Go ‘Into the Night’ With Our Funny, Sexy, and Wonderfully Weird Pick of the Week

Plus 16 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!

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Pick of the Week

Into the Night [Shout Select]

Into The NightWhat is it? A man’s overnight visit to L.A. turns into a life-changing experience.

Why see it? John Landis is an accomplished filmmaker with numerous and memorable successes to his name from Animal House to An American Werewolf in London, but there are some lesser loved gems equally deserving of love including this mid 80s comedy. Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer headline this madcap tale of a mild-mannered man sucked into a conspiracy involving murder, stolen gems, Middle Eastern killers, and more. Goldblum is a deadpan delight, Pfeiffer is a radiant, quick-witted dame, and the supporting cast sees a roster of directors (I count 12!) popping up in cameos big and small. Landis adds more than a little absurdity to the mix too between the bad guys’ slapstick and just how convoluted the various player can make things. The movie’s great fun from beginning to end, but Shout Factory’s makes their newly restored master even more worthwhile with the addition of two new, revealing interviews. The Goldblum one in particular is its own 20-minute pocket of joy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, documentary]


The Best

The Crown – The Complete First Season

The CrownWhat is it? The beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is a bumpy ride.

Why see it? As biopic television shows go, this is one of the better ones with its balance of historical detail, rich characters, and personality. Claire Foy’s portrayal of the young queen endears viewers to her early on as a situation is thrust upon her, and that affection is both supported and challenged later on as difficult decisions are made. Far from stuffy, the show has a charm in its dialogue and performers (with John Lithgow’s Winston Churchill being a standout).

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Death Rides a Horse [KL Studio Classics]

Death Rides A HorseWhat is it? Years after a group of bandits kill a family they’re hunted by two men seeking revenge.

Why see it? This is the good stuff. John Phillip Law and Lee Van Cleef play the two men seeking vengeance — one for the murder of his family, the other for being framed for the crime — and both bring plenty of fun to the table. Van Cleef in particular is a joy to see playing a bad-ass antihero, and seeing him shoot a guy, watch him die, and then say “idiot” is hilarious. Ennio Morricone delivers a strong score to accompany some great shootouts and set-pieces. Just a terrific watch for western fans.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary by Alex Cox]

Killing Ground [Scream Factory]

Killing GroundWhat is it? A young couple camping in rural Australia finds terror, obviously.

Why see it? It’s a well-established fact that Australia wants to kill you, at least according to the movies, and if it isn’t nature doing the murder it’s the locals. The latter are the big threat here, but while we’ve seen it before writer/director Damien Power finds new suspense and set-pieces in the premise. There are some chilling shots and beats here as the film plays around with time, and while it builds to an ending that packs as much frustration as it does carnage the end result is still a solid and occasionally brutal thriller.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Limehouse Golem

The Limehouse GolemWhat is it? A serial killer stalks London, and as the city prepares to convict their main suspect only one detective sees a different truth.

Why see it? There are some solid twists and turns in this Victorian-era thriller as a killer’s identity is teased and taunted more than once, but the big draw here rests in the two leads. Bill Nighy takes a rare lead role as the detective who’s set up to fail even as he refuses to do so, and he’s terrific. Olivia Cooke, meanwhile, continues to shine in her young career, here as a widow accused of a horrible crime who may actually know more than she’s letting on. Jane Goldman’s script tells a tight tale with suspense and depth, and the period detail is equally on point.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Overdrive

OverdriveWhat is it? Two thieving brothers are forced into completing an impossible heist.

Why see it? Look past Scott Eastwood’s name in the credits and give this fun little movie a shot. As big of a Fast Five fan as I am, this far lower-budgeted gem is more entertaining than that franchise’s two most recent installments. The effects are heavily practical, the car action is plentiful and thrilling, and the script crafts a fun back and forth of double and triple crosses. Plus, you can never go wrong with Ana De Armas. It has a good time with the premise and characters, and the dialogue feels fresh and fun as the story shifts quickly through its gears.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Westworld – Season One: The Maze

WestworldWhat is it? A theme park where people can live out their fantasies of the Old West experiences some technical troubles.

Why see it? The 70s feature is a simple sci-fi slasher of sorts, but HBO’s re-imagined take on it expands the tale and world dramatically. Cruelty and imagination go hand in hand — paired with stunning effects and stellar performances from the likes of Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Ed Harris, and more — with a story about creation itself and what it means to be a living soul. Humans and artificially intelligent beings are shown to be different even as they become the same. Action, mystery, and lots of nude scenes follow, and while the “big” answers aren’t all winners the journey is never less than engaging and attractive. The season satisfies on the whole, and it sets up some fascinating possibilities for what’s to come.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]


The Rest

Battle Cry [Warner Archive]

Battle CryWhat is it? Five fast friends go from boot camp to the front line in this World War II drama.

Why see it? A respectable cast (including Van Heflin, Tab Hunter, James Whitmore, and others) brings this WWII tale to life, and while action is present the bigger drama comes from the friends’ interactions with each other and with the women they’ve left behind (and those they find along the way). It’s a solid film and one that invests time (it runs 140 minutes) with its five leads ensuring viewers are at least engaged in their lives by the time the bullets start flying.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Cars 3

CarsWhat is it? A once great champion sees himself surpassed by younger, faster challengers.

Why see it? This really is a case of a film that won’t win new fans but will definitely satisfy those already in the bag for the franchise. The same voice talents return as the story takes on a narrative familiar to the likes of Days of Thunder or Rocky V, and Pixar’s cg animation is obviously top notch (and really pops in 4K). Those of us on the outside, though, will continue not understanding the appeal here as neither the characters nor the dialogue manages to engage.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Short film, featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]

Darkness Rising [Scream Factory]

Darkness RisingWhat is it? A young woman returns home to explore memories of her sister’s death.

Why see it? The film opens with a brief intro set decades prior before moving to the present, and while it returns to it in the end it does so with no real (emotional or character) meat connecting it. That methodology carries over to the main narrative too as elements feel apart from each other and appear to exist mostly to set the stage for lazy scares. Just as bad, so much of the film is set in bland darkness leaving little opportunity for wonder or terror.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Glass Castle

The Glass CastleWhat is it? A woman recounts a childhood spent with an artistic mother and oddball father.

Why see it? Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson are almost always worth watching, and they both do good work in this adaptation of the bestselling memoir, but even with their talent the characters and story fail to fully engage. The father is troubled yet beloved, and it’s difficult to see why the latter holds true. It’s not that we doubt the veracity, we just don’t feel the same way.

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

Gun Shy

Gun ShyWhat is it? A former rock star tries to rescue his kidnapped wife in Chile.

Why see it? Antonio Banderas’ late career resurgence as a direct-to-dvd action star continues with this supremely odd and mostly unsuccessful action/comedy. Banderas is in full-on looney mode, and he’s only slightly better at the “comedy” than Olga Kurylenko is as his wife. It’s almost slapstick-like, and it doesn’t work. Director Simon West (Con Air) knows action, and to that end those parts work better, but the film’s budget isn’t doing it or him any favors. It’s ultimately little more than a goofy diversion.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes WestWhat is it? A young woman obsessed with a celebrity’s social media presence takes her interest too far.

Why see it? The basic setup here is the same as any number of dark thrillers about twisted women obsessing over someone else, and it bears a strong specific similarity to Single White Female. The difference here, though, is that the film is as much a black comedy as it is a drama of the mentally disturbed. Aubrey Plaza embodies the obsessed girl well, and Elizabeth Olsen creates a down to earth celeb, but O’Shea Jackson Jr. steals the film from both of them. It’s good stuff more often than not, but it loses some of its conviction at the end that ultimately weakens the whole.

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

The Journey

The JourneyWhat is it? Two men hold the fate of peace between nations.

Why see it? A mostly true story, one with omnipresent implications for the world, gets a solid telling in this warm drama, and while the dialogue and weight of it all holds the attention it’s the two lead performances that make it worthwhile. Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney are both at their absolute best as leaders forced to reflect and open their minds to the other side. They come to understand the value of not only conversation but of seeing other viewpoints.

[DVD extras: None]

The Mercenary [KL Studio Classics]

The MercenaryWhat is it? A mercenary and a Mexican revolutionary take on killers and soldier in a fight for, well, everything.

Why see it? A blond Franco Nero teams up with Tony Musante, and the pair make for the most disloyal duo to ever grace the Mexican landscape. They go back and forth, but the one constant is Jack Palance in a perm, and yes, that does make him an even more despicable bad guy. Director Sergio Corbucci fills the screen with action and gunfire, and he crafts some well-shot standoffs and set-pieces. Add in a score co-written by Ennio Morricone and you have a raucous good time in the West.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary by Alex Cox]

Patti Cake$

Patti CakesWhat is it? A young woman dreams big despite her daily drudgery.

Why see it? As underdog tales go this is an uncommon one for the simple fact that it focuses on a young woman. The sub-genre typically belongs to men and boys, so it’s a refreshing change of pace. Happily, it’s also a sweet and funny tale about a young white girl dreaming of becoming a rap star who surrounds herself with a motley crew of supporters and accomplices. Some elements are tied up a bit too neatly and cleanly perhaps, but doing so prevents the film from sinking to the kind of cruel depths you might otherwise expect from this setup.

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

Summer of ’42 [Warner Archive]

Summer OfWhat is it? A teenager learns about life and love while falling for a young married woman.

Why see it? The film follows three young teens with a focus on one who becomes enamored by a young women living on the beach whose husband has gone off to war. It plays at times like an old-fashioned sex comedy, albeit with a PG rating, but there’s an honesty to the feelings and observations on display. Jennifer O’Neill is beautiful and warm as the young bride, but the film is hurt a bit by the performances of the three boys. Sure they’re supposed to be awkward teens, but they’re just a bit clunky which in turn messes with the emotion. Still, anyone who’s ever loved — or thought they loved — someone beyond their reach will recognize themselves.

[Blu-ray extras: None]


Also out this week:

The Aftermath, Attack Force Z, Champion, Darkman II; The Return of Durant [Scream Factory], Darkman III: Die Darkman Die [Scream Factory], He Walked By Night, The Philadelphia Story [Criterion Collection], Satan’s Cheerleaders, The Settlers, The Show, Tam Cam: The Untold Story, Thumper, The Tiger Hunter, The Untamed

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