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You are here: Community Film Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for June 4, 2021

Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for June 4, 2021

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Welcome to another article detailing some of the new Blu-rays and DVD highlights arriving on store shelves. There are numerous features in this edition that encompass a wide variety of genres. So, if you can’t or shouldn’t be heading out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

BIG NEW RELEASES!

THE COURIER: Based on a true story, this tale is set during the Cold War. It details the life of a British importer/exporter with contacts in the USSR who is recruited by MI6 and CIA. He is asked by government officials to visit the Soviet Union and courier sensitive information out of the country during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Naturally, being a spy causes great personal strife and danger for the businessman. The press was very taken by this drama.

A small percentage of them found the lead too meek and the filmmaking too low-key, saying that the final product lacked thrills. Still, the vast majority stated that they weren’t aware of this real-life figure, found the story tense and the everyman protagonist extremely relatable. The cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Anton Lesser and Jessie Buckley.

EMBATTLED: This sports film follows a professional mixed martial arts champion. When he decides to train his son to become a fighter, his abusive and violent nature begins to display itself. This causes a lot of trouble both in the ring and at home. Their relationship deteriorates as the son demands that his father deal with his issues and brutal instincts.

Response toward this feature was positive overall. There was a contingent who found the characters difficult to root for and stated that the picture was a slog, overplaying some of the serious themes that it was tackling. Still, the majority commented that it was a gritty and compelling drama that possessed a lot of heart and even delivered some unanticipated twists.

It features Stephen Dorff, Darren Mann, Karrueche Tran, Elizabeth Reaser and Donald Faison.

SALTWATER: THE BATTLE FOR RAMREE ISLAND: Set during the close of WWII, this independent horror flick from the UK follows a group of soldiers attempting to liberate an island off the coast of  Burma (Myanmar). After a mishap with enemy forces finds them stranded in a swamp, under attack by hungry crocodiles. The makers of this feature claim that it was based on actual events. It is premiering only on the DVD format, so at present there are no write-ups or opinions about the movie.

It comes from a director with credits that include KillerSaurus, Hellriser and The Haunting of Alcatraz, which should give you a sense of the tone of the feature. The cast includes Glenn Salvage, Jas Steven Singh, Steve Dolton and Ryan Harvey.

SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD: The ‘80s musical pioneers The Smiths inspired this comedy/drama. It’s about a group of teens who hear news of the band’s break-up and decide to throw a party and mourn the loss. Over the course of the evening, the leads go on a journey of self-discovery, while a local radio DJ is held hostage by a fan who forces him to play nothing but Smiths records. Response was mixed toward this film, which features over 20 songs from the band’s catalog.

Nearly half thought that the movie effectively captured a time period in a person’s life when music meant everything and appreciated the great soundtrack. Slightly more thought that the characters weren’t distinctive enough to keep them interested in the story. The movie stars Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon and Joe Manganiello.

SPARE PARTS: This B-movie follows an all-female band who goes on tour, only to be drugged and kidnapped by mysterious figures from a sinister town. When they awaken, they are shocked to discover that their appendages have been removed and replaced with bizarre weapons. The group members are placed in a gladiator ring and forced to fight for their lives against various enemies. This flick hasn’t received a lot of press so far, but the notices that have appeared for it have all been upbeat.

They say that while the filmmakers could have made even more of the concept and added some twists to the story, it was still an outrageous and enjoyable little genre flick with likable leads and plenty of action. It features Julian Richings, Michelle Argyris, Emily Alatalo, Kiriana Stanton and Chelsea Muirhead.

TRIGGER POINT: A U.S. agent decides to quit his line of work after messing up a mission and suffering from memory loss. He’s pulled back into the spy world after learning that a close colleague has disappeared. Unfortunately, to find his lost friend, he will have to deal with his disabilities and use his own fractured mind to put the pieces together. Alas, the press was not taken by this espionage thriller.

A minor contingent wrote that the action was well shot and believed the cast helped sell the routine story elements. But it seems the majority felt that despite the intriguing concept, the movie was a slog to sit through, describing it as heavy and unexciting. Barry Pepper, Laura Vandervoort, Colm Feore, Eve Harlow, Carlo Rota, Jayne Eastwood and Karen Robinson headline the feature.

THE VAULT: This heist thriller follows a man and a team of robbers who learn about a secret vault filled with incredible riches underneath the Bank of Spain. They plot to break in and take the contents while the country is distracted watching the national team play in the World Cup final. Of course, for everything to work, the group must perform their tasks flawlessly under great duress. This picture was directed by Spanish filmmaker Jaume Balagueró (Darkness, the REC series) and received both positive and negative responses from critics.

