DVD Obscura: The New Indie and International Movies You Need to Watch

DVD Obscura: The New Indie and International Movies You Need to Watch

Nov 09, 2016

New Indie

Being known as “the farting corpse movie” at Sundance would present quite a hurdle for any film, but Swiss Army Man (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) managed to overcome that sobriquet and turn into one of the year’s most successful indie movies. Paul Dano stars as Hank, a hopeless romantic stranded on a deserted island, who befriends the late Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), who washes ashore one day. Together, the two teach each other about life and love, inspiring Hank to go after the girl of his dreams. This eccentric and visually lush debut feature from the music-video directing team known as DANIELS charmed audiences worldwide.

Also available: Bryan Cranston goes from small-screen drug kingpin to big-screen drug enforcer with The Infiltrator (Broad Green Pictures), a true-life tale of an IRS agent who went after the drug cartels’ money-laundering operations; Mr. Church (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) sees Eddie Murphy taking on another dramatic role, this time as a devoted cook who helps a young girl through tough times; comedy superstars Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate star in Joshy (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), about a dumped fiancé who decides to have his bachelor party even though the wedding’s off.


New Foreign

Greece’s entry for Best Foreign Film, Chevalier (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment), sees a yacht-ful of middle-aged men competing to see who’s the best among them. And “competing” is the key word, as they come up with an elaborate point system of positives (“staring at the sea with one hand on waist” earns three) and negatives (“taking dull pictures on digital camera and showing them” loses 25). This hilarious look at masculine competition wonderfully skewers macho obsessions.

Also available: An aspiring musician living in Gaza tackles the seemingly impossible dream of winning an Arab TV singing competition in The Idol (Adopt Films); Men & Chicken (MVD Visual) gives Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen a rare opportunity to play comedy; Michael Caton stars as an Aussie taking one last road trip in the poignant Last Cab to Darwin (First Run Features).

The Korean thriller The Wailing (Well Go USA Entertainment) has been acclaimed as one of the year’s best films – horror or otherwise – since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival; Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) and Ellen Page star as sisters fighting for survival in Into the Forest (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), the latest from director Patricia Rozema; The Last King (Magnolia Home Entertainment) tells a rousing true story about the circumvention of an attempted royal assassination; Rhys Ifans stars as a melting-down rocker who gets a surprise visit from his estranged son in the raucous Len & Company (IFC Films).


New Documentary

In an election year, independent journalism is more important than ever, and acclaimed documentarian Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA) pays tribute to one of this country’s most legendary periodicals in Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation (First Run Features). Both an exploration of the history of the publication (America’s oldest continuously published magazine) and of the times it covered, this fascinating film explores the state of the media and the high price of non-profit news.

Also available: Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Submarine Deluxe) explores the fascinating life of the legendary heiress and arts patron; you’ve never seen the personal experience of Coming Out (Wolfe Video) the way that first-person filmmaker Alden Peters captures it; Carlos Saura creates another rousing dance documentary – and it’s not only about tango – with Argentina (First Run Features).

One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich and the Lost American Film (Warner Bros. Home Video) examines a filmmaker who’s also one of the great experts on the history of the movies; the actor and his love of auto racing is the subject of the stirring Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (MVD Visual); director Luke Meyer’s Breaking a Monster (RLJ Entertainment) goes behind the scenes with teen rockers Unlocking the Truth, the youngest band ever to play Coachella; Bruce Lee: Tracking the Dragon (MVD Visual) hunts down the locations used in some of the most iconic martial arts films ever made.


New Grindhouse

So many show business legends have shuffled off this mortal coil in 2016, and while you might not have heard about the passing of Herschell Gordon Lewis, his career gets a fitting tribute in The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast (Arrow/MVD), a hefty box seat featuring his envelope-pushing genre hits. For better or worse, nobody before Lewis made films that were so drenched in blood and gore, and his influence continues to be felt in contemporary horror. This 17-disc set features 14 feature films and gobs of bloody extras – from Blood Feast to Two Thousand Maniacs! to The Gore-Gore Girls to Something Weird, the array of carnage on display is breathtaking. This one’s a must for horror buffs.

Also available: The Mel Gibson vehicle Blood Father (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) played Southern California drive-ins in its original run, and those outdoor screens were a perfect fit for this rousing tale of kidnapping, revenge and bikers; Jess Franco does the sexy-vampire thing he does so well in Daughter of Dracula (Redemption/Kino Lorber); Clowntown (ITN Distribution) is totally not where you want your road trip to wind up; the recently-deceased Ted V. Mikels serves up sci-fi silliness in Astro Zombies (Kino Lorber), and the disc includes a Rifftrax commentary; Mark Hamill stars in the wild and wonderful The Guyver (Warner Archive Collection).

Japanese horror cult classic Dark Water (MVD Visual) makes an interesting addition the the “dead wet girl” genre; Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and more bring maximum creepitude to the essential box set Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection (Warner Archive Collection); known for its soundtrack, its 1970s fashion and its action, Trouble Man (Kino Lorber) is a Blaxploitation classic; seminal 1980s title Vestron Video is back with new Blu-rays of Waxwork, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Chopping Mall and Blood Diner (all from Lionsgate Home Entertainment); even coming on the heels of the classic 1950s and 1970s versions, Abel Ferrara’s 1990s take on Body Snatchers (Warner Archive Collection), now in Blu-ray, stands proudly alongside its predecessors.

