Animated ‘The Little Prince’ Heading to Disc Feb. 9 From Paramount

The animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic story The Little Prince arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Featuring a voice cast including Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks, Paul Rudd, Mackenzie Foy and Paul Giamatti, the film debuted on Netflix in 2016.

From the director of Kung Fu Panda comes this re-imagined take on the story. At its heart is “The Little Girl” (Foy), prepared by her mother (McAdams) for the very grown-up real-world. After her eccentric, kind-hearted neighbor “The Aviator” (Bridges) introduces her to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, she learns of “The Little Prince” (Riley Osborne). And so begins a magical and emotional journey.

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Special features include a 25-minute featurette on the making of the film, as well as a music video for the song “Turnaround” by Camille.  The Blu-ray additionally includes access to a digital copy of the film.

Shout! Factory to Issue 2003 Bob Dylan Film ‘Masked and Anonymous’ on Blu-ray Disc

Shout! Factory has set a March 10 home release date for Masked and Anonymous, a 2003 drama directed by Larry Charles that was originally written by Charles and Bob Dylan, who also stars in the movie.

The film will be available on Blu-ray Disc. Bonus features include a new interview and commentary with Charles, deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, and the original theatrical trailers.

Dylan plays the enigmatic Jack Fate, a former traveling troubadour who is bailed out of jail by his manager to headline a sketchy and misguided benefit concert for a decaying America. The concert is organized by Uncle Sweetheart, a corrupt concert promoter who plans on raking in huge sums of money for himself through the event. Meanwhile, journalist Tom Friend (Jeff Bridges) investigates the corrupt concert and tries to unveil the truth to the public.

The film has a star-heavy cast, including Bob Dylan, John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, Penélope Cruz, Val Kilmer, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Lange, Luke Wilson, Angela Bassett, Bruce Dern, Cheech Marin, Ed Harris, Chris Penn, Steven Bauer, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Paul Chan, Christian Slater and Fred Ward.

Bad Times at the El Royale

While Drew Goddard’s latest directorial effort isn’t as memorable as his horror deconstruction The Cabin in the Woods, the neo-noir thriller Bad Times at the El Royale still offers a solid showcase for its talented cast, a soundtrack fueled by a dynamite selection of period-appropriate songs, and a quirky setting that serves the story well.

 

 

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 1/1/19;
Fox;
Thriller;
Box Office $17.84 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity.
Stars Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman, Shea Whigham.

Writer-director Drew Goddard scratches an itch to play in the noir sandbox with Bad Times at the El Royale, a breezy mystery that coasts on some nice directorial touches and the strength of its cast.

Not as engrossing or genre-bending as Goddard’s previous directorial effort, The Cabin in the Woods, Bad Times at the El Royale is more of a Tarantino-esque thriller that brings a group of strangers into a remote location and then reveals they aren’t quite who they claim to be.

Bad Times at the El Royale

The caper takes place at the El Royale hotel of the title, a former hotspot straddling the California-Nevada border that lost its popularity after losing its gambling license. The setting is apparently based on the real-life Cal-Neva Lodge, a Lake Tahoe hotspot that has seen its own troubled history. It also brings to mind the hotel managed by Tony Curtis in 40 Pounds of Trouble that was situated close enough to the stateline so he could see the Cali detectives waiting to nab him for missing alimony payments.

In the first scene we bear witness to Nick Offerman tearing up the floorboards in one of the rooms to stash a bag of what is presumably money, then restoring everything to its original condition before he gets shot by a shadowy associate.

Several years later, in 1969, a disparate group of travelers arrive, including a vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm), a priest (Jeff Bridges), a runaway (Dakota Johnson) and a lounge singer (Cynthia Erivo).

Thanks to flashbacks, a non-linear story structure, and a hidden corridor that looks into all the rooms unbeknownst to the guests via a two-way mirror, we soon learn their true identities, and what brought them to the El Royale (including who is after that floorboard cash).

