Welcome back to another busy edition of highlights coming to DVD and Blu-ray. As always, please click on any links you see to find out more about the movies debuting. Once again, it’s an impressive collection of releases. 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!
99 Homes – A young construction worker who loses his home finds himself working for the real estate broker who repossessed it in this independent drama. Based around the housing market crisis of 2008, it shows the young man as he is introduced into the crooked world of his employer. Reviews were generally strong for the feature, noting the performance of the antagonist character as a standout. The cast includes Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern. To read a full length review of the film, just click here.
Crimson Peak – This Gothic horror picture follows a young woman from Buffalo who marries a mysterious stranger and goes to live with her new husband and his sister on a creepy estate in England. She soon encounters supernatural figures – are they warning her of dangers to come? Well, of course they are. There were more positive notices for the film than there were negative. All admired the impressive cinematography and production design, even if some found the story silly and occasionally overwrought. Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam headline. To read our review of the film, click here.
Freaks of Nature – An alien attack pits humans against vampires and zombies in this low-budget horror comedy. Naturally, one of each group put aside their differences and join together to stop the otherworldly menace. It looks like a lot of laughs, but the press weren’t chuckling at what they saw. While they enjoyed the action set pieces, most didn’t find the exposition and or character development successful, remarking that overall the elements didn’t quite gel. It stars Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, Josh Fadem, Vanessa Hudgens, Denis Leary, Keegan-Michael Key, Bob Odenkirk, Joan Cusack and Patton Oswalt.
Grandma – Lily Tomlin received a lot of positive reviews for her work in this indie comedy/drama. In it, she plays a woman who has just lost her long-term partner. When her estranged, pregnant granddaughter shows up unannounced, she attempts to help the youngster raise enough money for an abortion. As mentioned, many raved about the film, calling it short but engaging and complimenting the performances as well as the interesting subject matter. Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer and Sam Elliott are also featured.
Love the Coopers – Multiple generations of a family come together for Christmas in this comedy/drama. When the hosts announce their impending divorce to their guests, they leave the adult children shocked. As the visitors come to terms with the news, they also must deal with their own personal issues. Critics slammed the product (supposedly in the vein of Love Actually), calling the characters too broad and the multiple plotlines underdeveloped, wasting the talents of its impressive cast. It stars Alan Alda, Diane Keaton. John Goodman, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, June Squibb and Anthony Mackie.
Marshland – Two detectives with very outlooks on the world are tasked with finding a serial killer in this thriller from Spain. This foreign-language effort, which also features political undertones, cleaned up in its homeland. It won just about all of the country’s major filmmaking awards last year. Reviews in this part of the world were extremely positive as well, making stylistic comparisons to the first season of True Detective and stating that the cinematography and atmosphere was exceptional. Javier Gutiérrez and Raúl Arévalo play the detectives.
MI-5 – Not to be confused with the Mission: Impossible series (actually, it seems like the distributor hopes you will think it’s related) this spy flick follows an agent out to find and stop a terrorist before they can successfully carry out an attack on London. Truth be told, this is actually a British film called Spooks: The Greater Good (based on a TV series) and has been re-titled for its release in North America. Write-ups were reasonably decent, suggesting that while it wasn’t a secret agent classic, it did work reasonably well as a B-movie thriller. The cast includes Kit Harrington, Peter Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Paulette – In this small French comedy, a poor retiree living in a housing project on the outskirts of Paris decides to earn a little extra cash selling marijuana. She uses her baking skills to create popular baked good laced with the drug. It came out a few years ago in its homeland and received some decent reviews. They didn’t think to the movie carried too much weight, but called it an enjoyably light and tasty treat nonetheless. Now viewers can make up their own minds. It stars Bernadette Lafont.
Spectre – The latest James Bond adventure has 007 attempting to infiltrate the title organization (responsible for much of the chaos of the previous installments). His journey to take down the head of the organization involves numerous physical threats. The majority of the press gave the movie a pass, although most didn’t find it as effective as the character’s previous adventure. Still, it should make for a decent enough evening of entertainment. Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris and Dave Bautista headline the sequel. To read the site’s review of the movie, click here.
