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 7th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes Lawrence of Arabia on 4K UHD, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Lawrence of Arabia [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? A World War I epic from David Lean.
Why see it? Previously released in a big set from Colombia, David Lean’s most memorable epic feature finally comes home to 4K UHD all on its own. The UHD features only the film while the Blu-ray comes loaded with special features that any fan of the film will find terrifically educational and entertaining. As for the film itself, it’s always been an example of gorgeous cinema, but this new UHD captures its vast landscapes and character faces with a new eye paying special attention to detail, color, and depth. Peter O’Toole shines as a young British officer who takes to the desert in search of allies. Over half a century later and it’s still a powerful watch.
[Extras: Unused prologue, featurettes, documentaries, interviews]
The Bridge on the River Kwai [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? A World War II epic from David Lean.
Why see it? This late 50s tale of survival, honor, and engineering won seven Academy Awards back in the late 50s, and it deserved every one of them. William Holden and Alec Guinness headline an ensemble tale of prisoners tasked with building a bridge for their Japanese captors. With no hope of escape the bridge becomes an object of pride and craftsmanship, but trouble brews when the Allies come along with plans to blow it up. Holden is good, but Guinness delivers a powerful performance as a man of honor and duty who’s unable to let go. Sony’s new 4K UHD steelbook brings the film’s colors and characters to fresh life.
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema VII [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Three noirs from the mid to late 50s.
Why see it? A soldier becomes a criminal kingpin in The Boss, a hard-hitting prosecutor fights crime in Chicago Confidential, and a former prisoner of war returns home to a suspiciously broken America in The Fearmakers. All three of the films in this latest noir collection from Kino Lorber are solid little thrillers, and together they make for an engaging watch on the outskirts of the genre. The highlight in the set is probably Chicago Confidential as it balances its characters, themes, and suspense well with a terrific lead performance by a young Brian Keith. Fans of the genre should already be scooping these sets up.
[Extras: New 2K master of The Boss and The Fearmakers, commentaries]
5 Centimeters Per Second
What is it? Three tales of young love, about the same two people.
Why see it? The first of three Makoto Shinkai releases this week, and the man’s feature debut, is a film about longing and regret. Takaki takes center stage as a young man who’s yearned for Akari his whole life, and as their cross paths without true fruition he ruminates on the paths chosen and the destinations declared. The animation here is undeniably beautiful, with themes and a score to match, but even its short running time (63 minutes) can’t hold off the feeling that things are dragging. Still, its US debut on Blu-ray is a big deal for fans.
[Extras: Featurette, interviews, short film]
What is it? A dancer goes against her better judgment to help a newly orphaned child.
Why see it? There’s nothing like John Cassavetes’ 1980 film Gloria, and that goes both for the 1999 remake and this loose inspiration. Lena Headey does good work here, but the film’s evident cheapness — the driving scenes, of which there are many, all look terribly fake — an annoying kid actor, an underwhelming villain in Sam Worthington, and other distractions keep it feeling uninspired and uninteresting.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices
What is it? A young girl finds a connection to her dad in a fantasy world.
Why see it? Makoto Shinkai dips his toe into a Ghibli-style tale of growing up, fantastical worlds, and lessons on the importance of family. Young Asuna catches a tune on an old radio that soon transports her to another world, and the adventure that awaits has ramifications on the rest of her life. As is often the case with Shinkai, the film is gorgeous to look at even as the script feels a bit ho-hum. It’s far from bad, and at nearly double the length of his film above it moves well, but it rarely feels capable of jumping off the screen and taking hold.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes]
The Contractor [4K UHD]
What is it? An ex-soldier finds a new mission with mercenaries.
Why see it? Chris Pine and Ben Foster star in this tale of “brothers” who turn towards violence due to economic downturns, but no, this isn’t a retitled Hell or High Water (2016). This time around it’s Pine who’s hit hard times and takes a page from Foster in signing on to an “easy” gig with a big paycheck, but things take an unsurprising turn. That lack of a spark is what hurts this film as nothing happens here that you haven’t already seen coming, but the talents involved make it worth a watch all the same.
What is it? The new legacy sequel everyone’s talking about!
Why see it? Okay, this direct-to-video follow-up to 1996’s Arnold Schwarzenegger film Eraser isn’t exactly a topic of conversation, but a twenty-six year gap is pretty extreme. A DTV effort will never compete with a theatrical one, but the bigger surprise is this one feels more dated despite the quarter of a century between them. The film’s best asset is its Cape Town setting as its takes good advantage of the area’s beauty and geographic diversity, but the action, script, and characters leave a lot to be desired.
The Fabulous Baker Boys
What is it? Two brothers vie for the same woman.
Why see it? Real-life brothers playing fictional brothers for our amusement? That’s the kind of joy you can expect from this warmly sensual drama about a brother musical act (Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges) who bring in a third member in the sultry form of Michelle Pfeiffer. Writer/director Steve Kloves delivers a romantic drama about and for adults, and the songs add an air or maturity to it all. There’s personality to spare even if the story and journey itself are fairly standard.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Grease 2 [steelbook]
What is it? A gender flipped sequel/remake of the original Grease.
Why see it? There are those who say this follow-up is superior to the far better known and more widely seen original, and to them I say, okay. Neither is really my cup of tea, but if pushed I’d commit to the first film taking the lead on the power of both its songs and very brief teases into darker themes. This one is no slouch, but it’s maybe a bit too silly and features songs/dances that don’t quite land in the memory. Michelle Pfeiffer is obviously wonderful, though.
The Phantom of the Opera [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A weirdo stalks an opera singer.
Why see it? Dario Argento’s later career — basically the 90s onward — isn’t home to much in the way of good cinema, and this riff on the classic tale doesn’t change that. Asia Argento stars as the talented and haunted Christine whose voice draws out the phantom, a man living in the caverns below, and soon people are dropping like flies. The film adds little new to the familiar story, and while Argento nails the gothic nature of the visuals the characters, dialogue, and events all fail to move you. We get some bloodletting, but none of it stands out, and by the time the end credits roll you’ll be wondering why Argento chose to waste his time and ours with this redo.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
Savage Sisters [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Three tough women come together for a criminal revolution.
Why see it? 70s genre cinema shot in the Philippines is usually a guarantee for stunts and sleaze, and this entry is no different. Gloria Hendry, Cheri Caffaro, and Rosanna Ortiz are the title tough girls, Sid Haig is one of the rough guys, and there’s plenty of gun play and explosions to spare. The film hits all the expected beats with its low budget and B-movie ambitions, and while it doesn’t break the mold or find much of a leg to stand on its own the low-grade charms are evident (and have never looked this good).
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
Stunt Rock [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A stuntman visits Los Angeles.
Why see it? Brian Trenchard-Smith is no stranger to Ozploitation fans, and this late 70s feature brings together a lot of the action and silliness that make his movies so memorable. Grant Page stars as himself in a film that’s part documentary and part low-key narrative, and along the way Page finds himself in hairy situations both intentional and otherwise. It’s a goofy film that plays up Page’s sex appeal and personality while giving little concern to an actual story or momentum. It does look good, though, so fans of Trenchard-Smith’s silliness will want to pick up this new one.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interviews]
Also out this week:
Catch the Fair One, The Feast, Fortress: Sniper’s Eye, Human Lanterns [88 Films], Midnight, Passion in the Desert, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, The Tales of Hoffman [Criterion Collection]
Related Topics: Home Video