If this week’s biggest Blu-ray and Ultra HD release looks strangely familiar, you may have already caught it when it hit streaming a couple weeks ago. That’s becoming a common trend these days, but fortunately the studios haven’t given up on physical media just yet.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Us – Jordan Peele follows his Oscar-nominated smash hit Get Out with a new horror thriller about a family terrorized by evil doppelganger versions of themselves. The movie’s trailers were creepy as hell and reviews were very strong, but I’ve also heard a fair number of complaints that the plot falls apart and doesn’t make much sense. Whether that’s a deal-breaker for a horror film may depend on what you expect out of the genre.
Wonder Park – Paramount and Nickelodeon’s very generic-looking animated comedy about a magical amusement park fueled by a little girl’s imagination may be the first instance of a feature film (at least, a major studio production) getting released without any credited director, not even a pseudonym. Someone did direct it, of course – namely, former Pixar animator Dylan Brown – but the studio fired him for “inappropriate and unwanted behavior.” That’s not the kid of buzz you want attached to a kids’ movie. Ultimately, reviews were poor and it disappointed at the box office, though apparently not badly enough to stop Nickelodeon’s plans for a spinoff TV cartoon.
Under the Silver Lake – Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough star in a fractured neo-noir along the lines of The Big Lebowski or Inherent Vice, made by It Follows director David Robert Mitchell. Since it premiered at Cannes last year, the film has proven to be a very divisive love-it-or-hate-it affair. Our Jason fell very strongly on the hate-it side of that argument. Another friend of mine went the other way.
Hotel Mumbai – More Hotel Rwanda than The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dev Patel plays a waiter trapped in the middle of the terror campaign that swept through India in 2008. Reviews were respectable, praising the film for its suspense and tension while criticizing some of its fictionalization and simplification of real-life events.
The Beach Bum – Trash art auteur Harmony Korine (Gummo, Spring Breakers) directs a stoner comedy starring Matthew McConaughey as a hippie burnout named Moondog. I’m not sure that the movie has much of a plot beyond that simple premise. The general reaction was that it’s a big waste of time, both for those making and starring in it as well as whatever potential audience it failed to attract.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening – The kaleidoscopic portrait of black life in Alabama was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars earlier this year.
Us comes at you in 4k. Best Buy has a SteelBook.
Determined to get more mileage out of its Mummy spinoff franchise, Universal upgrades The Scorpion King (the one with Dwayne Johnson and the only one in the series that played in theaters) to Ultra HD.
The Disney Movie Club is sketchy with details about whether the official release actually starts this week, but subscribers will have exclusive access to the 1954 live-action adventure classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Kirk Douglas and the less-classic 1962 In Search of the Castaways with Hayley Mills.
Ahoy! The Warner Archive serves up another volume of Popeye the Sailor cartoons from the 1940s, then revs up the 1978 comedy Corvette Summer, starring Mark Hamill in his first movie after the unexpected success of Star Wars.
The Criterion Collection examines the first two features from French filmmaker Bruno Dumont, La vie de Jésus (1997) and L’humanité (1999).
Kino delves into more French cinema with Jean-Luc Godard’s Détective (1985) and Hélas pour moi (1993). I can’t say for certain, but it’s possible that one or both of these may be from the period where Godard had transitioned to working mostly in standard-definition video.
More notable movies from Kino include Park Chan-wook’s 2009 vampire drama Thirst, a Special Edition reissue of Alan Parker’s controversial 1988 racial tension thriller Mississippi Burning, Jack Nicholson’s 1982 crime drama The Border, and William Friedkin’s 1978 heist comedy The Brink’s Job.
Twilight Time delivers three musicals this week: 1943’s Hello, Frisco, Hello, 1944’s Pin Up Girl, and 1947’s Mother Wore Tights. The last two both star Betty Grable. Decidedly not a musical, however, is the 1982 prostitute drama Hussy with Helen Mirren.
Well Go USA’s Swing Kids is not the 1993 flop WWII musical starring Robert Sean Leonard. This one is a 2018 prison camp drama from Korea.
Scream Factory’s Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1 bundles four black-and-white chillers featuring the pairing of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi: The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), and Black Friday (1940).
The respective second seasons of Killing Eve and the Will & Grace revival hit disc this week.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as a sharp-tongued drug addict in the British miniseries Patrick Melrose, which aired on Showtime in the United States.
Nothing strikes me as a must-buy this week, but I’d like to rent Us and am curious to see how I feel about Under the Silver Lake.
What’s your plan?