This Week in Home Video
‘Edge of Seventeen’ Is This Generation’s Great Coming of Age Film
Plus 15 more new releases to watch at home 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? A teenager (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit) has a rough week.
Why buy it? Everything you’ve heard about this coming of age comedy/drama is true. It is a damn delight managing real laughs and heart through terrific performances and sharp writing. Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson are fantastic, and relative newcomers Haley Lu Richardson and Hayden Szeto are equally deserving of big careers themselves. The drama feels believable as it finds conflicts without having to heighten or exaggerate, the characters have depth that makes them more than simple stand-ins, and the laughs are frequent and honest.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes]
What is it? Alien ships descend around the globe, and the US military brings in an acclaimed language specialist (Amy Adams) in the hopes of communicating between the species.
Why see it? Too often big sci-fi films are content to deliver spectacle in place of depth, and while pure entertainment is just as important and necessary sometimes it’s a rare joy to find a film that appeals equally to our desires for intellectual awe and whiz-bang wonder. More alien intervention than invasion, Denis Villeneuve’s latest is an exploration of language and communication ‐ both a how-to and a treatise on its importance ‐ that takes an early hold of both your heart and mind. It’s only when the end credits appear that you realize just how tight of a grip it’s had on both.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? A man is determined to win back the married woman he loves.
Why see it? John Heard didn’t get very many opportunities as a romantic lead, and judging by this underseen, late ’70s gem that’s a big, fat loss for film fans. Writer/director Joan Micklin’s film is a sweet and funny look at love with a sharp script and endearing performances, and Heard’s character takes some atypical liberties in breaking the fourth wall too. He draws viewers into his quest and makes viewers accomplices in his heart’s desire, and as amusing as things get at times the film and story retain the pessimism that made so many of the decade’s films so damn memorable.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
What is it? A man and a woman from competing prehistoric tribes fall in love and face off against giant creatures.
Why see it? This classic mid ’60s adventure gets a sharp upgrade from Kino Lorber, and it remains a fun, thrilling watch thanks in large part to the stop-motion magic of Ray Harryhausen. Of course, it also features a lot of Raquel Welch running around in a fur bikini which for some viewers may count as sexually stimulating. If you don’t believe me just check out this list I also wrote of ten number-titled movies that are sexier than the Fifty Shades films. See? Proof that it’s a sexy cavewoman movie. Welch and Harryhausen aside, the movie remains a fun, sometimes thrilling romp as men faces off against each other and against giant beasts.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4k restoration of US cut, extended international cut, commentary, interviews]
What is it? A man (Buster Keaton) attempts to win his father’s affection against the odds and a massive windstorm, and another man (Keaton) attempts to win a lady’s heart by proving his athletic prowess on their college campus.
Why see it? Kino Lorber’s love for Keaton’s work continues with this new double feature of the man’s genius. College is a fun little tale highlighting his physical abilities and becomes one of the great sports underdog films in the process, but the big draw here is the first film which combines slapstick, a little bit of heart, and one hell of a finale as the windstorm ‐ created with airplane engines ‐ knocks down buildings all over town, usually with Keaton in dangerously close proximity. I’m still in the early days of my newfound affection for Keaton ‐ The General was my first of his features, and that was only a couple weeks ago ‐ and I’m loving it. Kino’s extras are solid all around too with this set also including Keaton’s final on-screen performance in 1966’s “The Scribe.”
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2k restorations, commentaries, introductions, commercial, featurette, short films]
What is it? Two friends rock out, critique music videos, and make jokes about farting.
Why see it? All eight seasons of MTV’s popular Mike Judge comedy are included here along with the boys’ big screen adventure, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. I was never the show’s biggest fan, and while marathoning some eps doesn’t help the situation it does reveal more weight to the characters and their antics. It’s still ultimately a look at a pair of head-banging punks, but it’s a fun commentary on the state of the nation at the time.
[DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? A military squad being championed as heroes is brought back to the States as a propaganda tool before being returned to the war.
Why see it? Ang Lee’s latest was a conversation piece mostly for it being filmed in 120 fps, nearly five times the norm, but the technological details aside the film itself is an engaging look at the difference between American civilians’ view of war and the harsh reality. Some beats are more effective than others, but the journey and the eclectic cast (including Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker) ensure the story remains captivating enough through to the end.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
What is it? Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) was on his way to becoming a world champion when a car accident left him seriously injured… which of course made it tougher to win the belt.
