Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
Veep – The Complete Series
What is it? One woman’s quest for the presidency.
Why see it? There are plenty of great sitcoms and shows, but there’s only one Veep. It’s an even funnier Succession — and that’s saying something — as it collects the worst people at their worst and lets them loose in the American political process. It’s exaggerated yet real, mean yet honest, and never less than hilarious. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ portrayal of Selina Meyer is as memorable as they come, but she’s just one piece of a perfect cast delivering nothing less than their A-game from beginning to end. Few shows are worth owning, because how often do you re-watch a TV series? Veep is one of those few exceptions.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, interviews, featurettes]
The Beyond [Shameless]
What is it? An abandoned hotel in New Orleans treats its guests poorly.
Why see it? Lucio Fulci’s supernatural horror films belong in a world of their own, and his 1981 effort is a strong example as to why. Ostensibly about a haunted hotel with connections to hell, there’s little logic or reason to the various actions — tarantulas eat a dude’s face, zombie’s maim and mail, people go blind, etc. It’s madness brought to life by some crazy atmosphere and visuals and a score by Fabio Frizzi, but the film’s big calling card is the gore. Multiple set-pieces deliver all manner of gruesome nastiness, and while it doesn’t always look real its volume and creativity bring endless joy. Shameless’ new Blu-ray looks gorgeous, and its presentation of the four color variations of the prologue offers a glimpse into Fulci’s imagination.
[Extras: 2K restoration, interviews, prologue 4-way comparison, commentaries, behind the scenes]
Britt-Marie Was Here
What is it? A woman’s life falls apart, so she puts it back together.
Why see it? The world is filled with women who’ve given their life over to husbands only to have the men dump them for younger catches, and this Swedish dramedy follows one such woman. Her sad routine is shattered by this sadder revelation, but she finds new purpose in a film that delivers smiles, warmth, and triumph. The ending is particularly sweet making for a heartfelt watch.
What is it? A government assassin is targeted for assassination.
Why see it? Ang Lee’s latest didn’t find its audience in theaters — a damn shame as the movie is great fun for action fans — but it’s destined to find a home on home video as a highlight of any enthusiast’s collection (and possibly their new benchmark disc too). The film was shot in 120fps HFR, and the 4K release includes both standard 24fps and 60fps versions. If you have 4K capability, then the 60fps is the way to go as the action scenes, already fantastic in their energy and visuals, are absolute stunners in HFR. Will Smith headlines and does great double duty as the aging killer stalked by his younger self, and while it’s cheesy and more than a little obvious at times those narrative shortcomings are overshadowed by the technical presentation that also includes a killer Dolby Atmos track. I’ll have more to say in a feature review of the disc, but just know that if you have the hardware *this* is the software you’re looking for.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
Line of Duty
What is it? A cop has a rough day.
Why see it? Look, I won’t pretend this is some unsung masterpiece, but it is a surprising amount of fun. Aaron Eckhart is having a blast as a cop with baggage who finds himself caught up in a kidnapping, perp chase, gun fight, and more. It’s unabashedly silly at times and corny at others, but director Steven C. Miller also delivers solid action and high energy. The film has personality to spare and ultimately does what it sets out to do — entertain.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
What is it? Tim Heidecker’s run for District Attorney is hobbled by Tim Heidecker.
Why see it? Uncomfortable comedy is a skill that few performers have and even fewer are willing to demonstrate on a regular basis. Tim Heidecker is one of the exceptions as he creates a character — in this case, it’s him — who’s equal parts funny, scary, and pathetic. The film takes a faux doc approach to his run for the government job, and it’s a series of awkward encounters that leave you smiling and cringing.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scene, campaign ads, TV episode]
Penelope [Warner Archive]
What is it? A bored housewife decides to rob her husband’s bank.
Why see it? Natalie Wood headlines this delightfully fluffy caper alongside the likes of Dick Shawn and Peter Falk, and all of them do delightful work with a story that dances with a light touch. It’s no great shakes, but it’s a fun watch that odds are will leave you smiling throughout. The bigger draw here, and the main reason why it lands in “the best” section, is because the movie has never before been available on home video. Warner’s new Blu is its debut — not bad for a 1966 release — and they deliver it with a fantastic, bright picture too. Toss in an early score by John Williams, and you have a film worth re-discovering (or discovering for the first time).
Brewster’s Millions [Shout Select]
What is it? A man must spend $30 million in a month to receive $300m.
