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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Kingsglaive, Fukushima 50, and more

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Well, the release weeks are starting to get smaller as studios are running out of unreleased films in their vaults to put out on home video and a lack of new theatrical releases due to COVID. This is one of the smallest release weeks I can remember. But here goes:

Kingsglaive (4K Ultra HD) – Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, and Sean Bean headline this latest feature film in the Final Fantasy franchise, which apparently serves as a prequel for Final Fantasy XV. Now, I’m not a gamer, and while I realize this will appeal more to FF fans than anyone else, if a film is a prequel (or heck, even just a film), it should at least try to make sense to all audiences, no? Well, the Final Fantasy franchise is littered with movies that make little sense to neophytes like me, and Kingsglaive is no exception. While I was able to track with the hero-saving-the-princess storyline, a lot of the political machinations that fuel the plot were indecipherable for me. Luckily, the movie is absolutely stunning on a visual level, and at a certain point I just sat back and enjoyed the eye candy. But I wish the movie were more coherent as a whole. Kingsglaive came out in 2016 but has now been released on the 4K Ultra HD format, and that’s a good thing. The picture quality is astounding; the animation is gorgeous to begin with and here, with its ultra-clarity and deeply saturated colors, it looks better than ever. The surround soundtrack utilizes the satellite speakers and especially the dedicated bass channel to really bring the action to life. It’s a terrific presentation of the movie. As a stand-alone film, I can’t recommend this one, but if you are a fan of the game series or even the previous films, check it out. At the very least, your eyeballs will thank you.

Fukushima 50 – Most people will remember the Fukushima disaster from 2011, where an earthquake and subsequent tsunami gravely damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and caused a nuclear meltdown. This film takes on a disaster-movie style approach to telling that story, focusing on the brave workers who stayed in the plant and worked to prevent the disaster from being an apocalypse of global proportions. Now, I love disaster movies, and while the fact that this movie is based on real events is a little sobering, it’s still meant to be entertainment, and it is a very entertaining film. With Ken Watanabe and Koichi Sato in lead roles, there are familiar faces even for audiences that will need to watch this Japanese film with subtitles. This was an event that captivated the world for months, and while the documentaries that have already been made about the disaster are probably more straightforward and factual, this one gives the human element the spotlight, and I think that’s important. Definitely worth tracking down.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:
  • My Little Sister – A new moving drama from Germany, My Little Sister tells the story of a woman named Lisa, a former playwright, whose brother is a famous stage actor that comes down with a terminal illness. When she becomes driven to help him overcome the disease and return to the stage, her other relationships, including her marriage, begin to suffer. The film is far from a cheerful one, but some really good performances and a solid story keep it engaging throughout. Just be aware that it’s a solidly heavy film and it might not be popcorn fare on a Friday night. 
  • Far Western – This is a charming documentary about country music in Japan. Apparently, in the days after World War II, as Japan was healing from the A-Bombs, American country music began to gain a foothold there. This film documents how that happened and intercuts that with stories about current musicians in Japan who play country music at festivals and venues around the country. Director James Payne is an experienced documentarian, and he deftly weaves history and human stories together for a terrific little film. 
  • My Mexican Bretzel – Here we have a movie that’s more art project than narrative film. While there is a story (about a couple who travel the world after success creating a pharmaceutical drug), the film utilizes old silent home movies and newly created audio diary entries to tell the story, giving it a very loose cohesive structure. It’s an interesting approach, and while it’s not quite my cup of tea, I think there are people out there who will appreciate its artier approach. 
  • IndiePix Classics – Finally, this week, we have the two inaugural titles in the IndiePix Classics line from IndiePix, which sees the label bring some of their best selling and most-acclaimed catalog titles back to DVD at a new, lower price. Those two films are Women Without Men and Entre Nos, both originally released a decade ago. Women Without Men is based on the novel of the same name by Shahrnush Parsipur, and it was nominated for feature the Best Director Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival for director Shirin Neshat. The film tells the story of four Iraninan women whose paths intertwine during the 1953 political unrest that upheaved the country. You don’t have to be familiar with the politics of mid-century Iran to understand the turmoil these women are thrown into, and it’s a powerful story. Meanwhile, Entre Nos is a harrowing drama from Colombia about a woman with small children who finally gets to New York after years of her husband working in America while the family remained in Colombia, only to have her husband disappear. Near penniless, not speaking english, and with small children in tow, Mariana digs deep to find ways to keep her family safe and secure. It’s a moving tale with some uplifting moments, even if it’ll make you a little uncomfortable at times. 

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