Why see it? There’s an impressive truth behind Pazienza’s incredible recovery as he overcame the odds to not only walk again but also to fight and win, but I’m not sure Teller is the actor to tell the story. He’s just a likable guy in the charismatic sense ‐ his need to be liked and his clear belief that he should be liked overpower any real charisma, and we’re left with a character we can’t quite bring ourselves to root for. The supporting cast is great, and the boxing scenes are fine, but it’s difficult to care.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) is a TV newscaster in a male-dominated field, and her struggle to be seen as an equal meets on deaf ears with tragic results.
Why see it? This bleak, real-life story is a tough watch as Chubbuck’s efforts both in romance and at the workplace are met with continued dead ends leading to a devastating conclusion. There’s a commentary here on the times (it was the ’70s) that’s still valid in many ways today, but that doesn’t lessen the overwhelming sadness of the film. Hall is fantastic here, as is Michael C. Hall in a supporting role, but their charms are muffled in the utter despair.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? An internet meme involving a song that promises to conjure a murderous entity does just that.
Why see it? There are some creepy images in this riff on The Ring and Candyman, notably in the fractured appearance of the title being, but the rest of the film just leaves so much wanting. Characters and dialogue are silly, the script’s attempts to create a story around it never quite gel, and the film wastes Michael Jai White ‐ he’s billed first, appears only in short bursts, and never throws a punch.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? A string of murders spurs a small-town sheriff into action around the Grand Canyon.
Why see it? Don Siegel’s best known for Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and his five films with Clint Eastwood, but the man’s filmography goes well beyond that. Thrillers were often his game, and that’s the case here with a beautifully-shot suspense flick that takes full advantage of both its geographic locale and Cinemascope filming technique. The story’s pretty simple despite darting around a bit between characters, but the real draw is the pairing of thrills against a gorgeous backdrop.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
What is it? Three grown sisters attempt to deal with the continued drama that is their mother.
Why see it? Woody Allen’s first real foray into drama finds an often bleak tale of family dysfunction infused with terrific performances from the likes of Diane Keaton, Mary Beth Hurt, Geraldine Page, and others. Sam Waterston and Richard Jordan are also good as husband’s pushed to the brink by damaged women finding their way as adults. It’s far from a cheery tale despite moments of levity and warmth, but it’s easy to see how it reintroduced Allen as a filmmaker of greater strengths than simple neurotic comedy.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? A thief hoping to turn a new leaf finds himself back in the criminal grind after snitching on others.
Why see it? Victor Mature plays the film’s protagonist stuck between doing what’s right and doing what’s necessary, but the movie belongs entirely to Richard Widmark as the killer on his trail. He’s pretty damn terrifying for a late ’40s villain and could be transplanted to modern day with no real loss of menace. The film finds suspense in his actions, whether violent or conversational, and he captivates whenever he’s onscreen.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries]
What is it? A disillusioned young man takes a thankless job as a driver and finds a new reason to live hiding in the back of his truck.
Why see it? Human trafficking is a compelling subject, and while this faith-based feature is more interested in preaching to the choir than exploring the horror and complicity around the crime it still manages to capture the drama of it all. Performances are a bit uneven though which affects just how hard certain sequences hit.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Music performance, featurettes, deleted scenes]
What is it? A Vietnam veteran returns from the war to find an unwelcoming America and a job offer as a hitman.
Why see it? Logan Marshall-Green anchors this new Cinemax series and convinces as a lost man slowly sinking into a world of crime, deception, and murder. The supporting cast ‐ including Peter Mullan and Tom Noonan ‐ are a fun bunch, but the personality they bring outmatches the developing narrative. Some eccentricities aside, the story never quite goes anywhere we haven’t seen before. Watch it for the cast and period charm.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, commentaries, music videos, deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A young man roams an America ravaged by a vampire apocalypse.
Why see it? The original Stake Land created an interesting wasteland that eschewed the typical zombie apocalypse for a vampiric one, but the characters inhabiting it paled by comparison. This follow-up addresses that with a mix of returning and new characters on a more exciting journey.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Also Out This Week:
Deep Water, King Cobra, The Tree of Wooden Clogs [Criterion], The Witness