Our Pick of the Week Doesn't Give a Damn About Its Bad Reputation

Plus 14 more new releases to watch at home this week on Blu-ray/DVD!

Bad Reputation

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Pick of the Week

Bad Reputation

Bad ReputationWhat is it? Joan Jett is a legend, and this documentary is here to remind you.

Why see it? It seems like a no-brainer that women can rock every bit as hard as men, but it took people like Joan Jett to make it so damn obvious. From her time with The Runaways to the triumph of her own band The Blackhearts, she’s been a force of nature. The doc explores her life and career through archival footage, performances, and new interviews with Jett herself. Fans will love the inside glimpse while those of you unfamiliar will discover her greatness for the first time.

[DVD extras: Featurettes, music videos]


The Best

Apt Pupil [Umbrella Entertainment]

What is it? A teenager befriends a Nazi hiding out in America.

Why see it? Stephen King’s dark and twisted tale is a rarity among his work in that it features not an ounce of the supernatural, but it’s no less terrifying for it. There’s very real evil in the world, and Nazis are as good a representative of it as anything. King pairs that with a budding psychopath with grim results. The film is a solid adaptation with solid turns by both Brad Renfro and Ian McKellan, and while the disc is mostly devoid of extras it’s at least available on Blu-ray via this Aussie distributor. (It’s also region free.)

[Blu-ray extras: Featurette]

The Bounty [KL Studio Classics]

The BountyWhat is it? A ship’s crew stages a mutiny against their hard-headed captain.

Why see it? The story of Captain Bligh and First Mate Fletcher Christian is well known and has reached the screen more than once, but Roger Donaldson’s mid 80s adventure remains the best. It’s a big, beautiful journey through the high seas, tropical islands, and desperation of men constantly on the verge of madness or death. Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson are both fiercely charismatic in their lead roles, and the film delivers on every front. The disc includes two commentaries including one with Donaldson himself who always offers a good mix of anecdotes and details.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries]


The Rest

The Appaloosa [KL Studio Classics]

The AppaloosaWhat is it? Never come between a man and a horse, especially when that man is Marlon Brando.

Why see it? The “great” Marlon Brando made a few westerns during his career, and the best is 1961’s One-Eyed Jacks (which he also directed). This film from five years later is no One-Eyed Jacks. It’s still an engaging ride into the old west, though, as Brando plays a man intent on retrieving his stolen horse. At 98 minutes it should feel a lot quicker than it does, but the highlights are enough to make it worthwhile including an evil John Saxon and a snowy third-act face-off.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Bad Times at the El Royale

Bad TimesWhat is it? Five strangers collide with fate at a rundown hotel.

Why see it? Drew Goddard’s Cabin In the Woods is a modern genre classic, and he’s finally given us a follow-up film with this period thriller built on greed, revenge, and other dastardly deeds. Its two greatest strengths are a stellar cast — Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, and more — and its location at a remote hotel on the California / Nevada border in Lake Tahoe. Story-wise, though, the film gives us a good setup and interesting characters and then lets them kind of fizzle out. Still, it’s never less than visually engaging thanks to its sharp cast, attractive cinematography, and very cool locale.

[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Ecco and Forbidden / Mondo Freudo and Mondo Bizarro [Severin Films]

What is it? Mondo films for the whole family.

Why see it? Mondo movies are odd slices of entertainment that offered something new and crazy for regular folks used to normal lives. Bonkers human behavior, inappropriate sexual antics, dangerous — and often cruel — animal interactions, and more come together in a feature-length montage of things happening outside your door. Well, supposedly happening. Most of the things covered are fictional or exaggerated, but the entertainment is in the experience. Much of it is silly, of course, but then again we also get a sequence featuring Lapland women who castrate bewildered reindeer with their teeth. It’s something all right.

[Blu-ray extras: Interviews, short film, commentary]

Love, Gilda

Love GildaWhat is it? The life of the immensely talented Gilda Radner comes into focus.

Why see it? Radner is best known for her time on Saturday Night Live, but she was so much more than just a TV comedian. She starred in movies, wrote a bestselling memoir, made Americans laugh and cry, and unfortunately saw her life cut short by cancer. The film uses archival footage, interviews, and more to explore the vibrant life this funny lady led. It moves through her varied relationships but reserves most of those sections for her love-filled marriage to Gene Wilder. Fans will laugh and cry all over again.

[DVD extras: Interviews, home movies]

Night School

Night SchoolWhat is it? A high school dropout tries to improve his life by getting his GED and landing an “adult” job.

Why see it? Kevin Hart’s comedies can be hit or miss, but he’s typically funny enough to carry the film with the right supporting cast and script. His latest suggests he’s far from infallible, though, as it’s a dud almost across the board. Tiffany Haddish is fun, but despite the cover’s insinuation that she’s an equal co-star she’s just one of many supporting players. The bulk of the film is weak comedy that dips into idiocy and absurdity far too often. This movie’s so unfunny that even the gag reel — typically a source of big laughs — is equally disappointing.

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

The Scarlet Letter [KL Studio Classics]

The Scarlet LetterWhat is it? A young woman earns an A for adultery.

Why see it? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic piece of literature gets a big, glossy Hollywood adaptation from director Roland Joffe, and it pretty much hits the book’s beats as well as can be expected. I’m not convinced there’s real chemistry between Gary Oldman and Demi Moore, but that may just be me. The film captures the period and the oppression well, and it works as a substitute for actually reading the novel in a pinch.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here [KL Studio Classics]

Tell Them WillieWhat is it? A Native American goes on the run after killing a white man in self defense.

Why see it? The story here is a hard-hitting tale of racism, loyalty, and love, and its themes are well-presented against an attractive backdrop of the old west. The performances are also on point with Robert Redford as a young sheriff tasked with bringing Willie into custody and preventing a bloodthirsty posse from killing him first. The unfortunate issue, though, is in the presence of Robert Blake and Katharine Ross as Native Americans. Blake’s performance and dark skin almost works, but Ross is horribly miscast (and not just because of the need for obvious body makeup). It’s an engaging western all the same, and the disc gets an extra boost from a commentary by Pat Healy.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Washington Square [KL Studio Classics]

Washington SquareWhat is it? A young woman must choose between love or money.

Why see it? As lush a period romance as you’re likely to find, this adaptation of Henry James’ novel casts Jennifer Jason Leigh as the young woman at a crossroads. Albert Finney shines as her stern father while Ben Chaplin plays the young man who pulls her heart in the opposite direction. Director Agnieszka Holland does good work crafting a world of pomp and pleasantries, and the romance rises above the fray. It’s not exactly a story of surprises, but the drama works.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

White Boy Rick

White Boy RickWhat is it? The true story of a teenager who becomes an informant, a drug dealer, and a convicted felon.

Why see it? Matthew McConaughey headlines as young Rick’s hard-working, occasionally law-breaking father, and he does great work as the blue collar man trying (poorly) to hold his family together. There are some familiar beats here, but they’re elevated by the true story at the core of the narrative. Rick was screwed by both the system and his own ambition, and it’s ultimately a tale of the American dream turned nightmarish.

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


Also out this week:

A.X.L., El Paso [KL Studio Classics], Red vs Blue: The Shisno Paradox

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