This Week in Home Video
‘Moonlight’ Is the Best Film of 2016, and Now You Can Bring It Home
Plus 14 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 boy becomes a teen becomes a man.
Why buy it? Barry Jenkins’ film was just named Best of 2016 at the Academy Awards ‐ they copied our lead with that one ‐ and now’s your chance to bring it home. I’ve already praised the film extensively, and I even wrote up the commentary here too, so I’ll limit my words here to saying simply that this is one hell of a beautiful movie. It’s about life and love in ways that are as unique as they are universal, and it never quite goes the way you expect resulting in the year’s freshest romantic drama. Gorgeous cinematography, tremendous performances, and a beautiful score pull you in for its entirety.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, featurettes]
The Before Trilogy [Criterion]
What is it? Two masterpieces and a third film.
Why buy it? Richard Linklater has received critical acclaim for several films across his filmography from Slacker to Boyhood, but there’s a special level of praise reserved for his collaborations with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Their characters, Jesse and Celine, have become a sort of shorthand for romance, spontaneity, and the chances we take in life, and in the first two films at least the experiences shared with us amount to 180 minutes of pure perfection. There’s magic in the budding couple’s time together, in the way they communicate with or without words, and in the expressions that cross their faces. There’s a wonder too, and perhaps its absence in Before Midnight is why I regard the film as such a let down. It’s understandable that the pair would have rough days together, and it’s fair that we happen to land on one here, but the wonder of the first two films is replaced with a cruel bitterness, mostly aimed at Celine, that makes for an unappealing watch. Criterion’s new trilogy collection includes all three films, each in their own book-like case, and loaded with supplements. Old interviews and featurettes are paired with a new documentary and new interviews making for a must-own set for fans of Linklater and love in general.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Two new 2k restorations and a 2k master, interviews, featurettes, commentary on Before Midnight, documentaries, Fresh Air episode, booklet essay]
The Before Trilogy (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
What is it? A detective investigating a missing family realizes the clues point very close to home.
Why see it? Kiyoshi Kurosawa makes his long-awaited return to horror with this unsettling chiller, and those familiar with his earlier genre efforts, or his filmography in general really, will find his methodical pacing and still cinematography intact here and working to benefit our fear of what’s coming. The film lives up to its title as we’re presented with a look at creepily-evoked sequences and settings before the mystery comes fully into focus. There’s a bit of a misstep in the third act, but it doesn’t kill the film’s vibe or effect.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? Stephen Strange is a doctor, and if he plays his cards right he might just become a doctor with a cape.
Why see it? Marvel’s latest superhero adventure comes courtesy of director Scott Derrickson (Sinister), and it does good work introducing a new character into the universe. The big draw here (beyond just another Marvel film) are some stellar visuals as Strange moves between worlds, and it makes for a more visually interesting feature than most. It’s a fun movie with personality, but it loses me in a big way in its third act. I’m in the minority on that obviously, but the resolution underwhelms me with its narrative choices. The disc is packed with behind the scenes extras and well worth a pick-up by fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel]
Doctor Strange [Blu-ray]
The Gate [Vestron Video]
What is it? A backyard sinkhole reveals a gate to hell.
Why see it? This mid ’80s horror movie is probably memorable to most for featuring a young Stephen Dorff, but for me it’s all about the effects work. Thirty years later and the stop-motion/miniature work is still pretty fantastic, and even better it’s terrifically creative with a mix of little beasts, a giant creature, zombified people, and more. It’s legitimately fun too as the kids face off against the demonic hellspawn in sequences that deliver creepiness and thrills in equal measure. This is one of my favorite of the new Vestron line, and they’ve once again loaded it with extra features.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, gallery]
The Gate [Blu-ray]
Rules Don’t Apply
What is it? Howard Hughes’ attempts to run his empire face struggles even as he inadvertently brings two young lovers together.
Why see it? There’s a lot wrong with Warren Beatty’s long-awaited return to the director’s chair, and it comes mostly in the love story. Basically every moment that Beatty, as Hughes, is off screen the film drags and jolts due to issues in both the script and the editing. But… Beatty is an absolute delight here. His Hughes touches on the madness realized by Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal in The Aviator, but his focus here is on the far more comedic elements. It’s there where Beatty shines delivering a charismatic and fun performance that entertains and engages in equal measure. It’s a mess, but it’s a fun mess.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, music video]
Rules Don't Apply [Blu-ray]
Ape [Kino Lorber]
What is it? A giant ape attacks Korea.
