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US Blu-ray and DVD releases: Mandy, 12 Monkeys, Dragnet, Osamu Tezaku’s Metropolis, Valley Girl and more

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Mandy – Nicolas Cage gives a searing performance in this occult horror/action movie from director Panos Cosmatos. Cosmatos got a lot of attention for his first film, the trippy Beyond the Black Rainbow. He hasn’t strayed far from his comfort zone with this film, which sees a man’s wife killed by crazed cult members, after which be sets out on a killing spree of revenge. It sounds like your straightforward Death Wish-type movie, but in Cosmatos’s hands, it’s a psychedelic nightmare punctuated by moments of extra violence. Cage is extremely game, and he drives the film in a way we haven’t seen in a long time. The problem for me was that the first hour of the film is absolutely unwatchable in my opinion. The second hour, when the action kicks in, is at least interesting on a purely kinetic level, but by that point I already hated the film. Cosmatos’s existing fans will LOVE it, but I just don’t dig what he does as a filmmaker.

12 Monkeys – Not only my favorite Terry Gilliam film (although that’s an admittedly a pretty low bar), but one of my favorite films of all time, 12 Monkeys gets a deluxe Criterion-esque new edition on Blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video, who has really come on strong in the past couple of years with some terrific catalogue releases. Not only has the film been restored and remastered, but it also includes a TON of extra features, including a feature-length documentary, an audio commentary, a full-color booklet, and much more. 12 Monkeys is one of the greatest time travel movies ever, and for years we’ve had the standard Universal Studios Blu-ray, but this new Special Edition use the one every fan should have.

Dragnet – This is such an interesting movie. I mean, you’ve got Tom Hanks before he was a mega-superstar, Dan Aykroyd kind of right after he was a mega-superstar, and you’ve got a movie that’s a semi-comedic update of a non-comedic television show. The film wasn’t a big hit, but I always really enjoyed it. Revisiting it for the first time in years thanks to Shout Factory’s Shout Selects line, I can’t say that it’a really a truly great film or anything, but I still found it entertaining in that late-80s kind of way. With some new extra features (although admittedly nothing involving Hanks or Aykroyd), this is a nice package overall, even if it will appeal more to die-hard fans of the film.

Teen Titans Go to the Movies – I was never a huge fan of the Teen Titans Go cartoon, and not just because I’m a fan of the comics they’re based on. I can always accept when film and television creators make changes to properties when they bring them to life. I have no problem with that. No, instead I just never loved the show all that much; it’s too frenetic and silly for me. And while Teen Titans Go To The Movies is still frenetic and silly, it’s also much smarter and more clever than I usually found the show to be. While I’m not quite ready to go and get a Teen Titans Go tattoo, I did enjoy this film quite a bit.

Valley Girl – Nicolas Cage makes his second appearance this week with a flashback title from Shout Selects, who give us a new Blu-ray edition of Valley Girl, the early 1980s hit that’s squarely a time capsule of the early ‘80s when the film was released. The movie itself is okay; the plot isn’t all that complicated and it’s really mostly an excuse to highlight the valley girl culture that was popular for a hot minute in the 80s. But it’s neat to see Cage look so young, and it is a fun look back at a decade that wasn’t known for subtlety. The film makes its debut on Blu-ray and comes with a treasure trove of new and archival extra features, so fans should really enjoy this release.

Osamu Tezaku’s Metropolis – I’m not always a big fan of anime films, although there are some I enjoy. Metropolis is one of them, although it’s no surprise when you look at the talent involved: it’s based on a comic book by Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astroboy), written by anime legend Katsuhiro Otomo (creator of Akira) and directed by Rintaro (director of Galaxy Express 999). It’s hard to go wrong there. While the film has been available on home video before, this new Blu-ray edition comes in a gorgeous steenbok package and includes lots of extra features. A terrific package for fans of the film of anime in general.

