Features and Columns · Movies

Words Have Weight In Our Pick of the Week

Plus 17 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Discs The Insult
By  · Published on May 1st, 2018

Plus 17 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

The Insult

The InsultWhat is it? An exchange of words between two men escalates to envelop a country.

Why see it? Words have weight, and even the smallest interaction can have consequences. That’s the setup at the heart of this terrifically affecting film exploring humanity’s worst impulses that we just can’t seem to shake on a grand scale. Two men insult each other, it escalates into a punch, and the ensuing court case sees a nation divided by history, religion, and suffering. It’s a beautiful film that acknowledges our weaknesses while showing hope for our strengths.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]

The Best

In the Fade

In The FadeWhat is it? A woman grieving the loss of her husband to a terrorist attack takes justice into her own hands,

Why see it? Billed falsely as a revenge thriller of sorts, this tale of a woman who loses her husband and son to an act of terror is interested in more than mere cathartic thrills. Writer/director Fatih Akin is more interested in his lead character’s journey through sadness, rage, and realization, and Diane Kruger delivers with a performance that leaves viewers feeling it all with her. It’s not an optimistic tale, but it is a fascinating and engrossing one.

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

Legend of the Mountain

Legend Of The MountainWhat is it? A scholar lost in the mountains discovers a world beyond what he’s known.

Why see it? Taiwanese cinema doesn’t get the same attention as its big brother China does, and while that’s understandable when you look at the difference in output quantity it’s also a shame as there are some great films to be found. King Hu’s late 70s epic is no lost treasure as it’s been highly acclaimed since its release, but it’s never looked better than it does now after a 4K restoration. The dreamy visuals are retained even as details and colors pop. There’s less of a story here than a journey, and those less interested in the plot will find a meditative dream of sorts containing interactions both physical and ethereal.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, essays]

The Rest

Big Business [KL Studio Classics]

Big BusinessWhat is it? Two sets of identical twin sisters, mixed up at birth into fraternal pairs, accidentally reunite as adults.

Why see it? The director Airplane! and other spoofs leaves that subgenre behind in favor of a good old fashion comedy of manners and physical hijinks. Sure it’s simplistic, but Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler in the four lead roles is a gift that keeps on giving offering plenty of smiles and giggles along the way. Bonus, we also get a minor Tremors reunion (although this came first) between Michael Gross and Fred Ward.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]

Blaze [KL Studio Classics]

BlazeWhat is it? A stripper finds a champion in Louisiana’s sex-starved governor.

Why see it? The story here is about an innocent girl struggling to retain her independence amid the rough and tumble world of New Orleans’ adult entertainment circuit, and that translates into a fairly light-hearted affair. Lolita Davidovich shines as Blaze Starr, but the film belongs to Paul Newman’s lecherous politician whenever he’s onscreen. It’s a romp, but it’s a fun enough romp thanks to a strong female character and an unhinged Newman.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary by Ron Shelton]

Death Wish 4 / Death Wish 5

Death WishWhat is it? The fourth and fifth films in the Death Wish franchise. Geez, pay attention.

Why see it? Death Wish 3 remains the series’ high water mark, obviously, but there’s fun to be had with these two more traditional Charles Bronson flicks. Bronson loses more onscreen wives, girlfriends, and daughters than anyone else in film history, and the trend continues here as mobsters and drug dealers mess with the wrong man. Again. The action is every bit straight out of the late 80s and 90s with crazy amounts of gunfire and the occasional rocket launcher. Umbrella’s new double feature Blu-ray is light on extras, but the commentary tracks are informative and interesting for Bronson fans.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries]

The Half-Breed

The Half BreedWhat is it? A mixed-race man finds triumph and tragedy in pioneer times.

Why see it? Douglas Fairbanks takes the lead here, and while there are action beats to be found the focus is on the drama surrounding his character. Prejudice rears its ugly head at the thought of a white woman falling for a half white/half Native American, and the expected clashes follow. This was one of the films found in the great Dawson City discovery, and the included featurette explores its restoration for San Francisco’s 2013 Silent Film Festival.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Feature film The Good Bad Man, featurette, commentaries]

Jane Austen’s Mafia! [KL Studio Classics]

Jane Austens MafiaWhat is it? A spoof on mafia movies!

Why see it? Spoof movies come in two varieties — those that work and those that don’t. Some people dislike all of them, and that’s fair as it’s a very particular type of comedy, but when they work they’re pure brilliance. Airplane! is one that works. This one, from the same director, does not. The gags are obvious rather than witty, and the performances are never strong enough to sell the madness. Top Secret (from the same filmmakers) is sharp and vibrant, while this one is cringe-worthy. All of that said? Comedy, even spoof comedy, is wholly subjective, so if this is your scene then this is your long overdue Blu-ray release.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]


KaleidoscopeWhat is it? An ex-con trying to ease back into society is tripped up by his own mind.

Why see it? Toby Jones is the main draw here as the beating heart of a twisty thriller built on one man’s perceptions. He seems mild-mannered, but it’s also a world we’re witnessing through his own lens meaning what he’s seeing may not actually be real. The downside to this is that it’s difficult to attach ourselves to the character — it’s no matter of good or bad, but it’s an issue of trust. It’s hard to invest concern when we’re misled again and again. Still, Jones is a fascinating performer here and leaves viewers uncertain about far more than reality.

