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Jexi

Although the title is confounding and perhaps the movie’s worst misstep, it’s Byrne’s digitized and stilted delivery that earns the biggest laughs.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Great Movie Archives

Home Entertainment Consumer Guide: April 11, 2019

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

"All the President's Men"
"Bonnie and Clyde"
"Deliverance"
"The Fifth Element"
"King Kong"
"Monster House"
"Observe and Report"
"Pineapple Express"
"Sherlock Holmes"
"Snatch"

5 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

"Bumblebee"

While I enjoyed the first "Transformers" film for what it was, the sequels that followed ranged from awful to something that could be used to torture me. I hated them all with varying degrees of vitriol. And yet somehow "Bumblebee" made me hate them more because it reminded me of what this series should have been all along: FUN. Discarding most of the nonsense mythology of the Bay sequels, Travis Knight has made a film that wears its '80s influence on its sleeve like a badge of honor. This is an old-fashioned Amblin film that never got made, or almost even a reboot of "The Iron Giant." The point is that it recalls movies with young heroes who become friends with something completely out of this world. It's not perfect, but Hailee Steinfeld's ability to do literally anything at such a young age continues to impress. She's legitimately great here, finding just the right emotional notes and selling her character in a ridiculous situation. I never thought I'd say this again, but I'll be there for the next Transformers movie as long as it's like "Bumblebee."

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Special Features
Sector 7 Archive
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Outtakes
Bee Vision: The Transformers robots of Cybertron
Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen

"The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot"

This column typically consists only of films that I can wholeheartedly recommend, but I'm closer to Glenn Kenny's opinion of this unusual flick than our own Nick Allen's out of last year's Fantasia Festival. However, it is such a curiosity that I wanted to include it. It's one of those odd movies about which I would personally be a "Rotten Tomato" but feel like maybe you should see and decide for yourself? The reason for that is that it's the definition of a "Your Mileage May Vary" piece of storytelling. If you buy into the remarkably somber and self-serious tone of a film about Sam Elliott's veteran who killed Hitler and now has to kill Bigfoot (no, the title is not a joke) then the movie is likely to work for you. It also feels like the summation of the last couple decades of Elliott's work, and he's always interesting. I just wish the movie didn't think that it needed to balance the inherent ridiculousness of its narrative with such a deadly serious tone. 

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Special Features
Audio Commentary featuring writer-director Robert. D Krzykowski
The Making of The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Big Foot
Deleted Scenes 
Joe Kraemer Interview 
Elsie Hooper Short Film 
Art Gallery

"The Mule"

Warner Brothers really hid Clint Eastwood's latest film from critics in ways that make no sense to me. Sure, Eastwood's conservative leanings and the film's racially-charged plot were bound to lead some criticisms, but the film works overall. In fact, the first hour is some of Eastwood's best filmmaking in years. It's tightly made, well-acted, and consistently interesting. No one can deny Clint's skill as a filmmaker and that craftsmanship carries the film, even as it gets a bit maudlin and manipulative in the second half. Overall, Eastwood doesn't seem to get the attention he deserves as a major American filmmaker. And he's one of the very few who's still able to produce quality work like this one even near the end of his career. 

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Special Features
Nobody Runs Forever: The Making of The Mule
Toby Keith "Don't Let the Old Man In" Music Video

"Night on Earth"/"Stranger Than Paradise" (Criterion)

Film Twitter has just about lost its mind over the news that Jim Jarmusch's "The Dead Don't Die" will open Cannes 2019. Almost as if they had insider information, Criterion released Blu-ray upgrades of two of his best films at practically the same time that announcement was being made. Of course, it's just a coincidence, just another example of how much this company feels like it's on top of what people are talking about in the world of film. (Speaking of that, go sign up for The Criterion Channel now. You won't regret it.) As for these upgrades, Jarmusch isn't exactly a director to use to show off your HD TV, but it's nice to have his films in the best possible quality nonetheless. If you haven't seen it, you really need to catch up with "Stranger," an early pioneer in DIY filmmaking that feels more influential with every generation of directors that sees it. 

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Special Features - "Night on Earth"
High-definition digital restoration, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Selected-scene commentary from 2007 featuring director of photography Frederick Elmes and location sound mixer Drew Kunin
Q&A with Jarmusch from 2007, in which he responds to questions sent in by fans
Belgian television interview with Jarmusch from 1992
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by filmmakers, authors, and critics Thom Andersen, Paul Auster, Bernard Eisenschitz, Goffredo Fofi, and Peter von Bagh, and the lyrics to Tom Waits’s original songs from the film

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Special Features - "Stranger Than Paradise"
High-definition digital restoration, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 1996 featuring Jarmusch and actor Richard Edson
Permanent Vacation (1980), Jarmusch’s seventy-five-minute, color feature debut, presented in a high-definition digital restoration supervised by the director
Kino ’84: Jim Jarmusch, a 1984 German television program ­featuring interviews with cast and crew members from Stranger Than Paradise and Permanent Vacation
Some Days in January 1984, a behind-the-scenes Super 8 film by Tom Jarmusch
U.S. and Japanese trailers
PLUS: A booklet featuring Jarmusch’s 1984 “Some Notes on Stranger Than Paradise,” critics Geoff Andrew and J. Hoberman on Stranger Than Paradise, and author and critic Luc Sante on Permanent Vacation

"On the Basis of Sex"

It feels like someone dropped the ball with this sturdy period piece about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It's the kind of movie that should have played TIFF and gotten some decent buzz on its way through awards season. (It's certainly better than a trio of biopics nominated for Best Picture that will remain unnamed.) But it didn't premiere until AFI and then was relatively quietly released in theaters without much fanfare. I have some issues with the bland first half of this movie that hits too many of the "then this happened" tropes of the biopic, but it gets interesting when it essentially becomes a courtroom drama in the second half, and Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer are solid throughout. It's a decent rental that feels like it would have been a major movie even just a few years ago or if it had been handled differently. 

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Special Features
A Supreme Team: Making On the Basis of Sex – Pull back the curtain and see how this incredible team of collaborators brought this true story to the big screen.
Legacy of Justice – A deeper look at how Ruth Bader Ginsburg pioneered gender equality in America and gained her seat on the Supreme Court.
Martin and Ruth: A Loving Partnership – An intimate look at the symbiotic marriage between Martin and Ruth Ginsburg, and how it helped shape Ruth's perspective as a judge.

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