A wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle.
3 NEW TO NETFLIX
5 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
"Alien: 40th Anniversary"
One of the best films of all time is having a resurgence in 2019 thanks to its 40th anniversary. There are restored 4K DCP screenings planned later this year, a 35MM presentation is going down (with Tom Skerritt!) at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, and Fox has released the classic film in a 4K Blu-ray edition. There's not much more to the release than the actual 4K-ization of the film as the special features have been available before, but you do get both cuts of the classic movie and a couple of the previously available excellent commentary tracks. If you already own "Alien," I wouldn't upgrade for this edition, but it's a solid one for those of you who have yet to pick up one of my favorite movies.
Theatrical Version (1979)
Director's Cut (2003)
2003 Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott and the Cast & Crew
1999 Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott (1979 Theatrical Version Only)
Final Theatrical Isolated Score – Dolby Digital 5.1 (1979 Theatrical Version Only)
Composer's Original Isolated Score – Dolby Digital 5.1 (1979 Theatrical Version Only)
"A Face in the Crowd" (Criterion)
"He's got the courage of his ignorance." No film from the '50s feels more prescient and timely than Elia Kazan's masterful "A Face in the Crowd," now a part of the Criterion Collection. Andy Griffith's debut film performance remains one of the best of all time as "Lonesome" Rhodes, a small-town drunk who becomes the '50s version of a social influencer and goes crazy with the power. (He even calls himself an "influencer" at one point!) Budd Schulberg and Kazan somehow knew what that word would mean six decades later. "A Face in the Crowd" is riveting, funny, and terrifying, and the transfer is gorgeous. It's one of the best Criterion releases so far this year. (Special props to a fantastic essay in the booklet by April Wolfe.)
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with Ron Briley, author of The Ambivalent Legacy of Elia Kazan
New interview with Andy Griffith biographer Evan Dalton Smith
Facing the Past, a 2005 documentary featuring actors Griffith, Patricia Neal, and Anthony Franciosa; screenwriter Budd Schulberg; and film scholars Leo Braudy and Jeff Young
PLUS: An essay by critic April Wolfe, excerpts from director Elia Kazan’s introduction to the film’s published screenplay, and a 1957 New York Times Magazine profile of Griffith
M. Night Shyamalan's "Split" opened up the universe of that film to include the movie that remains arguably his best work to date, "Unbreakable." The early 2019 "Glass" pays off the tag at the end of "Split" with a movie that combines the characters of both worlds, and not just the heroes and villains played by Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, and Samuel L. Jackson. The result should be a joyous blending of two different eras of Shyamalan's career, but it's a self-serious slog instead, creating a new mythology instead of building on what fans knew and loved. McAvoy is great again, but he's balanced out by a half-asleep performance by Willis, and the movie simply lacks the energy of "Split" or the early prime of Shyamalan. Still, I felt like I should include it in this week's column given it was really the first blockbuster of 2019.
Buy it here
The Collection of Main Characters
Bringing the Team Back Together
David Dunn vs. The Beast
Breaking Glass: The Stunts
Connecting the Glass Universe
M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens
The Sound of Glass
Enhancing the Spectacle
Raven Hill Memorial
Joe Cornish's "Attack the Block" wasn't seen by many in theaters when it was released in 2011 (it didn't even gross $6 million worldwide) but has developed a loyal following in the eight years since its release, and not just because it introduced the world to John Boyega. Many were disappointed that it took Cornish almost a decade to direct another movie, the earnest family adventure take on the legend of King Arthur, which was released earlier this year and suffered much of the same fate as "Attack," barely registering at the box office (it opened in 4th place at the U.S. box office). Families are likely to find this fun film on DVD, a movie that's way too long (120 minutes) but still has enough sweet, character-driven adventuring to recommend a rental.
Origins of a King
Hair, Makeup & Costume Tests
"Be the King", Lay Lay Music Video
"Tito and the Birds"
Speaking of alternate options for family viewing, you should always keep an eye on the non-major studio companies like GKids and Shout Factory for their releases of foreign animation. There are great films for kids and teens that never get anywhere near the promotion of a Disney or Illumination movie. Take "Tito and the Birds," a clever, visually striking Brazilian film that works as an adventure story for kids and a commentary on fearmongering for a country that has struggled greatly with social and political upheaval. Tito is a kid with a scientist dad who he needs to find to help cure a disease that starts when people are scared. The story is culturally interesting but it's the visuals and score that make this feel different than what the United States are producing in 2019.
Interview With Director Gustavo Steinberg And Producer Daniel Greco
Original Portuguese and English audio tracks, with optional English subtitles
The 2020 Oscar nominations.
A review of the new Netflix crime docuseries about former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.
A collection of the reviews given our highest possible grade in 2019.
A review of Netflix's Dracula, from the creators of Sherlock.