Past Lives, The Giant Gila Monster, Poker Face and More!
NEW RELEASE WALL
Past Lives (A24/Lionsgate): Writer-director Celine Song’s evocative love story about smitten, separated children who find each other decades later on other sides of the planet has struck a real chord with audiences; it’s an adult drama that people I know are still talking about, still mulling over in their heads. The trio of performances by Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro also keep resonating after the final credits roll. Catch up with this one before it turns up on all the year-end best lists.
Elemental (Disney): Fire and water do mix in this lovely animated metaphor about opposites attracting (and children of immigrants feeling caught between two worlds).
The Little Mermaid (Disney): Do these live-action remakes of beloved Disney animated features need to exist? Not really. Is this one among the better examples of that subgenre? Totally.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Somehow ups the ante (and the stakes) from its bold predecessor; this is the kind of movie you need to own if only because one viewing just isn’t enough to take in everything that’s happening here.
What’s Love Got to Do with It? (Shout Studios): You know the title, but this rom-com set in the world of arranged marriages amongst Pakistanis in London is a love story that goes to new places.
Aporia (Well Go USA Entertainment): The great Judy Greer stars as a grieving widow who contemplates time travel as a way to be reunited with her late husband. This acclaimed indie explores grief and destiny in a sci-fi context, and the results are haunting and powerful.
The Latent Image (Cinephobia Releasing): A blocked writer working at a cabin in the woods gets more than he bargained for from the arrival of a mysterious stranger.
A Sunday Horse (4Digital Media): This inspirational drama tells the true story of equestrian champion Debi Walden, who defied the odds to reach the top of her sport.
What Doesn’t Float (Circle Collective): An ensemble cast (including Larry Fessenden) copes with a crisis in New York City in this darkly comic anthology.
L’immensità (Music Box Films): Trans filmmaker Emanuele Crialese tells an affectionate coming-of-age story set in Italy in the early 1970s, with a compassionate mother (played by Penélope Cruz) coming to understand that her oldest child is a boy, despite having been assigned female at birth. Cruz and Luana Giuliani (as the kid) deliver extraordinary performances, and Crialese brilliantly imbues music into the tale in both dream sequences and even quotidian moments like setting the table for dinner. One of my favorites of 2023.
The Beasts (Greenwich Entertainment): This intense thriller about French “outsiders” in a Galician farming community builds the tension to a breaking point, and then it keeps ratcheting it up until the climax.
Cadejo Blanco (Film Movement): A young Guatemalan woman infiltrates a criminal gang to find her missing sister in this thriller from director Justin Lerner.
Final Cut (Kino Lorber): Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) remakes the Japanese horror movie One Cut of the Dead, about the set of a zombie movie that gets overtaken by an actual zombie outbreak.
Goodbye Monster (Well Go USA Entertainment): An exiled doctor gets a shot at redemption from a young boy who needs his help in this Chinese animated feature.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror (GKids): Keiichi Hara directs this anime about a friendless girl, a magic mirror, and a game that will unite six teens – or will get them eaten by a wolf.
The Merger (IndiePix): A struggling small-town footy club gets one last shot with the arrival of a former pro who becomes their new coach; this beloved Aussie comedy makes its US Blu-ray debut.
Personal and Political: The Films of Natalia Almada (Icarus Films): This impressive box set features the full filmography (five features and a short) of Mexican filmmaker (and MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant honoree) Almada, whose work provocatively blurs the line between documentary and narrative.
White Building (KimStim): This Cambodian slow-cinema drama, a prize-winner at the Venice Film Festival, follows a young man with show-biz aspirations as he copes with his parents’ refusal to vacate their apartment complex, which has been slated for demolition.
Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy (Zeitgeist): There’s more going on here than the typical making-of documentary; this look at the production of Midnight Cowboy, which includes moving interviews with Jon Voight and Jennifer Salt, among others, establishes a context for John Schlesinger’s Oscar-winning classic, both in the political upheaval of the moment and in the aesthetic revolution happening in the world of cinema. Essential viewing.
The Elephant 6 Recording Co. (Greenwich Entertainment): Fans of ‘90s music won’t want to miss this look at the collective behind Olivia Tremor Control, The Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, and other essential psychedelic acts of the decade.
Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind (Greenwich Entertainment): Never at a loss for words, the prolific novelist tells her story in this doc from Stig Björkman.
Moonage Daydream (The Criterion Collection): While this isn’t a traditional documentary, it’s a tapestry, an exploration of the idea of David Bowie and his influence. It misses some of the major moments of the performer’s life, but it creates a swirl of memory and music.
Out of Time: The Material Issue Story (Factory 25): Tracks the rise and fall of the influential power-pop trio, who made it to the verge of stardom only to suffer the tragic demise of frontman Jim Ellison.
Sisters with Transistors (Metrograph Pictures): Laurie Anderson narrates this exploration of the innovative women who pioneered electronic music.
We Kill for Love (Yellow Veil Pictures): The erotic thriller of the 1990s has gotten a full-on cultural reevaluation in recent years, and this documentary explores the genre’s often-ignored cousin, the direct-to-video erotic thriller.
The Giant Gila Monster (Film Masters): Director Ray Kellogg and Texas-based producer Gordon McClendon collaborated on two unforgettably campy 1959 monster movies, and they’re both looking better than ever in this new collection. The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews have both been restored to an HD sheen, and this new collection features a documentary, commentaries and interviews, original radio spots, and much more.
The Abomination (Visual Vengeance): If the terms “Super 8” and “splatter” pique your interest, you’ll want to scoop up the new Blu-ray release of this 1986 low-budget fave.
Bad City (Well Go USA Entertainment): In a corrupt city, only an incarcerated cop can bring down a Yakuza politician in this action-thriller.
Creepy Crawly (Well Go USA Entertainment): Tourists quarantine at a Thailand hotel to avoid the pandemic, only to encounter a hundred-legged monster possessing the guests.
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown / Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (both KL Studio Classics): Two sterling examples of the particular kind of magic when Charles Bronson collaborated with those crazy kids at Cannon Films.
The Defilers / A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine! (AGFA/Something Weird): A pair of exploitation classics from the singular vision of She-Freak director David F. Friedman.
Double Trouble (Kino Lorber): The Barbarian Brothers, directed by the guy who played Jambi on Pee-wee’s Playhouse – what more do you need?
The Expendables / The Expendables 2 / The Expendables 3 (all Lionsgate): Fans of the franchise would be better off picking up these Best Buy–exclusive 4K steelbooks rather than subject themselves to Expend4bles.
Gangnam Zombie (Well Go USA Entertainment): The walking dead invade Seoul’s wealthiest neighborhood in this Korean horror-comedy.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (Paramount Home Entertainment): The sequel-to-end-all-sequels (if only) gets a 4K steelbook in honor of its 25th anniversary.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): That Gorton’s fisherman is out to carve up some more teens, this time in 4K.
Magnum Cop (Raro Video): All the 1970s Italian action you can handle, with the added bonus of Joan Collins.
The Prodigal Son (Arrow): This early hit for director Sammo Hung (who also co-stars) memorably features Yuen Biao in what is still considered one of the great HK martial arts films of all time.
Repligator (Visual Vengeance): Gunnar Hansen and Brinke Stevens team up for this sexy, low-budget horror spoof from Bret McCormick; both this and McCormick’s The Abomination make their Blu-ray debuts this month.
The Toxic Avenger Collection (Troma/MVD): Are you ready for this? 4K versions of all four Toxic Avenger movies, plus new introductions and other special features in this once-in-a-lifetime “Tox Set.”
Will Your Heart Beat Faster? (Kani): This acclaimed Filipino import is a farce, an action movie, and a musical, all rolled into one unforgettable package.
Early Short Films of the French New Wave (Icarus Films): Before their feature films changed the world, directors Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Jean Rouch, Alain Resnais, and Maurice Pialat, among others, got their feet wet with these early cinematic efforts. This compilation of 19 shorts heralds the promise of a group of filmmakers who were about to change the rules of cinema forever.
3 Days of the Condor (KL Studio Classics): Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway star in one of the great spy movies of the 1970s (and it’s a Christmas movie, too), now in 4K.
After Dark, My Sweet (KL Studio Classics): An early entry in the sun-baked, neo-noir revival of the 1990s, this sexy Jim Thompson adaptation stars Rachel Ward and Jason Patric.
Audie Murphy Collection III (KL Studio Classics): Another collection of films from the screen legend, this time featuring Showdown, Posse from Hell, and Hell Bent for Leather.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (DC/WB Animation): Sure, Christopher Nolan gets all the accolades, but many fans still consider this animated feature to be the best of the big-screen Batman movies – and now it’s in 4K for the first time.
The Beast (KL Studio Classics): Jason Patric stars in this tale of a Soviet tank that gets lost behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, from the director of Waterworld and the writer of Extremities.
Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Music, dance, and ass-kicking all cross paths in this loving homage to martial arts cinema, and on the 4K disc of this steelbook release, Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar offer their fan’s perspective on a commentary track.
Borsalino (Arrow): It’s a clash of Gallic titans as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon co-star in this 1970 hit about small-time gangsters who decide to become big shots.
Coming Out (Altered Innocence): East Germany’s first film to explore LGBTQ+ life became part of history when the Berlin Wall came down during its premiere screening.
Contempt (Lionsgate): Jean-Luc Godard’s savage satire of moviemaking makes its 4K debut.
The Doom Generation (Strand Home Video): Long out of circulation, Gregg Araki’s controversial, pansexual road-trip saga makes its Blu-ray debut in a new 4K scan that offers the first release of Araki’s director’s cut.
The First Time (Kino Lorber): Jacqueline Bisset is a woman of the world who may or may not introduce some bumbling teenagers to the realities of love and sex in this 1969 comedy.
The Hard Part Begins (Canadian International Pictures): One of the very first Canadian feature films stars Donnelly Rhodes (Soap, TRON: Legacy) as a country singer whose slowly unraveling self-destruction gets even worse when he goes on the road.
