This week, the compelling independent film “Luce” leads the way of new titles coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. Joining that movie is, well, very little else, so the Criterion Collection’s mega release of the Showa-Era “Godzilla” titles will get some major notice, being the 1000th spine of theirs. In fact, it’s the rare Criterion release to get top honors here. Read on for more.
PICK OF THE WEEK
“Godzilla: The Showa-Era”
For its #1000 release, the Criterion Collection presents 1295 minutes of vintage Godzilla action, spread out over fifteen films. Starting in the mid 1950s, this first era of Godzilla filmmaking remains the creature’s most iconic. The box set includes not just “Godzilla,” but “King Kong vs Godzilla,” “Destroy All Monsters,” and a dozen more. It’s truly something special from Criterion. Not that the Collection has to sell it, but here’s their full sales pitch:
In 1954, an enormous beast clawed its way out of the sea, destroying everything in its path—and changing movies forever. The arresting original Godzilla soon gave rise to an entire monster-movie genre (kaiju eiga), but the King of the Monsters continued to reign supreme: in fourteen fiercely entertaining sequels over the next two decades, Godzilla defended its throne against a host of other formidable creatures, transforming from a terrifying symbol of nuclear annihilation into a benevolent (if still belligerent) Earth protector. Collected here for the first time are all fifteen Godzilla films of Japan’s Showa era, in a landmark set showcasing the technical wizardry, fantastical storytelling, and indomitable international appeal that established the most iconic giant monster the cinema has ever seen.
Congratulations to Criterion for this landmark achievement. If you can spare the change (it’s a pricy box set at about $180), this Godzilla collection is a must own for monster movie fans!
Special Features: Various Featurettes
Total Box Office: N/A
Major Awards: N/A
In honor of this week’s release of “The Irishman,” the pick today is another collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. As this could be their last gangster epic together, it pays to look back to the beginning with “Mean Streets.” Even here, De Niro and Scorsese were a compelling duo to witness. Roger Ebert loved this one, writing the following years later:
In countless ways, right down to the detail of modern TV crime shows, Mean Streets is one of the source points of modern movies.
“The Irishman” starts its limited theatrical release on Friday before hitting Netflix at the end of the month. If at all possible, see it on the big screen. Prep for it with this older De Niro/Scorsese effort first!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the sole recommended title from Criterion detailed above.
This documentary by Stephen Wilkes follows his former mentor, artist Jay Maisel, as he attempts to pack up his massive home/storage facility for a big move. Sound dry? It’s actually rather fascinating. Variety agreed, with their take including this bit:
Wilkes views his old mentor with affection, but with a supreme awareness of what a crazy-charismatic crank he can be.
It’s a fun little doc, one yours truly moderated Q&A events for with Maisel and Wilkes back in the summer. Give it a look!
Box Office: $140,455
A thought provoking indie from earlier this year, this acting showcase features Kelvin Harrison Jr., Octavia Spencer, and Tim Roth really going at it. A play adaptation, its stage-like trappings are felt at times, but the complex script gives the quartet plenty to work with. Entertainment Weekly was taken by the movie, as you can see below:
No one gets off easy here, and no one quite gets answers, either; maybe that’s the point.
Harrison Jr. is going to be a star. “Luce” is just further evidence of it.
Box Office: $2,010,613
“Mike Wallace is Here”
Another doc, this one focused on the well known journalist Mike Wallace. One of the toughest interviewers out there, he did things his way. At the Nantucket Film Festival, Mark filed this review, which was quite fond of the flick:
Avi Belkin’s film is a sensational in-depth look at the enigmatic man behind those tough questions.
A potential Best Documentary Feature player, anyone trying to properly predict the Oscar race would do well to give this one a shot.
Box Office: $281,245
Special Criterion Collection Section
The one other option coming to Criterion today is this 1987 John Sayles historical drama. Featuring a cast that includes Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, and David Strathairn, in addition to cinematography from Haskell Wexler, it’s an elegant film. The Collection has this to say:
Written and directed by John Sayles, this wrenching historical drama recounts the true story of a West Virginia coal town where the local miners’ struggle to form a union rose to the pitch of all-out war in 1920…Matewan taps into a rich vein of Americana with painstaking attention to local texture, issuing an impassioned cry for justice that still resounds today.
Especially if the big “Godzilla” set is too rich for your blood, this is another option to consider!
“Batman Beyond: The Complete Series”
“Charlie’s Angels: The Complete Series”
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: The Complete Fourth Season”
“Warrior: Season One”