February Home Video Releases You Need To Watch

02.28.18 5 months ago

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Criterion

Coco (Disney)
The Girl Without Hands (Shout! Factory)
Lady And The Tramp (Disney)

This year’s Best Animated Feature nominees include Ferdinand and The Boss Baby suggesting that, hey, maybe this wasn’t the strongest year for American animation. But the one American stand-out on that list, Coco, almost makes up for it. Pixar’s latest is a delightful and poignant trip to the underworld via a Dia De Los Muertos story that sends a music-loving kid into the afterlife to discover some facts about his family’s history. It’s a visual delight and, whether streaming it or watching it on disc, you don’t have to watch “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” in front of it, like most moviegoers had to do.

It’s not the only animated film worth checking out this month, either. Disney’s Lady and the Tramp makes its return from the Disney vault to delight fans of animated dogs and romantic scenes featuring pasta. Also of note: The Girl Without Hands, a handpainted adaptation of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale from Spain. The latter is part of Shout! Factory’s ongoing release of titles from GKids, a consistent source of some of the world’s most compelling animated features.

Criterion

Night of the Living Dead (Criterion)

As The Walking Dead lumbers on (and on and on) fans can be forgiven a bit of zombie fatigue. The cure for that: revisit George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in this new edition that features a stunning restoration overseen by Romero shortly before his death. The film has circulated in tattered prints for so long it’s shocking to see how eerily artful it all is, and how breathakingly unsettling this first glimpse at the modern zombie remains. This new edition fills supplements the film with everything from a workprint cut with a different title (Night of Anubis) and a look at Romero’s early days making commercials in Pittsburgh. It’s touching to see a passionate filmmaker’s signature film finally get the respectful treatment it deserves.

Scream Factory

Drag Me To Hell (Scream Factory)

Romero had mixed luck working for major studios. Sam Raimi, who got his start with the microbudget Evil Dead films, fared much better. But he clearly missed the world from which he emerged, hence this fun-but-relentless horror movie made after completing his Spider-Man trilogy, which is receiving a well-deserved deluxe re-release. Sometimes you can go home again.

Criterion

Tom Jones (Criterion)

On the other hand, it’s occasionally OK if a director’s wishes aren’t respected. The 1963 film Tom Jones won a Best Picture Oscar for Tony Richardson thanks to its spritely, New Wave take on Henry Fielding’s classic novel of a charming young man’s bawdy adventures in 18th century England. The film made Albert Finney a star and helped prove that literary adaptations didn’t have to be so stuffy. But since 1989, per Richardson’s wishes, only a director’s cut has been available, one that sheered seven minutes from the running time and made other changes, effectively taking the version everyone fell in love with out of circulation. This new disc lets viewers decide, putting both versions side-by-side.

Arrow

Basket Case (Arrow)

There’s only one cut of Basket Case and there’s only so much a digital transfer can do to make the 1982 horror film look better than it always has, but fans of Frank Henenlotter’s cult classic would expect no less. This new edition adds an abundance of features, including a new commentary track and an old short film, sure to satisfy fans of evil twins and grody early ’80s New York locations.

The-Florida-Project

A24

Florida Project (Lionsgate)

Speaking of Oscars, Sean Baker’s funny, heartbreaking look at life on the fringes of central Florida earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Willem Dafoe, but it should have picked up more. Consider catching up with it your Oscar weekend assignment, if you haven’t seen it already.

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