‘The Social Network,’ ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Oliver!’ Among Six Classics in Sony 4K Collection Coming Oct. 12

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is debuting six more classics on 4K Ultra HD disc for the first time ever Oct. 12, exclusively within the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol. 2.

Films in the collection, only available on 4K as part of the set, include Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Taxi Driver, Stripes, Sense and Sensibility and The Social Network. Each title includes special features.

Included with the collection is a hardbound 80-page book, featuring in-depth sections about the making of each film via six new essays from writers Julie Kirgo, John Kenrick, Glenn Kenny, Michael G. McDunnah, Kayti Burt and Nev Pierce.

The set also includes an exclusive Blu-ray bonus disc featuring 20 short films from the Columbia Pictures library, all presented in high-definition. The shorts, curated from more than 80 years of the studio’s history, showcase a wide scope of creative output across both live-action and animation, from “The Three Stooges” to award-winning mid-century cartoons to titles from Sony Pictures Animation.

The courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (1959). The film pits a humble small-town lawyer (James Stewart) against a hard-headed big-city prosecutor (George C. Scott). Emotions flare as a jealous army lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) pleads innocent to murdering the rapist of his seductive, beautiful wife (Lee Remick). Produced and directed by  Otto Preminger, the film features a score by Duke Ellington.

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The musical Oliver!, based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, won six 1968 Academy Awards including Best Picture. It follows the story of a plucky young orphan and his quest for love and happiness in a world populated by Oscars rascals, rogues and thieves.

Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1976) and nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Taxi Driver stars Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s classic film of a psychotic New York cabbie driven to violence by loneliness and desperation. The film co-stars Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle and Cybill Shepherd.

In the comedy classic Stripes (1981), when quick-witted slacker John Winger (Bill Murray) loses his apartment, girlfriend and job all in one day, he joins the army. Directed by Ivan Reitman, the film also stars Harold Ramis, John Candy and John Larroquette.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (1995), and directed by Ang Lee, Sense and Sensibility stars Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant. The romantic comedy, based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, sensible Elinor (Thompson) and passionate Marianne (Winslet), whose chances at marriage seem doomed by their family’s sudden loss of fortune. Rickman, Grant and Greg Wise co-star as the well-intentioned suitors who are trapped by the strict rules of society and the conflicting laws of desire.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture (2010), The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, chronicles the formation of Facebook and the battles over ownership that followed upon the website’s unfathomable success. With a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and a cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, the film bears witness to the birth of an idea that rewove the fabric of society even as it unraveled the friendship of its creators.

Update (8/24/21): Release date changed from Sept. 14 to Sept. 28.
Update (9/10/21): Date changed to Oct. 12.

The Ice Harvest

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Kino Lorber;
Drama;
$29.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for violence, language and sexuality/nudity.
Stars John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Platt.

The wildest double-bill I ever saw an ad for involved an Ohio drive-in the mid-1960s that managed to splice Becket with a re-issue of the Martin & Lewis girls’-school romp You’re Never Too Young. Some direct descendent, or at least sanitarium soulmate, of the film booker responsible must have worked at Focus Features 40 years later when the decision was made to position The Ice Harvest, with all its foiled-caper nastiness, as a holiday picture (Friday after Thanksgiving, 2005). Talk about an exercise in perversity, to say nothing of commercial suicide — but I still think, as I did at the time, that Harvest deserved a better shake than it got (critics, with some brand-name exceptions, didn’t like it, either).

Even by noir standards — and this one has a lot of noir DNA, including Connie Nielsen’s vintage-movie-poster-caliber babe — Harvest is uncommonly brutal in language, graphic bodily harm and, well, life attitude. Especially for a movie with recognizable stars and filmmakers (with the latter working out of their wheelhouse). For starters on the last count was Robert Benton, who co-scripted this adaptation of a Scott Phillips novel, and even Bonnie and Clyde (the picture that made him) wasn’t this down and dirty. And Benton’s writing partner here was novelist Richard Russo, whose novel Nobody’s Fool became the wonderful, big-hearted Paul Newman movie the two co-scripted and Benton directed.

Though their dialogue here is funny — and a key point here is that Harvest has a lot of laughs — it’s still an eye-opener to find it on Harold Ramis’s own behind-the-camera filmography. Nor does Ramis fumble the assignment; this is one of the better pictures from a spotty directorial career, even if it’s minor fare (no shame in that) that’s more along the lines of what a satisfying drive-in movie used to be. At 88 minutes, it’s tight, and doesn’t let up from an opening that wastes no time in letting us know that the most successful, well-dressed mob lawyer in Wichita (John Cusack) has ripped off $2 million from his employer on Christmas Eve and in a manner that won’t remain secret for very long.

But in keeping with the movie’s basic attitude that life is futile, the winter roads are too dangerous to facilitate a quick getaway with his sleazier partner-in-crime (Billy Bob Thornton — whose dialogue deliveries, as always, are spot on). And Wichita isn’t a large enough place to maintain a low-key presence, especially when Cusack is spending a lot of visible time at his strip bar of choice, which at least has a sympathetic bartender and other employees willing to supply him with a hiding room when certain local “figures” come in looking for him. Nielsen’s character owns the establishment, and it’s no small mental exercise wondering what her background might be. Whatever it is, and the movie is purposely sketchy about this, divorced Cusack has a big-time yen.

Indicative of the manner in which this story enjoys going in warped directions, Cusack’s ex is now married to an alcoholically loquacious lawyer buddy played by any movie’s secret weapon this side of Thornton: Oliver Platt. He seems to be the only close buddy that Cusack has, and the affection is real, though it does lead to a bleak if hilarious confrontation with Cusack’s kids and former in-laws when he drops in with Platt for dinner. Not that Platt gets much of a better reception given his blitzed state, which eventually leads to him passing out near a tree of presents with no one else (and much less the Mrs.) to be seen.

Cusack is flawless here, though this is the kind of take-for-granted performance that never garners much critical notice even in a movie that’s been enthusiastically received. I can’t figure out what has happened to his career, though I’ve always sensed that he might be something of a hothead. In contrast to, say, Jeff Bridges, the slower-fuse excellence of all the cult movies he made earlier on eventually caught up with audiences and made him a bigger star in later years than he’d been.

I also like the skill with which Harvest conveys the bitter cold of this movie winter. On a commentary carried over from the original DVD, Ramis (who died in 2014) mentions the CGI that helped out convincingly on this count, as in the snowy highway late in the movie that got a computer assist on the snow. Ramis apparently did this easygoing commentary a few days before the movie’s theatrical release, when he wasn’t certain how its reception would go. It kind of adds poignancy to the entire enterprise, especially given that Harvest was his only big-screen feature in a seven-year period as serious and eventually fatal health problems loomed on the horizon.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure’ and ‘The Ice Harvest’