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 January 18th, 2022!
This week’s home video selection includes an Australian thriller, a 70s slasher in UHD, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? A man investigates a brutal killing in his remote hometown.
Why see it? Eric Bana is always a reliable performer, and here he excels in a lead role as a man who returns home to rural Australia and finds himself investigating the violent death of his old friend — who may have been a murderer. It’s a smart, atmospheric piece of Australian noir as the mystery unfolds slowly in the steady blast of the sun. Jane Harper’s debut novel gets a terrific adaptation here with a film that captures the character, tone, and engaging story turns well. Here’s hoping her follow-up novels get a similar treatment.
Escape from Mogadishu
What is it? A foreign delegation is trapped in dangerous territories during the Somalian civil war.
Why see it? This dramatic action picture is based on real events, and it’s a terrific story of escape and survival. A South Korean delegation hoping to secure a deal in Somalia finds themselves trapped after the country erupts in violence and rebellion, and we’re with them every step of the way. It’s mostly a strong character piece with differing personalities clashing and working together, but the last thirty minutes delivers some thrilling vehicular action and suspense as they attempt their escape. Solid film.
Song of the Thin Man [Warner Archive]
What is it? The sixth and final Thin Man movie!
Why see it? While this final entry in the Thin Man franchise may be the weakest of the bunch, it’s still an enjoyable time with the best couple to ever grace the screen. Nick and Nora Charles once again find themselves caught up in a murder mystery, and twists, turns, laughs, and mixed drinks are never far behind. William Powell and Myrna Loy are a delight, start to finish, and the film seals this as one of the greatest film series ever. Just pure joy all around.
[Extras: Short film, cartoon]
What is it? A scoundrel tries to screw himself into a fortune.
Why see it? Ernst Lubitsch is best known for later films like The Shop Around the Corner and Trouble in Paradise, but there’s magic to be found in his earlier work too. This silent gem sees a woman and her mother vying for the same man, unaware that he’s only after their money. It’s humorous and delivers some engaging turns, but a large part of its appreciation comes from its capture of the roaring twenties. An early party complete with hundreds of extras and in indoor slide suggests a world that doesn’t know how good they’ve got it. The restoration is sharp and the new score compliments it wonderfully.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary]
The Toolbox Murders [4K UHD, Blue Underground]
What is it? A man commits murders with tools.
Why see it? This late 70s slasher isn’t necessarily a good movie — its slasher beats are familiar enough blending bloody violence and naked women with abandon — but there’s something charming to its third-act story beats. The main reason it lands under the “Best” section, though, is due to Blue Underground’s stunning 4K restoration. They’re doing brilliant work bringing lower budgeted genre fare to UHD, and that trend continues with this trashy thriller that no one expected to ever see in 4K. It’s just terrific work.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, video essay]
The Addams Family 2
What is it? The Addams family takes a family vacation.
Why see it? Oscar Isaac would have killed as a live-action Gomez Addams, but there’s at least small satisfaction in getting him to do the voicework in an animated film. While the first is perfectly adequate, this follow-up feels like a lesser, lazier affair. The animation is still solid, but the script can’t find jokes that work or a story that engages. It’s energetic enough that the kiddies might be mildly entranced for a little while.
Inherit the Wind [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Locals rebel against knowledge.
Why see it? The Scopes Monkey Trial is an infamous chapter in the history of this country’s ongoing war against education and knowledge. It’s been brought to the screen before, most famously with a stirring turn by Spencer Tracy, and while this television adaptation can’t quite compete it still delivers the goods. Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott take the lead, and both bring fiery emotion to one of their final roles with a story about fighting to move away from ignorance.
Last Night in Soho
What is it? A supernatural mystery from Edgar Wright.
Why see it? I’m of the opinion that Hot Fuzz remains the pinnacle of Edgar Wright’s filmography, and I say that as it’s a minority opinion and should give you an idea of my tastes on the filmmaker. Anyway, his latest is a gorgeous mystery for the senses that unfortunately crumbles some with its screenplay. The story doesn’t quite gel, the thrills are muddled, and there are some questionable beats in the third act. On the bright side, Thomasin McKenzie gives her best performance, and the production design is aces.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentaries]
Red Angel [Arrow Video]
What is it? A nurse lives through the horrors of war.
Why see it? Director Yasuzo Masumura delivers a somber, cruel tale here with a spark of personality from its lead, Ayako Wakao. She plays a nurse tasked with helping wounded soldiers, and it’s a nightmare starting with a sexual assault. It’s not an easy watch, even without ever feeling graphic, and her journey is a tough one that comes with grim commentary on both war itself and Japan’s culpabilities. Arrow’s new Blu-ray is a solid release, but I do question its watchability.
[Extras: Commentary, introduction, visual essay]
Shock [Arrow Video]
What is it? A family finds terror in their new (old) home.
Why see it? Mario Bava was a masterful filmmaker (Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace, Hatchet for a Honeymoon), and while his final feature can’t compete there are still reasons to watch. Shock‘s biggest draw is a bonafide all-timer of a scare involving a little boy and a hallway. It still kills, and Bava ensures the film manages a few more entertaining visuals. Daria Nicolodi gives an engaging performance as well. Arrow does a terrific job here with a restoration and multiple interviews shining new light on the production.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews]
What is it? The new film from the director of Raw.
Why see it? I’m in the minority in not loving this one, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt… just as I did with Raw, I find this to be a brilliant premise that gets lost in the execution. There’s no denying Julia Ducournau’s visual eye and ambitions towards the macabre and challenging, but for all its memorable imagery this film Like Raw) is empty inside. Ideas and visuals smash and crash into each other with no room left for human connection. It’s worth seeing.
Also out this week:
Candyman 3: Day of the Dead [Vestron Video], Express Bongo, A Hard Day’s Night [4K UHD, Criterion Collection], Liar Liar [Shout Select], This Game’s Called Murder, Time [Criterion Collection], Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy