This Week in Home Video
Plus 12 more new releases to watch at home 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
20th Century Women
What is it? A single mother in 1979 California tries to raise her teenage son with assistance from their friends.
Why buy it? Mike Mills’ (Beginners) latest is a beautiful ode to not just motherhood but family and friendships in general. Annette Bening delivers what should have been recognized as the best of last year too as she finds wit and warmth in a character trying to do right by her son. Billy Crudup is equally fantastic, and they’re joined by Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning who also deliver compelling characters. Mills’ film focuses on Bening and her son, but it finds time to explore each of the characters with looks into their pasts and futures serving as bookends to their present of 1979. It’s a very human film interested equally in the strengths and flaws that make us who we are, and it has a unique voice as a result. It’s just a beautiful film all around.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, featurette]
20th Century Women [Blu-ray]
Cinema Paradiso [Arrow Academy]
What is it? A successful film director recalls his small-town childhood and how he fell in love with movies.
Why buy it? Writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore’s loving appreciation of cinema’s history and power gets a beautiful HD presentation befitting a film about film. There are moments both serious and goofy here as Salvatore’s childhood antics see him interacting with the townspeople and finding the magic in movies. It’s filled with memorable images but saves its most powerful scene for the end. Arrow Academy’s new Blu-ray features both the theatrical and director’s cuts, both newly restored, as well as a host of extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, documentary, making of, featurette, booklet]
Cinema Paradiso (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
The Creeping Garden [Arrow Academy]
What is it? Something unusual and unique is living beneath our feet, and that something is called slime mould.
Why see it? Science and nature documentaries live and breathe on the strength of their footage, and this recent look at the incredibly interesting world of the plasmodial slime mould delivers on that front ‐ for a while at least ‐ with video of the mould moving with purpose, intelligence, and (relative) speed. It’s fascinating and a little bit frightening to discover this entity’s capabilities. Unfortunately for the film though it shifts away from the mould itself to spend an excessive amount of time on real-life people crafting research and experiments inspired by it. Twenty minutes spent with people pretending to be the mould is twenty minutes too many. It’s still an extremely interesting doc, and Arrow Academy’s new Blu-ray includes plenty of extras including the very cool soundtrack on CD if you act fast.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, short films, featurettes, booklet]
The Creeping Garden (Director Approved 3-Disc Limited Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD]
What is it? Two Jesuit priests head into Japan in search of their missing teacher despite the danger of being tortured and killed for being Christians.
Why see it? Martin Scorsese’s epic look at the folly and cruelty of mankind’s ego is a gorgeous feast for the senses. The story highlights the extremes to which we’ll go not just to prove our own convictions, but to prove those of others wrong. It’s never boring, but it does meander at times in its effort to drive home its themes on its way towards a powerful third act exploring the conflict between faith and reality.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Silence [BD/Digital HD Combo] [Blu-ray]
What is it? A responsible businessman is drawn into a world of violence and gangsters by the actions of his older brother.
Why see it? Director Steven C. Miller’s latest teases a fun time thanks in large part to a cast that includes Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Johnathon Schaech, and Adrian Grenier, but the fun never really materializes. Miller’s far better Marauders gives both Schaech and Grenier more interesting characters and more room to play them, but here they’re stuck with overly serious characters lacking in personality. Cage and Cusack meanwhile are just acting silly. The script and characters are never able to build any real drama, and when it all devolves into pure action it’s done with an excess of slow motion gibberish.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, interviews]
China Girl [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? An evil organization abducts a government agent and tortures her with sexual pleasure as evil organizations are prone to do.
Why see it? The setup for this ’70s porn film is simple on its face, but there’s something appealing about an adult feature that wants to include more than just lowest common denominator sex scenes. The sex is nothing to sneeze at, but we also get some action with spies and thugs including the legendary James Hong as the big bad boss. It’s a comedy so none of the murderous antics are taken all that seriously, but unlike too many adult films (from what I hear) there’s more than enough going on to entertain even when the performers are fully clothed.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2k restoration, interview]
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
What is it? A writer arrives in New York City and accidentally lets some of his magical creatures loose.
