Home Entertainment Guide: October 2021

Note: There will be a special horror-themed edition of the guide next week that focuses on the many recent genre Blu-ray releases, including “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions,” “Old,” “The Forever Purge,” and 4K editions of “Halloween,” “Misery,” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

“As Good as It Gets”
“Desperado”
“Ghost”
“Gladiator”
“Leon”
“Raw”
“Spy Kids”
“Step Brothers”
“Titanic”
“Zodiac”

10 NEW TO HBO MAX

“12 Monkeys”
“Black Hawk Down”
“Contact”
“Emma.”
“The Invisible Man”
“Kill Bill”
“Orphan”
“The Outsiders”
“Troy”
“Up in the Air”

11 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

“Breakdown”

Jonathan Mostow’s 1997 thriller is the latest addition to the Paramount Presents line of Blu-rays, an increasingly fascinating catalog of unexpected special editions, complete with new special features and remastered video. I liked this movie when it was released, and it’s even better than I remembered, a great reminder of how perfectly everyman that Kurt Russell can be in the right material. This is basically a Hitchcock riff in that Russell plays the ordinary guy thrown into an extraordinary situation when his wife disappears on a road trip. He sells every intense moment in a film that’s refreshingly lean, keeping its foot on the pedal from beginning to end.

Buy it here 

Special Features
NEW 4K REMASTER APPROVED BY DIRECTOR JONATHAN MOSTOW
NEW Audio Commentary By Director Jonathan Mostow and Kurt Russell
NEW Filmmaker Focus: Director Jonathan Mostow on Breakdown
NEW Victory Is Hers – Kathleen Quinlan on Breakdown
NEW A Brilliant Partnership – Martha De Laurentiis on Breakdown
NEW Alternate Opening
NEW Alternate Opening With Commentary By Director Jonathan Mostow
NEW Isolated Score
Theatrical Trailers
Collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments
Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

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“Cruella”

Given how much I loathe most of the recent live-action versions of Disney classics, I was kind of dreading Craig Gillespie’s “Cruella.” It may be a matter of low expectations, but this movie worked for me, even if it’s best asset is its remarkable design. The costume work here by Jenny Beavan is stunning, keeping the film popping visually over its admittedly too long runtime. (She’s been Oscar nominated ten times already and should expect an 11th here.) The art direction and costume design provide a gorgeous stage and Emma Thompson and Emma Stone come to life in this meticulously crafted world, one that looks particularly fantastic in its 4K edition. Yes, it’s on Disney+, but the physical edition includes featurettes, interviews, and deleted scenes that you can’t get with streaming alone. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
Deleted Scenes
Bloopers
Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
Cast Interviews
Fun Facts
AND MORE…

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“F9: The Fast Saga”

How can we make this saga even MORE about family? Justin Lin returns to one of the biggest franchises in the world and he brings Dom Toretto’s brother along with him, played by John Cena. Swapping Dwayne Johnson for Cena isn’t exactly an even trade and there’s a sense that the “the same but bigger” model of this franchise is, sorry, running out of gas. However, this is still a fun blockbuster in its big set pieces, and we’ve been so bereft of action blockbusters in the last couple years that it may be all you need. And they actually go to space!

Buy it here 

Special Features
DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK
GAG REEL
F9: ALL IN: The Fast family invites you to be part of the crew as they give you an intimate look at how F9 propels this epic franchise to even greater heights. This bonus feature, with more than 46 minutes of content, includes returning characters, new cast members, huge stunts, big surprises, and so much more.
PRACTICALLY FAST: When it comes to stunts, it seems each film in The Fast Saga outdoes the last. In this piece, we examine how Justin Lin and his team go to great lengths to shoot as many stunts as they can in-camera and practically, giving the film an authenticity that cannot be achieved solely through visual effects or CGI.
SHIFTING PRIORITIES: We first met many of these characters when The Fast and the Furious was released in 2001. In the 20+ years since, not only have the characters themselves grown and evolved, but so have the actors that portray them. Art often imitates life, and we look at how that’s particularly true in F9.
JUSTICE FOR HAN: Han is back! Sung Kang and Justin Lin discuss the genesis for the return of this beloved character, while the cast reveals how much it means to them to have Kang back along for the ride.
A DAY ON SET WITH JUSTIN LIN: The job of a director on any movie production is huge. The job of a director on a production the scale of F9 is immeasurable. Spend a day with Justin Lin and see just how demanding it is to navigate a production day when you’re the one with all the answers.
JOHN CENA: SUPERCAR SUPERFAN: John Cena is a real-life car expert, and no franchise does cars like Fast. Watch John jump from exotic car to exotic car like a kid in a candy store, giving you a true fan’s look at some of the rarest and most expensive automobiles in the world.
FEATURE COMMENTARY (THEATRICAL AND DIRECTOR’S CUT) WITH PRODUCER/CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR JUSTIN LIN
Optional English, French Canadian and Latin American Spanish subtitles for the main feature

