This Week in Home Video
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
Wait Until Dark [Warner Archive]
What is it? Three villains descend on a blind woman’s apartment believing that it houses stolen drugs and that she’s an easy mark, but they’re only right on one of those counts.
Why buy it? Suspense thrillers featuring blind protagonists are a subgenre of their own, but there’s a reason most over the past several decades are compared to this 1967 classic. A simple setup, a collection of great characters, and sequences of real tension and suspense centered on a single location help make this one stand apart from the crowd. The end sequence alone is an all-timer. Audrey Hepburn is magnificent as the woman whose impairment doesn’t stop her from fighting back, and Alan Arkin stuns with his turn as a severely twisted killer. Warner Archive’s new Blu-ray is light on extras, but the transfer pops the film off the screen and into your nightmares.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurette]
Wait Until Dark (1967) [Blu-ray]
Black Society Trilogy [Arrow Video]
What is it? Three tales of Japanese criminals hurting themselves and others in a fruitless quest for power and peace.
Why see it? Takashi Miike made his theatrical debuts with this thematically connected trilogy exploring the human condition caught up in criminal groups like the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triad, and Taiwanese gangs. Violence pervades all three, but Miike shows the combination of energy, creativity, and depravity that would become his trademark for years to come. Ley Lines, the third film, doesn’t work well as the characters fail to compel and overcome the general cruelty on display, but the first two (Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog) deliver thrilling narratives where brutality and compassion butt heads throughout. Miike’s penchant for abusing his female characters remain, but an honest watch reveals the truth of his filmography ‐ he abuses everyone. Arrow Video gives all three films (on two Blu-rays) new HD remasters and some informative extras making this a must-own for Miike fans and a should-own for those of you who love violent crime thrillers.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews, commentaries]
What is it? A young woman in Japanese-occupied Korea takes a servant job in order to swindle the heiress of the house, but love gets in the way.
Why see it? Park Chan-wook’s latest is a relentlessly gorgeous film with every frame offering beauty of some kind or other with its cinematography, story turns, and performances. Part twisty and kinky love story, part searing dismissal of the male gaze, this is a mesmerizing love story in the guise of a period thriller. It’s worth noting that Sony is only releasing the film to DVD here ‐ a major embarrassment seeing as this is a stunningly beautiful movie ‐ so my recommendation is to import the Canadian Blu-ray instead if you have the means.
[DVD extras: None]
The Man Who Fell to Earth
What is it? A humanoid alien lands on Earth and quickly forms a successful business with the end goal being the transport of water back to his home planet.
Why see it? David Bowie’s best known as a musician, but his film efforts made a mark of their own. This Nicolas Roeg feature was Bowie’s first, and it remains a sci-fi slowburn that intrigues with moments of wit and curiosity. It rambles a bit ‐ Roeg! ‐ but Bowie fans will want to check it out if they haven’t done so yet. Whether your first dip into the film or just your most recent, this new Blu-ray is the way to go. In addition to some physical memorabilia reproductions, the discs include several new interviews reflecting back on both the film and Bowie himself.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, featurette, booklets, poster, postcards]
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Limited Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
Battle for Incheon: Operation Chromite
What is it? A group of South Korean soldiers undertake a suicide mission in the hopes of turning the tide of the Korean War.
Why see it? General MacArthur’s 1950 assault on Incheon was a masterful and decisive move against the North Koreans, and the film brings a far less known part of it to the screen with some fine drama and action sequences. Unfortunately the film spends time ‐ far too much time ‐ with Liam Neeson and friends portraying MacArthur and the men at his service. These sequences are so cheaply produced as to feel comical, and every time the story shift away from what matters to a hammy Neeson and poor visual effects the weight of the tale just leaks away. Still, the actual Korean parts of the movie engage enough to make the film worth watching. Just keep a hand on the fast-forward button.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!
What is it? A wrong number leads to crazy hijinks!
Why see it? Bob Hope with his back against the wall is the funniest Bob Hope, and this comedic romp sees him constantly on the defensive with entertaining results. He plays a married man who crosses path with a Hollywood bombshell (Elke Sommer), and the comedy of errors that follows leads to accusations of infidelity and murder. It’s a fast-paced and funny ride with a young-ish Phyllis Diller stealing every scene she’s in.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? A rogue billionaire makes plans to unleash a deadly plague, and only Robert Langdon can decipher the clues to stop him in time.
Why see it? I can’t speak to Dan Brown’s source novels, but Ron Howard’s three Langdon films ‐ The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons ‐ are a mixed bag of mediocrity. Tom Hanks has fun in the lead role, but he’s not always able to translate into fun for viewers. The story is once again a convoluted journey through history and art that ‐ once again ‐ leaves you wondering why the antagonist is intentionally leaving clues for someone to stop his plan. It’s illogical and stupid. The third act does feature a mildly suspenseful set-piece though, and we also get to spend some time with Sidse Babett Knudsen and Felicity Jones, so it’s not a complete wash.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
The Light Between Oceans
What is it? A lighthouse keeper in the late ’40s and his beloved wife raise a child that’s not their own, and there are consequences.
Why see it? Derek Cianfrance’s romantic drama is a beautifully-shot and lush tale with strong performances from Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as the couple. It’s a methodical story and in no rush, but while the film is never dull it does occasionally struggle to hold viewers’ attention and affection. Happily the performances succeed where the script’s momentum stumbles, and they’re enough to carry viewers towards a satisfying and affecting conclusion.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]
The Men’s Club
What is it? A group of men ‐ friends and friends of friends ‐ meet to talk, tell stories, and argue among themselves.
Why see it? There’s little insight to be found here into the male psyche, but this mid ’80s film gathered one hell of a cast to deliver its mundane observations and characterizations including Roy Scheider, Craig Wasson, Richard Jordan, Treat Williams, Frank Langella, Harvey Keitel, David Dukes, Stockard Channing, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s almost like a less controversial and effective predecessor to the much-maligned I Melt With You, so if you’re a fan of that one ‐ there are only five of us ‐ then this might offer some similar albeit lesser dramatic appeal.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? A woman and her daughter encounter a monster after finding themselves trapped on a deserted road.
Why see it? Zoe Kazan is the talent that makes this creature feature worth a watch as writer/director Bryan Bertino’s script fails to engage. The structure stumbles as we move between the present and the past in a way meant to support a too-obvious metaphor, and the result is a weakening of both momentum and drama. The horror elements have issues too as scares are telegraphed or annoyingly-crafted to the point that suspense is non-existent. Bertino’s The Strangers remains an incredibly effective chiller, but his attempts at adding heavier meaning to his creature feature kneecaps the effect across the board. Still, Kazan does great work as a woman not quite cut out for motherhood or monster-fighting.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
What is it? After delivering atomic bombs destined to destroy Japanese cities the USS Indianapolis is sunk and the men left to fend off sharks and the elements.
Why see it? The true story of the USS Indianapolis’ secret mission and tragic sinking has never been represented or referenced better than in those few minutes of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, but that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from giving it a feature treatment. There are moments here that work as a survivalist drama, but the script, performances, and visual effects leave much to be desired. The overall cheapness hurts the drama, and not even Nicolas Cage can make it worthwhile.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
Also Out This Week:
Black Girl [Criterion], News from Planet Mars, The Vessel
Related Topics: Home Video