Things heat up a bit with the arrival of a cult leader (Chris Hemsworth) looking for some missing “property” of his own.

In a good 29-minute behind-the-scenes featurette included as the only extra on the Blu-ray, Goddard discusses several reasons why he wanted to make this film. One was to assemble a talented cast and give him an excuse to pitch something to Jeff Bridges.

Another was the chance to explore the music of the genre and experiment with ways to tie the songs into the story. Goddard even refers to the film as a love letter to music and an appreciation for the ways it changed his life.

The featurette also provides some great insights into the production design and look of the film, such as how the filmmakers built the entire hotel on a soundstage in order to accomplish the shots they needed to get. There’s also some fascinating tidbits about the film’s use of (and in some cases, omission of) color — a subtle touch that helps establish the mood for a story that at times can get extremely dark.

We also get to see some of Bridges’ on-set photography, a tradition of his dating back to the production of 1984’s Starman.

Bad Times at the El Royale

Starman: Collector’s Edition

As discussed in depth in the bonus materials of the new Scream Factory Blu-ray of 1984’s Starman, director John Carpenter was eager to use the film to veer away from the scary fare he was known for and into the gentler realms of sci-fi and romance. Jeff Bridges anchors the film with a quirky, subtle performance as an alien entity trying to adjust to life as in a human body as he makes his way across the country to rendezvous with his mothership.

 

 

 

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Shout! Factory;
Sci-Fi;
$34.93 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel.

To differentiate itself from the recent success of E.T., 1984’s Starman was billed as a “science-fiction romance” that played heavily on the idea of the “Greetings From Earth” messages launched with the Voyager space probes a few years earlier.

Director John Carpenter took on the project because he wanted to distance himself from his reputation as a horror director, but he was no stranger to science-fiction. He made his directorial debut with the expanded student film Dark Star in 1974 before establishing himself as a horror icon with Halloween, The Fog and Christine. But interspersed with those was the Elvis TV movie (with Kurt Russell), not to mention the Escape From New York and The Thing, both undisputable examples of sci-fi, even if The Thing takes full advantage of his horror sensibilities. And four years later he would make They Live.

Starman, however, would prove to be much lighter in tone than his previous works, with Carpenter putting an emphasis on the road trip aspect of the story that would center on the rapport between his two leads. While most of the film is a conventional “government searching for aliens” type of plot, it succeeds primarily due to the performance of Jeff Bridges, who was nominated for an Oscar for his efforts.

The film stars with one of the Voyager probes being intercepted by an alien ship, which finds the golden record on it containing samples of Earth culture and an invitation from the U.N. for alien life to visit. The aliens then send a smaller craft to accept the invitation, only for it to be shot down by the U.S. military.

After the ship crashes in rural Wisconsin, its occupant discovers the remote cabin occupied by Jenny (Karen Allen), who is pining over her recently deceased husband (Bridges). The alien uses photos of the man and some DNA from a lock of his hair in a scrapbook to create a body it can use to study humanity. This is where Bridges shines through, amplifying the awkwardness of an alien form in a new body slowly growing accustomed to it as he learns more about the world around him.

Bridges in the bonus materials recalls the approach he took to the character as one of an advanced being in a human body trying to impersonate a human. The transformation of the alien into Bridges was the result of the combination of work from three masters of movie makeup effects: Dick Smith, Rick Baker and Stan Winston.

Jenny is understandably freaked out by the clone of her dead husband standing in front of her, but quickly comes to understand what he’s there for. He needs to travel to Arizona to be picked up by his people in three days, before his human body can no longer sustain his alien energies (which allow him to control electronic devices, such as jumpstarting a car or keying the jackpot of a Vegas slot machine).

With the aid of some little metal spheres, the Starman’s powers include the ability to shield himself from danger and resurrect the dead, as in a memorable scene in which he cures a deer from recently being shot by a hunter.

