Movies to watch on Blu-Ray and DVD: Moonlight, The Lego Batman Movie, and more
Out on June 12 and June 19
Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning masterpiece. A Lego-bricked superhero caper. A Chinese adventure with… Matt Damon?
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of Moonlight, The Lego Batman Movie, The Great Wall, Fences, Loving, Sully, The Blue Lagoon, Shut In, Swiss Army Man, My Twentieth Century, Performance, The City of the Dead, and Drunken Master.
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Moonlight and Oscar-night tango partner La La Land may not have much in common, but they are joint high rankers in the art of transcending expectation. The fizz of Damien Chazelle’s frisky mover gradually cracks, revealing currents of disappointed longing. Likewise, writer/director Barry Jenkins’ artful, light-footed riff on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s theatre piece In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue – more deceptive impressions - is gentler and more poetic than its heavyweight significance might suggest.
Even without that awards-night envelope botch, a Best Pic win for an arthouse coming-of-age film about black masculinity, class and sexuality would make news. Yet Jenkins never telegraphs his themes or resorts to quick-impact ’hood-movie melodramatics, preferring to glory in the details of character-based intimacies and intuitive form.
The three chapter headings (‘Little’, ‘Chiron’, ‘Black’; all referring to Moonlight’s hero) hum with lit-pic gravitas, yet the take-home is how smoothly Jenkins links each section. Casting proves crucial: tasked with finding actors to play fatherless, gay Chiron over 16-ish years, Jenkins draws indelible work from Alex Hibbert (Little, shy kid), Ashton Sanders (Chiron, bullied teen) and Trevante Rhodes (Black, tough adult), each ensuring the connective tissue between life junctures rings achingly true.
In an ensemble also boasting tender input from R&B funkadelicist Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, André Holland and Oscar-winning support Mahershala Ali, Rhodes exemplifies armour of his ripped bod and grilled teeth, the younger Chiron still haunts his yearning eyes.
Moonlight lives in these cumulative echoes, its pulse stoked by two more MVPs. DoP James Laxton’s dreamy colours bleed between scenes like lingering emotions, tethering narrative drift to a deep sense of interior life. This Wong Kar-wai-ish steer is shared by composer Nicholas Britell, who uses chopped-and-screwed hip-hop techniques to artfully layer the emotions in his by-turns ecstatic and anxious score.
Britell’s accretions of feeling match Jenkins’ own empathetic emphasis, where an affection for lives rarely seen on-screen meets concern for their futures. It’s a mix threaded with understated eloquence, from the scene where a scared but determined Chiron is suspended in ocean waves by surrogate dad Juan (Ali) to the guardedly hopeful climax, which resists catharsis for a perfectly judged call-back – waves lapping – to innocent times.
What that says about Chiron’s future is left open; Jenkins never spoonfeeds. Yet what it makes Moonlight is clear: a quietly radical beauty.Jenkins’ acute grasp of character: despite the adult
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Commentary, Interviews
Director: Barry Jenkins; Starring: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson; DVD, BD release: June 19, 2017
The Lego Batman Movie
Paul Verhoeven-style satire meets the Day-Glo whizz of the original Lego Movie in this solo spin-off for Will Arnett’s brick-based Batman (and his sprawling support cast, including Zach Galifianakis’ co-dependent Joker).
Directed by Robot Chicken veteran Chris McKay, it directly addresses poor Bruce Wayne’s tortured psychology in a way you wouldn’t expect, while still providing rollicking entertainment. Ample extras include every pre-release promo and five new shorts (such as ‘Cooking With Alfred’ and ‘Batman Is Just Not That Into You’).
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Comentary, Shorts, Deleted scenes
Director: Chris McKay; Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson; DVD, BD, 4K release: June 19, 2017
The Great Wall
The Great Wall is the story of a big beautiful wall, the best wall – it’s gonna be terrific – built to keep out a swarming horde of foreign bodies. But awkward timing is the least of this epic’s problems.
Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero), and starring Matt Damon, it re-writes Chinese history as bilingual CGI fantasy; a huge, goofy spectacle whose battle scenes are often fun and striking, but are undercut by a script that’s cheesy and lifeless. Extras are brief and disposable.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Deleted/Extended scenes
Director: Yimou Zhang; Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe; DVD, BD, 3DBD release: June 12, 2017
Reuniting much of the Broadway cast of August Wilson’s Pulitzer-winning play, Denzel Washington directs and also stars as Troy Maxson, a charismatic but bitter ex-baseball player in ’50s Pittsburgh who’s struggling with lifelong oppression and his own bad choices.
Viola Davis, as Maxson’s long-suffering wife Rose, deservedly bagged the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but the entire cast are excellent, fully inhabiting a script written by Wilson himself shortly before his 2005 death. Unflinchingly honest yet compassionate, it’s a haunting portrayal of a working-class family in turmoil.
Director: Denzel Washington; Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: June 12, 2017
After meditative sci-fi Midnight Special, Jeff Nichols does a u-turn with this shocking real-life 1960s tale. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are interracial married couple Richard and Mildred Loving, arrested then exiled under Virginia’s bigoted laws.
