Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for February 2nd, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes some powerful dramas, some oddball tales, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Let Him Go
What is it? A couple go searching for their grandson.
Why see it? Ma and Pa Kent jokes aside, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are both terrific actors who do good work opposite each other. This period thriller sees both fit in well with the time and these characters, a couple who’ve lost their son to tragedy and don’t want to see their infant grandson be lost in the shuffle when their daughter-in-law’s family comes calling. It’s an adult thriller lacking in whiz bang set-pieces, but when the action comes it does so with dark intensity.
Dark Intruder [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A mysterious series of murders leaves police baffled!
Why see it? At just under an hour this isn’t even really a feature film, but it delivers some thrills along with a strong cast to make for a good time all the same. Leslie Nielsen takes the lead in a dramatic turn as an occult expert drawn into investigating the killings, and he’s quite good with the role. There are some humorous elements and Nielsen exudes personality, but they never distract from the film’s genre beats which manage some chills and engaging imagery.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview]
The Kiss Before the Mirror [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man suspects his wife of cheating and plans to deal with it.
Why see it? Pre-code films are often far more daring than viewers might expect for 20s/30s fare, and this dark thriller about infidelity and murder finds some real thrills along the way. There’s a mystery to it, but the focus is on a man’s suspicions and reactions — what can he get away with if what he fears is true? — and the character beats all ring true. It’s a compelling watch.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
A Man Called Adam [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A jazz musician stumbles.
Why see it? Sammy Davis Jr.’s acting career is often seen as a collection of mostly comedic gigs, but his earlier work includes some searing dramas including this star turn about a man in freefall. He plays a musician riding a wave of success, but past traumas and painful memories refuse to let him enjoy the fame leading to tragedy. Ossie Davis, Cicely Tyson, Louis Armstrong, and more share the screen, but while all do good work it’s Davis Jr. who shines a more revealing light upon himself.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary]
Anna Lucasta [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A woman finds a hard road to success.
Why see it? The second of two Sammy Davis Jr. films hitting shelves this week from Kino Lorber, Anna Lucasta casts him as one more hurdle facing young Eartha Kitt’s lead character. She’s a woman whose home life led to prostitution, but with a possible happy ending right around the corner her past won’t have the decency to let her go. It’s a solid drama built on strong performances.
[Extras: New 2K master]
What is it? Another Bruce Willis special.
Why see it? Whether due to a love of the game or a serious debt issue, Bruce Willis’ transition from movie star to direct to DVD stalwart continues. He has five films in post-production right now — all of them destined for VOD — but this one marks an uncommon foray into science fiction as he plays a blue collar worker on a spaceship meant to save humanity. Too bad an alien is on board too! Thomas Jane co-stars, but this is really for fans only as neither the action nor the sci-fi/horror beats are all that cool.
The Norseman [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? Vikings invade what would become America.
Why see it? The director of The Town That Dreaded Sundown goes further back into history for this slight adventure that sees vikings arrive on unfamiliar continental shores only to face off against some wily locals. There’s a basis in fact here, but between Lee Majors as the lead viking and the only good Native American being an attractive young woman who leaves with them in the end, I’m not convinced of its historical value. It’s mild fun, but nothing here — from the action to the performances to the cinematography — impresses.
What is it? The story of Nikola Tesla, kind of.
Why see it? Ethan Hawke rarely takes on traditional roles, and his turn here as the legendary inventor is another example of his interests in more creative, striking fare. The film tells Tesla’s story, albeit through a slightly askew lens, and ensures the struggles and betrayals are all present and accounted for. It’s occasionally absurd due to its narrative style, but the truths are still plenty fascinating and frustrating.
Wild Mountain Thyme
What is it? A bunch of hooey.
Why see it? Do you need to see this nonsense romance? No, but if the cast appeals — Emily Blunt, Jamie Doran, Jon Hamm, Christopher Walken — then you’ll probably give it a spin anyway. Or you can just read my ending explained article on the stupidly bonkers finale that had people talking for a few minutes last year. The film just doesn’t work as a romance or a comedy, and those are pretty important elements in a rom-com.
Also out this week:
Do the Right Thing [4K UaHD], The Great Alligator [Code Red], Host, Nationtime, Survival Skills