DVD & Blue Ray

The DVD Wrapup: Double Lover, Death of Stalin, Flower, Hooked, Alex & Me, Guilty Men, Night of Lepus, Greaser’s Palace, Man in Orange Shirt … More

Double Lover is as different François Ozon’s previous period drama, Franz, as noon is to midnight. The same could be said about most of the movies in Ozon’s credits.

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The DVD Wrapup: Loveless, In Syria, Good Postman, Inflame, Ordinary Man, I Called Him Morgan, Jerry Lewis, Will & Grace … More

In the Oscar-nominated Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev and co-writer Oleg Negin have crafted a different sort of missing-child story, set among atypically middle-class Muscovites, whose concepts of family and status are far from traditional. Their previous collaborations – Elena, The Banishment and Leviathan – have also required that we look to the east through a different prism. None of Zvyagintsev’s films have been particularly easy to watch, from an emotional point of view. If they present life stripped of contrivances and narrative shortcuts, it’s still the human condition that drives the stories and is never far from their surface.

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The DVD Wrapup: Wrinkle in Time, Peter Pan, Hurricane Heist, Oh Lucy!, Freak Show, Great Silence, Smash Palace, Satellite Girl and more

The fact that Ava DuVernay’s highly ambitious, if too frequently inert adaptation went unseen by so many of the book’s admirers speaks volumes.

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The DVD Wrapup: Annihilation, Kaurismäki, Borzage, Sweet Sweetback, Two of Us, Cold Turkey, Weinstein, Jackass and more

Alex Garland is a terrific writer-director who challenges the imagination and rewards viewers, for whom patience a virtue. Garland received sole screenwriter credit on 28 Days Later … (2002), Sunshine (2007), Never Let Me Go (2010) and Dredd (2012), while sharing the writing credit with Tameem Antoniades on the video games and “DmC: Devil May Cry” and “Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.” He also wrote the novels from which The Beach (2000) and The Tesseract (2003), were adapted. None of them enjoyed an easy stroll to the big screen. Those difficulties were a walk in the park compared to the difficulties the London-born author and filmmaker faced getting Ex Machina (2014) and Annihilation into theaters. Together, they represent two of the finest examples of Earth-bound science fiction — or, if you prefer, speculative fiction or cutting-edge fiction – to be produced sequentially, in memory.

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DVD Wrapup: Vazante, Early Man, Elis, Swung, Death Smiles, Of Unknown Origin, Swamp Thing 2, Little Women, MST3K Singles and more

Because historical fidelity was vital to her vision, Thomas employed a team of historians and tribal experts to reproduce the lifestyles and clothing of the era. This included a group of non-actors who are descendants of the region’s former slaves. Thomas’ commitment to a slow-burn narrative wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for Inti Briones’s gorgeous monochromatic cinematography, whose every frame demands to be savored. The explosive final scene anticipates Brazil’s pluralistic society to come, even as it demonstrates how difficult it might be to achieve.

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The DVD Wrapup: Black Panther, Forgiven, Monkey King, Sweet Escape, Black Venus, It’s Alive and more

What were Stan Lee and Jack Kirby smoking when they named their new superhero after the militant organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton? Or… what were Seale and Newton smoking when they named the BPP after a comic-book superhero?

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The DVD Wrapup: La Belle Noiseuse, 50 Shades Freed, 4K Titles, Paradox, Manifesto, Dear White People, Butterflies and more

“Take My Word for It” might be a better title for this column, especially as it applies to movies that went to straight-to-video or streaming or are made by filmmakers yet to establish reputations. Jacques Rivette’s 1991 masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse, doesn’t fit those categories, but, with its four-hour length and ready availability of an inferior 125-minute cut, La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento, Cohen Media’s upgraded Blu-ray may benefit from any endorsement. La Belle Noiseuse (The Beautiful Troublemaker) won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes and was nominated for a Palme d’Or. Roger Ebert called it “the best film I have ever seen about the physical creation of art, and about the painful bond between an artist and his muse.” The great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa named it one of his two favorite movies of the 1990s — with Takeshi Kitano’s Fireworks – calling it the best filmed display of a struggle of an artist doing his craft, as well as a movie he would have liked to have directed.

