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Home Entertainment Guide: August 2023

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

"Collateral"
"Coming to America"
"The Departed"
"Despicable Me"
"The Expendables"
"The Fast and the Furious"
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
"The Jerk"
"Lost in Translation
"Paddington"

13 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

"Asteroid City"

Wes Anderson returned to Cannes this year with his best film since "Moonrise Kingdom." His latest is a fascinating, moving examination of the entire artistic process. This film takes place in the '50s but feels like it has more to say about the pandemic era of divisive politics than it does its own. It's got all the standard expectations of a modern Anderson film, like a great ensemble and striking production design, but it works because of what's under the surface of this story of grief and witnessing the impossible. As if Anderson's themes weren't complex enough, he handles them like Russian nesting dolls in a structure that comments on the very process of storytelling and documentation. So many people in this movie are storytellers, from the photographer to the playwright to the narrator. And they're all gazing at the stars, wondering what will happen next. And how they'll tell people about it in the future. This is one of the best films of 2023.

Buy it here 

Special Features
The Making of Asteroid City - Featurette
Trailer


"The Blackening"

More than just a parody of horror movies, Tim Story's comedy is a smart, fun piece of genre work about modern pop culture as much as destroying race-driven tropes. Story's filmmaking can be a bit lackluster and choppy, but the script by Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins, along with the ace ensemble who knows exactly what they're going for, holds it together. The story of a group of friends terrorized during a getaway weekend on Juneteenth is a solid horror movie and a legitimately funny comedy. It doesn't skimp on the laughs or the scares, and the whole cast, especially Perkins and Grace Byers, delivers from beginning to end.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary with Director Tim Story and Writers Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins
Do the Write Thing
They Can't All Talk First
Shall We Play a Game?
Cabin in the Woods
"Who's the Blackest?" Game Show
Theatrical Trailer


"Cinderella"

It's been almost 75 years since Disney introduced one of its most beloved and timeless princesses, now remastered in 4K for another generation. By the time that "Cinderella" was released in 1950, the Disney animated brand was already world-renowned, but the company was struggling on its release. Believe it or not, some of the films now considered classics from the '40s, including "Pinocchio" and "Bambi," were bombs, and Disney was deep in debt when they went into production on this telling of the beloved fairy tale about the girl with the glass slipper. Their biggest hit since "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella" became an instant classic. It's a gorgeous film in 4K, with its vibrant colors and line detail even easier to appreciate. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
In Walt's Words: The Envisioning of Cinderella
From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella
The Cinderella That Almost Was
Try This Trivia on For Size


"Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart"

Criterion follows up their release of Wayne Wang's breakthrough "Chan is Missing" with his next film, this tender 1985 comedy starring Laureen Chew and Victor Wong. A slice-of-life dramedy, it's the tale of a Chinese immigrant widow dealing with an increasingly empty nest and what to do now with her life. The comedy is broad enough that Roger actually opined that it could make a good '80s sitcom, but the film is remarkable for its detail and depth of character. The people here are completely genuine, never forced into comedy situations, allowing the humor to come from real life. I'm happy to see Criterion embracing Wang and hopeful they get to his masterful "Smoke" eventually.

Buy it here 

Special Features
High-definition digital master of a new director’s cut featuring previously unseen footage, supervised by director Wayne Wang, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
New conversation between Wang and filmmaker and film scholar Arthur Dong
Interview from 2004 with actor Laureen Chew
English subtitle translation and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by scholar Brian Hu


"Dreams"

What a motion picture. Whenever I think I appreciate and admire Akira Kurosawa as much as I possibly can, I find that's not true. Last year, I rewatched "The Seven Samurai" for the first time in decades and was so blown away that it made my Sight & Sound top ten. (It really is the template for so much of film history to follow.) I thought I liked his 1990 "Dreams," but it was minor Kurosawa. Watching it again in 4K from Criterion, nothing is minor about this masterpiece. Here, we have one of the best filmmakers of all time using his art form to show us his dreams. Surreal, moving, personal, and powerful, it's a mesmerizing piece of work that's even more powerful now that I'm older. There's a sense here that this is the vision of someone who has loved film and lived life for decades. An old man's movie. A masterful one.