Why see it? J.K. Rowling’s addendum to her bestselling Harry Potter series gets turned into its own feature ‐ and soon to be franchise ‐ but the result is far from captivating. The visuals are occasionally impressive, but the story and characters are just ridiculously dull and instantly forgettable. Two hours in the plot still feels unimportant and difficult to summarize. There’s no shortage of talented people on both sides of the camera, but it’s to little end.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
A Monster Calls
What is it? A young boy, bullied at school and facing the impending loss of his mother, calls upon a monster for help.
Why see it? Director JA Bayona has previously delivered real chills (The Orphanage) and big thrills (The Impossible), but his latest is an odd let down. All of the pieces are here for an intimate and affecting drama, albeit one with big effects, but it all falls surprisingly flat. It fully expects viewers to feel the sadness, grief, and loss, but we’re being told what to feel instead of it occurring naturally. There’s still a good story beneath it all, and performances are solid outside of the boy who can’t help but be obnoxious as hell.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, making of, featurettes]
September Storm [Kino Classics]
What is it? A foursome go boating off the coast of Spain in search of treasure beneath the waves.
Why see it? This 1960 feature was thought lost before being rediscovered and restored, and it’s a fun enough little adventure. There is a distinct lack of sharks though despite the cover image. They’re here, but they’re just one small beat among the foursome’s travails that range from other sea life to fierce weather. There are some dramatic character moments too, but ultimately the biggest appeal here is in the film’s travelogue-like appearance thanks to some beautiful locations. Kino includes both 2D and 3D versions of the film
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, short films]
What is it? A father is concerned with his daughter’s choice of boyfriend.
Why see it? Brayn Cranston and James Franco headline this comedy that ends a lot smoother than it begins meaning you have to get past some rough and unfunny bits before the good stuff hits. “Good” stuff is maybe a somewhat generous as very little of the film is actively funny, but it is far less abrasive and obnoxious than the setup and casting of Franco would suggest. Zoey Deutch actually stands apart from the crowd and marks herself as deserving of roles beyond simple girlfriends, so watch it of her and enjoy the benefit of a couple laughs along the way.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Gag reel, featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]
Wishmaster Collection [Vestron Video]
What is it? An evil djinn needs the woman who released him to make three wishes so he can unleash his kind across the globe in Wishmaster, an evil djinn needs the woman who released him to make three wishes so he can unleash his kind across the globe in Wishmaster 2, an evil djinn needs the woman who released him to make three wishes so he can unleash his kind across the globe in Wishmaster 3, and an evil djinn is surprised when the woman who released him makes three wishes so he can unleash his kind across the globe in Wishmaster 4.
Why see it? The latest Vestron Video release collects all four films in the franchise, and fans could not have hoped for better as the set is loaded with new extras. The first movie is a terrific little horror picture filled with an abundance of great gory gags, but the quality drops considerably across the other three due mainly to the lack of practical effects scenes. They become generic and dull affairs with un-creative kills and redundant storylines. That first one though is great fun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes]
Witchtrap [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Owners of an old house attempt to discover the truth behind its haunting.
Why see it? Kevin Tenney followed up his popular Witchboard with another little horror thriller featuring bloody bits, T&A, and some deadly shenanigans. The film plays with haunted house expectations a bit as deadly spirits and trouble-causing seances lead our hapless guests into trouble. Vinegar Syndrome’s newly remastered Blu-ray adds back some previously excised gore, and Linnea Quigley’s death by shower head has never looked better.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2k restoration, commentary, interviews, short film]
ZPG [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The world is overpopulated to the point that society has regulated births, but one couple decides to have a kid anyway.
Why see it? Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin play the couple going against the grain, and like the film itself their performances are subdued affairs. The film has a small feel to it with locales and sets often obscured by fog, and while the ideas at play here are a bit bigger they’re kept fairly limited as well without ever trying to move beyond the simple setup of hiding a birth.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
Also Out This Week:
Americana, Blow-Up [Criterion], Fragments of Love, Planet Earth II, The Wanderers, What’s the Matter With Helen? [Scream Factory]
Related Topics: Home Video