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 15th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes Radiance’s box set of three Cosa Nostra films, Roman Holiday in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani [Radiance]
What is it? The Day of the Owl, The Case Is Closed: Forget It, and How to Kill a Judge
Why see it? Franco Nero always makes for a compelling performer, and here he’s afforded three lead roles in a varying triptych of tales about the mafia and its influence. Of the three, The Day of the Owl is arguably the most celebrated, and it’s easy to see why as Nero goes head to head with the mafia through a murder investigation. My favorite of the three, though, is How to Kill a Judge. The film offers an introspective look at filmmaking itself as a director sees a connection between his own work and a recent spate of mafia killings. Is his work responsible? Interesting stuff. Radiance does another beautiful job here, this time with their first box set, and I look forward to them being around for a long time.
[Extras: New 2K restorations, alternate cut of Day of the Owl, interviews, featurettes, video essays, booklet]
Is Paris Burning? [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The Nazis must choose if Paris can be held or if it should be destroyed.
Why see it? Director Rene Clement gathers an all-star cast for an epic about the fate of one of the world’s most recognizable cities. Jean-Paul Belmondo, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas, Alain Delon, Glenn Ford, Robert Stack, Anthony Perkins, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Leslie Caron, Charles Boyer, and more star, with a script co-written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola. The talent pool is immense, and it’s all visible on the screen as the drama, suspense, and sharp character work shines. The film’s black and white photography also grabs hold with deep blacks and details helping pull viewers into history.
[Extras: new 4K scan, commentary]
Roman Holiday – 70th Anniversary [4K UHD]
What is it? A princess meets an American.
Why see it? William Wyler’s classic romantic comedy, with a script by Dalton Trumbo, remains a sweet fun watch. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are fantastic together, their chemistry ensuring both the romance and the laughs land. You immediately buy both her curiosity and his shifting desires, and the film works equally well as a travelogue offering up the beautiful sights of Rome. The comedy comes mostly from the duo’s banter and interactions, and happily they’re both professionals. The film’s already an attractive and colorful time, and this new 4K UHD raises that bar even more.
What is it? A play becomes a movie with perfect framing.
Why see it? The Royal Tenenbaums is a fantastic film and Wes Anderson’s greatest achievement, and one reason (of many) for that is the humanity and emotion that the movie affords its characters. They’re people — odd balls, sure, but people all the same. Too many of Anderson’s films since have forgotten that and instead shifted their focus away from interesting, engaging characters and towards quirky automatons. His latest is the greatest offender yet on that count, and it leaves the film feeling flat despite the brilliant cast and attractive visuals.
Babylon 5: The Road Home [4K UHD]
What is it? An animated continuation of the popular series.
Why see it? Babylon 5 ran for five years in the 90s, and it’s seen a handful of returns over the years since in the form of limited series and standalone films. The appeal is clear with its grand scope, fun characters, and energetic approach to science fiction, and these ongoing adventures are more than welcome. This latest entry is another engaging tale, but while the animation allows for bigger, wilder visuals, it also puts some distance between viewers and the characters they’ve come to love. Still, the original cast does voice work, so most fans will still feel very much at home.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
What is it? Two cops make some choices.
Why see it? Direct to video action flicks can deliver lots of fun, but this is not one of those times. The first act gives us voiceovers from three different characters, none of whom are even remotely interesting, and the story that follows never recovers. Dominic Purcell and Nick Stahl are the cops, and neither really cares about being here. Mel Gibson cameos as their boss, and he makes the only effort in the film — it’s mostly with his thick New York accent, but that has to count for something. Anyway, it’s a dull time.
The Day and the Hour [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A French woman becomes a reluctant resistance member during World War II.
Why see it? Simone Signoret is the film’s main draw, and she doesn’t disappoint as a woman isolated from it all until she’s drawn into history. She finds an American (Stuart Whitman) hiding from the Nazis and agrees to smuggle him to safety, but the journey is fraught with dangers both expected and otherwise. Director Rene Clement delivers a compelling drama with brief action between the character work.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary]
What is it? A comedian proves one of his wild tales is actually true.
Why see it? Burt Kreischer is a funny guy. Or he’s not. Where you fall on that one will most likely determine your mileage with his feature film. It’s essentially a big riff on one of his recurring tales from his stand-up, a story involving a trip to Russia and the various illegal activities that occurred. We get some silly action beats and more than a few laughs thanks as much to Mark Hamill and Jimmy Tatro as to Kreischer. The comedy isn’t frequent enough to make this a laugh fest, but again, your mileage and all that.
[Extras: Featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes
Also out this week:
The Ernst Lubitsch Collection: The Doll/I Don’t Want to Be a Man, From Black, Holy Spider, Kill Shot, Last and First Men, The Lincoln Lawyer – Season 1, Nefarious, Seire, Shaw Brothers Classics – Vol. 2, The Wrath of Becky