14 NEW TO NETFLIX
“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”
“The Dark Knight“
“Good Night, and Good Luck“
“Ralph Breaks the Internet“
5 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
“Blue Velvet” (Criterion)
David Lynch‘s 1986 masterpiece is one of the more controversial films for regular readers of Roger Ebert because of how strongly Roger reacted to the film. His one-star review is even referenced in the booklet included with the new Criterion Blu-ray release. You’ll see that I used the m-word, so I disagree with Roger, but I’ve always used that review as an example of how a piece of writing can be great even when it doesn’t match your opinion. For me, “Blue Velvet” was a formative movie, a film I saw right around the premiere of “Twin Peaks” and sent me down the rabbit hole of Lynch and surreal cinema. The film has held up beautifully, feeling even more like a small town nightmare than it did when it was released. It’s a film in which I can find something new every time – this viewing allowed a deeper appreciation of Dennis Hopper’s performance, and how much he used his own demons to craft it. And the Criterion release includes some great archival material, including almost an hour of deleted scenes, and a great making-of documentary from 2002 that includes interviews with all of the players.
New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, both supervised by director David Lynch
Alternate original 2.0 surround soundtrack
The Lost Footage, fifty-three minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes assembled by Lynch
“Blue Velvet” Revisited, a feature-length meditation on the making of the movie by Peter Braatz, filmed on-set during the production
Mysteries of Love, a seventy-minute documentary from 2002 on the making of the film
Interview from 2017 with composer Angelo Badalamenti
It’s a Strange World: The Filming of “Blue Velvet,” a 2019 documentary featuring interviews with crew members and visits to the shooting locations
Lynch reading from Room to Dream, a 2018 book he coauthored with Kristine McKenna
PLUS: Excerpts by McKenna from Room to Dream
While it’s undeniably important to have female heroes front and center in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck’s blockbuster is still a disappointment, one of the clunkier and ineffective entries in the expanding catalog of movies about people with superpowers. The first act of this film is as clunky as the MCU gets as we experience the same confusion as Carol Danvers, the woman who will eventually become the title character. It eventually finds its way, but even the action is poorly staged and the storytelling forgettable. All that remains is a center of strong performances from Samuel L. Jackson, Annette Bening, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, and, eventually, Brie Larson, who takes some time to find her footing as this character. While the film is a miss, I’ve included it in this column due to its many hardcore fans and the gifts that Disney/Marvel gives them when it comes to their HD releases. The HD and audio on these Blu-rays are the kind of top-tier quality that you should use them to show off your new TVs. And the special features are predictably copious, including that deleted scene that has already driven the incels crazy.
Alternate Movie Versions
Becoming a Super Hero
Big Hero Moment
The Origin of Nick Fury
The Dream Team
The Skrulls and the Kree
Another film that I don’t particularly like has found its way into the column but that’s mostly to balance it out with all the Criterion greatness this week. And this one may intrigue you in the way it intrigued me. Director Rupert Wyatt used the momentum given him by “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Gambler” to make an original sci-fi film that’s more about resistance than alien powers. With echoes of “District 9” and a great young cast, this seemed like a fascinating project from the minute it was announced. And it’s undeniably ambitious, introducing us to several characters across a Chicago that has been overtaken by an alien superpower and the people that fight back. It’s also remarkably flat in terms of entertainment value. It’s more incoherent than it needs to be, often feeling like a compressed season of television instead of a feature film. Still, Wyatt does find a memorable visual here and there, which might make it worth a rental for hardcore genre fans. I was just hoping for more.
Audio Commentary with Director/Producer/Co-Writer Rupert Wyatt and Producer David Crockett
Igniting a War – Featurette
Building the World of Captive State – Featurette
Audiences and critics too swiftly dismissed this remake when A24 released it earlier this year, but I suspect it will find a loyal, satisfied audience now that it’s on the home market. Viewers were likely made aware that is largely a note-for-note remake of Sebastián Lelio‘s 2013 “Gloria,” only now in the English language and anchored by the singular Julianne Moore. Lelio has been vocal about how he literally just wanted to give Moore the platform of this brilliant character, and the idea of seeing what is largely the same film turned off some critics. Not this one. Theatre goers are accustomed to seeing the same plays revived with different casts, and they know that each performer brings a different energy, even if it’s the same material. And damn does Moore bring the energy. Her performance here is one of the best of 2019 to date.
An Extraordinary Woman: Making Gloria Bell – Featurette
Audio Commentary with Director Sebastián Lelio
“Swing Time” (Criterion)
George Stevens‘ 1936 RKO musical is one of the best pure dance movies of all time, capturing Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire at the glorious peaks. The pair had made a few movies together by this point (including the masterful “Top Hat“) but this is often considered their best, a perfect blend of their on-screen personas with great music and choreography. It’s hard to pick a best moment from a film that includes so many timeless beats. Film history will never forget “A Fine Romance,” “Bojangles of Harlem,” or especially one of the most covered songs of all time, “The Way You Look Tonight.” As for that middle one, the new Criterion deftly covers the racial issues of what Stevens and Astaire did in “paying homage” (or stealing from depending on how you read it) Bill Robinson, particularly in an excellent special feature interview with Mia Mask. “In Full Swing” is also a lovely appreciation of a movie that’s nearly impossible to dislike. There are a lot of serious, intense, international dramas in the Criterion Collection. It’s nice to have one that just makes people happy.
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 1986 featuring John Mueller, author of Astaire Dancing: The Musical Films
Archival interviews with performers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and choreographer Hermes Pan
New interview with George Stevens Jr.
In Full Swing, a new program on the film’s choreography and soundtrack featuring jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, dance critic Brian Seibert, and Dorothy Fields biographer Deborah Grace Winer
New interview with film scholar Mia Mask on the “Bojangles of Harlem” number
PLUS: An essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith