Plus 15 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!

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Pick of the Week

Night Moves [Warner Archive]

Night MovesWhat is it? A private eye with troubles at home finds himself wrapped up in an increasingly disturbing case.

Why see it? Gene Hackman in his prime was a monster, and Arthur Penn’s mid 70s mystery/thriller sees the actor at the peak of his power. The film moves Hackman through a murky tale of people and motives that can’t be trusted where even the smallest exchange and interaction have meaning. His latest case seems simple — retrieve a runaway teen — but it opens a door to an interrelated web of lies, greed, and generally poor behavior. It feels every bit the dark, perfectly-captured Los Angeles tale that it is and that they just don’t make anymore (outside of L.A. Confidential of course). Young Melanie Griffith and James Woods also appear, each bringing a tease of the stardom heading their way.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]


The Best

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly [KL Studio Classics]

The Good The Bad The UglyWhat is it? Three men leave the Civil War behind in pursuit of a $200k stash.

Why see it? Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach bring the grit and grim energy to this sprawling western filled with bloody gun fights and brawls, epic atmosphere, and a memorable Ennio Morricone score. Despite the title delineations, none of the three main characters are “good guys” and instead make it abundantly clear that they’re ruthless even as they’re smiling at you.  Sergio Leone’s classic western — well, one of them — comes to Blu-ray in probably its best version yet. I say probably because some have already taken issue with the color timing. It looks fine to my eyes and lacks the overly yellow tint of the previous special release, but your preferences may differ. The set includes both the 162 minute theatrical and 179 minute extended cuts as well as numerous extras.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 4K restoration, theatrical and extended cuts, commentaries, making of, featurettes, deleted scenes]

Hopscotch [Criterion Collection]

HopscotchWhat is it? An aging CIA agent resents being reassigned to a desk job and sets out to expose the agency’s dirty secrets.

Why see it? Walter Matthau is an absolute delight (obviously) as the agent both insulted and bored by his new position, and the film follows suit offering up a playful, globe-hopping adventure. It’s an entertaining romp that manages to be suspenseful even as it leaves you laughing. An equally enjoyable supporting cast adds to the fun with the likes of Sam Waterston, Glenda Jackson, and Ned Beatty jumping in and out of Matthau’s way. The film’s based on a novel by Brian Garfield who shows a lighter hand than the Death Wish and Death Sentence adaptations he’s better known for.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2K restoration, interviews]


The Rest

Alien Covenant

Alien CovenantWhat is it? A ship full of idiots makes an unwise detour to their eventual detriment.

Why see it? Look, Ridley Scott remains a master craftsman when it comes to a film’s technical merits, energetic flow, and production design, and his latest entry in the Alien franchise confirms that… but sweet jesus is this movie dumber than really stupid dirt. It’s basically an amateurish but very expensive horror movie — there’s solid gore effects, cool monsters, and even a shower scene kill — but the script is one utterly moronic move after the next. The film acts as a mash-up of Alien reboot (it’s a beat for beat remake at time) and continuation of Prometheus‘ new mythology, but for all the fun those elements provide the constant stream of idiocy smothers it in annoyances.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes]

The Blacklist – The Complete Fourth Season

BlacklistWhat is it? An actor known for playing assholes and heartthrobs confounds the government by playing both sides of the law.

Why see it? James Spader continues to be the big draw here as he gets to play an incredibly smart and capable antihero, and his elite smart-ass line delivery is eternally entertaining. The show’s main narratives are a bit more of a mixed bag as the double crosses and triple crosses grow less and less effective. Characters flip flop far too frequently, and it makes it impossible to land on a villain worth despising. It’s a ludicrous show, but there’s fun to be had with it if you can just turn off your brain and go with the ride.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel, commentaries]

Bluebeard

BluebeardWhat is it? A doctor’s life begins to unravel after he overhears a murder confession.

Why see it? South Korean thrillers tend to lean towards action (and deliver beautifully), but there are some that focus on serial killer thrills without the need for big chases, fights, or car action. This latest film is of the latter variety, and it has a lot to offer in the way of plot turns and atmosphere… but man is it a frustrating watch. It tips its hand a bit too early, but worse, it relies on the old “surprise it’s only a dream!” gag far too many times. Once is already pushing it, but we get three of them here in the first hour.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Calico Skies

Calico SkiesWhat is it? A man lives a solitary life, but just as he begins cracking out of his shell his connections with unsavory elements get in the way.

Why see it? Tom Sizemore has been a staple in films for decades, but he’s almost exclusively known as a supporting player. His latest bumps him up to a lead role, and he’s a joy to watch as an emotional mess trying to live a rigid, exclusionary life. He’s funny and heartfelt, and while the tale is simple it works for much of its running time. The ending fares less well though as the final minutes betray both the tone and the character’s ability for a specific finale. It’s worth seeing though for Sizemore as more of him in the lead is a good thing.

[VOD release]

Chuck

ChuckWhat is it? The real life inspiration for the Rocky films gets his own biopic.

Why see it? Chuck Wepner’s historic title bout with Muhammad Ali served as the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s most famous role, and now Liev Schreiber makes the character his own. It’s an endearing and engaging character piece with Schreiber surrounded by memorable faces including Ron Perlman, Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Michael Rapaport, and more. It’s a fun, interesting biopic in part because we know so little about the man compared to the fictionalized version. It’s also a pretty solid boxing movie, both in the ring and as an underdog sports tale.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – The Complete Second Season

Dc LegendsWhat is it? Heroes travel through time righting wrongs that once went right?

Why see it? The Batman films aside, DC’s found better success on the small screen than the big, and this relative newcomer to the family fold continues the loosely fun tone found in other shows like Arrow and Gotham. To my eyes at least this entry is played even goofier making for purely casual escapism, and the playfulness grows this season as they bop through time facing off against enemies both of the period and from the “future.” It’s cartoonish, as designed.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Crossover episodes with Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl, featurettes, featurette, deleted scenes, gag reel]

Duel in the Sun [KL Studio Classics]

Duel In The SunWhat is it? A young woman is brought into a new family after tragedy in her own, and soon she’s caught up in a love triangle and more.

Why see it? This King Vidor directed, David O. Selznick produced epic is a grand love story set against a rough and tumble landscape, and the Roadshow version adds to the big feel with its prelude, overture, and more. Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotten share lead duties with Jennifer Jones catching their eye, and Orson Welles even appears aurally as narrator. It’s similar in some ways to the more familiar Giant in presenting an intimate tale against a grand canvas, and fans of such endeavors will be well-served by Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interview]

Everything Everything

Everything EverythingWhat is it? Young love blossoms between a guy and a girl, one of whom is trapped inside by a health condition.

Why see it? It’s based on a YA bestseller — a rare non-apocalyptic one — and the film adaptation turned a respectable profit in theaters, but its appeal beyond the MTV crowd is a bit questionable. It has a sweetness to it, and both Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson sell the early fumblings of first love. The film’s romance doesn’t reach the levels  of love and tragedy in better known examples, but fans of the genre should find satisfaction in these fresh faces.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]

Hickok – 4K Ultra HD

HickokWhat is it? A legendary gunslinger tries to leave his past behind before discovering the futility of such things.

Why see it? Westworld‘s Luke Hemsworth tackles the role of a tired “Wild Bill” Hickok as the legend faces one more challenge in a life filled with gunfire and death. It’s pretty standard fare story wise — he’s hired as town marshal and bad guys foolishly challenge his authority — but there’s a sterile feel to it. Rather than creating a world, it feels at times like people playing dress-up in rented costumes. The action’s fine though, and it’s always fun seeing Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern still kicking.

[4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray extras: Making of, deleted scenes]

Once Upon a Time in Venice

Once Upon A Time In VeniceWhat is it? A private eye crosses paths with all manner of criminal while looking for his dognapped mutt.

Why see it? Oof, don’t. Bruce Willis was a charismatic performer once upon a time, but those days have apparently come and gone. He’s so smarmy and unaffected here as to make for an annoying lead in a film that should be having fun. There are some appealing faces elsewhere, including John Goodman and Jason Momoa, but none of them ca bring the laughs or engagement either as the script has them delivering one bum joke and gag after another. The movie can’t even make us care about the damn dog.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Riverdale – The Complete First Season

RiverdaleWhat is it? The old Archie comics meet Twin Peaks with a CW cast.

Why see it? The idea of a live-action Archie series seemed an odd one, and there’s little chance it would work as a literal adaptation, but the CW found the answer in its “sexy” and twisty revamping. Their formula of “hot” teens engaging in drama and mystery is slapped into this world with mixed results. The names are the same, but the personality of the comics is absent resulting in a show that could stand on its own as an original creation — albeit without the associated fanfare of recognition. It’s every bit a CW tweener melodrama, for better or worse, so plan your viewing appropriately.

[DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]

Union Furnace

Union FurnaceWhat is it? A group of strangers in need come together as part of a sick game promising a fortune to one winner.

Why see it? The story here is a fairly familiar one in genre films as desperate people fall victim to the whims of others in the form of deadly entertainment, but what it lacks in budget or recognizable talent (the always great Keith David aside) it makes up for in personality. The lead “baddie” is an entertaining one, and the progression of games between the increasingly unwilling players grow more and more tense too. The film’s biggest fault is that none of it really pops — it’s competent, but there’s nothing that lifts it above the fray.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, interviews]

The Wall

The WallWhat is it? Two American soldiers find themselves pinned down by a deadly-capable sniper.

Why see it? Doug Liman is a solid filmmaker to the point that even his lesser films reveal a craftsmanship in their visual telling. His latest is one such film — it’s not great, but its simple story and Liman’s talents keep it engaging enough through to the end. John Cena is a supporting player here as he takes a back seat to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, for better or worse, and there’s a nice cat and mouse exchange between them and the unseen sniper. The only odd note here is the ending which seems to take its cue from lesser horror films.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]


Also out this week:

After the Storm, Britney Ever After, The Case for Christ, Face2Face, How to Be a Latin Lover, Meantime [Criterion], The Saga of Anatahan, Shakes the Clown

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