Amazing Grace is two days of Baptist church condensed to 90 minutes and injected directly into your soul.
10 NEW TO NETFLIX
"Bram Stoker's Dracula"
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
"Morris From America"
"National Lampoon's Animal House"
"The Raid: Redemption"
6 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
"12 Monkeys" (Arrow)
Terry Gilliam emerged from the world of Monty Python to become one of the most fascinating director of the '80s and '90s, directing masterpieces like "Brazil" and "The Fisher King," both available from the Criterion Collection. To be honest, I remembered liking "12 Monkeys," his Oscar-nominated 1996 loose adaptation of "La Jetee" but kind of put it on Gilliam's second tier. It's closer to the first, as evidenced in this gorgeous new Blu-ray release from Arrow Home Video. First of all, the 4K restoration is mindblowing, one of the best HD transfers of the year. Gilliam's world has depth and nuance in ways that it never has before, enhancing the overall experience of the film. Second, the film's themes of responsibility and that form of insanity when it feels like you're the only person who really knows what's going on in the world still resonate. I still have some performance issues (Stowe, an actress I usually like, is bland) but this is the kind of visual feast that's perfect for a company that loves movies like Arrow. It gets me even more excited for next year's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."
Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam
Optional DTS 5.1 Master Audio and 2.0 stereo soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven
The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)
The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at the London Film Festival
Brand-new appreciation by Ian Christie, author of Gilliam on Gilliam
The Twelve Monkeys Archives
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
Speaking of filmmakers who meant the world to me in the '80s and '90s, one of my favorite film stories of 2018 has to be the critical adoration for Spike Lee's latest film, one of his most searing and impressive in his recent filmography. I don't go in for the "Return to Form" stories around this flick though because Lee never really dropped as much as people think ("Chi-Raq" is great) and I also think this movie is a tier just below his career-best films like "Malcolm X," "Do the Right Thing," and "25th Hour." However, I'd be fine if it overperformed during awards season just to make up for the dozen or so times that Spike Lee was taken for granted this time of year. It's passionate, fascinating, funny, and moving, with great performances and more ideas for viewers to dissect and discuss than a dozen other films combined. It's an essential film of 2018.
"The Incredibles 2"
Does Pixar know something we don't? For years, everyone clamored for a sequel to "The Incredibles," to the point that it looked like it might never happen or people might not care when it eventually did. Of course, it did happen and it was GIGANTIC. It's the highest grossing film in the history of Pixar, bringing in over $600 million domestically and over a billion worldwide. It is the ninth highest grossing film OF ALL TIME, and the highest grossing animated film of all time. Oh, and it's gonna win an Oscar for Best Animated Film unless there's voter tampering. And, of course, Disney/Pixar has delivered for fans with a gorgeous Blu-ray that includes a great transfers and extensive special features. One thing that's particularly nice is the inclusion of the short film that played with it, "Bao." Pixar often shuttles their shorts off to special releases, but it's nice to have "Bao" where it belongs, as well as a new short film called "Auntie Edna."
All-New "Auntie Edna" Mini-Movie
10 Deleted Scenes With Introductions
Heroes & Villains
Ralph Eggleston: Production Designer
Strong Coffee: A Lesson in Animation with Brad Bird
Paths to Pixar: Everyday Heroes
Theatrical Short: "Bao"
Outtakes & Stories
Character Theme Songs, Vintage Toy Commercial TV Spots, Toolkit Montage and Global "Incredibles 2" Trailers
Little was more fun this Fall than watching the buzz that I heard at Sundance about Panos Cosmatos' "Mandy" filter down from the mountains and out to the rest of the world. A movie that RLJ basically tried to shunt off to the video market was too batshit crazy to stay there, resulting in sold out screenings at places like the Music Box here in Chicago. Movies like "Mandy" don't make over a $1 million domestically, but that's a threshold that this wonderfully strange movie crossed. And it still feels like it's just getting started. I've already lent my copy to a friend. I'm sure other people are doing the same. "Mandy" ain't going anywhere, and strikes me as one of the films from 2018 that people will still be watching in 2028.
Behind the Scenes - Featurette
Deleted & Extended Scenes
"The Princess Bride" (Criterion)
Speaking of movies that persist, there may be no film released in more special edition DVD and Blu-ray sets than "The Princess Bride," which has gotten Special/Anniversary/Limited editions since the DVD was invented. It's hard to believe anyone who's had a DVD player for any amount of time doesn't own it by now, but the Criterion release offers ample reason to upgrade. Of course, it will always be about the movie itself, which has never looked this good, courtesy of a 4K restoration. Believe it or not, Criterion also found a way to produce new special features, including two about William Goldman's beloved screenplay, and an interview with the film's art director. The set also includes tons of archival material that was on previous DVDs and Blu-rays. This really is the ultimate release for one of the most beloved films of its generation. It's a great idea for a holiday gift for the movie lover on your list.
Buy it here
New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 1996 featuring director Rob Reiner, screenwriter William Goldman, producer Andrew Scheinman, and actors Billy Crystal and Peter Falk
Edited 1987 audiobook reading of Goldman’s novel The Princess Bride by Reiner
New program about Goldman’s screenplay
New program about Goldman’s tapestry based on his novel
Archival interviews with Reiner, Goldman, and actors Crystal, Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Fred Savage, and Robin Wright
New interview with art director Richard Holland
Programs about makeup, fencing, and fairy tales
On-set video diary filmed and narrated by Elwes
Five behind-the-scenes videos with commentaries from 1996 by Reiner, Scheinman, and Crystal
PLUS: An essay by author Sloane Crosley and, for the Blu-ray edition, Goldman’s introduction to his Princess Bride script from his collection Four Screenplays, in a lavishly illustrated, clothbound book
The film adaptation of the Cartoon Network hit kind of flopped at the box office, opening in 5th place (although it's worth noting that it only cost $10 million and made five times that worldwide). I hope more people catch up with it at home as it's a surprisingly funny, smart movie that deserves a bigger audience than, say, "The Grinch." In a week year for animation, it's a standout, offering jokes that work for both kids and adults.
Lil Yachty Music Video: "Teen Titans GO! Rap"
Sing-a-long with Silkie "DC Super Hero Girls: The Late Batsby" Mini-Movie
Red Carpet Mayhem
Teen Titans GO! To the Movies: WB Lot Shenanigans
"Everything is Fake": Exclusive song not in the movie
"Teen Titans GO!: Translated"
Storyboard Animatics: Time Cycles
The Final Battle
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
An appreciation of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as its 25th anniversary approaches.
A review of the 4K Blu-ray box set for The Matrix Trilogy.