Buy it here 

Special Features
4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Shoji Ueda, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
Audio commentary featuring film scholar Stephen Prince
Feature-length documentary from 1990 shot on set and directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Interviews with production manager Teruyo Nogami and assistant director Takashi Koizumi
Documentary from 2011 by director Akira Kurosawa’s longtime translator Catherine Cadou, featuring interviews with filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Hayao Miyazaki, Martin Scorsese, and others
Trailer
PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri and Kurosawa’s script for a never-filmed ninth dream, introduced by Nogami


"Drylongso"

A few times each year, Criterion allows me to catch up with something that slipped under my radar. That was the case with Cauleen Smith's 1998 drama, a movie I had heard of but never saw on its release. It didn't get the attention of similar stories of California Black life from the '90s, but it is a stunning piece of work. Shot on 16mm film around Oakland, Smith's film is about a Black photography student named Pica (Toby Smith) who is not only documenting her neighborhood but the violence simmering under its surface and the gender and racial discrimination. She befriends a young woman who dresses as a man just to get through the day, and she becomes obsessed with news reports of the "Westside Slasher," a serial killer in the area. This is a complex, personal, daring piece of DIY filmmaking that deserves a much broader fan base. I wish there were more films like it. It's also worth shouting out the excellent conversation on this release between Smith and Michael B. Gillespie that digs into the era, the themes, and what the film does so well (the sound design!). 

Buy it here 

Special Features
New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Cauleen Smith, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
New conversation between Smith and film scholar Michael B. Gillespie
Short films by Smith, including Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron, Songs for Earth & Folk, Lessons in Semaphore, Egungun (Ancestor Can’t Find Me), Remote Viewing, and Suffolk, with a new introduction by Smith
Trailer
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Yasmina Price


"Fast X"

Justin Lin walked away from the latest installment in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, handing over directorial duties to Louis Leterrier, and, well, it wasn't great. "Fast X" should have been one of the biggest blockbusters of Summer 2023, but it now feels like a cautionary footnote about biting off more than you can chew. The worst offender of our modern "half a movie" syndrome (thanks to MCU), "Fast X" has some good moments (mostly thanks to Jason Momoa) but it's an ultimately unsatisfying collection of mediocre action sequences in search of a movie. The "Fast" movies notoriously rebooted with "Fast Five." Let's hope they can do it again before driving off into the sunset.

Buy it here 

Special Features
FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR LOUIS LETERRIER
This Is Family – Family bonds are always the strongest. Reunite with your favorite FAST family members as we introduce new characters, travel across continents, reveal intimate views of epic stunts, and get personal about the beginning of the end of the FAST franchise.
FAST BREAKS: SCENE BREAKDOWNS WITH LOUIS LETERRIER* – Director Louis Leterrier gives insight into some of the magic that went into making FAST X, breaking down how he filmed these unforgettable action scenes in legendary locations around the world.
Xtreme Rides of FAST X – In FAST, we cast cars like we cast characters. Take a closer look at how classic FAST cars were rebuilt for FAST X, and which new vehicles are customized and introduced to enhance the lifeblood of the franchise.
BELLES OF THE BRAWL – The women of FAST X are not to be messed with. Watch as they add their special talents to huge fight scenes, from rehearsal to the real thing.
TUNED INTO RIO – Revisit FAST's past as our story takes us back to Rio de Janeiro, where we'll experience a non-stop party, exotic cars, and a classic FAST quarter mile street race.
JASON MOMOA: CONQUERING ROME* – Jason Momoa joins the FAST franchise to portray a villain that pushes the team to the brink of disaster. Watch as Momoa discusses his approach to the character, biking down the narrow streets of Rome, and performing his own stunts.
LITTLE B TAKES THE WHEEL – Get to know the youngest member of the Toretto family as we dive into Little B's journey in FAST X and introduce Leo Abelo Perry.
A FRIEND IN THE END – The FAST franchise has a history of shocking end-credit tags, and FAST X is no different. We take a special look at this scene and why, if you're watching a FAST movie, you never want to get up before the end credits are finished!
Gag REEL
MUSIC VIDEOS
"TORETTO" BY J BALVIN
"ANGEL PT. 1" BY KODAK BLACK & NLE CHOPPA (FEATURING JIMIN OF BTS, JVKE & MUNI LONG)


