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Who Can Say No to a Threesome with Jeremy Irons and Jeremy Irons?

By  · Published on November 16th, 2016

This Week in Discs

David Cronenberg’s Perversely Tragic Dead Ringers Gets a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray

What’s good on DVD and Blu-ray this week? Check out our picks below and remember that you can click any of the titles and support FSR by buying via Amazon.

Pick of the Week

Dead Ringers [Scream Factory]

What is it? Beverly (Jeremy Irons) and Elliot (Jeremy Irons) are twin gynecologists and the talk of the town for their disparate personalities and accomplishments in the field. When Beverly falls for a successful actress (Genevieve Bujold) his mental state begins to crack beneath worries about infidelity, and soon it’s more than their careers at risk.

Why see it? David Cronenberg’s late ’80s dramatic thriller offers a strongly-acted descent into madness with Irons pulling an impressive double duty. He makes each character unique, and the illusion is made complete through sharp editing and camera tricks. Like most of Cronenberg’s work it’s a dark, intentionally-paced film that finds a home in bleakness. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray offers the film in two aspect ratios including a new 2k scan of the director’s preferred 1.66:1 ratio. Among the handful of new extras is a terrific interview with Stephen Lack ‐ it’s eight times longer than his appearance in the film, and he comes across as a lovably mad Mister Rogers. It’s great.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurette]

Dead Ringers [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]

The Best

Better Call Saul ‐ Season Two

What is it? Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is destined to become a sleazy, no nonsense attorney, but for now he’s still a hard-working, mostly good-hearted lawyer looking for success and love. He seems to be on the road toward both, but the slip into darkness is closer than he knows.

Why see it? AMC’s unlikely prequel series to the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad continues to shine as both an engaging and darkly entertaining drama and a celebration of Odenkirk’s dramatic chops. He walks a fine line between the heartfelt and the weaselly, and while we know which side ultimately wins out the struggle remains a fascinating watch.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, gag reel, fake commercials]

Better Call Saul: Season 2 (Blu-ray + UltraViolet)

Game of Thrones ‐ The Complete Sixth Season

What is it? Winter is coming. Still. The world is in disarray as those in power have fallen to murder, trickery, and humiliation, but each of them ‐ even sometimes the dead ‐ find a way to pick themselves up and move forward once more.

Why see it? HBO’s behemoth of a series continues, and while that long-promised winter is still a slow crawl other plot threads and characters are moving at lightning speed towards fates unknown. Season six features the expected grand beauty and degradation, but we also get more magic, more dragons, and an epic battle sequence. There’s a reason this is HBO’s most popular series in history ‐ it’s dense, entertaining, and affecting.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries, deleted scenes]

Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season [Blu-ray]

Hannie Caulder [Olive Signature]

What is it? Three ruffians (Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, Strother Martin) kill a man, rape his wife, and burn down their home. Hannie (Raquel Welch) survives the assault and sets out for revenge, but first she’ll need to learn how to handle a gun. Good thing a kindly bounty hunter (Robert Culp) decides to lend a hand.

Why see it? The new Olive Signature line continues to introduce me to Westerns I’ve never seen and now enjoy, and while this one has issues it’s still an exciting and entertaining watch. Culp steals much of it from the far more attractive Welch and the far goofier trio of thugs ‐ the rapists being played a bit too broadly is the film’s big issue ‐ and his stoic gunfighter becomes a memorable character in the genre. The picture is sharp, and Alex Cox’s commentary offers some interesting insight into the production.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

Pimpernel Smith

What is it? Horatio Smith (Leslie Howard) is an archaeology professor at Cambridge University in 1939 who sets upon the idea of an excavation in Germany. He brings along a few bright students, and the digging commences, but the college lads soon learn the truth about their teacher ‐ he’s actually a mystery man who’s been rescuing prisoners of the Reich and transporting them to freedom.

