DVD Obscura: 'Good Time,' 'The Film Critic,' 'Whose Streets?' and Much More

DVD Obscura: 'Good Time,' 'The Film Critic,' 'Whose Streets?' and Much More

Dec 20, 2017

Ready to go beyond the blockbusters that typically crowd movie theaters during the holiday season? Let's take a deep dive into what's newly available on home video.

New Indie

Good TimeUndoubtedly one of the most kinetic films of 2017, Good Time (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) bursts with manic intensity from start to finish. Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie (the latter co-directed with his brother Josh) play brothers who commit a crime that goes horribly wrong, and it’s up to Pattinson’s character to fix things, as he gets deeper and deeper into a desperate situation. The performances – including stellar supporting players Jennifer Jason Leigh, Taliah Webster and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) – are spot-on, and there’s barely a moment to breathe in this thrilling bit of virtuoso cinema.

Also available: The Safdies aren’t the only siblings in the directing business: sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the Rodarte fashion label, made a provocative debut this year with Woodshock (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), starring Kirsten Dunst; Patti Cake$ (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) features talented newcomer Danielle Macdonald as a Jersey girl with dreams of hip-hop stardom; Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World) stars in the Native American biopic Te Ata (Kino Lorber); liberated kidnap victim Kyle Mooney seeks to re-create Brigsby Bear (Sony Pictures Classics), a TV show created just for him by his captors.

Francesca Eastwood stars as a sexual assault victim out for vengeance in the thriller M.F.A. (Dark Sky Films); based on the coming-of-age memoir by Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) features Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts; awkward actor Isaac (Brett Gelman, Stranger Things) tries desperately to get his life together in the comedy Lemon (Magnolia Home Entertainment); based on a true story, Crown Heights (Broad Green Pictures) follows the decades-long fight to free the wrongly-accused Colin Warner (played by Lakeith Stanfield) from prison.

Logan Lucky (Universal/Bleecker Street) marked Steven Soderbergh’s return to feature filmmaking, with a rollicking heist that played like a blue-collar spin on his glitzy Oceans movies; screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario) made his directorial debut with the thriller Wind River (Lionsgate Home Entertainment); the dark comedy Candy Apple (IndiePix Films) follows its twisted characters through various corners of New York’s underground art scene.


New Foreign

At long last, a noble and heroic profession gets its moment in the spotlight with the Argentine import The Film Critic (Music Box Films). In all seriousness, this hilarious comedy follows ink-stained wretch Victor as he falls in love and sees the world around him turn into a rom-com – which is, of course, the genre he hates the most. Writer-director Hernán Guerschuny takes a more compassionate look at the profession than most filmmakers would, and the results are a witty confection that will charm even jaded movie lovers.

Also available: After Love (Icarus Films) stars Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) and Cédric Kahn as a couple who want to get divorced but are stuck together until he can find a new apartment; acclaimed anime feature In This Corner of the World (Shout Factory) tells a haunting tale of a young bride from Hiroshima whose life is thrown into disarray after the bombing that ended World War II; legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda (Man of Iron) capped off an extraordinary career with the biopic Afterimage (Film Movement), about anti-Stalinist avant-garde painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski.

Marion Cotillard and Louis Garrel fall in forbidden love in 1940s France in From the Land of the Moon (IFC Films); detective Bill Nighy is on the hunt for a London serial killer in The Limehouse Golem (RLJ Entertainment), also featuring Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth and Eddie Marsan; winner of the Best Director award at the Venice Film Festival, the sexy Mexican sci-fi thriller The Untamed (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment) places a young mother and a mysterious woman in a cabin in the woods, so you can imagine.


New Documentary

One of the year’s most powerful and provocative non-fiction films, Whose Streets? (Magnolia Home Entertainment) examines the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown. It’s a film that digs deep into the current and ongoing clash between police and civilians, particularly in communities where racial tensions run high, and it’s also an example of how smartphone footage is changing the face of documentary filmmaking. Vital, tragic and inspiring, this is essential viewing. (Another new release exploring a similar topic is In His Own Home (IndiePix Films), about the shooting of unarmed, disabled college student Kofi Adu Brempong.)

