Is your at-home streaming slowing down now that everyone else in your neighborhood is also at home, streaming? May we suggest good old, reliable physical media?
We need to stop acting surprised when Adam Sandler gives a powerful performance, as he does in the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems” (Lionsgate); great work pops up throughout his career, from “Punch-Drunk Love” to “The Meyerowitz Stories.” Granted, whereas some movie stars take a “one for them, one for me” approach to balancing popcorn fare with arthouse titles, Sandler is more “ten for them, one for me”; if a great Sandler performance needn’t elicit shock anymore, it should bring up a touch of sadness for the career that might have been. (I remain convinced that he’s punishing moviegoers for not supporting “Funny People” by doubling down on inane, lowest-common-denominator movies — you know, the kind that were part of the joke behind his character in “Funny People.”)
If you haven’t seen “Good Time” or other earlier Safdie movies, you might not be prepared for their brand of anxious, cinematic-panic-attack filmmaking. “Uncut Gems” will make you uneasy, but if you give yourself over to it, you’ll probably find it hard to look away.
Also available: Billy Crystal straddles comedy and drama as an alcoholic doctor bonding with a struggling comic (Ben Schwartz) in “Standing Up, Falling Down” (Shout Studios); the Spirit Award-winning “Give Me Liberty” (Music Box Films) takes viewers on a riotous road trip; when a secret agent retires for love, he winds up needing a “Spy Intervention” (Cinedigm) to save both his marriage and the world in this espionage comedy.
“Union” (Indican) examines an under-explored corner of American history — the 400 women who dressed as men to fight in the Civil War; speaking of history, the LGBT road trip “Kill the Monsters” (Breaking Glass Pictures) turns each stop along the way into an allegory for the nation’s past.
Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante has become an important fixture on the international scene with just three features under his belt, and his sophomore effect “Temblores” (“Tremors”) (Film Movement) is an intense examination of class and sexuality. A middle-aged businessman has everything taken away from him — his position of power, his children — when he is outed as gay, leading him to submit to cruel and barbaric church-based “therapy.” A hit at both gay and straight festivals around the world, this movie heralds the arrival of an essential new voice in world cinema.
Also available: Wong Kar-Wai “presents” Venice award-winner “Jinpa” (Icarus Films), about a truck driver and hitchhiker whose fates become inexorably linked; “The Song of Names” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) follows the lives of childhood best friends over the course of the 20th century, from being brought together by WWII to being torn apart as adults; Cannes creeper “Little Joe” (Magnolia Pictures) is a horticultural horror tale that might make you afraid to share a room with your houseplants.
Sort of the Chinese “Sully,” “The Captain” (Well Go USA Entertainment) relates a true story of courage and heroism aboard a seemingly doomed airplane; director François Ozon casts an unsparing eye on the Catholic Church’s history of child sex abuse in the searing “By the Grace of God” (Music Box Films).
There have been more than a handful of documentaries (and narrative biopics) about legendary fashion designer and bon vivant Yves Saint-Laurent, but “Celebration” (KimStim) is the only one that can claim to have been banned upon its original release. The film had one festival screening in 2007 before YSL’s longtime partner Pierre Bergé had it yanked for being too revealing – now audiences can finally see this intimate portrait of a fascinating artist, which includes interviews with many of the designer’s closest associates, including Loulou de la Falaise and Betty Catroux.
Also available: A brave female photojournalist takes on organized crime by “Shooting the Mafia” (Cohen Media Group); “Cunningham” (Magnolia Pictures) celebrates the life and work of legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham; the theft of one of your most valuable commodities is explored in “Time Thieves” (Icarus Films), a look at yet another way that corporations are exploiting us; relive the work of the famous goth-art-punk combo on both CD and DVD with “Christian Death: Death Club 1981-1993” (MVD Audio).
Sundance entry “Stuffed” (Music Box Films) examines modern-day taxidermists who are pushing the boundaries of this ancient art; INXS’s charismatic, tragic lead singer is the subject of the acclaimed “Mystify: Michael Hutchence” (Shout Factory); “While You Live, Shine” (IndiePix Films) follows a musicologist on his search for some of civilization’s oldest forms of folk music.
“Puckish” isn’t a word that comes up often when discussing 1980s slasher movies, but “April Fool’s Day” (Scream Factory) has a devilish sense of humor that allows it to occupy the space between Agatha Christie and Jason Voorhees. A group of college student head to an island estate for a boisterous weekend, only to discover that their hostess (cult icon Deborah Foreman of “Valley Girl”) has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. This Collector’s Edition features new interviews with Foreman, director Fred Walton and many more.
Also available: Rich slacker Elijah Wood’s reunion with his estranged father doesn’t go exactly as planned in the creepy and darkly funny “Come to Daddy” (Lionsgate); in “The Furies” (Shudder/RLJE), a group of women being stalked in a deadly game must join forces or suffer separately; the truth about a young woman’s background surfaces in a terrifying way in “The Witch: Subversion” (Well Go USA Entertainment).
Glenn Danzig attempts to pull a Rob Zombie as writer-director of the anthology “Verotika” (MVD Visual), based on Danzig’s horror comics; cab driver “Luz” (Altered Innocence) is pursued by a demonic entity in a directorial debut that pays homage to Cronenberg and to the giallo masters; Neal McDonough and Casper Van Diem star in old-school Western “The Warrant” (Mill Creek Entertainment); “Bruce-sploitation” saga “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death” (The Film Detective) celebrates its 40th anniversary with its Blu-ray debut.
Telly Savalas, Robert Vaughn, Burgess Meredith and co-director Tom Stern star in the Vietnam-era grindhouse epic “Clay Pigeon” (MVD Visual); the new U.S. remake of “The Grudge” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) boasts an impressive cast, including Betty Gilpin, Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, Lin Shaye, John Cho, Jacki Weaver and Frankie Faison; before he became Martha Stewart’s bestie, Snoop Dogg starred in “Bones” (Scream Factory) as a furious ghost out for revenge.
Spike Lee has never been a filmmaker known for keeping his ideas, his opinions or his politics close to his vest. But even by his standards, there’s a rawness and a passionate fury behind “Bamboozled” (The Criterion Collection) that makes it feel like one of his most unfiltered films. Using the sorry history of blackface and minstrelsy as a metaphor for subtler modern-day racism, Lee goes after his targets with intensity and precision. Damon Wayans gives career-best work here (and you’ll wish stage sensation Savion Glover would make more movies after seeing what he does in the film).
Also available: Robert Altman took the career chits he got from “The Player” and “Short Cuts” and made the dreamy, music-packed memory piece “Kansas City” (Arrow Academy), a gangster drama set in his hometown; Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper team up with director Ernst Lubitsch and screenwriters Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder for the screwball classic “Bluebeard’s 8th Wife” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics); get two beloved Alexander Mackendrick comedies for the price of one with the “Whiskey Galore!” / “The Maggie” (Film Movement) double-feature disc; best known for his legendary “Frankenstein” movies, the eclectic James Whale also had a sure hand for movie musicals, as evidenced by the original 1936 screen outing of “Show Boat” (The Criterion Collection).
Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy and Hope Davis navigate overlapping storylines in John August’s trippy “The Nines” (Mill Creek Entertainment); “Munster, Go Home!” (Scream Factory) sees the monstrous suburbanites travel from Mockingbird Lane to England (and the big screen, and Technicolor) to collect an inheritance; underrated American master George Roy Hill directs a very young (and very charming) Diane Lane in the adorable adolescent love story “A Little Romance” (Warner Archive Collection), co-starring Laurence Olivier and Sally Kellerman; Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift are star-crossed lovers in “Indiscretion of an American Wife” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) — this new Blu-ray features a 4K restoration of the film as well as a 2K restoration of director Vittorio DeSica’s longer cut, known as “Terminal Station.”
Try and stop your eyeballs from popping out of your head and you jaw slamming to the floor as you watch the classic Looney Tunes shorts featured in “Tex Avery: Screwball Classics, Vol. 1” (Warner Archive Collection); the sequel got pushed back, so you’ve got more time to catch up with the handsome 4K steelbook edition of “A Quiet Place” as well as the digibook featuring both the 1923 and 1956 versions of Easter fave “The Ten Commandments” (both Paramount Home Entertainment); the work of an undersung American indie maverick is collected in “Lightning Over Braddock”: The Films of Tony Buba (Kino Lorber).
As 21st century Hollywood presents increased opportunities for women directors (at all, as they say, deliberate speed), the “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers” collections from Kino Classics pay tribute to the female artists who were there at the dawn of cinema: “Alice Guy-Blaché, Volume 1: The Gaumont Years” and “Alice Guy-Blaché, Volume 2: The Solax Years” include a significant portion of one of silent cinema’s most essential directors, while “The Intrigue”: The Forgotten Films of Writer & Director Julia Crawford Ivers casts new light on a filmmaker whose output is known to few these days outside of academia; and speaking of legendary women directors, The Criterion Collection’s new “The Prince of Tides” Blu-ray gives the full 4K treatment to Barbra Streisand’s second film behind the camera, and the disc features an updated director’s commentary and several archival interviews with Streisand; just how much of a Bob Dylan fan you are may well dictate whether or not you’re into 2003’s “Masked and Anonymous” (Shout Factory).
It’s basically a long commercial for the Nintendo Power Glove, but millennials nonetheless seem to have a lot of affection for “The Wizard” (Shout Factory), now presented in a special Collector’s Edition; Philip Ridley’s cult fave “The Passion of Darkly Noon” (MVD Visual) makes its Blu debut in a 2K restoration; if dog videos are giving you comfort these days, pop in the Benji: 4-Movie Collection (Mill Creek Entertainment (featuring the original “Benji,” “For the Love of Benji,” “Benji: Off the Leash” and “Benji’s Very Own Christmas Story”; before “The Favourite” and “The Lobster” and even “Dogtooth,” Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos made his feature debut with “Kinetta” (Kino Lorber).
A sexy and smart drama for adults, “The Affair”: The Complete Series (CBS/Showtime/Paramount) makes for a great binge, since — like the trashy-but-upscale beach reads it so often resembles — finishing one chapter makes you want to head right into the next one. And particularly right now, if you’re missing the outdoors, you’ll enjoy watching this cast (Ruth Wilson, Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson) suffer, maneuver, and sex it up on the shore or in Manhattan.
Also available: there’s plenty of laughs in the Mancunian cop comedy “No Offence”: Complete Collection (Acorn TV); the documentary “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” (HBO) explores one of sports’ most controversial and complicated legends; the small screen took a crack at “Frankenstein: The True Story” (Scream Factory) with an all-star cast and a screenplay written by Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy.
The “f— Batman” spirit lives on in “Titans”: The Complete Second Season (DC/Warner Bros.); “Game of Thrones” star Kristofer Hivju plays two different, albeit identical-looking, brothers in “Twin” (MHz Entertainment); “CMA Awards Live”: Greatest Moments 2008-2015 (Time Life) packs in packs in more than two hours of performances from the likes of Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton and many more.
If you’ve got a taste for a certain kind of 1970s TV-movie cheese, you can build a whole charcuterie plate around “Superdome” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics), a star-packed thriller about an assassin loose at the Super Bowl; there’s still not a couch that Pete Holmes won’t surf in “Crashing”: The Complete Third Season (HBO); and if you need a cozy mystery right now – heck, who doesn’t? – you can always rely on “Midsomer Murders,” Series 21 (Acorn TV).