Why see it? Howard also directed this adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and its pre-World War II setting offers plenty of opportunities for commentary on Germany’s rise to power. That it’s able to offer serious insight while also delivering suspense and some truly witty dialogue along the way. The end sequence is a pretty fantastic face-off with some powerful dialogue and a great final shot.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Pimpernel Smith [Blu-ray]

Punch-Drunk Love [Criterion]

What is it? Barry (Adam Sandler) sells novelties. He also has an issue with angry outbursts that often get the better of him. Surrounded by yammering sisters and a whole lot of pudding, Barry finds a reason to focus when the lovely Lena (Emily Watson) enters his life.

Why see it? Paul Thomas Anderson’s lightest film is also one of Sandler’s most serious, and together they find an engaging balance resulting in an odd romance. Barry is a difficult character to love, especially at first, but he grows into a character we root for in his quest for happiness. The score and sharp production design add to the film’s charms as does a brief turn from Philip Seymour Hoffman as a phone sex manager.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]

Punch-Drunk Love (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

The Rest

Army of One

What is it? Gary Faulkner (Nicolas Cage) is on a mission from god. He’s received divine wisdom from the almighty (Russell Brand) and instructed to accomplish what the might of the United States military has yet to ‐ find and capture Osama Bin Laden. So he heads to Pakistan to do just that.

Why see it? Larry Charles’ latest film is based in small ways on a true story, but very little here feels as if it could ever have happened. Its absurdity isn’t the main problem though ‐ that’s Cage’s artistic choice to play Faulkner with a high-pitched, whiny voice that grates within the first minute and goes on for ninety more. The situation does manage a few laughs, but more often than not they’re of the shake-your-head variety as you try to figure out just how this movie got made.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

The Boston Strangler [Twilight Time]

What is it? Albert DeSalvo terrorized Boston in the ’60s and came to be known as The Boston Strangler.

Why see it? Director Richard Fleischer’s exploration of a real-life serial killer in many ways serves as an inspiration for David Fincher’s Zodiac, and while this procedural doesn’t come close to effect and power of Fincher’s modern classic its structure, matter-of-fact tone, and use of split screens works to create a highly watchable thriller. Tony Curtis’ top billing is fun too seeing as he doesn’t even really appear until the halfway mark.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurettes]

Cardboard Boxer

What is it? Willie (Thomas Haden Church) is homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, and the world he sees every day offers little more than struggle. It gets worse when a need for cash lands him in the world of bum fight for the enjoyment of wealthy teens, but hope reaches out a hand in other ways.

Why see it? This isn’t quite Crash level blind saccharine, but it gets a little too unbelievably sweet at times as the kindness of strangers begins to lift Willie’s world. Still, that’s not a bad message to get out into the world these days. Church is terrific here, and the supporting cast ‐ Terrence Howard, Boyd Holbrook, Macy Gray ‐ do good work too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


What is it? Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson) is a painter living in rural England during World War I, and while the globe falls apart she sees the beginning of a lasting relationship. Writer Lytton Strachey (Jonathan Pryce) enters into a platonic friendship with her that lasts through times hard, easy, and creative.

Why see it? Christopher Hampton’s film is a wonderfully-acted tale of a relationship rarely explored in film. There are no romantic leanings here, and instead their companionship is one built on mutual respect, admiration, and a love for conversation. The result is more of a character piece than a proper narrative, but the leads make it an engaging one.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Coffee and Cigarettes

What is it? People share conversation alongside other more harmful vices including coffee and cigarettes, and the result is a series of vignettes about the value and various types of interaction.

Why see it? Jim Jarmusch isn’t really a filmmaker for me as his rambling movies typically accomplish too little, but this title finds life in its variety of characters and conversations. Some of silly, others are antagonistic, but all feature charismatic talents fully engaged in their art. The whole remains something that fails to require a re-watch, but it’s worth a spin for its casual celebrity

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Death of a Salesman [Shout Select]

What is it? Willy Loman (Dustin Hoffman) is out of time. The aging salesman is on the brink of losing his job and his ability to support his wife and two grown sons (John Malkovich, Stephen Lang). His children’s lack of self-sufficiency paired with his own ultimate inadequacy have him enraged, but he just might have time to make peace with life.

