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 June 28th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes Air Doll, new 4K UHDs of True Romance and Out of Sight, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? A sex doll comes to life.
Why see it? Movies about inanimate objects or fantastical creatures finding affection from humans aren’t anything new, but Kore-eda Hirokazu’s 2009 feature uses it in engaging and unlikely ways. The great Bae Doona stars as a lonely man’s sex doll who comes to life one day and begins to experience the world. It’s alternately sweet, heartbreaking, and sexy, and while it finds some real darkness there’s also an undeniable light burning within. The cinematography finds beauty in the mundane and the fantastic, and its ending walks a fine line between the bleak and the optimistic.
[Extras: Q&A, outtakes]
Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives
What is it? A documentary about lesbians in the 50s and 60s.
Why see it? Canadian International Pictures is a brand new label — this is only their fifth release — but they continue to knock it out of the park with forgotten Canadian gems from decades past. This documentary features interviews and archival footage telling the story of lesbians coming out alongside the arrival of pulpy novels about illicit trysts and women doomed to unhappy lives with other women. It’s a fascinating watch overflowing with humanity, humor, and honesty. Some of the salacious book covers are brought to life via reenactments (including one R-rated one towards the end), and the whole just feels like a warm and welcome glimpse into lives truly lived.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentaries, interviews, Q&A, booklet]
Out of Sight [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A love story between a bank robber and a U.S. Marshal.
Why see it? Steven Soderbergh has long refused to be pigeonholed and makes movies in and around all genres and all budgets, but his best movies tend to be studio pictures with star quality. George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez headline this absolute gem of a film that also stars Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Michael Keaton, Dennis Farina, and Albert Brooks. It’s a smart and witty adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel that finds humor and romance throughout while telling its story with style and a sharp eye. The new 4K master makes it an even sharper watch.
[Extras: New master, commentary, documentary, deleted scenes]
The Time-Bending Mysteries of Shahram Mokri
What is it? A 4-film collection from Shahram Mokri.
Why see it? Iranian filmmaker Shahram Mokri may not be as big a name as Abbas Kiarostami, but his films offer up a fascinating blend of genres, ideas, and smart humor. Ashkan, the Charmed Ring and Other Stories is a rambling indie about fools, crooks, and oddballs, and it would fit right in with US indies of the 90s. Fish & Cat is an impressive oner — 134 minutes in one take — weaving through backwoods killers and unsuspecting kite enthusiasts, and it’s oddly mesmerizing. Invasion offers up a murder mystery against a backdrop of a near-future sporting event, and it only gets weirder from there. Finally, Careless Crime is the most grounded of the four while still featuring an air of uncertainty in its look at an important moment in Iranian history. This is a fantastic collection exposing viewers to a filmmaker deserving of more eyeballs, so kudos to Deaf Crocodile for knocking it out of the park yet again.
[Extras: Interview, featurette]
True Romance [4K UHD, Arrow Video]
What is it? A love story involving gangsters, cocaine, and lots of racist chatter.
Why see it? He may have only written it, but True Romance remains a top 3 Quentin Tarantino film — and I doubt he could have directed it better than the great Tony Scott. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are two lost souls who meet and bond over a movie before setting off an adventure in Los Angeles. It’s a wildly violent, incredibly funny, and occasionally touching tale that sees them joined by Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Bronson Pinchot, Saul Rubinek, Val Kilmer, Michael Rapaport, and more familiar faces. It’s an all-timer, and Arrow’s new 4K UHD (identical to their recent UK release) is a must-own for fans of all things awesome. Scott’s energetic visuals pop with new depth and clarity
[Extras: New 4K restoration of theatrical and director’s cuts, booklet, poster, postcards, commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes]
What is it? A ladies man is taken down a notch.
Why see it? Eddie Murphy’s filmography is filled with hits, losers, duds, and darlings, and 1992’s Boomerang is a winner for most. Murphy plays a hotshot who finds trouble when a woman is promoted above him, and some laughs ensue. He still slips in some of his tasteless beats including anti-trans jokes and a deaf impersonation, but the film earns praise for allowing its characters to act and talk like sexual beings — they’re adults! and too many rom-coms forget that.