Speaking of thirds that stand the test of time, cult favorite The Exorcist III (Scream Factory) finally gets a Blu-ray release that includes director William Peter Blatty’s alternate cut; The Hills Have Eyes (Arrow/MVD) has lost none of its power to shock, and this new release includes director Wes Craven’s alternate ending, for the first time in HD; a virus attacks the suburbs in What We Become (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory) and one family will do whatever it takes to survive; Sarah Hyland leads a morbid L.A. tour group that gets more than they bargained for in Satanic (Magnolia Home Entertainment); Tales of Poe (Wild Eye Releasing) pays tribute to Roger Corman with an all-star cast of scream queens, including Adrienne King, Debbie Rochon, Amy King and Caroline Williams.

Often imitated and never surpassed, John Carpenter’s The Thing (Scream Factory) returns in a new two-disc collector’s edition that features a new 2K scan of the film (personally supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey) and over five hours of extras; Grace Jones is a Vamp (Arrow/MVD) opposite some archetypally ’80s co-stars (Chris Makepeace, Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe) in this horror-comedy; Amanda Wyss confronts her inner demons in The Id (Hutson Ranch Media); in the automotive serial-killer tale Fender Bender (Shout Factory), terror gets behind the wheel and runs the red lights.


New Classic

With Warren Beatty making a long-awaited return to the director’s chair this year, what better time to revisit one of his finest acting roles, in Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller (The Criterion Collection)? Paired with his off-screen paramour Julie Christie, Beatty balances modernity and period in this one-of-a-kind Western that’s really a story about the financial forces that have always shaped this country. This Criterion Blu-ray captures Vilmos Zsigmond’s elegiac photography in a gorgeous transfer and also features new and vintage extras, including segments from The Dick Cavett Show featuring Altman and famed film critic Pauline Kael.

Also available: John Wayne gives one of his sweetest, but no less manly, performances as a lovestruck Irishman in John Ford’s The Quiet Man (Olive Films); Ida Lupino is On Dangerous Ground (Warner Archive Collection) in a new Blu-ray of this noir classic; dark comedy The Executioner (The Criterion Collection) made it past Franco’s censors to become one of the most acclaimed Spanish films of all time; cop Sylvester Stallone goes toe-to-toe with global terrorist Rutger Hauer in cult fave Nighthawks (Shout Factory).

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) captures the brilliant siblings in five of their finest outings: The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and their masterpiece, Duck Soup; Richard Linklater’s brilliant Boyhood (The Criterion Collection) deserves every bell and whistle Criterion can bestow upon it; Warren Oates stars in the brilliantly creepy (and nearly forgotten) hidden treasure Private Property (Cinelicious); the apocalyptic comedy Gas-s-s-s! (Olive Films) provided youth-oriented director Roger Corman another opportunity to wipe out the adults; Frank Capra’s immortal Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) turns 80, but a stunning 4K remaster makes it look better than ever.

Pan’s Labyrinth (The Criterion Collection) sees Guillermo Del Toro at peak form, exploring his obsessions with childhood, history and supernatural forces; the Gregory Peck Centennial Collection (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) honors the Hollywood legend with two of his most iconic performances, in To Kill a Mockingbird and Cape Fear; Frank Sinatra is a desperate assassin in Suddenly (The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn), now available in HD; sweet little tiny baby Jesus, thank you for the new tenth anniversary two-disc Ultimate Fan Edition of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).


New Television

If the mall Santas weren’t enough of a Christmas bellwether, you can also tell the holiday is coming when the substantial DVD box sets start turning up. Four collections of classic TV have made their way into release, and they’ll be welcome under any tree: for fans of stylish adventure, there’s Miami Vice: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment); country music lovers will hoot and holler for Hee Haw: Salute! (Time Life), featuring lots of iconic performances and comedy; everybody digs the car when it comes to Knight Rider: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment); and don’t miss The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Classic Carol (Time Life), featuring some of the small screen’s greatest variety performances, from the likes of George Carlin, Mama Cass, Lucille Ball, Ray Charles, Lana Turner, Bernadette Peters and many more.

Also available: Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty) wowed critics as PR maven turned private eye in the hilarious mystery series Agatha Raisin (RLJ/Acorn); speaking of mysteries, the twists and turns of the acclaimed The Night Of (HBO Home Entertainment) will keep you guessing all the way to the end; nothing apparently says “autumn” like detective story Winter: The Complete Series (RLJ/Acorn) or the Easter production The Passion Live (Shout Factory).

A few extra zeroes on an insurance check leads retirees Jessica Lange and Shirley MacLaine to live it up in the rollicking Wild Oats (Weinstein/Radius/Anchor Bay); intrigue, sibling rivalry and bro cuisine all share a stove in Feed the Beast: Season One (Lionsgate Home Entertainment); Marta Dusseldorp returns as the take-no-prisoners barrister in Janet King, Series 2: The Invisible Wound (RLJ/Acorn).

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