"The Flash"

It's a shame that corners were so obviously cut in the post-production of this DCU blockbuster because there are some decent ideas and fun performances in here, searching for a better movie. But it's just such an UGLY movie, starting with the already deeply-memed baby shower sequence and not getting much better as it goes along (the showdown with Zod is just hideous in construction and execution). The film that essentially ended this chapter of the DCU also gets bogged down in its over-plotting to such a degree that it's impossible to care about what happens next. However, there are fun standalone scenes and clever performances from Ezra Miller and Michael Keaton, a consistently great actor who, sadly, probably regrets getting sucked back into the world of comic-book movies again.

Buy it here 

Special Features
"The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus" podcast – Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash
The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
Deleted Scenes
Saving Supergirl – featurette
The Bat Chase – featurette
Battling Zod – featurette
Fighting Dark Flash – featurette
The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster – featurette (Amazon digital exclusive)
Making the Flash: Worlds Collide – featurette
Let's Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again – featurette
Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton – featurette
Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse – featurette


"Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3"

One of the better recent MCU movies closed the saga of Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and the rest of this beloved makeshift super-family. I've been thinking about why the "GotG" movies have succeeded while so many other recent MCU entries have failed. Part of it is the consistency of voice, with James Gunn finding a way to maintain just enough creative control while operating in the massive studio system. These movies have personality, which is lacking from something awful like "Quantumania," and they allow their characters to be fallible, relatable, and likable within the construct of CGI overload. This one is on Disney+ too, of course, but the Blu-ray is loaded with special features. Buy it instead.

Buy it here 

Special Features
FEATURETTES
The Imperfect, Perfect Family – View the evolution of the Guardians through the cast and crew's passion for each other and the entire franchise. Join this tight knit "found family" as they leave behind a legacy and recount their best memories wrapping up this epic trilogy's final film.
Creating Rocket Raccoon – Director James Gunn talks about bringing Rocket to life and how personal the character is to him. Uncover BTS footage, the research and development of the visual effects process, and the inspiration for Rocket through conversations with cast and crew.
DELETED SCENES
A Bit Much –Adam Warlock explains to Ayesha what he plans to do with the Guardians.
A Lending Hand –Peter lends a hand to an injured humanimal on Counter-Earth and shows he means no harm.
Drax's Analogies and Metaphors – Drax gives Peter some interesting life analogies and metaphors.
The Perfect Society – The High Evolutionary reveals his mission to perfect the universe.
The Search for 89P13 – Behemoth brings not-so-good news to The High Evolutionary.
Annoyed Peter – Peter gets annoyed while altering the shield.
A Burning Escape – Peter runs back to grab his music player before escaping a blazing inferno on the Arête.
Knowhere After the Battle – The High Evolutionary is brought back to Knowhere and locked up while Kraglin recruits Adam Warlock.
GAG REEL - Take a look at some of the fun outtakes on set with the cast and crew of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
DIRECTOR'S COMMENTARY - Watch the film with audio commentary by director James Gunn.