Some commented that the story had giant plot holes and paled in comparison with more famous heist flicks. Still, more thought the cast was fun to watch and that the elaborate crime was thrilling to witness. The film stars Freddie Highmore, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Sam Riley, Liam Cunningham and Famke Janssen.

WHO IS HARRY NILSSON (AND WHY IS EVERYBODY TALKIN’ ABOUT HIM?): Late folk singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson pioneered new uses of recording technology and created a large body of music. He is the subject of this documentary, which uses old footage as well as recent interviews to detail his life and career. Brian Wilson, Yoko Ono, Mikey Dolenz, Randy Newman and many others share their memories of Nilsson. Critics seemed to have liked what they saw.

One or two critiqued the movie for using a traditional and conventional storytelling format. Still, everyone else thought it was an enlightening documentary that drew warranted attention to the figure. They also enjoyed hearing great behind-the-scenes stories from the interview participants. At present, this title will be available exclusively on DVD.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST!

 

For those looking to purchase some older features on Blu-ray, there is plenty to choose from this week.

Kino is delivering the very popular British crime picture, The Blue Lamp (1950). It follows a group of London policemen and the various encounters they have with criminals. This movie has been restored by Studio Canal for its Blu-ray debut and comes with a film historian commentary and some trailers.

They also have the British dark comedy, The Green Man (1956). Alastair Sim plays a meek watchmaker who moonlights as an assassin. The Blu-ray includes a 4K restoration of the flick from the original camera negative, a movie expert commentary and trailers for similar features. Also arriving in high definition with the same extras as those on the previous disc, is the Benny Hill comedy, Who Done It? (1956).

Hill plays a buffoonish amateur detective who stumbles upon an actual spy plot.

 

If you’re looking for something over-the-top and campy, then Mommie Dearest (1981), with Faye Dunaway may be for you. It’s arriving as part of the Paramount Presents line, which means that they have gone to town in presenting this 40th anniversary edition Blu-ray. It comes with a new 4K restoration and audio commentary with drag queen and fan Hedda Lettuce. You’ll also find a feature on the director, as well as extras from earlier releases, like a John Waters audio track, featurettes on the movie and publicity materials.

Paramount is also putting out Blu-rays of several interesting titles. The first is the popular comedy In & Out (1997) with Kevin Kline. You can also pick up the Ladies Night In: 3-Movie Collection, which includes the films Nobody’s Fool (2018), What Men Want (2019) and Like a Boss (2020). If you feel like some action, they have a 20th Anniversary Edition of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), which includes a 4K remaster of the feature.

If you’re also looking for the follow-up, they have Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and the follow-up Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) as a 4K double-feature.

20 years ago, the studio released Rat Race (2001), a wacky all-star comedy in the vein of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World about various cash-strapped eccentrics in a cross-country race to find some loot. The movie stars Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr. Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Dave Thomas and Kathy Bates. It’s now making its Blu-ray debut and if memory serves this was a pretty funny flick with several amusing sequences. And the studio is releasing a Blu-ray of The Stepford Wives (2004) remake with Nicole Kidman.

The Disney Movie Club is a service much like Columbia House that offers subscribers the chance to order Blu-rays of studio titles and exclusives directly through them. They’ve ramped up production in recent weeks and are offering high-definition discs of Herbie Fully Loaded (2005) with Lindsay Lohan and Michael Keaton, as well as Ice Princess (2005) starring Michelle Trachtenberg and Kim Cattrall. They also have the Bruce Willis feature The Kid (2000) and the Vin Diesel comedy, The Pacifier (2005). If you’re interested, head over to their website to see if you want to join up.

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!

Here are some titles that may appeal to the kids.

Curious George 5-Movie Collection DVD

Herbie Fully Loaded (2005) Disney Movie Club Exclusive

Ice Princess (2005) Disney Movie Club Exclusive

The Kid (2000) Disney Movie Club Exclusive

The Pacifier (2005) Disney Movie Club Exclusive

Paw Patrol: Moto Pups (Nickelodeon)

VeggieTales: Fruits of the Spirit Stories Vol. 1 - Love, Joy, Peace DVD

ON THE TUBE!

And these are the week’s TV-themed releases.

Agatha and the Truth of Murder/Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar/Agatha and the Midnight Murders – Triple Feature: Three Tales of Murder & Mystery (PBS)

American Experience: The Blinding of Isaac Woodward (PBS)

Billions: Season 2

Doctor Who - Jon Pertwee: Complete Season Two

Hallmark 2-Movie Collection: Beverly Hills Wedding & My Best Friend’s Bouquet

I Hate Suzie: Season 1

Mystery 101: 3-Movie Collection (Hallmark)

Samurai Jack: The Complete Series

VISIT: WWW.CINEMASTANCE.COM

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun