Although we are a scant few days away from Halloween, somehow there is love in the air. Or so it seems if you are browsing the catalog releases at your local Blu-ray store. Universal Studios has graced us with two hi def debuts this week of two of the most successful and well-loved romance films of all time, Notting Hill and Love Actually.
William Thacker (Hugh Grant) is the owner of a small bookstore in Notting Hill. When mega movie star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) comes into his shop one day, he is immediately taken with her and it seems the feeling is mutual. After a few more encounters they begin to see each other, but it is just as much of a challenge for a regular guy to date one of the most recognizable faces on the planet as it is for the megafamous Scott to deal with a regular Joe.
Notting Hill managed to pull of what had been done before and after, a romantic movie with two huge stars, but somehow managed to do it with sincerity, honesty and heartfelt emotion and humor. Both Roberts and Grant are at their very best and the movie holds up perfectly all these years later and is still a near perfect romantic comedy.
Love Actually is another Hugh Grant film but this time in ensemble form. The film follows the lives of eight couples as they fall into or out of love, or are just dealing with the inclusion or absence of love in their lives.
Taking place over the Christmas holidays, Love Actually spawned dozens of movies trying to replicate its multi-story construction, but none have managed to achieve that magic and sincerity that both of these movies have. The stellar and huge cast includes Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Everyone is fantastic here and the script really feels based in reality and has a genuine authenticity that the films that followed it rarely achieved.
Both films are presented on Blu-ray for the first time from Universal Home Video and both films look spectacular. Nice clean prints with great color, clarity and detail make both of these films worth revisited or finally adding to the collection. Highly recommended.