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 November 17th, 2020!
This week’s home video selection includes a holiday classic in 4K, a long-delayed tale of mutants, the year’s best horror film, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? A woman’s daughter and granddaughter are haunted by her disappearance.
Why see it? I’ve been singing this chiller’s praises since January when I saw the film at Sundance. It follows three generations of women as they deal with the eldest’s descent into dementia, and while it delivers scares and atmosphere a plenty, its heart and focus on the loss of a loved one remains. Rather than exploit the illness, the film uses it to craft an unforgettable horror experience that builds to an ending that might just leave you in tears. It’s a beautiful thing.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A hitman is targeted by his employers.
Why see it? Jim Jarmusch is mostly miss for me, Paterson (2017) aside, but this beautifully told tale of a hitman, his birds, and an atypical philosophy towards life, death, and the warrior’s way is a gem. Forest Whitaker makes for an endearing lead who’s both capable of dealing death and appreciating the finer, calmer things in life. Jarmusch’s penchant for introspection works well here, and Whitaker commands the screen with a kind awareness. Quotes from samurai teachings act as chapter headings and lend it a unique feel. Criterion’s new Blu looks sharp and includes plenty of extras offering a look into the film’s making and meaning.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, Q&A, interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Grace of My Heart
What is it? A female songwriter struggles to sing her own songs.
Why see it? Allison Anders wrote and directed this inspiring tale of talent rising up against oppression, and it’s an amusing and entertaining journey. Illeana Douglas takes the lead here and is fantastic, and she’s joined by the likes of Eric Stoltz, Matt Dillon, John Turturro, and more. It’s funny and sweet, and the music is both catchy and appealing.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes]
It’s a Wonderful Life [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A man in distress discovers the value in his life.
Why see it? Frank Capra’s holiday classic is back in the news, as it is every year, and it remains an affecting gem about confirming the love you share with and for others in your life. James Stewart brings his everyman charms to a character whose doubts and concerns are familiar to anyone alive, and the film explores his journey with a little bit of magic and a lot of heart.
[Extras: Color version, featurettes]
Resident Evil – The Complete Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? All six films in the franchise, remastered in 4K.
Why see it? Capcom’s videogame series might not have seemed like the game adaptation to break the curse, but it’s hard to argue with a film franchise that’s brought in over a billion dollars at the box-office while averaging B grades at the same time. The films vary in quality, but between the non-stop action and monster mayhem they’re fun times more often than not. Their biggest asset, though, is lead Milla Jovovich. She grows as a performer across the films, but from the very start she’s a gung-ho action performer that stands apart from the usual genre fray. The new 4K remasters highlight the action and production design behind this iconic franchise, and all six films look sharp and bright.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Silent Running [Arrow Video]
What is it? A man defies an order to destroy what might be the last vegetation near Earth.
Why see it? Bruce Dern as a compassionate and affecting leading man might take some getting used to, but he does great work here as a botanist forced to act against irrational thought. Special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull made his directorial debut here, and while that guarantees fantastic miniatures and sculptures he also delivers a compelling tale about the environment and our stewardship over it. The film remains an all-timer with its potent message taking center stage. Arrow’s new Blu looks brilliant too.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentaries, interviews, featurette]
What is it? A dying Earth sends a miner to dig for hope in the future.
Why see it? Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the miner named in a mysterious message from the future, but his adventure begins when he’s sent forward in time in the hopes of finding a way to save humanity. Ryan Kwanten is his best friend, but while the familiar faces stop there the film manages some engaging world-building even if some of the story beats are visible while in advance. It’s a solid little sci-fi tale with an effective ending.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Dragnet [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Sgt. Joe Friday asks for the facts and solves the case.
Why see it? The popular television show gets a feature film here, but sadly Harry Morgan is nowhere to be found. Jack Webb brings his iconic character to colorful life, though, in a story about corrupt mobsters and murder. It’s a pretty straightforward affair finding many of the same beats fans appreciated in the show, and as a directorial effort by Webb himself there’s an extra appeal.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
Moonstruck [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A romantic comedy set against an Italian-American family.
Why see it? Cher and Olympia Dukakis both won Oscars for their work here, and it’s easy to see why they struck a chord with critics and moviegoers alike. The film moves along with energy and bombast as various relatives and friends in and out of relationships are touched on with Cher’s downtrodden widow at the heart of it all. Your mileage with the journey comes down to your embrace of Cher’s budding romance with Nicolas Cage, and if it works for you the movie will too. Criterion’s new Blu is heavy with older interviews, but they remain informative and enlightening.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, interviews, featurettes]
The New Mutants
What is it? A group of teens with powers discover the truth behind their incarceration.
Why see it? Josh Boone’s bastard child of the X-Men franchise has bounced around for a few years, but now that it’s finally released it’s hard to see what the fuss was about. While not good necessarily, it’s far from terrible, and is instead just a mediocre thriller that can’t quite decide how it wants to stand out from the crowd. We’ve seen this story before, both in and out of X-Men lore, and there’s just nothing here to make you go wow aside from some questionable accents and wigs.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurette]
Ulysses [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Homer’s epic tale comes to life.
Why see it? Kirk Douglas is always worth watching, and his lead performance as the adventurous Ulysses delivers. It’s worlds apart from the sandal-wearing similarities of Spartacus, but it’s a solid adventure featuring one-eyed giants, magic, swordplay, and more. Kino’s new Blu gives this older film a sharp remaster capturing its details and colors with renewed vibrance.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary, US and Italian versions]
Westworld – Season Three
What is it? The hosts are loose.
Why see it? HBO’s Westworld offers up a bold, violent, and exploitative reimagining of Michael Crichton’s clunky classic, but three seasons in it’s a bit less sure of itself. The story has spilled out of the theme parks and into the real world, and as the androids navigate it the show tosses twists within twists at viewers that slowly but surely loosen its grasp on our attention. It’s a gamble, and there’s no denying the top-tier visual effects, production design, and performances, but the storylines just continue to grow less cohesive. Fans will want to pick up the 4K release, though, as it’s a visual treat.
The Wonders of Aladdin [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An “interesting” take on the story of Aladdin.
Why see it? Look, the 60s were a time, I get it, but Donald O’Connor as Aladdin? Come on people. Anyway, if you can get past that this family adventure manages some minor fun with its frequent effects and action beats. The story is eminently familiar by now and has been told better by Disney, but fans of whitewashed Arabian adventures from decades past will enjoy its charms.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary]
Also out this week:
Hero On the Front, Nomad, A Woman Missing