Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for July 13th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes a Bill Duke crime classic, some sharp 4K arrivals, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Deep Cover [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A cop goes undercover a bit too deeply.
Why see it? From its aggressive opening dialogue to its searingly effective close, Bill Duke’s Deep Cover remains an all-timer tale of crime, justice, and corruption. Laurence Fishburne stars as a young cop who’s picked to go undercover in order to catch high-level drug traffickers, but as he immerses himself in a dark world he discovers that the idea of good guys and bad guys is horribly outdated. Jeff Goldblum and Charles Martin Smith co-star, and it’s a strongly dramatic and thrilling ride to the end. Criterion’s new Blu-ray gives the film a fantastic look, both vibrant and atmospheric, and the extras offer plenty of insight into its production and reputation.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, interviews]
Alias Nick Beal [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A DA makes a raw deal.
Why see it? Most noirs typically deal in the real world as scheming evildoers and sneaky dames are all part of life, but some take a small detour along the way. This late 40s entry only teases something extra, but it offers a punctuation point on a solidly entertaining tale of a good man twisted towards immoral choices. Ray Milland makes for a great mystery man who enters a good DA’s life and slowly corrupts him leading to an enjoyable ending.
Almost Famous [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A teen journalist comes of age on the road.
Why see it? If there’s a warmer movie than Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous then I don’t know about it. It’s a comedy, a coming of age tale, a story about the families we have and the ones we make, and a love letter to 70s rock and roll. Patrick Fugit is all of us growing up and growing into the things we love, and the kindness and camaraderie he finds along the way is endlessly heartwarming. Add in a tremendous cast bringing it all to life and a soundtrack filled with beautiful memories, and you have a movie that welcomes you on every watch and rewatch. If you don’t already own the film, this new 4K
[Extras: Theatrical and extended cuts, featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]
House of Wax [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A group of friends cross paths with small-town artist-types.
Why see it? The horror remake train has more terrific stops than you probably remember, and this entry from 2005 is case in point. It’s the expected cast — attractive twentysomethings in the CW mold — including Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Jared Padalecki, and Paris Hilton, but the real star is the practical makeup effects and elaborate wax creations. Flesh is sliced and ripped, floors melt, heads are impaled… it’s a gory ride that also delivers style and atmosphere thanks to director Jaume Collet-Serra.
[Extras: Interviews, bloopers, featurettes]
Objective Burma [Warner Archive]
What is it? A paratrooper squad is sent into action in Burma.
Why see it? Errol Flynn headlines this ensemble tale of war and honor, and he gives one of his finer performances. There’s still some action for him to enjoy, but unlike his earlier films that relied heavily on charisma and swashbuckling antics his turn here is far more grounded. It’s a straightforward story — young men sent on a difficult mission, and not all of them will return — but the script captures some honesty regarding war and the kinds of people needed to fight it. Extras are minimal, but Warner Archive’s disc looks strong and sharp.
Snatch [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A diamond is on the loose!
Why see it? Guy Ritchie’s filmography has its ups and downs, but one of his arguable highlights is this comedic caper from 2000. Starting with a stellar cast — Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, and Jason Statham — the film delivers a fast-moving and faster-talking romp about all manner of bad guys in pursuit of each other and ane pic diamond. Ritchie’s script creates some eccentric characters and sharply written dialogue (with the frequent diversions into artsy vulgarity), and while there’s some physical antics it mostly comes down to character interactions and outbursts.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurette]
The Web [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A frame-up!
Why see it? A tough and sincere lawyer is wooed and hired by a law firm giant only to find himself caught up in a scheme, and if he doesn’t think fast he’s heading to the slammer for life. Edmund O’Brien plays the well-intentioned patsy, and Vincent Price plays the richer, smarter, and more evilly inclined bigwig. We get some fun twists and a sense that things might not go well, but we also get a rarity in these films in that the supporting player police detective might just be the smartest of the bunch. Solid little flick.
Larceny [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A trio of scheming thieves are destroyed by love.
Why see it? Rick, Silky, and Tory are three smart con artists, but when Rick falls for their latest mark it leads to a disturbance in their ranks. It’s a solid if unremarkable effort, but the standout and main reason to watch is a young and ferocious Shelley Winters. She makes for a dangerous moll foiled by her own heart, and she gives the film a burst of energy that other characters are lacking.
The Night [Scream Factory]
What is it? A couple find terror at a spooky motel.
Why see it? The beats here are plenty familiar, but the main reason to watch anyway is that the film saw release in Iran — something US films just don’t do — and any progress there is a good thing. The film follows a couple whose evening is haunted by past choices, guilt, and something supernatural. Comparisons have been made to The Shining, but that extends only as far as the setup. Still, it’s well-acted and solidly made.
No Man’s Land
What is it? A young man accidentally kills an immigrant entering illegally.
Why see it? The issue of immigration will never go away in this country for numerous reasons, and that means art about the topic will continue as well. This solid drama sees a young man’s belief about “others” tested when he’s forced to flee into the country of those he despises. It’s a lesson for both him and audiences about our habit of discounting people whose lives we know nothing about. Frank Grillo takes a rare non-action role as the concerned father. It’s fine.
The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A woman is transported back in time.
Why see it? Lindsay Wagner stars as a woman in a marriage that’s struggling to recover from her husband’s infidelity, but she finds something new to focus on when they move into a new old house. She begins travelling back in time and finds love! Anyway, a better variation on the themes arrived a year later with Somewhere in Time (1980). Still, this one’s okay, and it’s always fun seeing Marc Singer.
Also out this week:
A Cinderella Story, The Monster Collection, Mortal Kombat, Pennyworth: The Complete Second Season, Rose Plays Julie, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Working Girls [Criterion Collection], Wrath of Man