The man who shot Liberty Valance [4K UHD]
What is? A western classic.
Why watch it? John Ford, James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef… this is a stacked group of talents, so it’s no surprise that the movie they’re collaborating on is an absolutely stellar Western about honor. , violence and truth. Stewart plays a beloved politician who tells for the first time the true story behind his most infamous act of heroism, and Wayne takes a backseat as he gives a great performance with the kind of cracks he rarely shows. The themes of the genre are evident along with solid action and character beats, culminating in one of the great quotes: “when legend becomes reality, print legend.” Crisp black and white cinematography on film has never looked better than with this new 4K UHD release.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary by Peter Bogdanovich]
What is? A girl comes of age through social media.
Why watch it? Let Mamoru Hosoda deliver a beautiful animated tale that fuses the classic Beauty and the Beast story with a slightly exaggerated version of the ubiquitous presence of social networks. The story follows a shy girl who comes to life online, and it is there that she discovers that people are at their best when they are allowed to be who they really want and need to be. The film is a fantastical journey that delivers action, color, and vibrancy in almost every frame, while delivering a captivating and emotionally satisfying story.
violent city [KL Studio Classics]
What is? A hitman fights for revenge and love.
Why watch it? This one doesn’t get the love it deserves among Charles Bronson’s filmography, but it’s worth a watch, and this 2-disc release from Kino is worth it. Bronson plays a hitman ready to hang up his rifle for the love of a good woman (Jill Ireland), but things take a turn. He will soon be fighting for his life, making bold decisions and risking it all on one last gamble. From the stellar opening car chase to a killer, dialogue- and music-free hit that lands beautifully, this is a solidly gritty action thriller with European sensibilities and a score by Ennio Morricone.
[Extras: US cut on separate Blu-ray, commentary, interview]
beverly hills police ii [4K UHD]
What is? The banana man is back!
Why watch it? beverly hills police It may not have been Eddie Murphy’s first comedy film, but it was certainly his greatest significance, a sequel was inevitable. Tony Scott takes the reins this time around, and while he brings his expected glorious excesses, the film itself is a familiar mix of laughs and ’80s action beats. It all feels a bit fast-paced at times, and that makes part of the comedy feels forced. Still, Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, and the late Gilbert Godfrey are a pretty fun bunch. Paramount’s new 4K UHD release has no frills, but it does a good job of delivering a fantastic picture with vibrant colours, deep blacks and respect for the original grain.
de Sade [Scorpion]
What is? A look into the mind of a sadist.
Why watch it? The Marquis de Sade’s tastes in sexual play led to the coining of a new word, but he wasn’t always interested in inflicting pain on others. This fictional (sort of) biopic explores his life through flashbacks, plays and artistic choices, revealing a man shaped by the cruel whims of others. However, T&A is more of an approach than actual acts of sadism, apart from some “playful” spanking and slapping, the film is more interested in simple debauchery. Still, it’s a rarity with its screenplay by the master Richard Matheson and a creepy secondary twist by John Huston.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview]
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde [Warner Archive]
What is? An adaptation of the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Why watch it? Spencer Tracy was one of Hollywood’s greatest, and this first movie sees him tackling a classic horror story. He plays both the respectable doctor and the insidious madman in him, and he does an equally good job with both halves of the personality. The movie itself is a pretty straightforward adaptation, and while it lacks any real energy or horror, it’s more than easy to watch thanks to this performance. Throw in Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner, and you have a movie worth watching for the cast alone.
What is? A teenager struggles after his apartment complex is set to be demolished.
Why watch it? Imagination is often the key to surviving life’s most stressful and damaging events, and that’s the key theme of this drama from France. Yuri has always had dreams, but after his house is destroyed, he and some of his friends put his imagination to good use. It’s all in vain, of course, but that doesn’t mean things can’t end with a dose of magical realism. The budget constraints are clear, but strong performances from a young cast and embrace of emotional logic make for a compelling debut.
girls night [Arrow Video]
What is? A killer disguised as a bear is killing schoolgirls.
Why watch it? A small college town is home to a vicious series of murders that could be linked to the actions of a madman from decades earlier, and only Hal Holbrook can solve it! Well, Holbrook and a couple of college kids. This early ’80s slasher offers up some pretty familiar stalking and killing, but has fun with its story and red herrings, not to mention the killer of him in a totally inconspicuous bear suit. The new Arrow Blu-ray gives the film a better presentation than ever before, which means fans will be more than pleased.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews]
Infinite [4K UHD]
What is? A man discovers that he has had past lives.
Why watch it? I will defend Mark Wahlberg’s comedic chops to the end, but his success as a leading man in an action or drama film will always be a rarity. That is doubly the case when a script as poor as Infinite‘s is your model. My review goes into more detail, but the essence of the issues boils down to a plot that feels like it’s lifted wholesale from some other much better movies. All the parts that are “original” flop, and Wahlberg’s bland performance as “the one” doesn’t help matters. Everyone involved has done a much better job.
What is? An incoherent, captivating and inconsistent time-off movie set in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
Why watch it? Paul Thomas Anderson movies will always be worth watching, and while the last one isn’t a home run, its set pieces and atmosphere make you not want to see the end. Cooper Hoffman plays a full-of-self teenager in love with an older girl he just met (played by Alana Haim). The film meanders through its summer, stopping for interactions, random scenes, and more. Sometimes it’s amusing that the highlight of the film is the appearance of Bradley Cooper, but there is also a sadness that is not always recognized. That last line is the most depressing ending of any movie from the past year, so don’t expect the romance some have labeled the movie. My full review is here.
Out of the law
What is? Three brothers fight for independence.
Why watch it? The end of World War II was not the end of the war, and even as the Allies celebrated, the citizens of Algeria continued to fight for independence from France. This decades-spanning drama follows three brothers who saw their parents decimated by French rule, and as each fights back in his own way, they eventually all come back together for one last rebellious push. Lots of drama follows with brief bursts of violence to keep things lively.
[Extras: Featurette, interviews]
two men in the city
What is? One man points to another.
Why watch it? Forest Whitaker and Harvey Keitel aren’t exactly a couple that immediately spring to mind, but they do a great job here. Whitaker is an ex-con trying to get his life back on track, and Keitel is a small-town sheriff trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. Throw in some outlaws from Whitaker’s past showing up causing trouble, and the fuse is lit for a dramatic thriller and showdown.
Without prior notice [KL Studio Classics]
What is? An alien lurks in a small rural area.
Why watch it? Jack Palance and Martin Landau might be a better couple in 1982 Alone in the dark, but they’re still good, hauntingly funny in this low-budget alien horror flick. Greydon Clark’s film follows a quartet of friends (including a very young David Caruso) who wander into an alien’s hunting ground, and soon they and the locals come under attack. The alien wears a cool little bio disc with hungry tendrils, and they’re one of the few highlights here outside of acting legends. Kino’s new record updates Scream Factory’s release from a few years ago with a 2K master.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interviews]
Also out this week:
A day to die, Death Valley, Escape from New York [4K UHD, Scream Factory]extreme prejudice [Vestron Video]The funeral [Criterion Collection]The Last Kingdom, Slasher: Flesh and Blood, Sundown, Wyrmwood Apocalypse