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Home Entertainment Guide: February 2024

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

"Everything Everywhere All at Once"
"Fury"
"It Could Happen to You"
"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On"
"Melancholia"
"Moneyball"
"Pacific Rim"
"She's Gotta Have It"
"Thanksgiving"
"X"

12 NEW TO BLU-RAY

"Afire"

Every Christian Petzold film should be a big event for movie lovers. He's quite simply one of the best living filmmakers, with masterpieces like "Phoenix" and "Transit" on his resume. Criterion has released Petzold before, but they interestingly put his latest 2023 effort under the new Janus Contemporaries banner. Does this mean more current filmmakers will find their latest works under this branch of the Criterion operation? While I admire the JC concept, and it has already brought great films like "EO" and "Godland" to wider audiences, I hope it doesn't mean we'll never get a bonus-laden proper Criterion edition for films from people like Petzold again because this one is pretty slight, containing only a new interview.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Meet the Filmmakers, a new interview with director Christian Petzold
Trailer


"The Big Country"

I love when Kino Lorber digs into the vault to release classic Westerns, a genre that has always looked best when projected large and HD-refined. Take William Wyler's "The Big Country," a movie I probably saw on an old-fashioned TV, pan-and-scan, on cable, with commercials. It's interesting to consider how far we've come in the presentation of classic cinema like this epic genre flick that won Burl Ives an Oscar and blinded 1958 audiences with the star power of Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, and Charlton Heston. It's a film that lives up to the second word in its title, and KL has loaded it with great archival special features that affirm its place in Western movie history.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary by Noted Film Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
Directed by William Wyler: Documentary
Wyler Doc Outtakes with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Billy Wilder
Interviews with Cecilia Peck, Carey Peck and Tony Peck
Interview with Fraser Heston
Interview with Catherine Wyler
Fun in the Country – Featurette
Larry Cohen on Chuck Connors
Image Gallery
TV Spot
Theatrical Trailer
Reversbile Art
Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
Optional English Subtitles


"Dream Scenario"

Nicolas Cage pokes fun at his own meme-able persona, and gives one of the best performances of his career, in this comedy about an ordinary guy who starts popping up in people's dreams. The concept is brilliant. What would happen to someone who suddenly became famous for something completely out of his control like appearing in dreams around the world? I do think the final act gets away from writer/director Kristoffer Borgli as it weaves in themes about cancel culture without having much at all to say about them, but Cage is consistently phenomenal throughout and it's certainly one of the more original films of 2023.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kristoffer Borgli
Dream Like Nobody's Watching (RT 10 min)
Deleted Scenes (TRT 1:25)
Scene 63 (RT :25)
Scene 70 (RT :29)
Scene 76 (RT :31)
Trailers


"Eric Rohmer's Tales of the Four Seasons" (Criterion)

Criterion loves their Eric Rohmer, having released his films before and making him a part of the Criterion Channel. This new box set collects his '90s work "A Tale of Springtime," "A Tale of Winter," "A Tale of Summer," and "A Tale of Autumn." To me, Rohmer was an acquired taste, someone I couldn't really appreciate when I was going through my early exploration of the European masters in college but who I have come around to later in life. He is a remarkable observer of the human condition, and fans will be happy to add this newly restored quartet of films to their collection, especially a new interview program with Rohmer's colleagues and two rare short films from the director. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
New 2K digital restorations, supervised by cinematographer Diane Baratier and Laurent Schérer, director Eric Rohmer’s son, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
New interview program recorded at Rohmer’s house in Tulle, France, featuring Baratier, producer Françoise Etchegaray, sound engineer Pascal Ribier, and editor Mary Stephen
Excerpts of radio interviews with Rohmer conducted by film critics Michel Ciment and Serge Daney
Documentary from 2005 on the making of A Tale of Summer, by Etchegaray and Jean-André Fieschi
Two short films directed by Rohmer: A Farmer in Montfaucon (1968) and The Kreutzer Sonata (1956)
Trailer
New English subtitle translations
PLUS: An essay by film critic Imogen Sara Smith


"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral"

John Sturges directed Westerns like nobody else. The man who made "The Magnificent Seven" and "Bad Day at Black Rock" helmed this American classic in 1957, recently restored in 4K by Kino Lorber. VERY loosely based on the events of the title back in 1881, it's actually a remake of the 1939 film "Frontier Marshall." Starring Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday, this is probably someone in your family's favorite Western. Why not pick it up for them? 

