DVD Obscura: 'Detroit,' 'The Trip to Spain,' 'The Force,' 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' and More

DVD Obscura: 'Detroit,' 'The Trip to Spain,' 'The Force,' 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' and More

Jan 17, 2018


We've got indie, foreign, documentary, grindhouse and more home video picks for all your viewing needs. Let's start with a highly-acclaimed independent film. 


New Indie

It’s the opposite of a feel-good film, but Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) was a brutal and unforgettable experience that unfortunately seems to be getting lost among the tide of awards-worthy films from 2017. In this examination of police brutality during the Motor City’s 1967 riot, Bigelow brings her trademark intensity to a situation that spirals further out of control. A timely examination of race and abuse of power, it’s a film that’s already garnered controversy and will no doubt continue to do so.

Also available: Critics lauded the coming-of-age tale Princess Cyd (Wolfe Video) from director Stephen Cone (The New Kids); Shattered (VMI Worldwide) stars Ray Wise as a Southern politician who will go to great lengths to keep his family’s secrets; Domhnall Gleeson, Christina Applegate and Thomas Haden Church star in the romantic farce Crash Pad (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), in which a young man winds up sharing an apartment with the husband of the woman with whom he’s become smitten.


New Foreign

Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden team up for more food, more mid-life crises and more Michael Caine impersonations in The Trip to Spain (Shout Factory), their third road-trip film for director Michael Winterbottom. Playing versions of themselves, the two British comedian-actors needle each other’s vulnerabilities, savor international delicacies and stunning vistas, and do their best to make their way through life’s complications. This one’s not necessarily the best of the series – I prefer The Trip to Italy – but it’s great to spend time with this duo as they eat their way through exotic locales.

Also available: Many flavors of British nostalgia, from a remake of the Ealing Studios classic Whiskey Galore! (Arrow/MVD) to the warm-and-fuzzy Raj recollections Victoria & Abdul (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) and Viceroy’s House (IFC Films) to the Morrissey biopic England Is Mine (Cleopatra Entertainment), a portrait of the dandy rocker as a young man.

Love and equestrianship cross paths in Of Horses and Men (Music Box Films); Oscar shortlist contender The Wound (Kino Lorber) powerfully examines manhood rituals in Africa; the destinies of four women intertwine against the backdrop of the CIA-backed Iranian revolution of 1953 in Women Without Men (IndiePix).

Buckle up for a five-hour ride through four women’s friendship in the acclaimed Japanese import Happy Hour (KimStim); White Shadow (IndiePix), executive produced by Ryan Gosling, follows a young albino man on the run from Tanzanian witch doctors who want to kill him for his limbs; in Alias Maria (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment), a pregnant guerrilla in war-torn Colombia faces difficult choices.


New Documentary

One of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries, The Force (Kino Lorber) gets up close and personal with the Oakland Police Department as a new chief takes over in 2014, after a decade of federal monitoring for misconduct and civil rights abuses. Peter Nicks’ camera captures the peril of day-to-day policework as well as the growing presence and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement as Oakland cops seek to overcome their previous reputation and regain the trust of their public.

Also available: The life and career of legendary shoe designer Manolo Blahnik is recounted in Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (Music Box Films); Magnus (FilmRise) was bullied as a kid, but through his determination, he became a World Chess Champion; filmed upon their return to Paris after the mass shooting at their concert, Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) (Shout Factory) sees a band paying tribute to their fans in the wake of unspeakable tragedy; gay men from repressive part of the world get to fly their flags high when cruising on a Dream Boat (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment).

Trumping Democracy (Cinema Libre Studio) follows the money to right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer and how he helped bankroll the current president’s election; a controversial artist rises from poverty to shows at the Guggenheim in Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back (Film Movement); members of Blondie, the Replacements, MC5 and the Heartbreakers unite to perform L.A.M.F. (MVD), the classic 1977 album from Johnny Thunders; Conor McGregor: Notorious (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) explores the life of the controversial UFC champion.

A filmmaker raised in East Germany investigates her late father’s involvement with the Stasi in Karl Marx City (Film Movement); in The Bad Kids (FilmRise), teachers explore unorthodox methods to break through to “unreachable” students; the all-too-timely The Unamerican Struggle (Cinema Libre Studio) tracks the rise of bigotry in the U.S. since 2016.