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“Free Guy”

Shawn Levy directed this surprisingly strong hit for Fox/Disney earlier this year, proof that Ryan Reynolds is one of the more reliable stars out there. He delivers in what is basically a blend between “The LEGO Movie” and “Ready Player One” about an NPC in a video game world who breaks from his pattern. Jodie Comer steals the movie as one of the creators of this world, which has been stolen from her by profit-crazed mogul (Taika Waititi). For most of the film’s target audience of pre-teens, the non-stop references and cameos from stars of the YouTube Era keep the film entertaining, although their parents might fight it all a bit overwhelming.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Guy and Buddy Hit the Beach
Hot Nuts Gets Blown
NPC Rally (Extended)
Gag Reel
Dude vs. Guy – Join Ryan Reynolds, director Shawn Levy and the creative and stunt teams as they reveal the innovative process of creating “Free Guy”‘s ultimate showdown between Guy and the wildly amped-up, spray-tanned, frosted-tipped version of himself known as Dude.
Creating Molotovgirl – Jodie Comer transforms from a brilliant programmer to her fierce avatar in “Free Guy.” Watch as the award-winning action star and filmmakers deconstruct the conceptualization, evolution and execution of bringing Molotovgirl to life.
It’s Taika’s World – “Free Guy”‘s outrageous action may exist in a virtual world, but Taika Waititi makes the real world just as crazy with the over-the-top Antwan. See him at work in this entertaining showcase of a genuinely talented and hilarious performer.
Welcome to Free City – Delve into the reality-skewing universe that is Free City, as revealed by director Shawn Levy, the cast, and its inventive creative teams. Find out how they transformed a real metropolis into a virtual playground where anything is possible.
Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

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“The Green Knight”

David Lowery’s long-delayed adaptation of the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was finally released in July to universal acclaim, including a four-star review by yours truly. While interested viewers had to wait forever from its initial release date to finally getting to see it, the wait from theaters to Blu-ray has been much smaller, as it’s already out physical and digital media. A gorgeous rumination on masculinity and courage, Lowery’s dreamlike vision casts Dev Patel as Gawain, a nephew to King Arthur, who sets out on a journey to face his destiny. Captivating in ways that modern American filmmakers are rarely allowed to be these days, this stands among the best films of the year. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
Boldest of Blood and Wildest of Heart: Making The Green Knight – Featurette
Practitioners of Magic: Visual Effects
Illuminating Technique: Title Design
Theatrical Trailer
Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles for the main feature

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“High Sierra” (Criterion)

Movies wouldn’t be the same without Raoul Walsh’s 1941 noir flick about an ex-con on a job gone wrong in the Sierra Nevada. Released early that year, it made Humphrey Bogart a viable star, and we all know what would happen next there. It also proved the skill set of writer John Huston, who would team up with his new star later that same year and make a little movie called “The Maltese Falcon.” All of the ingredients for their future fame and influence are here, including Bogey’s unique blend of irascible charm and Huston’s gift with plotting. There’s more fat on the bone than in their best works, but the Criterion release is a beauty for classic movies fans, and even includes Walsh’s 1949 Western remake of his own material, “Colorado Territory,” in its entirety.

Buy it here 

Special Features
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Colorado Territory, director Raoul Walsh’s 1949 western remake of High Sierra
New conversation on Walsh between film programmer Dave Kehr and critic Farran Smith Nehme
The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh, a 2019 documentary by Marilyn Ann Moss
Curtains for Roy Earle, a 2003 featurette on the making of High Sierra
Bogart: Here’s Looking at You, Kid, a 1997 documentary aired on The South Bank Show
New interview with film and media historian Miriam J. Petty about actor Willie Best
New video essay featuring excerpts from a 1976 American Film Institute interview with novelist and screenwriter W. R. Burnett
Radio adaptation of High Sierra from 1944
Trailers
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith

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“Inglourious Basterds” (4K)

The last Quentin Tarantino movie that people seem able to agree on has only recently been released on 4K Blu-ray, perhaps allowing for a reconsideration or just a chance for collectors to finally add to their shelf. The richness of Robert Richardson’s cinematography here has always felt like one of its most underrated aspects, and it looks better than ever on 4K. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s already been 12 years since the world was introduced to Hans Landa, and you really should revisit this modern classic if you haven’t done so in the last decade.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Extended & Alternate Scenes
Roundtable Discussion with Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and Elvis Mitchell
The New York Times Talk
Nation’s Pride – Original Short
The Making of Nation’s Pride
The Original Inglourious Basterds
A Conversation with Rod Taylor

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“Legend” (Arrow)

Who would have guessed that one of the best special edition releases of 2021 would be for Ridley Scott’s largely derided “Legend”? When it came out, heavily mangled from its director’s original intent, critics hated it. Gene Siskel went as far as to call it one of the worst films of the year. I always disagreed with that sentiment, considering Scott’s craft in creating his own fantasy universe to make for, at the very least, a noble misfire. However, the director’s cut here, which runs over 20 minutes longer, takes even that kind of assessment away and places this film closer to the top tier of Scott’s work. The differences between the three cuts in existence (detailed in a great special feature here) are fascinating, largely because they seem so misguided. Beyond that, the transfers here are GORGEOUS, some of the best of the year, adding detail and depth without over-polishing the film. It’s the kind of great Arrow box set that you can spend an entire day with.

