Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for July 19th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes new 4K UHDs of Devil in a Blue Dress and God Told Me To, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Devil in a Blue Dress [4K UHD, Criterion Collection]
What is it? An adaptation of Walter Mosley’s first Easy Rawlins novel.
Why see it? Denzel Washington has only recently started doing sequels for the first time with follow-ups to The Equalizer, but this is the franchise we should have gotten. Washington plays Easy Rawlins, an ex-GI in 50s Los Angeles who’s a hard-working man and a proud first-time homeowner. He’s tasked with a finding a missing white woman, but nothing about the case is as simple as that. Put this one up there with L.A. Confidential as a modern-made noir masterpiece. Director Carl Franklin crafts something special out of the mystery, the characters, the city, and the racial themes woven throughout them all. Washington is obviously aces, but the supporting cast — Don Cheadle, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Terry Kinney — is equally up to the task. Just a fantastic film from start to the very last moment.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interviews]
The Bob’s Burgers Movie
What is it? A blue collar family deals with white collar murder!
Why see it? That synopsis probably doesn’t sound right to fans of the series, but the movie does indeed see Bob Belcher and his family find themselves caught up in a mystery. They’re short on rent, but soon bigger problems rear their head in the form of a sinkhole and a skeleton. It’s a feature-length episode delivering big laughs, warm family moments, silly songs, and more. It’s a great time with fast-flying dialogue and a tight-knit but wonderfully weird family. The disc comes loaded with extras including a Gene-centric short and a commentary allowing the filmmakers to cut loose and have a good time.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, short film]
Drive My Car [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A theater director still mourning his dead wife finds comfort in routine daily drives.
Why see it? This Academy Award winner for Best International Feature is something of a marvel. A mesmerizing, slowly unfolding character piece, the film uses all of its 179-minutes to reward viewers with its rich, humane look at grief, love, and the simple awareness of those around us. Haruki Murakami stories form the basis for the film, and anyone who’s read the man’s writing can see and feel that almost instantly. The plot may be minimal, but the film’s interest in exploring what it takes to heal past wounds is enormous. Criterion’s new release is light on extras, but all of it comes with the expected attention to detail.
[Extras: Interview, featurettes]
God Told Me To [4K UHD, Blue Underground]
What is it? A string of murders in NYC are committed because god told them to do it.
Why see it? Larry Cohen’s films are never less than worth a watch, and sometimes they’re worth a whole lot more. This gonzo gem from the mid 70s is one of the latter, and it’s loaded with weirdness, character, and unpredictability. Tony Lo Bianco is the detective searching for clues behind the seemingly random acts of violence, and his investigation leads down some dark and disturbing paths. Thriller, procedural, space horror? This one has everything, and it’s a ride you won’t forget. The disc sees Blue Underground continue to be one of (if not the) best labels out there when it comes to 4K UHD releases, and the new restoration is aces. Add in some informative and entertaining extras, and you have one of the year’s must-own upgrades.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentaries, interviews, Q&As]
Marty [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A regular joe finds love, maybe.
Why see it? There’s a welcome simplicity in Delbert Mann’s mid 50s tale of a regular guy finding love for the very first time. Ernest Borgnine takes a rare lead role, and a rare “nice guy” role too, as Marty, a stocky fellow who finds himself on an unexpected date with a woman tossed aside by someone else. The pair spend the night talking, and that’s all it takes, but as his friends and family diss her as a dog he begins to wonder if maybe what he’s feeling isn’t real. Like I said, just a simple and effective film, a precursor to 1991’s Dogfight, and a sweet watch overall.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary]
Men in Black – 25th Anniversary Edition [4K UHD steelbook]
What is it? Secret government agents deal with intergalactic threats to the Earth.
Why see it? Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith headline this still entertaining blast of comedy, action, and science fiction, and it’s never looked better than it does in 4K UHD. Smith is a NYC cop recruited into the organization, and director Barry Sonnenfeld keeps the energy and creativity high throughout. Practical alien effects from Rick Baker also go a long way towards making this an all-timer blockbuster, and while later sequels expanded and got bigger this original still charms and entertains.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentaries, deleted scenes, documentary, music video]
What is it? A crook becomes a cop, well, kind of.
Why see it? George Armitage’s fun, violent, and blackly comic action/comedy remains a highly entertaining ride. Alec Baldwin plays an ex-con who hits the streets with a mind for acts of massive irresponsibility. He kills, robs, and impersonates a cop — the fantastic Fred Ward — and falls in love with an ex-prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but it’s a good time everyone knows is heading toward an unfortunate conclusion. It’s guaranteed to rub some viewers the wrong way, but all three leads are giving these wonky characters their all making for a wild time.
What is it? A wealthy family is held hostage during a home invasion.
Why see it? The talent pool here is undeniable on both sides of the camera. Michael Cimino directs/co-writes, and it stars Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins, Mimi Rogers, Lindsay Crouse, Elias Koteas, Dean Norris, David Morse, and more, but the damn thing just doesn’t work. We get a little atmosphere, less tension, and some attractive cinematography, but it never grabs hold the way a thriller should. Things just chug along with occasional pauses to ogle Kelly Lynch, and while we get a few twists along the way they’re never the kind that leave you rapt with attention. Still, that cast and Cimino’s solid direction make for an easily watchable thriller.
What is it? A woman must fight herself.
Why see it? The premise to Riley Sterns’ latest is pretty irresistible. A woman (Karen Gillan) is diagnosed with a fatal illness and has a clone created to go on living with her family and friends, but when she goes into remission she discovers that turning the new “her” off is a mess of red tape and legal complications. The only solution? A duel. It’s a great premise, but the execution and the directions it takes never live up to it. The dark humor of it all struggles, and the promised action never arrives. Sterns does still manage some interesting observations and commentaries on society’s near future making for an interesting feature that might have landed better as a short.
[Extras: Featurette, commentary]
Hell High [Arrow Video]
What is it? A high school prank on a teacher goes awry.
Why see it? Slashers that kick off with bullying and pranks are fairly common, but this one mixes up the usual setup by having a teacher be the target. More than that, she’s a woman with her own violent past and a madness that still persists. Those atypical beats make this worth a watch alongside some entertaining performances and a generally fun vibe.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentaries introduction by Joe Bob Briggs, interviews, featurette, deleted scenes]
Salt & Pepper / One More Time [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two friends help the government fight baddies.
Why see it? The Brat Pack is remembered for both real life shenanigans and their various members’ movies, but this double feature pairing of Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford is hardly among them. The pair play club owners — Davis is Salt and Lawford is Pepper, get it? — who begrudgingly jump at the chance to stop a coup and solve a murder. The comedy is both dated and mostly unfunny, and Jerry Lewis’ direction on the second film isn’t among his highlights either. They sure are a curiosity though.
Steele Justice [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A Vietnam vet fights the Vietnamese mob back home in America.
Why see it? Martin Kove has an extensive filmography, but very, very few of his roles are leads. He’s usually a sidekick or an a-hole at best, but this late 80s entry sees him go full-on action hero. He’s a tough guy in Vietnam who returns home half-cocked and unable to hold down a job as a cop. Good thing there’s trouble in town that only his kind of response is suited towards. The action is middle of the road, but Kove is a fun watch.
Terror Circus [Code Red]
What is it? A man holds women prisoner in the desert.
Why see it? Andrew Prine stars as a weirdo in the desert who collects women for his “circus,” an audience-free event where he lets his animal pets kill off the ladies. It’s a simple and perverse enough setup, but it’s all just a drag. Poor pacing, performances that bounce between flat and erratic, and some woefully lackluster direction make for a horror/thriller that neither horrifies nor thrills.
They Call Me Mister Tibbs! / The Organization [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two lesser seen sequels to an absolute classic.
Why see it? Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) first hit the screen in the brilliant In the Heat of the Night, and these two features followed a few years later. Poitier is back for both, and the detective once again is hot on the case, first of a murder and then of a theft. Both films are good and feature engaging plots, characters, and direction, but they’re viewed as lesser in large part because they’re weightless compared to the themes and ideas in the original. Again, not bad films, but certainly not movies people are frequently coversing about decades later. Those who picked up Kino’s 4K UHD of the original already have both sequels as they were included on a second disc (Blu-ray), but if you kept your Criterion instead then this is a solid pick-up.
Also out this week:
Adventures of Don Juan [Warner Archive], The Ex, Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema VIII [KL Studio Classics], JFK: Revisited, Maria Montez and Jon Hall Collection [KL Studio Classics], Nathalie…, Native Son, Reno 911! The Hunt for QAnon, The Righteous [Arrow Video], The Sacred Spirit [Arrow Video], The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender, Vendetta, Where the Lilies Bloom [Scorpion Releasing], Yellowjackets – Season 1,
Related Topics: Home Video