Why see it? Arthur Miller’s acclaimed play comes to life in this strongly-acted television movie, but I’m in the minority in thinking that it would have benefited from the salesman dying a bit sooner. The themes of potential and expectation weigh heavily throughout, but they’re presented too heavily and repetitively for my tastes. Shout! Factory’s been doing good work with their new Shout Select imprint, but this release is a bit underwhelming with its lack of remaster and single extra being as old as the film itself.

[Blu-ray extras: Feature-length making-of]

Fort Tilden

What is it? Allie and Harper are friends with a shared summertime goal ‐ they want to hit the beach at Fort Tilden to hang out with a lovely pair of guys who invited them. Unfortunately, as is fitting for two young ladies struggling to find their way in life, finding the beach turns out to be an adventure in itself.

Why see it? Viewers allergic to millennial concerns may want to skip this one as the film is essentially a highly talkative road trip featuring two twenty-somethings in distress. The rest of us though can watch and enjoy a slight comedy about characters at a crossroads of sorts. There are some laughs here, but there’s also a lot of anger directed both inward and outward.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview]

Macbeth [Olive Signature]

What is it? Macbeth (Orson Welles) is informed by a trio of witches that his future holds great things for him including a seat on the throne as king. Believing his rule is destined, Macbeth and his manipulative wife do anything and everything to ensure it comes true.

Why see it? Welles’ love of William Shakespeare is clear, but he never quite got a budget commensurate to his vision resulting in a low budget affair. He does manage to create an atmosphere around the tale through the use of shadows and surreal sets, but the stage-like feel hangs over the production. Olive Signature’s new release is a two-disc set including both the 1948 and 1950 cuts of the film alongside multiple extras.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Two versions of film, commentary, interviews, documentary excerpt, featurette, booklet]

Moby Dick [Twilight Time]

What is it? A man, a whale, and the vast psychological ocean in between.

Why see it? Herman Melville’s great American novel has been adapted multiple times in various ways, but its most famous incarnation hit the screen from director John Huston and writer Ray Bradbury. The film explores Ahab’s (Gregory Peck) obsession through the crew’s journey, and while the effects of the day are visibly dated they work well to build and sustain the illusion. For me anyway, Melville’s tale is one that works best on the screen devoid of the book’s long-winded detours and Americana.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurette]

Moscow on the Hudson [Twilight Time]

What is it? A Russian immigrant finds trouble and triumph in his efforts to become an American.

Why see it? The main draw here is Robin Williams in the lead role as a man whose optimism and love for his adopted country comes with the knowledge that a better place is never a perfect place. Paul Mazursky finds some laughs and warmth amid the man’s pedantic struggle towards citizenship. There’s a dryness to it at times though, something I’ve felt in the director’s films before, that for me at least limits its re-watchability.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries]

Pretty Poison [Twilight Time]

What is it? A mildly disturbed young man meets an innocent and sweet young woman only to realize that she’s actually nuttier than he is.

Why see it? Anthony Perkins never truly escaped his turn in Psycho leaving him with a career populated by crazies and killers, but Noel Black’s film put something of a fun little spin on that conceit. The teen, played with wild-eyed spunk by Tuesday Weld, is the real threat here, and Perkins’ level of crazy is flat-out cuddly by comparison. It doesn’t quite commit in its third act to the path it’s been charting, but it’s a fun ride throughout all the same.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries]

Space Jam ‐ 20th Anniversary

What is it? Like many of the universe’s greatest questions, the answer as to whether or not cartoon characters will remain on Earth or become permanent attractions at an intergalactic rest stop will be decided by a basketball game. Good thing the toons have Michael Jordan on their team.

Why see it? The 20th anniversary of the animated/live-action hybrid is as good a time as any to remind you that it’s a bad movie. It hasn’t aged well, but it wasn’t so hot in ’96 either so that only seems natural. The comedy is forced and never even rises to the level of nineties WB cartoons, and not even Bill Murray’s presence can really improve it. This release is a steel-book though in case that’s something you’re into.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette]

Also Out This Week:

Blue Jay, Breathless [Criterion], Dreams [Criterion], Finding Dory, Looking ‐ The Complete Series and the Movie

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.