Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
What is it? A bullied girl and a thuggish boy fall in love.
Why see it? This heavy, suspenseful drama won’t leave you unscathed, and it’s unsurprising to learn that it recently swept the Hong Kong Film Awards. Beautiful acting, sharp direction, haunting cinematography — it’s a powerful tale and stirring condemnation of both bullies and a system that allows them to exist. It’s not a happy film, but there’s a raw beauty to its love story that will sit with you long after the credits roll.
Gunsmoke – The Complete Series
What is it? The longest-running prime time scripted series of the 20th century!
Why see it? Twenty seasons and a whopping 635 episodes is a lot to take in, and for the first time (apparently?) this complete series is available in one set. It’s a massive undertaking, but for fans of westerns it’s something of a must watch even if you do spread it out over a few years. Some recognizable faces show up throughout including Burt Reynolds and Dennis Weaver, but the through line is James Arness’ Marshal Matt Dillon. Gun play, frontier drama, and more are the norm here, and this 65th anniversary release is a whopper of a release.
[Extras: Featurette, commentaries, interviews]
An Inspector Calls [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A wealthy family is visited by a detective investigating a recent death.
Why see it? Director Guy Hamilton is best known for his James Bond films, but this mid 50s delight is among the best of his varied filmography. Alastair Sims plays the inspector who arrives on a family’s doorstep and proceeds to move from one member to the next unraveling their culpability in the death of a young woman. It’s an intricately structured joy that offers up a strong commentary on the effect our actions have on others — whether we’re aware of it or not. Class distinctions are equally on trial, but despite the heavy subject matter the film remains light on its feet. Fantastic stuff.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
A Thousand Clowns [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A rebel has to refine his ways to keep his family together.
Why see it? Jason Robards and young Barry Gordon bring the roles they celebrated on stage to the big screen, and the result was four Academy Award nominations including one for Best Picture. It’s a delightful and heartfelt film as Robards plays a man one step removed from the norms of society, and Gordon is the smart kid anchoring him back to reality. Comedy and heart work hand in hand here to great effect.
Tigers Are Not Afraid [steelbook]
What is it? A group of orphans wage a war against evils both human and otherwise.
Why see it? Issa Lopez’s third feature is a fable as harrowing and haunting as it is beautiful. It pairs the stark realism of City of God with a more fantastical element that rears its head throughout, and the result is a film that’s compelling even as it occasionally dips into the world of horror-tinged fairy tales. The scope is fairly small, but the wonder grows to deliver awe and sorrow. It’s a powerful indie, and while it’s available on Shudder this singular Blu-ray release is a welcome release.
[Extras: Featurettes, interview, deleted scenes, commentary]
What is it? A boring super soldier becomes a boring superhero.
Why see it? I’ll admit right at the start that I’m no Vin Diesel fan. The guy saps the charisma, life, and joy from every frame even under the best circumstances, and this comic adaptation is far from the best. It just doesn’t work — the script is nonsense, the emotional core is hollow, the action is entirely CG shenanigans that aren’t even impressive CG, the drama is absent, and at the center of it all is this big baby of a “talent.” Pass.
Brighton Rock [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A gangster goes to great lengths to stop someone from squealing.
Why see it? A young Richard Attenborough headlines this late 40s noir-ish tale as a thug who marries a woman to prevent her from fingering him, but things don’t quite go as planned. There are some dark beats here, and while justice prevails it does so with a heavy heart and cost. It’s a sharp-looking tale, and it earns points for not going in the expected direction with its main coupling.
[Extras: Commentary by Tim Lucas]
What is it? A wealthy industrialist’s life is looked back on as he celebrates his birthday.
Why see it? Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom are a solid pairing with their Trip to movies, but while this effort delivers some laughs it does so with a somewhat toothless and obvious commentary on the wealthy elite. It’s funny enough, and the supporting cast including Isla Fisher and Asa Butterfield make for an eclectic ensemble. The end is suitably over the top too.
Gretel & Hansel
What is it? A pair of siblings encounter a witch.
Why see it? Osgood Perkins’ latest venture into horror is every bit as gorgeous as The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015), but it lacks the narrative punch. It feels like a slow burn YA film, and that’s a pairing that just doesn’t work as well as it could have by focusing on one or the other. Like, it feels like it needs to have either gone darker or more playful and broad. Still, there’s some gorgeous imagery here, and Sophia Lillis remains an under-appreciated young talent.
Pool of London [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two sailors find trouble on shore.
Why see it? Ealing Studios delivered all kinds of films in the mid 20th century, and while this little tale of violence and love isn’t among their best it’s still worth a watch. Its big draw is the accomplishment of featuring one of the first interracial couplings in British cinema, but the story itself also manages some worthwhile drama and suspense.
[Extras: Commentary, interview, featurette]
Also out this week:
47 Ronin – 4K, Exorcism at 60000 Feet [Scream Factory], I Still Believe, Me Natalie, Ray Donovan – Season 7