New Blu-Ray Releases: 'A Quiet Place', 'You Were Never Really Here', 'Bowling For Columbine', 'The Addiction', 'Memoirs Of An Invisible Man'

(Welcome to Not Dead Yet, a feature dedicated to new Blu-ray releases and what special features you should be excited about. Because yes, some of us still like to own physical copies of our movies.)

This week's physical media round-up brings you two of the best films of 2018 – A Quiet Place and You Were Never Really Here. There's also the Criterion release of Bowling for Columbine, Arrow Video's The Addiction, and Shout! Factory's release of John Carpenter's Memoirs of an Invisible Man.

Here are the new Blu-ray releases and their special features you should check out this week and beyond.

A Quiet Place

What makes a truly great horror movie? Jump scares? Gore? Or maybe...something more. The best horror films are the ones that tend to have a lot more on their mind than just thrills and chills. Films that take the genre and attempt to do new things with it.

John Krasinski's A Quiet Place is one of those films. None of us could've predicted that one day, Jim from The Office would helm a movie like this. Krasinski directed films before this, and they were, to be blunt, not very good. A Quiet Place finally sees him coming into his own. He uses lessons handed down by Steven Spielberg and, odd as it may seem, M. Night Shyamalan, to craft an incredibly memorable, surprisingly emotional horror film.

By now you likely know the plot, even if you haven't seen the movie. A horde of creatures attracted to sound have decimated the world's population. One family – Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds (who is phenomenal here), and Noah Jupe – survive by remaining almost entirely silent. The family had a bit of a leg-up on the whole "sound-driven monster" thing due to the fact that Simmonds' character is deaf, which means the family already knew how to communicate via sign language.

Aside from the day-to-day terror of possibly being eaten by monsters, the family all have their own individual issues. Blunt's character is pregnant, but also worried about keeping her children safe. Krasinski wants to provide and protect everyone while also trying to figure out what makes the monsters tick. Jupe is nervous and trying very hard to be brave. And Simmonds is wracked with rage and guilt – she feels responsible for the death of the youngest member of the family, and is convinced her father doesn't love her anymore. All of these elements would work wonderfully on their own, but throw in the whole monster angle, and you've got something special. This is one of the best films of 2018.

Special Features to Note:

There are three featurettes included on the Blu-ray release. I really would've loved a commentary track from Krasinski, because it's clear from interviews featured here he has a lot to say about the film. Alas, it was not to be. "Creating the Quiet" delves into the making of the film. We learn that script was only only 67 pages, primarily due to there being so little dialogue. Screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck discuss how they were fascinated with the idea of creating a horror movie driven by silence, but that they also didn't want the silence to just be a gimmick. When Krasinski came aboard, he added more family-related material to the script, drawing primarily on his own fears of becoming a father.

Beyond this, we get a feature about the unique sound design for the film. Rather than just dub out the sound in post, Krasinski and company actually worked to be as quiet on the set as possible, and there are a few amusing shots of the crew trying very hard to be silent as they work behind the scenes. There's also a feature about the creature effects. A conscious decision was made to not give the audience a lot of info on the creatures, because the family at the center of the film doesn't have that info. Krasinski reveals he watched David Attenborough nature documentaries to get ideas on how the creatures should move.

Special Features Include:

    • Feature film in high definition
    • Bonus Content:
    • Creating the Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A QUIET PLACE
    • The Sound of Darkness – Editing Sound for A QUIET PLACE
    • A Reason for Silence – The Visual Effects of A QUIET PLACE

    You Were Never Really Here

    God damn, what a movie this is. Marketing made Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here look like a modern-day Taxi Driver, with Joaquin Phoenix's character serving as 21st century Travis Bickle. While there's some Taxi Driver influence here, that's not really what this movie is. Like Bickle, Phoenix's character Joe is suffering from some sort of PTSD. But how Joe handles (or doesn't handle) his condition is a different than Travis.

    Joe works as hired muscle. He's kind of a hit man, but not really. It is safe to say, however, that he specializes in hurting people – usually with a hammer. You might think that means You Were Never Really Here is a film brimming with ultra violence, but it's not. Instead, Ramsay and editor Joe Bini do something fascinating – they cut the film in such a way that we almost never really see what it is Joe is doing. Rather than give into the audience's blood-lust and show us Joe beating down repulsive people, Ramsay always cuts away, robbing us of a kind of catharsis. It's unlike anything you've ever seen.

    Phoenix's Joe is hired to rescue a politician's daughter from child traffickers, which he does, very effectively. But then things go very wrong, and Joe needs to make a choice – walk away, or become a hero and save the girl. That may sound cut and dry, but the way You Were Never Really Here plays this out is anything but. Phoenix, one of the best actors working today, is remarkable here. He's a hulking, sulking mess, hidden behind an unkempt bear and hair that's always coming out of a ponytail. He's a force of nature. This movie may be too bleak and obscure to be remembered during awards season, but if there's any justice in the movie universe, both Phoenix and Ramsay will get some attention when said season rolls around.

    Special Features to Note:

    ..none. There are zero special features on this Blu-ray release. What. The. Fuck? I can only hope that sometime soon, someone like Criterion will pick this film up and give it a proper release, with actual features. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pick this movie up – you absolutely should, it's fantastic. I just wish Lionsgate and Amazon had added some features here.

