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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Pompo The Cinephile, The Beatles: Get Back, Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season 2 and more

Well, it’s not a big week for releases this week, but there are a few powerhouse releases, including the greatest musical act in the history of the world, so that’s something to get excited about! Read on!

The Beatles: Get Back

Probably the most amazing and important music-related home video release of the past 20 years, The Beatles: Get Back debuts on home video this week on Blu-ray and DVD. Directed by the great Peter Jackson, the event originally started off as a movie. However, with hundreds of hours of footage to go through, Jackson ultimately settled on creating a three-part miniseries that runs eight hours. And it… is… GLORIOUS! The film chronicles the Beatles’ recording of the Let it Be album in 1969, and you get to see the group completely unfettered. There are live performances, footage of them creating songs on the fly, jokes, arguments… everything. It’s true fly-on-a-wall stuff, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. There’s also tons of footage of the famous Beatles rooftop concert which eventually got broken up by police. The set is a three-disc box set that comes in a very nice package, and the Blu-ray especially looks and sounds fantastic. My only complaint is the lack of any extra features. I mean, with several hundred hours of material to sift through, they couldn’t have found a handful of deleted scenes? Or given us a making-of wherein Jackson discussed his approach to making the series? Still, that minor nitpick aside, this is absolutely 100% essential viewing for any Beatles fan.

Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season 2

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember, and one of the things I’ve always loved about Trek at its best is how humorous it can be. So when Paramount announced a comedic animated series set in the Next Generation universe, let’s just say I was pretty darned excited. Under the guidance of Mike McMahon, one of the showrunners on Rick & Morty (which I’m actually not a fan of), the show gives us a look at the lives of four “lower decks” officers on the USS Cerritos, a pretty low-ranking ship in Starfleet. Returning this season are uptight Ensign Boimler, rebellious Ensign Mariner, geeky cyborg Ensign Rutherford, and overly enthusiastic Ensign Tendi, who of course find themselves in all sorts of trouble. But what’s great about the show is that while it’s a comedy, it’s never short on Trek-style exploration and action. It actually stays very true to the Trek aesthetic, it just has a lot of fun while doing so. And the comedy is loving, not spiteful; the show often makes fun of Trek tropes, but in a way that is never mean-spirited. Not to sound cliche, but Lower Decks doesn’t laugh AT Star Trek, it laughs WITH Star Trek. I love it and I can’t wait for Season 3!

