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You are here: Community Film Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for August 27, 2021

Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for August 27, 2021

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Welcome to another look at the latest highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. As always, this edition features plenty of new material in 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!

AGAINST THE CURRENT: Kayaking can certainly be a lot of fun, but one person takes it to extremes in this documentary. Forty-four-year-old Veiga Grétarsdóttir sets out to be the first to kayak over 2000 kilometers around the island nation of Iceland. And she sets out to complete the task by traveling counter-clockwise and against the current. A crew follows her for 103 days and tells her life story that includes a gender reassignment procedure earlier in life.

Most write-ups for the film have been positive. A few complained that the storytelling technique on display was too predictable and generic, lessening the movie’s impact. However, the majority said the feature was courageous, upbeat, and featured gorgeous images of Iceland during the woman’s journey. For the time being, this feature will only be available on DVD.

BEGINNING: This foreign-language feature from the former Soviet territory of Georgia is set in a deeply religious community following the Jehovah’s Witness faith. When nasty vandals burn down the town church, the fervent town pastor tries to re-inspire his congregation. However, his own wife becomes shaken by the attack. She begins to question her husband’s old-fashioned views and the religious order, causing cracks in their marriage.

Reviews were generally excellent for this drama. A small number of articles found the pacing slow and thought the movie was too ponderous and uninvolving to keep them intrigued. Yet the vast majority thought it featured painterly images, strong performances, and a powerful feminist story that also critiques old-fashioned religious ideas. The cast includes Ia Sukhitashvili, Rati Oneli and Kakha Kintsurashvili.

THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT: The third official film in “The Conjuring” franchise follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they take on an eerie new case. When a young man commits a bizarre murder, he claims that he was possessed by a demon. Ed and Lorraine step in to investigate the claims and deal with a dangerous supernatural force. The first two films were very well received, but this chapter split the press.

Almost half stated that these movies were becoming routine and that this particular effort was overlong, generic, and unmemorable. Just as many enjoyed the work of the leads and claimed that the story delivered enough chills and effective moments to earn it a recommendation. It stars Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook and John Noble.

DREAMBUILDERS: In this Danish animated family flick, a young girl gains the ability to communicate with a magical crew who helps create our dreams. When her divorced dad remarries, the lead is tormented by her bullying stepsister. Knowing that the new sibling is afraid of spiders, the girl decides to teach the new arrival a lesson. However, after learning more about her relation’s personal struggles, the protagonist decides to try to form a bond instead.

This Blu-ray and DVD combo pack contains both an English and original French audio track. On the whole, critics were positive about what they saw. Those who disliked it said that the animation didn’t match the level of studios like Pixar and commented that certain story elements were too disturbing and distressing for young kids. Yet more thought the movie improved as it progressed, had a nice message, and was innovative enough to keep their attention.

HABIT: Set in Los Angeles, this dark comedy begins with a party girl and her friends hooking up with a washed-up Hollywood actor. The lead’s new beau decides to recruit her for his illegal drug smuggling operation. Things quickly go south and the ladies soon find themselves on the run from both hoods and cops. To escape, the young woman and her friends decide to disguise themselves as nuns … but how long can they keep their elaborate ruse going?

There haven’t been many notices for this picture, but the ones that have appeared online haven’t been promising. Reviews suggest that the movie’s gags feel obvious and the story meanders pointlessly, resulting in a frustrating experience. Some even suggest that the entire feature may have been completely improvised.  Bella Thorne, Gavin Rossdale, Libby Mintz, Andreja Peji, Hana Mae Lee and Ione Skye headline the film.

LANSKY: Based on the real-life figure, this drama follows a down-on-his-luck reporter who stumbles upon an incredible story. He receives a call from reclusive, aging “Mob’s Accountant” Meyer Lansky, who is still being pursued by the FBI for untold millions of dollars in missing funds. They meet and the criminal decides to open up to the journalist, revealing details about his life as a member of Murder Inc. and the National Crime Syndicate.

This biopic split the press right down the middle. Half of them said the film offered some interesting moments, but felt forced, clichéd and didn’t make a lasting impression. The same number said that while flawed, the performances were top-notch and the film presented a few new tidbits about its subject’s life. The cast includes Harvey Keitel, Sam Worthington, John Magaro and Minka Kelly.

PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY: The famous Beatrix Potter children’s character returns in this follow-up to the 2018 hit. Picking up from the previous adventure, the adventurous and bored lead rabbit decides to take a vacation from those he knows and venture to the big city. He meets various strange characters and gets himself into plenty of mischief, while his friends and family search for him. Peter must ultimately decide whether or not the chaotic metropolis is the right fit for him.

Critics were generally upbeat toward this family feature. A number of them claimed the sequel wasn’t as clever or funny as the original and felt like a quick cash-grab for the film producers. However, the majority thought it was entertaining and noted that the human co-stars were the best part of the show. It features the voices of James Corden, Elizabeth Debicki and Margot Robbie, alongside on-camera talent Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST!

It’s another busy week for cult and classic movie fans. Arrow Video gets the ball rolling with their Blu-ray release of “Blind Beast” (1969). It’s a Japanese feature about a blind sculptor who kidnaps women and keeps them prisoner in his enormous studio. Besides the upgraded picture quality on this hard-to-find feature, the disc includes an introduction to the film from a movie critic, a film historian commentary, as well as a video essay about the title and some of the hidden meanings in the story.

It also includes publicity materials like a trailer and an image gallery.

You can also pick up a Blu-ray of Eloy de la Iglesia’s notorious Spanish genre film, “The Cannibal Man” (1972). Considered misunderstood during its initial release, the story involves a worker at a meat processing plant who develops psychotic tendencies and begins to murder those around him. Many have noted the disturbing feature’s subtle commentary on the horrors of living in Spain under ruler Francisco Franco (who was still in power when the movie was shot). The high-definition upgrade includes the International and Extended Spanish versions of the film, a featurette on the director, a discussion with a Spanish critic on the title, deleted scenes and the original theatrical trailer.

Arrow has also been upgrading some of their previously released Blu-ray titles. This week, they are giving “The Cat o’ Nine Tails” (1971), a “Limited Edition” that includes the original Blu-ray and extras alongside a new 4K Ultra HD disc, presenting this classic from Dario Argento (“Deep Red,” “Suspiria”) with even sharper and more dynamic picture quality.

Blue Underground also has a major “Limited Edition” title coming your way. “Two Evil Eyes” (1990), is a two-part anthology of Edgar Allan Poe stories by George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead,” “Creepshow,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Day of the Dead”), and Dario Argento. Starring Adrienne Barbeau and a disturbingly effective, tightly-wound Harvey Keitel, the movie wasn’t a hit during its original run. However, it has unsettling moments and has developed a large cult following over the years.

This flick is now being released fully restored in 4K Ultra HD and comes with a regular Blu-ray full of special features. The extras include a commentary from an Argento authority, interviews with the directors, cast, crew members and just about everyone involved in the project, a look at the effects work, and a tour of make-up legend Tom Savini’s home. This Blu-ray also comes with a special embossed slipcover for its first pressing. If you’re a horror fan and have the set-up to enjoy 4K products, you’ll likely be impressed.

MVD is delivering some fun genre films on Blu-ray. The first is a “Collector’s Edition” of “The Dark” (1979), which stars William Devan, Cathy Lee Crosby and Richard Jaeckel as acquaintances who discover an evil alien menace preparing to take over the world. This disc features a commentary with both the director and producer, a separate interview with the filmmaker and the score composer, as well as a theatrical trailer. For those who enjoy promotional art, it also comes with a collectible mini-poster for the movie.

They also have the effective low-budget creeper, “One Dark Night” (1982). This movie follows a group of sorority sisters (including Meg Tilly) who are forced into spending the night in a mortuary. After they arrive, they find themselves being attacked by an undead figure in the building that has mystical powers. It’s an enjoyable genre film and the new Blu-ray is jam-packed with bonuses.

You’ll get two commentary tracks with director/co-writer Tom McLoughlin (“Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives”). One features the moviemaker with the producer. In the second, he and the other co-writer watch and discuss how they wrote the story. It also contains seven interviews with various cast and crew members, an alternate Director’s Cut of the film, behind the scenes footage, a photo gallery, and promotional materials.

Looking for something with a more humorous bent? Shout! Factory is presenting a Blu-ray of “The Oh, God! collection.” These movies starred comic George Burns as an elderly, but sharp-witted God trying to communicate with ordinary humans struggling in life. The actor also takes on the role of Satan in the third film in the series.

 

You’ll get “Oh, God!” (1977), “Oh, God! Book II” (1980), and “Oh, God! You Devil” (1984), in high definition, along with extras like new critic and theologian commentary tracks and interviews with various cast and crew members. The first title also includes an archived commentary with the film’s director, Carl Reiner (“The Jerk,” The Man with Two Brains,” “All of Me”) and an episode of “The Johnny Carson Show” featuring the director and cast.

This distributor also has a Blu-ray of “A Return to Salem’s Lot” (1987), a sequel of sorts to the Stephen King story and 1979 TV mini-series. It involves a traveling father and son who arrive in a small town and find it overrun with vampires. King wasn’t involved in this sequel, but completists who own the fantastic 1979 official adaptation, may want this feature as well. It arrives on disc with a trailer.

, Severin has a few noteworthy Blu-rays. Seemingly timed to tie-in with one of Arrow’s releases of “The Cannibal Man,” they have the “Eloy de la Iglesia’s Quinqui Collection,” which contains other titles from the filmmaker. This Blu-ray set comes with “Navajeros” (1980), “El Pico” (1983), and “El Pico 2” (1984). The movies included have been newly re-mastered from the original camera negative interviews with a cast member and discussions with experts on the titles and their place in cinematic history.

“No One Heard the Scream” (1973) is yet another feature from the filmmaker that will be made available on its own. This horror flick follows a call girl who witnesses a murder – the two actually befriend one another as their lives spiral downward. The Blu-ray includes a new transfer re-mastered from the camera negative and an interview with a film scholar about the picture.

Code Red is delivering more B-movie thrills and chills with the Blu-ray of “Guyana: Cult of the Damned” (1979). It’s a 1970 Mexican-American exploitation drama that uses the Jonestown tragedy as its inspiration. The movie stars Stuart Whitman as a menacing cult leader and the disc features a 2K master of the movie and a trailer.

Finally, Warner Archive is premiering “Prince of the City” (1981), on Blu-ray, which received an Oscar nomination for its screenplay. This is a tale about a cop who plays fast and loose with the rules. When he is asked to investigate police corruption within his unit, it leads to tension and fractures between the lead and his coworkers.

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!

If you’re looking for kid’s entertainment, it’s a lighter edition but there are a couple of new options available.

“Dreambuilders”

“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”

ON THE TUBE!

Here are all of the week’s TV-themed releases.

“Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy”  Season 2

“NCIS: Los Angeles” Season 12

“Prodigal Son”  Season 2

VISIT: WWW.CINEMASTANCE.COM

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun