10 NEW TO NETFLIX
6 NEW TO BLU-RAY/STREAMING
This column is primarily about “highlights” new to VOD and Blu-ray, but we’re stretching the parameters a bit during the quarantine to include pretty much anything of curiosity. And what’s not to be curious about here? Taking the concept of TV’s “Fantasy Island” and twisting it into a “Twilight Zone” cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for should have been an easy route to B-movie horror excess. So what the hell happened? Part of the problem is that it feels like someone is making up “Fantasy Island” as it goes along. It’s defiantly nonsensical, but not even in a fun way. It just makes less and less sense until you stop caring about anything other than the inept framing and horrible timing. It is ludicrously bad, almost in a “so bad you need to see it way” and so it’s here. But you’ve been warned.
Unrated and theatrical versions of the movie included
Unrated Director and Cast Commentary: Audio commentary by Director Jeff Wadlow and Cast (Unrated Version Only)
“The Great Escape” (Criterion)
Roger Ebert once said that no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough. I was startled to see that “The Great Escape” is almost three hours long. It doesn’t feel anywhere near that length, thanks largely to John Sturges‘ stunningly confident direction and a cast of some of the most charismatic actors of all time. This is a true American classic, a movie that is easy to rewatch over and over again. You can see its influence on everything from Peter Berg to Quentin Tarantino. And Criterion release is loaded with special features. It’s a little cheesy to time something like this to Father’s Day, but it really would be a great gift this season, one in which we’re all looking for a little escape. And you get an essay from our very own Sheila O’Malley!
Buy it here
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
Two audio commentaries, one from 1991, featuring director John Sturges and composer Elmer Bernstein; the other, from 2003, featuring actors James Coburn, James Garner, and Donald Pleasence
New interview with critic Michael Sragow
“The Great Escape”: Heroes Under Ground, a four-part 2001 documentary about the real-life escape from the Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, including interviews with POWs held there
The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones, a 2001 program on the United States Army Air Forces pilot David Jones, the inspiration for Steve McQueen’s character in the film
Return to “The Great Escape,” a 1993 program featuring interviews with Coburn, Garner, and actors David McCallum and Jud Taylor
PLUS: An essay by critic Sheila O’Malley
Michael Winterbottom collaborates with Steve Coogan again for this parable about the pitfalls of greed and commentary on the structures of inequity that allow the filthy rich to get particularly filthy. Coogan plays one of the wealthiest men on Earth, but a series of flashbacks and subplots reveal how he has built his fortune on deception, cruelty, and continually failing upward. Coogan is fun but the movie is oddly structured, allowing for little build-up or rhythm to the inevitable downfall. It’s a movie of just enough moments to justify a look for Coogan and Winterbottom fans but not the best of either of their works.
Behind the Scenes – Steve Coogan describes playing the crass, bombastic Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, and why he and Director Michael Winterbottom are asking audiences “to connect the dots and give a damn.”
Oz Perkins doesn’t make normal horror movies. His first and still best film, “The Blackcoat's Daughter” owed more to Italian horror than American audiences were prepared for, and “I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House” advertised itself as a ghost story but was much more of a mood piece. And yet when I heard he had a wide theatrical version of a classic fairy tale in production, I kind of just assumed his oddity would be tempered. Nope. This is one of the strangest wide theatrical releases of the last few years, a movie that owes more to Neil Jordan than mainstream horror. It kind of comes apart under its own style choices, but there’s still a lot to like here, including incredible cinematography and a reminder that Perkins is one of the most interesting voices in the genre.
Storybook – Featurette
“Gunsmoke: The Complete Series”
I don’t always include TV box sets in this column, and they kind of ran out of new ones to produce a few years ago, but the recent release of a complete set for the longest-running drama of all time feels like a special occasion. Clearly timed for those looking for something for Father’s Day 2020, this set includes over 140 DVDs! It’s hours and hours of television when people are looking for ways to kill hours and hours of their life. Honestly, I’m relatively unfamiliar with most of “Gunsmoke.” Like everyone, I’ve seen a repeat here and there, but probably no more than a dozen episodes ever. It looks like I have some work to do.
Is it weird to be disappointed that a movie with such an incredibly talented and charismatic cast is just okay? How do you get Lakeith Stanfield, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Issa Rae, Lil Rel Howery, and Rob Morgan in one movie, and let it feel so inert at times? They’re such great actors that their screen presence alone gets one through this romantic drama about a journalist who falls in love with the daughter of a woman he sees in a photograph, but there’s a heat missing from the final product that’s downright strange. You should see everything Stanfield and Harrison do. They’re two of the best young actors alive. But this one fades quicker than it should.
Shooting The Photograph
Culture in Film
The Film Through Photographs