Also available: Film Movement takes us to two conflict zones with new releases The War Show (about activists in Syria) and Gun Runners (two criminals become weapons traders in Kenya); Brothers of the Night (Altered Innocence) introduces us to the lives of Bulgarian Roma in Vienna who work as male prostitutes to support themselves and their families back home; Brooke Guinan, New York City’s first openly trans firefighter, tells her story in Woman on Fire (FilmRise).

Plenty for fans of music this month: Free to Rock: How Rock & Roll Brought Down the Wall (MVD Visual) examines the revolutionary music from the West that took hold in the East and flourished behind the Iron Curtain; in The Defiant Ones (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment), director Allen Hughes explores the bonds between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, with interviews from Bruce Springsteen, Snoop Dogg, Bono, Eminem and Lady Gaga, among many others; Finding Joseph I: The HR from Bad Brains Documentary (MVD Visual) takes a deep look into the creativity and mental health challenges of a punk icon.

Who’s living in Israel’s West Bank and why is the focus of The Settlers (Film Movement); visionary fashion designer Dries Van Noten takes center stage in Dries (KimStim); No Gods, No Masters (Icarus Films) takes a deep dive into the history of anarchy; take a soul-searching journey with scientists and spiritual leaders in InnSæi: The Power of Intution (Kino Lorber).


New Grindhouse

One of the year’s best-reviewed genre films was Korean import The Villainess (Well Go USA Entertainment), about a deadly female assassin who embarks upon a rampage of revenge when she is wronged by the criminal organization that trained her since childhood in the ways of murder. Kim Ok-bin (Thirst) and Shin Ha-kyun (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) star in this bloody thrill ride.

Also available: In 1974, the same year as his legendary Black Christmas, Bob Clark also directed Deathdream (Blue Underground), a cult-classic chiller about a Vietnam casualty who returns home as a zombie; a woman returns to her childhood home in Darkness Rising (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory), only to find it still inhabited by malevolent spirits; John Travolta made one of his first appearances in the horror fave The Devil’s Rain (Severin).

A vacationing couple realize too late that their campsite is adjacent to the Killing Ground (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory); Amityville: The Awakening (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bella Thorne and Cameron Monaghan, proves that some houses just can’t be un-haunted; Blaxploitation meets horror in the drive-in classic J.D.’s Revenge (Arrow); take a second dip into the works of a Spanish master of low-budget horror with The Paul Naschy Collection II (Scream Factory), featuring the amazingly-titled Hunchback of the Morgue, The Devil’s Possessed, The Werewolf and the Yeti, Exorcism and A Dragonfly for Each Corpse.


New Classic

Before there was a New Queer Cinema, there was Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts (The Criterion Collection), one of the movies’ great lesbian love stories, produced at a time when the filmmaker had to raise the money herself from private donors because no studio was even remotely interested. None of that struggle shows on screen, as this tale of a divorcée (Helen Shaver) who travels to Reno and falls for an unconventional young woman (Patricia Charbonnet) plays like an old-fashioned romance, with all the style and sheen of classic Hollywood. Time has not diminished this 1985 film’s romantic impact or its ever-relevant message of equality and understanding. It’s also sexy as all-get-out.

Also available: Just in time for Christmas, check out the Blu-ray of I’ll Be Seeing You (Kino Lorber Classics), starring Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten as troubled souls who fall in love over the holidays; an influence on A Clockwork Orange and countless avant-garde features, the Japanese 1960s feature Funeral Parade of Roses (Cinelicious) makes its long-awaited hi-def debut; Cary Grant gets to be roguish and wind-swept in two of his later comedies, Father Goose and Operation Petticoat (both Olive Films); a teenager falls for a war widow in the hit 1970s romance Summer of ’42 (Warner Archive Collection).

While its Best Picture nomination was probably undeserved, the splashy musical Doctor Dolittle (Twilight Time) is better than its reputation, thanks to a lovely score by Leslie Bricusse; Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer cross paths with practically every working director in 1980s Hollywood in John Landis’ caper comedy Into the Night (Shout Factory); Van Heflin and Aldo Ray sound the Battle Cry (Warner Archive Collection) in this WWII saga written by Leon Uris, based on his novel; Hollywood movies just don’t get any more sparkling or sophisticated than Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Cary Grant and Ruth Hussey exchanging quips in The Philadelphia Story (The Criterion Collection).

