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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Richard Jewell, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Come To Daddy, The Song of Names and more

Come To Daddy

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – It’s been quite a ride for the Skywalker saga. When the first new film, The Force Awakens, came out in 2015, I was overjoyed. I loved every minute of it, and it’s still one of my favorite Star Wars films. And overall, the fan base loved it as well. Sure, there were a few people who didn’t like it, but most people really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, Disney didn’t have the foresight to hire one director to craft the whole trilogy and director Rian Johnson came along with The Last Jedi and completely divided the fan base. I know the film has some die-hard fans, but a lot of people really hated it. Enter JJ Abrams once again, to come in and finish out the trilogy and try and repair the damage done by Johnson. Unfortunately, while I do like The Rise of Skywalker overall, it feels like Abrams has to spend too much time repairing the damage done by Johnson to really make it the film it should have been. That said, there are parts of the film I really like, especially — of all things — C-3PO’s story arc, which is my favorite part of the movie. There are also some really nice moments that critics decried as “fan service,” but I’m a fan, and I don’t mind being catered to once in a while. Ultimately, TROS isn’t a bad film, but it’s certainly not the movie it should have been, either. Sigh. On the plus side, Star Wars: TROS is released on home video on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray and DVD, and the premium format presentation is pristine. The films colors pop off the screen, the image clarity is impeccable, and black levels and shadow delineation are terrific. The surround soundtrack fills every channel with active imaging, bringing a galaxy of action to your living room. It’s a stunning effort, really.

Richard Jewell – Clint Eastwood is a great director with a filmography filled with terrific films, but his output over the last decade has been a little hit or miss for me. While largely I still enjoy his films to some extent, I find his style has slowed down a little. His movies are quieter, slower, and more thoughtful, and while that’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t always result in the most exciting film. Take Richard Jewell, for example. The story of a security guard at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta who finds a bomb and saves people’s lives only to become suspect number one, Richard Jewell is a solid film. It’s an interesting story, and it has some great performances in it. But it also runs over two hours long, and as a result, there are moments where the film slows to a crawl. There are also some nice, tense sequences and moments of great character introspection, but the film could have been a good 20 minutes shorter. Still, it’s an interesting story and Eastwood is a sure hand behind the camera, so while it’s not a home run, it’s at least worth a watch.

The Song of Names – Tim Roth and Clive Owen both shine in this heavy drama about a man searching for his long lost friend, a musical prodigy who disappeared as a young man on the eve of his first public performance. The film is a mix of drama and mystery, as Roth discovers a clue that he believes will lead him to his long lost friend. At times, both the mystery aspect and the drama aspect feel a touch overblown, but it’s an intriguing enough story to keep you interested until the end. There are moments where the pacing flags a bit, but you should know this isn’t a thriller; it’s not going to gallop along. Instead, it’s a thoughtful film that takes place in multiple timelines as we see the present character’s quest to find his long lost friend and we also see their history together as young men and see their relationship and almost-brothers. The Song of Names is worth a watch if you like films that have a more thoughtful, measured approach.

The Captain – This terrific Asian suspense thriller drama is based on a real story, apparently known as The Miracle Over the Himalayas, which is not an incident I was really aware of. What happened was in May 2018, a passenger flight from Sichuan Airlines was flying over the Himalayas when the windshield shattered. The pilots had to navigate the plane with no communications and damaged instruments through a storm and over some of the most treacherous terrain in the world, and this film recounts that ordeal. It was clearly a harrowing experience, and the film does a good job of giving you real characters while not skimping out on the action and danger of the plane’s jeopardy. There’s a little too much preamble and a little too much follow-up after the events come to a close, but overall I found it a pretty riveting film and the fact that it’s based on real events makes it that much more harrowing. While the film barely got a release in the US, it was a global hit in Asia, grossing over $400 million worldwide. Definitely worth tracking down.

Come to Daddy – Elijah Wood — and his questionable mustache — stars in the oddball (and oddly titled) Come to Daddy, about a man named Norval who tries to reconnect with his estranged father at a remote c cabin in the woods. And as we know, only good things happen at cabins in the woods, right? Riiiiight. The always excellent Stephen McHattie play’s Wood’s father, a drunken bastard who is anything but warm and fuzzy, and it isn’t long before things go completely off the rails. Wood, who these days seems to specialize in under-the-radar films that take a lot of chances, is in top form, delivering an outstanding performance, and the clash between him and McHattie is palpable and electric. The film is a bit out there and has some moments that are pretty uncomfortable, but it’s certainly a film that keeps you glued to the screen as you wait to see what happens next. An interesting flick with a feel unlike anything I’ve seen recently.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence – I was a pretty big INXS fan back in the day, but my fandom never reached the levels it did with groups like U2 or The Beatles, where I got to know everything about the people involved. I was always familiar with Michael Hutchence and I thought he was an incredibly talented performer, but I didn’t know much more about him beyond that. Well, Mystify: Michael Hutchence is a new documentary film that aims to reveal a little more of who the late singer was behind the curtain. The film is filled with interviews from the people who knew Hutchence the best, and there’s also a decent amount of candid video of Hutchence himself. It paints a portrait of a man who wasn’t necessarily your traditional rock star. A great film for INXS fans and still a worthwhile watch just for fans of popular music.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Munster, Go Home! – Fans of the fun ‘60s TV show The Munsters will bee thrilled with this new Blu-ray release of Munster, Go Home, the Munsters movie that served as a follow-up to the series. I watched The Munsters religiously as a kid, and I remember watching this movie repeatedly on reruns where I was young. And while a movie might have been a bit of a stretch (perhaps the show worked best in shorter, half-hour chunks), it’s still a lot of fun. Most of the original cast is there (save for a new actress playing Marilyn, the “normal” member of the family), and it manages to keep the goofy fun of the TV show intact. As a really nice bonus feature, the Blu-ray also includes the entire Munsters Revenge TV movie that came out in 1981 and reunited the main cast once again. This one I haven’t seen, well, ever, I think, so it was fun to get to experience some “new” Munsters along with this c classic film. A great release for fans of the show.
  • Their Finest Hour: 5 British WWII Classics – This nice new Blu-ray collection features five lesser-seen (but not unknown) World War II films from classic British cinema: Went the Day Well, Dunkirk (the original, not the Christopher Nolan film), The Dam Busters, The Colditz Story, and Ice Cold in Alex. For my money, the two standout films — although all are solid — are Dunkirk and Ice Cold in Alex. Dunkirk fixes a lot of the problems with Nolan’s effort, keeping the story more cohesive and giving a more clear narrative picture of the events. Ice Cold in Alex is one I hadn’t heard of until last year, when my After the Ending film podcast co-host Phil Edwards turned me on to it. It’s a tense and taut tale of survival in the desert during wartime, and it’s one of those films that’s little seen but deserves a wider audience. All five films make their Blu-ray debut in this collection, which is nicely packaged in a compact case that won’t take up too much room on your shelf. War film fans should definitely seek this one out.
  • Shooting the Mafia – This documentary from Cohen Media gives us an unflinching portrayal of Letizia Battaglia, a woman who risked her life as a photographer by turning her lens on the Cosa Nostra (Mafia) in Italy in the 1970s. Battaglia captured some incredibly striking images of things she probably couldn’t have captured safely in any way, and somehow she survived it all. Now, at 84 years old, she shares some memories of her time in a dangerous era of her country’s history. The film uses many of her photos as well as archival footage and interviews to paint a stark picture of a country in chaos and one brave person who documented it. It’s a fascinating film, and some of the imagery is unforgettable.

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