With so many movies hitting VOD, streaming services, Blu-ray, and DVD, it’s hard to know what to watch next. New On Home Video offers a bi-weekly guide to what’s worth seeking out, with an emphasis on what’s really worth watching, from recent theatrical releases to classics and long-lost gems.
Talladega Nights (Sony)
Last year’s The Big Short was Adam McKay’s first explicitly political film, but it’s not hard to look at much of what he’s done through a political lens. The title of The Other Guys, for instance, refers both to the film’s second-string heroes, but also to its true villains, those cooking the books and stealing money behind-the-scenes. And for all its silliness, Talladega Nights keeps finding new ways to show the futility of NASCAR star Ricky Bobby’s (Will Ferrell) “If you ain’t first, you’re last” mantra. Bobby rises to the top of his profession only to find himself in a loveless marriage and alienated from his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly), whose biggest mistake has been trying to emulate his pal. Beneath the hilarious gags (and copious branding), Ferrell and McKay’s follow-up to Anchorman is trying to say something about the state of the American Dream. None of which gets in the way of it being a hilarious movie, of course, and one properly celebrated in this 10th anniversary edition, which combines old features from previous releases — including a “25 Years Later” commentary conducted by an aged Ferrell and McKay’s “son” — and a new collection of deleted scenes.
The Quiet Man (Olive Films)
Travel to certain parts of Ireland and you’ll find that The Quiet Man, John Ford’s 1952 film, remains something of a cottage industry for sellers of tchotchkes and locals running guided tours of its locations. It’s not hard to see why. The film’s a delight, letting Ford explore his Irish heritage via the tale of a boxer (John Wayne) who returns to his family’s homeland and falls into a romance with a fiery local woman (Maureen O’Hara). It also presents a dreamy, Technicolor depiction of Ireland at its best, a land filled with local color and larger-than-life characters where passions run free. But it’s also a film in which nothing less than a man’s ability to escape the shadow of his past is at stake, and one that portrays some of the traditions of Ireland as stifling and just waiting to be upset by an American not shackled to the way things have always been done. Though a huge hit that won Ford a Best Director Oscar, The Quiet Man hasn’t always been the easiest film to watch at home, at least not in a way that represented Ford’s original version. Made for Republic Pictures, it fell into disrepair as that studio’s fortunes faded. Happily, this new Blu-ray edition, which includes a new scan from the original negative, goes a long way toward making up for some past neglect and lousy-looking DVD versions.
Star Trek Beyond (Paramount)
The biggest problem with the rebooted Star Trek film series is that they don’t arrive often enough. The cast is great and has terrific chemistry, but we don’t see them together often. So when the series coughs up a dud entry like Star Trek Into Darkness it can throw the reputation of the whole series out of wack. Fortunately, last summer’s Star Trek Beyond did a lot to redeem that reputation, due in part to a story that wasn’t beholden to the mythology of the old series. If you gave up after the stealth Wrath of Khan remake, now’s a good chance to catch up.
Bad Moms (STX)
Bad Moms — starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn — was marketed as a raunchy comedy with a female point of view and it became a tremendous box office success as a result of that. It’s yet more evidence of a huge, underserved market of female filmgoers out there. There’s a lesson to be learned, beyond making a Bad Dads spin-off.
The Executioner (Criterion)
One of the cool things about the Criterion Collection is that reviving international classics that never found much of an audience in the States remains part of its mission statement. Hence this Spanish black comedy, a huge hit in its native country and a favorite of Pedro Almodovar, who provides an interview on this new Blu-ray.
Private Property (Cinelicious)
Cinelicious is another company in the business of reviving lost films. Their latest project is this California noir from 1960. Unseen for decades, it’s written and directed by Leslie Stevens, creator of The Outer Limits, and marks the big-screen debut of the class-of-his-own character actor Warren Oates.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Sony)
Captain Fantastic (Universal)
Finally, why not catch up with a pair of arthouse favorites from earlier this year? Hunt for the Wilderpeople stars Sam Neill and finds director Taika Waititi (What We Do In Shadows) adapting a beloved New Zealand Classic. Captain Fantastic stars Viggo Mortensen as a man determined to live off the grid and is directed by Silicon Valley‘s Matt Ross.
Next Time: The return of a cult favorite from Japan.