Pompo The Cinephile

A lot of anime titles are filled with fantastical creatures and magic powers and other worlds, yet most of my favorite anime releases of the past few years deal with the real world. Pompo the Cinephile is one of those movies. In it, famous director Pompo offers her latest script to her assistant, Gene, to direct. Gene lacks confidence but Pompo sees the talent hidden deep within him. What follows is a film about making movies and finding your voice, which I found quite enjoyable. There’s a lot of humor and some good inside-Hollywood-jokes that will definitely give you a chuckle if you know a thing or two about how movies get made. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual swords and monsters and cyborgs and dream realms that populate so many anime movies these days. Worth a look, especially if you’re a more casual anime fan like I am.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:
  • Sexual Drive – This Japanese film offers up a trio of stories that are loosely related that deal with sex and its connection to eating. In the vignettes, we meet a man whose marriage has lost its sexual spark, an office worker suffering from panic attacks, and a man who wants to end his sexual affair. There’s a message about secrets that floats through the three stories thanks to an offbeat character named Kurita. Despite the fact that the film is only an hour and 10 minutes, it still feels too long .While there is some erotic material, the film is actually relatively tame for what it seems to be offering, and I never found myself caught up in any of the characters or their lives. Ultimately, this one is nothing all that exciting.
  • Poppy Field – This LGBTQ+ drama comes from Romania, and it has an interesting premise that isn’t entirely fulfilled by the film itself. In it, Cristi is a police officer who ends up with his squad at a movie theater that is showing a lesbian film and gets disrupted by protestors. As they try to control the crowd, Cristi is called out by a man from his past who claims that he dated Cristi, something Cristi vehemently denies as he is surrounded by his homophobic and macho fellow officers. It leads to some tense moments and some bad decisions. It’s an intriguing premise for a film and it definitely offers up some memorable and intense scenes. It also drags on occasion, with pacing that occasionally lets things settle just a bit too much. Overall I liked the film, with its strong performances and morally interesting characters. Worth a look if you want some thought-provoking foreign fare.
  • Bigfoot Or Bust – The saddest part about this uber-low budget comedy is that director Jim Wynorski was once a relatively successful low-budget movie writer and director. His credits include Forbidden WorldSorceressScrewballsChopping MallNot of this Earth, and The Return of Swamp Thing. I mean, I get these aren’t classic epics, but they were the kind of films that were made with passion and garnered some strong cult followings. Bigfoot or Bust, however, is the worst kind of low-budget fare. Crass, immature, cheap, and pointless, the film sees a group of busty celebrities as well as a team of busty time travelers in search of Bigfoot. What that translates to is a bunch of older B-movie actresses with surgically-enhanced breasts running around, ripping open their shirts, jumping on trampolines, and hunting a guy in a cheap Bigfoot costume. Honestly, even as lowest common denominator fare, it’s pretty inexcusable.
  • WB Archive Spotlight – The Warner Archive continues its print-on-demand service with a new batch of Blu-ray releases this month, and there are a few I was particularly excited to receive. As always, these titles are available Warner Archive Amazon Store or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays® are sold. First off, we have a pair of early Kevin Costner movies, American Flyers and Fandango. Now, Kevin Costner is quite possibly my favorite actor, and I had never seen either of these films before, so it was very cool to dig into them for the first time. American Flyers (1985) is a bike racing drama; not bike racing like mountain biking, more like Tour de France-style racing. It’s directed by John Badham (Saturday Night FeverWarGamesStakeout) and Costner sports a bad mustache, but it’s a great mix of bicycle racing/training and character drama. It’s not essential viewing, but Costner and Badham together make it an enjoyable watch. Fandango (1985) sees Costner and Judd Nelson as two of five friends who go on a road trip before they face their futures, which may include shipping off to Vietnam. This one is directed by Costner’s Robin Hood and Waterworld director, Kevin Reynolds, who’s actually a good director on his own merits. The film is a dramedy and it focuses more on male bonding and friendship rather than the usual sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll of most road trip films. I liked it. Also from the WB Archive this month are a handful of classic Hollywood entries, starting with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, the 1941 adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner. While that cast had me salivating, the film has its ups and downs. Tracy’s Dr. Jekyll is terrific; his Mr. Hyde… a little less so. The film starts strong but then starts to flag a bit, even though you would expect it to get more exciting as it goes on. It has a decent enough climax but I can see why this isn’t considered a great monster film alongside Universal’s more famous monster movies of the era. Next, we have 1945’s The Clock, a Judy Garland/Robert Walker vehicle about a World War II soldier and a girl who meet and fall in love over a whirlwind two days. It’s a perfectly good film; I can’t say I got totally caught up in the romance of it, but I didn’t not enjoy it, either. Garland’s performance is terrific, though. Then there’s 1941’s Ziegfeld Girl, which features an all-star cast including James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner. The three women leave their lives behind to become famous Ziegfeld girls, which leads to love, fame, and melodrama. It’s a tad bit long for a musical (coming in at 12 minutes over two hours) but it’s also big, brassy, and highly energized. Plus the cast is top-notch, so it’s definitely worth watching, especially if you like musicals. Following that, we have For Me and My Gal (1942), another Judy Garland musical directed by the iconic Busby Berkeley. Set during World War I, this might be my least favorite film of the batch, but if you like this era, the cast, and musicals, you’ll be just fine.  Finally, things get a little more recent (sort of), with The Carey Treatment (1972) starring James Coburn and Jennifer O’Neill. Directed by the great Blake Edwards and based on a Michael Crichton novel, the film is a medical thriller, a rare against-type film for Edwards. Now, even with all that talent involved, the movie can best be described as “solid.” It’s enjoyable enough, although it has way too many stretches of endless dialogue, but it’s not one of the better Crichton adaptations. It’s worth watching and mildly enjoyable, but it doesn’t equal the sum of its parts.

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