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Home Entertainment Guide: April 2024

Home Entertainment Guide: April 2024


The Act of Killing
Anyone But You
Happy Gilmore
The Killing Fields
“Knocked Up”
Strange Way of Life
The Thin Blue Line


“Andor” (and Disney+ Shows)

There seems to be a trend back towards physical media (at least I hope so), partially due to the realization over the last year or so that no one owns anything that’s digital. As companies like Max cull their catalogs, people are going to want to have their favorite films and shows on Blu-ray. And streaming services simply don’t offer the same thrill for collectors. Understanding this, Disney has been releasing some of their hit shows in collectible steelbook editions, dropping FOUR today: “Andor,” “Falcon & The Winter Soldier,” “Obi-Wan,” and “Moon Knight.” While I enjoy some of what Oscar Isaac is attempting in “Moon Knight,” the real keeper of this quartet is “Andor,” the best “Star Wars” show to date (and probably the best Disney+ original overall). Being able to hold that season in your hands with excellent steelbook artwork is a real gift to fans of quality TV.

Buy it here

Special Features
Ferrix Part 1: Imperial Occupation – Tony Gilroy, Kathleen Kennedy and Diego Luna discuss the series’ origins.
Aldhani: Rebel Heist – Join the shoot in Scotland with character spotlights, rebel training, stunts, a VFX breakdown and more.
Coruscant: Whispers of Rebellion – Explore the stories of ISB agent Dedra, Senator Mon Mothma and spymaster Luthen Rael.
Narkina 5: One Way Out – Uncover the Empire’s penal system and the prison’s stark look, get to know Kino Loy, and view VFX breakdowns.
Ferrix Part 2: Fight the Empire – Tony Gilroy, Diego Luna, cast and crew reveal the making of the season finale.

The Beekeeper

I know this movie is defiantly silly, but I think that’s one of the reasons I like it. David Ayer knows exactly how to use Jason Statham in action terms (unlike a lot of his recent collaborators) and the “Fury” director also imbues this ’90s-esqe action flick with a dark sense of humor. Add in just enough moral indignation and you have the recipe for a solid piece of escapist action. Statham plays a John Wick-esque retired assassin who basically murders his way through a system of corrupt con men who have made millions defrauding old people. What makes “Beekeeper” fun, outside of some pretty sharp fight choreography, is how Ayer and company play Statham’s natural stoicism off everyone around him. Jeremy Irons and Josh Hutcherson, among others, chew scenery while Statham silently kicks ass. Believe me, it’s a winning formula. Note: Shame on WB for not including a single special feature on the physical release for a film that did surprisingly well at the box office.

Buy it here

Special Features

The Departed

The truth is that winning multiple Oscars can warp a film’s legacy. Largely because it was the movie that finally got Martin Scorsese his flowers (Oscars for Best Director and his first Best Picture), people have written off “The Departed” as overrated. Nonsense. This is a great movie, one of the best of the ’00s, a flick that bursts with life in every single frame. Not only does it contain some of the best work of Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon‘s career, it would appear that it’s also the last great Jack Nicholson turn. WB has finally released the film in 4K, available in a standard edition or a collectible steelbook, both with a solid selection of special features.

Buy it here

Special Features
Guilt and Betrayal: Looking into The Departed – Fetaurette
Stranger Than Fiction:
The True Story of Whitey Bulger
Southie and The Departed
Crossing Criminal Cultures
Nine Additional Scenes with Introduction by Marty Scorsese

Dogfight” (Criterion)

Nancy Savoca‘s 1991 coming-of-age drama is a true gem, a film that deserved a much bigger audience when it was released but has been appreciated more with each decade since its release. The final act in that increased reputation is the induction of this great work into the Criterion Collection with a sharp 2K restoration and new special features. The film stars River Phoenix (who I miss every day) and Lili Taylor as teenagers flirting with love (after an awkward set-up involving a contest to bring the ugliest date) before he heads off to Vietnam. Heartfelt and heartbreaking, it’s a true beauty, and Criterion has gathered many of the key players for new interviews.

