The Best Blu-ray/DVD Releases of the Week: ‘Captain Phillips,’ ‘Bullet In the Face’ and ‘The Prey’

By  · Published on January 21st, 2014

Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon.

Captain Phillips

Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) knows his job captaining freighters through dangerous waters is a risky endeavor, but the pay is well worth the very slight possibility of pirates. At least it was before pirates board and take control of the ship. From that point on Phillips finds himself struggling to keep himself and the crew alive.

Director Paul Greengrass’ latest film is based on a true story, but even if you know the outcome it remains a suspenseful and exciting adventure. Acting is strong across the board (and on-board), but the highlight is Hanks delivering the most authentic and affecting five minutes of the past several years. You’ll know it when you see it, and your eyes will wet themselves.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of]

Bullet in the Face: The Complete Series

Pitch: “From The Director Of Sledge Hammer! Comes A Viciously Funny Comedy” You had me at From…

Gunter Vogler is a badass bad guy who commits crimes as easily as the rest of us breathe, but when he gets shot in the face during a standoff with the cops he awakens in the hospital to a nasty surprise. He’s received a face transplant from a detective he killed, and now the police are using him as their secret weapon against the criminals. Clearly this department never watched Face/Off to see how bad of a plan that actually is.

Creator Alan Spencer is best known for the wonderfully ridiculous (and sadly short-lived) series, Sledge Hammer!, and his latest bears many similarities. Namely, it’s wonderfully ridiculous. This six episode series from IFC is foul-mouthed and violent, and its razor-sharp wit comes with a satirical edge. It’s an acquired taste to be sure, but if you remember Sledge Hammer! then you know what you’ll be getting here.

[DVD extras: Commentary]

Cat People

Pitch: “An Erotic Fantasy About The Animal In Us All” I mean, it’s not an incorrect statement…

Irena Gallier (Nastassia Kinski) arrives in America a fresh-faced virgin looking to meet up with her older brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell), and begin a new life. Trouble starts when her sexual awakening triggers unexpected changes in her body and Paul starts sharing their family’s history with her.

Director Paul Schrader’s atmospheric and sexy remake of the 1942 cult classic is a bit of an odd bird, but it features some striking visuals, a moody score, and an eroticized nature uncommon to most horror films. John Heard co-stars alongside a soon-to-be lopsided Ed Begley Jr.

Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailer, still gallery

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Pitch: “The Ultimate Nightmare Documentary.” Of course it’s also the only one…

This exhaustively detailed documentary looks at each film in the franchise, and much like the recent Crystal Lake Memories did for the Friday the 13th films it tells the story of each production through copious interviews, behind the scenes pictures and footage, and more.

There’s no two ways about it, this is a must own for fans of the Elm Street films. The detail here is so ridiculously comprehensive and the anecdotes so entertaining, that the doc chapters are almost as entertaining as their corresponding entry in the series. In the case of the second film the doc is actually superior and very, very funny.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Additional interviews]


Pitch: Like the work of Bela Tarr, but good…

Andrei Tarkovsky’s first film after his exile from Russia chronicles the psychological journey of a Russian researcher (Oleg Yankovsky) who combats feelings of profound loss while visiting Italy to study sculptures. The intellectual eventually becomes overcome by his homesickness, obsessed with his affection for his translator (Domiziana Giordano) at the expense of his homeland, and intrigued by his friendship with a mysterious political radical (Erland Josephson).

Nostalghia was Takovsky’s penultimate film, and a deeply personal one at that. Here the filmmaker uses his patient approach to cinematic time not to immerse the viewer in the beautiful landscapes depicted, but to illustrate the uncanny sense of loss and alienation that only comes with making a temporary home of a landscape that is completely foreign. Available for the first time in the US on disc, Nostalghia’s beauty is perfectly rendered in HD by Kino, and the film stands as the final bit of proof for US arthouse aficionados that Tarkovsky never made a movie that wasn’t masterful (at least, in this fan’s opinion). ‐ Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Trailer]

The Prey

Pitch: “Every Minute Counts” …

Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) is serving time for a crime he most definitely committed, but while he was caught for the bank robbery the money was never found. His cell mate, Jean-Louis Maurel, is released early and threatens Adrien’s family unless he tells him where the money is hidden. So Adrien does the logical thing and escapes from prison to protect his family.

This French thriller is a highly energetic chase film with three parties in play. While Adrien is after Maurel, a detective is after Adrien, and the resulting chaos and action is nearly nonstop and almost always exciting.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, making of]

Bad Milo!

Ken Marino stars as a man who is heartbroken to discover that a murderous demon is living in his gut. Worse, the little bastard has been sneaking out of his asshole, killing people, and then returning “home” again. If I haven’t already lost you, Gillian Jacobs also stars.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Outtakes, deleted scenes, featurettes, interview, commentary, trailer]

Best Man Down

Justin Long and Jess Weixler are getting married, but before they can take off on their honeymoon his best man, Tyler Labine, drops dead. Out of respect they cancel their plans to take care of the situation, and along the way they discover there was far more to their friend than they thought they knew. This is the epitome of a harmless comedy/drama, and it’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of the cast.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Outtakes, featurette, interviews, trailer]

Blue Jasmine

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) was once a married socialite on top of the world, but her husband’s (Alec Baldwin) wealth was seized when his financial crimes were revealed. Forced to live with her blue-collar sister in San Francisco, she has a hard time accepting that the life she knew is gone for good. Woody Allen’s latest is a treasure trove of good performances, but the story, drama, and comedy aren’t nearly as effective.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Press conference]

Charlie Countryman

Shia LaBeouf stars as a stringy-haired guy who visits Romania on a whim and winds up in trouble involving a girl. He also gets beat up, so there’s that.

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


It’s Robert Saunders’ (Dylan McDermott) birthday, and a pair of thugs surprise him with a knock to the head, a kidnapping, and incarceration in a meat locker until he tells them where he’s hidden $8 million they think he has. It’s a simple premise, but a sharp, fast-moving script and a lively performance from McDermott make for a fun and worthwhile thriller.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, interviews]

In a World

Lake Bell stars as the daughter of one of Hollywood’s most accomplished movie trailer voices, and when an opening appears in the industry she goes for it over her father’s protestations. Because really, a woman narrator in a movie trailer? Bell also wrote and directed the film, and it’s an amusing debut.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, trailer, gag reel]

Instructions Not Included

Valentin (Eugenio Derbez) is a carefree bachelor living in Acapulco, but when one of his flings comes back to bite him on the ass in the form of a year-old baby girl he’s forced to abandon his ways temporarily while he goes looking for the mother in the U.S. Think One Man & a Baby/Little Lady and you’ll have the right idea as to what to expect here… some laughs and some heart.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]

La vie de bohème (Criterion)

Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki’s 1992 film is a deadpan, decidedly unromantic 20th century update of Henri Burger’s portrait of starving artists in Paris. Kaurismaki devotees should find much to appreciate, as the director’s subtle wit is available here in full force. Yet this is still a relatively minor entry by a director whose French films have been given the full Criterion treatment while his greatest accomplishment (the Finnish “Proletariat trilogy”) was inexplicably relegated to a bare bones Eclipse run. ‐ Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making-of documentary, interview, illustrated booklet with essay]

Machete Kills

Machete (Danny Trejo) is back, but unlike the first film that actually managed to be somewhat entertaining this is a CGI-filled and laugh-free bomb. Mel Gibson is the best part of it, and even he seems a bit embarrassed to be here. Skip it and watch Bounty Killer instead.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, making of]

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:

Crossing Lines: Season One
Dead Weight
Die Monster Die
Garibaldi’s Lovers
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Criterion)
Old Goats
Raise the Titanic
The Returned: The Complete First Season
The Starving Games
Sunlight Jr.

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.