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

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Mary And Witchs FlowerWhat is it? A young girl discovers magic in the countryside.

Why see it? The director of When Marnie Was There returns with a somewhat more playful feature about adventure, curiosity, and responsibility. It’s that last bit that takes lead as young Mary’s words and actions lead to more trouble for those around her. The animation is bright and vibrant, and it’s undoubtedly the biggest attraction here as the story — details aside — feels a bit too familiar.

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

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon A TimeWhat is it? A goddess falls in love with unfortunate results.

Why see it? Fans of goofy, CG-filled fantasy epics will want to seek this one out as it blends big set-pieces brought to life through CG animation, backdrops, and elaborate production design. It’s the kind of film where CG creatures interact with real people wearing plastic eyebrows and crack jokes to lighten the mood. Even with the silliness, it’s a wuxia with melodrama to spare, so proceed accoringly.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Peter Rabbit

Peter RabbitWhat is it? A rabbit clashes with a new homeowner.

Why see it? This film’s biggest misfortune is the timing of its release so soon after Paddington 2. There’s fun to be had with Peter Rabbit, but its blend of CG storybook animal with real people feels a few notches down the rung from the bear’s second adventure. Get past that, though, and you find a movie that stands on its own two rabbit feet as a fun comedy built on pratfalls and physical hijinks. Domhnall Gleeson is game for it all, and the always delightful Rose Byrne makes for a fine supporting player. The CG antics are well-produced, and the film’s ultimate message about getting along is never a bad one.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Short film, featurettes]

Play It to the Bone [KL Studio Classics]

Play It To The BoneWhat is it? Two friends are given the opportunity of a lifetime when they’re asked to box each other.

Why see it? Ron Shelton’s greatest cinematic achievement will always be the beauty and brilliance that is Tin Cup, but he’s dabbled plenty in other sports films too including Bull Durham and White Men Can’t Jump. This late 90s entry is a minor affair by comparison, but Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas both offer charismatic turns alongside some fun supporting players. The fights are edited in such a way as to value style over effectiveness, and the emotion of it all never quite translates as the style leans heavy into goofiness. Still, fans of the cast and of Las Vegas boxing will want to give it a spin.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary by Ron Shelton]

Please Stand By

Please Stand ByWhat is it? A young autistic woman sets out across Los Angeles to deliver her Star Trek script.

Why see it? There’s a warmth here with a story of friendship and self-worth, and Dakota Fanning does strong work in the lead role. The film never tries to explain or defend her autism and instead lets the character define herself as *more* than the affliction. A fine supporting cast fleshes out the edges with Toni Collette, Alice Eve, and Patton Oswalt along for the ride.

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

Thank God It’s Friday

TgifWhat is it? One crazy night at the disco!

Why see it? Disco lovers will want to give this a spin for obvious reasons, but the rest of us will have to settle for finding some joy in the cast. It’s an ensemble piece meaning various characters are followed throughout the night, but Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger stand apart from the mostly unknown faces. The ensemble nature of it all is what ultimately holds it back, though, as none of the threads are interesting enough in these minimal visits. The humor suffers a similar fate in that minor gags land while too many feel like goofy throwaways.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell

Tremors Cold DayWhat is it? The dad from Family Ties fights giant worms in Canada.

Why see it? It’s worth pausing here to acknowledge that Michael Gross has his own six-film franchise featuring creatures called Ass-Blasters. That’s no small feat and deserves at least a little respect. Okay, now that that’s over we can acknowledge that most of these movies aren’t all that good. The latest continues the trend towards an over-reliance on CG as opposed to practical effects, and the return of Jamie Kennedy isn’t exactly good news. Still, there’s some fun to be had with this lightweight creature feature if you go in expecting little more than a slight and snowy diversion.

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

Van Wilder

Van WilderWhat is it? A successful slacker decides seven years into college that it’s about time he graduates.

Why see it? Ryan Reynolds is all the rage these days for his ridiculously fun turn as Deadpool, but his early career saw him focused on dumb comedies. Few are dumber than this one, but National Lampoon fans will continue to find some laughs all the same. It screams early 2000s both in its writing and casting, but if nothing else it does feature one of the most disgusting scenes ever captured for the screen as frat boys “unknowingly” guzzle eclairs filled with warm dog jizz. Yeah.

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


WinchesterWhat is it? A man is tasked with determining the sanity of a woman in a supposedly haunted house.

Why see it? The Spierig Brothers proved themselves interesting and capable filmmakers with the likes of Daybreakers and Predestination, but they can’t quite overcome a script overly reliant on jump scares and music/sound stingers. Oddly, the non-horror elements work best here with its core story of a woman crushed beneath the weight of guilt and loss. Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke do strong work (as does Sarah Snook in a supporting role), but while their characters have depth the horror simply doesn’t.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

Also out this week:

12 Strong, Caught, Desolation, Followers, Lazer Team 2

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.