Sword of Trust
A likable throwback to the kind of rambling, character-driven 1990s indie comedies that the U.S. film industry barely releases to theaters anymore.
16 NEW TO NETFLIX
"A Clockwork Orange"
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
"The Hurt Locker"
"Strangers on a Train"
"Synecdoche, New York"
"Wet Hot American Summer"
11 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
When Stanley Donen passed away last month, the rapturous praise for his career was pretty overwhelming. He made movies that mattered to a lot of people, including widely-cited classics like "Singin' in the Rain," "On the Town," and "Two For the Road." The same year he released that last film, he dropped a comedy classic starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook called "Bedazzled," coincidentally just released on Blu-ray by the great company Twilight Time. Conceived by Cook as a vehicle for him and his comedy partner, "Bedazzled" is a comedy riff on Faust that really highlights their great comic timing and reminds one that Donen really could do anything. The fact that this and "Two For the Road" came out within three months of each other is remarkable.
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One of the best films of 2018 gets a relatively lackluster Blu-ray release, although the trend away from physical media should make us happy it's getting an HD disc at all, I suppose. Criterion has released Lee Chang-dong's work before, so we can also hope that they do their magic upgrade thing for this movie soon. Until then, just rent or buy this version of a movie that's both thriller and social drama, containing some of the best writing, direction, and acting of 2018. This film not even being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, when it arguably should have won, is a crime. (Steven Yeun deserved a nod too). The less you know about this movie, the better. Just watch it. You won't regret it.
About the Characters - Featurette
I have to admit that when I started seeing previews for "Creed II" that they made me a little sad. "Creed" is a fantastic film and not one that demands a sequel. (Although it's arguable that neither did "Rocky".) The good news is that this is far from the disaster it could have been, largely because Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, and Sly Stallone don't treat it like a cash grab. They invest themselves completely in these characters yet again, especially Jordan, who continues to prove that he's one of the best actors of his generation. They bring depth to a script that isn't as nuanced as the first and direction that's not as accomplished as Coogler's but this is a totally solid sequel, a step down from the first movie but nowhere the collapse that I once dreaded.
From Father to Son, Blood Runs Hot - Featurette
Finding the Authentic - Featurette
The Women of "Creed II" - Featurette
The Rocky Legacy - Featurette
We generally only include releases in this column that we can recommend but enough people love this series that we'll make an exception for the most dour blockbuster of 2018. Seriously, when did this world get so depressing? With the exception of a few top-notch tech elements and the always-welcome appearances of Jude Law and Zoe Kravitz, there's little to warrant a look other than if you feel an obligation to keep up with what's happening in J.K. Rowling's world, one that started with such joy and wonder but now seems content to wallow in its worst tendencies.
EXTENDED CUT OF THE FILM (141 min).
THEATRICAL CUT OF THE FILM (134 min).
J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed
Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life
Unlocking Scene Secrets: The Return to Hogwarts
Unlocking Scene Secrets: Newt's Menagerie
Unlocking Scene Secrets: Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus
Unlocking Scene Secrets: Paris and Place Cachée
Unlocking Scene Secrets: Ministere des Affaires Magiques
Unlocking Scene Secrets: Grindelwald's Escape and the Ring of Fire
The Oscar winner for Best Actress (and a nominee for Picture, Director, Screenplay, and much more) is already available for rent and purchase. Yorgos Lanthimos' most acclaimed film is a sharp comedy that really works best as a platform for its three incredibly talented stars. It's rare to see a movie that gives roles this juicy to not one actress but a trio of them, and then gets such incredible performances from all three. Personally, the script doesn't work as well for me as it does for some people (neither do the fish-eye lenses) but as a performance piece? It's easily one of the best of the last few years.
The Favourite: Unstitching the Costume Drama
Maybe you've heard of it? The most divisive Best Picture winner of the decade is already on the home market for people to see what all the fuss is about. What I've found helpful is to just listen to the conversation around "Green Book." There has been some incredible writing about the problems that people have with this film's troubling grasp on history and white savior narrative. Even if you don't agree and want to embrace the movie's crowd-pleasing aspects, take the time to hear the other side. So much of what divides this country comes down to a complete unwillingness to listen to counterpoints. And if you like this movie, you probably point to its "can't we all get along" aspect as one of its strengths. Well, follow that lesson and truly listen to the people who are honestly offended that this movie even exists, much less was named the best of 2018. I'm not saying your mind will be changed or that it should, but great cinema should start conversations, and you have to listen to have one of those.
