by Shane “Niche Market” Hnetka
It turns out that Leonard Nimoy isn’t the only Star Trek person who can die. Writer/producer Harve Bennett, who worked on several Star Trek films in the ’80s, passed away in February at the age of 84. Bennett took over the Star Trek movies after Gene Roddenberry’s expensive misfire Star Trek: The Motion Picture, going on to write and produce Star Treks II-V. After the dismal Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Bennett wanted to reboot the franchise with a new, much younger cast, but the idea was rejected by Paramount in favour of another outing with the old crew. Harve Bennett, you were ahead of your time.
Up Mill Creek
Big dogs of DVD and Blu-ray, take note: companies that used to be known for shitty quality merch have quietly transformed themselves from purveyors of public-domain junk to serious distributors. Kino, once notorious for putting out inferior products, is now one of the best. Then there’s Mill Creek Entertainment, which was (and still is) notorious for releasing massive box sets of cheap public-domain movies. You know the type: you find them cluttering up Walmart shelves with titles like “50 Film Noir Movies” or “50 Horror Movies” and so on. But Mill Creek has moved into Blu-rays and has even started paying (whaaat) for licensing. Through an agreement with Sony, some of Mill Street’s Blu-rays are finding their way into stores and web retailers, where they’re undoubtedly casting around confused glances and wondering how they managed to end up respectable.
Last year Turner Movie Classics released Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai on Blu-ray. After complaints about the picture quality, the company re-released it, with marginally better results. Now Mill Creek’s put out The Lady from Shanghai on Blu-ray with no extras but a lower price — and, most shocking, the sound and picture quality are markedly superior to TMC’s offering. I don’t know if that means it will be easier to find The Lady from Shanghai in actual brick-and mortar stores but it’s clear there’s a niche market for Blu-ray that the bigger companies aren’t pursuing — which leaves room for companies like Kino and Mill Creek.
Map To Stardom
Not only is John Cusack cleaning up at the Chinese box office with Dragon Blade (which has grossed over $100 million so far), he’s managed to nab an award. Cusack won Best Supporting Actor for David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars at the Canadian Screen Awards. Xavier Dolan’s Mommy hoovered up the rest of the big film prizes, from Best Original Screenplay to Best Motion Picture. Nothing but a restraining order can stop Mommy now.
Shane Hnetka is a Regina film and comic book nerd who writes Dog Blog’s weekly “Sunday Matinee” column at prairiedogmag.com.