Plus 11 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!

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Pick of the Week

Bat Pussy [AGFA]

Bat PussyWhat is it? The first ever porn parody as Bat Pussy tries to stop an unsatisfying coupling!

Why see it? If god was real there’s no doubt that among his/her most amazing accomplishments would be this new Blu-ray of Bat Pussy. Happily, the AGFA (American Genre Film Archive) is real, and so it’s to them that I instead say thank you. At just under an hour, it’s barely even a movie, but while the length underwhelms you can’t argue with the mirth. From Bat Pussy’s monologue while getting dressed to the mumbleporn improv of the couple, the spontaneously-delivered, profanity-filled dialogue is endlessly entertaining. You can hear them giving each other stage directions! Our leading man lacks an erection through the entirety of the film! There are no opening  or closing credits and no one knows who made the damn thing! To be clear, there are porn shenanigans occurring onscreen throughout, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the funniest releases of the year.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K scan, commentary, short films, bonus feature Robot Love Slaves]


The Best

Crown Heights

Crown HeightsWhat is it? A true story that’s sad, frustrating, and ultimately inspiring.

Why see it? Lakeith Stanfield stars as a man who’s falsely accused, convicted, and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and as the years pass a handful of people on the outside fight for justice. It’s an infuriating watch as we see the system fail him time and again, from deliberate railroading to standard procedures, and it’s a reminder that not only should eyewitness testimony be minimized as evidence but also that our jury system needs to be abolished. Performances are strong throughout, and while the story beats are expected they land with emotion.

[DVD extras: Commentary, featurette]

Dolores Claiborne [Warner Archive]

Dolores ClaiborneWhat is it? A woman returns to her home town when her mother — who she despises — is accused of murder.

Why see it? This Taylor Hackford film is often overlooked when it comes to conversations about the best Stephen King adaptations, and it’s somewhat understandable as the film is a slow burn drama rather than a punchy horror movie. But viewers looking for a dark, emotionally-affecting tale brought to life by fantastic actors (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kathy Bates, David Strathairn, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer) can hardly do better. It’s an atmospheric and beautifully-shot film, and now that Gerald’s Game has been adapted the two work well back to back as intended.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]

From the Land of the Moon

From The Land Of The MoonWhat is it? A woman in an arranged marriage finds true love at a wellness spa.

Why see it? It’s a long, sad, and occasionally sexy journey to get there, but this romantic drama ends with one hell of a kicker regarding regret, memory, and misplaced longing. It makes it more than worth the time investment as its unusual approach to a story about true love is immensely rewarding. Marion Cotillard shones (as usual) as a woman so devoted to a visceral, passionate love that she leaves rationality behind. Lush photography, a sweeping score, and strong supporting turns complete the picture.

[DVD extras: Featurette]

Time to Die

Time To DieWhat is it? A man is released from prison only to face the family members of the man he killed years prior.

Why see it? Mexican characters are commonplace in the western genre, but you don’t hear much about actual  Mexican westerns. This newly restored gem from 1966 is hopefully just the first of many rediscoveries as director Arturo Ripstein delivers a brooding character piece about regret and consequences, and while the tropes are present they have an appealing anti-Hollywood patina. Lead Jorge Martinez de Hoyos cuts a capable but charismatic lead as a man whose best years have been lost to time, and the characters he finds on the outside are every bit as dense. The difference? While he’s a calm man they’re filled with anger.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introduction by Alex Cox, commentary]

The Villainess

The VillainessWhat is it? A female assassin is double-crossed by a chump.

Why see it? There’s a plot turn late in the film that’s guaranteed to leave you thinking two things in order — first, hey that’s ridiculous, and second, I really should have expected this exact story turn from a Korean movie. It’s a distraction of sorts, but happily it’s one that pales beside the sheer kinetic beauty of the film’s action sequences and its star, Kim Ok-bin (Thirst). The film opens with a first-person POV assault on a gangster’s hangout that pairs technical wizardry with graphic violence while ramping up the excitement and wide-eyed wonder. It’s one of the year’s best action films, and while it lacks the streamlined simplicity of films like John Wick and The Raid it never comes at the expense of the thrills. Seek it out and enjoy this woman’s fury.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]


The Rest

Birth of the Dragon

Birth Of The DragonWhat is it? Bruce Lee’s most infamous fight didn’t occur on the big screen.

