January’s Failures

Oo-ooh, wouldja look at this? After three years as just part of my monthly review, Failures has gone and got its own dedicated post! Well, it was getting ridiculously long to be just a part of something else. There’s just so much stuff to see every month, and so much of it I don’t see…

We begin, as ever, with the big screen, where there’s something of a sense of things being back to normal, at least in terms of what’s being released. I think the closest to what could conceivably be called a blockbuster this month was the new Scream, while the rest of the UK release schedule was filled with belated bows for things like Licorice Pizza, Belfast, and Nightmare Alley. Let’s be honest, they’re not things that would tempt me out to the cinema in the best of days (I’ll wait for an at-home option), never mind in Covid times.

I’m not alone in such thoughts, of course, and so the streamers continue to trot stuff out to capture our fleeting interest, though there weren’t any particularly big guns this month, unless I missed something. I think Netflix’s biggest offering was Robert Harris adaptation Munich: The Edge of War, as well as a UK debut for Chloë Grace Moretz sci-fi Mother/Android. Moretz used to be on track to be a genuine movie star, but nowadays I feel like I only see her turn up in direct-to-streaming stuff no one seems to know is coming — like, out of nowhere, there’ll be a new film starring her on Netflix or Amazon now and then. I don’t know if that’s a deliberate career choice or a case of reduced options…

Meanwhile, over at Prime Video, there was George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Tender Bar, starring Ben Affleck, and acquired fourquel Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. I watched the first of those last year and thought it was moderately likeable, so maybe I’ll get to the fourth one day. There’s also Copshop, which I think they’re billing as a Premiere rather than an Original, or something? I can’t remember, and I can’t be bothered to load it up right now just to check. I guess it’s the difference between “stuff we own and will always be here” and “stuff we’ve bought exclusive rights to for a bit”. Sky’s ‘originals’ always feel like they’re in a similar limbo. This month those included Save the Cinema, which looks like a pleasant ‘little Britain’ kind of film, and Naked Singularity, which is apparently a heist movie starring John Boyega, Olivia Cooke, Bill Skarsgard. Again, having heard no one mention it doesn’t exactly suggest it’s worth one’s time.

As usual with Sky, more interesting were their other premieres — the likes of Pig, A Quiet Place Part II, The Paper Tigers, and No Sudden Move. That last one’s actually been on there since October, but somehow I’d missed that it was a new Steven Soderbergh film. I need to catch up on his stuff. They also had Nobody, which I’ve seen and really should’ve reviewed, and Supernova, which I bought on disc and really should’ve seen and reviewed. Over on Prime, there was Demonic — which catches my attention purely because it’s the latest from Neill Blomkamp, a director who’s star has faded to the point where this got very little attention during its cinema window — and, eh, a bunch of older stuff. If I listed everything I deemed worthy of bunging on my watchlist, we’d be here forever.

Netflix’s catalogue offerings all felt like hand-me-downs: The Gentlemen, after it was on Prime for yonks last year; and Dolittle, after it had been on iPlayer all over Christmas. Talking of iPlayer, they offered The Souvenir (which used to be on MUBI) and Mary Queen of Scots (which used to be on, er, Netflix). But, hey, at least you expect a free TV-schedule-derived streamer to be a relatively-late-to-the-game kinda place for these things. Still, iPlayer does a decent job nowadays, what with also offering the likes of The Sisters Brothers, sci-fi Little Joe, Lady Macbeth, and Personal Shopper. Plus, you’re more likely to find older classics there than pretty much anywhere else, which this month included In the Heat of the Night and a bunch of war films. You can find some similarly interesting stuff on Channel 4’s catchup — the main thing I want to try to catch from last month is Topsy-Turvy, which hasn’t been on UK TV for a ridiculously long time. It’s quite long though, and C4 does force adverts on you, so I can see myself failing at that again in February.

I’m still subscribed to MUBI, though considering they add a film a day and this month I’ve only long-listed three to mention, and the only one I’m going to bother to mention is Céline Sciamma’s debut, Water Lilies, I do wonder if I should be. (There’s a bunch of stuff on there I keep meaning to catch up on, though.) As for Disney+, they seem to mainly be focusing on series right now, but did offer Marvel’s Eternals weeks before its disc release. Seems to be the way things are going.

