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Jexi

Although the title is confounding and perhaps the movie’s worst misstep, it’s Byrne’s digitized and stilted delivery that earns the biggest laughs.

Gemini Man

Lee's recent desire to be at the forefront of frame-based technology, however, is resulting in hollow, empty experiences that are literally hard to watch.

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Review Archives

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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Great Movie Archives

Home Entertainment Guide: September 19, 2019

3 NEW TO NETFLIX

"Eat Pray Love"
"Turbo"
"We Have Always Lived in the Castle"

5 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

"Booksmart"

One of the most critical darlings of 2019 became an unusual story in that everyone seemed startled when it didn't make "Superbad" money. This was bizarre for a few reasons, including that this film had almost zero power, which is still the biggest factor in determining profitability. The craziest thing I kept hearing was how A24 would have made this a bigger hit when the $23 million made by this low-budget flick is more than all but six of their 75+ films. The point is that the real story of this film got cloudy (and I'm doing it again). Ignore the bad news and embrace a great, progressive, funny, whipsmart comedy with charming performances and vibrant direction from Olivia Wilde. And even if not enough people saw this in theaters, people absolutely will find it at home. It's the kind of movie that people watch again and again. 

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Special Features
Audio Commentary by Olivia Wilde
Booksmart: The Next "Best High School Comedy"
Pliés and Jazz Hands: The Dance Fantasy
Dressing Booksmart
Deleted Scenes
Gallery

"Cluny Brown" (Criterion)

What a delightful movie Ernst Lubitsch made as his last, now a part of the Criterion Collection. The masterful comedy director of classics already in the collection like "Design for Living" and "Heaven Can Wait" cast the wonderful Jennifer Jones as the title character in a comedy of class and society. Jones wasn't often given a chance to play comedy, but she's fantastic here, finding the right lovable but confident rhythm of Brown, stealing the movie from Charles Boyer. Set in the days before World War II and released shortly thereafter, "Cluny Brown" is about a changing world, but it's mostly just damn funny. And as a bonus you get a conversation between two of the smartest critics in the world, Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme, discussing female characters in Lubitsch films. Cluny Brown is one of my favorites.

Buy it here 

Special Features
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme on unconventional female characters in Ernst Lubitsch’s films
New video essay by film scholar Kristin Thompson
The Lubitsch Touch, an interview with film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz from 2004
Screen Directors Playhouse radio adaptation of the film from 1950, featuring Dorothy McGuire and Charles Boyer
PLUS: An essay by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt

"The Dead Don't Die"

After its Cannes World Premiere, the general consensus on Jim Jarmusch's zom-com was that it was a let-down, especially after the masterful "Patterson." Sure, it doesn't compare to that movie, but its goals are less lofty, and I found it a thorough pleasure on Blu-ray, a movie with a wonderful ensemble and mastery of droll tone. Adam Driver, Bill Murray, and Chloe Sevigny star as a trio of smalltown cops on the day the zombie apocalypse begins, but what I think divided audiences was the self-aware nature of the film (it calls attention to its own theme song by Sturgill Simpson and breaks the fourth wall even more near the end) and its half-hearted commentary about a culture that sometimes seems like the walking dead. Ignore that stuff and just enjoy a cast all on the same deadpan wavelength, emphasis on dead. 

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Special Features
Behind the Scenes of The Dead Don't Die - Fetaurette
Bill Murray: Zombie Hunting Action Star - Fetaurette
Stick Together - Featurette

"John Wick: Chapter 3"

The first half-hour of "John Wick 3," which picks up immediately after the end of the last chapter, is an action masterpiece. It's a movie that starts at an action peak that would serve as the climax of most movies, and I wonder how it would play to watch "John Wick" and "John Wick: Chapter 2" back to back, making this section of the combined film a mid-experience highlight. That the next hour gets a little too weighed down in mythology is forgivable given that there are still wonderful sequences to come, including a great motorcycle fight scene and a reminder that Halle Berry is a bad-ass. These movies have helped revitalize Keanu Reeves' career in a way that we don't deserve. They're great. One more small interesting bit of trivia—the final huge action throwdown in a $300 million-plus movie worldwide is between two men born in 1964. Age really is just a number. 

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Special Features
Parabellum: Legacy of the High Table" Featurette
"Excommunicado" Featurette
"Check Your Sights" Featurette
"Saddle Up Wick" Featurette
"Bikes, Blades, Bridges, and Bits" Featurette
"Continental in the Desert" Featurette
"Dog Fu" Featurette
"House of Transparency" Featurette
"Shot by Shot" Featurette
Theatrical Trailer #1
Theatrical Trailer #2
John Wick Hex Game Trailer
"Behind the Scenes of John Wick Hex" Featurette

"Polyester" (Criterion)

In quick succession, the Criterion Collection has inducted three films by the inimitable John Waters into the most esteemed physical media group in the world, starting with "Female Trouble" and "Multiple Maniacs," before arriving on arguably Waters' best film, "Polyester." Diehard Waters acolytes may consider that last claim blasphemous given this is the first film in which the Baltimore native truly flirted with the mainstream, getting an R-rating and reviews from major outlets, while also relegating a lot of his key players to minor roles. Still, most of the Waters counter culture energy remains in this send-up of "women's pictures" that also parodies the excess of the '80s. And its release in Odorama was a wonderful bit of gamesmanship by Waters. Criterion even includes a scratch-and-sniff card, making this their first interactive Blu-ray release, and you should buy it for that amazing cover alone.  

Buy it here 

Special Features
New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director John Waters, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary featuring Waters from the 1993 Criterion laserdisc release of the film
New conversation between Waters and critic Michael Musto
New program featuring interviews with Waters collaborators Tab Hunter, Dennis Dermody, Pat Moran, Vincent Peranio, Mink Stole, Mary Garlington, and Greer Yeaton
Interviews from 1993 with crew members Moran, Peranio, and Van Smith
Archival interviews with Waters, Moran, and actors Divine and Edith Massey, featuring footage from the making of the film
Twenty minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes
Trailer
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Elena Gorfinkel, a foldout poster of the cover, and a scratch-and-sniff Odorama™ card

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