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The DVD Wrapup: In the Fade, Insult, In Between, Please Stand By, Kaleidoscope, Schlock, The Unwilling, Tremors, Capitalism and more

In Fatih Akin’s award-winning drama, In the Fade, we’re asked to share the grief of a woman whose husband and son are murdered in a racially motivated bombing so intense that police say they were burned beyond recognition. German-born Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) is married to a Turk – once convicted for selling hashish, not that it matters – whose business is in a part of Hamburg where the immigration community has been vulnerable to attacks by nationalist and anti-immigration groups. Just after she drops her son off at his dad’s office, Katja cautions a young woman against leaving her bicycle unlocked on the street. By the time she returns to pick them up, the bomb has already been detonated and the damage done.

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The DVD Wrapup: Hostiles, Moon Child, Violent Life, Backstabbing, Strings, Grease at 40, Joe, Ringo and more

It’s difficult to argue that Hostiles was snubbed by the Academy, but outstanding performances by Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike deserved more consideration than they got, as did cinematographer Masanobu “Masa” Takayanagi

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DVD Wrapup: Commuter, Oscar, A Taxi Driver, Humor Me, Prince, Doris Day, Shakespeare Wallah, Pomegranates and more

As high-concept pitches go, “Liam Neeson on a train” is right up there with “snakes on a plane” and “MTV cops.” What else would any screenwriter need to know to fill the blanks?

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The DVD Wrapup: Mohawk, Insidious IV, Proud Mary, Are We Not Cats, Fencer, Man From Earth, Mary Stark, Child in Time and more

I’d like to promote a gritty action adventure picture so small it didn’t even register a blip at Box Office Mojo. If Mohawk had been produced and released in the same general vicinity as Little Big Man, Soldier Blue, Black Robe or The Last of the Mohicans, writer-director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) might have found a niche among fine revisionist Westerns. As it is, he can be proud of almost universal raves in Metacritic.com and kudos for showing a different side to Uncle Sam’s decades-long campaign to eradicate native Americans from their homes. Make no mistake: Mohawk is a genre film from start to finish. No one holds the high ground for very long.

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The DVD Wrapup: Last Jedi, Behind the Mask, Executioners, King of Jazz, Sacha Guitry, 1:54, Nicholas, Peyton Place and more

Whew. I’m exhausted just trying to summarize the first 20 minutes.

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The DVD Wrapup: Downsizing, Small Town Crime, Baal, The Church, Images, Daughter of the Nile, Ichi, ’Burbs… and more

Downsizing doesn’t get more involving than a final choice between survival and love, and the solution to that dilemma is preordained. The humor is mostly invested in the excellent visual effects, but, at a certain point, our eyes reflect the reality that these are normal-sized characters in a fabricated environment. The novelty of the conceit wears out by the time we reach the fjord, whose majesty isn’t amplified by the optical gag.

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The DVD Wrapup: I Tonya, Serpico, Assistant, Pastor Paul, Children of Corn, Starlight Ends, Birdboy, Sensitivity Training and more

If Nancy Kerrigan hadn’t been assaulted by members of Jeff Gillooly’s posse before the 1994 U.S. figure-skating championships, it’s likely the tabloid press would have invented a rivalry between Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, leading into the Lillehammer Winter Games. The perceived difference in their economic backgrounds would have been too tempting to avoid.

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The DVD Wrapup: Thor, Gintama, Novitiate, White Sun, Faces Places, Voyage, Paris Opera, Strangers, Moveable Feast and more

Comic books are said to have existed in America since the publication of the hardcover book, “The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck,” in 1842. Newspaper comic strips and panels became a phenomenon in New York at the end of the 1890s, with “The Katzenjammer Kids” and “The Yellow Kid.” It wasn’t until the 1930s that comics in the print and visual media came of age, with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s “Superman,” which opened the door for a legion of superheroes to come. It’s been something of roller-coaster ride for comic books, strips and movies, ever since. Anyone born since the advent of the digital age might think that studios have always been buoyed by the fortunes of their comic-book franchises. Until recently, though, they’ve been anything but a sure thing. Expensive to make and subject to the whims of fickle fan bases, comic-book movies now flourish commercially because of the extraordinary emergence of modern theaters in foreign markets and audiences hungry for CGI thrills. Unlike comics, storylines are incidental to a movie’s performance.