Angry Inuk (Film Movement) has the potential to change the way you think about Canadian seal hunting; Frank Zappa – Summer ’82: When Zappa Came to Sicily (MVD Visual) looks back at this legendary tour and revisits Zappa’s ancestral home with the musician’s now-grown children; filmed in IMAX and now available in 4K for home theaters, the stunning Mysteries of China (Shout Factory) captures the archaeological majesty and present-day wonder of the Earth’s largest nation.


New Grindhouse

Bone Tomahawk director S. Craig Zaher returns with Brawl in Cell Block 99 (RLJ Entertainment), a violent (and critically lauded) Vince Vaughn crime drama. Vaughn stars as a retired boxer turned drug courier, who’s living the high life until an act of brutality puts him behind bars, where he’s thrown into the midst of a savage battleground. Also starring Jennifer Carpenter, Udo Kier, Marc Blucas and Don Johnson, this was one of the year’s most acclaimed genre films.

Also available: Wu Jing returns in Wolf Warrior 2 (Well Go USA Entertainment), a sequel to the global box-office smash; Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving are trapped in a quarantined building where everyone is acting on their darkest impulses in Mayhem (RLJ Entertainment); in The Rift: Dark Side of the Moon (Cleopatra Entertainment), a satellite crash is much more terrifying than it originally appears.

A journalist uncovers shocking evil as she investigates The Crucifixion (Lionsgate Entertainment); The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One (RLJ Entertainment) stars Kellan Lutz and Rachel Griffiths as future settlers trying to survive a planet that’s on the verge of destruction; old Leatherface (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) is back in this Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel that shows you how he got his trademark head covering.


New Classic

Did Santa bring you a 4K home theater for Christmas? Do you want to show it off to friends, but your My Dinner with Andre Blu-ray isn’t doing the trick? Kick out the jams with movies that will show off all the sights and sounds that your new system can offer: from Paramount Home Video there’s the stunning Interstellar, but if that’s too talky, clank it up with Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Transformers: Age of Extinction (all sold separately). And since James Cameron has always proven himself to be an early adapter of all the coolest tech, you might as well pick up the thrill-packed Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Lionsgate Home Entertainment).

Also available: Life’s always a banquet with Auntie Mame (Warner Archive Collection), especially now that she’s on Blu-ray; Downsizing was something of a misstep for director Alexander Payne, but he’s at his best with the tart high-school satire Election (The Criterion Collection); Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan star in one of the great achy-breaky love stories of all time, Max Ophuls’ sublime Letter from an Unknown Woman (Olive Films); enjoy a two-fer of Bette Midler’s better Touchstone comedies with the double-feature DVD Big Business/Scenes from a Mall (KL Studio Classics).

Screen legends Lillian Gish and Bette Davis teamed up for the first and only time in the poignant The Whales of August (Kino Lorber); Billy Wilder’s classic The Apartment (Arrow Academy) never looked better than this remastered new Blu-ray; Julie Christie explores the life of ancestor Greta Scacchi in the sweeping Merchant Ivory drama Heat and Dust (Cohen Film Collection).

Elaine May’s singularly dark comedic vision is on full display in the cult classic A New Leaf (Olive Films); now that you’ve gone back for the sequel, relive the excitement of the original Jumanji (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), now on Blu-ray and 4K; Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney star in the witty gangster saga Pulp (Arrow).


New TV

The Netflix reboot is great, but go back to the 1970s original with One Day at a Time: The Complete Series (Shout Factory), an extensive box set that pays tribute to the groundbreaking Norman Lear sitcom that looked at the life of a divorcée (Bonnie Franklin) raising two young women (Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli) in a permissive era. The show remains funny and provocative, and this collection features a reunion and documentary as well as new interviews.

Also available: In the history of mainstream television, there’s literally been nothing like Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series (Showtime/CBS/Paramount) – and you know you need to watch at least one more time; speaking of beloved TV series making a return, DuckTales: Woo-Oo! (Disney DVD) is insanely fun; and if you loved the animated feature, you’ll want to see the madcap original TV show with A Town Called Panic: The Collection (Shout Factory/GKIDS).

2019 is a long way away, so you lovers of dragons will need to bide your time with Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season (HBO Home Entertainment); Ewan McGregor deservedly won a Golden Globe for Fargo: Year 3 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), but the whole ensemble (Mary Elizabeth Winstead! David Thewlis! Carrie Coon! Michael Stuhlbarg!) is extraordinary; those intelligent animals are still up to no good in Zoo: Season Three (CBS/Paramount).

And of course the folks at Acorn have your classy-detective needs in mind: check out George Gently: The Complete Collection; Doc Martin, Series 8; Acceptable Risk; and Midsomer Murders: John Barnaby’s First Cases.

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