There may be no March Madness this year but there’s something truly insane related to college basketball this Tuesday.
10 NEW TO NETFLIX
7 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
Someone the other day asked me what I hate about movies nowadays and we discussed a few overrated flicks (I still can't stand "Birdman," he's down on "District 9") when he brought up the dreaded Disney Vault. Why do movies come out and then disappear, making it hard to collect your favorites? Kids and collectors should be able to buy Disney classics whenever they want. On the one hand, he's totally right. It's a garbage system that discourages people. On the other hand, he knew what the Disney Vault was, and so the branding has worked. The latest film to come out of the vault is one of the company's best, the lyrical, beautiful, and timeless "Bambi," a film I admire more as I get older. Some animated classics don't age well, but "Bambi" is so poetically perfect that it actually evolves with you, as you become the protector/parent more than the lost child. It's a beauty. Get it while you can.
Studio Stories: Bambi - Walt Disney's Recordings
The Bambi Effect - See How Today's Animated Films Were Inspired By The Artistry And Technology Of Bambi
Inside Walt's Story Meeting's - Extended Edition
Bambi Fawn Facts - Forest Animal Fun Facts
"Beauty and the Beast"
This column is designed primarily as a "highlights" piece, a service to readers about quality releases that have come out in the two weeks since the last one. Every now and then, we make exceptions for titles that people probably want to know about but this writer does not consider a highlight. One of the highest-grossing films of all time, Bill Condon's version of "Beauty and the Beast" was a massive success, and I'm sure there are families out there itching to buy it. For this Disney nut, it's a mess, a movie that I don't think does a single thing better than the original and is mostly a hollow, high-priced piece of CGI karaoke. Your mileage may vary.
Enchanted Table Read
A Beauty of a Tale
The Woman Behind Beauty and the Beast
From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences
Making a Momment with Celine Dion
"Beauty and the Beast" Music Video & Making of the Music Video
Extended Song "Days in The Sun"
Zoey Deutch's march to stardom continues with this interesting riff on "Mean Girls" meets "Groundhog Day" that doesn't quite work but, you know, is so much more emotionally complex than your standard Young Adult drama that I'm willing to give it a pass. Ry Russo-Young directs the adaptation of Lauren Oliver's hit book about a girl stuck in a day loop much like Bill Murray was in the Harold Ramis classic. As she goes through the same experiences time and time again, she starts to see different angles of the people around her, realizing that we're all way more complex than the superficial days of high school would have you believe. It can be remarkably silly, but then Deutch or Russo-Young will find a moment that really works and the entire thing feels way more ambitious than teenagers often get from Hollywood cinema.
I'll never forget having an unexpected hole in my Toronto International Film Festival schedule way back in 2015 and wandering into what was playing next in the theater housing the press screenings, a debut horror film from the son of Anthony Perkins, starring Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka. My expectations were non-existent, which is often the best way to see a film. And, man, is "The Blackcoat's Daughter" a great film. Sadly, it kind of lingered in distribution hell for a year and a half (Perkins' second film technically got released first on Netflix, "I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House") and then barely got a theatrical release. I truly think Perkins is going to have a long, notable career. See where it all began now.
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Osgood Perkins
"The Dead of Winter: Making The Blackcoat's Daughter" Featurette
I'm truly and honestly disappointed by how many critics wrote off this ambitious, gorgeous slice of horror filmmaking, a work that echoes Hammer, Poe, "Shutter Island" and more with design elements that deliver on every level. It's rare that one can say this with such confidence, but I'm sure that this movie will soon have loyal fans who embrace and adore its lunatic aesthetic. Is it too long? Sure. But it's also a big-budget horror movie from a major studio that has influences outside of the common template for such things in the '10s. It's unlike anything Hollywood has delivered lately (with the possible exception of the equally-unappreciated "Crimson Peak") and I'll forgive its flaws to focus on its many strengths. Some of the filmmaking is jawdroppingly gorgeous, and we're too quick to take that for granted nowadays. See this before the growing number of people who consider it "Unloved" tell you to.
Deleted Sequence: "It's Wonderful Here"
"Ghost World" (Criterion)
When people speak of the best comic book adaptations, they often tend to list superhero movies first, but Terry Zwigoff's pitch-perfect version of Daniel Clowes' graphic novel demands consideration on any such list. It's a wonderfully acerbic and intelligent comedy about outsiders that features arguably career-best work from Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch, along with a great early turn from Scarlett Johansson. I was surprised to see it on the Criterion release schedule, not because it doesn't deserve it, but because it's a film that it doesn't seem like many are still talking about two decades after its release. Maybe they will be now.
New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cowriter-director Terry Zwigoff, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary featuring Zwigoff, Ghost World comic creator and film cowriter Daniel Clowes, and producer Lianne Halfon
New interviews with actors Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Illeana Douglas
Extended excerpt from Gumnaam (1965) featuring the Bollywood number that appears in Ghost World’s opening title sequence, with commentary
PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton, a 2001 piece by Zwigoff on the film’s soundtrack, and reprinted excerpts from Clowes’s comic Ghost World
"The Young Pope"
Paolo Sorrentino's ("The Great Beauty") HBO drama gets a relatively quick Blu-ray release (I remember when these things always took a year), probably timed to remind Emmy voters deluged with screeners about its existence. I found the first season of this clever show entertaining but also inconsistent. However, there's nothing inconsistent about Jude Law's incredible performance, which you really should see, and Emmy voters should remember.
The Making of The Young Pope
An Invitation to the Set
Inside the Episodes
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
While the pandemic will pass, our awareness of each other should not.
A tribute to the late director, Stuart Gordon.
An essay on the art of choosing a favorite film.