This week you’ll find Bob Dylan via Martin Scorsese and Criterion, hard-hitting documentaries (including one to watch instead of 2018’s Green Book), Park Chan-wook before Oldboy, space wars, John Carpenter, Rock Against Racism, and much more!
AFTERGLOW / RAY MEETS HELEN (1997 / 2017)
Two lively ‘90s romantic comedies directed by Alan Rudolph. Afterglow – which was produced by Robert Altman (Nashville) – stars Nick Nolte and Julie Christie and focuses on two couples whose love lives are passionately intertwined. Ray Meets Helen follows Ray (Keith Carradine) and Helen (Sondra Locke in her last film role) as they each independently stumble upon lots of money and get the chance to improve their lives in big ways.
ALL I CAN SAY (2019)
“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain / I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain.” Lots of people have heard Blind Melon’s catchy #1 hit song that dominated airwaves in the early ‘90s, but not many can say they know much about the personal life of the alternative rock band’s lead singer, Shannon Hoon. Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, All I Can Say is made up entirely of Hoon’s intimate video diary that he filmed himself from 1990 until the day he died in 1995. Completed more than two decades after his death, the film is a poignant window into ‘90s American music culture and fame. “An astounding work…as honest as it is raw.” – Sachyn Mital, PopMatters
An astounding political documentary that investigates the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-nam – older brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – who died of exposure to VX nerve agent at an airport in Malaysia. Two young women were arrested for the crime, even though they maintain their innocence and it’s widely believed that Kim Jong-un ordered the assassination. There are so many layers of corruption and exploitation going on that it’s impossible not to be terrified and outraged while watching the film unfold. “Your jaw will drop.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
BATWOMAN / THE PANTHER WOMEN (1967)
Two Mexican superhero horror classics, which have been restored in 4K and include new English dubbed soundtracks. “Batwoman: After the body of a professional wrestler is found off Acapulco’s coastline, the victim, by all appearances, is believed to have drowned. However, the autopsy reveals a very perplexing and disturbing prognosis, when it’s discovered the victim’s pineal gland has been surgically drained of all fluid. The Panther Women: In an effort to resurrect the dead leader of their satanic cult, the Panther Women must perform blood sacrifices in order for him to arise from his cold grave.”
BORN TO BE (2019)
Dr. Jess Ting is a pioneering gender-affirming surgeon at a revolutionary surgery center in New York City that offers quality transition-related health and surgical care to transgender and gender non-conforming people. This feature-length documentary provides incredible access to Ting, as well as to his so often mistreated and neglected patients whose lives he works to change for the better. “Intimate and highly compelling.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire
THE CLEANSING HOUR (2019)
It’s all fun and games until your fake exorcism webcast suddenly becomes real when an actual demon takes a stab at guest starring. Disc bonuses: director Damien LeVeck’s commentary and behind-the-scenes footage.
THE CLIMB (2019)
Mike and Kyle are best friends, and then Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and audiences loved it. “Part of the movie’s point about male friendship is that these two friends, who have grown up together and perhaps don’t even like each other much as adults, nevertheless know each other with an intimacy that allows them to stick together effortlessly in a way that sometimes eludes romantic couples. Some critics have called the movie a bromance, but it’s more of a heartwarming tale of bro-acceptance.” – Ben Kenigsberg, Roger Ebert
Produced by Margot Robbie, this 1930s-set action drama also stars Robbie as Allison Wells, an outlaw bank robber on the run. A teenage boy (Finn Cole) develops romantic feelings for Allison and does his best to shield her from his bounty-seeking stepdad (Travis Fimmel). The film is clearly influenced by Bonnie and Clyde, but there’s enough twist to make it fresh.
(Blu-ray and DVD)
DRIVING WHILE BLACK: RACE, SPACE AND MOBILITY IN AMERICA (2020)
“Skip Peter Farrelly’s deeply problematic ‘Green Book’ and watch this instead. Sorin’s documentary provides a far more in-depth look at the significance of Victor Green’s lifesaving book, first published in 1936 and expanded over the decades, which became the bible for African American drivers hoping to find compliant accommodations as they moved around the country by car. It’s a thorough history of the effort to restrict and shame Black mobility, and it’s a must-watch. The ability to relate to another person’s experience is how empathy is inspired. And a documentary like ‘Driving While Black’ which is truthful and urgent, has the power to bring about real and necessary social change.” – Tambay Obenson, IndieWire
FRAU STERN (2019)
“Ms. Stern wants her life to expire already. With every attempt to leave this world, life brings her surprises. The absurd life circumstances and random encounters with strangers continuously conflict with the soberness of her desire to die.”
GALAVANT (COMPLETE SERIES) (2015) (2 DISKS)
In this comedic fantasy adventure show created by Dan Fogelman (This is Us), “Prince Galavant seeks revenge on the evil king who stole his love… tra-la-la.”
GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN (1958)
“Dr. Frederick Cleveland and his daughter Janet are joined by scientific researcher Wayne Brooks in the pursuit of ancient artifacts from Vargas, a giant 500-year-old Spanish conquistador.” Bonuses: audio commentary with author/historian Tom Weaver and guests, audio commentary with co-star Gary Crutcher, interviews, and more.
HEARTS AND BONES (2019)
Daniel (Hugo Weaving) is preparing an exhibition of his war photography. When Sebastian (Andrew Luri) asks Daniel not to display the photos because they may depict a massacre that occurred in his village, a friendship develops between the two men.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (2020)
Using various crises as examples (including COVID-19) and positioning itself within multiple hospital emergency rooms, Carolyn Jones’ documentary works to expose the many horrifying shortcomings of the American healthcare system.
JSA: JOINT SECURITY AREA (2001)
Before acclaimed filmmaker Park Chan-wook directed Oldboy (2003) or The Handmaiden (2016), he created Joint Security Area, a geopolitical thriller about a gunfire incident in the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea. The neutral team assigned to the resulting investigation is led by Swiss army major Sophie Jean (Lee Young-ae, Lady Vengeance). This special edition Blu-ray includes new audio commentary by writer and critic Simon Ward, a newly recorded video interview with Asian cinema expert Jasper Sharp, and footage from behind the scenes.
THE KID DETECTIVE (2019)
“No longer a kid. Not much of a detective.” A once-celebrated kid detective (Adam Brody) is 31 now. He hasn’t progressed much since his days of high achievement and his cases are trivial and unimpressive, leading him to drinking and self-pity. But he has a chance to redeem himself and be respected once again when a young woman (Sophie Nélisse) comes to him with a real “grown up” mystery to solve: Who brutally murdered her boyfriend? “The Kid Detective is a unique coming of age story, using a high concept premise and noir style to explore the darker realities of growing up.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant
LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN (2020)
A biographical drama about the life and enduring legacy of Beethoven, one of the greatest classical composers of all time.
MARTIN EDEN (2019)
Martin (Luca Marinelli) meets high-class Elena (Jessica Cressy) and sets out to prove himself worthy of her love, namely through becoming a successful writer. Directed by Pietro Marcello and based on Jack London’s novel of the same title. “Marcello is making a larger point about how society evolves over time, and how a single person’s journey can never be separated from the overarching sweep of history. In that sense, he has stayed remarkably true to the spirit of the novel, which London wrote as a rejection of individualism, the pursuit of self-interest over all else. And yet there’s no denying that this gorgeous and passionate film is simply one of a kind.” – Justin Chang, NPR
MAX CLOUD (2020)
A teen gamer is forced to battle some gnarly space villains for real when she’s sucked into her favorite video game.
MISS JUNETEENTH (2019)
In a Texas suburb, a single mom (Nicole Beharie) who is a former Miss Juneteenth winner prepares her reluctant teenage daughter (Alexis Chikaeze) for the same pageant. This is director Channing Godfrey Peoples’ first feature film, and it premiered at Sundance in 2020 to high praise. Much of the story is based on Peoples’ upbringing and attendance at Miss Juneteenth pageants. “Although the legacy of slavery infuses the film, Miss Juneteenth eschews the tendency to focus on Black pain, instead offering a celebratory story – celebrating especially the strength and hope of Black women in a world where the odds are stacked against them.” – Melanie Hoyes, Sight & Sound
NELSON ALGREN LIVE (2016)
For this Chicago-set documentary, Willem Dafoe and others give live performances of American writer Nelson Algren’s greatest and least known literary works.
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987) (2 DISKS)
In legendary horror creator John Carpenter’s second film of his “Apocalypse Trilogy” (sandwiched by The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness), a canister of liquid Satan gets unleashed on humanity. Extras: audio commentary with Carpenter and actor Peter Jason, interviews, and a look at the film’s score with co-composer Alan Howarth.
(Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD)
ROLLING THUNDER REVUE (2019) (CRITERION)
Martin Scorsese’s take on Bob Dylan’s epic 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour and the influence it had on American culture. From Criterion: “Director Martin Scorsese blends behind-the-scenes archival footage, interviews, and narrative mischief, with a magician’s sleight of hand, into a zeitgeist-defining cultural record that is as much a concert ‘documentary’ as it is a slippery, chimerical investigation into memory, time, truth, and illusion. At the center of it all is the magnetic Dylan, a sphinxlike philosopher-poet singing, with electrifying conviction, to the soul of an anxious nation.” In this special edition, Criterion has included new interviews and restored footage of never-before-seen performances.
(Blu-ray and DVD)
A SERBIAN FILM (2010) (UNCUT)
“An aging porn star agrees to participate in an ‘art film’ in order to make a clean break from the business, only to discover that he has been drafted into making one of the harshest films ever made. In order to escape his living cinematic hell and save his family’s life, Milos will have to sacrifice everything – his pride, his morality, his sanity, and maybe even his own life.”
SPACE DOGS (2019)
A dream-like and often brutal documentary centering around Laika, the stray dog that the Soviets sent into space in the 1950s, and the legend that her ghost returned to earth.
There’s really not much that certain nations won’t do to beat other nations into space. That’s made abundantly clear in this documentary about the USSR-USA Cold War era space race.
“While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.” Directed by Mark Tonderai (House at the End of the Street).
THEY LIVE (1988) (2 DISKS)
John Carpenter made a movie about special sunglasses that allow the wearer to see what’s really going on: rich people are aliens using subliminal messaging in media to control humans. This collector’s edition includes some cool bonus features: audio commentary with Carpenter and actor Roddy Piper, several interviews, visual analysis with Director of Photography Gary B. Kibbe, and a “making of” segment. They Live pairs well with Society (Brian Yuzna, 1989) and Ready or Not (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin / Tyler Gillett, 2019).
(Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD)
TOYS OF TERROR (2020)
Possessed dolls, haunted houses, and creepy children will never stop being bone-chilling, and that means we’ll never stop getting movies like this one – and we’ll keep watching them. Throw in a Christmas theme like they did here and there’s no resisting.
An inspiring documentary about women of the gridiron. Features multiple teams with their triumphs and struggles, wins and losses, and their love of football.
“Aaron Eckhart stars as retired detective Arthur Bretnik, whose traumatic past has driven him into a state of paranoia and isolation. With the help of a close friend, Jimmy Cleats (Tommy Lee Jones), Bretnik is pulled into investigating the seemingly accidental death of a local young woman in the town of Wander. The expert detective must decipher whether he’s a victim of his own psychological delusions or a witness to horrifying cruelty and corruption.”
WE GOT THIS (2020) (2 DISKS)
“How hard can it be to solve Sweden’s most infamous murder?” Turns out it can be tricky and dangerous, but the cash reward is exceptionally high – life-changingly high. A Sundance Now exclusive series.
WHITE RIOT (2019)
In the 1970s, a group of musicians from a variety of genres came together in the Rock Against Racism movement in protest to the mounting traction of National Front, a racist right-wing group. “An excellent brief documentary about a heroic grassroots political movement whose importance reveals itself more clearly in retrospect with every year that passes.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian