New to View: Oct. 20
By Bob Bloom
The following titles are being released on Tuesday, Oct. 20, unless otherwise noted:
Details: 2002, Shout! Factory
Rated: R, language, sexual situations, drug use, violent images
The lowdown: Two Nicolas Cages are better than one in this offbeat Spike Jonze comedy written by Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother, Donald.
The movie centers on the Charlie Kaufman attempts to adapt Susan Orleans’ “The Orchard Thief” for the screen.
Hitting a dead end and losing his mind to writer’s block, Kaufman eventually turns to Donald, who has had success writing thriller-genre screenplays, for help.
The movie is a journey through the chaos, fear, self-loathing and paranoia of Charlie Kaufman’s mind.
The film also stars Meryl Streep as Orleans) and Chris Cooper, who won a best supporting actor Academy Award, for his performance as orchard hunter John Laroche.
The movie is akin to therapy for Charlie Kaufman as he unloads a lot of emotional baggage in the screenplay.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: An archival featurette about the movie’s swamp scene is the main extra.
Sunrise at Campobello (Blu-ray)
Details: 1960, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Ralph Bellamy portrays future president Franklin D. Roosevelt and Greer Garson is his wife, Eleanor, in this film adaptation of Dore Schary’s play about Roosevelt’s battle with polio.
The movie, set in 1921 at the family estate at Campobello on the Maine/New Brunswick border.
There, the 39-year-old Roosevelt comes down with a fever and a sudden paralysis. It is eventually diagnosis as polio. The main part of the movie follows FDR who must decide what his future will be. Will he allow the disease to conquer him or will he fight it?
He is aided in his struggle by Eleanor and his friend, Louis Howe.
The movie costars Hume Cronyn as Howe and Jean Hagen as Missy Le Hand.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wb.com/warnerarchive or other online sellers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie: Limited Edition (Blu-ray + DVD)
Release date: Oct. 13
Details: 2019, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Fans of the acclaimed TV series “Breaking Bad” will enjoy this epilogue to the show, which follows Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman after his escape in the finale of the series.
Pinkman must come to terms with his past as he tries to shape a new life and future for himself.
The movie, written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan, may be slow, but that gives you time to savor the characters and fulfill Pinkman’s series arc.
The movie impressed critics, who gave it a 91 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby digital audio description; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital and audio description; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include two commentary tracks, one with Gilligan and Paul, the other with 46 members of the cast and crew; deleted and extended scenes; a gag reel; a making of featurette; and three-scenes studies with Gilligan.
District 9 (4K UHD + Blu-ray + digital)
Release date: Oct. 13
Details: 2009, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, bloody and graphic violence, language
The lowdown: Neill Blomkamp’s science fiction movie is quite original, exciting and thoughtful.
The movie is particularly prescient in today’s in which governments around the world are attempting to demonize immigrants and refugees.
The screenplay cowritten by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, focuses on an alien race that has come to Earth for refuge from their dying planet.
They are segregated from humans in a South African area called District 9, which is managed by a group called Multi-National United. Multi-National United does not care about the welfare of the aliens but want to master and learn as much as possible about their technology.
One of Multi-National’s field agents, Wilkus Van De Mewre (Shartlo Copley), is conducting a census in District 9 when he contracts a mysterious virus that begins to alter his DNA. The only place he can hide and stay safe is in District 9.
The movie is entertaining while also tackling some big social issues. The film was embraced by critics who gave it a 90 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: 4K UHD: 2160p UDH, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English, French and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby digital audio description; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles; Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental offerings include deleted scenes, a three-part director’s log documentary, a director’s commentary track, a featurette on the transformation of Wilkus, a featurette on the movie’s acting and improvisation, a look at creating the world of “District 9,” a look at the visual effects and an interactive map of satellite and schematics of the movie’s world.
The Ape (Blu-ray)
Details: 1940, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: It’s a stretch calling this low-budget Monogram Pictures feature a “studio classic,” even though it stars Boris Karloff, who in the late 1930s and early ’40s, starred in a series of mad doctors roles at that studio as well as Columbia Pictures.