Even as the drama snowballs – reaching the Supreme Court – Nichols essays elegant restraint, while the performances from Oscar-nominee Negga and Edgerton (coiled with fury throughout) are cast iron. Extras include commentary and a Making Of entitled – wait for it – ‘Making Loving’.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Commentary
Director: Jeff Nichols; Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Will Dalton; DVD, BD release: June 12, 2017
A calm, composed Tom Hanks excels as real-life hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger in Clint Eastwood’s classy disaster picture. You can expect sweaty palms from the thrilling scenes of Sully emergency-landing an Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River in 2009.
But the aftermath grips too, as he and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) face interrogation for their actions. Eastwood executes with minimal fuss – and bar one or two missteps (Sully’s nightmare, Laura Linney’s thankless role as the pilot’s wife) this is a heart-pounding true-lifer.
Director: Clint Eastwood; Starring: Tom Hanks; DVD, BD, 4K BD, Digital HD release: April 17, 2017
The Blue Lagoon
Director Randal Kleiser followed 1978’s Grease with this cutesy tale of a shipwrecked boy and girl who grow into Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins on a desert island in the South Pacific. “I have a funny feeling in my stomach,” Atkins’ Richard says moments before they find a new game to play, and Shields’ Emmeline’s response – “So do I” – was echoed by all young viewers after watching them cavort naked for 40 minutes.
The on-location Making Of shows Kleiser and crew shooting the movie in just their Speedos. Risky.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Commentary
Director: Randal Kleiser; Starring: Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins, Leo McKern; Dual format release: 10 April, 2017
Despite her best efforts, even Naomi Watts is unable to prevent this housebound horror from being a dull slog with zero thrills. Watts stars as Mary, a widowed child psychologist taking care of her catatonic stepson (Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton).
Room’s Jacob Tremblay plays a supposedly missing patient, while Oliver Platt literally Skypes in a performance as Mary’s confidant, Dr. Wilson. The sole memorable moment is a painfully obvious third-act reveal; it sleepwalks through the motions to get there.
Director: Farren Blackburn; Starring: Naomi Watts, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: April 10, 2017
Swiss Army Man
Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan’s big-screen directorial debut is the most deliriously offbeat mainstream movie in living memory. Paul Dano is cast away on a Pacific islet, about to top himself when he spots a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) at the water’s edge.
Thanks to the corpse’s copious flatulence, he uses it as a farting surfboard to escape. Then, the deceased starts to revive… At once off-the-wall, ludicrous and strangely moving, the Daniels’ buddy-body movie is like little else out there.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Deleted scenes, Making Of, Q&A
Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert; Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: April 10, 2017
My Twentieth Century
New Jersey, 1880. Thomas Edison displays his newly invented electric light. In Budapest, meanwhile, a woman gives birth to twin girls. Twenty years later the twins, separated in childhood, pursue radically different paths: hedonistic Dóra (Dorota Segda) seduces and tricks men; Lili (Segda again) is a feminist revolutionary.
Ildikó Enyedi’s playful historical fantasy toys with ideas, technology and the birth of modernism. It may not totally hold together, but it’s unfailingly charming and looks gorgeous.
EXTRAS: Interview, Booklet
Director: Ildikó Enyedi; Starring: Dorota Segda, Oleg Yankovskiy, Paulus Manker; DVD, BD release: March 20, 2017
The archetypal Swinging London movie, writer/director Donald Cammell and joint-helmer Nicolas Roeg’s psycho(delic)-drama brings together sadistic gangster Chas (James Fox) and fading, reclusive rock star Turner (Mick Jagger) in the latter’s drug-strewn, dolly-bird-draped Notting Hill mansion. Decadence, decay, hallucinations, reality versus fantasy, personality swapping…
Performance more than lives up to its title, kicking off as a straight gangster movie then playing virtuoso games with us and its cast, teasing us to work out where illusion ends and lethal delusion starts.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Postcards
Directors: Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg; Starring: James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg; Dual format release: April 17, 2017
The City of the Dead
On the advice of her alarmingly intense tutor (Christopher Lee), coed Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) travels to mist-wreathed town Whitewood, in New England, to research her paper on 17th Century witchcraft…
By turns clammy and hammy, this Shepperton-shot spooker has interesting parallels with Psycho, released the same year, and can be seen as a precursor of such honey-trap horrors as The Wicker Man and Hostel. The shorter US cut, released as Horror Hotel, is also included.
EXTRAS: US cut, Interviews
Director: John Moxey; Starring: Patricia Jessel, Dennis Lotis, Christopher Lee; Dual format release: April 24, 2017
An early milestone for star Jackie Chan and director Yuen Woo-ping, this kung-fu action comedy still crackles with energy and invention four decades on. Essentially one extended training montage about a slacker who learns how to fight like a drunkard, the film is really about announcing Chan to the world as both the new Bruce Lee and the next Buster Keaton.
Solid extras include some scholarly commentary, Chan interview and video appreciation by The Raid director Gareth Evans.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Interviews, Deleted scene
Director: Woo-Ping Yuen; Starring: Jackie Chan, Siu Tin Yuen, Jang Lee Hwang; Dual format release: April 24, 2017