It Takes Two (KL Studio Classics): Father of the Bride‘s George Newbern stars as a groom-to-be caught between his fiancée (Leslie Hope) and an enigmatic car saleswoman (Kimberly Foster) in this 1988 rom-com.
La Bamba (The Criterion Collection): Lou Diamond Phillips stars as Ritchie Valens in this beloved rock biopic, now getting the full Criterion treatment with commentaries as well as interviews with director Luis Valdez.
Matilda (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): You enjoyed the musical, now go revisit the original Roald Dahl big-screen outing – starring Mara Wilson and directed by Danny DeVito – in this new 4K steelbook release.
Natural Born Killers (Shout Select): If you’re gonna sit down to rewatch Oliver Stone’s excessively excessive satire about American violence, you might as well do it in 4K.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney): Just in time for both Halloween and Christmas, Disney celebrates the 30th anniversary of Henry Selick’s animated masterpiece with this new 4K Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
Piccadilly (Milestone Cinematheque): When Hollywood wasn’t doing right by Asian-American screen legend Anna May Wong, she decamped to England to star in this rags-to-riches crime drama.
The Princess Bride (The Criterion Collection): As you wish – this 1980s classic makes it to Criterion with commentaries, interviews, Cary Elwes’ video set diary, Rob Reiner reading the original William Goldman story, and more.
Sex, Power, and Money: Films by Beth B (Kino Classics): This new set pays tribute to the New York underground-cinema legend, with 13 of her shorts and features.
Staying Alive (Kino Lorber): John Travolta was never as sweaty, ripped, or hip-thrusty as he was in this Sylvester Stallone–directed musical sequel to Saturday Night Fever; this new 4K release captures all the glistening.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (KL Studio Classics): Clint Eastwood teamed up with co-star Jeff Bridges and screenwriter Michael Cimino (pre-The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate) for one of his most acclaimed films, released for the first time in 4K.
The Train (Kino Lorber): It’s a 4K reissue of John Frankenheimer’s WWII action epic, starring Burt Lancaster as a French resistance fighter doing whatever it takes to stop the Nazis from making off with his country’s art treasures.
The Trial (The Criterion Collection): Welles does Kafka in this brilliantly unsettling drama, offering Anthony Perkins one of his greatest (and jitteriest) performances.
Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy (Deaf Crocodile): Jan Svankmajer created a rubber-suited monster for this cult classic, which the distributor compares to a collaboration between Troma and Sid & Marty Krofft. Sold!
Walkabout (The Criterion Collection): Nicolas Roeg’s dreamy drama sees two kids from the big city (Luc Roeg and Logan’s Run star Jenny Agutter) lost in the Australian outback and reliant upon a young aborigine (David Gulpilil) who is taking his “walkabout” ritual on the way to manhood. This new Criterion release features a 4K version, a commentary track from Agutter and Nicolas Roeg, and a documentary about Australian screen legend Gulpilil.
Poker Face: Season One (Paramount Home Entertainment): The internet demanded Natasha Lyonne as Columbo, and they got something even better as she and Rian Johnson collaborated on a new series, in which she plays a woman on the run who can always tell when someone’s lying. This first season featured a bevy of great guest stars and unforgettable mysteries; it might have premiered on a streaming service, but with this physical media release, you can be confident that it’s yours forever.
Cobra Kai: Season Five (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Those former Karate Kid bad guys are still at it.
Fire Country: Season One (Paramount Home Entertainment): A former prison inmate seeks redemption as he returns to his hometown a seasoned firefighter.
Loki: The Complete First Season (Marvel/Disney): Marvel’s trippy, time-hopping multiverse extravaganza starring Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson makes it to physical media in a gorgeous, extras-packed steelbook release.
NCIS: Los Angeles – The Final Season (Paramount Home Entertainment): And so we bid farewell to this branch of the intertwining NCIS universe, with DVDs to help us remember the good times.
Rick and Morty: The Complete Seasons 1-6 (Adult Swim/WB): If this is your bag, this new box set features the whole kit and kaboodle to date.
Single, Out: Season 1 (Cinephobia Releasing): This acclaimed Australian import follows a young gay twink as he plunges into the dating pool.
Smiling Friends: Season 1 (Adult Swim/WB): Smile, darn ya, smile, with this typically unhinged offering from Adult Swim.
Star Trek: Picard – The Final Season (CBS/Paramount): If you, too, have friends who won’t shut up about how amazing this last season of Picard was, now you can find out for yourself. (Or give them a physical copy of their own, so they’ll leave you alone.)
Star Trek: Prodigy – Season 1, Episodes 11-20 (CBS/Paramount): More of the acclaimed new animated series about intergalactic teens exploring the galaxy thanks to an old Starfleet craft.
Succession: The Complete Series (HBO/WB) Relive (or experience for the first time) the saga of the rascally Roys, plus two hours of bonus content, including interviews, “Inside the Episode” featurettes, and more.
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Season 3 (Paramount Home Entertainment): Jim from The Office is still out there doing spy stuff.