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Pick of the Week
The Critters Collection [Scream Factory]
What is it? Intergalactic testicles with teeth cause havoc wherever they roll.
Why see it? 1986’s Critters is a fun slice of sci-fi/horror, and it spawned three sequels that while of lesser quality are still varying degrees of fun. The first two in particular walk a fine line in tone but manage to be humorously entertaining while still featuring carnivorous little creatures taking big bites out of people. The films feature a pretty appealing and eclectic cast too with the likes of Dee Wallace Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Barry Corbin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angela Bassett, and Brad Dourif all making appearances. Scream Factory’s new box-set collects all four films, each in their own case/disc and all held in a solid sleeve with killer cover artwork, and adds some incredibly detailed making-of docs for each. It’s a stellar release all around, and while the films average out as more middle of the road it’s great seeing this kind of love.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K scans for first two films, feature-length making-of, featurettes, alternate ending to the first film]
What is it? A young man dreams of flying on man-made wings.
Why see it? Robert Altman’s 1970 romp is the definition of “not for everyone,” but if you can get into its vibe you’ll be rewarded with a movie that somehow feels both overloaded and utterly precise. A young Bud Cort headlines as the quirky gent living beneath Houston’s Astrodome, and he’s joined by the likes of Sally Kellerman, Shelley Duvall, Michael Murphy, Stacy Keach, and others in a tale about ambition, serial strangulations, and love itself. It’s goofy but heartfelt fun.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Mame [Warner Archive]
What is it? An eccentric socialite inherits an orphan, and their lives will never be the same again.
Why see it? Lucille Ball headlines this musical adaptation from 1974, and she’s as terrific as you’d expect as the singing, dancing, attitude-filled woman who comes to value family and friends above all else. I’m not much of a musical fan — and good gravy are there a lot of music numbers throughout these 131 minutes — but the energy and staging are somewhat addictive here. The eternally great Robert Preston co-stars, and his ode to Mame accompanied by several dozen friends is a really sweet showstopper.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurette]
What is it? A man searches for his missing daughter by exploring her online world.
Why see it? The best of these “entirely on a laptop” movies is still 2013’s The Den, but this is a terrifically engrossing tale of a father’s increasing heartache. He discovers he might not know her as well as he thought, and the film does a good job highlighting the stark difference between our online and offline worlds. Some of the writing is clumsy and clunky and some of the reveals are pretty obvious, but it all builds nicely into an emotionally satisfying thriller. Plus, I have mad respect for the Easter eggs added throughout the film.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]
What is it? Two young men seem destined for violence.
Why see it? Ostensibly the story of a killer, the film is actually more of a sedate study of the kind of person who becomes a killer. The murder in question is brutal in its calm nonchalance, but it doesn’t actually occur until the film’s final twenty minutes. Until then we’re watching two young men who feel all too familiar in today’s world of exaggerated masculinity and indifference. It’snot harrowing in the sense of something like Angst (1983), but knowing what’s coming adds a degree of dead to the drama.
[DVD extras: None]
Elf – Buddy’s Sing & Cheer Along Edition
What is it? An interactive version of the movie Elf.
Why see it? There are fans of Elf who are content with the existing home video releases, and then there are fans who apparently want a karaoke version. Luckily for the latter this new release has them covered as song lyrics appear on the screen alongside visual representations of Buddy’s various dialogue beats. Happily the release also includes the original version, but otherwise consider this a possible gift for super fans or children.
[DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, regular version of the film]
The Grissom Gang [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A socialite is abducted and held prisoner a seedy crime family.
Why see it? This is a bloody tale of crime in the early 20th century featuring shootouts and beatings leaving characters bloodied, dead, or worse. Kim Darby plays the poor girl taken by a family consisting solely of terrible people, from the mom on down to the slightly unstable son. It’s Scott Wilson as the infatuated and deranged son who steals the show, though, with an intense and unpredictable performance. The film runs a little long for the familiar story it’s telling, but it’s well-crafted and engaging enough.
[Blu-ray extras: New HD master from 4K scan, /interview, commentary]
The Killing of Sister George [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The older star of a TV soap has something of a crisis when she discovers her character will be killed off.
Why see it? This is a solid character study about an older woman facing obsolescence, but more rare on the screen — especially in 1968 — is her life as a lesbian. She lives with a younger woman, but that relationship struggles as everything else in her life does too. Rated X on release for a fairly tame lesbian sex scene, the film is upfront with its characters and finds real people as a result. There are plenty of blackly comic touches throughout, but at its core the film is a sad drama following one woman’s losing fight to avoid being alone.
[Blu-ray extras: New HD master from 4K scan, commentaries, interview]
Memories of Me
What is it? A man tries to reconnect with his father.
Why see it? Billy Crystal and Alan King are the main draws here, and both funnymen play to their particular strengths with their characters. They find humor in their lives and banter, and while their intended dramatic beats don’t fare as well enough of it works to convey their struggle to connect and identify with each other. Also, and this can’t be understated, the fantastic JoBeth Williams co-stars, and that’s never a bad thing.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
Also out this week:
Basic Instinct 2, Gosford Park [Arrow Academy], The Little Stranger, Munchie / Munchies [Scream Factory], Philadelphia [4K UltraHD], Picnic at Hanging Rock, Sharp Objects, Zombie [Blue Underground]
Related Topics: Home Video