Welcome to another edition chronicling new releases on Blu-ray and DVD. Again, it’s a surprisingly busy time with plenty of big arrivals coming your way. 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!
The Adventurers – A notorious thief is released from prison, only to instigate a new an elaborate plot that involves stealing some of the most valuable jewels in Europe. As they set out, the lead and his team are pursued on land and sea by a relentless cop determined to put them away once and for all. This is a China/Hong Kong/Czech co-production and it didn’t receive the greatest of reviews. One or two complimented the movie’s sense of humor, but the majority complained that it was a generic, unmemorable and overlong heist picture. The cast includes Andy Lau, Qi Shu, Jean Reno, Jingchu Zhang and Eric Tsang.
American Made – This action/comedy is based on a true story, detailing the exploits of Barry Seal, an American pilot who was recruited by the CIA in the 80s to head an undercover drug operation in Central America. In the process, he ends up creating even more trouble that results in the arrival of a new and even more powerful cartel. Critics were very positive about this dark tale from director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow). A few had trouble reconciling the charming lead with his deep character flaws, but most called it an enjoyable adventure with subtle pokes at American foreign policy. It stars Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson and Sarah Wright.
Battle of the Sexes – Here’s another biopic, this time chronicling the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Coming at the height of the sexual revolution, this comedy/drama examines the highly-publicized event. It shows the strong rivalry between the pair, their personal motivations for staging the showdown and the effects of the media circus that surrounded the event. The press liked the film overall. A small percentage didn’t think the narrative covered the details as well as a documentary would have, but most found the characters interesting and the subject matter just as relevant today. It features Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman and Elizabeth Shue.
Brad’s Status – A father decides to accompany his son to the East Coast for a tour of potential college campuses. However, the visit triggers old memories of his own college days. The parent begins to question his choices as he compares his life with his more successful school chums. There were a small section of reviewers who couldn’t relate to the lead’s internal crisis, but most appreciated the themes and recommended it. They believed the story addressed relatable issues and enjoyed the neurotic lead role. Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Michael Sheen, Jenna Fischer, Luke Wilson and Jemaine Clement headline the film.
Breathe – This period feature is also based on a true story. It’s an inspirational tale about the trial and tribulations of Robin and Diana Cavendish. When Robin is diagnosed with polio, he is given a few months left to live. However, he and his wife team with an inventor and other professionals to break out of the hospital, seek alternative treatments and enjoy their remaining time together. Write-ups were positive, if not exemplary. Most commented that the story was a bit formulaic and elements were corny, but more responded to the positive message and complimented the lead performances. The cast includes Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander and Diana Rigg.
The Houses October Built 2 – The sequel to the 2014 horror feature involves a sinister figure known as the Blue Skeleton. After the kidnapping events of the first film, the traumatized returnees decide to head on the road and visit more haunted sites in order to face their fears. Of course, they start seeing signs of the same tormenting force. There are currently only a handful of reviews for the movie and they’re pretty much split on the end results. Some found it atmospheric, other claimed it was repetitive and that the events ultimately came across as dull. Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe, Bobby Roe and Jeff Larson return.
Love Beats Rhymes – A young rapper struggling to make an impact on the club scene decides to take a poetry class. The process inspires her to find her true voice and she sets out again to define herself at rap shows and poetry slams. Over the course of the journey, she also finds a potential mate. This romantic drama was directed by rapper RZA (The Man with the Iron Fists) and it divided critics. Half thought events played out in too predictable a fashion and didn’t quite buy into the world set up in the screenplay. Others thought that the movie moved at a good clip and featured two strong central characters. It stars Azealia Banks, Hana Mae Lee, Common, Method Man and Jill Scott.
Rebel in the Rye – Famous author J.D. Salinger is the subject of this biopic. It traces his time as a solider in World War II and its effects on his psyche as well as his relationship with a young socialite. Of course, it also goes into the man’s writing process on his most well-known work, The Catcher in the Rye. Reaction to the film was muted with more negative notices than positive ones. A few thought the lead performance was powerful enough to recommend, but the majority found it to be a bit generic and didn’t think the movie created enough dramatic sparks. It features Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, Victor Garber and Hope Davis.
Shock Wave – This Hong Kong action flick follows a terrorist who takes hostages in an large underground tunnel. With special skills in explosives, the bad guy threatens to kill his captives and detonate his weapons unless his demands are met. The police send in a special agent who has a lengthy history with the criminal in order to help eliminate the threat. Those who saw the movie generally had good things to say about it. They referred to it as a pulpy but tense and exciting B-movie with some impressive chase scenes and shoot-outs mixed into the personal drama. The cast includes Andy Lau, Jiang Wu and Jia Song.
Slumber – A traumatized family experiencing serious sleep problems decide to meet with a doctor and get some help. After agreeing to take part in a sleep study, strange events begin occurring and the institute discovers that the clan are actually being tormented by an evil demon known as the “Night Hag.” This horror feature hasn’t gotten many write-ups yet, but so far the ones that have appeared haven’t been complimentary. While they liked that the film attempted to develop its characters, they ultimately found it increasingly silly as the threat intensified. It stars Maggie Q, Kristen Bush, Sam Troughton, Sylvester McCoy and Will Kemp.
The Stolen – This low-budget western is set in the 1860s and involves an aristocrat who leaves the safety of her large estate in England in order to find her kidnapped son. The lengthy journey takes her to New Zealand, where she must join a group of Gold Rush miners, ex-cons, hustlers, prostitutes and a Maori warrior in order to recover to her child. Critics didn’t enjoy this UK/New Zealand/Germany co-production. In fact, they suggested that despite a reasonable set-up, the movie became totally preposterous as it veered to an over-the-top finale. Alice Eve, Graham McTavish, Jack Davenport and Richard O’Brien headline the feature.
Blasts from the Past!
If you grew up in the 80s, then you’re more than likely familiar with the films of John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and many more). This week, Criterion are releasing an extras-packed edition of one of his most beloved titles, The Breakfast Club (1985). It’s about a group of high school students from different cliques forced to spend a day in detention together. While there, they end up relating and talking about the issues affecting their lives. As long as you can accept the idea that a Saturday detention could happen, this is a funny, sweet and well-acted movie that was quite unique in its day for its emphasis on character development. The movie is arriving with a 4K digital restoration, 2008 commentary with Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson, new interviews with Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, a video essay with production notes from Hughes read by Nelson and a documentary on the production, as well as all sorts of publicity materials that accompanied its release. Perhaps most interestingly, this edition also has 50 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes. If you’re a fan of the film, it looks like a must-buy.
Shout! Factory have a Blu-ray/DVD “Collector’s Edition” of the horror flick, Hell Night (1981). This one is about some college students who pledge a fraternity and are forced to spend the night at the site of a brutal murder. Naturally, characters start dying soon after they arrive. As expected, this release comes with plenty of bonuses. The 4K transfer is from the best surviving print that could be found and there are new interviews with most of the cast members. It also comes with an audio commentary that includes the director, producer, writer, as well as star Linda Blair. There are a ton of exclusive features as well, with special crew interviews, and clips about the production design and make-up effects.
Kino also have some interesting Blu-rays coming your way. They include the comedy Blame it on Rio (1984) with Michael Caine as a man who heads to Rio with his best friend… and then begins a romantic relationship with his pal’s teenage daughter. Cadillac Man (1990) is another comedy that stars Robin Williams as a fast-talking car salesman who finds his dealership taken hostage by the armed husband of a woman whom he’s had an affair with. Awkward!
And there are even more Kino Blu-ray releases. They also have the crime biography and TV-movie, The Executioner’s Song (1982), featuring Tommy Lee Jones as a murderer who lobbies for his own execution. Finally, For Love of Ivy (1968) is about a maid who decides to leave her job in order to continue her education and move on. The son in the family tries to foil her plans by setting her up with a man (played by Sidney Poitier), but his introduction and affections end up having the reverse effect on the woman.
You Know, For Kids!
If your child likes Teletubbies looks like this is your week. Here are some new releases for young tykes.
Teletubbies Classics: Fun with Colors
Teletubbies Classics: My First Nursery Rhymes
Teletubbies Classics: Paws and Play!
Teletubbies Classics: Seaside Adventures
Tom & Jerry: Hearts and Whiskers
On the Tube!
And here are the latest TV-themed releases.
The Executioner’s Song (1982 TV-movie)
Last Tango in Halifax: Christmas Special
Love at First Glace (Hallmark TV-movie)
Love Locks (Hallmark TV-movie)
Ten Days in the Valley: Season 1