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Blu-ray Reviews for February 6, 2018

Selections from this week’s Blu-ray releases can be found below in this ongoing weekly summary of reviews. Click on any of the following titles to navigate directly to that review. This week’s releases include: the fun John Wick wannabe 24 Hours to Live starring Ethan Hawke; a reissue of the cult favorite Attack of the Killer Tomatoes; the befuddling and bland Suburbicon from director George Clooney; the wilderness survival drama Walking Out; the mediocre sequel A Bad Moms Christmas; a reissue of Dario Argento’s manic Opera; and the thrilling and emotional true-life story Only the Brave. A list of other titles also available this week can be found at the end.


Distributor: Lionsgate

Ethan Hawke gives an explosive performance in this epic action-thriller from the producers of John Wick. Travis Conrad (Hawke) is a former special-ops marine turned mercenary who is lured out of retirement by the covert company that used to employ him. After Travis is killed during a brutal firefight, a new regeneration surgery gives him a second chance at life—and one last shot at redemption.

The unexpected success of action flicks like Taken and John Wick directly inspired a host of vigilante imitators, all which saw an engaging lead (or once engaging…cough cough John Travolta) taking on hordes of anonymous henchmen with slick style while committing lots of violence. Sean Penn’s The Gunman, Kevin Costner’s 3 Days to Kill, Pierce Brosnan’s The November Man, Travolta’s I Am Wrath, and pretty much every post-Taken Liam Neeson action movie from the last decade — not a single one of these was any good. So when Ethan Hawke’s 24 Hours to Live was released, quietly, it seemed like yet another tired John Wick clone, and Hawke’s spotty mainstream action/thriller record wasn’t an advantage. (Getaway is one of the worst movies you’ve never seen.)

Happily, and surprisingly, 24 Hour to Live is pretty fun, showcasing a seldom seen bad-ass Hawke as Travis Conrad, a retired shadowy government agent pulled out of retirement for one last yadda yadda. As you can see, there’s really nothing that makes 24 Hours to Live unique or innovative beyond the time-tabled life thing (although this had been done previously in Crank). Otherwise, you’ve definitely seen this sort of thing before, with the same kind of character machinations and motivations: Conrad lost his wife and son a year prior, so he’s a heavy-drinking cynical mess. Again, this character trope is absolutely nothing new to the genre. Hawke was barely a pre-pube member of the Dead Poets Society when Martin Riggs was garbage-firing it up in his trailer with a loaded gun in his mouth. But, as I’ve said time and time again, I’m totally fine with seeing the same concepts being re-explored, in any genre, so long as it’s executed with a little showmanship, enthusiasm, and sense of excitement.

24 Hour to Live offers all three.

Much of this comes from director Brian Smrz, who, like John Wick’s directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, got his start as a stunt coordinator on big silly action films. Though he gets a little overwrought during the “be sad/dead family” montages, the action sequences work very well and are confidently executed, and for this kind of movie, that’s all that really matters. And the violence — hoooo, boy! Thank you!

Not everything in 24 Hours to Live is a success, whether it’s the hamfisted dialogue, the occasional plot hole, or the severe under-usage of Rutger Hauer (I’m waiting for the official “Frank” spin-off), but enough of it works that it makes for one of the better quiet Lionsgate action flicks that the studio seems to dump every month. Don’t let this one get lost in the spate of other LGF action releases that showcase a tired Bruce Willis or a bizarre Steven Seagal. 24 Hours to Live won’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s still a fun ride, and will temporarily satiate the action junkie patiently waiting for John Wick: Chapter 3.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

None.


Distributor: MVD Video

UFOs! Bigfoot! Communists! The government has swiftly dealt with many a crisis… But can it survive the diabolical ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES? Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the supermarket, you’re face to face with terror so bold, so frightening it has never been seen on-screen before or since (not until the sequel, anyway). After a series of bizarre and increasingly horrific attacks from pulpy, red, seeded fruit, Mason Dixon (David Miller) finds himself leading a “crack” team of specialists to save the planet. But will they be quick enough to save everyone? To save you? You can’t run! You can’t swim! There’s nowhere to hide! THE KILLER TOMATOES ARE EVERYWHERE!

