“Understated” isn’t a word you’d ordinarily use to describe a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but that’s surprisingly what 12 Strong ends up being.
10 NEW TO NETFLIX
8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
I have a confession: my kids love the minions, and I get it. Because of their love, I have seen the "Despicable Me" movies and the "Minions" spin-off more than any adult male should, and we all eagerly trekked out to see "Despicable Me 3" the weekend it was released. Having seen them so much, I can say more accurately than most critics, this one is the worst. Even the boys seem to have moved on quickly, watching "Minions" more than this surprisingly flat and uninspired flick. I know "Minions" is no Pixar movie, but there's a creative spark there that's lacking here in a film that truly feels like a cash grab, corporate requirement. They had to make a "DM3," but they put so little effort into it. Now, having said that, the Blu-ray is solid, including a mini-movie that will keep the kids entertained ... especially if they're like mine.
Mini-Movie: The Secret Life of Kyle
Kathryn Bigelow's controversial film about what happened at the Algiers Motel in Detroit in 1967 leaves me torn. Of course, it displays its director's undeniable skill with composition and form, but I'm left asking to what end? The theme of the film can't purely be that there are racist, awful cops out there. The news reveals that every week. And if you're going to put an audience through the kind of torturous experience it is in watching young men tortured and beaten by police officers for over two hours, there needs to be a reason to do so. I'm not sure writer Mark Boal or Bigelow ever figured out why to tell this story now. And so the film becomes something of a hollow exercise. Sure, it's terrifying, but there needs to be more to art than that, especially with the racial undercurrents inherent in a pair of white filmmakers tackling a racially sensitive true story. I do think it's a film worth seeing for the discussions it could raise afterward about how to tell stories like this and why. And the Blu-ray is well-assembled. It's a film that may work differently for you, but I kept trying to find my way into it as history or art and never quite could find either.
The Truth of Detroit
The Cast of Detroit
The Invasion of Detroit
The Hope of Detroit
Detroit - Then and Now
Algee Smith and Larry Reed: "Grow"
Alexander Payne's best film joins the Criterion Collection in conjunction with the release of his disappointing "Downsizing" in theaters. 20 years after its release, "Election" is better than ever, serving as a still-timely analysis of how politics don't really change from high school to Washington, as well as a laugh-out-loud examination of suburban morals. It's hysterical and downright prescient at times, feeling almost more like a film of the '10s than the '90s. In classic Criterion fashion, they've loaded the Blu-ray with special features, including new interviews and a commentary by Payne. Most interestingly, they include Payne's 1990 UCLA thesis film, allowing a glimpse into the start of a career still impressing three decades later. Criterion has always excelled at putting films in their place in history, both that of the form and the filmmaker, and this is a great release for just that.
New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by cowriter-director Alexander Payne, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2008 featuring Payne
New interview with Payne
New interview with actor Reese Witherspoon
The Passion of Martin, Payne’s 1990 UCLA thesis film, with a new introduction by the director
TruInside: “Election,” a 2016 documentary featuring on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew
Omaha local-news reports on the film’s production
PLUS: An essay by critic Dana Stevens
"Fargo: Year 3"
With "Big Little Lies" and "Twin Peaks" stealing a lot of limited series attention this year, Noah Hawley's FX program arguably lost some of its luster when compared to the first two years. It shows you how fickle we can be in the era of Peak TV because this was still riveting, fantastic television, anchored by a great dual performance from Ewan McGregor and excellent supporting turns from Carrie Coon, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Thewlis, and more. It was a slower, more deliberate season than the first two, but also felt like Hawley had more to say about how we got to where we are in 2017 than he was given credit for. I'll probably write more about it for next week's Best of TV in 2017 feature but you should go pick it up for yourself. Sadly, this one is only available on DVD and not Blu-ray, making for that silly dynamic in which you can't own a show in the same quality it was originally broadcast. And people wonder why physical media is dying.
Ray and Nikki
Emmit Stussy and Sy Feltz
One Actor, Two Characters
Anatomy of a Scene
The Digital Age
Connectivity and References
"Monterey Pop" (Criterion)
Often considered the best of the '60s concert documentaries, the masterful D.A. Pennebaker's look at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 is a beautiful snapshot of an era. Watch performances by Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Mamas & the Papas, and more, now lovingly restored by the Criterion Collection. Pennebaker's style is electric without ever being intrusive, and Criterion has REALLY loaded the box set release with hours of special features, including over a dozen performances cut from the original film. It's a great gift idea for the music fan in your life this holiday season.
New 16-bit 4K digital restoration of Monterey Pop, supervised by director D. A. Pennebaker, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack
Restored high-definition digital transfers of Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey, with uncompressed stereo soundtracks
Alternate soundtracks for all three films featuring 5.1 surround mixes by recording engineer Eddie Kramer, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
Two hours of performances not included in Monterey Pop, from the Association, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Blues Project, Buffalo Springfield, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Byrds, Country Joe and the Fish, the Electric Flag, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Al Kooper, the Mamas and the Papas, the Steve Miller Blues Band, Moby Grape, Laura Nyro, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Simon and Garfunkel, Tiny Tim, and the Who
Audio commentaries from 2002 featuring Pennebaker, festival producer Lou Adler, and music critics Charles Shaar Murray and Peter Guralnick
New interviews with Adler and Pennebaker
Chiefs (1968), a short film by Richard Leacock, which played alongside Monterey Pop in theaters
Interviews from 2002 with Adler and Pennebaker and with Phil Walden, Otis Redding’s manager
1987 interview with Pete Townshend on Monterey and Jimi Hendrix
Audio interviews with festival producer John Phillips, festival publicist Derek Taylor, and performers Cass Elliot and David Crosby
Photo-essay by Elaine Mayes
Trailers and radio spots
PLUS: A book featuring essays by critics Michael Chaiken, Armond White, David Fricke, Barney Hoskyns, and Michael Lydon
Stephen Cone has developed quite a following among fans of indie and arthouse cinema, and he delivers the best work of his career with this gentle, realistic coming-of-age story that defies the conventions of its genre merely by being so truthful with its characters. A nominee for Most Promising Performer of 2017 by the Chicago Film Critics Association, Jessie Pinnick stars as a young lady who grows closer to two women, one an aunt with whom she lost contact for a long time but knew her when she was younger, the other another young lady who becomes her girlfriend. Way more than a traditional coming-out story, this is a beautiful little film, the kind of movie that gains fans through word of mouth as they pass it along from one friend to another. Do your part in that chain.
Behind the Scenes Featurette
"Silent Night, Deadly Night"
"So it will be like Jason from those 'Friday the 13th' movies that everyone is watching, but Santa Claus?" Can't you just picture the conversation that got "Silent Night, Deadly Night" made by TriStar in 1984, at the peak of the slasher craze? Trashy in ways that earned it a cult following, this film even spawned four sequels. FOUR! To a cheap slasher flick about a killer Santa! I was never a very big fan of this one, despite my love for the subgenre, but it holds a special place in history, and has thusly been given a gorgeous transfer and bonus-laden treatment by the heroes of Scream Factory, the best Blu-ray house in history for horror fans. Buy this for someone this Christmas.
4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative With Standard Definition Inserts
Slay Bells Ring: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night – Featuring Interviews With Writer Michael Hickey, Co-Executive Producers Scott J. Schneid And Dennis Whitehead, Editor/Second Unit Director Michael Spence, Composer Perry Botkin, And Actor Robert Brian Wilson
Oh Deer! – An Interview With Linnea Quigley
Christmas In July – Silent Night, Deadly Night Locations – Then And Now
Audio Commentary With Actor Robert Brian Wilson And Co-Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid
Audio Commentary With Michael Hickey, Perry Boykin, Scott J. Schneid, and Michael Spence
Audio Interview With Director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. From Deadpit Radio (Extended Version)
Santa’s Stocking Of Outrage
Poster And Still Gallery
"Twin Peaks: The Limited Series"
Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that I'd be writing more about a show in my Best TV of 2017 piece next week, and you can be SURE to read more about David Lynch's grand experiment in that piece as well. Until then, what you really need to know is how well Paramount has treated the show in a relatively quick turnaround from airdate to Blu-ray arrival. This is no quickie release designed just to get a few bucks in the holiday season. It's a beautifully transferred show and the Blu-ray includes hours of special features, including deleted scenes. Even the packaging rules. No, it won't really answer any of your questions as to what the hell it's all about but you can now watch it over and over again and try to do so yourself. Hellllooooooooooooooooooo!
Twin Peaks: Phenomenon (Featurettes)
Comic-Con 2017: Twin Peaks Panel
A Very Lovely Dream: One Week in Twin Peaks
Richard Beymer Films
Rancho Rosa Logos
Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
The Man with the Gray Elevated Hair
Tell It Martin
Two Blue Balls
The Number of Completion
See You On The Other Side Dear Friend
Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers
A Bloody Finger In Your Mouth
The Polish Accountant
A Pot of Boiling Oil
Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.
Hey, "Blade Runner 2049": You know that Voight-Kampff test of yours? Did you ever take that test yourself?
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A look at the way Donald Trump's words and images recall the Stanley Kubrick classic.