by Bryan Theiss
This week we have a few major family movies, a Jane Austen adaptation, a horror sequel, a cult movie long overdue on blu-ray, an animated super hero epic, and much more. Now available by mail or at our pickup window.
BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948) (Warner Archive)
A gunslinging drifter (Robert Mitchum) is torn between greed and conscience when he realizes the job he took is a setup to swindle a rancher out of his livestock. Then he falls for the rancher’s daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes). Directed by Robert Wise.
BRAHMS: THE BOY 2 (2020)
Brahms is back! The scary dead-son-replacement-doll from 2016’s The Boy is creeping out more newcomers to his mansion. This time Katie Holmes is a mom moving in and having to deal with this weirdness. Includes deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES: SERIES 6 (2014)
One of the episodes in this season involves “a deadly explosion at a steampunk festival.”
This well reviewed comedy stars Zoey Deutch as an enterprising teenager who becomes a debt collector to afford tuition to her dream school and get the hell out of Buffalo. Also starring Judy Greer and Jai Courtney as “Wizz.”
DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968)
Mario Bava’s stylish psychedelic caper finally comes to blu-ray courtesy of Shout Factory. John Phillip Law (Pygar from Barbarella) stars as the jewel thief famous from Italian comic books. Features a new commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, an old one with Law and Bava biographer Tim Lucas, a documentary, trailers and even the Diabolic-inspired Beastie Boys video “Body Movin’” with optional Adam Yauch commentary.
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in a loose remake of the bone-dry Swedish farce Force Majeure, about a ski vacation (and family) wrecked by the dad’s cowardly reaction to an avalanche. From Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, directors of The Way Way Back and writers of Alexander Payne’s The Descendants.
Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) stars in an acclaimed new adaptation of the Jane Austen classic from music video director Autumn de Wilde. Includes deleted scenes, a gag real and director/screenwriter/director of photography commentary.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
THE GENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY (2020)
Ken Burns presents this 240-minute historical biography of the human genome as scientists try to identify treatments for genetic diseases and perfect tools for rewriting DNA.
THE GOOD PLACE: SEASON 4 (2016)
The touching conclusion to the beloved comedy about friendship and redemption in the afterlife. Includes extended episodes and a gag reel.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: APOKOLIPS WAR (2020)
Justice League Dark is DC Comics’ team of supernatural characters like John Constantine, Zatanna and Swamp Thing. This animated epic ties them to pretty much every other branch of their super hero mythology as an epic finale to the 15-film DC Animated Movie Universe. That includes the regular Justice League, the Teen Titans, and the Suicide Squad (now recruited by Lois Lane!) As they engage The New Gods in “the most shocking battle in the DC Universe, where survival itself is a victory.” Kind of like the Avengers: Endgame of super hero animation. Includes new featurettes, bonus Justice League Action episodes and the new DC Showcase short Adam Strange.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
Pixar’s latest takes place in a high concept world – a fantasy land of wizards and monsters that has evolved into a contemporary one where technology has largely replaced magic. Elves can drive vans, centaurs can become cops, manticores can manage restaurants. But this is Pixar, obviously they have to make you cry, so the story is about two teenage brothers (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) on a quest to fulfill a spell that would let them spend one day with their dead father. It’s clever and sweet and takes the company’s lush animation to impressive new heights.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (2020)
That blue animal guy from video games runs around and says funny stuff, I guess? He’s voiced by Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation), befriended by James Marsden and chased by Jim Carrey as “Dr. Robotnik.” Director Jeff Fowler previously did the Oscar nominated animated short Gopher Broke.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) (Warner Archive)
Jane Fonda stars as a young bride-to-be who runs off from her fiancee (Robert Culp) to stay with her brother (Cliff Robertson) and then falls for a guy she meets on the bus (Rod Taylor). Director Peter Tewksbury also did the Elvis Presley movies Stay Away, Joe and The Trouble With Girls.
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (1962) (Warner Archive)
Paul Newman stars in the Tennessee Williams adaptation about a ladies man wannabe star returning to his home town. Also starring Geraldine Page, Shirley Knight, Rip Torn, and Ed Begley (who won an Oscar for best supporting actor). Directed by Richard Brooks (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, In Cold Blood).
V : THE FINAL BATTLE (1984)
The second mini-series about the secretly-lizard-faced alien infiltrators who terrified me when I snuck into the TV room after bed time. This is the one with the alien-human hybrid baby. Marc Singer, Robert Englund and Michael Ironside star.
THE WAY BACK (2020)
Ben Affleck plays a high school basketball star who has ruined his life and marriage with alcoholism and seeks redemption by coming back to coach his alma mater’s struggling team. From Gavin O’Connor, director of Miracle, Warrior and The Accountant.
We also caught up on some Kino Lorber Blu-Ray titles that will skip New Releases and go into their regular sections:
A GAME OF DEATH (1945)
Robert Wise directed this thriller from the author of The Most Dangerous Game and with a similar subject: a man washes up on a Caribbean island and is terrorized by a homicidal big game hunter. With commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith.
BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928)
New restoration of a William Wellman silent film classic starring Louise Brooks as a woman who escapes a violent stepfather by riding the rails with a band of hoboes led by Wallace Beery. Includes separate commentaries by William Wellman Jr. and Thomas Gladysz (founding director of the Louise Brooks Society), and a new score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
Natalie Wood stars as an 8-year-old orphan girl who charms a doctor (Dean Jagger) and his entire town. Directed by Allan Dwan. With commentary by film historian Jeremy Arnold.
Richard Harris stars as a chauffeur who gets mixed up with the CIA, the mob and a murder mystery in this comedy also starring Christopher Plummer, Beverly D’Angelo, Peter Donat, Saul Rubinek and Maury Chaykin. Includes interviews with executive producer William J. Immerman and composer Christopher Young.
Martin Sheen plays an unemployed architect recruited by Albert Finney to help an elite team of criminals with an ambitious robbery. The score is by the great Lalo Schifrin (Mission: Impossible). Includes a commentary by director John Quested.
LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS (1970)
Based on a hit play, this critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated comedy about marriage and divorce has a cast that includes Bonnie Bedelia, Bea Arthur, Cloris Leachman, Gig Young and Diane Keaton in her first film. New 4K scan with a commentary track by film historian Lee Gambin.
This silent comedy about a salesgirl pretending to be a Russian countess is said to be the most successful collaboration between director Allan Dwan and star Gloria Swanson. With piano score by Makia Matsumura and commentary by film historian Gaylyn Studlar.
MIDAS RUN (1969)
Comedy about the heist of a government gold shipment, starring Richard Crenna, Fred Astaire, Anne Heywood, Cesar Romero and Roddy McDowall. Commentary by film historians Lee Gambin and Emma Westwood.
SOMETHING BIG (1971)
Dean Martin, Brian Keith, Honor Blackman, Merlin Olsen and Joyce Van Patten star in a western comedy about a stagecoach robbery and kidnapping.
STAGE STRUCK (1925)
Another silent comedy directed by Allan Dwan and starring Gloria Swanson. This time she plays a diner waitress determined to become a stage star. Includes original two-strip Technicolor prologue and epilogue, piano score by Andrew Simpson and commentary by Frederic Lombardi, author of Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios.
A STRANGE ADVENTURE (1956)
William-Witney-directed noir about a trio of armored car robbers who force a hot rodder to be their getaway driver and invade someone’s mountain cabin for a hideout. With commentary by Witney’s son Jay Dee and film historian Toby Roan.
TARGET: HARRY (1969)
Roger Corman directed this thriller about a pilot-for-hire (Vic Morrow) who gets mixed up in a passengers’ forgery plot and must prove his innocence while pursued by criminals and the Monte Carlo police. Also starring Cesar Romero, Stanley Holloway, Michael Ansara and Charlotte Rampling, this was edited by the great Monte Hellman (director of Two-Lane Blacktop). Includes commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell.
TRIGGER, JR. (1950)
William Witney directed this Roy Rogers singing cowboy classic featuring Dale Evans. With commentary by Jay Dee Witney and film historian Toby Roan.
YOU NEVER KNOW WOMEN (1926)
William Wellman silent about a love triangle between a Russian dancer, an escape artist and a wealthy broker. Includes a score by Donald Sosin and commentary with William Wellman, Jr.