Plus 12 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!

Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!


Pick of the Week

Colossal

ColossalWhat is it? An alcoholic woman in the process of throwing her life away discovers that she might just be responsible for the giant monster rampaging in Seoul.

Why see it? This is a deceptively dark little film that surprises more than once with its evolving story about the consequences of our actions. We’re capable of being monsters, it argues, and and sometimes we miss the collateral damage we cause. This is a career-best feature for writer/director Nacho Vigalondo and its two leads, Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. Do yourself a favor and skip the trailers for this one

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scene]


The Best

Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesWhat is it? Two friends welcome a third, and together they share their lives and lies.

Why see it? HBO’s limited series — which against all logic has apparently been green-lit for a second season — is a fantastic exploration of adult relationships, specifically between women, and set against an unfolding tale of a possible murder. There are two mysteries at its core, and while one is obvious the other keeps the suspense weaving as the show shifts back and forth in time. It’s a smart, attractive show, but its biggest strength is in the performances of its three leads — Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley — who deliver heart, laughs, and powerful women worth following.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

The Lovers

The LoversWhat is it? A long-married couple discover through infidelity the love they have for each other.

Why see it? Some films are mandatory viewing for their visuals or story twists while others are must-sees for the performances within, and Azazel Jacobs’ feature is one of the latter. Debra Winger and Tracy Letts are just stunning as the couple whose love appears to have run dry before realizing that it’s as wet as ever. They’re sweet, funny, and above all real in their interactions, and it makes for scenes every bit as affecting and warm as you could hope.

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

Slither [Scream Factory]

SlitherWhat is it? An alien life form infects a local turning a small town into a bloody, icky war zone.

Why see it? James Gunn’s brilliant horror/comedy gets a fantastic Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory that features past supplements alongside brand new ones. They’re all worth enjoying, but the film is a keeper even without the extras. It’s consistently hilarious thanks to Gunn’s script and the onscreen talents of Nathon Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, and the incomparable Gregg Henry. The effects are mostly practical delivering all manner of gross and gooey fun, and it’s just an endlessly entertaining ride through to the end.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes, featurettes, gag reel]


The Rest

Bender

BenderWhat is it? The frontier was a dangerous place. One family made it even worse.

Why see it? This is a low-key thriller — with an even lower budget — but it engages well enough thanks to the vast, occasionally ominous prairie visuals. You do get the sense that the costumes are rentals — they’re a bit too clean — but the performances and dialogue work to create the necessary atmosphere. The talents are most unknowns (to wide audiences), but we do get a couple familiar faces with Bruce Davison and James Karen. The story’s based on real events too which adds an interesting note to the tale.

[DVD extras: None]

The Circle

The CircleWhat is it? A young woman takes a job at the world’s biggest tech company and soon discovers some troubling details regarding their new social networking plans.

Why see it? Dave Eggers’ novel comes to the screen with impressive talents on both sides of the camera including director James Ponsoldt and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, and others. (Just get ready to cringe when Ellar Coltrane is onscreen.) The visual effects are equally on par, but none of it makes up for a script that simply fails to generate the slightest drama or suspense. The slippery slope at the center of it all is just too obvious leaving no room for subtlety or mystery, and the character actions ring false at every turn. The film’s unfortunate selling point is the presence of Bill Paxton and Glenne Headley as Watson’s parents.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Crashing – The Complete First Season

CrashingWhat is it? A struggling stand-up comedian faces troubles both personal and professional.

Why see it? Pete Holmes is a funny comedian, and his performance/character lend a sweetness to some very rough times. It smartly avoids the pessimism and sarcasm of several other HBO shows and keeps things elevated with just enough hope. The show, executive produced by Judd Apatow, delivers plenty of laughs through Holmes’ travails with the aid of familiar comedic faces playing themselves including Sarah Silverman, Artie Lange, and others. It’s funny stuff.

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

Going in Style

Going In StyleWhat is it? Three old friends in financial straits decide to rob a bank.

Why see it? Zach Braff moves on from his original feature efforts (Garden State, that other one) to remake a classic from the 70s with mixed and generic results. You can’t argue with his cast — Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman — but Braff’s take is decidedly safer than the original from beginning to end. It manages some laughs, but it’s missing the sad truths of the real world that made the original so damn affecting. Still, these guys are fun to watch in anything, and it’s hardly a chore watching them have fun together here.

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

The Legend of Ben Hall

The Legend Of Ben HallWhat is it? The true story of a notorious Australian bandit gets a big screen telling.

Why see it? Hall’s story has been told before, but this latest version captures the grand landscape his crimes unfurled against with beauty and well-crafted action sequences. The forests and prairies (?) of Australia are attractive to the eyes, but the film reveals it to be a land of hardship that fueled Hall’s efforts. Jack Martin does good work in the lead walking a fine line between a charismatic bad guy and one worth despising, and while the outcome is obvious and known from frame one the film holds the attention.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Ottoman Lieutenant

The Ottoman LieutenantWhat is it? Romance blossoms on the battlefields of the Ottoman Empire.

Why see it? Like the recent The Promise, this is again a familiar tale of a love triangle set against a turbulent historical backdrop. Josh Hartnett and Michael Huisman (Orphan Black) are the two men competing for Hera Hilmar’s affections, and everyone does a good job bringing the triangle to life. Director Joseph Ruben steps out of his usual comfort zone of thrillers and succeeds at building drama and set-pieces that engage viewers already interested in the period.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Phoenix Forgotten

Phoenix ForgottenWhat is it? A young woman investigates the disappearance of her brother and his two friends years prior.

Why see it? The Phoenix Lights are a very real phenomenon — some say caused by UFOs, others by flares — but what this movie presupposes is, what if they were actually caused by a giant, flying vacuum cleaner? I kid, but only because this is a found footage movie deserving of the ribbing. It annoys too frequently with the usual issues, and it’s too bad as the performances are far better than found footage films typically manage. If only it didn’t go *exactly* where you expect at every turn.

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

Sleight

SleightWhat is it? A young man skilled in sleight-of-hand tricks uses those talents to raise his sister, woo a lady, and sell drugs.

Why see it? Ignore the Blu-ray cover art proclaiming this as some kind of “superhero” origin tale — it isn’t even remotely that — and instead just enjoy the film as the unusual little thriller it is. Magic sits at its core, but it’s grounded in interesting ways. The surrounding story involving the drug dealer and our hero’s efforts to exit his control is maybe a bit too familiar, and you may be left wondering why “magic” doesn’t come into play much sooner, but there’s enough going on to engage throughout. Jacob Latimore’s lead performance is a big part of that too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Wakefield

WakefieldWhat is it? A man hides out in his garage for years and lets his family think he’s disappeared.

Why see it? Bryan Cranston is a terrific actor, but his latest is such an oddly underwhelming misfire that he’s unable to save. He narrates throughout as we watch his character watch his family — congrats to Jennifer Garner by the way for playing another wife to the film’s actual main character — and it’s both dull and creepy. TO be clear, the idea’s creepy even if the execution isn’t. Worse, it all builds to nothing making the journey even more obnoxious than it is along the way.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


Also out this week:

1941, Cop and a Half: New Recruit, The Hippopotamus

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