Seeing Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is like a rite of passage, and it’s an absolute perfect addition to MVD’s recent Rewind Collection label. Following in the footsteps of Lionsgate’s new-ish Vestron Video, the MVD Rewind Collection fondly looks back on the ol’ VHS days, right down to its shoddy and well-worn slipcover, and resurrects titles that were popular and infamous video store rentals of limited cult appeal. (Coming soon is Black Eagle, starring a villainous Van Damme in the earliest part of his career, so you know I’m excited.)

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is one of the dumbest movies you will ever see, which obviously makes up most of its charm. Mostly a spoof of the radioactive scare films from the ‘50s that saw insects or animals growing many times its size and going after all the pretty blondes on the beach, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes hedges most of its bets on comedy (because, come on, not a single one of our celebrated horror directors could make mutant tomatoes scary). Depending on your sensibilities, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes offers an extremely polarizing experience, with viewers easily existing either in the love-it or hate-it camps. It doesn’t leave a whole lot of ground for the in-betweeners. Yet, somehow, that’s where I stand.

The comedy in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes vies for Naked Gun, and sometimes it’s successful, but other times it results in something akin to Epic Movie — awkward, unfunny gags that play out far longer than we could ever want. And, sometimes, it’s…a little racist, such as the Japanese doctor being purposely overdubbed by an “American” voice, who in one scene accidentally knocks a framed photo of the U.S.S. Arizona into a fish tank. And then, out of nowhere, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes will tread that line of pure absurdism; example: the only way to kill the marauding mutant tomatoes is by playing them the newest hit single, “Puberty Love,” which is as poorly performed as you can imagine. Because of this, the film makes for a hodgepodge of different comedic styles, some of which gels, and some of which doesn’t.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes boasts an innovative DIY aesthetic that’s to be absolutely commended. This Blu-ray reissue (the transfer looks amazing, by the way) proves that this goofball film is still being talked about to this day. It also boasts THREE sequels (one titled Killer Tomatoes Eat France!; one that stars a pre-fame George Clooney) and an animated television series. When a film’s a hit, it’s a hit, regardless if that success is mainstream or cult. To make something that stands the test of time is something most filmmakers could ever hope for, and — like it or not — Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is still with us.

Cue the music!

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Newly remastered 4K digital transfer of the film
  • Original 2.0 Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Audio commentary from writer/director John DeBello, writer/co-star Steve Peace, and ‘creator’ Costa Dillon
  • 3 Deleted Scenes
  • ‘Legacy of a Legend’ (SD,14:13) is a collection of interviews, featuring John DeBello, Costa Dillon, film critic Kevin Thomas, John Astin, Steve Peace, Jack Riley, and D.J. Sullivan and more!
  • ‘Crash and Burn’ (3:40, SD) is a discussion about the famous helicopter crash that could have killed everyone because the pilot was late on his cue
  • ‘Famous Foul’ (2:21, SD) is about the San Diego Chicken and his role in the climatic tomato stomping ending
  • “Killer Tomatomania’ (4:33, SD) is a smattering of interviews with random people on the streets of Hollywood about the movie
  • ‘Where Are They Now?’ (2:51, SD) fills viewers in on what the cast and crew have been up to over the past couple of decades,
  • ‘We Told You So!’ (3:07, SD) takes a hard-hitting look at the conspiracy of silence surrounding the real-life horror of killer tomatoes
  • “Slated for Success” (1:57, SD) featuring Killer Tomato Slate Girl
  • “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” (the original 8mm short film) (with optional audio commentary) (17:35, SD)
  • ‘Gone with the Babusuland’ (the original 8mm short that inspired Attack of the Killer Tomatoes) (with optional audio commentary) (32:28, SD)
  • Original theatrical trailer (SD)
  • Production design photo gallery
  • Radio spots
    Easter Eggs
  • Collectible Poster
  • Limited Edition Retro ‘Video Store Style’ Slipcover / O-Card (First Pressing Only)


Distributor: Paramount Pictures

The idyllic town of Suburbicon is the perfect place for Gardner Lodge (Academy Award® winner Matt Damon) to make a home. But beneath this tranquil surface lies a disturbing reality, where nothing is as it seems. When a break-in leads to the shocking murder of his wife (Julianne Moore), Gardner must navigate the town’s underbelly of deceit and violence to protect his family from further harm.

Boy oh boy, what is this movie? Does anyone know? If you do, can you tell me? Because I’m at a loss.

Though the script bares the name of director George Clooney and his co-writer Grant Heslov, it also features frequent Clooney collaborators Joel and Ethan Coen, and their mark is all over this. From the ‘50s time period to the extremely weird dark humor to the idea of a crime taking place in a quirky and unusual setting — this script is them through and through. Without knowing how much of all that actually derives from them is pure speculation, but if I’m right (and I have a feeling I am), this was the wrongest script for Clooney to possibly take on as director. No one knows how to direct a Coen brothers script except for the Coen brothers. The humor, perhaps, would have been more defined, and the subplots that don’t have anything to do with anything, might have at least felt significant, thematically.

Matt Damon is a slog to watch from the beginning and mostly through to the end, though he briefly comes alive when the plot takes a sinister turn. Meanwhile, Julianne Moore seems to be recalling her character from Far From Heaven, but in a breathier, more light headed fashion. Little Noah Jupe as the Gardners’ son, Nicky, however, does fine work for someone at such a young age, and with material that, frankly, isn’t very cohesive. “Be afraid of everything” was likely a direction at some point, but that’s not a slam against the young actor’s choices — more so a reaction to the oddness that unfolds throughout Suburbicon. Jupe is the only one approaching a fully formed character in this thing; he more serves as the personification of the horror and confusion that the audience is supposed to be feeling — that is, if the audience were at all intrigued by this mess instead of checking the time on their phones.

Speaking of odd, what is with that subplot about Mrs. Mayers (Karimah Westbrook), a young African-American mom who moves to Suburbicon with her young son, only to be harassed continuously throughout by the town, which makes it very clear she’s not welcome? It’s interesting, dramatic, and Westbrook plays it with a quiet dignity. In fact, this is the only portion of Suburbicon that’s engaging. The problem? It never means anything. (This has to be a Coens addition — adding subplots that never amount to anything is something they’ve done before.) The main plot and this plot never converge. It’s just…there. To fill time.

Really, that’s Suburbicon’s whole problem. It never engages, or thrills, or entertains, or amuses. It’s just…there. To fill time.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Commentary by George Clooney and Grant Heslov
  • Welcome to Suburbicon
  • The Unusual Suspects: Casting
  • Scoring Suburbicon


Distributor: IFC Films/Shout! Factory

An estranged father and son are forced to rely on one another to survive an unforgiving wilderness in this riveting, richly emotional thriller. Once a year, fourteen-year-old David (Josh Wiggins, Max) travels from his mother’s home in Texas to visit his loner father, Cal (Matt Bomer, White Collar), in the remote mountains of Montana. There, the two embark on their annual hunting excursion, during which the taciturn Cal attempts to connect with his smartphone-addicted son. But when a terrifying turn of events leaves Cal critically wounded, it’s up to the teenage David to summon enough strength for both of them. Infused with a deep reverence for the rugged beauty and harsh realities of the Montana landscape, Walking Out is both a tense survival saga and a disarmingly moving father-son tale.

The father/son bond is one of film’s most explored relationships, more so than mother/ daughter/ anyone else, and that’s because men are hard headed and stubborn and create a lot of their own problems. That’s hard-wired into our DNA. A father wants his son to find his way in life, whether it’s being exactly like him or nothing like him. And a son, likewise, wants to find his own way and prove to his father that he can do it. When this relationship is portrayed on-screen, it can be powerful because men are rarely given the opportunity to look vulnerable.

The way Walking Out handles it is one of the more unique approaches, in that even though Father (Bomer) and Son (Wiggins) are estranged, they are not strangers. There is a mutual love there. The son, David, might show trepidation for spending a trip in the frigid wilderness hunting with his gruff father, but it’s not the kind of conflict where that’s the last place he wants to be and therefore he’ll be a total brat about it. Meanwhile, the father, Cal, still holds a grudge against David’s mother for having left him, which may or may not be leaking out in the way he treats his son. Cal, as played by Bomer, very finely treads that line between being a likable character and one whom you wish would treat his son better. He’s hard on David in a way that’s likely (and hopefully) beyond the way fathers generally treat their sons. Cal doesn’t have a passive bone in his body, and if there’s a way he can educate his son on the fineries of hunting, but which almost always extends to life in general, he will do so — even if in the form of shaming him. Despite this, there is love there between them, and its a love that grows as the two end up depending on each other to escape the wintry wilderness alive — Cal with his knowledge, and David with his strength.

For 95% of the time, Bomer and Wiggins are the only characters on screen, and both of them give great performances, with Bomer’s loving but prickly Cal being a tough balancing act. Bill Pullman appears in flashback sequences as Cal’s own father, managing to echo a similarly gruff but loving exterior that he would soon pass onto his son.

Walking Out is gorgeously shot, mostly on location in the woods and mountains of Montana.  It’s one of those films shot in the cold that makes you feel the cold, so between that and the harshness that Cal and David endure, it makes for a bleak and grueling watch at times — but by design. It’s not one of those films that’s designed to make its audience feel like they’ve experienced a thrilling adventure, but more like an emotional awakening. By its end, yes, it doesn’t offer the kind of ultimate experience that the father/son bonding film usually offers, but, sadly, it might be one that sometimes echoes closer to reality.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Behind-the-Scenes
  • Trailer


Distributor: Universal Studios

The  original  trio  of  suburban  Chicago pals,  Mila  Kunis,  Kristen  Bell,  and Kathryn  Hahn, are  joined  by  newcomers  Christine  Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon as the leading ladies’ respective mothers in this  sequel  to 2016’s  breakout  hit Bad  Moms. A Bad Moms Christmas follows  our  three  under-appreciated  and  over-burdened  women  as  they  rebel  against  the  challenges  and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. And if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn’t hard enough, they have to do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers. By the end of  the  journey,  our  moms  will  redefine  how  to  make  the  holidays  special  for  all  and  discover  a  closer relationship with their mothers.

In case you missed it during the seven seconds that Daddy’s Home 2 was in theaters, you may recall that the comedy sequel had tried to shake things up by adding some additional father figures (as played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson) to the cast, not making it just Ferrell vs. Wahlberg, but a wholly mediocre 4-some of dad-on-dad action. (Gross.) However, the first Daddy’s Home, despite making bank, wasn’t good to begin with, so the sequel really had nothing to lose.

The first Bad Moms, however, was. It was a surprisingly funny and emotional comedy with three very charming leading ladies. It allowed a group of talented female performers to take the lead, finally, in a comedy that presented women as real characters and not hollow stereotypes.

A Bad Moms Christmas is the antithesis of its predecessor. Granted, our leading ladies have returned, doing bad-mom things like drinking too much to party music and grinding on Santa Claus, but now with each of their high maintenance mothers in tow. This results in painful unfunniness. Whereas the first film was based on the foundation of the three very different personalities brought by our leads, they all existed within the reasonable realm of reality as predicated by the genre comedy, where characteristics are often heightened for comedic value. A Bad Moms Christmas presents the ladies’ mothers as even more heightened, taking the quirks and behaviors of the daughters and turning them up to eleven for their matriarchs (i.e., if Kristen Bell is a neurotic square, then Cheryl Hines, her on-screen mother, is really a neurotic square.) Christine Baranski’s character is extremely overdone; she’s absolutely unlikable from the very start, on which the movie happily builds as it unfolds. It’s a wonder how daughter Amy, after growing up with that kind of mother, became high-functioning and rational human being, rather than holed up in an abandoned warehouse angrily scrawling out her pre-mass shooting manifesto. Within minutes of Baranski’s appearance, I could already feel my insanity starting to swirl. As for Susan Sarandon, she and the filmmakers hope to get by on her cursing a lot, dancing with strippers, and falling down, which will never ever go out of style… The only new cast member to add a dose of welcome humor is Hines, who for nine seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm has played the straight man to Larry David’s absurd and neurotic…Larry David. Here, she’s playing more of a character — an oddball desperate to stay in her daughter’s life and who speaks with a childlike intonation that suggests she’s afraid of making waves. By the end, when the mothers share a nice moment of mutual awakening that you know is coming, Hines is the one at least keeping things light and amusing.  

A Bad Moms Christmas suffers all the same pitfalls that Part 2’s normally do —  jokes are recycled, but everything needs to feel bigger, which ruins the balance perfectly struck by its predecessor. It’s a lazy comedy, sometimes even obnoxious, and it all unfolds with the kind of tedious inevitability that’s telegraphed by its generic plot.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Gag Reel
  • Additional Scenes
  • Crew Music Video
  • Theatrical Trailers


Distributor: Code Red & Scorpion Releasing via Music Box Films

When young opera singer Betty takes over the leading role in an avant-garde presentation of Verdi’s Macbeth, she triggers the madness of a crazed fan who repeatedly forces her to watch the brutal murders of her friends. Will her recurring childhood nightmare hold the key to the identity of this psychopath, or does an even more horrific evil lay waiting in the wings? Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento delivers a savagely stunning thriller featuring some of the most shocking sequences of his entire career.

From the very beginning of his career, filmmaker Dario Argento was on a roll. 1970’s giallo The Bird with Crystal Plumage, his debut, still remains one of the most celebrated films of his career, and recently enjoyed a very handsome package release from Arrow Video. Subsequently, Deep Red, Suspiria, its semi-sequel Inferno, and Tenebrae would follow, each preserving Argento’s uncannily beautiful skill with the camera and his further exploration of the giallo sub-genre. (Each of those titles have also enjoyed solid Blu-ray releases from Arrow, Synapse, and Blue Underground, although Inferno deserves a remaster.) Following Tenebrae, like many of our beloved horror directors, his work would begin to fall off. Next would come the befuddling Phenomena (starring a very young Jennifer Connelly and recently released by Synapse) and then 1987’s Opera, which now comes courtesy of a joint release from Code Red, Scorpion Releasing, and Music Box Films. This is the second film in the portion of Argento’s career that’s considered gray area — a quasi-limbo each of our celebrated horror directors eventually entered. Argento’s Suspiria, or Deep Red — these are commonly accepted as high points, even classics. And every horror director has them. John Carpenter’s Halloween or The Thing, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead — all have achieved classic status because they deserve it. But each director would later make films that fell into that gray area where it’s not so much they are beloved because of the films, but because of the director who made them. Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, and Romero’s Monkey Shines. None of these are patches on the directors’ earlier classics, but fans love them anyway because of who made them. Basically, call Halloween or The Thing silly in a fanboy’s presence and it’s war. Call Prince of Darkness silly and the response is, “Well…”

If you’ll forgive the long-winded opening, that sums up the enduring legacy of Dario Argento’s Opera, and it’s the reason why I noted the more well known distributors who have released his other more well-regarded titles. (Synapse’s release of Suspiria is not just the best release from that distributor, but one of the best releases you could see for any horror title from any label.) By comparison, Code Red and Scorpion Releasing are smaller labels, each focusing on obscure titles and filmmakers — some of which, even for those who consider themselves students of the horror and exploitation genres, aren’t very recognizable. “The scraps,” I believe, would be the appropriate term. And, even though you would find some fans out there arguing for its merits, that’s where Opera belongs.

If the direct-to-video platform had been as prominent in the late ‘80s as it would eventually be in the late ‘90s, Opera would feel like it had gone direct to video, or even made for television (despite the violence). Even though it’s made by a proven director, large portions of it feel very workman and frenzied. Argento’s camerawork is still as beautiful and indulgent as ever, but it’s often ruined by the chaotic and unfocused scenes of…well, you name it. Intrigue? Investigation? Anything involving dialogue? Even the murder sequences, something Argento used to excel at, seem cornily rendered, as if he’s a director working outside of his comfort zone, even though up to that point he’d been murdering people on screen for 17 years. For long stretches in Opera, nothing will happen, and then within the span of just thirty seconds, so much will happen that you can feel your brain trying to process all the outlandish information bombarding it. Because of this, you can never just settle into the story and allow Opera’s sense of pacing to carry you along, because it doesn’t really have much of either. Not helping is that, like a lot of Italian productions of this era, Opera was filmed without on-set sound, so all the dialogue was later looped by either the actors themselves or different voice-over artists altogether. Many of Argento’s films were made the same way, but Opera bungles that as well. Much of the dialogue is rattled off with either too little emotion or way too much, which leaves the whole film feeling off kilter and strange.

Opera would be the last feature length film that Argento would make that falls into that lawless land of debate as to whether or not it’s worthy of attention. Everything that follows generally falls into the land of “for Argento completists only” where I dare not dwell. (Only the most ardent of Argento’s fanbase can make it through Dracula 3D.) If you’re one of those who would defend Opera, then you should absolutely snap up this new Blu-ray release. The video and audio are excellent, and the amount of special features are respectable (with the William McNamara interview being especially interesting), but if you’re only a casual fan of the director, I definitely wouldn’t buy tickets to this Opera.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • BRAND NEW 2K REMASTER of the film with over 45 hours of extensive color correction
  • Rare interview with director Dario Argento never-before released to U.S. audiences
  • Brand new interview with star William McNamara
  • Brand new 5.1 soundtrack
  • Original Trailer

Distributor: Sony Pictures

ONLY THE BRAVE, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, is the heroic story of a team of local firefighters who – through hope, determination and sacrifice – become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the nation. Starring Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale and Jennifer Connelly, the firefighters forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus as they fight a fateful fire to protect our lives, our homes and everything we hold dear.

From the outset, Only the Brave feels like a movie you have seen before. I’m not necessarily talking about Ron Howard’s well-regarded Backdraft, released in 1991, but about films in general that feature groups of people putting “it” all on the line at the expense of their own wants and dreams and everything else that can be sacrificed. You watch a trailer for this title in particular or something like it and you can assume how everything will play out. Because of that, you become nonplussed, and even if the subject matter is intriguing, you settle in for the experience with comfort that you won’t be challenged viscerally or emotionally.

Honestly and admittedly, that’s how I felt prior to seeing Only the Brave. Though I’d glimpsed the Rotten Tomatoes badge of honor on the front of the case, I was more focused on the director of the project, Joseph Kosinski, who had previously brought us TRON: Legacy and the forgettable Tom Cruise pic Oblivion. Even as someone who admittedly loved the newest TRON, I’d still relent that its story was almost non-existent — I could never say with a straight face that it’s a good movie — but TRON’s success ultimately derives from its visual experience as well as the tremendous musical score by Daft Punk. If ever there were a movie for which the expression “style over substance” was coined, it’s TRON: Legacy.

Surprisingly, Only the Brave proved to be one of the more emotional and thrilling films released last year, and it’s a shame that it slid in under most audience radars. Now unable to rely on fantastical and futuristic neon visuals to tell his story, Kosinski’s direction is refreshingly low-key; it’s clear he’s more intent on telling the story of the men of Granite Mountain rather than concocting a visual firestorm (although he does do that with the actual fire sequences, which are hugely impressive and feature uncomfortably realistic CGI).

The ensemble of actors do fantastic work. James Brolin has spent the last decade playing characters of questionable morality, so the decent everyman he plays here is a nice change of pace. His Eric Marsh is the kind of gruff but paternal figure we’ve seen in these kinds of films, and Brolin uses his gruff image to aid his against-type performance. Jennifer Connelly as his wife plays much more than just “the wife” here — she’s absolutely fierce in several scenes, showing off anger and anguish but even a little humor in spots. And Kosinski even manages to wrench an actual performance from Taylor Kitsch, another member of the Granite Mountain hotshots. Can you believe it?

Going in blind to Only the Brave will likely offer it a more emotional experience, so I’d encourage any interested viewers to see it without delving further into other reviews or Googling the true story. It’s a well made and very well acted ensemble piece that handily proves to be the best film of Kosinski’s still young career. Finally, I’m eager to see what the director does next.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Feature Audio Commentary with Director Joseph Kosinski and Josh Brolin
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurettes:
    • “Honoring the Heroes: The True Stories”
    • “Behind the Brotherhood: The Characters”
    • “Boot Camp: Becoming a Hotshot”          
  • Dierks Bentley featuring S. Carey’s “Hold The Light” Music Video & Featurette


Also Available This Week:

Distributor: Arrow Video

After dabbling in the unlikely world of children’s entertainment with the likes of Jimmy, the Boy Wonder and The Magic Land of Mother Goose, in 1967 “Godfather of Gore” Herschell Gordon Lewis returned to genre he helped create with the delightfully depraved The Gruesome Twosome!

