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 September 8th, 2020 including our pick of the week, The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection in 4K UltraHD!
This week’s home video selection includes Kelly Reichardt’s acclaimed First Cow, a 4K release of the classic anime Ghost in the Shell, Rob Zombie’s “white trash” trilogy, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Alfred Hitchcock Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Four of the suspense master’s classics in 4K!
Why see it? A couple of things right up front… yes, the discs are housed in those cardboard sleeves that so many of you hate, and yes, the Psycho disc is missing the original mono audio track despite it being listed as an option. If either of those is a deal-breaker, then just keep moving. Still here? Good, because this is a beautiful and very welcome release from Universal. Only Psycho is available in a standalone 4K release (and it looks very good here in both its theatrical and “uncut” versions), so these other three are new and well worth the pickup for fans.
Vertigo is probably the one most people will jump to in this new Alfred Hitchcock 4K collection, and to my eyes, the upgrade is vibrant while retaining the film’s original grain. It remains a film that cherishes the visuals, and it looks fantastic. The Birds, while a favorite Hitchcock of mine, is still hampered by those optical effects, but beyond that recurring issue, the upgrade delivers. You wouldn’t expect it necessarily, but it’s Rear Window that seems to benefit the most from the 4K upgrade. So much of the film unfolds in a single locale, but there’s a sharpness to the imagery that doesn’t interfere with grain resulting in a noticeable step up at times.
[Extras: Uncut version of Psycho, commentaries, interviews, featurettes]
What is it? Two men and a cow form a successful start-up.
Why see it? Kelly Reichardt’s films are always beautiful and show a passion for individuals making their way in an unforgiving world. First Cow is no different, with its early 19th-century tale of outcasts, friendship, and ingenuity. There are sweetness and respect to it all, and while there are also harsh truths throughout it’s the affection for character that shines through. The film tells its own tale, but it works (as intended) as an allegory of sorts for America and the dream that so many here have that can’t quite be accomplished.
Ghost in the Shell [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A cop with upgrades chases a crook with more.
Why see it? Mamoru Oshii’s anime classic remains a visual stunner that also deliver action thrills and thought-provoking writing. It’s obviously superior to the live-action feature from a few years ago (which is admittedly okay on its own merits), and it holds up as a film worthy of multiple re-watches thanks in large part to its visuals. The animation pops as expected in 4K with the HDR delivering bright colors that give the action and characters even more life.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
What is it? Grieving parents adopt a monster.
Why see it? This Russian chiller starts a bit rough with some choppy montage bringing viewers up to speed, and it’s a struggle from there forward. The child/creature is visibly a monster, but the couple treats it humanely to their detriment. We get some fun effects beats here and there, but there’s also some atrocious CG animation that looks like they’re using early 2000s graphics software. If you can get past that there are minor thrills to be had as the kid is a scrapper and a scrambler making for some fast-moving beats.
Kentucky Kernels [Warner Archive]
What is it? A pair of scammers “adopt” a wealthy child.
Why see it? Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey are a beloved pair in some circles despite never gaining the kind of fame associated with other on-screen duos. This entry drops Spanky from The Little Rascals into the mix, and he livens things up nicely. His childish antics work well with the film’s overall slapstick vibe to deliver some laughs and smiles.
What is it? A man’s life crumbles when he sees his childhood abuser again.
Why see it? Ignore the title change — it’s called Romans elsewhere — and the cover art suggesting a violent tale of revenge as this is nothing of the sort. It is a rough drama, though, featuring perhaps the best performance of Orlando Bloom’s career so far. The abuser is a priest (surprise!), and the film explores ideas of guilt, forgiveness, and the Old Testament’s “eye for an eye” message. The ending is a reach and doesn’t satisfy the way the filmmakers might hope, but Bloom deserves credit for a strong and brave performance all the same.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
Rob Zombie Trilogy [Target Steelbook Exclusive]
What is it? House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, and 3 From Hell!
Why see it? Lords of Salem is the only Rob Zombie film I actually enjoy, so I won’t be singing the praises of these three today. Anti-heroes need a line of some sort, but Zombie’s embrace of these characters and treatment of them as bad guys we’re meant to love just doesn’t work. It certainly doesn’t help that Sheri Moon Zombie isn’t a good actor, but the films have far bigger problems. The extras are where it’s at, though, as Zombie remains an incredibly engaging speaker. The highlight of the set is this stylish new steelbook with its stellar artwork.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, interviews]
Supergirl – The Complete Fifth Season
What is it? Supergirl still isn’t Superwoman for some reason.
Why see it? As mentioned repeatedly in this column, DC owns the small screen with its myriad collection of hit shows. They may still be stumbling theatrically, but they’ve got the TV game down. This series stands out as one with a female hero lead, and Melissa Benoist does good work balancing the character’s split while avoiding the “super” curse of feeling too bland. The storylines and villains all follow in step with other DC shows and comics in general meaning fans of those should be fans of this.
[Extras: Comic-Con panel, deleted scenes, gag reel]
Also out this week:
Bad Education, Brute Force [Criterion Collection], Cary Grant Collection [KL Studio Classics], Graveyards of Honor [Arrow Video], The Grey Fox [KL Studio Classics], The Naked City [Criterion Collection], Superman: Man of Tomorrow, True History of the Kelly Gang, We Bare Bears: The Movie