Plus 21 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 young man raised in a bomb shelter is rescued and discovers his entire life has been a lie.
Why see it? There’s more than a touch of The Truman Show in director Dave McCarey’s feature debut, but you can’t do much better for an inspiration. It’s a sweet comedy about family and friends, and the core theme involves ideas on creativity, imagination, and charting your own path. SNL’s Kyle Mooney stars (and co-writes), and what begins as a quirky character grows to become someone with heart and depth. There are serious undertones here, but the film maintains a casual and warm sense of humor throughout. It’s ultimately an inspiring and uplifting film, and we can never have too many of those.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, gag reel, Q&A, deleted scenes, “lost” episode]
What is it? An assassin in 1980s Berlin finds double crosses and danger on her latest mission.
Why see it? One half of the John Wick directing team — the half that didn’t go on to make John Wick 2 — makes his solo debut with this period action pic starring Charlize Theron as an ass-kicking spy caught in the middle of history. She’s joined by the likes of James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Sofia Boutella for a twisty, pop music-filled tale highlighted by excess style and more than a few terrifically choreographed/executed fight scenes. Theron convinces with a down and dirty fight style, and she takes a beating too. The featurettes highlight the filmmaking and reveal just how much of a trooper she was with these action beats.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Bananas [Twilight Time]
What is it? The quest for love leads to revolution.
Why see it? Woody Allen remains an understandably acquired taste. and while most of his output leaves me cold some of his earlier screwball comedies still manage to find the funny. His Fielding Melish is an endlessly goofy and angsty creation who sees the humor and suffering in everything (while only sharing the humor with viewers), and Louise Lasser offers a fine balance to his stylings. The film’s political humor remains relevant too with a commentary on the inane nature of government, war, and anarchy.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Desert Hearts [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A woman heading to Reno to finalize a divorce finds love in an unexpected place.
Why see it? Donna Deitch isn’t quite a household name, but her mid 80s drama about a love story between two women was one of the first to tell such a human story without the sub-genre’s cliche of disaster and suffering at the end. It remains a powerful tale, and it comes to the screen with two strong performances at its core. It’s also an interesting comparison to films like Blue Is the Warmest Color which are clearly shot through a man’s gaze. The single sex scene here is very sexy, but it feels more naturally crafted and less sensationalized. Criterion’s new Blu gives the beautiful film a matching picture and some informative, engaging extras.
[Blu-ray extras: Mew 4K restoration, commentary, interviews]
Doctor Dolittle [Twilight Time]
What is it? A man who can communicate with animals runs into troubles with people.
Why see it? This is the other Rex Harrison musical, and while it’s not as well-remembered as My Fair Lady it’s every bit the classic. Harrison’s title character is a delight even if he does save his kindest attitudes for the non-humans around him, and by the time the story shifts into a weird murder trial viewers are either all aboard or one step removed. Even if the story doesn’t hook you, though, the song and dance numbers are fun and catchy, the wildlife is varied, and the Blu-ray looks bright and colorful.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurette]
The Incredible Shrinking Woman [Shout Select]
What is it? A housewife bombarded by the chemicals in everyday products begins shrinking.
Why see it? Director Joel Schumacher’s feature debut is a delightfully wacky comedic riff on Richard Matheson’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, and while it manages some of its own suspense and thrills the main goal here is laughs. Lily Tomlin is key there as the title woman, and Charles Grodin does his Grodin thing as the harried husband. There’s fun to be had with the effects too as Tomlin’s shrinkage requires bigger and bigger sets. Shout Select’s new Blu-ray includes a pair of new interviews with Tomlin and Schumacher, and both offer insights and anecdotes.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, featurette]
What is it? The city of Istanbul is filled with cats, and this is their story.
Why see it? As documentaries go this isn’t one of the more educational or life-changing ones, but there’s still something about watching these felines roam an ancient city that serves to both relax and bemuse. Talking head interviews punctuate the cat action, but most of the film is just that — cats and kittens exploring their world and interacting with each other and the people around them. They crawl beneath feet and scale ledges several stories up, and it’s clear that they’re eternally in their element. Again, there’s nothing groundbreaking here, but as someone who’s far from pro-cat even I found it a fascinating watch.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, deleted scenes]
The Paul Naschy Collection II [Scream Factory]
What is it? Five more genre efforts from the Spanish Lon Chaney.
Why see it? This volume doesn’t feature as many extras as the first, but the films are still a varied and fun look at Naschy’s filmography. A hunchback goes from love to murder, a serial killer stalks so-called deviants, villagers revolt against their devil-loving leader, a woman is possessed, and in the collection’s most ridiculously fun film, a man hunting the abominable snowman is transformed into a werewolf. The films offer a broad variety of terrors and confirm Naschy’s affection for the genre, and while they vary in quality they work as a combination of entertainment and film history. Scream Factory’s first volume was my introduction the Naschy, and I’m looking forward to more dives into his career.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, booklet]
Sayonara [Twilight Time]
What is it? An American GI falls in love with a Japanese woman during the Korean War.
Why see it? The romance at play here is set against some very progressive dialogue and subplots that leave the film far more aware than many of the period. Interracial relationships were controversial in the 50s, and for a while thereafter, and the film shows the attitudes of those stuck in hatred and those willing to move forward. Marlon Brando and James Garner to great, relatable work while Red Buttons (of all people) delivers a warmly human performance as the enlisted man well ahead of the social curve. It’s a sweet, heartfelt tale that finds its way towards being timeless.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? A damaged young man gets lost in the cold and bitter mountains.
Why see it? Josh Hartnett is the main draw here as he’s disappeared in recent years despite being a solidly appealing actor, but while he does good work the story doesn’t have much to offer. It’s a true tale, one with a known outcome, and the suspense of survival never really kicks in. The blame falls mostly on a script which too often dips into flashbacks to explore his childhood and adult life — his dad was tough, and he grew up to be an entitled ass. Both are already covered early on via dialogue, and flashbacks serve only to distract from the immediate drama.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
Amityville: The Awakening
What is it? A family moves into the Amityville house like a bunch of chumps.
Why see it? Bland Bella Thorne top-lines this new Amityville entry, but thankfully she’s joined by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Thomas Mann, and Kurtwood Smith. It’s a sequel aware of the film franchise — characters watch the original film starring James Brolin — and the plot here riffs most closely to the killings that started it all. There’s some minor fun to be had, but the lack of scares in the build up to new murders leaves it feeling fairly toothless.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
D.C. Follies – The Complete Series
What is it? Puppets bring real people to life in late 80s Washington DC.
Why see it? It’s hard to imagine a time where a show like this would run for two seasons, but that’s the 80s for you. Sid & Marty Krofft are behind the antics, and the humor is a mix of the goofy and obvious. That means we get gags about Ronald Reagan’s memory and Gerald Ford’s clumsiness alongside a lascivious Jack Nicholson and neurotic Woody Allen. It’s ultimately not laugh aloud funny, but as a time capsule into the late 80s it’s more than a little interesting. It’s also fun watching Fred Willard act as bartender and show host.
[DVD extras: None]
Gidget [Twilight Time]
What is it? A young surfer girl finds fun in the sun and love in the darkness.
Why see it? Sandra Dee brings sunshine and smile to the tile role and highlights the appeal of not only beach life but also of a carefree life in the 50s. It’s a slight affair to be sure as she wavers between the young James Darren and the far cooler — and older — Cliff Robertson, but there’s fun to be had in their antics and her endless pining. It’s a somewhat more tangible creation compare to the beach flicks of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, but it safely fits into that same category.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
J.D.’s Revenge [Arrow Video]
What is it? A happy law student is possessed by the spirit of an angry pimp, and soon his life takes a violent nosedive.
Why see it? Glynn Turman is a bundle of raw energy here as the young man shifting between his own calm demeanor and that of the confident and aggressive J.D., and that threat of immediate violence adds a tension to the film. There’s a horror element here in the possession, but the core story works as a thriller about ghostly revenge and present day morals. Louis Gossett Jr. co-stars as a preacher with a possibly shady past, and it’s a great reminder of his talents as well. Arrow’s new Blu gives the film a terrific-looking picture and an in-depth doc on the film’s production.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, documentary, interview]
Nightkill [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A woman’s boyfriend kills her husband and then all hell breaks loose.
Why see it? Jaclyn Smith’s move away from Charlie’s Angels saw her embracing some darker material, and this thriller about murder, greed, and infidelity certainly qualifies. Mike Connors plays her dick of a husband, James Franciscus plays the boyfriend, Sybil Danning shows up as a friend whose husband is inexplicably cheating on her too, and Robert Mitchum strolls in as the investigator working the case. It’s not hard to stay ahead of the plot, but it’s goofy enough to hold viewers’ attention throughout. Plus, it’s a rare film set in Phoenix, and folks familiar with the city will enjoy spotting various natural formations and neighborhoods.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, commentary]
What is it? Animals attack!
Why see it? Will Arnett’s squirrel and the gang are back for another adventure, and this time they’re taking on a greedy developer for the life of their precious park. Like far too many kids movies these days, the humor isn’t all that great for us adults, but the young ones will enjoy the action and antics. It’s not quite an animated heist film, but the team effort to thwart the humans has a similar vibe which adds to the fun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scene, featurettes, commentary]
Preacher – Season Two
What is it? An oddball trio continue their journey towards god, and it’s a road trip filled with violence, absurdity, and and more violence.
Why see it? The Preacher comic is a delirious journey of madness, imagination, and sacrilegious joy, and the show continues to embrace that mixture. It’s violent, bloody fun, but its tone definitely isn’t for everyone as it constantly feels just slightly removed from reality. This season sees more time with the Saint of Killers, Arseface, and other supporting players alongside Jesse Custer, Cassidy, and Tulip, and it makes for a deliriously trippy adventure. The journey towards god remains faithful to the brilliance of the comic, and it’s exciting to think where the show is heading.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, gag reel]
This World, Then the Fireworks [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Adult siblings lead destructive lives informed by a traumatic moment from their childhood.
Why see it? What a weird damn movie. Billy Zane and Gina Gershon play the adult twins who reunite and restart their *very* close relationship, but their individual issues leave both on a course set for destruction. It’s unclear how close it hews to the Jim Thompson story, but violence, sex, and absurd madness weave together to create a bonkers noir. Twin Peaks‘ Sheryl Lee is along for the ride, and she quickly finds herself on the same nutty, sexy vibe. It’s an odd one, and it’s made all the stranger by Zane’s monotone narration. And did I mention it’s bloody as hell too?
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
What is it? An ex-CIA interrogator is called back into action but discovers too late that she’s been setup.
Why see it? Director Michael Apted’s had something of an interesting career that in addition to high-class fare like Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorillas In the Mist has included solid thrillers like Thunderheart and Blink. His latest belongs in the latter group, and it delivers solid action — both gun play and fisticuffs — alongside a harmlessly generic plot. It’s just good, action/intrigue entertainment, and the cast adds to the fun with Noomi Rapace (in a rare English-language success), Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas, and Toni Collette. Douglas adds one more to his list of movies in which he gets beat up by a younger woman, and Collette gets to fire off rounds from a machine gun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
What is it? An FBI agent and a wild game hunter join forces to solve a murder on Native American land.
Why see it? The cinematography and performances (Jeremy Renner, Gil Birmingham, and Graham Greene) are the only real reasons to watch as the story and characters are bad news all around. It’s endlessly dismissive of women — they’re either victims or idiots — and equally down on Native people as they’re left with a white savior to do what they can’t. It blatantly rips off two scenes from Silence of the Lambs. The structure is nonsense as the “mystery” comes together quickly, builds even quicker to a confrontation, then inexplicably kills the momentum by jumping to a flashback with people we’ve never met before. And don’t get me started on the huge connection between two important murders that’s never brought up! Eesh. Taylor Sheridan clearly pulled this one from a bottom drawer after the success of Sicario, and it shows.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]
The Yellow Handkerchief [Twilight Time]
What is it? Three strangers take a road trip across Japan.
Why see it? The film works as both an appealing travelogue of rural Japan and a character study of three disparate people who come together for convenience but find so much more along the way. Ken Takakura is the only recognizable face for American viewers, and he does a tremendous job as a man working his way back into society. The film hits notes both sad and funny with humanity as the connective tissue between, but the three characters aren’t equal in their engagement meaning some threads hold our attention better than others.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Zoology [Arrow Academy]
What is it? A lonely old woman sees her life grow even more challenging when she grows a tail.
Why see it? This somber, slow-moving tale explores the pains of aging without real support from those around you. Our main character wants to enjoy life and makes efforts, but she’s repeatedly shot down by her peers and mother alike. It’s probably clear that this is a sad movie, and it is, but it’s also a visually engaging one. From the tail effect itself to coldly beautiful cinematography capturing Eastern Europe’s eternal decline, it holds the eye even when we want to turn away from the misery.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
Also out this week:
Afterimage, Atheist America, Attack of the Puppet People [Scream Factory], Funeral Parade of Roses, George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn, The Last Laugh, Le Samourai [Criterion Collection], Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, The Sissi Collection, Whose Streets?
Related Topics: Home Video