Dost thou wish to live deliciously in HD?
The Witch is new to Blu-ray, along with these other 11 releases.
Pick of the Week
What is it? Two travelers with hell on their tail. Three women with bad luck on the horizon. One man in the wrong place at the wrong time. A brother willing to go to the ends of the earth in search of his sister.
Why rent it? Horror anthologies are on the upswing lately, and this is one of the good ones with strong acting, thrills, and no outright stinkers in the mix. The genius at work here is its commitment to making this a far more cohesive film than the fractured anthologies we’re used to. Rather than fade to black between stories or feature title cards for each, the film transitions naturally between the tales. As one ends the camera moves to another door, a different seat, or the next car approaching on the road and smoothly introduces the characters occupying the next story. It makes for a fun and more cohesive ride, and I’m already looking forward to the next road trip hosted by these filmmakers.
[DVD extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes]
How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town [VOD release]
What is it? Cassie left her hometown of Beaver’s Ridge after being slut-shamed as a teenager with a healthy interest in sex, but when she returns as an adult (Jewel Staite) she’s faced with residents, including her old classmates, holding a grudge against her for an article she wrote about their prudishness. An opportunity arises to help broaden their sexual horizons and gather material for a new article, and all she has to do is guide them through an orgy.
Why watch it? This delightful little comedy from Canada hits some expected beats with a central romance, but there are plenty of surprises elsewhere with a pretty terrific ensemble of characters and performers. The dialogue and interactions offer up plenty of laughs, both clean and decidedly dirty, and the film retains a certain sweetness even as the screen fills with people boning left and right. It has its own morality too as it presents all manner of sexual perspectives without anything resembling judgement and instead shows respect people and their various holes.
What is it? William has taken issue with the behavior of his village’s leadership and believes they’re not properly following the word of God, but instead of changing their ways his complaints result in the banishment of him and his family. He, along with his wife Katherine and five children, moves out to a solitary patch of land bordering a dark forest to begin anew, but the pressures of leading a pious life take their toll on the entire family. To be fair, the witch in the woods who abducts, murders and bathes in his infant son’s blood isn’t helping matters.
Why buy it? It’s safe to say that writer/director Robert Eggers’ feature debut giveth no shites about your genre expectations. The film is a powerful slow burn dripping in period detail, dialogue authenticity and atmospheric dread, and while it moves at its own pace the end result is like a Halloween-themed episode of Little House on the Prairie by way of Ben Wheatley’s Kill List. This is a horror film, but it’s as interested in the terrors we bring upon ourselves as it is the ones well out of our natural control. The dangers of blind faith, the trouble with interpretation, and the inability to accept the unknown as simply a temporary gap in our knowledge all combine to form a world where man continues to be his own worst enemy. Well, the witch in the woods still isn’t helping matters any either.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, Q&A]
Cop Rock: The Complete Series
What is it? The men and women of the LAPD risk their lives on a daily basis protecting the city’s citizens against criminals, but they have other habits too. Some have affairs, some enjoy the occasional act of vigilante justice, and all of them break out in spontaneous song and dance.
Why rent it? Steven Bochco is a legend in the realm of law-related television, but even legends make the occasional misstep. It’s not difficult to see why his short-lived ‐ 11 episodes !— cop show musical failed to catch on with viewers as the songs feel continually jarring against the otherwise “normal” procedural. Unsurprisingly, the traditional narrative sections are well-written and engaging enough to hold our attention, but those songs… those songs.
[DVD extras: Interviews]
Dementia (Scream Factory)
What is it? George (Gene Jones) is a Vietnam veteran whose nightmarish memories of his time as a prisoner of war are growing worse even as dementia plays havoc with his more recent recollections. A stroke leads his adult son to hire George a live-in nurse, but the woman (Kristina Klebe) might have intentions that don’t include caring for the old man.
Why rent it? The initial setup teases a conflict between his dementia and the nurse’s plans, but a bit too much of what follows is clear in advance. Not that there isn’t a surprise or two in store, but much of it plays out as expected. Still, Jones remains a mesmerizing performer, and while his character can’t reach the heights of his turn in The Sacrament it’s still worth a watch.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Divine Access [VOD release]
What is it? Jack Harriman (Billy Burke) had an unusual upbringing with a mother (Adrienne Barbeau) interested in exploring every corner of every religion, but while he’s filled with words and inspirations he lacks his own convictions. An appearance on a public access religion show leads to an audience of the lost and unclean, and as his popularity grows as the man with the answers he realizes he has no answers for himself.
