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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Nomadland, Doors, The Winter Lake and Cast a Dark Shadow/Wanted for Murder Double Feature

Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Well, it’s another tiny release week as Hollywood is still holding most of their big films for release this year, and the home video wells have run a little dry. Here’s what is available this week:

Nomadland – As I’m writing this, Nomadland just scored big at last night’s Academy Awards, picking up statues for Best Film, Best Director (Chloe Zhao), and Best Actress (Frances McDormand). In a rare case of absolutely perfect timing, Nomadland hits home video this week, making sure everyone who was intrigued by its multiple award wins can check it out while it’s still top of mind. Now, Nomadland is not the kind of film I usually gravitate towards. It tells the story of McDormand’s Fern, a woman whose hometown essentially vanished when the industrial plant there shut down (soon followed by her husband dying), leaving her a homeless Nomad. As she searches for a new job (at an Amazon distribution center, of all places, which I don’t think was a throwaway choice), she meets other fellow Nomads and a community of sorts is discovered. Nomadland is a quiet film, but it lives and breathes thanks to the unbelievable performance by McDormand and also Chloe Zhao’s effortless direction, which gives the film such a great identity. While it’s not the kind of movie I’ll watch over and over again, it’s hard to deny the quality on the screen.

DoorsDoors is a new science fiction film that’s grasp exceeds its reach. The basic premise is this: alien dimensional doors start appearing all over the earth, and we follow the stories of a handful of people who interact with them in different ways. But what you really need to know about the film is that it’s an anthology of sorts, with three stories made by three different directors, each exploring a unique aspect of these doors. That’s an intriguing concept, and it would be awesome if all three segments delivered at the same level of quality, but they vary from segment to segment. Personally, I found each one a little less effective than the previous one, with the first segment being the best and the last segment being the weakest. It’s an interesting idea and it’s not a bad film per se, but I can’t say you need to rush out and track it down, either.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
Cast a Dark Shadow/Wanted for Murder Double Feature – Cohen Film Media continues their line of excellent film noir releases with this new Blu-ray double feature that gives us two lesser-known but higher quality crime films from the 1940s and 50s. First up is Cast a Dark Shadow, a 1955 outing about a British man killing his wealthy wives to inherit their fortunes. Starring Dirk Bogarde and Margaret Lockwood, the film is a taut thriller, and while Dirk Bogarde was never a huge star, he shines in this role as the amoral man who will stop at nothing to live a certain lifestyle. Wanted for Murder is a 1946 thriller about a serial killer who targets a young record store clerk when she may become the key to solving the mystery of his identity. The film stars Eric Portman and Dulcie Grey, and while it might not be quite as good as Cast a Dark Shadow, it’s still an engaging mystery/serial killer film that’s drenched in film noir hallmarks. Getting both films in one release is a great way to have a nice little film noir viewing party.
The Winter Lake – This new thriller takes place in Ireland, and it focuses on a mother and son who move to a new town for reasons which are unclear at first. We know that the teenage son, Tom, did something in the past that the family wants to keep a secret, but we don’t find out exactly what it is right away. As they become friends with the neighbors, it starts to become more difficult for the secrets they hold to remain hidden. The film features some very strong performances and a mood that is pervasive throughout, although that mood is very dark. The film was a little too bleak for my tastes, but it’s clearly a well-made film. Viewers who enjoy a good mystery/drama with dark undercurrents will find a lot to like here. 

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