Buy it here 

Special Features
NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES
DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
NEW Audio Commentary by Author/Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner and Film Historian Henry Parke (True West Magazine)


"The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes"

The minute that Suzanne Collins announced she was returning to "The Hunger Games" franchise with "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," a film version of this prequel to the Jennifer Lawrence blockbusters was inevitable. Despite my general belief that not everything needs an origin story, the relatively decent reviews for this had me intrigued, but I can't help but compare Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler's flat, dull performances to what Lawrence brought to the first four films. They're just kind of soulless here, as the film is stolen from them by the showier, better turns from Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer, and especially Viola Davis. Having said that, this series has hardcore fans, who will be happy with a pretty loaded Blu-ray that includes a director's commentary and lengthy doc about the making of the film.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
"Predator or Prey: Making The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" 8-Part Documentary
Songbirds & Snakes (The Acting Ensemble)
Pure as the Driven Snow (The Music of Lucy Gray Baird)
A Palette of Tactics (On Location in Poland and Berlin)
Humanity Undressed (Costume, Makeup & Hair)
To the Victor Go the Spoils (Stunts & Weapons)
Inner Sanctum (The Post-Production Process)
Snow Lands on Top (Reflections)
"The Hanging Tree" Song by Rachel Zegler
A Letter to the Fans
Theatrical Trailers (4K Only)


"Leviathan"

There were three underwater films released in 1989: "Deep Star Six," James Cameron's phenomenal "The Abyss," finally coming to 4K Blu-ray next month, and this George P. Cosmatos film with, well, less of a reputation. Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, and Amanda Pays star in a film about an underwater facility that encounters something impossible. A bit too reminiscent of better films, I'm still impressed with how lovingly Kino Lorber has treated this forgotten '80s relic, not only giving it a brand new 4K restoration, but also including a new audio commentary and a bunch of archival footage. Consider this an appetizer for "The Abyss" next month. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
DISC ONE - 4K BLU-RAY
BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM AN INTERPOSITIVE
DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
5.1 Surround and Lossless 2.0 Audio
Optional English Subtitles
DISC TWO - BLU-RAY
BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM AN INTERPOSITIVE
NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
LEVIATHAN: MONSTER MELTING POT - Featurette (40:26)
DISSECTING COBB: Interview with Actor Hector Elizondo (12:35)
SURVIVING LEVIATHAN: Interview with Actor Ernie Hudson (15:01)
Theatrical Trailer
5.1 Surround and Lossless 2.0 Audio
Optional English Subtitles


"McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (Criterion)

For some reason, one of the directors I most associate with my memories of Roger Ebert is Robert Altman. I can't exactly pinpoint why. My guess is that his admiration for the early '90s comeback films of "The Player" and "Short Cuts," two films I adore, took up residence in my brain, and I know he was always an advocate for even some of the lesser-loved Altman flicks like "Cookie's Fortune" and "The Company." Whatever the reason, I think Roger would absolutely flip for the 4K Criterion release of Altman's masterful Western "McCabe & Mrs. Miller." Not only does the film look wonderfully restored but this release includes amazing special features, including a commentary by the master himself. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
One 4K UHD disc of the film and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
Audio commentary from 2002 featuring director Robert Altman and producer David Foster
Making-of documentary, featuring members of the cast and crew
Conversation about the film and Altman’s career between film historians Cari Beauchamp and Rick Jewell
Featurette from the film’s 1970 production
Art Directors Guild Film Society Q&A from 1999 with production designer Leon Ericksen
Excerpts from archival interviews with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond
Gallery of stills from the set by photographer Steve Schapiro
Excerpts from two 1971 episodes of The Dick Cavett Show featuring Altman and film critic Pauline Kael
Trailer
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by novelist and critic Nathaniel Rich


"Priscilla"

Sofia Coppola wrote and directed this adaptation of the memoir by Priscilla Presley that, to this viewer, sometimes feels a bit too aware that its subject is also a producer. And yet if one looks deeper at the choices made by Coppola thay can see how she presents Cailee Spaeny's excellent take on Priscilla as a sort of trophy for Elvis, someone to control more than love. Spaeny is great, but the real draw here is, again, Coppola's craftsmanship, seen in every design element. "Priscilla" looks and sounds phenomenal, which makes a complete lack of special features about this film's production somewhat bizarre. Criterion has released multiple Coppola productions in the past, so maybe they'll get over the complex relationship with A24 and rescue this one from feature-less obscurity.

