Features and Columns · Movies

‘The Lawyer’ Objects to Our Home Video Pick of the Week

Plus 11 more new releases to watch at home this week on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD!
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By  · Published on May 21st, 2024

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 May 21st, 2024! This week’s home video selection includes American Hustle in 4K, The Lawyer, and more. Check out our picks below.


Pick of the Week

The LawyerThe Lawyer [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A rogue lawyer defends a man accused of murder despite the overwhelming evidence.

Why see it? Barry Newman’s high points are obviously Vanishing Point and Fear Is the Key, but this 1970 feature delivers the unquestionable goods despite trading in the cool cars for a camper van. He plays a brash lawyer filled to the brim with personality, confidence, and conviction, and his performance matches it all beat for beat. The courtroom antics thrill as does the unfolding mystery, and it all makes for an entertaining and engaging time. The key is Newman, though, as his casual cool is a real delight, especially as he outwits others left and right. The film spawned a television series too, and while I haven’t seen it, I’m already a fan as Newman is just so damn compelling as a mildly jerky lawyer.

[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, interviews]


The Best

American Hustle UhdAmerican Hustle [4K UHD, steelbook]

What is it? A group of weirdos get caught up in crime and fashion!

Why see it? To be clear, director David O’ Russell is obviously a dick, but for those capable of separating the art from the artist, this film remains a charismatic and entertaining romp filled with bad hair, wild choices, and criminal elements. Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner all shine with goofy turns in a film teasing some real life crimes through an exaggerated lens. The film is a funny time, and while the story details feel exaggerated, they’re rarely less than amusing.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurette]


The Rest

Back from the Dead [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A new bride is possessed by her husband’s dead ex-wife.

Why see it? This late 50s thriller teases a handful of genres including horror as the story grows to include black magic, cultists, and more. That said, it still feels very much like a domestic drama focused on a troubled relationship and the reality of past truths continuing to hurt the present. Go in with that understanding, and the film delivers a compelling enough time with its interesting story and interactions. At that point, the horror beats are just a fun little extra.

[Extras: New 4K scan, commentaries]

Big Man on Campus [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? The Hunchback of UCLA.

Why see it? The premise here — a retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a college comedy — is undeniably fun, but the execution can’t keep up with the idea. We get some laughs centered around the fish out of water angle, but it’s really a film that will only work for big fans of dumb 80s comedies. That’s not a knock as they have their place, but just don’t expect much beyond a few giggles. That said, fans are very well served by Kino’s new Blu-ray with a new scan and some enlightening extras.

[Extras: New 2K scan, commentary, interview, alternate ending]

Club Zero

What is it? A new teacher brings hard life lessons.

Why see it? Mia Wasikowska is a talent always worth watching, and this dramatic thriller (of sorts) from Austria is no different. The story centers around a new teacher who begins leveraging her influence over the students in unexpected and unsettling ways. Wasikowska is the highlight here, obviously, as she’s a tight balance between empathetic and disturbing, but the early dread is also a good time for fans of dark themes with teens. Where it goes isn’t quite as interesting as the journey getting there, but it’s still engaging enough.

[Extras: Interviews, masterclass]

Daisy Miller [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Look, sometimes you want a beautiful woman to really, really like you.

Why see it? Peter Bogdanovich adapts Henry James for Cybil Shepherd, and the result is a feature film from 1974. The film is no underloved classic, but it’s also not nearly as bad as its reputation might suggest. It’s a comedy of manners and of expectations as a young man pursues, and tries to understand, a young woman who feels aloof and apart from the crowd. Shepherd would do great work with the fast-talk and patter a decade later on Moonlighting, but she doesn’t quite feel fully in tune with it yet. Still, it’s an entertaining enough watch despite never really hitting its intended marks.

[Extras: New 4K scan, commentaries, interview]

Philo Vance Collection [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Pre-Code murder mysteries with a pre-Nick William Powell!