Blasts From the Past!
As usual, Kino have some older titles arriving on Blu-ray. They include The Passage (1979) an action film set during WWII about a group of underground fighters attempting to escape German forces through the French Pyrenees mountains. It stars Anthony Quinn, James Mason, Malcolm McDowell, Patricia Neal and Christopher Lee. The Southerner (1945) is a drama from director Jean Renoir (La Grande Illusion, The Rules of the Game) about a poor family who spend every last dim on a plot of land to try and grow cotton. Naturally, they meet many hardships trying to survive a bad season.
Paramount are releasing two Blu-ray sets containing the Star Trek films. Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection contains the first six films with the original cast, while Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection includes the last four. A word of warning: this is essentially just a repackaging of previously released material, and does not contain the extended cuts of any of the films, so you’ll have to hold on to your special edition DVDs a little while longer.
Warner Archive have a great comedy coming to Blu-ray as well. A Mighty Wind (2003) is a mock-documentary from Christopher Guest about 60s folk musicians who are reunited for a reunion concert after their promoter passes away. While often funny, there’s also an effectively bittersweet element to proceedings when a long separated couple (including an amusingly spaced-out character) end up reuniting on stage. It’s also notable for Fred Willard’s “Wha’ Happened?” ramblings. The movie features Guest and Willard, along with Eugene Levy, Michael McKeon, Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey and many others.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) is a B-movie thriller from Italian director Lucio Fulci (most familiar to horror fans as the man behind cult flicks Zombie aka Zombi 2 and The Beyond). It follows a politician’s daughter who has a nightmare about killing her neighbor. When he turns up dead the next morning, suspicion is placed squarely upon her shoulders. This weird and trippy foreign-language Italy/Spain/France co-production arrives from Mondo Macabro and includes publicity materials, a documentary on the flick, interviews with cast members and a main feature audio commentary with the filmmaker behind the doc.
Arrow have the Pam Grier cult classic “Sheba, Baby” (1975) arriving in high definition. It’s about a female private detective out to take down a mob operation in Kentucky. The Blu-ray/DVD combo includes an audio commentary with the producer/screenwriter, a new interview with the story writer, a documentary on star Grier’s career and numerous other extras.
Finally, Criterion are releasing a Double Feature Blu-ray containing the Swedish dramas The Emigrants (1971) and The New Land (1972). Both of the Oscar-nominated dramas star Max von Sydow and each tell an epic story about a family struggling to survive in a rural farming community during the 1800s. Besides digital restorations of both titles, the numerous other bonuses include a new introduction to the film and interviews with participants, as well as an hour-long documentary on their production. Additionally, the Blu-ray contains trailers and an film critic essay on the importance of these movies in film history.
You Know, For Kids!
Here are some new titles that youngsters might enjoy.
Bob the Builder: Building Sky High
Care Bears: Bearied Treasure
Kaboom! Family Day
Pokemon: The Movies 1 – 3 Steelbook Blu-ray Collection
Pokemon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back (DVD)
Pokemon: The Movie 2000 – The Power of One (DVD)
Pokemon: The Movie 3: Spell of the Unown (DVD)
On the Tube!
And below you’ll find the latest TV releases. Apparently, Care Bears are sort of popular again, so in honor of their latest release, here’s a look back at the 80s version and some plush toy commercials.
American Experience: The Mine Wars (PBS)
American Experience: Murder of a President (PBS)
Care Bears: Bearied Treasure
The Carol Burnett Show: Treasures From the Vault
Frontline: ISIS in Afghanistan (PBS)
The Hee-Haw Collection: Kornfield Klassics
The Leftovers: Season 2
Mountain Men: Season 4, Vol. 1
Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series
Touched By An Angel: The Complete Series
Transformers – Robots in Disguise: Mission Discovery