I’ve mentioned on several occasions how great the selection of Blu-rays has been this summer, and it’s not just the quality of the films that matters, but the variety as well. This week’s lineup of new releases is a perfect example, with something for just about everyone. Though I wish that a review copy of “Lockout” had arrived in time to include in my column, there’s still quite a bit here to keep you entertained for most of the week.
“Mean Streets” is one of those movies that’s lingered on my must-see list for years but I never found the time to watch, so this Blu-ray release was the perfect opportunity to remedy the situation. But whether it was just a case of my expectations being too high or something else altogether, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Although there’s some great stuff in the movie that Martin Scorsese went on to utilize to even better effect in future projects, the sum of those parts feels too raw and unpolished. Robert De Niro delivers a stellar supporting performance in the first of his many collaborations with Scorsese, but the rest of the acting isn’t quite up to par. The story is also pretty lacking for a movie that runs nearly two hours in length, and it wastes so much time on petty confrontations that by the time the big finale finally arrives, my interest had waned considerably. I may be in the minority when it comes to the gritty crime drama, but when you’ve already seen all the other Scorsese/De Niro team-ups, it’s understandable why this might pale in comparison.
Blu-ray Highlight: Any audio commentary with Martin Scorsese should be considered mandatory listening material, and the one included here featuring the director with co-writer/frequent collaborator Mardik Martin and actress Amy Robinson is no exception.
For a movie that’s considered by many to be the best musical of all time, it’s surprising that Warner Bros. took so long to release it on Blu-ray, although you could say the same for a lot of their classic titles. In celebration of its 60th anniversary (hardly an important milestone, but one that sounds impressive nonetheless), the studio has spared no expense for the film’s Blu-ray debut, which boasts a new 4k high definition video transfer that looks amazing. Though it’s a little strange to watch the movie after having seen “The Artist” (which, let’s be honest, was obviously heavily influenced by “Singin’ in the Rain”), it’s still a really enjoyable flick. The story is admittedly a bit cheesy, but almost every song-and-dance number is memorable, and the main three actors are perfectly cast in their roles. In fact, although the film may be a Gene Kelly vehicle, it’s his two co-stars that steal the show. Donald O’Connor manages to keep up with the fleet-footed Kelly every step of the way (and makes you laugh while doing so), while Debbie Reynolds is so charming that you’d be crazy not to fall madly in love with her the minute she appears onscreen.
Blu-ray Highlight: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition box set comes packed with some pretty cool goodies (including a 42-page hardcover book and your very own umbrella), but the all-new documentary “Raining on a New Generation” is the best of the limited bonus material. Featuring interviews with the likes of Paula Abdul, Matthew Morrison and Harry Shum Jr. of “Glee,” and the directors and choreographers of recent movie and TV musicals, the featurette is an interesting retrospective on the film that covers the choreography, ensemble cast and the effect that it still has on Hollywood today.