And talking of discs releases, yeah, I still bought dozens of the things. No such thing as a post-Christmas slump for me. Brand-spanking-new releases included the 4K discs of Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho and Ridley Scott’s The Last Duellast month I mooted that I should watch the latter on Disney+ before committing to buying it. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Hope I like it! Of course, most of my purchases are blind-buys anyway — I did exactly the same with Donnie Yen action-thriller Raging Fire. Exactly the same, because it was also a Zavvi-exclusive Steelbook that’s the UK’s only 4K release. Other new releases included more Asian action in Eureka’s double-bill of Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son; the mystery of a missing hammer in a nudist camp in Patrick; and importing the 4K of Blood for Dracula, aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula, to go with last month’s import of the 4K of Flesh for Frankenstein, aka Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein.

You’d think January sales might account for much disc purchasing this month, but not really. I nabbed Blade in 4K when it was randomly cheap on Amazon the other week; and I think silent drama Piccadilly was slightly reduced when I picked it up — but that’s about it. Although I did get the limited edition of anime In This Corner of the World for a steal. Places like HMV are still selling it for £20, but there’s a guy on eBay who has it for a fiver. Seemed worth a punt, and it paid off. Otherwise, there were a couple of things that came out late last year and I didn’t get for Christmas (the BFI’s release of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and StudioCanal’s 4K disc of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and a semi-random US order. I almost order in ‘bulk’ from the US these days, to average out the cost of shipping. There’s always stuff I want to pad out an order, anyhow. This one was provoked by a Criterion sale (from which I only got High Sierra and Hitchcock’s The Lodger in the end), plus the new release of Gambit (the Michael Caine / Shirley MacLaine one) and some more new releases that are still in the post. I used it as a chance to also get Kiss Me Kate (in 3D) and Vincent Price I Am Legend adaptation The Last Man on Earth.

Finally, I also bought the animated Transformers movie — fully known as The Transformers: The Movie, of course — on 4K. But does that really count as a failure when I consciously bought it to watch “sometime this year” as part of WDYMYHS? Something to mull over ’til next month…

5 thoughts on “January’s Failures

  1. If Disney is trying to kill the 4K UHD market by allowing retailer-exclusives of higher-priced steelbook editions of their films, weeks after premiering the same film on its streaming service, they are going the right way about it. I despair at some of the things going on in the physical disc market of late. I remember the UK used to be one of the biggest markets for video sales. Anyway, screw Disney and Zavvi; I imported the Italian 4K of The Last Duel before Christmas, but one has to wonder for how long this will go on and for how long we’ll be able to work around it.

    I wonder how many thousands of Ridley Scott fans declined to watch it on Disney+ or opt for the earlier Blu-ray release and held out for the later Zavvi steelbook of the 4K? I wonder if the number of 4K units sold is so low that Disney conveniently uses it as an excuse not to bother with the next film to come out? When films become PPV on Disney+ everything will make perfect sense, obviously…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s certainly a tactic. They must see some value in doing it, otherwise why bother? I mean, it would be even cheaper to do no release whatsoever. If they thought it would be more lucrative, it would be better to do a wide release. I wonder if, in fact, they’re looking at the model employed by the likes of Arrow (owned by Zavvi now, of course): you make a more-desirable, more-limited product, and you sell out all stock at full price. You’re not left with it lingering for years at ever-reducing prices. And you can always do a re-release if you feel you’re missing sales.

      With the 4K market clearly being quite a niche one, I’m not surprised studios are looking to other avenues. I’d rather this than no release at all. But the £25 price point is already pushing it (and I think was designed to go above the £20 for 3D releases — but when no 3D releases are forthcoming, they really should be moving down to £20 for new 4K discs, in my opinion), so £30 — plus a couple of extra quid for Zavvi’s never-free p&p… well, I wouldn’t pay it for everything.

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  2. Also, I’d be interested in your thoughts re: Last Night in Soho; I’ve heard all sorts of conflicting reports that make me suspect its a definitive marmite movie. I’ve steered clear of it because of it. Am I missing out? Answers on a postcard please…

    (jeez I expect most people reading this comment will now be wondering what a ‘postcard’ is… must be because my birthday is coming up, I’m getting sensitive about age and generation gaps) .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right about it being marmite — I still see tweets/post that come from a position of “we all know this was shit” and “we all know this was really good” (echo chambers ‘n’ all that). I hope I like it, obviously, but it should be interesting at the very least.

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  3. Pingback: The Comparatively Calm Monthly Review of February 2022 | 100Films.co.uk

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