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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Schitt’s Creek, The Last Dance, Westworld, Spontaneous, Moonstruck, It’s A Wonderful Life, 2067 and more


Schitt’s Creek: The Complete Series – I’ll admit, I was VERY late to the game with Schitt’s Creek. Honestly, it was one of those shows that escaped my radar for a long time, until all the buzz about it began to become deafening. Honestly, just the amount of people in my social media circles talking about how great it was made it something I HAD to check out. And once I dove into it, I realized just how funny it is. For those of you who don’t know, the show is about a mega-wealthy family who loses all of their money to embezzlement and ends up residing in the podunk town of Schitt’s Creek, which they own. Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy play the Rose family, and their dynamic is absolutely terrific. The supporting cast is great as well — although I could go the rest of my life without seeing Chris Elliott in another show and be perfectly fine. This new DVD collection from Lionsgate features all six seasons in one 15-disc set. The packaging of the discs isn’t my favorite and I’m surprised the show isn’t being offered on Blu-ray, but still, if you love this show for even if you’ve never watched it, this is a great way to dive into 80 episodes of hilarity.

The Last Dance – Speaking of things that got unending buzz, ESPN’s 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s makes its home video debut in a limited edition Blu-ray set this week. This three-disc set includes the miniseries in its entirety, then also gives us over four hours of bonus features such as additional interviews, archival sports programming, and more. You also get a collectible 28-page booklet and a nifty fold-out timeline. But the real star of the show here is the show itself, which gives us an in-depth look at one of sports’ greatest dynasties and one of the biggest sports stars to ever walk the planet. Seriously. I don’t know if there’s another athlete who’s ever approached the level of fame that Michael Jordan has, and this show makes it clear why that is. Sports documentaries tend to be pretty exciting in general, but this is one of the best I’ve seen.

Westworld: The Complete Third Season – Three seasons into Westworld, and the overriding opinion still seems to be that it’s a good show but so dense that it’s hard to follow. And frankly, I feel like that’s pretty accurate. It’s a complex, layered show, and it requires some thought while watching, and as a result it’s pretty deep and complicated. The original Michael Crichton film from the ‘70s is one of my favorite movies of all time, and while this show is extremely different from that classic, I can see why people like it, even if it doesn’t get me quite as excited as I wanted it to. The new season three collection is available on DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K Ultra HD, and it looks absolutely stunning in the premium format. This is an extremely high budget show with a definite visual flair and crisp graphics, and the 4K Ultra format really lets that shine. The surround soundtrack is also nicely nuanced, giving you a nice, active sound field in your living room. You’ll definitely want to start at the beginning with this show, but ifs you already own the first two seasons, you’ll probably want to continue watching with this latest collection.

Spontaneous – I’d heard several of my movie critic friends holding Spontaneous up as their favorite movie (so far) of 2020, so I was really curious to check it out, especially since I really didn’t know anything at all about what the movie was about. The cover art looks like it’s your typical teen rom-com, but it turns out that is not quite the case. Instead it’s a dramedy that takes place in a world in which teenagers have started to spontaneously explode. Yes, you read that right. One minute they’re there, the next… poof! A spray of red mist. It’s an odd set-up for a film, but it leads to a really sweet romance and a character trying to figure out what the meaning of life is. And while I’m not sure I’d call it my favorite film of the year, I really, really liked it. Katherine Langford (Knives Out) is terrific and Charlie Plummer is a revelation, while Rob Huebbel and Piper Perabo are welcome additions to the supporting cast. Definitely track this film down; it’s quirky and odd but funny and lovable and unique. You’ll be glad you did.

Moonstruck – Somehow, I’d never seen 1987’s hit film Moonstruck, which won Cher an Oscar and was a massive box office hit, but I decided to correct that with the new Criterion Collection edition that’s out this week. The film is a rom com of sorts, but it’s a little more… meandering than that. And I mean that as a compliment. Moonstruck isn’t a particularly plot-heavy film, with Cher playing a somewhat frumpy widow who may have found romance now that she’s about to get married. But it ambles along, giving us real characters and fun interactions, and that’s its charm. Cher delivers a strong performance (although the stand-out for me is Olympia Dukakis, who steals the show — and won an Oscar herself — as Cher’s mother.) You also have Danny Aiello and John Mahoney turning in excellent performances, and of course a young Nicolas Cage chewing up the scenery as usual. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this 30-year-old comedy, but I ended up truly enjoying it. The characters all feel real, the performances are terrific, and the film just leaves you with a smile on your face. As with all Criterion Collection releases, this one sees the film restored and remastered and packaged with a nice collection of extra features as well as an illustrated booklet. This one’s a winner!

It’s a Wonderful Life 4K UHD SteelbookIt’s a Wonderful Life makes its return to the 4K Ultra HD format this week, but this time it comes in a sharp-looking steelbook case. Now, the film is 70 years old, so while the 4K update does give the film a new sheen, it’s not like it suddenly looks like a brand-new film, however, I’ve seen this film a million times and it definitely looks and sounds better in 4K than any other format I’ve seen it in. There is a colorized version of the film included on a Blu-ray disc (which does not include the B&W version, a mistake in my opinion), but the 4K disc features the original film, which is how it should be seen. You also get a digital copy of the film, which I love, because I didn’t have it in my digital collection until now. A flawed release (I don’t like when they put different versions of the film on different discs; they should all be available in all formats), but still a worthwhile part of any collection, as the film is a masterpiece.

2067 – Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ryan Kwanten star in this new sci-fi thriller/drama that deals with a dying earth and Time Travel and takes place in, well, obviously, in 2067. In the film, the earth is running out of oxygen, and things are in bad shape. Then, a message from the future appears: “Send Ethan Whyte.” Enter Smit-McPhee’s Ethan, and also enter the part of the film where things start to fall apart. Personally, I don’t think Smit-McPhee is the greatest actor in the world, and adding that to the fact that the script has some issues really starts to chip away at the enjoyment of the film. It’s a good concept for the film, but the execution is just lacking. Take a low budget, mix in mediocre acting and a weak script, and the end result is just kind of a mess. File under “disappointing.”

