“Parasite” is an often-brutal examination of wealth inequality, and yet its Best Picture win still counts as one of the few universally uplifting moments that 2020 had to offer. This Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection arrives fully-loaded with extras, including director Bong Joon Ho’s black-and-white rendering of the film — anything but an afterthought, it’s a version that he and cinematographer Kyung-pyo Hong had in mind all along — commentaries, interviews, and a new essay from onetime TheWrap film critic Inkoo Kang.
Also available: Cameroonian college students get pulled into the dark web to pull a “Scam République” (IndiePix); anime saga “Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna” (Shout/Toei) celebrates the franchise’s 20th anniversary; “Three Comrades” (IndiePix) go out to unwind on a Friday night and wind up on an unexpected spree.
Chilean stop-motion feature “The Wolf House” (KimStim) uses unsettling visuals to spin a fable about the Pinochet era; “honor killings” are the focus of the disturbing drama “A Regular Woman” (Corinth Films); “The Audition” (Strand Releasing) stars Nina Hoss (“Phoenix”) as a driven violin instructor who will stop at nothing to get a prize pupil through his exams; a coup d’état drives a despot into hiding in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “The President” (Corinth Films).
The RZA directs “Cut Throat City” (Well Go USA Entertainment), an engaging tale of four friends trying to survive post-Katrina New Orleans, with criminals at various social and political levels making their lives more difficult. It’s a sprawling tale that sometimes exceeds the director’s grasp, but there’s a lot to latch onto here, from the terrific performances (the cast includes Shameik Moore, T.I., Demetrius Shipp Jr., Terrence Howard, Denzel Whitaker, and Ethan Hawke) to the ambiance of the Crescent City regaining its footing in the wake of disaster.
Also available: One memorable evening leads a young man to take an honest look at his own sexual identity in the David Lynch-inspired “Rapture in Blue” (Altered Innocence); a dazzling comedy line-up — including Malin Akerman, Kat Dennings, Wanda Sykes, Christine Tyler, Margaret Cho, Chelsea Peretti, Aisha Tyler, Fortune Feimster, Rose Abdoo, Ryan Hansen, and Rhea Butcher — gathers to carve the turkey in “Friendsgiving” (Lionsgate).
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Gowns, beautiful gowns, in “House of Cardin” (Altered Innocence), but so much more, as this fascinating documentary about couture king Pierre Cardin explores sexuality, commerce, aesthetics, and the massive shifts in 20th-century culture. Directors P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes speak to a range of admirers, from Alice Cooper to Sharon Stone to Jean-Paul Gautier, but the real star here is the ninety-something Cardin himself, looking back at an illustrious career with wit and honesty. This film is a feast for the eyes, yes, but it’s also savvy and substantial.
Also available: Cryptocurrency comes to the ancient countryside of Georgia in “The Harvest” (IndiePix); “Botero” (Corinth Films) gets up close and personal with famed visual artist Fernando Botero; “Paulistas” (IndiePix) captures an agrarian way of life in central Brazil that is on the verge of extinction.
Joe Keery of “Stranger Things” goes from chasing monsters to being the monster in “Spree” (RLJE Films), about a twisted ride-share driver so determined to go viral that he livestreams a violent rampage. Along for the ride in this Sundance hit are Sasheer Zamata and Kyle Mooney of “Saturday ,” along with David Arquette and Mischa Barton, and the DVD extras include a commentary track and the social-media videos featuring Keery’s lead character.
Also available: Speaking of serial killers, the British cult thriller “Cold Light of Day” (Arrow) in a new 2K restoration; vintage sex epics “Test Tube Babies” and “Guilty Parents” are the latest entry in Kino and Something Weird’s Forbidden Fruit series of vintage exploitation films; American tourists have a cursed run-in with a Chiapas-based witch in “The Blue Eyes” (IndiePix Films).