In “The Ape,” Karloff is kindly, small-town Dr. Bernard Adrian, who is seeking a cure to help Francis (Maris Wrixon), a wheelchair-bound young woman, regain the use of her legs.
The only way he can achieve results is through human spinal fluid.
When an ape escapes from a circus, Adrian kills it during a confrontation. He uses its spinal fluid on Francis, but it’s not enough.
So, since this is a Monogram release, Karloff’s Adrian does what is logical in that universe. He skins the ape and uses its body as a suit to kill fellow townspeople to get more spinal fluid.
The movie is not as silly as most films of this ilk because of Karloff’s semi-sympathetic performance.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Commentary tracks by film historians Tom Weaver and Richard Harland Smith comprise the major bonus features.
Outside the Law (Blu-ray)
Details: 1920, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Priscilla Dean was a popular silent film star whose career waned once the sound era arrived.
In this crime drama, Dean stars as jewel thief Molly Madden, daughter of a gangster framed for murder by rival Black Mike Sylva (Lon Chaney).
Molly learns all of this from one of Sylva’s underlings, Dapper Bill Ballard (Wheeler Oakman), who unite to avenge themselves against Sylva by stealing a cache of hot jewels from his safe.
Knowing that the ;police and Black Mike’s mob is combing the city for them, Molly and Ballard hide out in an apartment where, even while the search for them narrows, they fall in love.
“Outside the Law” was directed by Tod Browning, who created a series of crime melodramas in the early 1920s featuring strong female protagonists, most of whom were on the wrong side of the law.
The movie marked the second collaboration between Browning and Chaney who, beside portraying Black Mike Sylva, also was featured as Ah Wing, a peaceful man who warns Molly that the path of revenge is not a wise road to travel.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English DTS-HD intertitles and musical score.
Don’t miss: Extras include a commentary by film historian Anthony Slide, an alternate ending, Anton Sanko’s musical score and a footage comparison.
Cut Throat City (Blu-ray + DVD)
Details: 2020, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: R, violence, language, drug content, sexual situations, nudity
The lowdown: Director RZA sets this story about four boyhood friends from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who return to the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to find their homes destroyed and a FEMA incapable of offering any assistance.
Without any options, the quartet turn to a local gangster for help. He tells them that their one shot to get help is by pulling off a robbery in the heart of the Big Easy.
The job goes bad and the friends find themselves on the run, hunted by police and a neighborhood crime lord who believes they took his money.
The movie features a cast of young actors, including Shameik Moore, Demetrius Shipp Jr., Tip T.J. Harris, Denzel Whitaker and Keenan Johnson, as well as such veterans as Wesley Snipes, Terrance Howard, Ethan Hawk and Isaiah Washington.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 (16:9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; DVD: 2.39:1 (16:9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital.
Don’t miss: Supplemental offerings include deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes look at the movie.
Drifting / White Tiger (Blu-ray)
Details: 1923, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Writer-director Tod Browning and actor Priscilla Dean collaborated on two more crime melodramas in 1923.
“Drifting,” set in China, features Dean as Cassie Cook, an opium trafficker caught between an undercover government agent, played by Matt Moore, with whom she fall in love, and a fellow smuggler, portrayed by Wallace Beery.
The movie nearly stolen by a then 18-year-old Anna May Wong on the brink of becoming a star in her own right.
“White Tiger” features some of the uncanny aspects that populated many of Browning’s later movies, most notably a chess-playing automaton.
Dean portrays Sylvia Donovan, who as a child in the London slums, sees her criminal father betrayed by one of his henchmen, played by Wallace Beery as Hawkes, and killed by the police.
Beery escapes with Sylvia, leaving behind her brother, Roy.
The movie jumps 15 years ahead where Sylvia, who has been raised as a pickpocket by Hawkes, is “working” at a London museum. Roy (played by Raymond Griffith), is there as well, working inside the automaton.
Sylvia and Roy meet, but do not recognize each other.
Soon Hawkes, Sylvia, Roy and the automaton flee to New York, where Hawkes passes himself off as an Italian count, and the gang pulls a big heist.
