Monday, July 17, 2023

New To My Movie Library 6/4/2023 – 7/14/2023: Part One

Maybe the title of these posts should be “New to My TV/Video Library” since I still buy a TV DVD or Bluray now and then. This week, I managed to add a 4k release of a TV series, and there are not many of those, and I picked up a slew of movies since last I posted about these over a month ago. Three of the 4k releases I added have been in the right-hand column for quite a while and are now listed as Available. Those would be Avatar (2009), Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) in newly minted 4k, and the one, the only, original 4k of National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) with Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Christie Brinkley, Imogene Coco, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Baron. As for Vacation, it remains my favorite of the series after having seen it at a drive-in theater with a friend. I believe it’s the only R-Rated one of the bunch. I thought the sequel, National Lampoon’s European Vacation had totally lost the edginess of the original.

I haven’t watched the 4k Vacation yet, so I can only repeat what I’ve heard, and that is the movie really pops in 4k and leaves the previously released Bluray in the dust. On the downside, the film contains nothing in the way of extras. It does not have an accompanying bluray disc, possibly because the previous Bluray was not so hot.

As for the original Avatar, I owned the previous Bluray, and what can I say? The movie sparkled in the theaters and even more so with the recent re-release of the 4k addition, which my wife and I saw back in September of 2022. On home video, it shines some more in 4k. It is one of those movies that validates the expense of a home theater with Dolby Atmos, DolbyVision.

In December, we went to the Imax to see the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water. It was great, but it’s also where a nasty infection grabbed ahold of me and put me out of commission, starting a chain reaction that lasted over three months. But we won’t go into that sour grapes bit of business so as not to jinx myself. As for the 4k, again, why did I invest in my little home theater setting? Primarily because of movies like Avatar, it also brings every film you own or stream to a way you never thought possible. I didn’t get mine put together entirely until 2021, and it was a do-or-die bucket list project. At my age, it’s either now or never.

I was on the fence about upgrading my copy of The Haunting (1999) to 4k. It’s irritating when they, in this case, Paramount, release a movie on Bluray as part of their Paramount Presents line, and then a year later, we get a 4k upgrade after having purchased the Bluray. I was not a particular fan of the movie when it was first released. I grew up watching the 1963 version of The Haunting with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, and Richard Johnson. I first saw that version on Network Television, and let me tell you. It scared the shit out of me. When I first saw the remake, it was too in your face for my liking. Whereas the original depended enormously on its psychological overtones that left you
guessing what was real and what wasn’t, the remake leaves no doubt that this is one screwed-up haunted house.

The 1999 version has grown on me, and my home theater surround system has helped, as I had never seen the movie in a theater. I’ve now learned to accept it on its own terms as an entirely different movie.

As for the two TV miniseries based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House (2017) and The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020), I own both on Blu-rays that I picked up in a bargain hunt. I haven’t found the time to view them as of yet. Who knows? Maybe I’ll live to be ninety. I doubt it, though.

Also, if you run across William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill or even the 1999 remake, neither has a relationship to any of the above. As if you needed to be told.

I love adding musicals to my collection. But obtaining some of the older catalog titles on Bluray can be problematic. It’s almost impossible to get the musical classics on 4k. However, some solid classics like The
Wizard of Oz
and Singin’ in the Rain have been released on the format. Both look fantastic. (Singin’ in the Rain is currently only available from 3rd party sellers on Amazon. But is available for shipping from Best Buy)

Sometimes you have to wait on a sale. Being on a limited budget, I can’t afford to build a library on catalog titles as often as I’d like.

My wife and I saw Easter Parade (1948) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at a local theater a few years back at one of those classic film series. Sorry to say, we had never seen the film before and enjoyed it as a first run (for us, at least).

I ran across it on Gruv a couple of weeks back. They have a never-ending 2-for $21 sale, and I placed it in my cart with some others. I keep my catalog of Blurays down to around $10 or less and not much more except on rare occasions. When a studio doesn’t issue a 4k of a first-run movie, I refuse to buy the Bluray because in a year, maybe less, they’ll burn you by putting out a 4k release.

Some recent examples are M3gyn (2022) and Cocaine Bear (2023). I caught Cocaine Bear on streaming and probably dodged a bullet by not getting that as a blind buy on 4k. Put that film in the category of just plain stupid.

And maybe the same thing goes for M3gyn, as the reviews are also mixed on it. I’ve been burned by purchasing films such as Crazy Rich Asians (2018) on Bluray. It deserved a 4k release from the start, as the set decoration and art direction were fantastic. A year later, it was released on 4k. And now it appears it may have been a limited release Crazy Rich Asiansas it’s only available from overpriced third-party sellers on Amazon, but there is the UK edition, which is region-free. Lesson learned. Let’s face it, buying physical media can be a crap shoot.

I’m a big Fred Astaire fan. You usually can’t go wrong whether he’s dancing with Ginger Rogers or playing a straight dramatic role in On the Beach (1959). I also just added The Band Wagon (1953) on Bluray, listed as one of Roger Ebert’s Great Movies. I don’t recall seeing it, but I look forward to viewing it in my little home theater.

One movie I won’t be able to showcase in Bluray is the musical Lili (1953) starring Leslie Caron. It’s never gotten a Bluray release, yet they put out useless crap like Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. Some people think third-rate animated movies are great. My late brother was one of those people. But I’m not. As for Lili, Vudu says their streaming copy is HDX, so I may check it out.

There was no doubt that upon its release date on June 4th that I picked up the 4k release of John Wick: Chapter 4 via Target.

I had initially seen the film towards the end of its theatrical run at The Studio Movie Grill on a weekday afternoon. It’s not my usual go-to place for movie-watching. I’ve tried it a few times, and some may swear by it. But people running around taking orders and delivering food to the seats is annoying. They advise patrons to get to the theater 25 minutes early, which I do, but most people don’t. Then before the movie is over, they bring you your receipt to sign and leave a tip, but it’s so dark you have to light up your phone to see it. This procedure caused me to miss a few minutes at the movie’s end. That sucked.

When I got the 4k disc in my home theater, I enjoyed the film more as there weren’t all those petty annoyances that drove me crazy just a few weeks back. As for the movie itself, it’s a John Wick movie, and the main scheme of things remains the same. I liked it better than John Wick’s Chapter 3: Parabellum, mainly because of the supporting characters, Donnie Yen as Caine and Shemier Anderson as two paid assassins. The German Shepherd was good as well. This brings me to how and why I added all 4 Ip Man 4k movies to my collection.

I had seen the movies listed on Gruv in some of their sales. I thought about giving one or two of them a look-see because if there were four movies, they must be popular, and somebody must be watching. Then again, Chuck Norris movies are popular with some, but as far as I’m concerned, they all stink, and his acting stinks. Or, as Ed McMahon and George Segel said in Fun With Dick and Jane, his acting and movies stink on ice. I have no Chuck Norris films in my library.

I had no clue who or what an IP Man was and needed Wikipedia to tell me he was a real live person who was a martial arts master in ye olden days of yore. But I liked Donnie Yen in the John Wick movie, and since Gruv was servicing us with one of the 4k sales, I dove in head first and claimed them all. For all I know, they could all be crap, but if you’re going to watch one crappy movie, you might as well watch the whole series. Besides, they were on sale.

Be aware of IP Man 4 being called The Finale because it isn’t. Yen is gearing up to make number 5. Oh, bother.

Another 4K release this month was Scream VI. It was a long time coming to physical media. The film was released to theaters way back on March 10. Scream VI was released digitally on April 25, 2023, in the US, where it also began streaming on Paramount+. It was released on physical media on July 11, 2023. Why such a long stretch? Paramount+ figured that the longer they held it as an exclusive on their streaming service, the more people would want to subscribe. Nice theory, but as several of these streaming services have found out, it doesn’t work that way.

Disney is cutting down on the theatrical releases going straight to streaming as, financially, such moves need to entice more new subscribers to make up for the money they were leaving on the table by keeping it off pay-per-view or holding back a disc release. But it may be too late. By constantly releasing every Pixar movie straight to Disney+ streaming, they have killed the Pixar Brand. People now expect those films to show up on your streaming service as a free part of their subscription. It has never made sense as policies go.

And the bigger the flop, the quicker the floppee gets to home video. The Flash is already up for preorders with a physical media release date of August 29. Having learned its lesson, Disney put the live-action Little Mermaid on September 19, which suits me perfectly. Being a long-standing member of The Disney Movie Club and a bit patient, I got Guardians of the Galaxy with an August 1st release date and The Little Mermaid with 50 percent off of one of them and free shipping. But nobody pays attention to that 5 for 1.00 ad I have had forever.

I’m way off track here, aren’t I? Anyway, I love the Scream Movies. They are almost always well done. The last one I saw in a theater was Scream 4, which I saw with my son. The wife doesn’t like that kind of movie, so if I go, I have to go alone as my son and new associate lives on the other side of the country.

I probably would have gone, but I was still recuperating from various illnesses in March. I made up for it by having a mini-marathon of the first five films in my home theater. Of the previous releases, only the first two are on 4k discs. Still, I suspect numbers three and four will eventually get 4k releases, probably as some overpriced boxed set, if not on their own.

Yes, there is more to come. It was a busy month picking up mostly catalog titles because of one sale after another. I was able to add some films I’d been wanting to add for quite a while, and some movies whose existence I had somehow shoved into that dead space in my brain. So yes, Virginia, there will be a part 2 to this.