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You are here: Community Film Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for December 31, 2021

Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for December 31, 2021

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Happy New Year, readers, and welcome to another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. As you might have already guessed, this is a slower week than usual for new discs. Don’t worry though, because there are still a couple of noteworthy features coming your way. 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!


CASTLE FALLS: This independent action film involves an old hospital that is set to be demolished. When an imprisoned crime boss hears news about the building being razed, he becomes quite upset. The figure reveals that he has hidden over three-million-dollars somewhere in the building. Word quickly spreads as the site is loaded with dynamite and several individuals appear to try and find the loot before the building falls on them.

This picture received a limited release earlier in the month and reviews were quite good overall. One or two complained that there was too much exposition and that the main characters weren’t very well-developed. However, everyone else thought it was a solid action picture with a great concept and some impressive, expertly choreographed fight sequences. The cast includes Scott Adkins, Dolph Lundgren, Kim DeLonghi, Jim E. Chandler, Dave Halls and Kevin Wayne.

THE FRENCH DISPATCH: The latest feature from Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums) takes place in the office of a failing newspaper supplement magazine in a small French town. As the editor and journalist plan their final issue, viewers see three noteworthy stories about the location covered by staff members. Response towards this quirky comedy was positive, but not as enthusiastic as for other titles from the filmmaker. About a quarter of the critics suggested that the movie was too self-indulgent and crammed with extraneous material, ultimately impacting the movie negatively.

Still, most called it visually striking, thought the eccentric tales were funny, and commented that the movie would impress those who admired Anderson’s work. It stars Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and many more.

KEEP AN EYE OUT: Those wanting to catch up on some European cinema can pick up this France/Belgium coproduction that was released in both countries back in 2018 (under the title “Au Poste!”). The story follows a man who discovers a dead body in his apartment building. He calls the police, only to be interrogated and treated as a suspect by incompetent officers. The lead must somehow prove his innocence as the surreal investigation continues.

The North American press generally found this title amusing when it was released in this part of the world. A small percentage stated that they couldn’t appreciate the film’s oddball wavelength and didn’t find it funny. However, the majority called the feature an amusing farce that included some great lines and entertaining performances. Benoît Poelvoorde, Grégoire Ludig, Marc Fraize and Anaïs Demoustier headline the film.

KNOCKING: Some noises can really be grating to the ears, especially things like nails run across a chalkboard. This Swedish thriller takes this concept to extreme lengths. After suffering a traumatic life event, a woman moves into a new apartment in an attempt to make a fresh start. Unfortunately, after she moves, a strange and persistent knocking starts, followed by screams.

The lead can’t figure out who is making the sounds or why. As the noises continue over the following nights, she begins losing sleep and questioning her own sanity. Critics generally liked this little thriller. A small number of write-ups criticized the slow pacing and said it took too long to really get going.

Still, most called the central performance excellent and the overall movie tense and atmospheric. It features Cecilia Milocco, Albin Grenholm and Ville Virtanen.

MAYDAY: An angry woman finds herself transported into a strange, militaristic world where ladies hunt and kill men, luring them close with radio signals before gunning them down. At first excited by this prospect, the protagonist joins a group of females and trains with them, learning how to aim and fire a rifle. But after spending time in the outfit, she begins to doubt their actions and motivations.

This independent fantasy split reviewers. About half thought it had an interesting start, but quickly lost momentum. They also noted that it was overstuffed with ideas and didn’t effectively convey a message or meaning. Still, the same number stated that while flawed, the performances were strong and the movie had a compelling dreamlike atmosphere that kept their attention throughout.

It features Grace Van Patten, Mia Goth, Soko, Théodore Pellerin and Juliette Lewis.

MOMENTS LIKE THIS NEVER LAST: This documentary tells the life story of artist Dash Snow. According to those who knew him, this figure rejected a life of privilege and lived on the streets of New York in the 1990s. He created a name for himself as a graffiti tagger and eventually formed a surrogate family with other street artists. Sadly, drug and alcohol addiction problems surfaced and he eventually passed away from a heroin overdose in 2009.