Also available this week on home video:

  • Believer – Apparently, Believer is a remake of Asian action film superstar Johnnie To’s Drug War, but seeing as how I’ve never seen Drug War, I can’t really comment on how it stacks up to the original. But I can tell you that I found this version of the film to be solid if unexceptional entry into the Asian action canon. The film follows a cop and a drug dealer who team up to bring down a major drug cartel, which is fine and dandy, but isn;’t really anything we haven’t seen before. Of course, there are some spectacular action sequences and a fair amount of drama, so the film is worth watching, it’s just not anything that will blow you away.
  • The Best of the Three Stooges: Volumes 1-3 – Okay, admittedly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of The Three Stooges, but that’s not really germain to the point here. What is the point is that if you’re a Three Stooges fan, than you need this DVD set. Created by Time Life and exclusively available at threestoogesdvds.com, this set gives you three volumes of comedy, which includes 13 discs, with 45 Hours of material. This means you get all of the Columbia Pictures Shorts made between 1934 and 1945 (and these are probably some of my favorite Three Stooges bits, because they’re short and funny), four feature films (The Three Stooges — the 2000 biopic; Have Rocket, Will Travel; The Outlaws Is Coming; and Rockin’ in the Rockies, plus a bunch of cartoons, a documentary series called Hey Moe! Hey Dad!, some physical goodies, and more. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the comedy legends, and it will keep you entertained for hours and hours.
  • Never Goin Back – Maia Mitchell (Disney’s Teen Beach movies) and Camila Morrone star in this slacker comedy that does something that shouldn’t be new and fresh, but is: it has two female lead characters. Think about tit: how many movies have we seen where a couple of slacker guys go on a road trip or get involved in some silly scheme or are just general slackers? About a million. How many times have wee seen those exact same films but with female characters? A lot less, I’d say. And while Never Goin Back isn’t perfect, Mitchell and Morrone are game in the lead roles, and the film does have some funny moments. At best, it’s a fresh new take on a popular genre, and at least, it’s a step in the right direction.
  • YesSongs – Okay, I’m not a Yes fan per se (I don’t dislike them, I’ve just never really listened to them) so I can’t really tell you how good this 1972 concert film is in the grand scheme of the Yes catalog. However, I can tell you that it looks and sounds pretty good on Blu-ray considering the age of the material, and that the line-up for this show (because these 70s bands changed line-ups like they changed underwear) included band members Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Alan White. Seems like a pretty good release for fans.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: The Christmas Cases – This limited edition release features three feature-length mysteries from the extremely popular mystery show: A Merry Murdoch Christmas, Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas, and Home for the Holidays. The three-disc set is packaged in a box resembling a Christmas gift and comes with a collectible Christmas card for a limited time. Each of these movies has been available on DVD before, but this is a nice set that might make a great gift for that friend you’ve been trying to get to watch the show!
  • Les Parents Terribles – Jean Cocteau is one of those French New Wave filmmakers who I haven’t had much experience with, so I was curious to sit down and watch Les Parents Terribles, which makes its Blu-ray debut this week. While the film is a fairly heavy drama, which isn’t always my cup of tea, it’s hard to resist a set up like this: when a young man tells his overbearing mother that he’s leaving with his new girlfriend, she flies off the handle. Things get even worse when the man discovers that his girlfriend is the woman his dad’s been having an affair with! It doesn’t get much more French than that!
  • Fishy Stones, Gone Crazy, Umbango – IndiePix begins a new collection this week called the Retro Afrika Collection. This line is designed to bring to light little seen films of all genres from South Africa from the 70s to the 90s. The first three films in the line are Fishy Stones (a heist comedy), Umbango (a western-styled actioner), and Gone Crazy (which is hard to put into one genre.) Now, these films are all presented in their original Zulu language with English subtitles. They’re all also fairly shot, running just over an hour each. It’s an interesting watching experience; I can’t say I out-and-out loved any of the films, but they are of course a product of their time and environment, which makes them more interesting. This is certainly a solid start to a new line of films that might bring us some gems.
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