Plus 10 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
What is it? A ninety year old man stays true to himself.
Why see it? John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut is light on plot, but it’s overflowing in character thanks to one hell of a swan song performance by Harry Dean Stanton. He takes a rare lead role here and is simply mesmerizing whether he’s speaking or simply looking off across the landscape. The supporting cast is equally aces, but it’s Stanton who commands the screen as a simple man enjoying a simple life with laughs, frustrations, and some delicious diner food. The final shot is easily the best performer sign off ever captured onscreen.
[DVD extras: Featurettes, interviews]
Cadillac Man [KL Studio CLassics]
What is it? A car salesman has a terrible day when all of the immoral balls he’s juggling come crashing down at the same time.
Why see it? This is a sharply-written, well-directed dramatic comedy, but the heart and soul of it rests with Robin Williams’ lead performance as the guy in way over his head. He’s funny, but there’s a pathos to his performance exacerbated by the steadily growing troubles landing in his lap. More laughs come from Tim Robbins who gives a wonderfully deranged and hectic performance as the husband of a woman sleeping with the salesman. It gets heavy at times, but humor remains the focus throughout… albeit almost exclusively of the dark and mean kind.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
Hell Night [Scream Factory]
What is it? A pair of pledges and their better halves spend the night in a creepy old house in the hopes of joining a fraternity.
Why see it? You may not realize it, but this is Linda Blair’s best horror film. It’s a terrifically fun experience that manages real scares, likable characters, and an oddly chaste tone at times. The atmosphere is terrific both in and outside the house, and the film delivers two great scares involving a rug and a tunnel. It’s just a solidly entertaining horror thriller with an uncommon antagonist, and I remain a huge fan. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray offers a strong picture (still soft, but the best possible) along with some fun special features. It’s a no-brainer pickup for horror fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K scan, interviews, commentary]
What is it? A trio of thieves plan an epic heist with the law hot on their heels.
Why see it? Some heist movies are intricate affairs designed to leave audiences entertained and in bewildered awe of how the theft was accomplished (until the movie offers up a flashback to explain it all), and some are just interested in the fun. This Hong Kong import falls in the latter camp, and thanks to Andy Lau, Jean Reno, and most especially Shu Qi it succeeds in offering up plenty of light thrills. The action is a mix of stunts and cg assists, but it’s all good fun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
What is it? The true-ish story of a pilot who flew guns and drugs for the CIA.
Why see it? Tom Cruise will never not be watchable as he’s just a charismatic guy, and in director Doug Liman’s capable hands the film itself is a solid experience. It never quite feels necessary, though, as Cruise’s character’s rise and fall follow the exact route you expect them to (whether or not you’re familiar with the actual story). There are still some fun, exhilarating beats to be found, and while it all grinds to a halt it does so with a sobering reminder that our government knows from shady.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
Battle of the Sexes
What is it? The true story of a tennis champion and a male chauvinist.
Why see it? The filmmakers behind Little Miss Sunshine reunite with Steve Carell for the real story behind Billie Jean King’s battle of the sexes with Bobby Riggs. Carell and Emma Stone play well off each other (again) but while their exchanges are fun and the third act is fun too much of the film is spent on their independent relationship drama that never fully engages. There’s drama to mine, but it distracts from the very full drama at hand. Still, the theme of female empowerment never grows old, and again, once the film gets to the actual match it comes alive.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Blame It On Rio [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A middle-aged and married man sleeps with his best friend’s teenage daughter, and hilarity ensues.
Why see it? I recall being a bigger fan of this one as a teenager myself due both to the comedic hijinx and the ample nudity, but as a slightly more mature adult the film is a bit more troubling and far less funny. Michael Caine still makes for an engaging enough character, but his performance — along with that of Joseph Bologna, Michelle Johnson, and Valerie Harper — is sloppy. Only Demi Moore gives an solidly human performance. The comedy doesn’t land as well either with far too many gags stemming from the “hilarity” of Caine boning the teenager. It’s an odd artifact of the 80s, and while I still find enough to enjoy here to warrant a watch it’s not one I’ll need to revisit anytime soon.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
What is it? A college tour for his son leads a man to doubt his own life’s accomplishments.
Why see it? In a year that saw movies featuring death, disease, and real loss, this was probably the saddest film of 2017. Ben Stiller is in full-on sad-sack mode here as a guy who can’t stop comparing his own life against those of his friends and even his own son’s future, and his journey to being okay is a long, sad trip. Moments of levity and awareness are peppered throughout, and it plays as a comedy, but his demeanor is oppressive. It’s worth it for the sweet moments as well as the supporting cast that includes Michael Sheen, Jemaine Clement, and writer/director Mike White.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
The Houses October Built 2
What is it? The haunted attraction gang sets off on a new adventure that might also be their last.
Why see it? The original film is a rarity in the found footage subset in that it succeeds in delivering engaging characters, compelling reasons for the filming, and legitimate scares. The sequel can’t quite compete with it — especially once the explanation is given as to what happened after the first film’s end — but it manages a few surprises of its own. The ending in particular takes an interesting turn, and while it blows its wad a bit too early it still lands with an effective slam.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, music video, featurette]
Love Beats Rhymes
What is it? An aspiring rapper finds success once she focuses on the poetry in her heart.
Why see it? Azealia Banks plays the rapper in question, and she shows real charisma in her performance as a woman battling in a man’s game. Even those of us who aren’t exactly in the bag for poetry slams and rap battles will find satisfaction in the heart and adrenaline on display. It doesn’t exactly tread any new ground, but it’s a solid enough watch.
[DVD extras: Extended scenes, outtakes, featurette]
What is it? A doctor who specializes in sleep disorders has a sleep disorder.
Why see it? It’s great seeing Maggie Q in a lead role that’s not dependent on her ethnicity or action chops, but as horror films go this one is pretty lifeless. A demonic presence is behind an incident from her childhood as well as the night terrors haunting a young family, but as with every other sleep paralysis film (I’ve seen) the horror of it all just doesn’t translate.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? A woman seeks revenge after her husband is killed and her baby is abducted.
Why see it? Westerns are always welcome on my TV as there really aren’t enough of them these days, and while this one isn’t quite in the usual mold it offers up some solid beats across the old west. Alice Eve takes the lead, and she does good work shifting from proper lady to a woman doing whatever she needs to do to get her child back and kill the men responsible. It’s not flashy, and set-pieces are kept to a minimum, but genre fans will want to give it a spin.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Also out this week:
The Breakfast Club [Criterion], Chavela, Psychopaths, A Question of Faith
Related Topics: Home Video