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
Under the Shadow
What is it? A woman and her daughter are left to fend for themselves against a supernatural threat while also being at the mercy of an undetonated bomb hanging over their heads.
Why buy it? The film’s supernatural element is executed with great restraint at first, only blossoming fully in the third act, and the filmmakers explore that terror in various ways. There are the typical jump scares here complete with loud noises, and some work better than others, but the far more effective sequences are terrifyingly revealing and beautifully composed. It’s easy to make viewers jump, but more than once this is a film that gives you serious chills. The performances here, both mother and child, force both our empathy and our fear, and the result is a horror film that terrifies throughout and then follows you long afterward.
[DVD extras: None?]
Under The Shadow
What is it? An accountant is hired to identify a corporate thief, but when the job ends he’s forced to start subtracting lives instead of numbers.
Why see it? In a just universe Gavin O’Connor’s latest would be franchise starter because I would love to follow along with the further adventures of Ben Affleck’s autistic, combat-trained accountant. The action scenes here are solid and effective, the script approaches wackadoo territory, and the only real downside is Anna Kendrick. (But she doesn’t need to return for a sequel.) The story grows increasingly goofy, less in content than execution, but it’s never less than entertaining.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
The Accountant (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Ultraviolet)
Broad City ‐ Season 3
What is it? Two young women, broads if you will, live their lives in the city.
Why see it? Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are hilarious. They also know no shame, and that combination of talent and willingness to cross lines real and imagined make this one of the funniest shows on TV. Their adventures run the gamut of sex, friendship, and AirBnB mishaps. It’s a relentlessly appealing blend of innocence and offensiveness, and you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself smiling repeatedly while watching.
[DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Broad City: Season Three
What is it? An oil rig off the Gulf Coast experiences a breakdown resulting in death, natural disaster, and heroism.
Why see it? The second film in Peter Berg’s Americuh!! trilogy with his muse Mark Wahlberg is a legitimately solid disaster movie. It has an analytical feel to it throughout the setup as each piece of the situation is introduced, and viewers are left as flies on the wall to the people, politics, and machinery at play before it all goes sideways. The visual effects are top notch, the suspense and drama work well, and it’s an affecting experience despite the group prayer at the end.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Deepwater Horizon [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
His Girl Friday [Criterion]
What is it? A newspaper editor uses his wit and willingness to lie to convince his ex-wife to work a story by his side.
Why see it? Howard Hawks’ 1940 comedy gem remains a classic thanks to an incredibly sharp script and some killer performances ‐ Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant specifically ‐ but part of its lasting power is due to a wickedness inherent in the laughs and drama. Seriously, this is a mean movie at times. Criterion’s new Blu is worth a buy for Hawks’ film alone, but they’ve also included a new 4k restoration of the film he’s remaking, 1931’s The Front Page. Hawks’ film is superior, but both are worth watching and re-watching.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 4k restoration of The Front Page, interviews, featurettes, radio adaptations]
His Girl Friday (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
What is it? A church-going Sunday School teacher kills ladies of the night in his spare time.
Why see it? Intervision is a relatively new label responsible for cleaning up and releasing some of the lowest budgeted and most forgotten genre fare from decades past. (They’re like Vinegar Syndrome before they shifted from DVD to Blu-ray.) I’m not typically the biggest fan of this type of VHS-era filmmaking because budgetary limitations usually translate to talent issues too, but their latest release is a legitimately terrific serial killer thriller. Had it featured some extreme gore effects it would probably be a cult classic, but as it stands the film delivers compelling characters, a smart script, and a charismatic lead. He mixes the Ted Bundy “nice guy” approach with an increasingly strained sense of humor as the world seems to work against him. The film even lands the ending which is a common misstep in the genre. The DVD also features director Donald Jones’ debut feature, an odd movie that plays like an overlong Outer Limits episode. It’s interesting, but Murderlust is what makes this a buy for genre fans.
[DVD extras: HD restoration of director’s debut film]
Band of the Hand
What is it? A group of delinquents are whipped into shape by a military vet who then directs them to do good work.
Why see it? I spent more years than I care to admit believing this was directed by Michael Mann, but to be fair, Mann did produce it and it’s set mostly in Miami so cut me some slack! There’s an ’80s cheesiness to it at times, but Stephen Lang is terrific fun as the vet, the action is decade appropriate, and you have to appreciate a message of teamwork and diversity in times like these. All of that said… I haven’t seen it since the ’80s so who knows if it holds up.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
The Birth of a Nation
What is it? Nat Turner rises up from slavery to lead a necessary and violent rebellion.
Why see it? Nate Parker’s film wowed Sundance last year before losing momentum in the murky sea of Parker’s past, but neither of those extremes quite captures the film’s middling quality. This is an important story to be sure, and some of the film’s dreamier moments capture a raw beauty against the pain, but the script constantly lets down the drama with dialogue both obvious and overwritten. A surprising amount of the performances are equally uncertain, some from actors we know capable of far better, and the result is a film that fails to hold the drama.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary, commentary, deleted scenes, short film, featurettes]
Lost & Found
What is it? Two young brothers go looking for a hidden treasure on a remote island.
Why see it? As family-friendly adventures go this is a harmless example that offers some light entertainment in the form of outdoor exploration and friendly interactions. Jason Patric and Cary Elwes add familiar faces to the mix even in small roles, but the two boys do fine work as the leads as well. It lacks the scope and laughs of something like The Goonies and lacks the drama of more serious fare, but it’s fine. And sometimes that’s good enough.
[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette]
What is it? A teenage boy going through some bodily changes finds a friend in a small mechanical device.
Why see it? The strongest element in this teen adventure is some truly solid CG work that gives both the action and visuals a slick sheen. Unfortunately though everything beyond the CG is straight up dullsville. The performances, the story, the cinematography ‐ the film just plods along with no sense of of interest or urgency.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Also Out This Week:
The 400 Blows [Criterion], Closet Monster, Dead of Winter [Scream Factory], Homeland ‐ The Complete Fifth Season, Kevin Hart: What Now?, Mr. Robot ‐ Season 2.0, My King, The People vs Fritz Bauer, The Survivor
Related Topics: Home Video