Why see it? The source novel for the film has seen multiple adaptations, but this entry from the 80s remains the most popular. Richard Pryor headlines as the everyman who discovers he’s inherited a fortune — with a catch — and the film follows his comic adventures trying to spend the money within the rules. John Candy co-stars, and the pair manage some laughs along the way. The disc includes an older adaptation along with a new commentary for this one.
[Extras: Commentary, interview, 1945 feature adaptation]
The Great McGinty [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A bartender recounts the unexpected journey of his life.
Why see it? Writer/director Preston Sturges won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this comedy of ambition and accomplishment by way of bad behaviors, and it remains a fun watch. It follows a man who climbs from hobo to state governor before falling back to earth, and while it’s never laugh out loud funny it’s an amusing tale through to its delightful conclusion.
[Extras: New 4K remaster, commentary]
House By the River [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Murder comes between two brothers.
Why see it? Fritz Lang’s 1950 thriller sees a man kill a woman before convincing his brother to help dispose of the body, and it works as a tight little suspense yarn. When suspicion starts to rise the killer shifts it toward his brother and just might get away with it. Kino’s new Blu-ray looks sharp, and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ commentary offers some interesting insight into Lang’s career and the film’s production.
[Extras: New 2K remaster, commentary, interview]
What is it? A man’s smart phone has an attitude.
Why see it? Consider this one for fans of Adam Devine and dumb comedy only. There are some laughs, but for the most part it’s played broad and idiotic. Instead, the big draw here — and this is no small thing — is that the great Rose Byrne voices the smart phone and she spends the entire film berating him. That’s oddly enjoyable. She brings some laughs, as mentioned, but the film as a whole just feels obvious and unfunny.
Joaquin Phoenix Double Feature
What is it? Two fathers deal with tragedy, and two friends must deal with their culpability.
Why see it? Joaquin Phoenix is a talented actor, and while he’s more of a leading man these days he spent much of his career as part of various ensembles. These two dramatic thrillers fit that bill and deliver solidly as explorations of responsibility, guilt, and courage. Reservation Road sees Phoenix as a father whose son is killed in a hit and run, and Return to Paradise casts him as an unfortunate man stuck with paying the price for his friends’ actions. Both are good stuff.
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
Krypton – The Complete Second & Final Season
What is it? Superman’s home planet sees more intrigue and mayhem.
Why see it? This DC Comics series had a shorter run than most, and I expect it had something to do with the largely unfamiliar cast and expense of crafting a show set on another planet. There’s fun to be had with it, though, as the roster of recognizable comic characters grows this season with the likes of Adam Strange, Lobo, and Doomsday. I can see some of them shifting Earthbound to join existing shows like Supergirl and The Flash, but for now, fans should give this short-lived series a shot.
Maid in Manhattan
What is it? A maid falls in love in Manhattan of all places.
Why see it? Jennifer Lopez is back in the spotlight thanks to her fantastic turn in the equally fantastic Hustlers, and fans looking to see some of her past work will find some romantic fun here. The plot is the familiar tale of love finding its way across class boundaries — Pretty Woman is often held up as a standard — and it delivers some sweetness thanks to Lopez and a game Ralph Fiennes as the rich guy who steals her heart.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
What is it? Maleficent and her goddaughter find strife when the young girl finds love.
Why see it? Disney’s sequel to its own look at a misunderstood villain — a misunderstanding propagated by Disney for decades I might add — avoids the sexual assault of the first film and instead delivers its version of The Red Wedding. Does that sound too heavy for kids fare? Rest assured it’s not. The film plays it all pretty gentle when it comes to human characters (although the fantasy creatures don’t have it so well), and the end result is slight entertainment that the kids might enjoy.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes]
The Whisperers [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An old woman suspects everyone.
Why see it? This late 60s drama has some suspense to it, but at the end of the day it’s a sad tale about a society that’s moved on from its elders. Mrs. Ross is living on the government’s dime and suspects neighbors of bad, threatening behaviors, but while no one takes her seriously there is real danger afoot. It’s far from playful and instead sees people take advantage of her deteriorating mental state in pursuit of her money. It’s a good watch, but it’s not an entertaining one.
[Extras: New 2K remaster, commentary]
Also out this week:
Demons of the Mind [Scream Factory], The Fugitive Kind [Criterion Collection], The Good Fairy [KL Studio Classics], Iron Sky: The Coming Race, The Mummy’s Shroud [Scream Factory], Night Patrol [Scorpion Releasing], Piranhas, Room at the Top [KL Studio Classics], Terry Pratchett double feature