DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for April 3rd, 2018

It’s time for another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. There’s a good mix of well known and completely unexpected independents arriving on shelves, giving renters plenty of choice. As always, you can click on any links to read full reviews. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

Big New Releases!

Basmati Blues – A scientist who helped create a genetically modified brand of rice is sent to India to help promote the product. Unfortunately, she gets a rude awakening after discovering that her creation may put farmers out of work. This comedy/musical/drama had a lengthy production. It was shot in 2013, but monsoons halted production and reshoots didn’t occur until 2015. Editing took another two years. Now it’s finally coming out. Sadly, critics reacted poorly to the finished product. They all appreciated the attempt at a Bollywood style musical, but found the story bland and didn’t think it was worthy of its impressive cast. The movie stars Brie Larson, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Donald Sutherland, Scott Bakula, Tyne Daily and Saahil Sehgal.

Beast of Burden – In this drama, a pilot with connections to a drug cartel flies to Mexico for one last cocaine delivery. Not only is his life in danger from his dangerous employer, but federal agents are pressuring him to squeal… and he must complete his mission to protect his significant other from being targeted and even executed. Unfortunately, the press didn’t this independent effort hit the mark. They commented that while the lead performance was good, the screenplay resorted to increasingly preposterous situations that strained the film’s credibility. It features Daniel Radcliffe, Pablo Schreiber, Grace Gummer and Robert Wisdom.

Destined – This indie film features one actor taking on dual roles. The first character is an architect working on a large-scale project and moving his way up the corporate ladder, while the second is a hardened drug cartel planning on a major deal. Their two lives suddenly intersect and the story shows how one person’s actions can have a significant impact on the life on another. Again, reviewers weren’t taken in by this movie’s curious set-up. They enjoyed the concept, but felt that the movie was heavy-handed in its execution and didn’t make much of an emotional impact. The cast includes Jesse Metcalfe, Zulay Henao, Jason Dohring and Hill Harper.

Father Figures – After two fraternal twin brothers learn their mother has lied to them for years saying that their father is dead, the pair set out on a road trip. Their goal is to find their dad and officially introduce themselves. Wackiness ensues as they attempt to figure out who their pa is and determine the reason their mother wanted to keep the family members separated. Notices were terrible for this comedy. Some criticized the movie for veering between gross-out humor and sweet, family affirmations, while others just found it painfully unfunny. Ouch! It stars Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, J.K. Simmons, Katt Williams, Terry Bradshaw and Ving Rhames.

Insidious: The Last Key – The latest chapter in the Insidious series follows parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainer as she investigates a new haunting, this time at her childhood home. Once there, she not only encounters a vengeful spirit, but angry family members who blame her for leaving town. The fourth feature in this franchise certainly wasn’t the charm – it received weak reviews. While a few thought the jumps scares were enough to earn it a pass, most commented that it was simply repeating all of the familiar ghost story notes with little invention or wit. It features Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson and Bruce Davison. To read the site’s review, just click here.

Like Me – This independent crime drama involves a young woman who sets out on a horrible crime spree. As she robs stores, ingests narcotics and assaults random persons, the lead decides to use social media and post her acts online. Naturally, she soon amasses a large fan following. This dark effort earned decent marks from critics, although reaction to the events depicted was extreme. Some hated the unusual, meandering narrative and onscreen violence, but more thought it was an intriguing tale that benefited from some exceptional photography. The cast includes Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden and Jeremy Gardiner.

Looking Glass – After losing their daughter in a tragic accident, a couple decides to move away from their hometown and purchase an old motel off of the beaten path. As they begin renovating, they discover trick glass and mirrors, coming to the realization that some strange and disturbing activities once took place at the establishment. The husband becomes obsessed with its history and begins to question his own sanity. Reaction to this small thriller was muted. A percentage thought it was eccentric enough to maintain their attention, although more thought it was too subdued and didn’t make the most of its interesting premise. The movie stars Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney and Marc Blucas.

Permanent – Hairdos are the subject of this oddball comedy. Set in the 80s, it follows a socially awkward family who have their hair made up in exaggerated ways. The lead is a teenager who is desperate to get a permanent. But when a hairdresser makes a huge mistake during the operation, the young woman is forced to deal with the fallout from friends and family. Unfortunately, this indie effort earned poor marks from reviewers. While they liked some of the characters and suggested it had a few good moments, they stated that there weren’t enough jokes here to justify an entire film. It features Patricia Arquette, Rainn Wilson and Kira McLean.

Sweet Virginia – This little drama deals with a drifter who wanders into a small Alaskan town. He befriends a lonely, former rodeo champ running a local motel. As it turns out, one of the men has a violent streak, killing three people. The innocent party must find a way to stop the psycho from striking again. Thankfully, the press gave high marks to this dark drama/thriller. A few did believe that it was too overstuffed for its own good, but the vast majority of reviewers were impressed by the performances, the attention given to the psychology of the characters and wrote that it maintained an ominous tone throughout. The cast includes Jon Bernthal, Christopher Abbott, Imogen Poots, Rosemarie DeWitt and Odessa Young.

Blasts from the Past!

Do you like Charles Bronson movies? If you do, this is your week. Mill Creek Entertainment are releasing a Blu-ray called Charles Bronson 4 Movie Collection, which includes early titles from the action star. They movies include Breakout (1975), Hard Times (1975), The Stone Killer (1973) and The Valachi Papers (1972). If memory serves, Hard Times is pretty good and a couple of the features like The Stone Killer are very hard to come by. So this would seem to be an ideal opportunity to pick up several of these action pictures at a bargain price.

The company are also bringing For the Love of Benji (1977) to Blu-ray. This is the first sequel to the original Benji movie and it finds the pooch visiting Greece and stopping a sinister plot featuring a bogus CIA agent. The disc includes a brand new high definition transfer of the movie, an audio commentary from the director and his son, and a couple of featurettes. Finally, the company are distributing A Study in Terror (1965). This UK thriller follows Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they attempt to catch Jack the Ripper.

Kino are putting out a trio of 90s comedies in high definition. They include The 6th Man (1997), which features Kadeem Hardison as a talented basketball player who suffers from a heart attack and returns as a ghost to assist and occasionally frighten his brother and old teammate (played by Marlon Wayans). Celtic Pride (1996) is another basketball-themed movie about a pair of Celtics fans so desperate for their team to win the championship that they kidnap the star player of an opposing side.

The distributor’s third title of the week is the comedy My Father the Hero (1994), which features Gerard Depardieu as a flustered father on a tropical vacation with his teenage daughter (played by Katherine Heigl). Weirdness and uncomfortable interactions follow when she decides to convince everyone at the resort that her father is actually her lover.

Severin are releasing a pair of kinky Jess Franco flicks on Blu-ray. They include The Sadist of Notre Dame (1979) and Sinfonia Erotica (1980).

Finally, Cohen are releasing a Blu-ray of one of the very first Merchant-Ivory productions ever in the form of the drama, Shakespeare-Wallah (1965). The story involves a family of English actors putting on plays while traveling through India.

You Know, For Kids!

Here are some titles for small fry. I’m especially curious about that Animalympics one, it sounds vaguely familiar.

Animalympics (1980 TV-movie featuring voices of Billy Crystal, Gilda Radner and Harry Shearer)
For the Love of Benji (1977)
Max & Moxy: S.T.E.M. Strong
Molang: Season 2

On the Tube!

And here are the week’s TV-themed releases.

13 Reasons Why: Season 1
Animalympics (1980 TV-movie featuring voices of Billy Crystal, Gilda Radner and Harry Shearer)
Ballers: Season 3
Chesapeake Shores: Season 2
Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery (Hallmark)
Lucan: The Complete Series (Warner Archive)
Molang: Season 2
Nature: The Last Rhino (PBS)
NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse (PBS)
A Place to Call Home: Season 5
Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids (PBS)
Trackers (National Geographic)
We’ll Meet Again (PBS – a 6 Episode series about historic events as told through the eyes of those who experienced them firsthand)

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