Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Despite flashes of inspiration, this sequel to the unexpectedly compelling Maleficent can't seem to get out of its own way.
5 NEW TO NETFLIX
10 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
One of the most visually striking films of the year is already available on Blu-ray and DVD after a successful IMAX run earlier this year. I wish I had gotten out to the theaters to see it because I do think something is lost a bit at home, but the remastered archival footage is still breathtaking, as the old images have been polished to such a degree that they look like an HD 2019 film. We're so accustomed to seeing old footage in grainy black-and-white that places it at a distance. What's accomplished here is a reminder of how much these men were ordinary people before they became icons. They look like you or your neighbors as they strap on the gear that would change history, and the tactile experience of this documentary can be mesmerizing. My toddler really said it all when he said, "This happened a long time ago, so I thought it would be gray." This movie is anything but gray.
Apollo 11: Discovering the 65MM - Featurette
Original Theatrical Trailer
The drama around Liam Neeson's comments about racially-charged vengeance overshadowed the actual film he was promoting, a pretty solid little thriller about a man who unleashes a wave of violence after the death of his son. It's not just your standard vengeance pic but more of a black comedy about an entire community that becomes embroiled in murder after a father starts the ball rolling. Neeson is as straight-faced as he's ever been (almost a bit too much so) but there's fun to be had on the fringes of this icy thriller, a movie that may have felt too familiar in theaters but will make a satisfying rental at home.
Interview with Actor Liam Neeson
Interview with Director Hans Petter Moland
"Welcome to Kehoe: Behind the Scenes on Cold Pursuit" Featurette
Florence Pugh does a lot of heavy lifting in this true story comedy and I don't just mean because she plays a wrestler. She takes a film that is often painfully generic in style and dialogue and imbues it with some heartfelt emotion. The belief we've had since "Lady Macbeth" that she could do anything gets further proof here. Pugh plays a British wrestler named Paige whose dreams come true as she climbs the ladder to wrestling stardom. This is a perfectly fine movie that I kept wanting to become something a little less superficial and manipulative. It's like a solid family sitcom, but it could have been something deeper about following your dreams and the image manipulation of the world of wrestling. Still, it's an easy movie to like.
DIRECTOR'S CUT AND THEATRICAL VERSION OF THE FILM
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Merchant (Director's Cut)
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Merchant
A Family's Passion: A Making Of - Featurette
Learning the Moves - Featurette
Deleted & Extended Scenes
"Funny Games" (Criterion)
Michael Haneke is one of the most divisive filmmakers of his era, and the litmus test as to how you feel about his work is often this 1997 thriller, billed by Criterion as the director's "most notorious provocation." While most people can agree on the quality of something like "Cache" or "Amour," this Cannes hit is purposefully designed to divide and anger audiences, whom Haneke explicitly implicates in his disturbing film. It's the story of a family held captive by a pair of sociopaths and subjected to increasingly violent and horrible games. How much are you willing to watch? What do you want to see happen next? Where is the line when it comes to explicit pain being used as entertainment? It's a commentary on violence within an extremely upsetting structure that asks us what we expect from the human condition on film. It's an underrated, unforgettable film, and a great addition to the Criterion Collection.
New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Michael Haneke, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interviews with Haneke and actor Arno Frisch
New interview with film historian Alexander Horwath
Press conference from the 1997 Cannes Film Festival featuring Haneke and actors Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri
Look at that cover! I wish the first hour of Neil Jordan's thriller lived up to it a little more, but at least there's the final act of this future cult hit that should satisfy renters and buyers. We know early on that Isabelle Huppert's Greta is mentally unstable in the extreme, but Jordan and his team take a bit too long to let her loose, resulting in a flat first hour of escalating tension that moves at too leisurely a pace. However, once the muzzle is off and Huppert can go full Joan Crawford on the movie, it's a B-movie treat. Just be patient enough to get there.
Greta: Enemies and Friends - Featurette
I was mostly positive in my review of "Happy Death Day," but even I never expected there to be a sequel. If there was to be one, maybe it could have been a "Final Destination" franchise situation where they replace most of the cast. Much to my surprise, "Happy Death Day 2U" picks up with the same characters, setting, and general idea—a day that's repeated until a murder can be solved—but adds a whole lot of talk of alternate universes and sci-fi mumbo-jumbo. It was kind of a mistake, as most of these characters aren't interesting enough to hold multiple films and the overall story should have gotten darker instead of just weirder. Having said that, Jessica Rothe proves again that she should be a star. Let's get this talent out of this now-franchise and make that happen.
The Never-ending Birthday
Web of Love: Tree's Nightmare
"House of Games" (Criterion)
I haven't done the number-crunching, but I can't imagine there are a whole lot of directorial debuts in Roger Ebert's Great Movies Collection. It often takes a few times behind the camera to make a GM. Not only is David Mamet's directorial debut a Great Movie but it's also a part of the Criterion Collection, now upgraded to Blu-ray quality and re-released. There's a reason. This is a wonderfully smart and sharp movie about the allure of the other side of the tracks. Lindsay Crouse plays a therapist who becomes fascinated with the art of the con, embodied in Joe Mantegna's best screen performance. It's a beautifully crafted film, something that's easier to appreciate in HD and accompanied by a commentary track by Mamet and the late Ricky Jay.
High-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Juan Ruiz Anchía, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Audio commentary from 2007 featuring director David Mamet and consultant and actor Ricky Jay
Interviews with actors Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna from 2007
David Mamet on “House of Games,” a short documentary shot on location during the film’s preparation and production
Detail from a storyboard of a short con suggested by Jay
PLUS: An essay by critic Kent Jones and excerpts from Mamet’s introduction to the published screenplay
The best animated film of the year so far is this gem, a movie that closes out a trilogy that now deserves comparison with the gold standard of animated trifectas, the "Toy Story" movies. While there may be some discussion in terms of screenplay and voice work, the category in which the "HTTYD" movies wins handily is visuals. With advising work by the great Roger Deakins, "The Hidden World" is one of the most visually striking animated films ever made. It's the very rare American animated film that takes its composition work and framing as seriously as its writing, maybe even more so. I've seen it twice and been captivated by its visuals both times. Get this one in HD.
Buy it here
Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto
Alternate Opening with Intro by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
DreamWorks Shorts: Bilby & Bird Karma
Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
How to Voice Your Viking
Creating an Epic Dragon Tale
How I Learned from Dragons
Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome
The Dragon Sheep Chronicles
A Deck of Dragons
Growing Up with Dragons
The Evolving Character Design of Dragons
Astrid's Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds
Welcome to New Berk
"Let the Sunshine In" (Criterion)
There seems to be something of a Denis-aissance going on as more people are discovering the work of Claire Denis thanks to the release of "High Life" earlier this year. Hopefully, that movie leads viewers to masterpieces like "35 Shots of Rum" and "Beau Travail," as well as some of what could be called "minor Denis" like this little gem just released by the Criterion Collection. More evidence that Denis is one of our greatest genre jumpers, "Let the Sunshine In" couldn't have less in common with "High Life" outside of the casting of the luminous Juliette Binoche. One of the best actresses of her generation, Binoche stars in this delicate little relationship dramedy about a woman just trying to find a little bit of sunshine in her life. It's a slight film, but one that sneaks up on you with its cumulative power and Denis' marvelous refined storytelling gifts. She really can do anything.
4K digital master, approved by cinematographer Agnès Godard, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interviews with director Claire Denis and actor Juliette Binoche
Voilà l’enchaînement (2014), a short film directed by Denis and adapted from a text by Let the Sunshine In cowriter Christine Angot, featuring actors Norah Krief and Alex Descas
PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek
Studio Ghibli seems to grow in esteem every single year. Recent Fathom Events screenings of their films have reportedly been sold out, as people long to see these masterpieces on the big screen. One of their most beloved films, 1999's epic "Princess Mononoke" has just been released in a lavish box set, which includes a gorgeous transfer of the film, the soundtrack, and a booklet with an essay by our very own Glenn Kenny. What more could I possibly say that Glenn and others haven't about "Mononoke"? These films are modern classics, and "Mononoke" is one of the most ambitious of them all. At over 130 minutes, it truly is an epic, and it's complex with storytelling and subtext. It's a great movie to watch with your junior high kids, introducing them to a world of animation that doesn't have to be pandering or crowd-pleasing. This is a challenging piece of work for all ages, a movie that's equally beautiful and horrifying. And now there's a new best way to own a movie that you really all should have in your collection.
Princess Mononoke Audio CD Soundtrack
Exclusive 40-Page Book
Behind The Microphone
Princess Mononoke In USA
Original Theatrical Trailers
A tribute to Robert Forster.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
The experts sound off on what films to watch in honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day.
A short film about two friends trying to get through a period of loss.