Buy it here 

Special Features
None


"The Thomas Crown Affair"

Movies don't get cooler than "The Thomas Crown Affair," one of the best films of Norman Jewison's remarkable career, and one of the suavest films of the 1960s. Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway were at the height of their screen power when they co-starred in this massive heist film, a movie that rewrote the cinematic language for the genre. Kino Lorber has restored the classic film in 4K, accompanying it with great archival features that include on-set footage and a commentary track from Jewison. If that's not enough, they also have a new interview with the director, now one of his last given he passsed in January 2024. Watch this one in his honor.

Buy it here 

Special Features
NEW 4K RESTORATION of the film
NEW Interview with director Norman Jewison
Interview with title designer Pablo Ferro
Three's A Company - 1967 on the set featurette with the cast & crew
Audio Commentary by director Norman Jewison
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman


"Trolls: Band Together"

It's funny what a difference a few years and being able to leave the house can make. When my family and I watched the second "Trolls" movie at the start of the pandemic in 2020, it seemed like a fun diversion from the pain of the real world. Four years later, the third film in this series feels like overkill. Of course, it doesn't help that the script here is significantly worse, pushing a boy band narrative into this world largely just to maximize the casting of Justin Timberlake, who also sounds a bit tired of doing this schtick. Having said that, the Universal Blu-ray release is typically LOADED with special features, including a sing-along version for those who still enjoy visiting this world more than I do.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Sing-along version
It Takes Three – In this original short, Poppy, Viva, and Tiny Diamond get sucked into the Hustle-verse, only to discover that it is devoid of hustle. The trio decides to sing their way out hopefully generating enough harmony to re-ignite the Hustle-verse and escape.
Deleted Scenes – With intro by Head of Story Colin Jack
Fun in the recording booth
Hi, Hi, Hi – Join *NSYNC in the studio as they reunite for the first time in 20 years to record an all-new song for TROLLS BAND TOGETHER.
Building the Band – The band is coming back together for another volume of Trolls based fun! Meet the new characters and the cast members behind them and catch up with your returning favorites!
Together Again – Learn the backstory behind *NSYNC’s involvement in Trolls Band Together and how their Troll personas came to life.
Animating Trolls – In this BTS piece, filmmakers and crew dive deep into their animation process to show how the unique locations and textures of the film were created.
How to Draw – Step into the BroZone green room with story artist Wendy Sullivan and learn how to draw your own BroZone album cover featuring John Dory, Spruce, Clay, Floyd, and of course, Baby Branch! Plus, we’ll learn how to draw Viva!
How to: Hug Time Bracelets – Poppy and Viva LOVE their Hug Time Bracelets and now you can make your own! Follow the simple steps and let your artistic side shine with two different bracelet options that you can make for all your friends and family.
Feature Commentary – with Producer Gina Shay, Co-Director Tim Heitz, Head of Story Colin Jack, Production Designer Ruben Perez Reynoso and Visual Effects Supervisor Marc J. Scott


"Witness for the Prosecution"

Billy Wilder is simply one of the best directors of all time and when almost any of his films get a new Blu-ray or 4K release, expect it to get a mention in this column. This thriller from 1957 is one of his best-known works, a movie named the 6th-best courtroom drama ever by the AFI and nominated for six Academy Awards. As the poster said, "Once in 50 Years, Suspense Like This!" The newest edition from KL includes a new audio commentary with a Wilder expert.

Buy it here 

Special Features
NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride, Author of Billy Wilder: Dancing on the Edge
Billy Wilder and Volker Schlöndorff discuss WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION
Theatrical Trailer
Limited Edition Reversible Art and O-Card Slipcase

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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