July 25, 2017

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Blu-ray Picks of the Week for June 7th

Blu-ray Picks of the Week for June 7th
Christian Hokenson

This Tuesday offers a huge amount of Blu-ray releases… but it’s a mixed bag to be sure. What should you consider for your HD library and viewing pleasure? Here’s what we recommend for this Tuesday, June 7th:

The cream of the crop this week is easily the Coen Bros. ode to cinema past, True Grit (Paramount). It’s one of the few remakes I’ve ever seen that absolutely trumps the original film, and one of the best literary adaptations yet filmed. If you need a great family film (for the most part, as this represents the closest the Coens may ever come to making one short of Raising Arizona) or just want to add a superior Western to your HD library, you could do far, far worse than getting a hold of this terrific example of oater cinema.

The performances are impressive, as they usually are under the Coen’s direction, especially their latter day turn toward more realistic/naturalistic direction when doing a straight up drama (as opposed to their comedies where the actors are allowed to truly stretch the boundaries of madcap silliness). Jeff Bridges, it must be said, makes the prime role of Rooster Cogburn his own… Let your John Wayne aficionados have their more ham-fisted portrayal, Bridges takes the role and simply vanishes into this dusty, heavyset ol’ reprobate of a U.S.marshal. Damon is terrific too, as are baddies Josh Brolin and a virtually unrecognizable Barry Pepper (and of course, the grace note roles get covered by wonderful character actors such as Jarlath Conroy and Ed Corbin, in one of the movie’s more bizarre scenes).

However, as the Oscar nominations showed, and word-of-mouth certainly proved, the movie is totally owned by teenaged Hailee Steinfeld, who is a revelation of a young actress, seemingly destined to do great things… Her no-nonsense portrayal of Mattie Ross, does novelist Charles Portis proud… as her take on Mattie certainly hews closer to the book’s gumption-filled girl… a girl searching for someone with enough “true grit” to find her father’s killer, though if she looks inside herself she’d find she has more than enough grit to do the job on her own. It’s the kind of role that makes you wonder if child actors aren’t born and bred on another plant specifically geared to turn out adept performers wise beyond their years… but the most amazing aspect is that Hailee Steinfeld really hold her own against some actors whose own gravitas would easily suck the wind out of a lesser performance.

The word on the street is that this Blu-ray transfer does an excellent job of capturing Roger Deakins’ impressively arid Western palette while the sound is perfect for multi-channel HD systems. The Blu-ray offers a number of fantastic HD extras focusing on novelist Charles Portis, the ensemble cast, Old West re-creations and the superior debut performance by Hailee Steinfeld:

  • Mattie’s True Grit
  • From Bustles to Buckskin — Dressing for the 1880s
  • Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western
  • Re-Creating Fort Smith
  • The Cast
  • Charles Portis — The Greatest Writer You’ve Never Heard Of…
  • True Grit Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD/Digital Copy Disc (Standard Definition)

    This Western makes an interesting companion to the Coen’s Oscar-winning Cormac McCarthy adaptation, No Country for Old Men, and comes about as highly recommended as any other HD release this week.

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    Other recommended Blu-ray releases this week include some excellent cable dramas, two quite different looks at the great American pastime of baseball, and a few outright classics/catalog releases. And then there’s Rubber, probably one of the weirdest independent features made, and also one of the most visually interesting (shot entirely on a Canon pro-sumer digital camera, it’s much better looking than some professionally shot digital features)… so, without further ado here’s more titles to consider owning for your HD library:

    • 61* (Warner Brothers)
    • Breaking Bad: The Complete Third Season (Sony)
    • The Bridge on the River Kwai [Non-Digibook] (Sony)
    • Hair [1979] (MGM/UA)
    • The Man Who Would Be King (Warner Brothers)
    • The Outlaw Josey Wales (Warner Brothers)
    • Rome: The Complete First Season (HBO)
    • Rome: The Complete Second Season (HBO)
    • Rubber (Magnolia)
    • Sanctum (Universal)
    • Sanctum – 3D (Universal)
    • The Stunt Man (MPI)
    • Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology (Warner Brothers)
    • When it Was a Game: The Complete Collection (Warner Brothers)

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    Also recommended, though not as highly (including the 3D gimmick releases)… Perhaps due to transfer quality and/or lack of extras, these HD Blu-ray releases can be bought or rented, though a rental might be your better option:

    • AC/DC: Let There Be Rock [Limited Collector’s Edition] (Warner Brothers)
    • The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (20th Century Fox)
    • American: The Bill Hicks Story (BBC)
    • Another Year (Sony)
    • Apt Pupil (Image)
    • Bad Company: Live at Wembley (Eagle Rock)
    • Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (Shriek Show)
    • The Company Men (Starz/Anchor Bay)
    • Death at a Funeral (MGM/UA)
    • Elephant White (First Look)
    • Elvis Costello: Spectacle – Season 2 (Music Distribution)
    • Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Warner Brothers)
    • The Long Riders (MGM/UA)
    • Madagascar [2011] (BBC)
    • A Matador’s Mistress (Xenon)
    • Mother’s Day (Troma)
    • New York, New York [1977] (MGM/UA)
    • Original Sin (MGM/UA)
    • Posse (MGM/UA)
    • River of Darkness (Platinum Disc Corporation)
    • River of Darkness [Combo Pack] (Platinum Disc Corporation)
    • Shadows and Lies (Millennium Media)
    • Sheryl Crow: Miles from Memphis (Eagle Rock)
    • Vera Cruz [1954] (MGM/UA)

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    …and of course there’s Bargain Bin items you can wait for until the price is right. Some good films are on here due to their double-feature/combo disc status, which in HD Reports opinion offers lesser transfer/compression quality at perhaps a decent price…. Not exactly how you want to highlight good films on your HDTV setup:

    • Billy Madison (Universal)
    • Blue Crush (Universal)
    • Blue Crush 2 (Universal)
    • Bulletproof (Universal)
    • Cirque du Soleil: Journey of a Man – 3D (Sony)
    • Dolphins and Whales – 3D (Universal)
    • Dragon Ball Z: Kai: Part 5 (FUNimation)
    • Happy Gilmore (Universal)
    • IMAX: Legends of Flight – 3D (Image)
    • Jackie Chan Kung Fu Master (Phase 4 Films)
    • Just Go With It (Sony)
    • Just Go With It [Combo Pack] (Sony)
    • Ocean Wonderland – 3D (Universal)
    • Robin of Sherwood: Set 1 (Acorn Media)
    • Sharks – 3D (Universal)
    • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011: The 3D Experience (Sony)
    • TO (FUNimation)
    • Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE: Season One (S.A.V.E. Edition) (FUNimation)
    • American History X / A History of Violence (Warner Brothers)
    • Collateral Damage / Eraser (Warner Brothers)
    • Every Which Way But Loose / Any Which Way You Can (Warner Brothers)
    • Firefox / Heartbreak Ridge (Warner Brothers)
    • Wyatt Earp / The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Brothers)

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