"Last House on the Left"

Thirty-seven years after Wes Craven shocked the horror world with his stunning remake of Bergman's "Virgin Spring," the Hollywood remake machine was operating full steam with reboots of properties like "Friday the 13th," "A Nightmare on Elm Street," and even "My Bloody Valentine." It made sense that "Last House on the Left," a tale of brutal vengeance, would get a modern update, but critics and even audiences mostly stayed away from Dennis Iliadis' 2009 remake. Here comes Arrow, seeking to reappreciate the film with an excellently crafted special edition that features a new commentary, interviews with its stars, screenwriter, and one of its producers, and previously available material like deleted scenes. Craven himself produced this one, reportedly interested in seeing what could be done with his original ideas with a larger budget, but it came along in not just the remake era but the "torture porn" one and was largely dismissed as that fad quickly faded. There's more to admire here than you might remember, including strong performances throughout, even if it lacks the original punch.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Two versions of the film: the original Theatrical Version and the Unrated Version
Original uncompressed stereo audio and Dts-HD Ma 5.1 surround audio for both films
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both films
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Zoë Rose Smith
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Eric Adrian Lee
Exclusive new filmed introduction by director Dennis Iliadis
Brand new audio commentary by David Flint and Adrian Smith
A River of Blood, a new 31-minute interview with Sara Paxton
The Notorious Krug, a new 27-minute interview with actor Garret Dillahunt
Suspending Disbelief, a new 18-minute interview with screenwriter Carl Ellsworth
Reviving the Legend, a new 33-minute interview with producer Jonathan Craven
Look Inside Featurette, from the films original 2009 release
Deleted scenes
Theatrical trailer
Image gallery


"A Nightmare Before Christmas"

It's been three decades since the release of Henry Selick's stop-motion masterpiece, and it feels like there have been roughly 30 Blu-ray releases in that same amount of time. How often can Disney pull the same film from the vault? Let's just say it's even odds that this won't be the last physical release of Jack Skellington and the gang. This one is simple: If you own a recent edition of "Nightmare," stick with that one, but if you have somehow just stumbled upon this gem then this is the version to pick up. Of course, it's notable that it's the first version in 4K, and fans will also note that it includes both the original and theatrical versions, along with a lot (but not all) of the previously available special features. And it's out in time to watch it on Halloween AND Christmas! (Note: The 2000 DVD and 2011 Blu-ray reportedly contain some special features that have since been retired. Hold onto those if you're thinking of upgrading.)

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary with Tim Burton, Henry Selick, and Danny Elfman
What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour 
Tim Burton’s Early Film: Frankenweenie 
Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated by Christopher Lee
The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 
Deleted Storyboards: Behemoth Singing
Deleted Storyboards: Oogie Boogie with Dancing Bugs 
Deleted Storyboards: Alternate Identity of Oogie Boogie 
Deleted Animated Sequences: Vampire Hockey Players 
Deleted Animated Sequences: Lock, Shock, and Barrel 
Deleted Animated Sequences: Oogie Boogie Shadow Dance 
Storyboard-to-Film Comparison 
Posters 
Teaser Trailer 
Trailer 


"Roman Holiday"

It seems like the 4K market largely gave up on classics a few years ago and is mostly reserved for new blockbusters. So it's nice to see a legitimate beloved film from before the CGI era get the 4K treatment, which is the case with this upgrade for William Wyler's beloved 1953 romantic comedy. Featuring two of the most charming performers of all time at their most charming in Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, this is a lovely film, and the 4K release includes some strong special features like a piece with the legendary Leonard Maltin talking about the film and a featurette on screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin on Roman Holiday
Behind the Gates: Costumes
Rome with a Princess
Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years
Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist
Paramount in the '50s
Remembering Audrey
Theatrical Trailers
Galleries


"You Hurt My Feelings"

This is the best film of 2023 you probably haven't seen. Released too quietly by A24 after its Sundance premiere, it's a smart, funny comedy about partnership, insecurity, and how often true support means lying to someone you love. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is phenomenal as an author who overhears her husband (Tobias Menzies) talking about how much he doesn't like her latest work, even though he's been telling her the opposite. The revelation sends her spiraling in Nicole Holofcener's truthful, sharp study of the complexity of adult relationships (both with partners and children). My concern is that the market for this kind of adult comedy is dwindling by the day, with the audience that would have once seen this film spending most of their time watching streaming series. Don't let this one pass you by. It's worth your time.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary with Producer-Writer-Director Nicole Holofcener and Actor-Producer Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Just Being Honest: Making You Hurt My Feelings

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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