A monthly guide to what’s essential in the world of streaming, Blu-ray, and DVD.
Ghost World (Criterion)
Cartoonist Daniel Clowes didn’t know where the story would go, or if there was a story at all, when he introduced Ghost World as a recurring feature in his comic book Eightball. Featuring scenes from the life of two teenage girls — Enid and Rebecca — who cloak themselves in irony as they stare down adulthood. But plan or not, it coalesced into a funny, poignant depiction of that hazy moment between childhood and what comes after. It didn’t seem like the sort of project that would lend itself to a movie adaptation, but 2001 nonetheless saw the release of a film that captured the spirit of the original comic while introducing some significant new elements. Directed by Terry Zwigoff from a Clowes script and starring Thora Birch as Enid and Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca, it keeps the comic’s unforced pace, following the protagonists as they knock about town looking for things to ridicule in the months after graduation. It also adds, in one of his best performances, Steve Buscemi as a collector of early jazz and blues records who becomes a particular object of fascination for Enid. Their friendship forces her to reconsider her reflexive irony as the world she’s created with Rebecca starts to crack down the center. Also like the comic, its emotional power builds over the course of the film, a coming-of-age story that skips the cliches and skips right to the heart of what it feels like to grow up and move on — and the weight of the loss that comes with it. The film gets a well-deserved deluxe treatment with this new Blu-ray and DVD edition from Criterion, highlighted by a relaxed, informative commentary track with Clowes, Zwigoff, and producer Lianne Halfon.
Streets of Fire (Shout Factory)
Some movies seem designed to fail and come back as beloved cult items when the right people catch up with them a few years later. Streets of Fire is such a film. Set in an alternate 1980s in which the 1950s seemingly never ended, it stars Michael Paré as a drifter who returns to an unnamed metropolis just in time to learn his rock star ex-girlfriend (Diane Lane) has been kidnapped led by a demented Willem Dafoe. What follows combines music, action, and some of the most striking images of Hill’s career in a strange, violent, musical fantasia. (Oh, and Rick Moranis plays a take-no-shit music manager.) It flopped in 1984, but there’s nothing quite like it, and this new Blu-ray edition should please fans, joining a sharp transfer of the film to a host of bonus features, including a feature-length making-of documentary.
Heat (20th Century Fox)
Michael Mann’s 1995 crime epic arrived in theaters with a built-in hook: It would be the first time Al Pacino and Robert De Niro ever shared the screen. (At the same time: Yes, they were both in The Godfather: Part II.) But while their limited interactions are electric, they’re just part of the tapestry of Mann’s film, which puts them on opposite sides of a no-win struggle between cops (led by Pacino) and criminals (led by De Niro) against the backdrop of an uncaring, desaturated Los Angeles. The film delivers in every way, from the action sequences, to the operatic battle of wills, to the portraits of men who’ve been hollowed out by the professions they’ve chosen on either side of the law. This new editions features a 4K remastering overseen by Mann himself.
Good Morning (Criterion)
Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu wrongly has a reputation for austerity that can scare some viewers away from some of the warmest, most human films ever made. Anyone looking for an easy point of entry should consider his 1959’s Good Morning, a depiction of suburban Japan torn between tradition and modernity that’s filled with cute kids and fart jokes, neither of which need translation. Film truly is a universal language.
Tales From The Hood (Scream Factory)
Get Out (Lionsgate)
If you missed Get Out, now’s a great time to correct that. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut works both as a thrilling horror film and a multi-tiered critique of the persistence of racism in 2017. Though a much less subtle film, Tales From The Hood would nicely complete it as a double feature. Released in 1995, the Rusty Cundieff-directed anthology film features four EC Comics-inspired stories touching on everything from police brutality to gangs, all hosted by a creepy mortician played by Clarence Williams III. Like their inspiration, they’re not subtle, but subtlety’s not really the point, and though Williams camps it up in the host segments, the film is both scary and visually inventive from start to finish.