Chris Hicks: Blu-ray upgrades of fan favorites lead movies on home video this week
Warner Home Video
Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan receive Blu-ray upgrades this week, leading new movies on home video.
“Two Weeks Notice” (Warner/Blu-ray, 2002, PG-13, $19.98, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers, trailer). Sandra Bullock plays an activist who reluctantly becomes the assistant to a spoiled, self-centered gazillionaire (Hugh Grant) and the sparks fly. Romantic sparks take a little longer to develop. This is a funny and endearing romantic comedy thanks to the dead-on snarky dialogue delivery of its two stars. (Watch for Bullock’s sly Utah-polygamy joke.)
“Million Dollar Baby” (Warner/Blu-ray, 2004, PG-13, $19.98, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). This best-picture Academy Award-winner also earned Oscars for Clint Eastwood as director and Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank as actors, and all are terrific in this tale of a determined female boxer (Swank) who convinces an aging, grumpy trainer (Eastwood) to help her go pro. The relationship that develops between them is irresistible before it veers into soap opera and a controversial ending.
“City of Angels” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1998, PG-13, $19.98, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, music videos, trailer). Hollywood remake of the great German film “Wings of Desire” makes annoying changes to the story and tamps down the spirituality as an angel (Nicolas Cage) falls in love with a mortal (Meg Ryan) and gives up immortality to be with her. Taken on its own terms it’s an OK mystical romance but nowhere near the heady experience of the original.
“About Time” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013, R for language and sex, two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). Funny, charming and aggressively eccentric time-travel comedy with buoyant performances by Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and especially Bill Nighy. Unfortunately, it sours its goodwill with foul language and sexual content that goes too far, earning its R rating. (Also on DVD, $20.98)
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013; R for language, sex, nudity, drugs; two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted scenes, featurette). Matthew McConaughey stars as real life Texan Ron Woodruff, a homophobe who contracts AIDS, which changes his world view and leads to his smuggling unapproved pharmaceutical drugs to help himself and others. McConaughey, who lost weight for the role, and Jared Leto, as a transgender patient, are considered front-runners for this year’s Oscars. (Also on DVD, $29.98)
“The Lady Vanishes” (BBC, 2013, not rated, $24.98). Nifty British television adaptation of Ethel Lina White’s novel “The Wheel Spins,” which became a classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller in the 1930s. This one sticks closer to the book as a snooty ’30s socialite (Tuppence Middleton), traveling across Europe by train, tries to convince fellow passengers that a woman (Selina Cadell) has disappeared. (Fans of “Doc Martin” will recognize Cadell as the unbalanced pharmacist on that show.)
“Burton and Taylor” (BBC, 2013, not rated, $24.98). This British TV movie builds on a real-life incident late in the lives of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. After they were twice married and divorced, Taylor talked Burton into co-starring with her in a Broadway revival of the Noel Coward play “Private Lives,” which proved to be a disaster. Dominic West is pretty good as Burton but Helena Bonham Carter is excellent as Taylor (certainly miles better than Lindsay Lohan’s “Liz & Dick” debacle in late 2012).