Using archival footage as well as images of his works, viewers learn more about Snow and the remarkable art he created before his passing. There have only been a few write-ups for this feature, but they have been upbeat. These notices say that while the movie mainly uses preexisting footage and doesn’t necessarily provide any new insight into the man, the artist and his story are still gripping to witness.

THE WOMAN WHO RAN: After her husband heads out of town on a business trip, a married woman decides to meet three of her friends individually and catch up. The various conversations are friendly as the participants discuss the various trials they happen to be going through, but undercurrents soon become evident, and it becomes clear that all of these people may have butted heads in the past. This South Korean foreign-language drama great impressed critics and has yet to receive a negative review.

While noting that the feature was very low-key and didn’t offer big moments of drama, write-ups called the cast excellent. They also said the meetings were intriguing to watch, especially as the individuals introduced dealt subtly with the various conflicts between them. It stars Kim Min-hee, Song Seon-mi, Saebyuk Kim  and Eun-mi Lee.



While it is a quieter time for Blu-ray and DVD upgrades of older titles, there are a few notable arrivals. Arrow Video has an incredible Blu-ray box set called “Shawscope Volume 1” that contains several notable Shaw Brothers Hong Kong-based productions from the 1970s (including kung-fu flicks, monster movies and even a comedy or two). Chronologically, the release includes “King Boxer” (1972) aka “Five Fingers of Death,” as well as “The Boxer from Shantung” (1972), “Five Shaolin Masters” (1974), “Challenge of the Masters” (1976), “Shaolin Temple” (1976), “Executioners from Shaolin” (1977), “Chinatown Kid” (1977), “Five Deadly Venoms” (1978), “The Mighty Peking Man” (1977), “Crippled Avengers” (1978), “Heroes of the East” (1978,) and “Dirty Ho” (1979).

You’ll receive high-definition presentations of all of the titles with 2K restorations of six features, in addition to a 2K master of the longer international cut of “Chinatown Kid” from the original film elements. You’ll also get multiple audio tracks in various languages, new English subtitles and hours of bonuses that include film historian commentaries on select features, new cast and crew interviews, tons of publicity materials and even a 60-page book with essays and trivia. Sounds like a great time for fans of old features from the Shaw Brothers.

The American Genre Film Archive is presenting an interesting set of its own with the “Blood-A-Rama Triple Nightmare” Blu-ray. It contains the low-budget genre pictures “Carnival of Blood” (1970), “Help Me … I’m Possessed” (1974), and “The Night of the Strangler” (1972), a thriller that co-stars Mickey Dolenz from the famous ‘60s pop band, The Monkees. Some of the titles have been given 2K preservations from the only known 35mm prints in existence. You’ll also get numerous trailers for these and other drive-in features, as well as other bonuses.

Those who enjoy Japanese animated features can now pick up a 4K Ultra HD “Collector’s Edition” of “Robot Carnival” (1987) courtesy of Discotek Media. This is a visually striking anthology film, with all of the stories involving robots and their positive and negative effects on the world. The film has been transferred in two different aspect ratios and the disc comes with a documentary on the movie, storyboard to screen sequences, as well as some trailers. Interested parties should note that this release doesn’t appear to contain a regular Blu-ray of the title and can only be played on TVs with an UHD set-up.


And speaking of Japanese features, Media Blasters are presenting a 30th anniversary Blu-ray of “Zeiram” (1991), which details the adventures of two electricians who are zapped into a virtual reality war zone. According to press releases, the disc will be fully loaded with extras including interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes and trailers.



Unfortunately, it’s a quiet time for kid-friendly entertainment, so parents will have to wait until next week to find new children’s items on disc.



It also appears that studios are also holding off on releasing TV-themed material on Blu-ray and DVD until after New Year’s.


By Glenn Kay
For the Sun