They flee to a hideout in the woods. Roy, meanwhile, has recognized Hawkes and bides his time in exacting his revenge.
Roy and Sylvia, finally realizing who the other is, of course, see the error of their ways and reform, while Hawkes gets his just desserts. This is not one of Browning’s better efforts, but it is an interesting exercise.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English musical scores by Philip Carli on “Drifting” and Earle Simpson on “White Tiger” and intertitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include fragments from the lost Browning-Dean collaboration “The Exquisite Thief.”
Sword of God (DVD)
Details: 2020, Film Movement
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This Polish historical drama is set during the early Middle Ages, in which a holy order of knights set out to spread Christianity to the inhabitants of a faraway island.
The knights are shipwrecked, with only two surviving. One seeks to continue the mission, while the other chooses a different path.
The separation eventually leads to a bloody battle.
The film is spiritual and visionary in its own unique manner.
Technical aspects: 2.39:1 widescreen picture; Polish 5.1 Dolby digital; English subtitles.
Grant: The Complete Miniseries (DVD)
Release date: Oct. 13
Details: 2020, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This three-part miniseries chronicles the life of Ulysses S. Grant, the Union general who led the North to victory during the Civil War and, later, the president who oversaw Reconstruction.
The series, which aired on History, combines re-enactments, archival imagery and historical commentary to relate Grant’s journey from humble beginnings to the White House.
It also looks at the various obstacles, including his alcoholism, that impacted his life.
Justin Salinger portrays Grant in the program, for which Leonardo DiCaprio served as executive producer.
Technical aspects: 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 2.0 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Other titles being released Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Alone (Blu-ray & DVD) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Amulet (DVD & VOD) (Magnolia Home Entertainment)
The Amityville Harvest (DVD & digital & VOD) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Captains Collection (Blu-ray) (Shout! Factor)
Expulsion (Blu-ray & DVD & digital) (American Pop Productions)
House of Shadows (DVD & digital & VOD) (Shinehouse Group)
My Neighbor Tortoro: Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray) (GKids-Shout! Factory)
NOS4A2: Season 2 (Blu-ray & DVD) (RLJE Films)
The Owners (Blu-ray & DVD_ (RLJE Films)
Princess Mononoke: Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray) (GKids-Shout! Factory)
The Redwood Massacre: Annihilation (DVD & VOD) (Uncork’d Entertainment)
Scam République (DVD) (IndiePix Films)
Scare Package (Blu-ray & DVD & digital & VOD) (RLJE Films)
Spree (Blu-ray & DVD) (RLJE Films)
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
After So Many Days (Gravitas Ventures)
The Antenna (Dark Star Pictures)
Chop Chop (Gravitas Ventures)
Fugue (Indiecan Entertainment)
Ghabe (GVN Releasing)
How to Fix a Primary (Gravitas Ventures)
J.R. “Bob” Dobbs & the Church of the Subgenius (Uncork’d Entertainment)
Linda and the Mockingbirds (Shout! Studios)
The Sounding (Giant Pictures)
The State of Texas vs. Melissa (FilmRise)
Totally Under Control (Neon)
Tremors: Shrieker Island (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Rebecca (Netflix, Oct. 21)
Des: Episode 2 (Sundance Now, Oct. 22)
One Lane Bridge: Episode 6 (Sundance Now, Oct. 22)
Slings and Arrows: Season 3 (Sundance Now, Oct. 22)
The Split: Season 2, Episode 4 (Sundance Now, Oct. 22)
Bad Hair (Neon-Hulu, Oct. 23)
Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Prime, Oct. 23)
Queen’s Gambit (www.netflix.com/QueensGambit) (Netflix, Oct. 23)
Time (Amazon Studio, Oct. 23)
Heathers (Sundance Now, Oct. 26)
How to Murder Your Wife (Acorn TV, Oct. 26)
Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story (Sundance Now, Oct. 26)
Mystery Road: Episode 4 (Acorn TV, Oct. 26)
Coming next week: Parasite
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.