[Extras: Commentary by Reginald Hudlin, deleted scenes]
Final Flesh [AGFA]
What is it? An unlikely collection of four tales in one.
Why see it? No film is for everyone, and no film is for no one, but this latest release from AGFA probably leans closer to that second grouping. The behind the scenes premise is the most interesting aspect as a filmmaker wrote a script in four parts and then sent each part to a different production company without knowledge of the others. These companies make porn/fetish videos-to-order, and the result is an at-times grating and at-times brilliant slice of surreal entertainment. The beats that work involve some smart writing and visual gags, but even at 71 minutes they’re overshadowed by no-budget productions, flat acting, and nudity/sex shot with a negative interest in being appealing. It’s an odd one.
[Extras: Introduction, music video]
What is it? A young girl starts fires… with her mind!
Why see it? Stephen King’s Firestarter was never one of his best books — it’s fine, but its appeal is short-lived as none of its characters, narratives, or themes carry over after the last page is turned. It was previously adapted in the 80s, and while that film is a mediocrity it at least entertains thanks to some impressive fire stunts and an unhinged George C. Scott miscast as a Native American hitman. This new adaptation forgoes the fun and instead delivers a drab, dull, and CG heavy take on a still mediocre story.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes]
Killer’s Kiss [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A boxer gets mixed with a mob boss’ dame.
Why see it? The great Stanley Kubrick only made movies worth watching, and while this 67-minute tale is arguably a “lesser Kubrick” it too is worth your time. The story is simple enough with a boxer plunged into a dark world of crooks and killers, and the third act features an impressive and mostly dialogue free chase/fight. There’s a welcome hard edge to it, but its short length and some unnecessary (but noir-ish) narration mar things a bit. Kino’s new 4K UHD is a strong release, though, bringing this 67-year-old movie to life like never before.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary]
What is it? A killer is killing models!
Why see it? SOV movies — shot on video — are never going to have the sheen of film productions, but some manage to overcome their medium limitations to deliver an enjoyable time. This mid 80s slasher comes closer to that goal than many and pulls off a solid little slasher with gore, set-pieces, and more. The performances are equally solid and help carry viewers towards an end reveal, that while not exactly surprising, is still a welcome touch for the period. It’s not a revelatory experience, but it’s a reminder that there are always more movies and talents to discover.
[Extras: Interviews, commentary]
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliche
What is it? A look at the life of Poly Styrene.
Why see it? Poly Styrene may not have broken through into the mainstream during her life, but she was a star among punk fans in the UK and beyond. This documentary is powered by her daughter’s memories and search for closure, and it features archival footage alongside interviews with those who knew her. It offers an engaging look at a life lived by her own rules, from the stage to the Hare Krishnas, and it’s a reminder to always live by your own too.
[Extras: Q&A, commentary, booklet]
Potato Dreams of America
What is it? A Russian boy and his mother imagine a world in the US.
Why see it? This autobiographical comedy explores the early life of a Russian boy in love with America from afar, and we see his early days with his single mom lead them both to that goal. The film follows them to America where dreams more or less come true. It’s an odd little film, a comedy that feels eternally artificial even while it feels sincere, but its aesthetic isn’t always successful.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews, short films]
What is it? A woman on the run reunites with her twin sister.
Why see it? Indie films don’t typically aim for much in the way of action/thrills as they’re not easy or cheap to pull off, but this scrappy, moody little movie squeezes a couple in anyway. The bulk of it, though, delivers an atmospheric and well-acted thriller about sisters, domestic violence, and hair dye. The film gives as much time to the relationship as it does the darkness swelling around them, and the result is a solid little tale blending drama, sisterly bonds, and the cruelty of man.
[Extras: Commentary, short film, Q&A, booklet]
Also out this week:
Charlotte, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Hello Bookstore, Out of Order, Pink Flamingos [Criterion Collection], Red Lips, Rocco Schiavone: Ice Cold Murders, See for Me, The Worst Person in the World [Criterion Collection]