If you’re a fan of Kathy Bates and Stephen King, don’t miss new Blu-rays of both Misery (Scream Factory) and Dolores Claiborne (Warner Archive Collection); wartime drama Since You Went Away (Kino Lorber Classics) sees wife Claudette Colbert and daughters Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple keeping the home fires burning; Lily Tomlin IS The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Shout Factory), and she provides a new interview to this first-ever Blu-ray release; GKIDS’ release of Studio Ghibli classics winds up with two final titles, the airborne Porco Rosso and The Secret World of Arietty, based on the beloved novel The Borrowers.

The Sissi Collection (Film Movement) offers 2K restorations of the films that made Romy Schneider an international superstar; Steve Buscemi directs the brutal prison drama Animal Factory (Arrow), with an ensemble that includes Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Mickey Rourke and Danny Trejo; compare two takes on the same story with the Strictly Dishonorable Double Feature (Warner Archive Collection), which includes both the 1931 and 1951 versions.


New TV

Daniel Day-Lewis and Hayao Miyazaki (and Steven Soderbergh; see above) always talk about retirement before they come back again, so perhaps we should take it with a grain of salt when Shout Factory tells us that Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIX will be the very last of the box sets they’ll be putting out for this legendary comedy show. But even if it is, it’s been a great run, and this one includes such faves as Girls Town, The Amazing Transparent Man, and Diabolik, as well as an extra disc full of unreleased host segments called “Satellite Dishes.” I’ll still leave room on my shelf for a 40th volume, just in case.

Also available: One of your best bets for a holiday binge is the four films that make up Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), giving us a year in the life of Stars Hollow; acclaimed German import The Tower (Music Box Films) looks at life in East Berlin during the last decade of the Communist government; High School Lover (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) sees James Franco dipping his toe into Lifetime Movie waters once again.

The provocative Westworld: Season One (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) makes for great viewing, even if you already know the big twists; Sid and Marty Krofft go political with their mix of punditry and puppetry, D.C. Follies: The Complete Series (Shout Factory); for glossy, historical escapism, there’s nothing quite so indulgent as a plunge into The Crown: Season One (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).

The folks at Acorn are keeping busy with great international TV selections: Once you’ve watched Kenneth Branagh’s turn at being Poirot, watch the master, David Suchet, take on Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, and then follow it up with The Best of Agatha Christie, Volume 1 and The Best of Agatha Christie, Volume 2 for more delicious whodunnits. Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan square off in The Fall: Complete Collection, and fans won’t want to miss Rake, Series 4; The Good Karma Hospital, Series 1 or 19-2, Season 4 (The Final Season).

Last-Minute Gift Guide

For the superhero fanboy: DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection (DC/WB) is a gorgeous box set featuring all of DC Comics’ acclaimed animated features (some of them are definitely not for all ages) and a wealth of extras.

For the horror buff: George Romero: Between Night and Dawn (Arrow/MVD) offers an exhaustive look at the three features that Pittsburgh’s legendary auteur made between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

For the Christmas lover: Just coming in under the wire are Blu-rays of two great holiday classics, the moving, low-key indie Christmas, Again (Factory 25; available 12/20) and the exuberant ballet film Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (Olive Films), directed by Carroll Ballard.

For the cinephile: Two essential (and self-explanatory) sets spotlighting the work of two legendary auteurs: Fritz Lang: The Silent Films (Kino Classics) and Eight Films by Jean Rouch (Icarus Films).

For the country cousin: CMA Awards Live: Greatest Moments 1968-2015 (Time Life) features 127 performances from legends like Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Carrie Underwood, Glen Campbell, Buck Owens, Kenny Rogers, and lots more, plus a 44-page booklet.

For the vintage TV collector: Return to the days of classic television variety with two great compilations: Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials Deluxe Collection and The Red Skelton Hour in Color: Deluxe Collection (both Time Life). It’ll be like your TV still had rabbit ears on it.

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