Fans of 'Slow West' Will Want to Saddle Up With Our Pick of the Week

Plus 21 more releases to watch this week on Blu-ray/DVD!

Discs The Sisters Brothers

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

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters BrothersWhat is it? Two brothers track their human prey before finding something more important to do with their lives.

Why see it? Great westerns aren’t nearly as common as they should be — hell, I’d even settle for more good ones — but fans of smart, thrilling, and thoughtful journeys into the Old West will want to seek out the latest film from director Jacques Audiard. John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play the assassin siblings with fantastic personality and rich character, and their travels see their characters shift along with their locale. Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed are along for the ride, and it’s a challenging one in the best ways as our “heroes” behave poorly and the line between life and death grows ever thinner even as the film becomes both tragic and more blackly comic.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]


The Best

The Fifth Cord [Arrow Video]

The Fifth CordWhat is it? A killer is killing as they so often do.

Why see it? Luigi Bazzoni’s 1971 giallo pits a black-gloved killer against a curious reporter played by Franco Nero, and while the film doesn’t approach the stylistic endeavors of Dario Argento or Mario Bava there’s a definite eye for appealing visuals. The story does good work keeping viewers engaged and interested, but the highlight is probably a third act sequence involving a child in immediate danger. It’s a suspenseful set-piece to be sure. Arrow’s new Blu-ray looks fantastic and includes some extras that give the film some long overdue attention.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, featurette, interviews, deleted scene]

The Guilty

The GuiltyWhat is it? A 911 operator receives a call from a kidnapped woman, but his effort to help doesn’t end when the call does.

Why see it? Few thrillers run as tightly as this Danish gem, and that’s due both to sharp writing and its lean <90 minute running time. The action takes place elsewhere while we stay grounded at the police call center, but rather than remove viewers from the emotion and intensity it serves instead to amplify both. Jakob Cedergren holds our focus as the cop stuck in place, and director Gustav Muller crafts his calls,remote police work, and efforts to save the woman as electrifying cinema. It’s a fantastic genre film delivering real thrills.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

A Private War

A Private WarWhat is it? The true story of war correspondent Marie Colvin who died on the job in Syria in 2012.

Why see it? The story is straightforward in many ways, and we all know that reporters covering war zones often die, but the emotional truth presented here is both tragic and encouraging. Details of atrocities need to get out so outrage can lead to action that stops them, and Colvin took that idea to her final breaths. Rosamund Pike shines as the aggressive and commanding presence, and her journey’s importance comes ever clearer as we head towards Colvin’s final days. Small action beats, striking destruction, and an eternally relevant theme make this a film worth seeking out.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Zachariah [KL Studio Classics]

ZachariahWhat is it? Two friends become feared cowboys before heading in separate directions.

Why see it? Kino Lorber continues to pull fantastic films from near obscurity with this “electric western” that blends western action, absurd comedy, hippie tunes, and a strong message of non-violence. It most definitely won’t be for everyone as the comedy teeters on the ridiculous at times, but both John Rubinstein and a young Don Johnson make for a compelling pair whose paths disintegrate before coming together with a bang. It’s a fun film with heart and unlike any other in the genre. The comedy never feels utterly over the top, but it’s zany enough to keep viewers on their toes.

[Blu-ray extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interview]


The Rest

All the Devil’s Men

All The Devils MenWhat is it? A commando squad fights terror in London.

Why see it? Direct to video action movies have their place, and they can be pretty entertaining with the right combination of talent and set-pieces. There’s promise to this one in its London setting and the presence of William Fichtner, but neither element gets enough play. The story takes some interesting beats, though, with its squad of bad guys and the internal politics and stresses that lead good men down bad paths. It’s a diversion.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Benji Movie Collection

BenjiWhat is it? Benji enjoys adventures both here and abroad!

Why see it? Today’s kids don’t really know the simple joys of a Benji movie and the pure entertainment the little mutt represented in the 1970s. He was that decade’s Lassie, and there really hasn’t been anything as straightforward since. Two of the pup’s early adventures — Benji (1974) and For the Love of Benji (1977) — are restored and collected here alongside a newer feature (Benji: Off the Leash, 2004) from original creator Joe Camp. The latter film is a lesser one, but they make for some fun, casually paced entertainments for the young ones.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Charly [KL Studio Classics]

CharlyWhat is it? A mentally challenged man is made brilliant through science, but can it last?

Why see it? Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon gets the big screen treatment in this tragic drama with Cliff Robertson in the title role (as Charly… Algernon is a mouse). As his intelligence grows his emotions grow too, but the speed of his maturity is wobbly and out of sync with his IQ. We see him fall in love, but does he even understand those feelings? It’s a good story and a cautionary tale of sorts, but it’s one where the characters and drama work better in the likes of Awakenings (1990).

[Blu-ray extras: New 2K master, commentary]

The Cloverfield Paradox

The Cloverfield ParadoxWhat is it? Scientists orbiting the Earth on a space station mess with dangerous elements in order to save the world.

Why see it? The film’s problems are legion as its existence as a poorly-written sci-fi thriller are made worse by the ham-fisted, messily forced inclusion of connective tissue to the universe already occupied by 2008’s Cloverfield and 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s clear this was an unrelated script mashed into something else, and this entry lacks the freshness of both earlier films instead regurgitating a sloppy stew inspired by the likes of Event HorizonLife, and Interstellar. Scenes are crafted well-enough with an assist from some terrific production design, but the script tries too hard with too little and ultimately wastes great talents like Gugu Mbatha-Raw and David Oyelowo.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Diamonds for Breakfast [KL Studio Classics]

Diamonds For BreakfastWhat is it? A descendant of Russian royalty plots to steal his family’s jewels.

Why see it? As heist films go there’s a fun story line here with the jewels ending up on display in a museum and Marcello Mastroianni leading the plan to steal them back. He sees visions of long dead relatives that affect his decisions, and there’s something to the mad romp. It gets a bit too bogged down in that side of things, though, which takes away too often from the theft itself. Still, Mastroianni.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2K master]

Donnie Brasco

Donnie BrascoWhat is it? An FBI agent goes deep undercover with the mob.

Why see it? Mobster movies feel uniquely American despite their focus on Italian-American immigrants and crime families, so it probably shouldn’t surprise that a British filmmaker delivered one of the better entries in the sub-genre. The film is a reminder that Johnny Depp used to be a good, talented actor, and Al Pacino is equally thrilling as the older, sadder mobster who welcomes him into the family. It’s a very good movie, but like its two previous Blu-ray releases it’s once again devoid of special features.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Double Dragon [MVD Rewind Collection]

Double DragonWhat is it? The classic video game comes to life, kind of?

Why see it? This video game adaptation belongs on the same shelf with the likes of Super Mario Bros. (1993) and Street Fighter (1994) in that it’s not very good and was never going to be, but the damn thing has its fans. If that’s you then I’m happy to say this Blu-ray is fantastic — it’s loaded with extras including a fantastic near feature length doc with candid interviews and lots of fun anecdotes. It’s a great package over all for fans.For the rest of us, though, it’s a fun doc about a mess of a movie. What I’m saying is go watch Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) instead.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making-of documentary, featurettes, animated pilot episode]

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The Girl In The Spiders WebWhat is it? Lisbeth Salander discovers her greatest threat is family.

Why see it? I haven’t read the novel the film is based on — written after creator Stieg Larsson died — but this adaptation’s greatest weakness is the script and story that repeatedly fail to excite. Recasting Mikael Blomkvist to be the same age as Lisbeth is equally misguided as their age difference is a big part of her character. Claire Foy does good work, but she doesn’t stand a chance against a weak script and a half-hearted effort to turn her into Jane Bond with big action set-pieces that betray her. It’s sadly not any good.

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

The Golem

The GolemWhat is it? A woman calls forth a supernatural being to avenge those threatening her community.

Why see it? The filmmakers behind 2015’s Jeruzalem are back with another horror flick pulling from religious texts, but while the Paz Brothers went heavier with action last time their focus is far more intimate here. There’s a single monster this time out, but it finds weight in its personal connection to the sad and angry woman who brings it to life. The period setting affords the film some atmosphere, but it also slows things down considerably. Lower-budget effects don’t help either resulting in a film that loses steam and effectiveness as it moves closer to its end. Still, there are some engaging touches for fans of biblical terror.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]

The Grinch

The GrinchWhat is it? A furry man discovers friends in low places.