Starman’s antics naturally cause a disturbance wherever he goes, creating a ripple effect that is being tracked by a group of government operatives who are divided by their interests in the alien. Some want to learn from him (as in Charles Martin Smith SETI scientist), but some want to dissect him, which creates some tension over which group gets to him first.

Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray edition looks fantastic and really does justice to the cinematography of Donald M. Morgan. Aside from the few necessary visual effects shots to establish the alien spacecraft, most of the film’s look is defined by subtle lighting effects that come across really well in high-definition.

The film gave Bridges a chance to show off some of his musical chops thanks to his alien persona relaying himself through music he’s picked up, and a film-reel flashback of his human self playing the guitar and singing “All I Have to Do Is Dream” with Allen (a duet that was included on the film’s soundtrack album). He’s eventually win the Best Actor Oscar for playing a musician in 2009’s Crazy Heart. For Allen, this was probably her best-known role outside of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Blu-ray combines some legacy bonus materials with a new 24-minute retrospective, called “They Came From Hollywood: Remembering Starman.” Bridges, Smith, Carpenter and a handful of the filmmakers are shown in separate interviews recalling their experience of making the film and what it meant for their careers.

For Bridges in particular, the film marked the start of a tradition in which he would assemble the photographs he takes on the set of his films into a scrapbook memento for the cast and crew.

The audio on some of the interviews is a bit scratchy, so viewers shouldn’t worry that their speakers are blowing out.

The Blu-ray also includes a great, insightful audio commentary with Carpenter and Bridges ported over from an overseas Blu-ray release, plus an 11-minute promotional featurette from the ’80s.

The film would go on to spawn a short-lived sequel TV series in 1986, though none of the cast reprised their roles. The show is available as a manufactured-on-demand DVD from Sony.

Starman

‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ Due on Digital Dec. 18, Disc Jan. 1 From Fox

The thriller Bad Times at the El Royale will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 18 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 1 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film earned $17.7 million in theaters.

In the film, seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption before everything goes to hell. Stars include Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm and Chris Hemsworth.

Bonus features on Blu-ray and DVD include “Making Bad Times at the El Royale” and a photo gallery.

The Big Lebowski: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Comedy;
$19.98 UHD BD, $59.98 UHD BD Gift Set;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong language, drug content, sexuality and brief violence.
Stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Sam Elliott, Peter Stormare, Tara Reid.

Throw on a bathrobe, grab some White Russians and get ready to immerse yourself in the off-kilter farce that is The Big Lebowski with a fun gift set containing the film in both glorious 1080p Blu-ray and now 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Wait, you think Lebowski is too much of an insubstantial follow-up for the Coen Brothers following the accolades heaped upon them in 1996 for Fargo? Yeah, well, that’s just like, your opinion man.

What we have here, man, is a Coen classic out of ’98 loosely based on Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Pretty far out, right?

Although this is more like an accidental detective story, with The Dude (Jeff Bridges) drawn into a fake kidnapping scheme and doing everything he can to get back to his normal routine blazing up, hitting the bowling alley and immersing himself in the serenity of the lanes. It doesn’t help that his blowhard bestie Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) is hell bent on attacking everything in sight.

So The Dude stumbles through the plot (and life) like a Christ-figure for the modern slacker, sinning for the rest of us and not really giving a crap. Except he cares about his rug, which really ties the room together. And maybe his car, which is pretty thoroughly trashed during the movie.

Is there a deeper meaning to all this? Have the Coens crafted a parable for our two-party system, drawing a line between Walter’s aggressive style and The Dude’s laid-back diplomacy, with their meek pal Donny (Steve Buscemi) serving as the everyman caught in the middle? Is it just a bowling-is-life metaphor, a game of strikes and gutters, ups and downs?

Does it matter?

