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Home Entertainment Guide: May 2021

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

"American Me"
"Back to the Future"
"Crimson Peak"
"The Master"
"Mystery Men"
"Mystic River"
"Rush"
"Scarface"
"Stargate"
"State of Play"

10 NEW TO HBO MAX

"Anaconda"
"The Artist"
"Black Hawk Down"
"The Dark Knight Rises"
"Dreamgirls"
"Free Willy"
"The New Mutants"
"Rush Hour"
"Tenet"
"Volver"

11 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

"Donnie Darko" (Arrow)

Yes, it's another edition of Richard Kelly's cult classic hitting the home market. "Donnie Darko" has been released so many times that it can be easy to lose track of them all, but this lavish Arrow box set really does feel definitive. First of all, it includes both the theatrical and director's cut editions of the film (#TeamTheatrical) restored in 4K, although potential buyers should be warned that some copies of the theatrical disc appear defective as per this thread and also my personal experience of an incredibly choppy image transfer. Arrow has not yet released a statement, but this feature will be updated if they have a replacement disc system (which I suspect they will). Getting past that issue, there's so much to like about this set. Of course, like most things Arrow, it's COMPREHENSIVE, including everything previously available, and it includes some gorgeous packaging, including a hardcover book and poster with new art. I know Blu-ray reviewers have told you this before, but this really does feel like the final and the must-own edition of this great film. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
4K BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
New 4K restorations of both the Theatrical Cut and the Director's Cut from the original camera negatives by Arrow Films, supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentations of both cuts in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
100-page hardcover book featuring writing by Nathan Rabin, Anton Bitel and Jamie Graham, an in-depth interview with Richard Kelly, an introduction by Jake Gyllenhaal and contemporary coverage, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece
Six double-sided collector's postcards
Limited Edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece
DISC 1 – THE THEATRICAL CUT [4K BLU-RAY]
Audio commentary by writer-director Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal
Audio commentary by Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick and actors Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross and James Duval
Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, a documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures on the making of Donnie Darko, containing interviews with writer-director Richard Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick, cinematographer Steven Poster, editor Sam Bauer, composer Michael Edwards, costume designer April Ferry, production designer Alec Hammond and actor James Duval
The Goodbye Place, Kelly's 1996 short film, which anticipates some of the themes and ideas of his feature films
20 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Kelly
Trailer
DISC 2 – THE DIRECTOR'S CUT [4K BLU-RAY]
Audio commentary by Kelly and filmmaker Kevin Smith
The Donnie Darko Production Diary, an archival documentary charting the film's production, with optional commentary by cinematographer Steven Poster
Archive interviews with Kelly, actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Noah Wyle and Katharine Ross, producers Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvonen, Hunt Lowry and Casey La Scala, and cinematographer Steven Poster
Three archive featurettes: They Made Me Do It, They Made Me Do It Too and #1 Fan: A Darkomentary
Storyboard comparisons
B-roll footage
Cunning Visions infomercials
Music video: Mad World by Gary Jules
Galleries
Director's Cut trailer
TV spots


"The Furies" (Criterion)

Released in a lavish DVD edition already, Criterion has given Anthony Mann's the HD upgrade with the recent release of this Blu-ray version of the 1950 classic. Like the DVD, this edition comes with the actual novel on which the film was based by Niven Busch, which tells the story of the daughter of a racnher in New Mexico Territory in the 1870s. Barbara Stanwyck is fantastic in the lead role (and Walter Huston ain't bad neither) and this has some of Mann's best compositions. The Criterion edition is typically strong, and not just because it comes with a book. It also includes a few rare interviews with Mann and Huston, as well as a conversation with Nina Mann, the director's daughter.

Buy it here 

Special Features
High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2008 featuring film historian Jim Kitses
New interview with critic Imogen Sara Smith (Blu-ray only)
The Movies: “Action Speaks Louder Than Words,” a 1967 television interview with director Anthony Mann
Rare on-camera interview with actor Walter Huston, made in 1931 for the movie-theater series Intimate Interviews
Interview from 2008 with Nina Mann, the director’s daughter
Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos (DVD only)
Trailer
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by critic Robin Wood and a 1957 Cahiers du cinéma interview with Anthony Mann, as well as a new printing of the 1948 novel by Niven Busch on which the film is based


"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"

All you really need to know about the must-have nature of this Kino Lorber 4K release can be found below in the list of special features. First and foremost, Sergio Leone's classic western has never looked better than it does in the extended, 179-minute cut, which has been meticulously color graded into 4K. That's the only cut in 4K as the other disc is a standard Blu-ray, but that 162-minute cut also looks remarkable. And both discs are packed with special features. To start, there are three separate expert audio commentaries, including one by the great Richard Schickel. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
DISC ONE - 4K BLU-RAY
EXTENDED CUT (179 MIN) WITH OVER 30 HOURS OF SHOT-BY-SHOT COLOR GRADING
Audio Commentary by Noted Cultural Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Schickel
DISC TWO - BLU-RAY
162-Minute Theatrical Cut (2017 Color Correction)
Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
Leone's West: Making of Documentary
Featuruettes
Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and GBU Featurette Part 1
Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and GBU Featurette Part 2
The Leone Style: On Sergio Leone Featurette
Reconstructing GBU
The Man Who Lost the Civil War: Civil War Documentary
Deleted Scenes
Vignettes
Alternate Scene: The Optical Flip
Trailers From Hell with Ernest Dickerson
Image Galleries
GBU on the Set
Promoting GBU
Trailers


"The Hot Spot"

In 1990, Roger Ebert wrote the following about Dennis Hopper's "The Hot Spot," a film that time seems to have forgotten: "I feel at home in movies like "The Hot Spot." They come out of that vast universe formed by the historic meeting of B movies and the idea of film noir - films about the soft underbelly of the human conscience." I know what he means. Hopper's film is a deeply underrated modern noir about a man (Don Johnson) who ends up in a predicament regarding that classic of the genre, the boss' wife. The new 2K restoration by Kino Lorber is a stunner. Either the film never looked this good or I have a bad memory. You can feel the heat coming off the red desert color palette. New interviews with stars Virginia Madsen and William Sadler are wonderful too. Seek this one out. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
BRAND NEW 2K MASTER COLOR-GRADED AND APPROVED BY CINEMATOGRAPHER UELI STEIGER
NEW Interview with Co-Star Virginia Madsen
NEW Interview with Actor William Sadler
NEW Audio Commentary by Entertainment Journalist and Author Bryan Reesman
Theatrical Trailer
Reversible Art
Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase


"Irma Vep" (Criterion)

Given the generally chaotic state of things in December of last year, you may have missed the truly unexpected news that Olivier Assayas would be adapting his 1996 film "Irma Vep" into an HBO series to star Alicia Vikander. The Oscar winner has some pretty big shoes to fill if she's taking on the role played by Maggie Cheung in this breakthrough film for the French director, which gets one of the most lavish Criterion treatments of the year to date. This one is dense and includes a new interview with Assayas, as well as an "address on the state of cinema" from the controversial filmmaker from last summer. From that special feature back to a 1916 episode from Louis Feuillade's silent film serial "Les vampires: Hypnotic Eyes," this is really a packed release for a great film. And I love how much Criterion digs Assayas. This is the sixth release of his work by the company. Time for a box set!

Buy it here 

Special Features
New 2K digital restoration, approved by director Olivier Assayas, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with Assayas
On the Set of “Irma Vep,” a behind-the-scenes featurette
Interview from 2003 with Assayas and critic Charles Tesson
Interview from 2003 with actors Maggie Cheung and Nathalie Richard
Musidora, the Tenth Muse (2013), a documentary on the actor who originated the role of Irma Vep
Les vampires: Hypnotic Eyes (1916), the sixth episode in Louis Feuillade’s silent-film serial
Cinema in the Present Tense, a June 2020 address on the state of cinema by Assayas
Man Yuk: A Portrait of Maggie Cheung, a 1997 short film by Assayas
Black-and-white rushes for the film
English subtitle translation and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by critic Aliza Ma


"Land"

Robin Wright's directorial debut launched at Sundance, a perfect venue for a character study that values the natural world as much as this one does, but one that felt a bit diminished this year by its virtual dynamic. It really feels like "Land" would have played differently in those hills of Park City than it does at home, but that's a buzz that can never happen now, sadly. As for the film itself, it's a quality drama thanks mostly to the strong performances from Wright and Demián Bichir. Sure, it's manipulative at times, especially in the final act, but they invest their characters with enough humanity that it's forgivable. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
Crafting LAND – Filmmakers and cast discuss how shooting in such a beautiful but brutal location added unique challenges and a distinct authenticity.
Robin Wright: Feature Film Directorial Debut – Director Robin Wright reveals why this project stood out from the others she considered for her feature film directorial debut, and how directing the film gave her a unique perspective on what she needed to give as an actress.
After the Trauma – In this piece we examine the mental process Edee goes through in the aftermath of tragedy, how her pain is relatable, and why this was the perfect time to tell such an uplifting story.


"The Marksman"

This column generally only includes highlights, but I'm going to use this place to make a plea to Liam Neeson, a great actor who is sliding into that Bruce Willis valley of paycheck roles. Listen, he doesn't sleepwalk through movies like "Die Hard" star does a few times a year, at least not yet, but he's getting closer. Take this atrocious piece of work that uses drug cartel and an orphaned immigrant child to give a boring white guy a redemption arc. Even Neeson seems to be aware that what he's doing here isn't worth his talent. The truth is that a surprising number of the late-career action films by Neeson are good to great, including recent escapist fare like "The Commuter" and "Cold Pursuit." He can be forgiven this total misstep. But don't make it a pattern.

Buy it here

Special Features
The Marksman – Filmmakers and cast discuss the richness of the story and characters, as well as their experiences working with legendary actor Liam Neeson.


"Memories of Murder" (Criterion)

When Bong Joon-ho won the Oscars for "Parasite," fans of his work were excited at what that meant in terms of new viewers appreciating his wonderful filmography. Criterion seemed to know that the timing was right to bring his 2003 masterpiece to American audiences. A film that's been very hard to find stateside in the last two decades (I almost bought a foreign release multiple times but knew that a version like this Criterion one would be announced the minute that I did), "Memories of Murder" is a serial killer film about the impact of investigation as much as the impact of killing. It's a brilliant piece of work and Criterion gives it the love it deserves, including a great 4K transfer, two old commentaries, a new interview with Bong, and a new interview with one of Bong's biggest fans, one Mr. Guillermo del Toro. Any interview with del Toro is an interview worth watching. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
New 4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Kim Hyung Ku and approved by director Bong Joon Ho, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Two 2003 commentaries featuring Bong and members of the cast and crew, plus a new commentary featuring critic Tony Rayns
New interview with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro
New interview with Bong about the real-life serial killer who inspired the film
Documentary from 2004 on the making of the film
Deleted scenes, with optional audio commentary by Bong
New interview with film scholar Jeff Smith on the use of sound in Bong’s work
Incoherence, a 1994 student film by Bong, with a new introduction by the director
Teaser, trailer, and TV spot
PLUS: An essay by critic and novelist Ed Park


"Nomadland"

Yes, the Best Picture winner from last month is already on Hulu, but maybe you're a believer in physical media too? If so, pick up only the second film to ever win a Best Director prize for a female filmmaker. I'm well on the record as a vocal fan of this film, one that I consider the best of 2020 (a rare occasion wherein I agreed with the Academy). The Blu-ray is serviceable but a bit slight for a film this widely beloved. I have to expect a special edition perhaps with a commentary and a stronger transfer may be down the road. How will history remember "Nomadland"? It's way too soon to tell if this will be one of those Best Picture winners for which the acclaim almost backfired because of inevitable backlash. I personally don't think it will. The movie is strong enough to weather that storm.

Buy it here 

Special Features
The Forgotten America
Deleted Scenes
Lunch Interrupted
A Gift From God
Telluride Premiere Q&A with Frances McDormand and Chloé Zhao


"Raya and the Last Dragon"

It's harder than ever to tell how films are landing with the public. In the old days, movies were released in theaters, and staying power at the box office often meant that word of mouth was strong. But the pandemic shifted the paradigm, especially for a film like "Raya and the Last Dragon," which was available on Disney+ for a premium while it was in theaters. So did people like "Raya"? I know I did, and am happy to have it in my 4K Blu-ray collection. The video quality is naturally stronger than the screener from which I reviewed it (and probably the Disney+ quality) and I love that Disney hasn't given up yet on physical media, loading their family films with special features. With the growth of Disney+, I keep waiting for the day that these releases stop. I hope it doesn't happen for a long time.

Special Features
An Introduction to "Us Again" 
"Us Again" 
Raya: Bringing it Home 
Martial Artists 
We are Kumandra 
Outtakes 
Fun Facts & Easter Eggs 
The Story Behind the Storyboard with John Ripa 
Deleted Scenes


"Speed"

It's been interesting to see the order in which catalog films are given the 4K treatment. While some '90s and '00s action flicks have already had more than one 4K release, it's taken this long to get to one of the best action movies ever made in Jan de Bont's wonderful 1994 classic. As much as "Die Hard," "Speed" became a sort of shortform pitch: Ex., "It's like Speed on a ____" While that's a testament to the wonderfully simple premise of this movie, it somewhat undervalues how incredibly well-made it is. As tight as a drum when it comes to editing, stunt work, and cinematography, it's the kind of lean escapist fun that one still wishes was made more often. 

Special Features
Audio Commentary by Jan de Bont
Audio Commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon
Action Sequences
Inside Speed
Extended Scenes
Speed Music Video by Billy Idol

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the 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 Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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