Virtuoso Performances – Go behind the scenes with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as they discuss their characters and the lengths they went to accurately portray them.
An Unforgettable Friendship – Cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip.
Going Beyond the Green Book – Filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.
One of the best thrillers of 2018 is a film that you probably haven't seen, but it's now available on Blu-ray and DVD. This award-winning German film is a single-set piece that plays beautifully with perspective and miscommunication. It tells the story of a worker at an emergency call center who gets a call that will change his life. Convinced he's speaking to a kidnapped woman, the worker does everything he can to save her life, but he learns that he's made a few assumptions about exactly what's happening on the other end of the line. Smart, tightly-written, and thrilling, this is another foreign language film of 2018 that deserves your attention.
Want to feel old? "The Little Mermaid" is as old now as "Sleeping Beauty" was when Ariel's story came out in 1989. To celebrate the film's 30th anniversary, Disney has pulled it from the vault and given it a shiny polish for a 4K release. Watching it with my family, I was actually startled at how old it did look, as we've become so accustomed to CGI animation in 2019. The hand-drawn charm of this one remains and the colors and line details have never looked better. The storytelling may be thin by modern terms, but the music is still the real draw. It almost makes one long for the day when all Disney movies were musicals, especially when the original songs were this unforgettable.
Alan Menken & the Leading Ladies Song
"What I Want From You…Is YOUR VOICE"
Stories From Walt's Office – Gadgets & Gizmos
DCapella "Part of Your World" Music Video
Deleted Character: Harold The Merman
Under The Scene: The Art Of Live Action Reference
Audio Commentary With Ron Clements, John Musker and Alan Menken
There's little music and nothing hand-drawn in "Ralph Breaks the Internet," also recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. Will people still be watching this one in 30 years? I do wonder how the film's heavy emphasis on technology will age. However, the main theme of this film is timeless in that it's really about how Ralph's insecurity takes over his world. Who can't relate to that? Most of all, I love that one of the main themes of this film is allowing your friends to have their own pursuits and interests. An overwhelming amount of family films are about "getting people together" that it's nice to see one that says it's you can still love your friends when you're apart too.
How We Broke the Internet
Surfing for Easter Eggs
The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet
Music Videos – "Zero" by Imagine Dragons and "In This Place" by Julia Michaels
Baby Drivers – Slaughter Racing School
Turnaround times on indie films from theater to DVD can often be incredibly quick. Take this little thriller that we reviewed in January and is already on Blu-ray. With echoes of David Mamet and Quentin Tarantino, this is the kind of flick that should have a long life on the home market, passed along through word-of-mouth. It's smart, tense, and really clever. Be the first one in your circle of friends on the bandwagon to watch it and then tell everyone you know to do the same.
The Making of The Standoff at Sparrow Creek - Featurette
"To Sleep with Anger" (Criterion)
The Ebertfest presentation of this Charles Burnett film in 2017 was one of the highlights of that year. It's a challenging film to describe to people. Even the plot synopsis is deceptively simple: "An enigmatic drifter from the South comes to visit an old acquaintance who now lives in South-Central LA." Yeah, that's part of what fascinates people about this movie, along with arguably Danny Glover's best performance, but it really only hints at the depth in Burnett's work. This is a film designed to get people talking not only about the plot of the movie they just watched but the mood, tone, and cinematic language. Check it out as soon as you can.
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New, restored 4K digital transfer, approved by director Charles Burnett, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Of Family and Folklore, a new interview program, featuring Burnett, actors Danny Glover and Sheryl Lee Ralph, and associate producer Linda Koulisis
A Walk with Charles Burnett, a new hour-long conversation between Burnett and filmmaker Robert Townsend that revisits Burnett’s films and shooting locations
Short video tribute to Burnett produced for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards ceremony in 2017
PLUS: An essay by critic Ashley Clark
A video essay about Mortal Engines, as part of Scout Tafoya's ongoing video essay series on maligned masterpieces.
This is the most purely entertaining season of Stranger Things to date.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...