Maybe there isn’t much of a point beyond embracing the film’s infectious let-it-ride attitude, eminently quotable dialogue, soulful soundtrack and a population of characters who exist in their own little universe all kind of colliding with each other in one big stream-of-consciousness hotbox for the audience to inhale.

As for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, the gift set comes in a miniature bowling-ball bag with a nifty miniature bowling-ball pencil holder (the holes in the ball being for the pencils, obviously). Also cool is a glasses polishing cloth styled after The Dude’s rug. The disc case itself comes in a knitted “cozy” based on The Dude’s iconic sweater, which is a nice touch if a bit impractical (the disc case is the same as the standalone 4K Blu-ray combo pack).

The 4K disc contains no bonus materials, which are all on the regular Blu-ray included with the combo pack. That standard Blu-ray is a repackaging of the same disc that was first released in 2011, which itself was a high-def version of the old 10th anniversary DVD. As such, it carries over most of the old extras, such as the tongue-in-cheek intro from a fake film preservationist, a few making-of retrospectives, a video about Jeff Bridges’ on-set photography, and a profile of the annual Lebowski Fest confab.

The Blu-ray also includes an in-movie scorecard for the various Dudeisms and curse words spouted throughout the film; pop-up information for the music as it plays during the movie; and a tame picture-in-picture mode with footage that looks like it was taken from the 10th anniversary interviews. While it would be cool for all these to play out at the same time, they’re on separate tracks so you can only pick one at a time.

You can also play the film with a trivia mode and play against a friend in shouting out the next line of dialogue during certain scenes, though the choice points don’t seem to come up as often as you’d expect.

Not that it matters, since this isn’t really a movie that ever embraced expectations, right? And that, at its core, is what makes The Big Lebowski so special. The Dude abides in any format.

‘The Big Lebowski’ to Abide With Release on 4K UHD Oct. 16 From Universal

The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Limited Edition will come out in a 4K Ultra combo pack that also includes Blu-ray and digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 16 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Coen brothers crime-comedy, starring Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart, True Grit), John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, Argo), Julianne Moore (The Hours, Still Alice), Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Ghost World), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master, Capote) and John Turturro (Barton Fink, Fading Gigolo), will be released in a set that includes a collectible bag, bowling ball pencil holder, polishing cloth and sweater packaging.

Bonus features include “The Dude’s Life,” in which Bridges, Goodman, Moore, Buscemi and Turturro take a look back at their performances and how their delivery of the Coen brothers’ dialog became classic movie lines; “The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later,” a conversation with the cast about the film’s decade-long reign as a cult classic; “Making of The Big Lebowski”; “The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story,” an in-depth look at the annual Lebowski Fest, a celebration of The Dude and his world, attended by thousands each year; “Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude,” a look at some of the Dude’s trippiest fantasies so fans can learn for the first time how these  scenes were created; an interactive map of the locations of The Big Lebowski, then and now; “Jeff Bridges Photo Book,” in which Bridges presents a portfolio of shots taken on the set of The Big Lebowski; and a photo gallery.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Lionsgate;
Drama;
$14.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, Martin Landau, Joan Allen, Frederick Forrest.

Aptly and often characterized as a screen biography with direct applications to its director’s own life and psyche, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is the one Francis Ford Coppola movie made after Apocalypse Now that ranks with my FFC favorites. My overriding concern about this new Blu-ray release was whether or nor it would do justice to the picture’s electric pigments — and not just with the cars that are its heart and soul but even in day-to-day household scenes that include some out in the Tucker family barn. The result turns out to be (for a $14.99 list price) one of the most gorgeous Blu-rays I’ve ever seen of a movie made after the three-strip Technicolor era. As its standout visuals go, this is Vittorio Storaro, baby, photographing resplendent paint and wax jobs beyond Earl Scheib’s wildest dreams.