In “The Deeper You Dig” (Arrow), a young murder victim refuses to let her assailant off the hook; mix together a young girl, a creepy estate, a family secret and a killer for hire who’s talented in the kitchen, and set to “Broil” (Well Go USA Entertainment); Maisie Williams leads a group of young thieves who discover that “The Owners” (RLJE Films) of the house they’ve decided to rob aren’t giving up without a fight.
Scientists and soldiers try to steal the North Korean missiles that are mankind’s last hope against a killer volcano in “Ashfall” (MPI/Capelight); “Invincible Dragon” (Well Go USA Entertainment) stars Max Zhang as a disgraced cop who returns to the world of MMA fighting for redemption — and to solve a murder; the first Japanese science fiction film to be shot in color, 1956 cult classic “Warning From Space” (Arrow) makes its official English-language debut on home video (Japanese audio and English subtitles are also provided); Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise, William Shatner, and Bill Moseley provide voices for the bloody time-travel horror cartoon “To Your Last Death” (Quiver).
“Ghost town” gets a whole new meaning in the horror Western “The Pale Door” (RLJE/Shudder), starring Devin Druid, Zachary Knighton, Pat Healy, Bill Sage, and Melora Walters; between the classic Robert Wise film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel and the acclaimed Netflix miniseries “The Haunting of Hill House” came Jan de Bont’s effects-heavy “The Haunting” (Paramount Presents), newly remastered in 4K; Bert I. Gordon’s wonderfully pulpy “Picture Mommy Dead” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) pits a recently deinstitutionalized young woman against her widowed father’s gold-digging new wife; in the mood for a horror movie about a pandemic? Tyler Posey and Summer Spiro find themselves “Alone” (Lionsgate) — or are they? — during a zombie apocalypse.
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Kevin Smith’s sophomore feature came to DVD fully loaded with bells and whistles, but the new Blu-ray of “Mallrats” (Arrow) ups the ante with new tributes and interviews, a new animated documentary, restorations of the theatrical and extended cuts, and even a second disc featuring the TV version, which was ludicrously overdubbed to sanitize the film’s profanity-laden dialogue. Fans of this exceedingly ’90s comedy will want to bag and board this 25th-anniversary edition.
Also available: “Rambo: The Complete Steelbook Collection” (Lionsgate) doesn’t just encase each movie (now in 4K) in a steel case, it puts all those steel cases into another metal box, for extra manliness; one of Hollywood’s first attempts to honestly depict Black lives, the delightful romance “Claudine” (The Criterion Collection) features Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones in a memorable pairing; the new Blu-ray “Drifting” / “White Tiger” (Kino Classics) offers restorations of two early films by the great Tod Browning (“Dracula,” “Freaks”), the former featuring an early screen appearance by Anna May Wong; Peter Sellers directs himself for the only time in his career in the recently restored and rescued comedy “Mr. Topaze” (Film Movement Classics), co-starring Sellers’ “Pink Panther” foil Herbert Lom.
Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo are lovers in the lam in “Pierrot le Fou” (The Criterion Collection), a film that represents the apex of Jean-Luc Godard’s early-career obsessions; Deborah Kerr and Hayley Mills are unforgettable in “The Chalk Garden” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) as a governess and her spoiled-teen charge; look, I can’t really defend “The Opposite Sex” (Warner Archive Collection) — a 1950s MGM movie that adds men, music, and MetroColor to “The Women,” and subs in Joan Collins for Joan Crawford — but it’s the version of “The Women” that I saw first, and it’s got Joan Blondell and Dolores Gray in it, so I kind of love it anyway; “The Last Starfighter” (Arrow) is a classic of first-wave gamer culture, with Lance Guest as an arcade wiz who learns the game he’s playing is a recruiting tool from an alien race that only he can save.
