Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for December 20th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes The Banshees of Inisherin, a great Walter Matthau film in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Banshees of Inisherin
What is it? Two lifelong friends have an argument.
Why see it? Martin McDonagh’s latest reunites Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for a decidedly different take on life and death. The two are best friends, but one day the latter decides he’s done talking with the former, and this simple choice escalates in unfathomable ways. The script and performances are pitch perfect, and McDonagh’s tale becomes one about principles, boundaries, and the choices we make today that decide our tomorrow. It’s beautiful, funny, sad, and the kind of film that sits in your headspace for months afterward. Farrell and Gleeson are both terrific here, but expect to love both Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon as well.
[Extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]
Cinema’s First Nasty Women
What is it? A collection of 99 silent films showcasing women being anything but docile.
Why see it? Kino Lorber has long been a champion of curating and collecting silent cinema to save it from the ether and get it into the hands of film fans. Their latest collection is arguably among the best as both historical marker and pure entertainment. The films come from around the world (Denmark, France, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, the UK, and the US) and were produced from 1898 to 1926. The focus here are stories featuring female leads in boundary pushing storylines and behaviors, and while the genres range from comedic to dramatic, the ladies are at the forefront upsetting the status quo with their antics and attitudes. There’s nearly 900 minutes of film here offering a wide array of glimpses into the hearts and minds of spirited, playful, and adventurous female characters. It’s a blast.
[Extras: Introductions, booklet, commentaries]
Maigret – Season One
What is it? A series adaptation of Georges Simenon’s acclaimed novels.
Why see it? Police commissaire Jules Maigret has reached the screen numerous times, most recently as a feature starring Gerard Depardieu, but this early 60s series remains arguably the best adaptation yet. Rupert Davies breathes life into Maigret with wit, compassion, and confidence. The mysteries presented across thirteen episodes are tight little tales with twists and turns, and like Columbo, there’s a real satisfaction in seeing Maigret crack the case. Some visual wonkiness remains due to source materials, but the cleanup here on most of the footage offers a terrific glimpse into mysteries past.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Armed robbers target a subway train.
Why see it? This mid 70s thriller remains a crackerjack gem delivering thrills, suspense, wit, and buckets of character. Walter Matthau is the transit chief trying trying to handle the events as they explode into violence, and his wit and charisma are off the charts — he even delivers one of cinema’s best endings. Robert Shaw heads up the baddies, and his competing intelligence and sadism make for a thrilling ride. Tony Scott remade it decades later, and it’s fine, but this original remains a stellar thriller ticking all the boxes. The suspense is genuine, the characters are rich and captivating, and Joseph Sargent’s direction sees everything grow increasingly taut until the final release. Just a perfect film, and Kino’s new 4K UHD sees it crisper and richer than ever.
[Extras: New HDR master and 4K scan, commentaries, featurette, interviews]
House of the Dragon – Season One [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? A prequel series to Game of Thrones.
Why see it? The focus here is on the Targaryens two centuries before that other show, and the story unfolding is how the “house that dragons built” reached its peak before crumbling from within. The production is as lavish and CG-filled as you’d expect, and it’s an engrossing enough watch for big Game of Thrones fans. Those of us who merely liked that other show might not be as enamored, though. Prequels are already a tough sell as we essentially know what the outcome will be, but the show does good work creating characters who earn attention and interest. Of course, there’s also dragons, and that’s never a bad thing. The release is light on extras but does look crisp and detailed on UHD.
The Loneliest Boy in the World
What is it? A shy teen makes some zombie friends.
Why see it? As horror/comedies go this new film is super light on both counts. The horror is minor and found almost entirely in the setup, and the laughs just don’t come. It’s still mildly amusing at times, but there’s not enough fun to keep momentum and interest high. The film takes on an almost sitcom-like quality, not in its appearance but in its atmosphere and action, and it never manages to aim or reach higher than that.
What is it? A man seeks vengeance for his father’s murder.
Why see it? There’s a sadness behind Bruce Willis’ run of straight to VOD/DVD action films, but this is reportedly the last of them as his illness is forcing him to retire and spend his days offscreen with his family. Get past that, though, and as is usually the case with these, you’re stuck with a film that just isn’t all that good. This one at least looks good, and credit there goes to director Chuck Russell and the Hawaiian locations, but the script and action underwhelm. John Travolta and Stephen Dorff join in on the fun, for whatever that’s worth to you.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
What is it? A kid discovers his dad is actually a superhero.
Why see it? M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable does this better, obviously, but few kids are going to make it through that movie. Instead, they’re better suited here with some light entertainment in capable hands. Owen Wilson is the hero dad, Michael Peña is the villain, and they’re having fun entertaining the kiddies with some effects-driven antics. It’s no Sky High, but there’s fun to be had here for the preteens.
[Extras: Featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes]
Also out this week:
Tár, Wargames [4K UHD]
Related Topics: Home Video