Preston Tucker was the imaginative but brazenly cheeky-to-a-fault dreamer who tried unsuccessfully (aside from moral victories and even one in court) to ruffle the auto industry’s Big Three. He, unlike them, wanted to serve returning veterans who were looking for what his advertising termed the “Car of Tomorrow — Today.” And compared with the tank-like clunkers we see every day chugging down MGM backlot streets on Turner Classic Movies, the Tucker was a handsome structure. Coppola says on the disc’s bonus extras that as a kid whose not particularly flush father invested some money in the enterprise, it looked to him like a rocket ship.

Beyond the cool design, which featured the engine in back and luggage compartment in the front, it was full of safety innovations. You know: really crackpot ones like padded dashboard, pop-out windows to minimize the damage of wrecks, and seatbelts. (As late as 1958 or ’59 in my own experience, I can remember a cousin-by-marriage who sold car seatbelts for a living, and every family member, behind his back, thought, “tee-hee” and “isn’t that cute?”) Detroit, like today’s movies, simply followed what it thought the public wanted to the exclusion of all else. More than one observer has drawn a correlation between the rise of oversized fins and taillights and Jayne Mansfield’s emergence as a star.

Coppola, of course, once had his own ideas about how movies should be made and distributed, and his heavy personal losses when One From the Heart tried to buck the Hollywood system forced him into becoming a sometimes uninspired for-hire filmmaker who, let it be said, also makes wine that I really like. With George Lucas as executive producer and some magic that made a $24 million budget look like more, Tucker was the realization of a dream project that Coppola had once envisioned as, of all things, a collaborative musical endeavor with Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Jeff Bridges plays Tucker as an eternal optimist, and it’s a role that comes naturally to him — a guy prone to temper fits that last about five seconds before returning to the mostly perennial smile that’s his way of facing by-the-minute challenges (only 51 Tuckers got made). The movie feels totally fanciful, but a consistent directorial vision throughout makes it work against the odds; Coppola claims on the bonus commentary here that at least in broad-stroke terms, the incidents portrayed stick fairly close to real events. Well, maybe, but the movie would still play like a dream (Tucker’s or the filmmaker’s) even if they didn’t.

The villains here are the colluding auto companies, the slick silver-hairs in Tucker’s boardroom who want to substitute their own product vision, and Michigan Sen. Homer Ferguson — the person who later wrote the original bill that shoehorned “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in second grade and is here played by Jeff’s real-life papa Lloyd Bridges. As the movie’s standout heavy, the Ferguson we see here recalls Alan Alda’s slimy portrayal of Maine Sen. Owen Brewster in The Aviator, even though it’s hard to claim that Brewster was totally out of line for feeling a little weary when it came to Howard Hughes. I always wonder what it must be like for descendants of these sharks (Brewster was a Joe McCarthy acolyte) to see gramps portrayed so repulsively by filmmakers with the stature of Coppola and Scorsese.

Joan Allen has always come off as a submerged dish to me, and one of the things I like most here — and this is, no doubt, fanciful — is the way Mrs. Tucker always seems to be decked out in seducto-duds of one kind of another when entering and exiting her scenes in the French farce known as the Tucker home. It’s complete with a blur of children, eternally stressed designers and mechanics (Frederick Forest, Mako, Elias Koteas) and dogs. Christian Slater plays one of the kids, and he barely looks old enough to get hired at the Dairy Queen.

In 1988, a great movie summer where paying customers also more or less ignored The Last Temptation of Christ, Bull Durham, Running on Empty, Clean and Sober, Married to the Mob, Labor Day’s Eight Men Out (and I could go on), Tucker underperformed but did spur renewed interest in the cars themselves, most of which were still runnable at the time of its release and sold in the collectors’ market for prices that only folks like Lucas or Coppola could afford. As a Blu-ray, the movie is something of a demo model for tank-sized home screens. Beyond Coppola’s intro and voiceover, it also comes equipped with a making-of featurette and a 1948 promotional film for the car that Coppola modified and used as the basis of Tucker’s opening scene.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’ and ‘Village of the Damned’