Likely owing to the holiday, this week’s disc highlights are truly all Blu-ray, with no Ultra HD on offer. It’s also possible that you may not have even heard of any of the new releases. A couple of catalog reissues will have far better name recognition.
The Oath – Comedian Ike Barinholtz makes his feature directing debut and stars with Tiffany Haddish in a satire about a politically-divided family’s awkward Thanksgiving dinner set against the backdrop of a slightly dystopian exaggeration of current events. Critics were split on the movie. Our Deirdre had plenty of company in finding it heavy-handed and not nearly funny enough. Others were amused enough by the jokes that do land to forgive the ones that don’t.
Greta – The last film director Neil Jordan had in theaters was the little-seen 2012 vampire drama Byzantium. He returned briefly this year with a B-movie thriller about a lonely piano teacher (Isabelle Huppert) who becomes psychotically obsessed with a friendly young do-gooder (Chloë Moretz). Reviews were mixed to negative, with the most favorable enjoying it as camp.
Climax – The latest cinematic provocation from Gaspar Noé (Irreversible, Enter the Void) witnesses a French dance troupe led by Sofia Boutella experiencing a shared bad drug trip when someone spikes their sangria bowl with hallucinogens. At TIFF last year, Phil was impressed by the filmmaker’s signature wild stylization, but found the content hollow and strangely restrained by Noé’s standards. That’s probably a good thing if it means no POV shots of actors splooging into the camera lens in 3D.
Lords of Chaos – Based on a true story, Rory Culkin stars as young Norwegian guitarist whose quest to bring death metal to Oslo in the late 1980s/early ’90s went violently wrong. Described as disturbing and frequently unpleasant, the film seems designed to be as divisive as the music genre at its core.
The Criterion Collection continues its partnership with David Lynch by bringing his controversial 1986 psychosexual thriller Blue Velvet into the fold. The movie already had an excellent Blu-ray release back in 2011, and the Criterion copy doesn’t appear to add much to it other than a few new bonus features. From early reports, even the new 4k video remaster looks pretty much the same as the older disc. However, if Criterion is going to maintain a relationship with Lynch, the label couldn’t exactly ignore his masterpiece. I hold out hope that this will lead to Criterion attention for some of his neglected works, especially 1999’s The Straight Story.
Also from Criterion is Agnès Varda’s 1977 drama One Sings, the Other Doesn’t, about two women’s friendship during the turbulent feminist movement in 1970s France. The new digital master was reportedly supervised by the filmmaker prior to her recent death.
Formerly a Twilight Time title, Sony has reclaimed Steel Magnolias (the 1989 original) for a reissue under its own label. Sony follows that with Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut, the 2005 neo-Western The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
It’s hard for me to gauge whether the 1995 comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, which invited audience to laugh at the spectacle of masculine actors Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo playing drag queens, should be viewed as an ahead-of-its-time celebration of gender non-conformity, or as offensive cultural appropriation. We’ll let Shout! Factory sort that out as it adds the film to its Shout Select line along with the campy 1968 Tennessee Williams adaptation Boom!, starring Elizabeth Taylor and then-husband Richard Burton.
The MVD Rewind Collection gets a double dose of Jean-Claude Van Damme with a Collector’s Edition of the 1991 action flick Double Impact.
The Warner Archive has a very colorful week with the 1965 Sidney Poitier drama A Patch of Blue and the 1962 Italian fantasy adventure The Golden Arrow.
Sony brings the fourth season of Outlander to disc with the option of an expensive Collector’s Edition for fans.
Meanwhile, South Park continues chugging along, now in its twenty-second season.
As a completist David Lynch fan, I will need to add the Criterion edition of Blue Velvet to my collection even though I’ve been perfectly satisfied with the old MGM copy.
That’s all on my agenda this week. What’s on yours?