A wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle.
10 NEW TO NETFLIX
4 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
"An Angel at My Table" (Criterion)
Criterion has gotten a great deal of flack for the dominance of male American & European filmmakers in their catalog. They've tried to expand things in both departments over the course of 2019, bringing in more female directors and looking to countries other than France and England. And so it's nice to see the Australian filmmaker Jane Campion re-inducted into the Criterion Blu-ray club with her 1990 debut drama (it was available on Criterion DVD years ago but gets the HD treatment this week). Before she made the Oscar-winning "The Piano," Campion wrote and directed this drama about the famous Kiwi author Janet Frame, played by three actors in the lead role. Campion's film is marvelous in the way it captures the beauty of her landscape without losing the emotional center. It won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival for a reason, and the Criterion release includes a commentary, documentary, and interview with Frame herself.
High-definition digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Stuart Dryburgh and approved by director Jane Campion, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2005 featuring Campion, Dryburgh, and actor Kerry Fox
Short documentary from 2002 about the making of the film
Six deleted scenes
Audio interview with author Janet Frame from 1983
PLUS: An essay by film critic Amy Taubin and excerpts from Frame’s autobiography, on which Campion based her film
Deon Taylor's "The Intruder" is a nearly-great B-movie, enlivened by a really fun performance from Dennis Quaid, who leans into the undercurrent of menace that has always been under that charming smile. Quaid plays a man who sells his house to a black couple, played by Meagan Good & Michael Ealy, and then basically doesn't leave. The idea that an older white man is giving something to a minority couple that's basically poisoned has a wealth of subtext about the current state of this country, even if a bit too much of it goes unexplored. It's still there though, and Quaid is simply perfect in the kind of home invasion thriller they don't really make that often any more (think "Pacific Heights" or "Unlawful Entry"). This won't win any awards at the end of the year, but I bet people will be watching it on basic cable for at least the next decade.
Making a Modern Thriller
6 Deleted Scenes
Feature Commentary with Director Deon Taylor, writer David Loughery, Producer Roxanne Avent, Meagan Good, and Michael Ealy.
Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron's latest is a fascinating box office study in that most people would call it a disappointment. On the back of a ton of marketing between its SXSW premiere and May launch, along with very positive reviews, it opened in third place with under $10 million. Even if it ultimately clawed its way to over $50 million worldwide, "Long Shot" may be proof of the impact of streaming services more than any film of 2019. People are just accustomed to seeing non-event, non-franchise movies like this at home on services like Netflix. As for the movie itself, it's really funny, buoyed by likable, underrated performances from Rogen and Theron. Now you can see it at home, where it seems like most people planned on seeing it anyway.
"All's Fair in Love & Politics: Making Long Shot" Featurette
"Seven Minutes in Heaven: Seth + Charlize Uncensored" Featurette
"Secret Weapons" Featurette
"Epic Flarsky Falls" Featurette
"Prime Minister Steward O-Rama" Featurette
"Hanging with Boyz II Men" Featurette
"Just Kinda Crushing It!" Featurette
"The First Mister: A Portrait" Featurette
"An Imperfect Union" Featurette
"Love & Politics" Featurette
"Friends Like These" Featurette
"Pokemon Detective Pikachu"
My sons would yell at me if I didn't include the big Pokemon movie of the year in my column, and so here we go. I stand by my review, which basically details why this film has some moments but feels like a missed opportunity, but I'll admit that it does play a little better at home (partially because it feels more like a TV show than a feature film). And it's nice of WB to load the Blu-ray down with special features, including many featurettes and what Pokemon fans value above all else: an actual, exclusive Pokemon card!
My Pokémon Adventure
Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Welcome to Ryme City
Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Uncovering the Magic
Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Action
Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Colorful Characters
Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Bringing Pokémon to Life
Mr. Mime's Audio Commentary
Ryan Reynolds – Outside the Actor's Studio
"Carry On" by Rita Ora and Kygo (Music Video)
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The 2020 Oscar nominations.
A collection of the reviews given our highest possible grade in 2019.
A review of Netflix's Dracula, from the creators of Sherlock.
A review of the new Netflix crime docuseries about former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.