Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
When the Wind Blows [Synapse Kids]
What is it? An elderly married couple cope with nuclear winter.
Why see it? Everyone knows about Threads and The Day After, but for my money this mid 80s animated effort delivers even more pathos, horror, and beauty when it comes to stories about people struggling with the reality of a post-nuclear holocaust world. The animation is as warm and cold as necessary, Roger Waters’ score is powerful, and the drama feels real and affecting despite arriving in the form of a cartoon. Severin’s new Blu includes some informative extras looking back on the film’s production and memory, and it’s a must own whether you have young ones or not.
[Extras: Documentary, making of, commentary, interview, PSA short]
30 Rock – The Complete Series
What is it? Behind the scenes of a late night variety show.
Why see it? Tina Fey may have gotten her start on Saturday Night Live, but it’s this frequently hilarious series poking fun at that experience that will be her legacy. She stars alongside Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Tracy Morgan, and others, and the show is never less than a fast-moving romp through the ups and downs of TV comedy production. The show alone is worth owning and revisiting, but the set’s variety of extras offer hours more of fun and laughs. I don’t often recommend TV shows as worth purchasing, but having this complete set on hand guarantees you’ll never be wanting for laughs.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, comemntaries, bloopers, shorts]
Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson [Synapse Films]
What is it? A look at life and horrifying death of a genre filmmaker.
Why see it? Al Adamson’s films are numerous but still rarely seen by the masses. They’re all low budget affairs typically knee deep in violence, T&A, and a general sense of weirdness. His life story, though, is like that of many filmmakers who struggle to balance a need to create with a desire for success. This doc talks with several people who knew him, along with archival footage and clips from his movies, to explore his life and the tragedy of his death. It’s a captivating watch even if his movies aren’t your jam.
[Extras: Outtakes, bonus feature film The Female Bunch, featurette]
Fatal Attraction [Paramount Presents]
What is it? An idiot cheats on Anne Archer.
Why see it? Adrian Lyne’s late 80s smash delivers drama, suspense, and a horror movie ending, but it also was a big conversation starter when it opened. Sure the ending lets the cheater off the hook, but it’s fun watching him squirm on the way there. Anne Archer is fantastic even if she is out-shined by Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, and it works as a cautionary tale about being a real asshole.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, featurette, commentary, alternate ending]
To Catch a Thief [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A thief is afoot and needs to be caught.
Why see it? Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 blockbuster gets a fantastic new release capturing all of its VistaVision glory with sharp visuals and breathtaking colors. It’s a breezy, beautiful vacation of a movie about a wrongfully accused man, the woman half his age who loves him, and a gaggle of police hot on his trail. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are both absolutely divine here — gorgeous to look at, sexy as hell, and clearly having a blast. The film is light on real suspense, but it’s so addictive and attractive that none of that matters.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, featurettes, commentary]
Carnival Magic [Synapse Kids]
What is it? A carnival’s talking chimpanzee is kidnapped!
Why see it? Al Adamson isn’t exactly the kind of filmmaker you’d expect to see directing a kids movie, but that’s just what supposedly happened here. I say supposedly because in addition to there being no children in the film it’s entertainment that leans decidedly adult with its lecherous chimp, abusive animal trainer, and sketchy humor. It’s not a good movie, traditionally speaking, but there’s entertainment to be had. One highlight is the new interview with Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen as they discuss the film.
[Extras: Featurette, commentary, bonus feature film]
What is it? A tale of gangsters and goons set against England’s burgeoning weed business.
Why see it? Guy Ritchie’s latest sees him return to the kind of film that made his name in the first place, and it’s overflowing with on screen talents including Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, Matthew McConaughey, Henry Golding, and Michelle Dockery. Charlie Hunnam also stars. There are some laughs and surprises here along with a smattering of action, but the real draw for many will be the sharp as hell fashion choices. It’s an incredibly stylish film, and along with the cast and laughs makes for a watchable romp.
Ip Man 4
What is it? The final Ip Man.
Why see it? Donnie Yen’s four-film journey as a somewhat heightened version of the very real Ip Man is as terrific an action franchise as you could hope for. The films are fight focused, so no gun play or big stunts here, but Yen and his cohorts keep things thrilling with a variety of clashes both on-on-one and one against many. There’s heart here too, and they wrap up the emotional story line well delivering a film that celebrates legacy and love equally. It’s very much pro-China despite being set in the US for much of its running time, but that too is a trademark of both the franchise and the region. It doesn’t get in the way of the action, though, and while Yen’s advanced age sees him using doubles and wires more it’s still a solid end to the series.
King Creole [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A high school dropout gets involved with gangsters, molls, and a microphone.
Why see it? Elvis Presley’s movies are rarely more than pure fluff, but this early entry from director Michael Curtiz feels a bit heftier. The supporting cast helps with the likes of Walter Matthau, Vic Morrow, and Dolores Hart bringing a lot to the table, and the plot’s touches on sex, violence, and life’s hard moral choices are heavier than Presley’s films typically deliver. It’s a solid little watch with some lively songs.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, featurette]
Like a Boss
What is it? Two best friends make their mark on the small business world.
Why see it? Look, I’ll watch anything with Rose Byre in it, but this comedy lacks laughs in a big way. The cast is talented as Byrne is joined by Salma Hayak and Tiffany Haddish, but the writing is severely lacking in fun and smarts. The emotional beats are unearned too which means the story arc doesn’t even deliver where it needs to. Fans of the cast may want to give it a spin, but it’s a struggle.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
Rachel and the Stranger [Warner Archive]
What is it? Two men fight over the same woman.
Why see it? As westerns go, this is a pretty mild plot setup, but the film adds in some “Indian” action to liven up the proceedings. The core, though, rests in the clash between William Holden and Robert Mitchum over Loretta Young, and while the talents are undeniable the drama and antics are just okay. Still, it’s a lively and entertaining movie.
Reflections In a Golden Eye [Warner Archive]
What is it? A couple living on a military base see their insular world stumble.
Why see it? Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando play the unhappily married couple, and both exist in a world of their own only crossing paths when they have to and with aggressive distaste. The film also introduces Robert Forster in his first feature. Director John Huston adapts Carson McCullers’ novel — he tints it gold, but while that version played a week or two in theaters it was quickly replaced with a traditional color version — and the film is an odd melodrama, occasionally intense, frequently heightened, and rarely dull.
[Extras: Featurette, original gold-tinted and color versions]
Secret Ceremony [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An older woman struggles with the younger woman who thinks she’s her mother.
Why see it? Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, and Robert Mitchum headline this sedate and odd late 60s effort, and they’re ultimately the only real reason to watch as the film is a sedate melodrama that never quite clicks. The two women are each reminded of someone they’ve lost, but is it sadness or madness that fuels their relationship? Mitchum’s lecherous turn as the younger woman’s step father is icky in the right ways, but it’s not quite enough to turn this into a winner.
Ultraman X – The Series/The Movie
What is it? A giant hero faces off against even bigger monsters.
Why see it? The Ultraman series is part of a long line of Japanese productions involving oversized threats and heroes, both mechanical and monstrous, but what it lacks in iconic characters (Godzilla) it makes up for in enthusiasm and cheesy fun. It probably leans more Mighty Morphin Power Rangers than traditional Toho monsters, but there’s fun to be had. This set includes both the series and the movie which reunites various Ultramen through the years for some epic shenanigans.
Also out this week:
Bad Boys for Life, Budapest Noir, Connecting Rooms [KL Studio Classics], The Cremator [Criterion Collection], The Curse of the Werewolf [Scream Factory], The Last Full Measure, Looking for Alaska, Love Among the Ruins, The Love of Jeanne Ney, Sea Fever, The Turning, Why Don’t You Just Die! [Arrow Video], Woman Times Seven [KL Studio Classics]