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 August 22nd, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes Benny Chan’s A Moment of Romance, Weird Science in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
A Moment of Romance [Radiance]
What is it? A bad boy meets a rich girl, and sparks fly.
Why see it? Benny Chan’s directorial debut — believed by some to have been secretly directed by producer Johnny To — is a beautiful melodrama infused with style, angst, and bursts of triad violence. Andy Lau is smoldering perfection as the gang member who uses Wu Chien-lien as a hostage before falling in love with her, and soon the lovebirds are on the run from gangsters, police, and the girl’s parents. The pieces are all familiar enough, but Chanfinds the beauty and energy to keep the ninety-minute film moving, engaging, and compelling. Kudos to Radiance for once again plucking an underseen gem from home video hell and giving it a restored home.
[Extras: New restoration, interview, featurette, commentary]
Unman, Wittering and Zigo [Arrow Video]
What is it? A teacher suspects his class of murdering his predecessor.
Why see it? This 1971 thriller from the UK is a fantastic slice of suspense and character drama that also delivers one of the most harrowing sequences you’re likely to find. David Hemmings plays a new teacher at a small boys school in remote England, and on his first day the boys tell him they murdered the previous teacher. Like a grim and emotionally brutal Dead Poets Society meets the lost sequel to Lord of the Flies, the film builds suspense and drama while both audiences and Hemmings try to figure out if they’re telling the truth. The threats grows, though, in some traumatizing ways, leading to a well-crafted ending that doesn’t quite answer every question. Just a great film.
[Extras: Commentary, video essay, interviews]
The Blackening [4K UHD]
What is it? A group of friends head to a cabin in the woods.
Why see it? Tim Story’s horror/comedy finds some fun notes in its tale of old friends celebrating Juneteenth together, but laughs being subjective, there are really only a handful that earn a smile. The O’Reilly Auto Parts gag is stellar, though. It’s arguably less successful on the slasher side of things with set-pieces and kills that fail to thrill. Still, the script finds ample opportunities for entertaining commentary on race in relation to the genre making for a flick that entertains just enough.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, outtakes]
What is it? A couple can’t escape the circle they’ve been walking in.
Why see it? Dane Elcar’s indie sci-fi thriller feels inspired by the likes of Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes (2007) in its simple, low-fi setup and slowly blossoming tale of identity, confusion, and the unexpected. A feuding couple jogging around a lake discover the path out has disappeared. Worse, a stranger in a hoodie is hanging around too. The mystery soon finds both relationship themes and genre beats vying for attention, and as the pieces fall into place — some a bit more obvious than others — we find ourselves heading to a solid ending. You’ll see it coming, but it still satisfies.
[Extras: Commentary, short film, deleted scenes]
Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar
What is it? The epic conclusion of it all.
Why see it? It’s worth pointing out right at the top that fans of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse series will see this as one of the week’s best releases. I don’t count myself among them — the episodes I’ve seen are fine, just not my jam — but the animation and adventures are well crafted. This new movie wraps up the central storyline involving the heavy metal band Dethklok as its frontman finds himself in a predicament involving music and the fate of the universe. It’s good stuff that will leave fans more than satisfied.
Three Into Two Won’t Go [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man’s affair follows him home.
Why see it? Rod Steiger plays a married salesman whose frequent road trips often include a sexual dalliance or two, but his latest conquest sticks around a bit longer than usual. She also follows him home to meet his wife, and it’s not long before the truth comes out. Claire Bloom plays Steiger’s wife — a role she occupied in real life at the time too — while Judy Geeson is the young woman whose brazen personality and naked antics steal the man’s heart. It’s an engaging tale with strong performances and a compelling ending.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
Weird Science [4K UHD, Arrow Video]
What is it? Two teens make a sexy woman and stand up for themselves.
Why see it? John Hughes has become something of a poster child for the idea of 80s films being horribly dated due to sexism, racism, and more comedically ugly beats. Rewatching this film will likely lead to similar sentiments as two teen horndogs make a woman via computer shenanigans in the hopes of sexy antics. Instead they learn about themselves blah blah, while still finding time for some arguably offensive jokes and gags. Look, of course it’s dated, it’s forty years old. Some of it’s funny, most of it isn’t, but we do get two great turns from Kelly LeBrock and Bill Paxton. Arrow’s new 4K UHD looks good with grain intact, and while I’m not sure it’s a noticeable improvement over their recent Blu-ray your mileage may vary.
[Extras: Theatrical, extended, and edited for TV cuts, interviews, featurette]
You Hurt My Feelings
What is it? A writer hears a disturbing revelation from her husband.
Why see it? Writer/director Nicole Holofcener is as reliable a filmmaker as you’ll find delivering one solidly entertaining comedy/drama after the last. From her 1996 breakout Walking and Talking to the Kathryn Hahn-led series Mrs. Fletcher, she tells female-focused stories with wit and warmth. Her latest continues that trend as Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays an author upset at her husband’s opinion on her latest book. The premise opens up conversations about the truths and lies we tell not only ourselves but our partners as well, and while the honesty sometimes hurts it’s an important talk all the same. Tobias Menzies holds his own, and the pair deliver an engaging watch.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
Also out this week:
Bo Widerberg’s New Swedish Cinema [Criterion Collection], Hackers [4K UHD], The Legend of Zorro [4K UHD], The Nightmare Before Christmas [4K UHD], Spirit Halloween: The Movie
Related Topics: Home Video