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 11th! This week’s home video selection includes Sisu, Human Desire, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? “Glorious carnage” – Meg Shields, Film School Rejects
Why see it? The director of the still delightful Rare Exports returns with a simple, straightforward tale of pursuit and revenge. Nazis steal an old man’s hard-earned gold and leave him for dead — so he kills them all. The bulk of the film is essentially a chase movie with a column of Nazis getting picked off by our near-silent hero. The action is clear and creative, the kills are cool and cathartic, and at just over ninety minutes the damn thing cooks. It’s nice to get deeper themes and rich characterization, but sometimes? Sometimes you just want to have a blast watching Nazis get their asses handed to them.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
What is it? A long overdue adaptation of a Judy Blume classic.
Why see it? Beloved children/YA’s author Judy Blume has seen some controversy throughout her career, both in the unenlightened 80s and, sadly, now, but real ones know she’s a keeper. One of her most loved books finally hit the screen this year, and it’s as delightful a watch as it is a read. Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates play the adults of note here while young Margaret is played by Abby Ryder Fortson. It’s fun, sweet, and true it its aim to capture Blume’s respectful approach to young people’s lives, concerns, and triumphs.
[Extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]
Human Desire [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A train engineer gets caught up in murder.
Why see it? Directed by Fritz Lang, an adaptation of an Emile Zola novel, headlined by Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, and Gloria Grahame… this is terrific stuff showcasing the ease with which we slip into darkness. Ford is the good guy, the one who lies to keep a pretty dame out of trouble, while Crawford is a loose cannon with one murder under his belt already. All three leads do great work, and the ending, while ostensibly happy, is actually as dark as they come in its brutally honest take on human nature. It’s not all set on a train, but enough of it is to add this to the canon of great train thrillers.
What is it? A man lies to Nazis to stay alive.
Why see it? It’s not easy making a Nazi drama interwoven with comedic beats — just ask Taika Waititi — but this is a highly compelling tale that walks that very line. A Jewish man picked up by Nazis talks his way out of extermination by claiming to be Persian instead. The fallout sees him tasked by a commander to teach the man Farsi, a language he obviously doesn’t know, and just like that a suspenseful countdown has begun. It’s funny without being a comedy as moments find humanity and humor, sometimes where it’s least expected, but it’s the drama that holds your breath tight throughout to the very end.
What is it? Ghostface takes Manhattan.
Why see it? The latest entry in the Scream franchise, the second from filmmakers Radio Silence, is arguably the second best sequel after Scream 4. It’s a smart, entertaining, and thrilling ride that wisely makes a point of turning Ghostface into a more aggressive threat. Like Jason in the Friday the 13th reboot, this Ghostface is less clumsy and more cruel, and it creates a tension missing from the last film. The location shift to New York City (via Montreal and movie magic) gives the franchise another boost by offering up new set-pieces and situations including a stellar bit on the subway. The only real criticism here is that the killers are too easy to predict (from the poster alone), but it never gets in the way of the fun.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Beau Is Afraid
What is it? One man’s wild journey home.
Why see it? Ari Aster continues to chart his own path through Hollywood. From the familial horror of Hereditary to the cultish commentary of Midsommar, and now, to the wild ramblings of an anxious and paranoid man in Beau Is Afraid. The film is a heightened reality tale of insecurity and momma issues, and while it runs far too long for its content, both Joaquin Phoenix and the smart, beautiful, and frantic cinematography make it an engaging watch all the same. It can be difficult at times to connect with Phoenix’s character, but the performance fights through the writing to grab hold.
Book Club: The Next Chapter
What is it? The long delayed sequel to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Why see it? I kid, of course, as this is actually the follow up to 2018’s Book Club which inexplicably earned over $100 million at the box-office. This sequel cost twice as much but made five times less, so don’t hold your breath for a part three. The movie itself is forgettable entertainment for non-discerning viewers of a certain age who simply love Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. The mildest of comedies, the most unconvincing of travelogues, it’s exactly what you’re expecting.
What is it? A Filipino zombie flick.
Why see it? As zombie action movies go, this one is as generically satisfying as you could possibly hope. Brandon Vera stars as a big convict days away from parole who’s suddenly forced into survival mode when a global outbreak starts turning people into raving lunatics. First he has to fight his way out of prison, and then he has to reunite with his daughter he’s hoping is also still alive. The expected beats and betrayals rear their head, and while it’s never remotely groundbreaking it’s a solid DTV effort for genre fans.
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XV [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Three late 50s noirs.
Why see it? A reverend kills an intruder only to be stalked by the young thug’s father in Man Afraid. Joseph Stalin has faked his death and taken off running, but an ex-secret agent is hot on his trail in The Girl in the Kremlin. A lawyer is framed and run through the small town wringer in The Tattered Dress. As is often the case with these sets from Kino, while none of the three films collected here are bangers they’re all solid enough. Man Afraid is arguably the highlight as it explores some moral grey areas while also offering up a suspenseful tale.
[Extras: New 2K scans, commentaries]
Knights of the Zodiac
What is it? An adaptation of a popular Japanese comic.
Why see it? If familiar faces guaranteed quality, this manga adaptation would be a winner. Mark Dacascos, Famke Janssen, Nick Stahl, and Sean Bean just aren’t enough to save it, though, as limitations in budget, creativity, and talent run through this tale of mystical warriors breaking through to the real world as an unassuming teen discovers his own inner powers.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A Vietnam vet goes to war to repay a life-changing debt.
Why see it? James Glickenhaus (The Soldier, The Exterminator) makes movies that go boom. They’re never high art, and the guy’s thoughts on Jackie Chan’s skillset (The Protector) are bonkers, but he often delivers the kind of entertaining fare that would make Cannon Films proud. This 1991 effort sees Christopher Walken take the lead as a vet turned mercenary bringing hell to the drug-torn country of Colombia. Michael Ironside and Maria Conchita Alonso co-star alongside plentiful explosions and shootouts. It’s exactly the right kind of film for fans of B-movie action even if it fails to make Walken feel like an action star.
[Extras: New 5.1 soundtrack, commentary]
Also out this week:
After Hours [Criterion Collection], Chile ’76, Close to Vermeer, Corsage, Employee of the Month, Only in Theaters, Shin Ultraman, The Watermelon Man [Criterion Collection], Yes I Am
Related Topics: Home Video