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20 New Releases to Watch at Home This Week on Blu-ray/DVD

By  · Published on February 15th, 2016

Welcome back to This Week In Discs where we check out tomorrow’s new releases today!

No Way Out

Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) distinguishes himself as a Navy officer after a heroic act and is rewarded with a high profile posting at the Pentagon under the Secretary of Defense, David Brice (Gene Hackman). He settles into the job well enough, but trouble erupts when a woman he’s seeing is revealed to be Brice’s mistress and then ends up dead. Farrell’s tasked with finding the killer even though all of the evidence seems to point in his direction.

It’s been a long time coming, but thanks to Shout! Factory we can finally cross Roger Donaldson’s brilliant and immensely exciting thriller off the list of films we’ve yet to get on Blu-ray. This is a great day, and this is a great movie. Everyone is at the top of their game here including Costner at his American boy best, Hackman giving a master class in terrible government officials, and Will Patton dialing up the intensity to eleven. Sean Young even shines as the sexy, wreckless, and tragic woman at the center of it all. Sharp writing, suspenseful scenes, electric action sequences ‐ the foot chase is one of cinema’s best ‐ are enough to make this a blind buy for anyone whether they’ve seen it or not, but the picture also looks great and Donaldson’s commentary is a nice extra feature.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Code 46 (Olive Films)

William (Tim Robbins) is an investigator tasked with identifying passport forgers and thieves operating in the shadows and selling false identities. It’s illegal after all, but more than that it’s allowing people to travel the globe to places where they’re not cleared to go. Permission is all important, and it’s his job to enforce that. His latest assignment is complicated though when he has an unwise relationship with a suspect (Samantha Morton).

Michael Winterbottom’s bleak but cool near-future sci-fi film is part drama, part thriller, and part cautionary tale, and it all works together to create something of a minor genre gem. The future elements ‐ sci-fi tech, restrictive laws, reduced freedoms ‐ are woven into the film and story meaning it never needs to highlight them with a “look at this sci-fi!” and instead simply feels integral to the world of the movie. Robbins and Morton are both terrific, and while the film is bleak at times it’s never less than compelling in the story it’s telling.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Hitch Hike

A couple (Franco Nero, Corinne Clery) driving through the American west walk a delicate line in their relationship between madly passionate love and utter distaste for each other, but they discover a new conflict when they make the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker (David Hess). The stranger is quickly revealed to be a part of a trio of escaped convicts, and as the threesome continues on their road trip his sadistic and twisted grip on the couple leads them all towards a violent end.

Pasquale Festa Campanile’s film is a sleazy delight overflowing with sex, violence, and twisted shenanigans. There’s no one here to like, but they’re all easy to enjoy in their devious and despicable ways. Rural Italy is standing in for America’s Midwest, but the expanse is attractive and convincing enough. Ennio Morricone’s lively, guitar-heavy score keeps nerves on edge and adrenaline high even as the characters descend to new depths. It’s not for everyone, but fans of bad people doing bad things will have a dirty ball with it.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, booklet]

The Kid (Criterion)

The lovable Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) comes across an abandoned infant in an alley, and while he attempts to distance himself from the child circumstances leave him taking care of the baby and raising him as his own. A few years later the boy (Jackie Coogan) has become a part of the Tramp’s various schemes to make money, but the law and the boy’s birth mother enter the picture to change it forever.

Chaplin’s first feature film is a fantastic blend of laughs, emotion, and slapstick, and all three elements succeed brilliantly. He’s more than capable of carrying his own films, but Coogan’s performance is objectively one of the best by a child ever captured. Both run the gamut of human emotions, all silently, while also delivering physical comedy for the ages. Criterion’s new Blu-ray sports a 4k transfer that is absolutely stunning, and the abundance of extras offer a fascinating glimpse into the film’s production and Coogan’s involvement.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes, newsreel, short film]

The Mutilator (Arrow Video)

Ed was just a young boy when he witnessed his mother die. Sure, he was the one who killed her accidentally while cleaning his father’s rifle, but he still managed to grow up just fine. His father didn’t fare quite so well though, but when the old man asks his now college-age son to close up his cabin for the season Ed brings a few of his friends along intending to drink, screw, and misbehave for a few days. Unfortunately someone else has other plans.

This is something of an oddball in the slasher genre in that the identity of the killer is made clear early on, but it remains a fun watch. The kills are terrifically gory, and the theme song is ridiculously catchy (“Fall break!”) too. Arrow Video continues to show why they’re the best genre label in the business with a beautiful 2k remaster of this forgotten ’80s slasher making this a good movie given a great presentation. They’ve also stuffed it with special features adding hours worth of additional and informative viewing.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introduction, commentaries, making of, featurettes]

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) moves through three of his most important product launches that helped make him the Apple legend who so many people respected, feared, and adored. His focus at each event is his product and his future, but his struggle becomes finding value in something even more important and lasting than his legacy. Conversations with co-workers and acquaintances ‐ as close as Jobs gets to having friends ‐ cover his attitude, ambitions, and family ties.

Danny Boyle directs, but the film belongs entirely to Aaron Sorkin’s script and a cast of truly talented performers. Fassbender gives a sharply comedic turn, but Kate Winslet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels turn in equally compelling smaller performances. Sorkin’s script is very funny and fast-moving, but it’s less of a biopic than a look at genius.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, commentaries]

Togetherness: The Complete First Season

Brett (Mark Duplass) and his wife Michelle (Melanie Lynskey) are happy and in love, but their love and happiness are on shaky ground. There’s something missing, something they’re hoping to rekindle. Alex (Steve Zissis) is having an even worse time and moves in with them while he works out his life, and Michelle’s sister, Tina (Amanda Peet), joins them no better off.

The Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, are the main creative forces behind this new gem, but it’s clear that the laughs and drama are a collective creation. All four leads do spectacularly affecting and fun work ‐ the show is mainly a comedy, but the characters’ depth bleeds through with their worries, pains, and emotions intact. Lynskey in particular is pure magic with both her smiles and her sorrows.

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

The Vincent Price Collection III (Scream Factory)

A brilliant pacifist uses his high-tech flying machine to promote peace through violence in Master of the World. Richard III suffers visions and visitations from those he’s killed on his way to the throne of England in Tower of London. A man finds himself at the whim of an invisible and malicious being in Diary of a Madman. A brutal and unforgiving witch-hunter sees his community besieged by a vicious creature in Cry of the Banshee.

Scream Factory’s third collection of Vincent Price films continues to show their love for the man, his work, and the genre films. All four films feature new HD masters and look fantastic, and the special features add informative commentaries, interviews, and marketing materials. The first disc features a 70+ minute interview with the brilliant Richard Matheson charting his career in film too, and we also get An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, a TV special featuring Price bringing to life a handful of Poe’s stories. This is a highly recommended collection that once again is a must-own for Price fans.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, interviews, TV episodes]

The 33

33 Chilean miners find themselves trapped when the mine they’re in collapses and leaves them buried alive 200 stories beneath the surface. The men below struggle with dwindling air, water, and food while those above struggle to rescue them with the world watching on television. The true story here ends as well as could be hoped, and the film captures the details of much of what transpired above and below the ground. It’s a manipulative execution, which is unsurprising, but the lean towards the rescue’s “miraculous” nature takes away from the actual human drama. These are real people ‐ both the victims and the rescuers ‐ but their contributions and existences are minimized in favor of appeals to faith.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Black Mass

James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) is a vicious hood working all manner of schemes on the streets of Boston, and as a local boy he commands both respect and fear from those around him. He cuts a memorable path through the criminal element both for his reputation for violence and his menacing appearance, but his efforts to bring the Winter Hill Gang ‐ a collective term for specific members of Boston’s criminal element ‐ to greater power are stymied by the increasing presence of the Italian mafia. Opportunity arrives in the form of FBI Agent John Connelly (Joel Edgerton), himself a local boy hoping to climb the ranks, who cuts a deal with his old friend Bulger that’s beneficial to them both. Connelly’s zeal in taking down”the mafia” ‐ and his desire to stay chummy with his childhood friend ‐ leaves him turning a blind eye to Bulger’s own burgeoning criminal activity involving murder, the IRA, and jai alai. This is ostensibly the story of Bulger’s bloody rise to power and the various people who fell around him during his ascent, but in practice he’s little more than a charismatic monster who ends the film exactly as he begins it. The film returns to him again and again for highlights and elaborate pontifications, but the only character who appears to be on an arc is Connelly. That probably wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the unfortunate fact that Connelly is under-written and over-acted. We’re left with a collection of performances, some good and some less so, but the story is missing.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series

The Brady Bunch was a hit show for a few years before someone had the bright idea of spinning it off into an animated series focused on the six kids. The cast members remain, but the episode story lines are very much Saturday Morning cartoons as opposed to sitcom-worthy. Magical creatures, a disregard for physics, an absence of “real world” concerns ‐ these kids are on some rollicking adventures, but the fluffy nature of it all works against the original series’ appeal of kids facing familiar conflicts.

[DVD extras: None]

Criminal Activities

Four old friends (Michael Pitt, Dan Stevens, Christopher Abbott, Rob Brown) reunite for a fifth’s funeral, and the financially-strained quartet find themselves discussing a sure thing over drinks just hours later. That guaranteed money-maker fails spectacularly, and they discover that not only is the man (John Travolta) who funded their venture associated with the mob but he’s also ready to be paid back. Jackie Earle Haley (who also co-stars) directs this little crime thriller, and the result is a solidly entertaining affair. There’s a Suicide Kings-vibe to it as the young men see their lives spiraling downward with every passing second, and there’s more than a few laughs to be found too (most courtesy of Haley). The script can’t quite lock the landing, but the third-act explanation behind it all is entertaining all the same.

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


January is a rich brat who left her stuffy family behind and never looked back, but when she’s inured in an accident and left incapacitated and suffering from memory loss her family is all she has left. They welcome her home, but even in an unhealthy state January suspects something is amiss. This British chiller is a twisted little tale, but its journey to the disturbing truth is something of a torturous affair ‐ both literally as January is subjected to harsh treatment, and also in regard to the film’s pacing. The second act is the main offender here while the setup before then teases our interest and the final twenty minutes deliver a punch.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

Fixed Bayonets (UK)

An American army division is on the retreat in a cold winter of the Korean war, and a platoon of a few dozen men is tasked with staying back and covering their tail. The mission is challenging from the outset, but it quickly grows more and more dire as their numbers dwindle among both the grunts and those in command. Writer/director Samuel Fuller (The Big Red One) was no stranger to war films, but he made an early mark on the genre with this Korean War-set film made during the war itself. There’s a tangible camaraderie among the men, and the action scenes are plentiful and well-staged. The majority of the film was shot on a sound stage, a fact which visibly lessens the atmosphere, but the performances and sequences are sound. One scene involving a wounded man on a mine field offers up a few minutes of masterfully-crafted tension.

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

Girls: The Complete Fourth Season

Hannah (Lena Dunham) leaves New York City for the prestigious fields of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Marnie (Allison Williams) focuses on her budding music career alongside a hipster singer/songwriter. Shosh (Zosia Mamet) graduates and enters the harsh reality of the real world. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) tries out Alcoholics Anonymous. Season four of HBO’s popular look at the female experience continues to have one basic flaw ‐ the male characters are still far more interesting and better written. Adam, Ray, Elijah ‐ these guys are consistently more entertaining and better developed in their characters than the girls are. Still, there’s some fun and dramatic stuff her, mostly with Hannah, as she struggles to find herself in Iowa.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, gag reel]

Mystery Date (Olive Films)

Tom (Ethan Hawke) has the hots for his next-door neighbor (Teri Polo), but it takes his older brother’s instigation to arrange a date between the two. The evening starts well enough, but when strangers start mistaking Tom for his brother and he ends up with two dead bodies in his trunk the date heads into some rocky waters. This is actually a fun, early ’90s movie that fits well into the sub-genre of films set across one crazy night. It’s not up to the level of After Hours or Into the Night, but a lively cast ‐ Fisher Stevens, B.D. Wong, Victor Wong, James Hong ‐ and some energetic sequences combing action and comedy make for an entertaining adventure. Hawke sits here in that brief window between the innocence of Dead Poets Society and the “cool” of Reality Bites, and his comedic chops are on full display.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Pray for Death (Arrow Video)

Akira (Sho Kosugi) is a Japanese businessman who, along with his wife, decides that the family should make a go of things in America. They move to Houston to open a restaurant, but within days they find themselves targeted by nefarious elements. Unable to rely on police protection, Akira takes matters into his own hands ‐ he can do that, he’s a ninja. Kosugi’s ninja films are a mixed bag, but they all offer great/terrible ’80s action fun. Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja are probably the better known, and Ninja III: The Domination is far goofier, but this entry is takes the brutality crown. Akira’s wife does not fare well. Ninja junkies would do well do pick up this Arrow release, both for the movie and the enlightening interview with Kosugi.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]

Saints & Strangers

The story of the Pilgrims’ first arrival to what would eventually become the United States gets a fairly solid dramatization here with a three-hour-plus mini-series. Production values waver ‐ sometimes the story feels wide open and grand, other times the budget seems to shrink its effect down noticeably ‐ but the performances keep us engaged. Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser does good work as their conflicted leader forced into difficult decisions, and the script wisely devotes time to the various Native American players too.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

Secret Admirer (Olive Films)

Michael (C. Thomas Howell) receives an anonymous love note on the last day of school and convinces himself it’s from the hottest girl he knows (Kelly Preston). It’s not and is in fact from his best female friend (Lori Loughlin), but his assumption sets off a chain of events that pulls several people into a tale of mistakes, wishful thinking, and Three’s Company-worthy hijinks. It’s very much an ’80s movie, and it’s a rare one that devotes as much time to the adults as to the teens. To that end both Fred Ward and Dee Wallace Stone add to the fun. The one sad note here is that for a thirty year-old movie there’s a one cast member who’s since died ‐ the film’s youngest, Corey Haim.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


The end of World War II offered a brief reprise from fear, but it wasn’t long before Russia became our enemy and the Cold War had us looking under every rock for dirty communists. That new fear ‐ Commie spies and sympathizers trying to corrupt us through the movies! ‐ led to Congressional action and a blacklist of filmmakers who leaned red. Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was among those targeted, but even as he fought back publicly he was delivering new scripts under fake names ‐ and winning Academy Awards. At this point you have to wonder if there’s a time period in American history where large groups of people didn’t act like assholes towards their fellow citizens. Jay Roach’s film offers up a spectacular cast ‐ John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, and others ‐ and sees Trumbo delivering some catchy and wise words, but it feels slight and a bit forced as a whole.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Death by Hanging (Criterion), Labyrinth of Lies, My Science Project, The Taviani Brothers Collection

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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.