Plus 11 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
What is it? The mutants are dead, long live the mutants.
Why see it? James Mangold took a previous stab at a Wolverine film and ended up with a misfire, but the second time’s the charm as he and Hugh Jackman have now delivered one of the best superhero films ever made. The X-Men films have gifted us with alternate timelines, and it’s there where Logan first sets itself apart in a near future where mutants have been nearly wiped out and only he and an Alzheimer’s-riddled Professor X remain. When a young girl comes into their care the film becomes an action/adventure/western hybrid as the trio face off against powerful adversaries. It’s a beautiful send off for Jackman’s Wolverine, one that thrills in the action department while striking unexpected emotional chords, and it introduces viewers to Dafne Keen’s star-making turn as well. Not every comic book character needs a serious, R-rated feature, but those that do should be so lucky as to get a film crafted with as much talent and love for the characters as this one.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical/b&w versions, making of, deleted scenes, commentary with James Mangold]
What is it? Honestly it could very easily have been called Thugs vs Thugs.
Why see it? Crime pictures don’t come much more hard-boiled than this Kinji Fukasaku’s classic that focuses on the relationship between warring yakuza gangs and the cops who love them. Well, arrest and kill them anyway. One cop in particular is good friends with a high-ranking thug, and that connection tests his loyalty to the law, but while they take center court the film is filled with numerous interactions between “good” and bad guys. Women get the short end of the stick, but that’s why you don’t fall in love with cops or thugs amirite? Arrow’s new Blu-ray is light on extras, but the film is enough of a reason to pick this one up, especially for fans of gritty, messy, violent mayhem.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Essays, booklet, reversible cover]
What is it? Three Sri Lankan strangers – a man, a woman, and a child – pretend to be a family in order to flee to France as refugees, but they can’t leave life’s hardships behind.
Why see it? There are brief moments of levity and joy to be found here, but for the most part Jacques Audiard’s latest is a sobering look at the struggles faced by people hoping to find new lives in more “civilized” countries. It’s somber at times, tense and draining at others, but through it all it feels honest in regard to the often insurmountable odds and challenges of modern survival. I’m still torn on the third act’s dip in realism – artistic choice or budgetary limitations? – but the haze of violence it captures could be argued as that dreamy descent into carnage and mayhem. Regardless, the film’s power remains intact. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and Criterion’s new release includes some solid extras that help flesh out the story and its meaning.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews, deleted scenes, booklet]
What is it? A man endures a visit to his girlfriend’s parents’ home.
Why see it? Jordan Peele’s feature directorial debut is more than simply a hybrid of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives, and while it delivers thrills and laughs it’s also more than just a horror/comedy. There’s a wise commentary on America’s ongoing issues with race relations, but while it’s sometimes broad and sometimes subtle, it never gets in the way of the film’s entertainment. Peele infuses his thriller with scares, laughs, and more, and it’s a good time at the movies. Fans should definitely give a listen to Peele’s commentary track too as he offers insight, information, and anecdotes aplenty.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, Q&A, commentary]
What is it? A young man arrives in the big city with big plans to be a big success.
Why see it? Robert Morse is at his oddball best in this playful and very funny musical about corporate culture, ambition, and some of that old-fashioned ’60s sexism we all know and love. It’s a fast-moving, faster-talking joy with plenty of big laughs as Morse schemes his way up the corporate ladder in record time. The musical numbers never overwhelm the narrative and instead offer pockets of synchronized song and dance that keep viewers smiling and tapping their toes.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? A young boy heads to an orphanage after accidentally killing his abusive mother.
Why see it? Animated kids films typically fall into a pretty straightforward categories and almost always hold a light, harmless tone, but there are exceptions. This stop-motion gem from France has other ideas though, and while it’s filled with bright colors and playful sequences it fully embraces the dark realities of life’s darkest moments. Abuse, neglect, loss, and more sit front and center, but despite the heaviness of the themes there’s an inspirational energy to it all. It’s ultimately a story of making friends and finding your “family,” and it’s never a bad time to share themes like these. Once you’ve seen and enjoyed it be sure to check out another French gem, The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, short film]
What is it? Not even China’s Great Wall could keep out Matt Damon.
Why see it? Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) makes his China/Hollywood co-production debut with his biggest and weakest film. It’s an action-themed creature feature and offers some stellar monster design and Yimou’s typically strong production design, but the script and non-Chinese performances are wooden as hell. Worse, the CG used to create the landscapes and creatures is second rate throughout. The costumes look pretty dope though, and the roster of talents, both Chinese and American, is more than enough to make a watch worthwhile including Andy Lau, Jing Tian, and Willem Dafoe. It’s goofy.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A dog raised to guard sheep decides to rock out instead.
Why see it? If you and your little ones have already worked your way through all the better known and just plain better animated films (including My Life As a Zucchini above) then you might consider tossing this one in. There’s action and music galore along with some attempts at humor, but don’t expect to enjoy it alongside your silly child like you do with films like Zootopia or Finding Dory. Neither the laughs nor the “drama” ever really land, and we’re left with some mildly catchy tunes. It’s also one of those off-brand animation endeavors meaning you won’t be wowed by the CG.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes, music video]
What is it? A young woman discovers innate superhuman abilities, but don’t call her a mutant.
Why see it? Animated DC films continue a superior run to their live-action counterparts (at least until Wonder Woman hits theaters) with this introduction to a new superhero named Vixen. She’s a fun character capable of taking on the abilities (not the form) of various animals, and her personality allows for some smartly entertaining dialogue. The bit where she first tries out her name is legit funny. She gets to interact with The Flash and Green Arrow, and hopefully she’ll be back to hang with more of the Justice League sometime soon.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, two Justice League United episodes]
What is it? A mummified voodoo priest turns a casual cruise into a nightmare at sea.
Why see it? You’d be hard-pressed to defend this early ’70s horror picture as good necessarily, but there are some unintentionally entertaining aspects to its otherwise amateurish production. The performances and special effects are both lackluster with the latter’s paper mache heads delivering some giggles, but it’s the film’s unnecessary and egregious use of black face (and black body for that matter) that may lead to double takes and discussion. The narrative reasoning is non-existent, and instead it seems to be based solely on wanting certain cast members in certain roles. Consider this one for big genre fans only.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? Two bored teenage girls spend their days lost in imagination and a pretend romance with a concert pianist.
Why see it? Peter Sellers gets top billing here, but he’s more of a supporting character alongside his teenage co-stars. He’s still entertaining in the role as a womanizer with a taste for married ladies and a fear of their husbands, and the other adults are equally strong including a nasty Angela Lansbury and a warm Tom Bosley. The two girls are the main focus here, and happily they’re an engaging and fun duo whose teenage tribulations lead to plenty of laughs and hijinks.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? An anthology featuring four horror-ish shorts from female writers/directors.
Why see it? Each of the four tales has both strengths and weaknesses meaning each is worth a watch, but the film’s standout is Roxanne Benjamin’s “Don’t Fall.” It’s the most horrific of the quartet and features a monster and numerous scares, and Benjamin directs the hell out of it crafting a thrilling, high-energy ride to the end. I want someone to fund a feature for her immediately, but I’m excited to see whatever these four women (Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark, and Jovanka Vuckovic) do next. Their shorts infuse dark themes with style, humor, and a strong visual sense, and this disc includes interviews with each offering a peek behind the film-making curtain.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes, interviews]
Also out this week:
The Jacques Rivette Collection [Arrow Academy], Othello [Criterion], Outsiders – Season Two, The Vagrant [Scream Factory]