Why see it? Lee was known for having a bravado and ego in his early years well equal to his talents, and that combination led to a legendary fight with a Shaolin monk named Wong Jack Man in 1960s San Francisco. It’s an interesting historical sidenote to his celebrated yet tragic life, and while some interesting observations are made here the film oddly focuses a lot of its time away from Lee and on one of his white students. It’s a strange choice to say the least. The fights are a mix of quick fun and stylized action, and the film does good work recreating 60s SF, but the end result feels very safe and unremarkable.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Good Time

Good TimeWhat is it? A young man tries to avoid the police and rescue his brother from their clutches.

Why see it? Robert Pattinson is the main reason to watch this minor thriller as he delivers an intense and gritty performance as a man trying every possible thing to save his brother and secure a score. It’s After Hours-lite in that everything goes sideways for him, but it’s lessened dramatically by our disinterest in the character. Still, some engaging visuals and energetic sequences hold the attention throughout.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, music video, commentary]

High School Lover

High School LoverWhat is it? A teen girl falls in with a popular actor twice her age, but she soon discovers that in addition to being a cradle robber he’s also a jerk.

Why see it? As Lifetime movies go this is one starring James Franco. Like me, you’re probably thinking that Franco plays the older dude sleeping with the high schooler, but alas, he actually plays the cool dad who loses his cool over the situation. It feels very much like an Afterschool Special — or what I’d imagine one would be like in today’s climate — but it’s progressive fun that moves from tame to sleazy and violent in quick order. Is it believable? Nope. Are the females worthless when it comes to defending themselves? Yup. But ignore its Lifetime origins and give it a spin anyway.

[DVD extras: None]

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The Hitmans BodyguardWhat is it? A bodyguard is tasked with protecting a hitman, and hilarity ensues.

Why see it? Ryan Reynolds paired with Samuel L. Jackson is pretty much the main reason to watch this action/comedy, and both actors deliver their signature comedic stylings. Happily, the action is equally as fun with plenty of gunplay and car stunts to excite and thrill in between (or even during) laughs. The story’s more than a little silly, and none of the action can be taken seriously, but that shouldn’t be an issue for fans of goofy good times that are both easily digestible and quickly forgotten. The Blu-ray includes some fun extras too in the form of outtakes that are equally worth a watch.

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

Lemon

LemonWhat is it? An awkward man behaves awkwardly.

Why see it? Fans of awkward comedy should definitely give the film a spin as that’s its steady speed throughout, but if your tolerance is low for such things it’s a definite miss. Writer/star Brett Gelman has proven his comedic chops elsewhere, but his style works best in small doses, and while he attracts some other talents along the way including Judy Greer, Michael Cera, and Shiri Appleby the laughs just aren’t there. There are plenty of cringe-worthy beats though.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, interviews]

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

ValerianWhat is it? An ass-kicking space hero is partnered with Dane DeHaan.

Why see it? Luc Besson’s latest plays very much into the stylings, tone, and overall feel of his beloved The Fifth Element, but his latest s a colorful mess dragged down by the two blandest and least engaging leads in the history of space and time. There’s no denying that it’s a visually-attractive world, and comparisons to the likes of James Cameron’s Avatar are well-deserved. Besson’s preference of bright, dynamic colors paired with interesting design choices elsewhere keeps viewers’ eyes open and frequently satisfied. Some action beats work well too including a foot chase in a virtual marketplace. It’s a pretty movie. But… and this is a big ol’ but… the experience is tanked by Besson’s lazy script and two lead performances/personalities that make you wish he had cast recently painted walls in the roles instead. They fare no better as characters, but while DeHaan’s title hero is an absolute, unconvincing dud, at least Cara Delevingne feels like a competent adventurer.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]


Also out this week:

Fritz Lang: The Silent Films, Jabberwocky [Criterion Collection], Jungle, Leap, My Journey Through French Cinema, The Nile Hilton Incident

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