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The DVD Wrapup: Darkest Hour, Coco, Tom Jones, Basket Case, Hangman, Godard+Gorin, Hallelujah Trail, Tyrus … More

Oldman shines throughout, delivering inspirational oratory, displaying an unexpected sense of humor and the tenacity required to rally the nation in its, yes, darkest hour. The picture is further enhanced by key performances in supporting roles by Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane. Of six nominations, the other likely winner is in the Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling category.

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The DVD Wrapup: Florida Project, Daddy’s Home 2, The Hero, Thirsty and more

By setting his closely observed humanist drama, The Florida Project, within the shadow of Disney World, Sean Baker (Tangerine) describes how a community of homeless, underemployed and frequently lawless single parents has taken root on one of the commercial strips leading into Uncle Walt’s greatest fantasy.

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The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Set in the desolate plains of Montana, before the arrival of the railroad, The Ballad of Lefty Brown is an ode to the traditional revenge Western. When famed frontier lawman and Montana’s first elected senator Eddie Johnson (Peter Fonda) is brutally murdered – assassinated, to be precise — his longtime sidekick and friend, Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman), vows to avenge his death. The trouble is, Lefty is more than a tad over the hill and he’s outgunned by some ornery desperadoes.

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The DVD Wrapup: Only the Brave, LBJ, Suburbicon, Aida’s Secrets, Clouzot’s Inferno, Jackie Gleason and more

Joseph Kosinski’s stunningly effective Only the Brave is the rare disaster movie guaranteed to leave its audiences not just in tears, but in mourning for the victims, their families and community at large, as well.

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The DVD Wrapup: Last Flag, Westfront 1918, My Art, Viva L’Italia, Gothic, Viva Espana and more

At first glance, the best reason for picking up Last Flag Flying are the names on the promotional material. The Amazon Studios production was directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood), adapted from a novel by co-screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan (Cinderella Liberty) and stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne. (Good enough for me, anyway.) Last Flag Flying also got extremely positive reviews. But Linklater’s heartfelt story about whether honor and the bonds of brotherhood still matter, played in no more than 110 domestic theaters, earning  just under a million dollars before shipping off to ancillary markets, where money figures are kept close to a studio’s vest. When it was released, just ahead of Veterans Day, many pundits predicted Last Flag Flying might produce an Oscar nomination, or two, but it was ignored … not “snubbed,” ignored. That’s what happens when a picture underperforms in the marketplace for no good reason.

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DVD & Blue Ray

Roy Atkinson on: DVD Wrapup: Commuter, Oscar, A Taxi Driver, Humor Me, Prince, Doris Day, Shakespeare Wallah, Pomegranates and more

gary j dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Yvan Prime on: The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Antoine Ratliff on: The DVD Wrapup: Letter From An Unknown Woman, Despicable Me 3, Crucifixion, Maurizio Cattelan, A New Leaf, Silent Night and more

Fernando on: The DVD Wrapup: King George, Cars 3, Overdrive, Afterimage, Glass Castle, Whisky Galore, The Journey, Into the Night, Sissi, Stay Hungry and more

Woody on: The DVD Wrapup: ET, Vietnam, Big Sick, Glory, Certain Women, The Hero, Hana-Bi, By the Time It Gets Dark, The Prison, The Flesh, Moderns … More

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Richard on: DVD Geek: Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice Ultimate

Ray Pride on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

RAY WEIKEL on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

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“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch

To me, Hunter S. Thompson was a hero. His early books were great, but in many ways, his life and career post–Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is a cautionary tale for authors. People expected him to be high and drunk all the time and play that persona, and he stuck with that to the end, and I don’t think it was good for him. I always sort of feel mixed emotions when I hear that people went and hung out with Hunter and how great it was to get high with Hunter. The fact is the guy was having difficulty doing any sustained writing at all for years probably because so many quote, unquote, “friends” wanted to get high with him … There was a badly disappointed romantic there. I mean, that great line, “This is where the wave broke, the tide rolled back … ” This was a guy that was hurt and disappointed and very bitter about things, and it made his writing beautiful, and also with that came a lot of pain.
~ Anthony Bourdain