This Week in Home Video
In a Valley of Violence Is a Thrilling and Funny Western You’re Going to Love
Welcome to this week in home video! Be sure to click the title to buy any of the titles from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
In a Valley of Violence
What is it? A stranger passing through a small western town crosses paths with the bad guys who control it.
Why buy it? Ti West takes a temporary break from slow burn horror films to deliver an extremely funny and thrilling western. Both the dialogue and action are incredibly sharp and work to elevate the otherwise familiar plot, and both Ethan Hawke (as the stranger) and John Travolta (as the corrupt sheriff) are absolute aces. Travolta in particular turns in his best performance in a decade. West’s film is this year’s Slow West to some degree in that it’s a highly entertaining western that too many of you haven’t seen, and if that’s not enough it also features the best movie dog since Up the Creek. Yeah, I said it.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
In a Valley of Violence (Blu-ray + Digital HD)
What is it? A successful dressmaker returns home to her small Australian town to discover the truth behind the crime that forced her departure as a child.
Why see it? Kate Winslet is on fire as a worldly woman who stands up to the attitude and ignorance of her hometown locals, and she’s aided by terrific turns from Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis, Sarah Snook, and others. Her journey exists a step ahead of predictability as the film takes fun, unexpected turns accompanied by a tone that moves from slapstick to high drama to tragedy with revenge scheduled for the final stop. It’s a highly satisfying visit down under.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Dressmaker, The [Blu-ray]
A Man Called Ove
What is it? A cantankerous old man, sick of his neighbors and missing his deceased wife, tries to end it all even as he discovers a budding friendship with a new family next door.
Why see it? Sweden’s hopeful choice for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards is already a massive hit in its home country, and it’s easy to see the appeal. Rolf Lassgard is the grumpiest of old men, and delivers both bitter laughs and a deep warmth. Ove is a man shaped by his losses, but he soon discovers that life never stops giving.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, Q&A]
A Man Called Ove [Blu-ray]
The Young Pope [UK-only]
What is it? Lenny Belardo has been named the first American Pope, and as the new head of the Catholic Church he has a few changes in mind.
Why see it? Paolo Sorrentino’s mini-series is set to debut on HBO next month, but it hits home video in the UK this week, and I’m happy to say it’s well worth the watch. Jude Law is deliciously devious as a man with more power than any one person should hold, and smart writing tackles the issues and hypocrisies of the modern church with wicked glee. Fun turns from Diane Keaton, James Cromwell, and the always wonderful Cécile De France. Sorrentino ensures it’s a beautiful descent into the Vatican too.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? A young woman without a real home takes up with a magazine crew ‐ a van-ful of “teens” who travel the country “selling” magazine subscriptions.
Why see it? I’ll be in the minority on this one, but sweet jesus is this neither interesting nor entertaining. Obnoxious, smelly characters spend their days ripping off dumb people and their nights acting like pricks, and amid this carnival of ignorance is our naive and equally unlikable guide who inexplicably falls for a rat-tailed Shia LaBeouf. We get it, they’re disaffected youth cast aside by ‐ or on the run from ‐ lives filled with neglect, but that doesn’t make them interesting characters for a minute let alone 160. Did I mention it’s 160 minutes long?
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Dog Eat Dog
What is it? Three ex-cons dip their toes into a mob-directed kidnapping, but when things go horribly wrong they lose more than their digits.
Why see it? Paul Schrader (Hardcore) has a knack for tough-talking, hard-hitting drama, but those talents are absent in his latest. The tone is wildly uneven with horrific acts meant to leave us laughing, but the laughs rarely come through. It’s an especially unfortunate travesty as not even the wacky tag-team of Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe can raise the film beyond merely watchable.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introduction, Q&A, commentary]
What is it? A young man becomes obsessed with a woman to the point where he abducts and imprisons her.
Why see it? Dominic Monaghan convinces as a pervy guy who sees women as objects in need of ownership or rescue, but the film falls apart in its story. The generic setup takes a briefly interesting turn before a second shift moves the film into the realm of the ridiculous and dumb. It loses all connection with common sense or engagement and leaves viewers with an idiotic ending.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? Edward Snowden goes from government employee to the most wanted man in the world.
Why see it? If you’ve seen the documentary Citizenfour ‐ and if not you really should ‐ then you already know the story behind Snowden’s actions and NSA revelations. Oliver Stone’s film retells it with narrative and visual flourishes while also beefing up the relationship between Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his girlfriend (Shailene Woodley) to ground the story emotionally. It’s fine.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, Q&A]
When the Bough Breaks
What is it? A couple hire a young woman as a surrogate, but as they allow her into their lives it soon becomes clear that those very same lives may be in danger.
Why see it? If you think we’ve seen this story a hundred times before well, that’s because we have. The three leads ‐ Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Jaz Sinclair ‐ do good work, but the the story they’re servicing is utterly devoid of thrills or surprise. We see every turn coming well in advance leaving us without an ounce of suspense. The film also avoids the presence of more lascivious thrills by sticking with a PG-13 rating.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, featurette]
Also Out This Week:
Coming Through the Rye, The House That Screamed (Scream Factory), Kill Command, Versailles ‐ Season One
Related Topics: Home Video