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.
8 NEW TO NETFLIX
11 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai"
"Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"
The steelbook phenomenon has been an interesting one to watch, as films that diehard fans already own are re-released in collectible, exclusive, limited edition packaging. Personally, I'm a big fan of keeping physical media in existence and so anything that helps is good by me, especially when they're a pair of movies this fun. I'm a huge fan of Bill and Ted, and the news of a potential third movie should hopefully rekindle interest in the first two, especially the timeless original. The steelbook packaging (right) is gorgeous, and all of the previous special features have been imported. You should watch "Excellent Adventure" again. It's funnier than you remember. And let's go collect steelbooks if it keeps physical media alive!
Special Features - Buckaroo
"Into The 8th Dimension" – A Two-Hour Retrospective Documentary Including Interviews With The Cast And Crew
Audio Commentary With Michael And Denise Okuda
Audio Commentary With Director W.D. Richter And Writer Earl Mac Rauch
"Buckaroo Banzai Declassified" Featurette
Alternate Opening Sequence (With Jamie Lee Curtis)
Jet Car Trailer
Special Features - Bill & Ted's
Audio Commentary With Star Alex Winter And Producer Scott Kroopf
Audio Commentary With Writers Chris Matheson And Ed Solomon
Time Flies When You Are Having Fun! – A Look Back At A Most “Excellent Adventure,”Featuring Interviews With Actors Alex Winter And Keanu Reeves, Producer Scott Kroopf, Composer David Newman, Supporting Cast Members, And More
Criterion's timing of new releases is always interesting. They don't pay attention to the theatrical market as much as some other studios, who commonly release special editions timed to new sequels or major projects from the same stars. But it does feel like May's releases have been slightly timed to something with which Criterion collectors are probably familiar, the Cannes Film Festival. Take for example, this pair of Cristian Mungiu films that premiered at the most famous film event in the world. Mungiu has been a darling of Cannes for the new century, winning the Palme in 2007 for "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Best Screenplay for "Beyond the Hills" in 2012, and Best Director for "Graduation" in 2016. The latter two are now available in sturdy Criterion editions, including special features and fantastic critical essays. Mungiu is one of the more essential filmmakers of his era, and it's nice to see Criterion keeping up with his work as it's released, creating essential editions for any Blu-ray library.
Special Features - Beyond
2K digital transfer, approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with Mungiu
The Making of “Beyond the Hills,” a documentary from 2013, produced by Mungiu
Press conference from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, featuring Mungiu and actors Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta, and Dana Tapalaga?
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Doru Pop
Special Features - Graduation
2K digital master, approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with Mungiu
Press conference from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, featuring Mungiu and actors Adrian Titieni, Maria Dragu?, Malina Manovici, and Rare? Andrici
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri
Will "Black Panther" be the first Marvel movie nominated for Best Picture? It's very possible, but whether it is or isn't, it has already become one of the most important films of 2018. Not only did critics fall head over heels for what is aruably the best MCU movie, but it also made a fortune, captivating audiences around the world to the tune of over $1.3 billion worldwide, top ten all time. To call "Black Panther" a smash hit seems inadequate. It's a movement. It's a phenomenon. And it's a great film. And Disney/Marvel has granted one of their biggest film an expectedly lavish Blu-ray treatment, complete with deleted scenes and hours of details on the making of the film. It's one of the biggest films of 2018, and it's been given a matching Blu-ray treatment.
From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion – Delve into the film's making
Crowning of a New King – Explore the world of "Black Panther" in all its color and complexity
The Warriors Within – Get to know Wakanda's women and the actors who portray them
The Hidden Kingdom Revealed – Wakanda's diverse people
Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology
U.N. Meet and Greet
Okoye And W'Kabi Discuss the Future of Wakanda
T'Challa Remembers His Father
Voices from the Past
Exclusive Sneak Peek at "Ant-Man and The Wasp"
Marvel Studios the First Ten Years: Connecting the Universe
There are few film critics on Earth who love Aardman Animation as much as this one, but I was pretty mixed on their latest offering, a comedy about the collision between the Stone and Bronze Age. I don't just love the classics like "Wallace and Gromit" and "Chicken Run," but I'll go to bat for "Flushed Away" and "Pirates!" But the new one, while having its moments of inspired Aardman physical humor, feels shockingly thin and less ambitious than the humor that made them famous. It's more of a short film stretched to barely feature running time. Having said that, it's a perfectly serviceable family flick and certainly a better way to keep your kids occupied than a lot of garbage in the animated genre. You could do a lot worse. But most Aardman is usually better.