Why see it? Look, this new CG animated feature doesn’t erase the existence of Dr. Seuss’ book or the still-brilliant Chuck Jones adaptation from 1966, so it does no harm in its existence, and lord knows it’s an improvement over that Jim Carrey abomination too. It’s ultimately a harmless redo with shiny animation, a mix of gags that work and others that don’t, and a message that remains an important one in a world where greed, selfishness, and a dislike of the “other” rules too many households.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Shorts, featurettes]

Hostel / Hostel Part II

Hostel DoubleWhat is it? Seriously kids, do not go to Slovakia.

Why see it? Eli Roth is something of an acquired taste as a filmmaker, and while his movies aren’t quite as shocking as they let on the common theme of cruelty and bodily harm are presented as effectively as they can be. This one-two punch of xenophobic horror sees American tourists terrorized by murderous locals in Eastern Europe, and while the bloodletting is well done the characters don’t get the same attention. If I don’t care about a character I’m not going to care what happens to them. Your mileage may vary as the films are popular enough to suggest I’m in the minority here.

[Blu-ray extras: None]

Kotch [KL Studio Classics]

KotchWhat is it? A kindly but tiring old man finds a cohort in an unattached pregnant teen.

Why see it? Walter Matthau remains one of cinema’s most unlikely stars, but his comic timing and abilities are once again impeccable and on display here in Jack Lemmon’s directorial debut. The comedy is lower key than their past collaborations, but there’s humor to be found in Matthau’s mannerisms and reactions to the world around him. Similarly, the story beats feel familiar enough, but his personality and charisma in the lead role carries it through and holds our playful engagement to the end.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Lu Over the Wall

Lu Over The WallWhat is it? The Little Mermaid joins a pop band.

Why see it? Mermaid tales are common — hell, there’s a second one released this week just two titles below — but this delightful romp is focused more on fun, beauty, and the kindness of strangers than on more typical sub-genre plots. It’s a sweet story about kids accepting others, finding strength through music, and sticking together when shit gets real, and the pop joy of the songs themselves just adds to the film’s overall pleasant experience. The animation is colorful and equally playful, and while young kids may not be patient enough you should make them watch it anyway. Train them young to appreciate art not volume.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews]

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms

MaquiaWhat is it? Two races meet and find companionship, adventure, and life itself.

Why see it? While the animated film above is a fun, playful tale about inter-species friendship this one takes things in slightly more serious directions. There is still fun to be had here in the adventure of warring factions and magical beings, but the core relationship at its center is one between a mother and her adopted son — each from different realms, and each in need of the other. The animation is quite attractive and works to create a grand adventure that runs maybe a little too long while still being effective in its emotions.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Mermaid: Lake of the Dead [Scream Factory]

MermaidWhat is it? A mermaid sets her eyes and tail on a young man.

Why see it? Mermaid movies are split pretty evenly between romances and horror stories — with the spellbinding The Lure bridging the gap between the two — and this Russian entry veers more towards the latter. It’s unfortunately not very good, though, as neither the performances nor the action are enough to hold our attention. The subtitled version is ideal as the dubbed is fairly atrocious, but even then we’re left with characters and story beats that feel flat and ineffectual.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Poetic Justice

Poetic JusticeWhat is it? A shared ride leads to friendship, romance, and tragedy.

Why see it? John Singleton’s films are never dull or plain and typically come loaded with commentary on today’s world and the struggles of black people within it. This feature follows suit standing apart from the crowd in part through a charismatic lead performance by Janet Jackson. The drive from Los Angeles to Oakland is scenic but filled with personal and societal road blocks. It’s an engaging drama.

[Blu-ray extras: Deleted scenes, screen test, featurette, commentary]

The Possessed [Arrow Video]

The PossessedWhat is it? A man’s search for an old love leads to mystery and murder.

Why see it? Director Luigi Bazzoni’s The Fifth Cord is the better of Arrow Video’s two releases by the filmmaker this week, but there’s still much to love about this increasingly strange mystery. It tackles a true crime case from rural Italy that began in the 1930s and continued for years, and while it’s a loose take on the truth there’s an effectively unsettling nature to seeing it all come to light. Sharp black & white photography compliment the tale resulting in a solid genre effort with a historical bent. Kudos as usual to Arrow for bringing these older, lesser known genre movies back to beautiful life.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, featurette, interviews]


Also out this week:

Black 47, The Deuce – The Complete Second Season

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