Why watch it? In a word, or five, Billy Burke and Patrick Warburton. The latter delivers the laughs while the former seems right at home as a guy who gets by on charm. Harriman’s arc is wholly obvious to anyone who’s seen a movie before, but there’s some engaging commentary along the way via his “sermons” and outbursts.
The Films of Maurice Pialat: Volume 1
What is it? A young woman (Isabelle Huppert) leaves the safety and security of her upper class marriage behind for the musky embrace of a crass Lothario (Gerard Depardieu) in Loulou. A middle-aged woman lay dying while her cheating husband and morally dubious son go about their days in The Mouth Agape. Young, blue collar folk make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives in Graduate First.
Why rent it? Director Maurice Pialat is considered a French treasure by some for his films about his country’s everyday citizenry, and there’s certainly an appeal to the way he captures normal life. He’s less interested in narrative though resulting in long shots where little happens beyond confirmation of character traits that have already been well established. For better or worse, he’s also uninterested in expressing an opinion about his characters. They exist, but they do so with seemingly little purpose beyond the matter of fact. It’s observational film making more concerned with existence than experience, and if that intrigues you as a viewer Pialat is as good a guide as any.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, deleted scenes]
Hired to Kill (Arrow Video)
What is it? Frank Ryan (Brian Thompson) is a mercenary who knows that “nothing is perfect when women are involved,” but his misogynistic attitude bites him in the ass when he’s hired to rescue a rebel leader and is forced to use a team of lady mercs for the mission! Can you imagine such a thing?! Anyway, they run into trouble in the form of Oliver Reed.
Why rent it? It’s unclear what dirt director Nico Mastorakis has on the good folks at Arrow Video, but the blackmail continues with their new 4k restoration of his 1990 action flick. I kid Nico, I kid. There’s definite fun to be had here both in the script and in Reed’s villainous turn, and while the first hour is conspicuously light on action it’s never dull because of it.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews]
I Saw What You Did (Scream Factory)
What is it? Two teenage girls spend an evening having fun pranking strangers on the phone. They pick random men from the phone book and then pretend to be a girlfriend when their wives answer. The hilarity increases when they mix things up and start telling the strangers “I saw what you did, and I know who you are.” The games take a turn though when one of the guys they call turns out to be a murderer!
Why rent it? William Castle (The Tingler) directs this simple but effective little chiller and finds some real suspense along the way. It’s playful early on as the two friends hang out, but its turn towards violence hits hard and fast. Joan Crawford’s role is a supporting one despite the marketing, and John Ireland does good work as the killer. It’s a cautionary tale warning teens about the dangers of pranks and the importance of telling your parents the truth, and that just adds to its old-fashioned charm.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Kindergarten Cop 2
What is it? Reed (Dolph Lundgren) is an aggressive FBI agent whose latest case requires him to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in pursuit of evidence. Will he find what he’s looking for? Will he bump uglies with the hot teacher across the hall? Will the kids soften his edges? (You know the answers.)
Why skip it? There are no returning characters from the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, but the story aims for many of the same beats. Unfortunately it fails to land any of the humor thanks to weak comedic performances and a weaker script focused on modern, “liberal” students. Nearly 82% of the movie is spent on shtick about peanut allergies! (This is a slight exaggeration.) If watching Lundgren line dance is important to you then by all means, see this generic garbage, but don’t go in expecting even one hundredth of the laughs or heart of the original.
[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurette]
What We Become [VOD release]
What is it? Summer is supposed to be a time of outdoor fun in the sun, but when a new flu strain hits a small town its residents find their daily lives taking a much darker turn. Soldiers arrive and place everyone under quarantine, and they back it up with deadly force. It’s not long though before a new threat emerges.
Why watch it? There are some visceral thrills to be found in this Danish chiller in the vein of 28 Days Later ‐ i.e. it’s a “not a zombie” zombie movie ‐ but there’s also a hefty dose of weak writing. Characters routinely behave in the most idiotic manner solely to allow for the next obvious turn or scare, and we’re given no one to get behind as everyone commits one dumb move after another. Again and again someone acts stupidly and gets others infected or killed, and that certainty drains the film of anything resembling suspense. That said, a short run time, some gory bits, and a handful of nicely-shot sequences make it worth a watch for genre fans. And not for nothing, but the marketing department should be canned for putting an image on the poster that’s from a scene in the final five minutes of the movie.
Also Out This Week:
Dirty Grandpa, The Naked Island (Criterion Collection), Orange Is the New Black: Season Three, The Program, Theeb
Related Topics: Home Video