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Inner Sanctum Mysteries – This new six-film Blu-ray collection from Mill Creek includes a half dozen films starring Lon Chaney Jr. in films based on a popular radio show called Inner Sanctum Mysteries from the early 1940s. Each horror thriller is a pretty concise film, most of them coming in a little over an hour, and each stars Chaney, Jr. The films you get are: Calling Dr. Death (1943); Weird Woman (1944); Dead Man’s Eyes (1944); The Frozen Ghost (1945); Strange Confession (1945); and Pillow of Death (1945). In addition to that, there are two more movies in the set that are included as digital-only bonuses (not sure why they’re not included on a disc), Lady of Burlesque (1943) and Inner Sanctum (1948), as well as three Inner Sanctum Mysteries radio episodes, which is a really neat bonus. On the discs, you also get three making-of documentary featurettes, meaning this set is packed with extra value if you’re a fan of classic Hollywood thrillers. Admittedly, none of these are outright masterpieces, but for easy-to-watch thrillers, it’s hard to argue with it. Personally, I’d start with Strange Confession and The Frozen Ghost, personally, but that’s up to you.
  • Summerland – The oft-underrated Gemma Arterton stars in this new drama that also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Penelope Wilton, and Tom Courtenay. This charming little film is about an woman in World War II England living in the countryside who unexpectedly finds herself opening her home to a young boy who’s been evacuated from the war-torn parts of the country. As expected, what starts as a frosty relationship with the boy eventually starts to turn into something much more heartfelt and warm. We also learn a lot about Alice’s past and her somewhat unorthodox (for the time) relationship that informs her present reality. Summerland is a nice, pleasant little film; it’s not overly plot heavy nor is it filled with action, but it manages to keep viewers engaged throughout, largely due to the excellent performances and characters you really care about. Worth a look for something a little off the beaten path.
  • The Nest – This five episode Scottish series stars Martin Compston, Sophie Rundle, and Mirren Mack, and it’s an intriguing dramatic thriller. The story starts with a well-off couple who are unable to have a baby. When the wife, Emily, has a chance encounter with teenaged Kaya, they end up with Kaya agreeing to carry a surrogate baby for Emily and Dan. However, Kaya clearly has a lot of secrets: is she challenged by a troubled past or is she an out-and-out psycho? Well, that’s what we have to discover over the course of five episodes. This Acorn Media show is further evidence that the UK at large makes excellent television, without the need to draw it out into q 22-episode season. The cast here is terrific, and the story keeps you guessing. A neat TV event that can be watched in one or two sittings.
  • Thomas & The Magic Railroad: 20th Anniversary Edition – When my kids were young, they used to really enjoy Thomas the Tank Engine. Now as a grown-up, it was never one of my favorites of the shows they used to watch over and over, but this feature-length film was always the best that Thomas the Tank Engine had to offer. With Alec Baldwin in a role as Mr. Conductor, and Peter Fonda and Mara Wilson along for the ride as well, the film offers up plenty of action for the kids but some real actors for the adults who are watching along. To celebrate the film’s 20th Anniversary, Shout Factory has brought us the movie on Blu-ray for the first time, and not only do you get a nice-looking version of the film, but there are also a number of extra features including a documentary, interviews with Baldwin and Wilson, and more. It’s a nice new edition of a fun family film, and kids will like it whether they’re new or old Thomas fans.
  • Kino Lorber Studio Classics Spotlight – Kino Lorber’s Studio Classics line has four new releases making their Blu-ray debuts this week, and they all share one thing: commentary tracks by entertainment journalist Bryan Reesman. I’m a big fan of Reesman’s commentaries, so this is a neat little grouping of new releases to dig into. First up are two films I really enjoy: Hollywoodland and The Secret of My Success. Hollywoodland is an underrated crime thriller about the death of Superman actor George Reeves, starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane and Ben Affleck. The Secret of My Success is a great 1980s comedy starring Michael J. Fox back in his heyday, and while it’s not a true classic, it’s a film I have a definite soft spot for. Meanwhile, Gotcha! is a 1980s lesser-seen comedy starring Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino about a college student who gets sucked into a spy operation. I’d never seen the film before, and while it’s certainly date , it’s also a pretty fun watch, in that cheesy ‘80s sort of way. Finally, we have Clockwise, a 1987 comedy starring John Cleese, which sees the actor in fine-form as an uptight school headmaster who ends up running late, which leads into a series of ever more disastrous hijinks occurring as he tries to get where he’s going. This was the one film I had never even heard of in the bunch, but it’s actually pretty fun, with some great physical comedy by Cleese. As mentioned before, each disc contains a commentary track by Reesman, who does his usual great job of sharing trivia, interesting stories, personal anecdotes, and more. Then, each disc also comes with their own extra features, sometimes just an additional commentary, sometimes featurettes and the like. All four discs feature enjoyable movies with good extra features, making this a terrific new batch of releases from Kino Lorber.
  • MVD Spotlight – MVD brings us a few miscellaneous titles this week. While often the studio specializes in low-priced catalog re-releases, they also have a robust slate of original titles of a more niche nature. This week gives us a mix of all of these things, starting with Mutiny! This 1952 high seas adventure film stars a young Angela Lansbury alongside Mark Stevens, who I’m admittedly unfamiliar with. The film is presented in color and has been remastered from the original 35 mm negative, which means it looks pretty darn good for a film that’s nearly 70 years old. As for the film itself, it’s a solid if uninspiring classic Hollywood adventure film. I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that it’s anything special. Next up is Edgar Allen Poe: Heart Quaking Double Feature. This DVD release gives us two Poe film adaptatons: The Tell Tale Heart (from 1960) and Legend of Horror (from 1971). Tell Tale Heart is a lower-budgeted affair that doesn’t feature any recognizable actors, while Legend of Horror is… well, it’s not great. Apparently, this was actually a segment from a horror anthology movie that was released in the US with this segment removed for running time purposes. Then they expanded it and released it as its own film. And frankly, it feels like an afterthought. Still, The Tell Tale Heart is a Poe classic and the version included here is at least a solid retelling if nothing more. Next up is The Galaxy One Collection, a four-film collection that gives us four low-budget sci-fi flicks: Timewarp, Lifepod, Star Odyssey and Killing at Outpost Zeta. The only really notable entry here for my money is Star Odyssey which stars Adam West and Kirk Alyn. With West playing Batman on the 1960s TV show and Alan playing Superman in the original 1930s serials, this film is sort of like the first unofficial Superman/Batman team up! None of the films are great, they’re all low-budget shlockfests, but there’s definitely an audience out there for these at such a low price. Finally, we have Le Choc du Futur (The Shock of the Future), a French film from 2019 about 1978 and the advent of electronic music in France, told through the eyes of one young woman. The film was clearly made by people who love music deeply, and music nerds will twig out a bit with all the references, album covers, and overall vibe of the film. Add in a terrific performance by the captivating Alma Jodorowsky, and this is one that should win people over.

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