Before the Beginning of Time: Creating Early Man
Nick Park: Massaging the Funny
The Valley Meets the Bronze
Hanging at Aardman Studios: A Workshop Exploration
The ascendancy of Sebastian Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman" to such a place of critical prominence that it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film was somewhat shocking. Sony Pictures Classics has always been a major player in that category, but I didn't see voters connecting with this story as much as they did (I expected "Loveless" or "Foxtrot" to win the prize). I think history will note the success of this film, the story of a trans woman's journey after the death of her lover, spurned by his family in her attempts to mourn. It's a powerful drama, anchored by Lelio's sensitive direction and a truly breakthrough performance by Daniela Vega, who should have been in the acting races for the Academy more than she was. One step at a time, I suppose.
"The Making of A Fantastic Woman" Featurette
Audio Commentary with director Sebastián Lelio
There are so many things to like about "Game Night," the clever comedy starring a perfectly-cast Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as that couple you know that always takes game night with friends a little too competitively. When Bateman's brother, played by Kyle Chandler, initiates a murder mystery game to one-up his bro, it starts to get hazy as to what's a game and what's not. There are so many little things this comedy does right. It doesn't fall back on gross-out humor. It lets its couple act like actual couples. A lesser film would split up Bateman and McAdams instead of allowing them to work together. And it's perfectly cast down to even its minor roles. Although McAdams walks away with the movie, reminding us she has killer comic timing too.
An Unforgettable Evening: Making Game Night - Featurette
"Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" (Criterion)
As Paul Schrader's brilliant "First Reformed" is getting rapturous praise in theaters, Criterion digs into the vault and gives the 4k HD upgrade to what was arguably his best film as a director before his latest, "Mishima," presented with some spectacular special features. It's interesting to watch this unconventional biopic (which Roger included in his Great Movies) in light of "Reformed" as they share some similar themes and structure. Sure, "First" isn't as fragmented as this brilliant film but it's also a piece that relies heavily on narration, often over a man alone in a room (as Roger pointed out, a Schrader motif). The Criterion release is packed with great supplemental material, especially a fantastic commentary with Schrader himself and producer Alan Poul. Most of all, the movie itself looks GORGEOUS.
New, restored 4K digital transfer of the director’s cut, supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Two alternate English narrations, including one by actor Roy Scheider
Audio commentary from 2006 featuring Schrader and producer Alan Poul
Interviews from 2007 and 2008 with Bailey, producers Tom Luddy and Mata Yamamoto, composer Philip Glass, and production designer Eiko Ishioka
Interviews from 2008 with Yukio Mishima biographer John Nathan and friend Donald Richie
Audio interview from 2008 with coscreenwriter Chieko Schrader
Interview excerpt from 1966 featuring Mishima talking about writing
The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima, a documentary from 1985 about the author
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on the film’s censorship in Japan, and photographs of Ishioka’s sets
"The Other Side of Hope" (Criterion)
The thematicaly tied month for Criterion continues with another major fest premiere (this one from Berlin), the latest from the fantastic Aki Kaurismaki, whose dry sense of humor and deep humanism blend perfectly in this tale of an immigrant who finds sanctuary with a restaurant owner and his staff. This is a gentle, sweet little film that builds a surprisingly strong degree of emotional power and political statement by its final act. Criterion has a pattern of releasing more current foreign art house hits, often from IFC or Sundance Selects, and have sometimes taken criticism over some of the choices made in that department. No such criticism could be levied here. This is an excellent film that not nearly enough people saw when it was released. Make up for that now.
New 2K digital transfer, approved by director Aki Kaurismäki, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with actor Sherwan Haji
Footage from the press conference for the film’s premiere at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, featuring Kaurismäki, Haji, and actor Sakari Kuosmanen
Aki and Peter, a new video essay by filmmaker Daniel Raim, based on a 1997 essay by critic Peter von Bagh, to whom The Other Side of Hope is dedicated
PLUS: An essay by critic Girish Shambu
The latest Jennifer Lawrence spy drama is such an unusual film in that it's MUCH darker than your average multiplex blockbuster fare and yet also has that sheen of Hollywood product that sometimes holds it back from greatness. You should be warned though that this is a violent, brutal film, featuring more than one sequence of rape and torture, and that it runs over 140 minutes. Those are not the kind of elements that Hollywood studios usually allow into their blockbuster star vehicles. And so I'm tempted to give "Red Sparrow" a bit more of a pass than some other critics just because of the risks it takes. Still, it's an often unpleasant experience. You've been warned.
A New Cold War: Origination and Adaptation
Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast
Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity
Heart of the Tempest: On Location
Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballet and Stunts
A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production
Director Commentary by Francis Lawrence
10 Deleted Scenes (With Optional Commentary by Francis Lawrence)
Movies Anywhere Digital Code
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...