Why see it? William Powell’s best work remains the Nick & Nora films, yes, all of them, as the comedy, mystery plots, and pitch-perfect performances from Powell and Myrna Loy. These three mysteries (The Canary Murder Case, The Greene Murder Case, The Benson Murder Case), though, are still fun enough as Powell and the writing are both solid with the mysteries at hand. They’re far less comedic, and as a result they’re also not as sharp with character and personality. Still, a fun time for Powell fans, and you can see the building blocks in place for what was to come.

[Extras: New 4K and 2K scans, commentaries]

Republic Pictures Horror Collection [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Four old school chillers from the Republic Pictures vault!

Why see it? The mid 40s saw a steady stream of genre films blending varying degrees of horror, sci-fi, and psychological thrillers, and Republic Pictures was a big name in the push. This set includes four films (The Lady and the Monster, The Phantom Speaks, The Catman of Paris, Valley of the Zombies), and while none of them are arguable classics, they all offer fun beats for fans of older genre thrills. For my money, the standout here is Catman of Paris as it does good work blending genre thrills teasing something horror-centric with a good, old-fashioned mystery as to who/what the killer is. It’s a fun time and satisfies across its short running time.

[Extras: Commentaries]

Sci-Fi Chillers Collection [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Three thrillers blending horror and sci-fi!

Why see it? As with the Republic collection above, this is another set of movies that won’t wow to any real degree, but they entertain all the same. 1957’s The Unknown Terror makes the terror known when some folks traipse into the jungle only to find a mad scientist, his fungal creation, and doom! While slightly better than the generic jungle adventure you’re probably expecting, the film never really moves beyond its inevitable ending. 1958’s The Colossus of New York is a bit more interesting with its mad scientist (a different one) putting his son’s brain put into a metal-headed robot only to see carnage follow. The father/son dynamic is an interesting one, and we get some engaging drama paired with the sci-fi hijinks. Finally, 1966’s Destination Inner Space sees scientists (fairly stable ones) facing off against a creature from the bottom of the ocean. The monster suit is fun, so there’s that.

[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes]

Slam

What is it? A celebration of poetry.

Why see it? This independent feature won big at Sundance and Cannes back in the late 90s, but it’s not entirely easy to see why. There’s power here in the story and themes as we follow a young Black man who lands in jail and finds his own poetic voice. The film itself is a deserved slam against the U.S. justice system, with the specifics focused on race in an unfair system. A handful of spoken word poems/performances are the backbone here, but far too much of the connective dramatic tissue is amateurish in its acting and execution. Still, important and relevant.

[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, behind the scenes]

Teaserama [Kino Cult]

What is it? Three burlesque classics.

Why see it? Bettie Page headlines, and she’s joined by talents like Blaze Starr, Tempest Storm, and more. There’s dancing, music, skin, and tassels, and between it all we get comedy. These aren’t movies as much as they’re mildly saucy memories newly restored. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, but if you’re a burlesque fan this new release from Kino is lovingly prepared for you.

[Extras: new 4K restorations, two bonus films also restored, commentaries]

We Go On

What is it? A dying man seeks evidence of the afterlife.

Why see it? Director Andy Mitton has one masterpiece to his name with 2022’s The Harbinger, but his earlier films have enough in their bones to earn a recommendation. This one takes an intriguing premise — the man offers a reward for proof and then visits with three people promising to do just that — and has a little bit of genre fun with it. Mitton doesn’t quite pull it off, but the interesting ideas at play, as well as the always wonderful Annette O’Toole and John Glover, make for a worthwhile watch. Bonus, this Blu-ray offers up the newly remastered version complete with updated visual effects.

[Extras: Commentaries]


Also out this week:

Beauty of Beauties, Bushman, Dead Wrong, Deathdream [4K UHD, Blue Underground], Gretel & Hansel [4K UHD], Meet John Doe [KL Studio Classics], Narc [4K UHD, Arrow], Thunderheart, The Wolf House

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.