The young women of a small-town American college have more than just split-ends to worry about… Down at the Little Wig Shop, the batty Mrs. Pringle and her socially-inept son Rodney are procuring only the finest heads of hair – by scalping the local co-eds! Can they be stopped before they clear the entire campus of luxuriant-haired ladies?

Also including HG Lewis’ Dracula-inspired vampire epic A Taste of Blood as a bonus feature, this is one Gruesome Twosome that’s well worth flipping your wig over!

Special Features:

  • Bonus Feature! 1967’s A Taste of Blood
  • Introductions to the films by HG Lewis
  • Archive audio commentaries for both films by HG Lewis
  • Peaches Christ Flips Her Wig! – San Francisco performer Peaches Christ on The Gruesome Twosome
  • It Came from Florida – filmmaker Fred Olen Ray (Scalps, The Alien Dead) on Florida Filmmaking
  • HG Lewis vs. the Censors – HG Lewis discusses some of the pitfalls of the blood-and-guts business including local censorship and angry moviegoers
  • Trailers and radio spot
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

Distributor: Arrow Video

In 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot, the acclaimed director of thriller masterpieces Les Diaboliques and Wages of Fear, began work on his most ambitious film yet. Set in a beautiful lake side resort in the Auvergne region of France, L’Enfer (Inferno) was to be a sun scorched elucidation on the dark depths of jealousy starring Romy Schneider as the harassed wife of a controlling hotel manager (Serge Reggiani). However, despite huge expectations, major studio backing and an unlimited budget, after three weeks the production collapsed under the weight of arguments, technical complications and illness. In this compelling, award-winning documentary Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea present Inferno’s incredible expressionistic original rushes, screen tests, and on-location footage, whilst also reconstructing Clouzot’s original vision, and shedding light on the ill-fated endeavour through interviews, dramatizations of unfilmed scenes, and Clouzot’s own notes.

Special Features

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of Inferno
  • They Saw Inferno, a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of Inferno
  • Filmed Introduction by Serge Bromberg
  • Interview with Serge Bromberg
  • Stills gallery
  • Original trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau

Distributor: Shout! Factory

Napping Princess is an action-packed sci-fi fantasy that shows that following your dreams is sometimes the best way to discover your past.

The year is 2020, three days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. While she should be studying for her exams, Kokone Morikawa often dozes off, entering a dream-world called Heartland full of fantastic motorized contraptions. But when her father, a talented but mysterious mechanic, is kidnapped for stealing technology from a powerful corporation, it’s up to Kokone and her childhood friend Morio to save him. Together they realize that Kokone’s dream-world holds the answers to the mystery behind the stolen tech, uncovering a trail of clues to her father’s disappearance and ultimately a surprising revelation about Kokone’s family.

Special Features

  • Interview With Kenji Kamiyama
  • Introduction At Japanese Premiere
  • Greeting At Japanese Release
  • Okayama Scenery
  • Special Interview With Cast
  • Special TV Program
  • Trailers And TV Spots

Distributor: Shout! Factory

In this brilliant and often overlooked Studio Ghibli masterpiece from Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Isao Takahata, the forests are filled with groups of magical tanuki, mischievous raccoon-like animals from Japanese folklore that are capable of shape-shifting from their standard raccoon form to practically any object.

The tanuki spend their days playing idly in the hillsides and squabbling over food – until the construction of a huge new Tokyo suburb clears the nearby forest and threatens their way of life. In an effort to defend their home, the tanuki learn to transform into humans and start playing tricks to make the workers think the construction site is haunted, ending in a spectacular night-time spirit parade, with thousands of ghosts, dragons and other magical creatures descending on the city — in an abundance of fantastical characters that would not be matched on screen by Studio Ghibli until Spirited Away.

Special Features: None


Distributor: Unearthed Films via MVD Video

Red Krokodil is the story of a man (Brock Madon) addicted to mind numbing drug, Krokodil. He suddenly finds himself alone in a post-nuclear city similar to Chernobyl. His physical decay, caused by the massive intake of drugs, is mirrored in his inner world, as reality mixes with hallucinations. The breakup of the body that this drug causes, is severe in its graphic and yet, slow destruction while he is slowly falling into madness as his addictions to the drug, runs out of control. This movie deals with many themes, from the environment to the use of drugs, but the story is just an excuse that director Domiziano Cristopharo uses to focus on a psychological condition that brings a total detachment from oneself and from the surrounding world. A dark trip that shows no way out.

Special Features:

  • Alternate Music Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Nuclear Test CGI
  • Trailers

Distributor: WellGo USA

In the near future, scientist Xia Tian (Yang Mi) is on the verge of a major discovery: time travel.  After she successfully sends living tissue back in time by 110 minutes, her years of work seem to have paid off, but everything unravels when her young son is kidnapped and held for a hefty ransom – all of her research. When the drop goes sour and her son is killed, Xia Tian desperately sends herself back in time using her prototype, where she discovers multiple versions of her future self. Now, all of the Xia Tians must band together to save their son in this action-packed sci-fi thriller from producer Jackie Chan.

Special Features: None


Distributor: Shout! Factory

Tales from Earthsea, based on the classic Earthsea fantasy book series by Ursula Le Guin, is set in a mythical world filled with magic and bewitchment.

Journey with Lord Archmage Sparrowhawk, a master wizard and Arren, a troubled young prince on a tale of redemption and self discovery as they search for the force behind a mysterious imbalance in the land of Earthsea; crops are dwindling, dragons have reappeared, and humanity is giving way to chaos.

Special Features: None


Distributor: Arrow Video

To celebrate the centenary of Italy, the Italian government commissioned Rossellini to make a biopic of Giuseppe Garibaldi, one that would follow his exploits with ‘the Thousand’ and their role in the country’s unification. Rossellini approached the film as he had Francesco, giullare di Dio, presenting the main character in neo-realist mode, as though making a documentary.

Restored by Arrow Films from the original negative, this disc marks the first UK home video release of Viva l’Italia in any format, allowing English-speaking audience to discover another Rossellini classic.

Special Features:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original Italian mono soundtracks with optional English subtitles
  • Garibaldi, an alternate shorter cut of the film originally prepared for the US market
  • Brand-new interview with Roberto Rossellini’s assistant on the film, Ruggero Deodato, recorded exclusively for this release
  • “I Am Garibaldi”, a brand-new visual essay by Tag Gallagher, author of The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini: His Life and Films
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by filmmaker and critic Michael Pattison

Distributor: Arrow Video

In the mid-sixties, famed producer Dino De Laurentiis brought together the talents of five celebrated Italian directors for an anthology film. Their brief was simple: to direct an episode in which Silvana Mangano (Bitter Rice, Ludwig) plays a witch.

Luchino Visconti (Ossessione, Death in Venice) and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (Bicycle Thieves) open the film with The Witch Burned Alive, about a famous actress and a drunken evening that leads to unpleasant revelations.

Civic Sense is a lightly comic interlude from Mauro Bolognini (The Lady of the Camelias) with a dark conclusion, and The Earth as Seen from the Moon sees Italian comedy legend Totò team up with Pier Paolo Pasolini (Theorem) for the first time for a tale of matrimony and a red-headed father and son.

Franco Rosso (The Woman in the Painting) concocts a story of revenge in The Sicilian’s Wife, while Vittorio De Sica (Shoeshine) casts Clint Eastwood as Mangano’s estranged husband in An Evening Like the Others, concluding The Witches with a stunning homage to Italian comic books.

Special Features:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original Italian mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
  • Brand-new audio commentary by film critic and novelist Tim Lucas
  • Interview with actor Ninetto Davoli, recorded exclusively for this release
  • English-language version of Vittorio De Sica’s episode, An Evening Like the Others, starring Clint Eastwood
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone and Kat Ellinger

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Written by

J. Tonzelli is a writer, film critiquer, and avid Arnold/Van Damme/Bronson enthusiast who resides in rural South Jersey. He is the author of "The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween" and the "Fright Friends Adventure" series, co-authored with Chris Evangelista. He loves abandoned buildings, the supernatural, and films by John Carpenter. You can read some of his short fiction at his website, JTonzelli.com, or objectify him by staring at his tweets: @jtonzelli. He apologizes for all the profanity.