Buy it here

Special Features
New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Nancy Savoca, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
Audio commentary featuring Savoca and producer Richard Guay
New interview with Savoca and actor Lili Taylor conducted by filmmaker Mary Harron
New interviews with cinematographer Bobby Bukowski, production designer Lester W. Cohen, script supervisor Mary Cybulski, music supervisor Jeffrey Kimball, supervising sound editor Tim Squyres, and editor John Tintori
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by film critic Christina Newland

Drive-Away Dolls

There are going to be books written about the incredibly different paths taken by Joel and Ethan Coen after they stopped making movies together, and how their individual interests can now be seen more clearly in their collaborations. Yes, the sample size is small for now, but it’s fascinating to consider how Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” reflects on the more serious side of their oeuvre and Ethan Coen’s “Drive-Away Dolls” has the quirky, almost surreal sense of humor of projects like “Raising Arizona” or “The Big Lebowski.” Sadly, it’s nowhere near as good as either, as the film can’t quite find the right rhythm for its jokes to land, despite the best efforts of a great ensemble. Maybe that was Joel’s responsibility. But it’s still worth a look for Coen completists.

Buy it here

Special Features
THE DRIVE-AWAY GANG – Sit down with the cast and filmmakers of DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS as they discuss their roles, getting into character, and the exciting cameo appearances.
DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS: AN ETHAN AND TRICIA PROJECT – Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke discuss what inspired them to write this story, why they waited 20 years to bring it to life, and what it was like working together on a project from start to finish for the first time.

Fallen Leaves

Aki Kaurismäki is a true master, one of our best living filmmakers. The Finnish director of “Le Havre” and “The Other Side of Hope” delivered one of his most acclaimed films in 2023 with the charming “Fallen Leaves,” a film that might seem too slight for outsized acclaim but its charm is in that gentle simplicity. Alma Poysti plays Ansa, a single woman in Helsinki who works at a supermarket. She meets a man named Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) who struggles similarly with his job and a lonely life. Somehow completely deadpan while also being deeply heartfelt, “Fallen Leaves” is a sweet, sincere piece of character-driven filmmaking. It has no great moral message beyond appreciating the beauty of ordinary life, in all its unpredictability.

Buy it here

Special Features
Q&A with Alma Pöysti & Jussi Vatanen
An illustrated booklet featuring “The World According to Aki Kaurismäki” and credits

“The Kingdom Trilogy”

Despite some of the problematic things he’s said (and arguably done to some of his leading ladies on set given the stories about “Dancer in the Dark”), I do hope Lars von Trier makes another film. Now suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Von Trier has been a visionary and brilliant artist, delivering incredible films like “Melancholia,” “Dogville,” and “Breaking the Waves,” among many others. Even his missteps are fascinating. However, if the final act of “Riget” (or “The Kingdom”), which premiered last year, is his last word, it’s a powerful one. (More on how much I love it here.) Mubi has now collected all three chapters of this breakthrough series into one gorgeous box set, complete with commentary and a dense companion booklet.

Buy it here

Special Features
Selected episode commentary by Lars von Trier, Niels Vørsel and Molly Stensgård
In Lars von Trier’s Kingdom – Documentary
Behind the Scenes – Interviews with Lars von Trier and cast
TV commercial for the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet – Directed by Lars von Trier
The Kingdom Trilogy – A Companion’ – 28-page booklet
English subtitles

“La Haine” (Criterion)

I can vividly remember seeing Mathieu Kassovitz‘s “La Haine” in London for the first time almost thirty years ago. It’s such a powerful gut punch of a film, a movie that felt like nothing else that was coming out of French cinema at the time (at least not that my 20-year-old eyes had seen). It’s also the first time I remember seeing Vincent Cassel, as charismatic as actors come right from such a young age. Kassovitz won Best Director at Cannes for this great film, which has now been given a detailed 4K restoration that was supervised by the D.P. and approved by the director. All the previous special features are available too, including deleted scenes, a commentary, and a 10th anniversary documentary.

Buy it here

Special Features
New 4K digital master, supervised by director of photography Pierre Aïm and approved by director Mathieu Kassovitz, with 2.0 and 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks
One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
Audio commentary by Kassovitz
Introduction by actor Jodie Foster
Ten Years of “La haine,” a documentary featuring cast and crew members
Featurette on the film’s banlieue setting
Production footage
Deleted and extended scenes, with afterwords by Kassovitz
Behind-the-scenes photos
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and a 2006 appreciation by filmmaker Costa-Gavras

Lisa Frankenstein

The directorial debut of Zelda Williams, working from a script by Diablo Cody, is unapologetic about its greatest influence and it’s not Mary Shelley. Set in 1989, this dark horror/comedy is clearly inspired by the early work of Tim Burton, echoing projects like “Beetlejuice,” “Frankenweenie,” and, especially, “Edward Scissorhands.” Here, the goth girl who falls for the impossible, silent outsider is played by the charming Kathryn Newton, who mistakenly resurrects a Victorian-era fella played by Cole Sprouse. It starts off promisingly, but Williams loses the tone about halfway through, unable to balance a film that moves wildly from teen comedy to romance to mutilation. However, it’s not a total disaster, and one could easily see Williams nailing that tonal balance the next time. Fans will be happy with a loaded Blu-ray from Universal that includes commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel, and more.

Buy it here

Special Features
Get Me Out of Hell!
Knock Knock
Music Lovers
Incredible Friend
Breaking News
RESURRECTING THE 1980’s – Set in 1989, LISA FRANKENSTEIN is a loving tribute to the wacky, tacky, yet totally awesome 80s. Every department of production embraced the stylized world Diablo Cody created in her script and brought their A-game to making this colorful world a reality.
AN ELECTRIC CONNECTION – While it’s no easy feat to turn a 19th century dead guy into the perfect boyfriend, this piece explores Lisa and her charming Creature and what makes their relationship work. Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, and filmmakers explore how Lisa and Creature really need each other to truly thrive, why Creature is the “perfect man,” and Lisa’s choice at the end of the film.
A DARK COMEDY DUO – Well-known for her ability to subvert genres, Diablo Cody delves into the inspiration behind LISA FRANKENSTEIN, what made her want to give the Frankenstein story a youthful, modern twist full of both horror and hilarity, and why Zelda Williams was the perfect choice to bring her story to life.

“The Ocean’s Trilogy”

There was almost nothing cooler in film in the 2000s than the three Steven Soderbergh flicks about Danny Ocean and his crew. They’ve finally been given the 4K treatment by Warner Brothers, released in either a single box or individual steelbooks, all with excellent new artwork. 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” started it all, collecting as many cool actors as they could into one film, including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. 2004’s “Ocean’s Twelve” is the most divisive of the bunch, a meta commentary on its very existence. 2007’s “Ocean’s Thirteen” is the underrated capper to the trilogy, a fun, playful reminder that Soderbergh is the master of this kind of thing (and so many other kinds of things too).

Buy it here

Special Features
Various from previous editions, especially the original Blu-ray 3-film collection from 2014

Picnic at Hanging Rock” (Criterion)

Peter Weir recently announced his retirement from filmmaking, which wasn’t too surprising given his age but a bit disappointing given we all kind of hoped he had one more masterpiece in him. The occasion will likely allow for a bit of career reappraisal, which should bring more eyes to his phenomenal 1975 adaptation of the 1967 novel of the same name. Weir’s film takes the true story of the disappearance of a group of schoolgirls in 1900 to cast a true spell, feeling both dreamlike and dangerous at the same time. It’s a perfect choice for a 4K Criterion upgrade, and this one was supervised by Weir himself. It’s a dense collection of special features too, including Weir’s 1971 debut, “Homesdale.”

Buy it here

Special Features
New 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by director Peter Weir and director of photography Russell Boyd, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
Interview with Weir
Program on the making of the film, featuring interviews with executive producer Patricia Lovell, producers Hal McElroy and Jim McElroy, and cast members
Introduction by film scholar David Thomson, author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film
On-set documentary hosted by Lovell and featuring interviews with Weir, actor Rachel Roberts, and source-novel author Joan Lindsay
Homesdale (1971), a black comedy by Weir
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by author Megan Abbott and an excerpt from film scholar Marek Haltof’s 1996 book Peter Weir: When Cultures Collide

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