The very silly “Amazon Women on the Moon” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) serves up hilariously scattershot sketches, featuring everyone from Michelle Pfeiffer and Carrie Fisher to Arsenio Hall and David Alan Grier; “Back to the Future”: The Ultimate Trilogy (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) pays tribute to a franchise that’s both beloved and influential; no one else rocks the big eyeglasses with the panache of super-spy Michael Caine in “The Ipcress File” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics); if you’re one of those kids who grew up on the original “The Lion King” but haven’t seen Jeremy Irons’ Oscar-winning turn in “Reversal of Fortune” (Warner Archive Collection), prepare to have your mind blown; cult favorite “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (Warner Archive Collection) makes its Blu-ray debut with every tiara intact.
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Someone wiser than I am has pointed out that the last circle on the Venn diagram that a deeply divided United States can still agree on reads, simply, “Dolly Parton.” So as we face a bitter Election Day, what better time to curl up with “Dolly: The Ultimate Collection” (TimeLife), a 19-disc box set celebrating the beloved icon? The collection offers 35 hours of her TV appearances, nearly 30 of which have been mostly unseen since their original broadcast, and it spans “The Porter Waggoner Show,” her own variety series of the ’70s and ’80s, talk-show appearances, song histories, and even a disc that’s just Christmas specials. As with the recent Cher box from TimeLife, even this much material is just scratching the surface of a storied career, but it’s a great place to start.
Also available: Philip Roth’s novel was written decades ago, but HBO’s “The Plot Against America” (HBO/WB) packs the punch of a particularly Trumpian brand of national dystopia; a paradigm-shattering prime-time animated series that’s both historic and pre-historic, “The Flintstones: The Complete Series” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) features all six seasons of the classic series, plus two feature-length animated outings; the made-for-TV horror cult classic “Killdozer” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) gets its first Blu-ray release; the Cartwrights are still back at the ranch in the two-volume “Bonanza”: The Eleventh Season (CBS/Paramount).
The antipodean “Big Little Lies,” Australian drama “Bad Mothers” (Sundance Now) follows a betrayed wife’s attempt to clear her husband, accused of killing her best friend (and his mistress); Elle Fanning uses all her wiles to stay alive and, eventually, run Russia as Catherine in “The Great”: Season One (Paramount Home Entertainment); cult anime series “B: The Beginning” – Season One (Shout Factory) comes to Blu-ray in the U.S., in both a standard edition and a limited release that includes a book, soundtrack CD, and more.
“Grant”: The Complete Miniseries (Lionsgate) explores the life of the legendary general-turned-president; Emmy nominee “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) closes the loop on the saga of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul); it’s eight years later, but Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) still has evil plans afoot in “NOS4A2”: Season 2 (RLJE Films); James Brown, Gladys Knight, Barry White, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin and more bring down the house on “The Soul of the Midnight Special” (TimeLife), a five-DVD collection.
A pair of twins are out for vigilante justice in “Double Cross”: Season One (UMC); in “Balthazar,” Series 2 (Acorn TV), the French pathologist continues to be haunted by his wife’s unsolved murder; Sir Patrick Stewart is back, baby, in “Picard”: Season One (CBS/Paramount), a series that has gotten raves from “Star Trek” fans; “Babylon Berlin”: Seasons 1 & 2 (Kino Lorber) takes us into the underworld of the glamorous city in 1929.
“Eli Roth’s History of Horror”: Season 1 (RLJE Films) talks to the people who made it happen, from Tippi Hedren and Linda Blair to Stephen King and Rob Zombie; if you like it when real-life celebs mix it up with the Mystery Machine crew, “Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) throws Elvira and Bill Nye, the Science Guy, into the mix; U.S. television had the “21” cheating scandal in the 1950s, and the U.K. had one with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in the 21st century, a tale that’s recalled in Stephen Frears’ miniseries “Quiz” (RLJE Films), starring Michael Sheen; one of TV’s favorite animated heroes gets to go feature-length in “Ben 10 vs. The Universe: The Movie” (Cartoon Network/WB).