Plus 10 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!

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Pick of the Week

Mother!

MotherWhat is it? A woman is disturbed by her husband’s choices.

Why see it? Darren Aronofsky’s latest is as audacious and challenging a piece of film as you’re likely to find this year, and that’s even with a first hour that is an insufferable chore to watch. Get past it, though, and the second hour gifts viewers with allegorical wonders, thought-provoking ideas, and utter mayhem. Trim 30 minutes from the first hour and it’s the masterpiece the cover declares. As it stands it’s a flawed but fascinating piece of true art, and that’s not nearly as common as you’d think.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette]


The Best

Dunkirk

DunkirkWhat is it? Allied forces are trapped against the shoreline with no hope of escape, but hope is on the way.

Why see it? Christopher Nolan has long since entered the realm of directors whose every film is at least worth a watch, and his latest effort — his first real non-genre movie — is also one of his absolute best. The true story comes roaring to life with action and suspense as the trapped troops desperately struggle to escape while war rages on land, sea, and air. There are recognizable faces (and voices) here, but the film isn’t interested in stars or traditional show-off roles — it’s simply and purely a harrowing account of a heroic rescue mission. Nolan captures it all with grand visuals, practical set-pieces, and an awe-filled sensory assault.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

Interstellar [4K Ultra HD]

InterstellarWhat is it? The future of humanity rests in Matthew McConaughey’s tears.

Why see it? I still contend that this Christopher Nolan blockbuster is riddled with logical inconsistencies and inane beats — crops are scarce so let’s drive through the healthy corn field, twice! — but its big moments of awe and action are still every bit as effective. Nolan crafts stellar (sorry) action sequences and milks emotion to the last drop, and Hans ZImmer’s score is one of his most memorable. The film’s strengths — its visuals — are magnified in their glory via this new 4K version with both clarity and color popping, particularly during the space travel sequences.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurettes]

The Whales of August [KL Studio Classics]

The Whales Of AugustWhat is it? Two elderly sisters face change after half a century of familiarity.

Why see it? At its heart this is a simple tale of two sisters — one hoping to embrace change and the other stubbornly holding on to the past — but it becomes something more through the magic of its cast. Lillian Gish and Bette Davis play the sisters, and while they’re both film legends they’d never worked together until this movie. Both are fascinating, but it’s Gish who shines with a spark and twinkle in her eye, especially in scenes opposite an equally brilliant Vincent Price as a kindly widower with an eye for her hand. The island they all live on is a windy, cold-looking place, and it suits these battlehorse performers beautifully. Kino’s extras are a mix of the new and old, and one of the highlights is a new interview with co-star Mary Steenburgen offering up some great memories of the cast and of some legendary-sounding Roddy McDowall dinner parties.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, new and old interviews, featurettes]


The Rest

Blood Money

Lood MoneyWhat is it? A trio of friends find money, trouble, and John Cusack while hiking.

Why see it? Lucky McKee takes a break from his more stylized horror efforts (May, The Woman) to deliver a mostly run of the mill suspense flick, but even with a generic plot he and his most recognizable cast member make it an entertaining watch. The action beats work well, and Cusack is clearly having a blast playing a bad guy who’s unfamiliar with the lengths and extremes his latest crime is forcing upon him. He just wants the money, and he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for these damn kids. Of course, the way the “kids” begin bickering over the cash, he still might.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

The Kentuckian [KL Studio Classics]

The KentuckianWhat is it? A man and his son find adventure on their way to Texas.

Why see it? Burt Lancaster stars and directs this western romp that sees him punching his way across America’s early days. Fights, survival, and romance are all on tap as he tries to make a home for him and his son. It’s a solid film, but the real highlight here is a young Walter Matthau as the film’s heavy. He’s mean and brutal, but neither of those traits gets in the way of the clear twinkle in his eye. The two face off in the film’s third act, but there’s plenty of action elsewhere to hold attention as the story moves its way through the boy’s days and the father’s attempts at civilization.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Leatherface

LeatherfaceWhat is it? Leatherface wasn’t always Leatherface.

Why see it? We didn’t really need another prequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but if it had to happen you could do far worse than Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury in the director’s chairs. They deliver on the blood, gore, and grimy atmosphere, but the script leaves a lot to be desired in regard to character and narrative. There’s no one here to care about or build an interest in, and while we do get a bit of a switcheroo towards the end there’s no curiosity as to where things are going at any time. Ultimately, it’s worth a watch for fans of gore and Stephen Dorff.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, making of]

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Lego Ninjago MovieWhat is it? An evil warlord threatens Ninjago City, and only the five element ninjas can stop him.

Why see it? The goal here is to copy The LEGO Movie‘s success, and to that end they both do have LEGO in the title. I kid. The film is high on energy and fast-moving gags, but the story is far too familiar and the jokes far too forced. Jackie Chan voices the ninja master, and he actually bookends in live action as the one telling the story too. It’s a film that will most likely still appeal to kids, but it definitely lacks the appeal for the rest of us that the original film has.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Shorts, music videos, featurettes]

Stronger

StrongerWhat is it? The true story of a man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing but found love.

Why see it? Director David Gordon Green tackles a real life story with his latest, but while it’s a known story it remains an affecting one. Jake Gyllenhaal takes center stage and delivers a strong performance as a man whose lost more than many of us could handle but continues fighting. Tatiana Maslany is equally great as the woman in his life, and both are enough to overcome some truly obnoxious supporting characters (due to their attitudes and accents).

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

A Town Called Panic: The Collection

A Town Called PanicWhat is it? A horse, a cowboy, and an “Indian” walk into a bar.

Why see it? 2009’s A Town Called Panic feature became something of a cult hit outside of its native land of France for good reason. It’s a fun, absurd, high-energy romp of stop-motion animation and pure lunacy. Fans will be thrilled to discover (or at least find collected in one place) an entire world with these characters gathered here including two half-hour features and all 20 episodes of the series. The three characters find new troubles for our benefit, and they remain a ridiculous trio.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New short film]

Victoria & Abdul

Ia And AbdulWhat is it? An old woman and a young Indian man forge an unlikely friendship.

Why see it? As true stories brought to the screen go this is certainly an innocuous one. Judi Dench does her usual good work as Queen Victoria, and while there are plot machinations at work involving family and staff members trying to break up this friendship, the film is at its best when it simply spends time with the pair undisturbed. It’s fine.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]


Also out this week:

American Gothic [Scream Factory]

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