Why see it? Oh my. This riff on King Kong hits some of the expected beats, but it does so with the absolute worst special effects and even less impressive acting. Its effect as horror, drama, or action is severely lacking, but if you go in expecting a comedy you’ll find some entertainment value in the dialogue and cheesy effects work.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 2D/3D versions, commentary]
Babyface [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? A man on the run after diddling a teenager finds work at a brothel for female clientele.
Why see it? Alex deRenzy’s late ’70s adult film is a surprisingly edgy one at times including the statutory rape sequence early on and a character’s madness later on. Neither element is harped on or played all that seriously, but both feel as if they belong in a more dramatic movie. The main draw here of course is the sex, and deRenzy does not disappoint as he directs his cast to intermingle in every possible combination (outside of guy on guy, obviously). The short film will appeal to Catholic school kids (like myself).
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2k restoration, interview, short film]
Contract to Kill
What is it? A government agent must stop terrorists!
Why see it? I remain a huge fan of Above the Law, but while Steven Seagal delivered a few more fun movies after that the last twenty years or so have been nothing by low-rent, direct to DVD action pictures. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but Seagal is just all about exerting the minimal amount of effort. It comes across in the visible body doubles, the limited moves he displays, and the overall generic nature of the story. This one offers some okay scenery, but that’s about all it has going for it.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
Deadtime Stories [Scream Factory]
What is it? A man tells his nephew inappropriate bedtime stories.
Why see it? This ’80s horror anthology features stories that play it close to traditional favorites like Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks but update the tales to the modern world with gore and minimal T&A. Unfortunately the horror is muted by a heavy lean towards humor that rarely (if ever) leads to actual laughs. The only real highlight here is in the special features when you realize an unrecognizable Melissa Leo stars in the Goldilocks segment. She shows up in the extras with a new interview offering some fun anecdotes and memories, and it’s more entertaining than the actual movie.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, commentary]
Framed [Kino Lorber]
What is it? A man is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and eventually seeks out revenge.
Why see it? Joe Don Baker tries to recapture his Walking Tall success with another tale of a man pushed too far towards violence, but there’s an odd lack of energy this time around. Maybe they try too hard for added character work, but the end result is fairly dull for far too long on its way towards some third-act action.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]
Fuller House ‐ The Complete First Season
What is it? The Full House gang is back.
Why see it? I’m chalking this one up to the same impetus that led Netflix to produce new Adam Sandler movies. It’s not for me ‐ not even in the slightest ‐ but obviously there’s an audience for it. For me the comedy is just so endlessly basic and far from funny, and the laugh track isn’t doing the show any favors. I recall the original show delivering a handful of laughs, but this rebirth can’t even manage those same minimal heights.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? A hard-ass cop fights crime, dies, gets resurrected, fights crime, dies, gets resurrected, etc.
Why see it? Part Robocop (minus the robotics), part it’s own thing, this hyper-stylized action film feels every bit like the comic book adaptation it is, for better or worse. It’s fun at times as some of the set pieces are just nuts with nonsensical characters, weirdness, and gun play, but it pretty quickly overstays its welcome. It’s just “on” without throttling, reason, or purpose, but despite that I still recommend it for Kim Coates’ lead performance. He’s a solid character actor, and seeing him take charge here is its own kind of fun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, interview]
Slaughterhouse [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? Teens and other locals find themselves on the wrong end of the hook when they come face to face with a large, pig-like man.
Why see it? A slasher set at a slaughterhouse offers plenty of opportunity for bloody deaths, and the movie doesn’t back away from the gore. It’s a bit goofy at times, and the killer’s constant pig snorting is neither terrifying nor entertaining, but the film finds an extra layer of joy in its story beats that take aim on local governments squeezing locals dry via taxes. Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu cleans up the film ‐ a favorite from the VHS days ‐ and adds plenty of new extras for fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2k restoration, commentary, interviews, outtakes]
We Are the Flesh [Arrow Video]
What is it? Two teens, a brother and sister, find themselves at the mercy of a weird man in an abandoned building.
Why see it? This slice of Mexican arthouse horror made something of a splash last year on the festival circuit thanks to its extreme visuals, graphic sexuality, and notable weirdness. I’m a fan of these things in general, but I’m in the minority apparently in my utter dislike for how they come together in this movie. None of the three characters are the least bit appealing or engaging, and the story fares no better as it’s little more than a slow, dull descent into hell. But it’s the least interesting hell you can imagine even with its degrees of degradation and foulness. Anyway, it does nothing for me.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Video essay, interviews, short films]
Also Out This Week:
All We Had, Allied, Child Eater, Kate Plays Christine, Shut In, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
Related Topics: Home Video