10 NEW TO NETFLIX
8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
Can a movie be given points for effort? The message behind "Boy Erased" is undeniably an important one to hear in 2019 as efforts to roll back gay rights or at least halt the implementation of them continue under the Trump administration. So the story of a family that learns the hard way that gay conversion therapy is an evil practice that denies human rights and damages people forever is one that feels urgent and important. And there are strong performances embedded in this film, particularly from Nicole Kidman as the mother who senses in her heart that she should just accept her son. The problem is that the film doesn't work as storytelling, keeping its subject matter under glass in a way that never allows us to know him, developing his parents as characters more than the center of this story. Still, it's a story worth hearing, even if one wishes it were told better.
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Jared Revealed - Featurette
Becoming the Eamons - Featurette
Man Consumed: Joel Edgerton - Featurette
"In the Heat of the Night" (Criterion)
It's a slower movie than I remembered now that I've revisited it for the first time in probably two decades, but it's still powerful, thanks in large part to Sidney Poitier's commanding performance and something I think I was too young to really appreciate the first time: Haskell Wexler's amazing cinematography. This movie looks phenomenal, capturing a time and place while also having a strong visual language as cinema at the same time. And the new 4K restoration really allows Wexler's work to shine. It's interesting that several people have brought up this film in the context of 2018 Oscar players "Green Book" (another film about an interracial partnership) and even "If Beale Street Could Talk" (Baldwin had some harsh words for the film in one of his most famous essays). It's incredible how often Criterion finds a way to release a film at just the right time, although "In the Heat of the Night" would probably find a way to resonate whenever it was released.
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interviews with director Norman Jewison and actor Lee Grant
Segment from a 2006 American Film Institute interview with actor Sidney Poitier
New interview with Aram Goudsouzian, author of Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon
Audio commentary from 2008 featuring Jewison, Grant, actor Rod Steiger, and cinematographer Haskell Wexler
Turning Up the Heat: Movie-Making in the ’60s, a 2008 program about the production of the film and its legacy, featuring Jewison, Wexler, producer Walter Mirisch, and filmmakers John Singleton and Reginald Hudlin
Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound, a 2008 program about Jones’s innovative soundtrack, including the title song sung by Ray Charles, featuring interviews with Jones, lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and musician Herbie Hancock
PLUS: An essay by critic K. Austin Collins
"Lu Over the Wall"
"Night is Short, Walk on Girl"
Japanese animator Masaaki Yuasa released two films in Japan in 2017 that were both released by GKids in 2018 and are now new to Blu-ray from the wonderful company that brings some of the best overseas animation to American audiences. The sweet "Lu Over the Wall" owes a great deal to Hayao Miyazaki's wonderful "Ponyo," which, of course, owes a great deal to Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid." In this iteration, Lu is a one of the mythical merfolk, who comes alive when she hears sullen middle-schooler Kai playing with his band in a small fishing village. She sings, dances, and even grows legs, becoming a phenomenon in the community, where they build a mer-theme park and turn her into an attraction. It's a cute movie that runs WAY too long at 112 minutes. I haven't had the chance to check out "Night" yet but wanted to include it for Yuasa fans or those looking for the latest from GKids, a company all film fans should keep an eye on.
Interview with Director Masaaki Yuasa
Audio Commentary with Director Masaaki Yuasa
Original Japanese language and English dub versions
Matthew Heineman's first fictional film tells a story in keeping with his experience as a documentary filmmaker but proves that what works in one may not work in another. Rarely has a performance fought against the weaknesses of a script more than Rosamund Pike's does here. You can almost see some of the cliched dialogue get stuck in her mouth, but she does just enough to ground the story of Marie Colvin in something genuine that she elevates what is a truly awful screenplay and pedestrian direction. Pike is one of those great actresses who always seems on the verge of finding the right part to make her a household name or Oscar winner. This could have been it with a better script. Watch it for what could have been.
Becoming Marie Colvin: How Rosamund Pike transformed herself for A Private War
Women in the World Summit Q&A: Featuring Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan and Director Matthew Heineman, moderated by Tina Brown
Requiem for A Private War: Inspiration behind award-winning musician Annie Lennox's song
One of the films already popping up on "Underrated" lists for 2018 is this character-driven Western from Jacques Audiard, an entertaining rental with a great quartet of actors. Seriously, how does a movie with John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed slide this far under the radar? Perhaps it's for the best in terms of the film's longevity in that this is a movie that I'm certain people will find on DVD and Blu-ray and recommend to their friends. It's more than just a competent genre flick thanks mostly to its cast, especially Reilly, who imbues his Sisters brother with a perfect blend of world-weariness and dedication. It's a reminder of how good Reilly can be in the right part.
Striking Gold: Making a "Modern Day" Western
Wanted Dead or Alive
You would think that the director of my #1 film of 2017 ("Call Me By Your Name") reimagining one of my favorite films of all time would be an easy slam dunk for this critic, but "Suspiria" is more of a modest lay-up. It's a film that I can appreciate in terms of ambition, but it has a number of elements that simply don't work. I'll never understand some of the washed-out visual choices, especially when compared to the unforgettable imagery of the first, and I don't like the way it uses real political upheaval as cheap background. Still, there's that Tilda Swinton performance and that climax, which is like nothing else released in 2018. It's funny how divisive this movie became when it was released, making some top ten and some worst ten lists at the end of the year. I really don't understand either extreme reaction, but love to see the debate.
"The Making of Suspiria" Featurette
"The Secret Language of Dance" Featurette
"The Transformations of Suspiria" Featurette
I don't believe I had to defend any 2018 review more than my 4-star write-up of Steve McQueen's latest, now on Blu-ray and DVD. I stand by every word. And I think history will come around to reveal the criticisms of this film being petty or unfounded. "Too much movie"? Yeah, how often do we get to say that? Yes, there are a lot of characters to follow and a few plot threads left dangling, but that's true of a lot of classic cinema that attempts to capture the pulse and people of a major city like Chicago. A lot of those '70s crime epics you love? They've got some plot holes too. We're in an era in which we sometimes fail to see the forest for the trees, too eager to pick apart little plot details when we miss the overall fabric of a piece like this one. It's a great movie. And it gets better every time I watch it. And every time I have to defend it too.
Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story
Plotting The Heist: The Story
Assembling The Crew: Production
The Scene Of The Crime: Locations