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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Home Entertainment Consumer Guide: May 9, 2019

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

"As Good As It Gets"
"Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"
"The Cell"
"The Dark Crystal"
"Dumb & Dumber"
"Gremlins"
"The Matrix"
"Scarface"
"Scream"
"The Wandering Earth"

6 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

"Blaze"

Ethan Hawke has long been one of the most interesting actors of his generation but he's now developed into a fascinating director too, as proven by this 2018 Sundance hit starring Ben Dickey and Alia Shawkat. Dickey is fantastic as the title charracter, Blaze Foley, a name familiar to alt-country fans but not exactly a household name. Hawke's film unfolds like a country album of its own, episodic at times but also joyous, romantic, poetic, and melancholy. It's one of the best movies of 2018 that you probably haven't seen. 

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Special Features
Audio Commentary With Director Ethan Hawke
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
Trailer

"Dragged Across Concrete"

The turnaround time from theatrical to VOD to physical media gets faster every year. Take the latest from S. Craig Zahler, a film that didn't even have a release date a couple months ago, but has already spun through arthouse theaters and is now available on the home market. As the line between film and television gets blurrier, one wonders if things like this will even get any theatrical at all in the near future. Now that I'm off my soapbox, this is one of the most interesting films of 2019 so far, a divisive potboiler about two racist, sexist cops and a film that clearly is designed as a provocation. It's a film that has been very divisive and gotten people talking as much as anything this year. Join the conversation. 

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Special Features
"Elements of a Crime" 3-Part Documentary
"Moral Conflict: Creating Cinema that Challenges" Featurette

"The Heiress" (Criterion)

Every film critic has holes in their canon, and William Wyler's 1949 Best Picture nominee (and winner of four other awards, including Best Actress) had been one of mine until the Criterion release this month. It's a masterpiece. Wyler transcends the literary and theatrical roots of this story and directs a brilliant screenplay with such simple, refined cinematic language. Watch how he plays with angles and close-ups, subtly enhancing the story of an heiress who falls for a man but is denied his hand in marriage. Her father believes the suitor is only after her money, and there's at least a chance that daddy is right. Wyler's film is such a wonderfully dark drama - it's essentially about a woman who learns the very hard way how few people in her life truly love her, especially her father. The Criterion release is loaded with special features, the highlight being a conversation between the brilliant Farran Smith Nehme and the screenwriter Jay Cocks, who notes the influence this film had on his script for "The Age of Innocence."

Buy it here

Special Features
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural sound­track on the Blu-ray
New conversation between screenwriter Jay Cocks and film critic Farran Smith Nehme
New program about the film’s costumes featuring costume collector and historian Larry McQueen
The Costume Designer, a restored 1950 short film featuring costume designer Edith Head
Appearance by actor Olivia de Havilland on a 1986 episode of The Paul Ryan Show
Excerpts from a 1973 tribute to director William Wyler on The Merv Griffin Show, featuring Wyler, de Havilland, and actors Bette Davis and Walter Pidgeon
Wyler’s acceptance speech from the American Film Institute’s 1976 Salute to William Wyler
Interview with actor Ralph Richardson filmed in 1981 for the documentary Directed by William Wyler
Trailer
PLUS: An essay by critic Pamela Hutchinson

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"The Lego Movie: The Second Part"

There's been a lot written about the over-saturation of the "Star Wars" franchise and how that may have led to the disappointing returns on "Solo: A Star Wars Story." It's good news that the franchise seems to be taking longer between entries now, and it's a lesson that the LEGO movies would be wise to heed. It feels like the non-stop push of the franchise in games, TV, and movies like the "Batman" and "Ninjago" spin-offs made "The Lego Movie: The Second Part" less of an event. This could explain why it grossed about 40% of the original domestically. The drop-off was miserable. Honestly, the quality might have had an impact too, as this one doesn't compare to the ingenuity of the first one. It's a solid rental, but don't be surprised if you're not watching the 2014 original again soon. 

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Special Features
Everything is Awesome Sing-along – Sing-along, trivia, games and more!
Commentary – Fun behind the scenes commentary by filmmakers
They Come in Pieces: Assembling The LEGO Movie 2 – Featurette highlighting A-list voice talent including Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Tiffany Haddish
Emmet's Holiday Party: A LEGO Movie Short – Holiday themed animated short
LEGO Sets in Action – Animations of the LEGO product tied to The LEGO Movie 2
LEGO Designers – LEGO toy designers highlight key play sets in TLM2 product line
Outtakes & Deleted Scenes – Never before seen scenes
Super Cool Music Video – Music video by Beck featuring Robyn and The Lonely Island
Promotion Spots – Fun custom spots featured during the theatrical campaign

"Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki"

I am such a fan of Studio Ghibli that I try to see everything related to the studio, but this one pushed even my interest level. To say that Hayao Miyazaki is a tough interview and film subject is an understatement. He doesn't open up much and his expressions range from miserable to slightly unhappy. This mini-documentary, which is really just an extended DVD special feature, captures the days after his retirement, when the regularly goth filmmaker had even more time to wallow in his misery. Watching him play with a CGI concept is interesting, but the film seems almost entranced by Miyazaki's dour mood. Just watch "The Wind Rises" instead. It says more about Miyazaki's career, passion, and art than he has ever done out loud.

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Special Features
Alternate 48-Minute Version with English Narration and New Footage

"Police Story" (Criterion)

Jackie Chan is in the Criterion Collection! As crazy as that sounds to some hardcore cinephiles, it's only ridiculous if you haven't seen "Police Story" and "Police Story 2," a pair of films that internationally changed the action genre. The 1985 original is a film that Chan considers his best, and it's easy to see why. After a failed attempt to become a U.S. star, Chan returned home to make his breakthrough, a film with some of the best action sequences in his career. The opening scene of "Police Story," a car chase through a shanty town, would be memorable enough, but it's the closing scenes, including one in a crowded shopping mall, that really changed movie history. The Criterion double feature is loaded with special features, including a great conversation with Edgar Wright, who gets at the charm of Chan's "Superhero Everyman" aesthetic better than anyone I've heard before. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
New 4K digital restorations of Police Story and Police Story 2
Alternate 5.1 surround soundtracks
Alternate English-dubbed soundtracks
Alternate version of Police Story 2, presented in a 2K digital transfer for the first time from a subtitled 35 mm Hong Kong–release print
New interview with filmmaker Edgar Wright and a 2017 podcast conversation between Wright and actor-director Jackie Chan
New programs on Chan’s screen persona and action-filmmaking techniques featuring author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix
Episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show from 1989 featuring interviews with Chan and actor Maggie Cheung
Archival interviews with Chan and actor and stuntman Benny Lai
Excerpts from Jackie Chan: My Stunts, a 1999 documentary codirected by and starring Chan
Excerpt from a 2017 television program reuniting Chan with the original members of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team
Television program from 1964 detailing the rigors of Beijing-opera training, akin to the education that Chan received as a child
Chan stunt reel
Trailers
New English subtitle translations
PLUS: An essay by critic Nick Pinkerton

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