Buy it here 

Special Features
DISC ONE: US THEATRICAL CUT
New 2K restoration of the US Theatrical Cut from original materials including a 4K scan of the original negative
New commentary by Paul M. Sammon author of Ridley Scott: The Making of His Movies
2002 Reconstructed isolated score by Tangerine Dream
Isolated music and effects track
A Fairytale in Pinewood, new featurette interviewing grip David Cadwalladr, costume designer Charles Knode, co-star Annabelle Lanyon, camera operator Peter MacDonald, set decorator Ann Mollo and draftsman John Ralph
Incarnations of a Legend, comparison featurette written and narrated by critic Travis Crawford
The Directors: Ridley Scott, 2003 documentary where the director discusses his career, including Legend
“Is Your Love Strong Enough?” music video by Bryan Ferry
DISC TWO: DIRECTOR’S CUT
Commentary by Ridley Scott
Creating A Myth: Memories of Legend, a 2002 documentary with interviews with Ridley Scott, William Hjortsberg, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, Rob Bottin and others
Original promotional featurette
Alternate ‘Four Goblins’ opening and ‘The Fairie Dance’ deleted scene
Storyboard galleries for three deleted scenes
Two drafts of William Hjortsberg’s screenplay
Alternate footage from the overseas release plus textless footage
Trailers and TV spots
Still galleries

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“Ratcatcher” (Criterion)

Lynne Ramsay should make more movies. The director hasn’t released a new one since the stunning “You Were Never Really Here,” and has only made four movies in her 20+ years of work. Her debut came in this 1999 drama that announced a major new talent, even winning Ramsay the Silver Hugo for Best Director at the Chicago International Film Festival. A bleak and yet truthful study of poverty in Glasgow, it’s a tough watch but a rewarding reminder of the strength of filmmakers as committed as Ramsay. She never compromises or apologizes as her cinematic visions feel completely her own and no one else’s. I just wish there were more of them. Note: This is one of those awesome Criterion releases that includes early short films by its auteur, three of them presented here.

Buy it here 

Special Features
On the Blu-ray: New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director Lynne Ramsay and cinematographer Alwin Küchler, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
On the DVD: Digital transfer, enhanced for 16×9 televisions
New interview with Ramsay from 2021 (Blu-ray only)
Audio interview from 2020 with Küchler (Blu-ray only)
Three award-winning short films by Ramsay: Small Deaths (1995), Kill the Day (1996), and Gasman (1997)
Interview with Ramsay from 2002
Stills gallery (DVD only)
Trailer (Blu-ray only)
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: Essays by film critic Girish Shambu and filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Blu-ray only)

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“Unbreakable” (4K)

The increasing market for 4K Blu-rays keeps leading to more and more catalog releases of films that have been available on physical media for years. In some cases, with companies like Arrow, this means new transfers or restorations. In most cases, it just means a technical upgrade, like going from cassette tape to CD. I was a little surprised that M. Night Shyamalan’s beloved third film hadn’t been on 4K until this recently as it feels to me like the film that has grown the most in esteem over the years. Sure, the releases of “Split” and “Glass” that now make this the first film in a franchise have added to that legacy, but the story of a man who can’t be hurt going up against one who is extremely fragile has had a passionate fan base for decades. It’s one of Shyamalan’s smartest films in terms of plotting and visual language. And it’s a great addition to the 4K universe.
 
Buy it here 

Special Features
Behind the Scenes
Comic Books and Superheroes
Night’s First Fight Sequence
Deleted Scenes
The Train Station Sequence: Storyboards and Final Scene

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“Zola”

The first (and probably last) film based on a Twitter thread took Sundance by storm in January 2020, becoming one of the most buzzed movies to come out of that year’s fest. Sadly, the buzz felt like it died down a bit as A24 held it for a year-and-a-half due to the pandemic. This is the kind of project that will find an audience at home either on Blu-ray or streaming services (it would just explode on Netflix, guaranteed). Taylour Paige plays Zola, a stripper who travels to Florida with a new friend, played with ferocious fearlessness by Riley Keough. Smart, quick, and hysterical, it’s a cult movie waiting to happen. 

Buy it here

Special Features
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Janicza Bravo and Editor Joi McMillon
“Y’all Wanna Hear a Story: Making Zola” Featurette
Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary

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