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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Dog, Cursed, Clean, Mr. Klein, Kin and more


It’s a pretty normal release week this week, with a couple of theatrical releases, some TV shows hitting home video, some catalogue titles getting new versions, and some indie stuff. Take a look and see what interests you!


Channing Tatum in a movie with a cute canine co-star? It seems kind of obvious this movie was going to be hit. While it wasn’t a box-office giant, it made a solid $60 million or so at the box office, which is a bona fide success in the post-COVID-shutdown era. The films sees Tatum playing an Army Ranger who was injured and wants to be reinstated; in order to do so, he needs to drive a fellow ranger — who happens to be a German Shepard — to a fellow ranger’s funeral. Of course, the dog has been deemed completely incompatible with humans, which leads to lots of things going wrong as the road trip goes on. What’s interesting for me is that the film — which Tatum co-directed with screenwriter Reid Carolin — is much more than just a simple man-and-dog comedy. It’s got more of an emotional depth than I was expecting and Tatum, who I’ve always felt is a really good actor, gives one of his best performance to date. It’s still a fun film, but be aware that it’s not just cheap laughs and dog jokes. I think people will like this one.

Cursed: Collector’s Edition

Of all the horror sub-genres, I think the werewolf genre is the one that has suffered the most in Hollywood. There are far fewer werewolf films than there are movies about cheaper-to-put-on-screen monsters like vampires and zombies, and of the werewolf films that do get made, many of them are pretty bad. Cursed was Wes Craven’s attempt to relaunch the genre in the wake of his success with Scream, which reinvigorated the slasher genre. Written by Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson, the film uses the Scream formula as well: lots of well-known, good looking young stars, a sense of humor, and a rocking soundtrack. And for my money, it sticks the landing. I think Cursed is a lot of fun. Yes, the special effects are a little dated (although I think they’re still better than many other werewolf films), but the movie manages to keep you guessing for most of its running time, it has some tense and scary werewolf moments, and there are so many recognizable cast members that you pretty much always like someone who’s on screen. Jesse Eisenberg, Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Rosenbaum, Judy Greer, Scott Baio, Mya, Shannon Elizabeth… the list goes on. This new Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory comes loaded with extra features (as usual), including an audio commentary and several making-of featurettes. This is a great film to revisit; you’ll have fun watching it and it’ll remind you that Wes Craven made some great films outside of the Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises.

Mr. Klein

New this week from the Criterion Collection is Mr. Klein, an acclaimed 1976 French film starring French icon Alain Delon as well as actress Jeanne Moreau. The film is a taut mystery/suspense film in the “mistaken identity” genre. Delon plays an unscrupulous art dealer in World War II who buys up valuable artwork from desperate Jews who are trying to survive the Nazi incursion into France. When he one day receives a Jewish newspaper at his home address, he sets out to make sure the authorities know that he is a Catholic and not a Jew, but as he tries to clear his name, he seems to get deeper and deeper into trouble and suspicion. It’s one of those films that can tie your stomach up in knots as everything he does seems to make things worse, and the tension is both palpable and it grows throughout the film. Delon, who is a legend in France, delivers an impeccable performance, not afraid to give us a character who is hard to sympathize with at first and eventually gaining our support. It’s a morality play disguised as a thriller, and it’s terrific stuff. As with all Criterion Collection releases, the film has been restored and remastered, and it includes a number of special features including multiple interviews, a documentary, and an essay booklet. As is usually the case with Criterion, this one is a top-notch release that is well worth your time.


Adrien Brody stars in this slow-burn thriller that plays like a mix between The Equalizer and… well, pick your Liam Neeson thriller from the past ten or fifteen years. Brody stars as a quiet garbage man with a past that is clearly not 100% above board. He lives in a run down neighborhood and has befriended a teenage girl who lives near him. When she is in danger of sexual assault, Clean (as he’s called) steps in and beats a group of teenagers to a bloody pulp, one of whom is the son of a local mob boss. Cue the action, which sees Brody as a one-man army up against superior forces. I liked Clean, even though it takes a while to get going. It’s a quiet film for much of it’s running time, but the last third of the film is filled with brutal violence; it’s not overly graphic, but I also wouldn’t recommend it for particularly squeamish viewers. Brody gives an understated performance that is still excellent; it’s easy to see the haunting of his past affect every action he takes in the present. I’d recommend watching this one, just be aware it takes a while to really get moving; it’s an action movie that holds most of the action for the final 30 minutes.

Kin: Season One

Okay, here’s what I’m going to say about Kin: it’s a very well-made television show. Honestly, it isn’t really my thing but that’s not because it isn’t good, it’s just a genre I’ve never really loved and still don’t get that into. The show tells the story of an Irish family embroiled in a gang war; they are forced to hole up and draw their members in when it becomes clear they are up against forces much greater than their own. Can they survive when there is so much going against them? Well, that’s what the show explores. There’s a top-notch cast (including Charlie Cox — Netflix’s Daredevil — as well as Game of Thrones’s Aiden Gillen and character actor Ciaran Hinds), and there’s no denying the performances are the highlight of the show. But it’s very serious and very dark, and you really have to be in the mood for something grim and gritty to get in the mindset to watch this drama. Like I said, it’s a well-made show and I suspect people still looking for a replacement for The Sopranos or any similar shows will like it, it just isn’t my thing.

Also Available This Week on Home Video – 
  • Straight to VHS – I’m not generally a big fan of documentaries, but I was fascinated by Straight to VHS, an almost perfect film that gets derailed in the third act. The film looks at the phenomenon of Acto de Violencia en un Joven Periodista (Act of Violence Upon a Young Journalist), which was Uruguay’s first direct-to-video movie and a bona fide cult classic in that country. Think Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, but shot on a single VHS camera and edited between two VCRs. The film’s history is a mystery, as is the director — who is virtually a ghost — and Straight to VHS’s director, Emilio Silva Torres, sets out to decipher the mystery of this film and its enigmatic director. It’s really terrific stuff, until the third act, when it seems he didn’t know how to finish the movie and introduces a fictional version of himself burning all of his research in scenes that are reminiscent of Twin Peaks. It’s weird and out of place, and I wish he’d left it out of the film. But if you love movies about movies, it’s still highly worth watching. This DVD also includes the full movie Acto de Violencia en un Joven Periodista, which is one of the best extra features you could ask for. I watched it in its entirety and it’s a fascinating experience as well. Definitely check this release out; it’s really engrossing and enjoyable, minus that third act misfire.
  • Pushing Hands – Film Movement brings us the Blu-ray debut of Pushing Hands this week. Now, that title may not ring any bells for you, but it turns out the film was the directorial debut of Ang Lee, who of course went on to become an acclaimed mainstream Hollywood director (HulkCrouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). The film follows an older Chinese man who retires and moves in with his family in New York, including his son and his son’s American wife. There is tension in the new arrangement, as the elder Chu doesn’t speak English and Deb, the wife, sees him as a distraction while she’s trying to write her second novel. As Chu teaches Tai Chi at a local community center, he reconnects with his own culture. The film feels like a lot of Lee’s later works, at least before he started making blockbusters. In his pre-action film phase, Lee focused on family-centric dramas and this is a strong outing for his first movie. It has a few places where it slows down or drags a bit, but it’s easy to see why Lee went on to such acclaimed success.
  • Year of the Jellyfish – Cohen Film Collection excels at bringing us new Blu-ray versions of films that aren’t quite mainstream but aren’t quite deep cult classics either. They give us a lot of foreign films and critically acclaimed movies that weren’t quite box office hits. This week, one of their main releases is described as “Eurotrash,” (and it’s right there on the description on the back of the case), which is a little bit different for the label. Year of the Jellyfish is a 1984 French film about an 18-year-old young woman on the beach in the French Riviera who competes with her own mother for men’s attention, including that of a sleazy pimp who drives much of the drama. It’s not quite a thriller but not quite a straight drama, either; in fact, the film is a little hard to categorize. There’s no shortage of nudity in the film — hence the “Eurotrash” designation — but it also sort of meanders a long until things get more interesting in the last third. I’m not sure that people will love this film, but it knows what it is and it’s not unenjoyable to watch. It definitely won’t be for everyone, though,
  • Gagarine – Also from the Cohen Film Collection this week is Gagarine, a much more recent film that is also from France. This 2020 drama is a little hard to describe from a story perspective, as it’s not the most plot-driven film ever. Ultimately it’s about an African-American teenager who dreams of being an astronaut but has to work to save his housing projects from being demolished. The film focuses more on the characters and their feelings, spending a lot of time with young Youri but also the other residents of the building, and it definitely touches on things like class warfare and economic inequality. The film is well-acted and moving at times, but it’s also a little slower-paced and even a touch long, even though it comes in at just under and hour and 40 minutes. Still, fans of foreign fare and dramatic films will find a lot to like here.
  • A-Ha: The Movie – For most of us, A-ha is simply an 80’s band who had a massive hit and one of the greatest music videos of all time with the song Take on Me. But in their native land of Norway and most of the rest of the world, they’ve continued to be a thriving band and pop culture favorite, with 15 studio and live albums having sold over 50 million copies. They still sell out arenas, but they barely speak anymore. This film takes us behind the scenes of the band; not just their meteoric rise to fame, but the broken relationships that followed and how they operate now. The film benefits from both candid interviews with the three band members as well as a soundtrack filled with a-ha music. So many music documentaries work around the actual band members and their music, so it’s refreshing to feel like this is a real inside look at the band and their music. This is a really great film; even if you only know their one song, it’s a fascinating look at the pressures of success and how worldwide fame can be both a blessing and a curse.
  • Playground – Man, what a heavy — yet powerful — film. Playground is yet another French film out this week, this one focusing on young kids and the chaos that is life in elementary school. The film focuses on seven-year-old Nora and her slightly older brother Abel, who is being bullied quite viciously at school. While Nora tries to help him at first, Abel doesn’t want her help and finds himself bullied even more as a result of her actions, causing a rift between the two. The film — which clocks in at a brisk hour and 12 minutes — never leaves the school, giving us an unrelenting look at what kids go through when the teachers aren’t looking. It’s hard to watch at times, although the performances by the kids re terrific, and at times you’ll feel like you’re watching a documentary. This isn’t light fare, but I think it’s important for people to see what can go on at school and check in with their own kids.
  • Presagio – This mysterious Argentinian drama is hard to describe. The main character is a writer suffering PTSD after the death of his wife and child. While he talks to a psychiatrist, there is also a strange man with an umbrella forcing him to finish his book, which he destroyed after the tragedy. It’s a film that is less coherent narratively than more mainstream fare, and honestly, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I wasn’t sure what was happening at times nor who the characters were supposed to be, or at least represent in a symbolic way. I suspect that people more versed in arthouse fare will be able to deconstruct this one more successfully than me, but even at just 86 minutes I found it too long by half.

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