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Jean-Pierre Melville Directs Our Stunningly Somber Pick of the Week

Plus 15 more new releases to watch at home this week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Header Army Of Shadows
By  · Published on April 7th, 2020

Welcome to this week in home video!

Pick of the Week

Army Of ShadowsArmy of Shadows [Criterion Collection]

What is it? A year in the life and death of French Resistance fighters.

Why see it? Jean-Pierre Melville’s sober look at the struggle of French Resistance members during World War II is a stark reminder that the fight was about more than thrilling battles and elaborate missions. Most movies focus on that side of things, but here we’re shown a more realistic look at the pain, the harrowing decisions, and the real trauma of it all. It’s a beautiful film despite the darkness, and its human focus is periodically interrupted with some thrilling suspense beats. Seriously, it’s a stunner, and Criterion’s new Blu-ray is packed with informative extras.

[Extras: Commentary, interviews, documentary]

The Best

Beyond The DoorBeyond the Door [Arrow Video]

What is it? A woman is possessed by a gross demon.

Why see it? Possession horror isn’t really my jam with only a few exceptions, and while I don’t love this Italian knock-off there are charms throughout its slow burn terrors punctuated by vomit and weirdness. The film alone would have landed below with The Rest, but Arrow’s new release is so beautifully produced that I had to bump it up. It’s a limited release that includes restored versions of two cuts, tons of extras, postcards, and more.

[Extras: New 2K restorations of US theatrical and extended uncut versions, commentaries, interviews, featurettes, documentary]


What is it? A Vietnam veteran finds trouble and love.

Why see it? Henry Winkler, Sally Shields, and Harrison Ford? Sold. Winkler takes the lead as the vet dealing with mental issues in his pursuit of starting a new life and doing right by his fellow soldiers. There are laughs here and even a little bit of action courtesy of some car shenanigans, but there’s a more surprising amount of heart. It’s a sweet film with some atypical performances from its three familiar faces.

[Extras: None]

Little WomenLittle Women

What is it? Another adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.

Why see it? Greta Gerwig’s take on the classic keeps the period setting and shows great respect for the text while updating aspects at the same time for a more contemporary approach. I’m not the biggest fan of the jumbled edit, but I’m in the minority on that one and still respect most of what it’s doing. The cast is an equally big draw with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep giving strong, personable performances.

[Extras: Featurettes]

Murder He SaysMurder, He Says [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A pollster stumbles into a backwoods quest for stolen loot.

Why see it? Lazy Susan gags don’t get much better than the one on display in this fun and funny comedy pitting a mild mannered city boy against a family of gun-toting hicks prone to violence. Murder and torture are second nature to the lot of ’em, but it’s a comedy through and through. Fred MacMurray is great as expected, but it’s Helen Walker and Marjorie Main who shine as a tough-talking broad and an old matriarch, respectively.

[Extras: New 4K remaster, commentary]

The Rest

AngelAngel [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A woman must choose between two men, only one of which she’s married to.

Why see it? Ernst Lubitsch films are always worth watching as even lesser Lubitsch typically has some fun to offer. This is a very good example of the director’s work, and while there are some laughs and warmly humorous beats the film is more of a romantic drama as one relationship crumbles and another possibly builds. There’s a degree of loss here, and while the infidelity of it all (plus Marlene Dietrich’s drawn-on eyebrows) detract from the fun it remains a solid picture.

[Extras: New 4K remaster, commentary]

Beau GesteBeau Geste [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Three brothers join the Foreign Legion and find adventure.

Why see it? Gary Cooper headlines this classic adventure film blending character drama and some wartime action as the legion fights to protect a desert fort against an overwhelming enemy. A touch of romance is added into the mix alongside the action and dramatic story turns making for a compelling adventure. A highlight sees Cooper’s brothers played by young Ray Milland and Robert Preston.

[Extras: New 4K remaster, commentary]


What is it? Robot battles in future Japan!

Why see it? Before we get to the movie itself, it should be noted that the DVD offers no subtitles meaning the only option is Japanese audio without translation or a mediocre English dub. Not cool! That said, the film is equally mediocre (at least with the dub) as dialogue and plot are something of a mess, and the action/effects do little to lift spirits. It’s a lot of sketchy CG.

[Extras: Featurette]


What is it? An abomination or a sexy laugh riot, you decide.

Why see it? Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is a terrible stage show with some memorable music, and now it’s made the leap to the big screen with basically the same results. Well, it’s actually a bit worse as while the stage allows for a suspension of disbelief the film should have worked to create a living world. Instead we got known actors singing poorly in CG fur. It just doesn’t work.

[Extras: None?]


What is it? A sad man talks to animals.

Why see it? Look, Robert Downey Jr. is always fun (despite another sketchy accent which challenges that notion), but this redo mistakes excessive CG and celebrity voices for charm and entertainment. It’s a busy movie with laughs that don’t land and action that doesn’t impress, and while the obvious intent is big animal entertainment it forgets the human element of those watching. It feels far longer than it is too, and that’s never a good thing. And for a movie that ends on a spoken note about Dolittle reopening the gates of his compound and rejoining the world, it’s an odd choice to literally end with a shot of the gates closing.

[Extras: Featurettes]

Eddie Macons RunEddie Macon’s Run

What is it? An escaped convict is pursued by Kirk Douglas and bad luck.

Why see it? John Schneider is the man on the run who faces all manner of obstacles on his journey to freedom from water snakes to weird-ass ranchers to Douglas’ determined cop looking to prove he’s still got it. The film’s a bit less focused than The Fugitive, but it’s equally unrealistic. Happily it’s still entertaining though and delivers some solid character beats and action including a solid car chase in its third act.

[Extras: None]

The General Died At DawnThe General Died at Dawn [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A mercenary finds danger and love in China.

Why see it? Gary Cooper headlines this adventure too alongside Madeleine Carroll, but while he shines as a solidly American hero Carroll’s performance is a bit too big for the character and tone. Still, old school adventure fans will find enough to enjoy here as the tide turns and characters play hot potato with the upper hand.

[Extras: New 4K remaster, commentary]

The Great LeapThe Great Leap

What is it? A working woman falls in love in the mountains.

Why see it? A German mountain movie with slapstick and ski stunts? Sure, why not. Leni Riefenstahl — yes, that Riefenstahl — stars as the young peasant who finds herself enamored by a visiting tourist, and wacky shenanigans ensure. It’s a silent film, but a lively energy and score keep things moving. Still, at nearly two hours it’s a romp that goes on a bit too long.

[Extras: Commentary]

Madam Secretary – The Complete Season

What is it? A woman, in the White House, in this economy?

Why see it? Tea Leoni takes the title role and does great work as a powerful woman in difficult circumstances. The show never reaches the heights of The West Wing, but it still finds plenty of worthwhile interactions ranging from the dramatic to the engaging. The supporting cast is solid too with Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Zeljko Ivanek, Keith Carradine, and more brightening the screen. The show handles one-off story lines well, but its strength is in the ongoing character played by Leoni as she navigates issues both domestic and international.

[Extras: Featurettes, commentaries, deleted scenes]

The Night Clerk

What is it? A hotel clerk with issues witnesses a murder.

Why see it? Ana de Armas is almost reason enough to watch just about anything, but she’s a supporting player in this low-key thriller alongside Helen Hunt, John Leguizamo, and Johnathon Schaech. It’s Tye Sheridan who takes the lead as the clerk with Asperger’s, and it’s not a performance destined for acclaim. The story isn’t much better as pieces just don’t add up leading to an ending that just hangs limply.

[Extras: None]


What is it? A group of veterans find their bar under siege by hopped up hooligans.

Why see it? Joe Begos’ latest is a fun little riff on John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, and while it can’t touch the classic it finds style and entertainment of its own. The cast is a big part of the charm with charismatic turns by the likes of Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Fred Williamson, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, and George Wendt. A solid synth score and some bloodletting add to the fun.

[Extras: None?]

Also out this week:

Camp Cold Brook [Scream Factory], Escape from Pretoria, Knives and Skin [Scream Factory]

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.