10 NEW TO NETFLIX
8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
"All About My Mother" (Criterion)
As Pedro Almodovar goes through something of a critical renaiassance with the success of his wildly-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated "Pain and Glory," there have been a number of people talking about which films from his almost four decade career are the most essential. "Talk to Her" arguably earned the most acclaim before now, and you should definitely see "Volver" and some of his early work like "Matador" and "Laws of Desire." However, there is arguably no more essential Pedro film before "Pain and Glory" than 1999's "All About My Mother," one of his most personal and moving films, the first that netted Almodovar an Oscar. Acclaimed around the world, this 1999 film now enters the Criterion Collection with phenomenal special features, including a feature-length documentary about the movie from 2012 and much more. It's one of those Criterion releases that allows fans to really dig into a movie, providing special features that don't just feel like supplemental material but enhance the appreciation of a piece of true art.
New 2K digital restoration, supervised by executive producer Agustín Almodóvar and approved by director Pedro Almodóvar, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Fifty-two-minute documentary from 2012 on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Pedro Almodóvar; Agustín Almodóvar; actors Penélope Cruz, Marisa Paredes, Cecilia Roth, and Antonia San Juan; production manager Esther García; and author Didier Eribon
Television program from 1999 featuring Pedro Almodóvar and his mother, Francisca Caballero, along with Cruz, San Juan, Paredes, and Roth
Forty-eight-minute post-screening Q&A in Madrid from 2019, featuring Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar, and Paredes
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Emma Wilson, along with (Blu-ray only) an interview with Pedro Almodóvar and a tribute he wrote to his mother, both from 1999
The more I think about Mike Flanagan's divisive sequel to "The Shining," the more I like it. And it plays wonderfully at home with a release that includes a longer, deeper director's cut. There are no huge changes in the 28-minute longer version, believe it or not, but scenes and characters feel like they're allowed to breathe more, not pushed along by the breakneck narrative of a very long book. People often ask me which films that were ignored by critics and audiences I expect will find a fan base in years to come. "Doctor Sleep" is a 2019 film that I feel pretty strongly people will advocate for in the future, further removed from the expectations inherent in being a sequel to an acknowledged classic. This is confident, engaging filmmaking, driven by Flanagan's strong eye and deep emotional style. It just works, and it works even better in its longer form.
DIRECTOR'S CUT OF THE FILM - featuring nearly 30 minutes of new, alternate and extended scenes, selected by director Mike Flanagan, not seen in theaters.
Return to the Overlook
The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision
From Shining to Sleep
"Fail Safe" (Criterion)
Criterion has been dropping Sidney Lumet titles lately, including last month's "The Fugitive Kind," and now this 1964 movie, available in their collection for the first time. It's a critical cliche, but "Fail Safe" really does contain themes that feel just as resonant today. With all of our technology, doesn't it still feel like human error could lead to international disaster? That's one of the themes of Lumet's film, in which a mechanical failure nearly leads to nuclear holocaust. Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau star in a film that should serve as a warning about the end of the world, a warning that we still haven't really heard almost six decades later. The Criterion edition includes the best transfer of the film ever thanks to a 4K restoration, along with a commentary by Lumet recorded in 2000 and a great interview about the film with the legendary J. Hoberman. It also includes an essay by one of our best film critics, Bilge Ebiri. This is a must-own for Criterion collectors.
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2000 featuring director Sidney Lumet
New interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films
“Fail Safe” Revisited, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and actor Dan O’Herlihy
PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri
The great Kasi Lemmons directed Cynthia Erivo to an Oscar nomination for this 2019 drama, and so I feel an obligation to include it in a column of home video highlights, despite how deeply disappointing I found the film. The poetic, natural sense of filmmaking that Lemmons has displayed before feels crushed by a film designed to win awards and appeal to the widest possible audience. "Harriet" takes no risks, which leaves it with two-dimensional characters and the most manipulatively awful score of 2019. To be honest, the only redeeming quality in this film is in Erivo's work, although she has to push through so much mediocre filmmaking and generic storytelling that both Harriet Tubman and she deserved better. We also really need to have the conversation about why the Academy seems more inclined to nominated Black people when they play slaves than when they play modern characters. If this helps start that discussion, it's the best one could hope for from "Harriet."
Buy it here
Feature Commentary with Director/Co-writer Kasi Lemmons
Her Story - Featurette
Becoming Harriet - Featurette
It feels like a decade ago, we'd be talking about Ed Norton's drama in the awards season conversation, but it was entirely ignored by every awards giving body this year. Don't get me wrong. It's a mediocre piece of work, enlivened only occasionally by Norton's passion for the material and the ridiculously strong cast he assembled, but that didn't stop the Academy in the '90s and '00s as often as it seems to now. "Motherless Brooklyn" screams Prestige Filmmaking, the kind that's often referred to as "Awards Bait." So why didn't they bite this year? WB put more weight behind the killer clown movie, but it's also that we've seen this kind big ensemble adaptation so many times in recent years that it's lost its luster. It's swung so hard in the other direction that it almost feels like Norton's film was underrated. Isn't there space for this kind of adult drama between multiple Oscar nominee and completely ignoring its existence? Maybe not anymore.
Audio Commentary with Director Edward Norton
Edward Norton's Methodical Process - Featurette
One of the most successful foreign films of all time heads into this Oscar weekend with some pundits predicting wins for Best Director and even Best Picture. I think the former is possible, the latter less so, but the Oscar conversation around "Parasite" has overwhelmed analysis of what Bong Joon Ho accomplished here, bringing a distinctly Korean vision to a receptive worldwide audience. My greatest hope is that "Parasite" allows American viewers to realize that foreign films don't have to be off-limits and that there are great pieces of art being created around the world. After you watch one of the best movies of 2019, watch other Bong films, then other Korean films, then maybe some Japanese films, and so on and so on. Don't let "Parasite" be an anomaly. Let it start a revolution. (One more note: This release feels a little slight in terms of special features. Don't be surprised if a special edition, maybe even a Criterion, comes before the end of the year.)
Q&A session with director Bong Joon-ho
"Terminator Dark Fate"
When can a movie be better than half of the films in its franchise and yet still be not that good? When it's a Terminator movie. "Dark Fate" gets way more right than "Rise of the Machines," "Salvation," or "Genisys," but those three films range from kinda bad to downright awful. Mackenzie Davis stars here as another being sent through time to save the future. She's great, using her physical presence in ways that a role hasn't really asked her to do before, but "Dark Fate" starts to feel way too much like a remix of the first two movies long before Linda Hamilton and Ah-nuld show up. It's like a cover band that includes a member or two from the original group. Some of the energy is there and you may like a tune or two, but it ain't quite the same thing.
Deleted and Extended Scenes
A Legend Reforged
Dam Busters: The Final Showdown
VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly
It was sad to see how much Trey Edwards Shults' excellent third film kind of fell flat when it was released. The critical response was way more divisive than on the fest circuit and A24 put more awards season weight behind "Uncut Gems." Consequently, "Waves" kind of disappeared without many people even knowing it was out. While I admire some of the well-written criticisms of "Waves," I still find it to be a thrilling piece of filmmaking, anchored by great performances from its entire cast, especially Taylor Russell and Sterling K. Brown. And while it's easy to see why some people find this over-directed, I see way too many films that I would call lazily under-directed, and I appreciate Shults for dramatically swinging for the fences here. It's a film that I think people will hold dear when they see it on Blu-ray and DVD. Why not ignore the disagreement in the critical sphere and see if you're one of them?