Plus 12 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
Deathdream [Blue Underground]
What is it? A soldier reported dead returns home anyway, and his family will never be the same again.
Why see it? Bob Clark’s best known for Black Christmas, Porky’s, and A Christmas Story, but his early 70s chiller deserves every bit as much praise. The horror elements are terrific as the undead soldier slowly falls apart and seeks out fresh blood, but its real strength is in its clear allegory for the trauma faced by both soldiers returning from war and the friends and family who welcome them back. It’s relevant even today as a horrific take on PTSD and society’s inability to understand or appreciate the mental damage suffered by those who’ve faced war. The message never overrides the horror, though, and there are solid thrills here as the soldier strikes out for blood. Blue Underground’s new Blu-ray gives the film the love it deserves with a beautiful picture and a mix of new and old extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, commentaries, student film, interviews, booklet]
Cop-Out [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A washed-up defense attorney takes a new case involving his daughter and discovers truths about all involved.
Why see it? James Mason is one of those actors whose work is always worth watching, and while too much of his career was spent in supporting roles the 60s was a decade that saw him landing bigger and more interesting roles. This is more of the latter as he too often plays second fiddle to the film’s hot young stars — Bobby Darin, Geraldine Chaplin — but he’s terrific as a man who’s given up on life only to discover a chance at redemption in the form of a murder mystery. The film, based on a novel by Georges Simenon, builds to a highly satisfying conclusion too with some interesting observations on guilt and responsibility.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Doc Hollywood [Warner Archive]
What is it? An egotistical doctor from the big city becomes a better man when he’s sentenced to time in the country.
Why see it? This is something of a quintessential 90s comedy — Michael J. Fox in his prime, a killer supporting cast (Woody Harrelson, Bridget Fonda, Barnard Hughes), a simple but sharp script, and the casually entertaining direction of Michel Caton-Jones. There’s nothing mind-blowing here, and the laughs aren’t uproarious, but they’re steady and well-earned. It’s a fun, sweet comedy with a harmless romance at its core, and sometimes that’s more than enough to make a movie worth watching and owning for a rainy day.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Misery [Scream Factory]
What is it? A writer is rescued from a crash and held captive by his self-professed “number one fan.”
Why see it? This terrific thriller sits firmly in the top five of of the seventy plus movies/mini-series made from Stephen King’s work — but don’t just take my word for it — and it’s an impressive feat seeing as director Rob Reiner‘s other King adaptation (Stand By Me) ranks even higher. Kathy Bates and James Caan create a fantastic back and forth of talent, and the film creates multiple scenes of suspense in its limited location. There’s humor here too, but the film exists mostly as a tight thriller filled with surprise and satisfaction. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray is gorgeous offering up a beautiful picture alongside a bevy of engaging and informative extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, new interviews with Rob Reiner and Greg Nicotero, commentaries, featurettes]
What is it? A young man sent to jail on drug charges finds new friends and enemies behind bars.
Why see it? Steve Buscemi’s second feature as director feels a bit removed from his norm, but it works well enough as an exploration of prison life. Bad things happen, but it does feel as if Buscemi’s pulling some punches in his portrayal of the joint’s brutal reality. Still, the presence of Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, and even Tom Arnold in a small role makes for an engaging watch. Surprisingly, Edward Furlong’s lead performance exists as one of his only good ones as he displays the character’s blend of fear and scrappy energy in convincing fashion.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, commentary, booklet]
The High Commissioner [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An Australian cop is sent to London to retrieve a murder suspect who’s now a respected politician.
Why see it? This late 60s political thriller features a cool setup — the cop arrives just in time to foil an assassination attempt on the man accused of murder — and has two fantastic performers as the leads in Rod Taylor (as the cop) and Christopher Plummer (as the politician). Their tale is set against a backdrop of intrigue and futile attempts at peace, and it leads to a somewhat surprisingly affecting finale. The plot teases convolution at times, but the core strengths remain leading to a satisfying thriller.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? Three down on their luck siblings plan a heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on its busiest day of the year.
Why see it? Steven Soderbergh’s retirement from film ended with this redneck Ocean’s Eleven, and while it can’t match that modern heist gem it delivers some laughs and moments of inspiration. Much of the joy comes from a cast that includes Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, and the film’s MVP, Daniel Craig. Less appealing are the turns by Seth MacFarlane and Hilary Swank. The film pulls a fast one in its denouement which makes it more satisfying on the emotional front at the expense of clear narrative. It’s mild fun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]
Lost in Paris
What is it? An oddball Canadian finds romance and adventure in Paris.
Why see it? Whimsy is the word of the day with this sweet and silly comedy that brings to lost souls together in a city known to film lovers as the romance capitol of the world. She’s a bookish and shy visitor, he’s a sketchy vagabond, and together they make a couple who shouldn’t work yet can only work together. The film’s playful and quirky, maybe a bit too much so at times, but it remains a refreshing change of pace from the usual rom-com couplings.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, featurette, short films]
What is it? A college student is raped, and a lack of official justice forces her hand towards making her own.
Why see it? As rape/revenge thrillers go this is something of an odd one. The basics are there — woman assaulted, woman frustrated by the system, woman kills rapist — but in addition to the frustration being explored a bit deeper than usual the film’s ending takes an unexpected (and not wholly successful) path. The commentary at play here is equally uneven, but while the messaging is off there’s no arguing the intensity of Francesca Eastwood’s lead performance.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
What is it? A machine that can capture and display memories finds itself at the center of a murder investigation.
Why see it? This is the kind of soft science fiction that uses a technological development in the otherwise present day to explore themes of humanity, and it works well enough as a tale about grief, regret, and the weight of the past. Peter Dinklage takes a lead role here and is quite good, and the film really comes together in the third act with an affecting final twenty minutes. Its biggest strength, though, and something worth celebrating, is that Dinklage plays a character as opposed to a little person. His height is never mentioned or highlighted, and instead he’s just like everyone else.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette]
The Woman in Red [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A middle aged man takes a stab at infidelity with disastrous results.
Why see it? As a dumb, horny teenager this movie was nothing more than a PG-13 comedy featuring a flash of full frontal nudity from Kelly Le Brock, but re-watching it as an adult reveals a sad, cruel comedy about selfish people. There are some laughs, mostly from Gene Wilder’s expressions and Gilda Radner’s rage, and Le Brock is still a stunner, but the mean streak weighs a lot of it down. All of that said, Wilder is an eternally entertaining presence, and you can’t help but love the man even as you hate what he’s doing.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
What is it? A young woman teeters on the edge of sanity.
Why see it? Kirsten Dunst’s career over the last several years has seen her exploring some bold choices with odd characters in popular TV shows and little-seen indies, and her latest continues the trend. It’s a quiet, dreamlike drama about a woman in distress, and while her performance captivates the film moves so quickly into its tone that viewers never have the opportunity to grow attached to her character. The result is a cold film that really only works for Dunst fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
The Wrong Guy [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A mild-mannered man thinks he’s been mistaken for a murderer.
Why see it? The Kids in the Hall remains one of the funniest sketch comedy shows ever, and one-fifth of the troupe takes center stage here as the man at the center of a riff on Hitchcock’s North By Northwest. Dave Foley is a funny guy, and as co-writer he helps deliver some entertaining exchanges and sequences. It’s incredibly silly throughout, but more than a few gags land as Foley spends the film thinking he’s being hunted while instead simply bungling his way through the tale, and he sells the idiocy well. (That’s a compliment.)
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
Also out this week:
Acts of Vengeance, Death Laid an Egg, The Defiant Ones, Harmonium
Related Topics: Home Video