    Bowling for Columbine 

    I am a liberal person, but even I have to admit that sometimes, Michael Moore gets on my nerves. Moore is a talented filmmaker, but he also has a tendency to play fast and loose with some facts – something that really doesn't help his cause. That said, Moore's Bowling for Columbine is one of his best works. It's a brilliant edited, oddly entertaining, ultimately devastating reaction to America's obsession with guns.

    Moore's documentary is perhaps even more depressing now. Bowling arrived in 2002, reacting to the 1999 Columbine school shooting. And as far as gun control goes...nothing has changed. In fact, things have gotten worse. School shootings (and mass shootings in general) have only increased. As a result, Bowling for Columbine now has a kind of screaming-into-the-void vibe. Moore is holding a camera up to America's dangerous gun fetish and saying, "What can we do to change this?" The answer, 16 years later, is apparently "Nothing," at least as far as our political leaders are concerned.

    Using montages, archival footage and one-on-one interviews, Moore constructs a kind of road movie, traveling from one location to the next, showing how guns have impacted the country. It might sound unpleasant, but Moore is able to bring a darkly comedic and satirical bent to everything. That's for the best – if he hadn't, Bowling for Columbine might be so damn bleak it would be unwatchable.

    Special Features to Note:

    The Criterion Collection has released Bowling for Columbine on Blu-ray with a mix of old and new features. The film now has a new "high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack", which makes Bowling look and sound better than it ever has before – even in theaters. In addition to that, there's a new documentary about the making of the film, featuring Moore and his team –  Carl Deal, field producers Jeff Gibbs and Meghan O'Hara, and supervising producer Tia Lessin. They discuss their approach to making the movie, and describe it as a movie filled with happy accidents – they would frequently stumble into situations they weren't expecting, and said situations would make for compelling footage. The people interviewed here also stress that despite the title, this isn't a film about Columbine. It's a film about America as a whole.

    Other features include footage from Moore visiting Colorado one year after the film came out, and three archival interviews with Moore about the movie itself. There's also a segment from Moore's TV show The Awful Truth II. All in all, this isn't the most loaded Criterion release, but Bowling for Columbine is an important film worth revisiting.

    Special Features Include: 

    • New high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • Michael Moore Makes a Movie, a new documentary featuring Moore, chief archivist Carl Deal, field producers Jeff Gibbs and Meghan O'Hara, and supervising producer Tia Lessin
    • Programs covering Moore's return to Colorado in 2002, his 2003 Oscar win, and three film-festival interviews with Moore
    • Excerpt from a 2002 episode of The Charlie Rose Show featuring Moore
    • Corporate Cops, a 2000 segment from Moore's television series The Awful Truth II
    • Trailer
    • PLUS: An essay by critic Eric Hynes

    The Addiction

    Abel Ferrara's very unconventional vampire drama The Addiction is now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video. The film equates vampirism to drug addiction, but there's a lot more going on here. There's a philosophical bent that's both fascinating and just a tad bit pretentious. The end result is a slow-moving but fascinating slice of mid-90s independent cinema, rendered in stark black and white.

    Lili Taylor is a philosophy student who gets attacked by a woman (Annabella Sciorra) who may or may not be a vampire. Taylor's attacker seems to give her a choice – she tells Taylor to order her to go away. Taylor is seemingly unable to do so, and as a result, is attacked. The attack sends Taylor into a downward spiral, and she begins exhibiting traditional vampiric behavior. All of this eventually culminates in a big bloody orgy, because of course it does.

    The Addiction is definitely not for everyone, and anyone seeking a traditional vampire movie is likely to be furious at what they're watching. But Ferrarar is a filmmaker in a class all his own, and The Addiction is one of his most engrossing films. Plus, Christopher Walken shows up as a vampire who loves William S. Burroughs. You can't go wrong with that.

    Special Features to Note:

    The Arrow release includes a new documentary about the making of the film made by Abel Ferrara himself. Ferrara talks with the cast of the film, and the interviews are very laid-back – almost frustratingly so. This isn't a standard documentary so much as it is Ferrara filming some casual conversations with his friends. Lili Taylor talks about her prep for the film, which included lots of walking around New York late at night listening to Pixies songs, and that sounds pretty damn romantic. Christopher Walken, meanwhile, says he thought the script was really interesting, and then proceeds to start talking in a detached manner about how most of the shooting locations the film was shot on were torn down. I'm not going to lie: it's not the most exciting feature. 

    In a separate interview, Ferrara says that what made the movie special, at least in his eyes, was that he had a female lead. He thought that was a unique spin on the formula, although in another interview, critic Brad Stevens points out that in many ways, The Addiction is almost a remake of Ferrara's earlier film Ms. 45

    Beyond the interviews, we're treated to vintage footage of Ferrara editing the film in a crowded, run-down apartment room somewhere in New York. It's like a time capsule to a whole other era as we watch Ferrara working with two clunky video monitors, cutting the film together. 

    Special Features Include:

    • New restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Abel Ferrara and director of photography Ken Kelsch
    • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
    • Restored 5.1 audio
    • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
    • Audio commentary by Abel Ferrara, moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens
    • Talking with the Vampires (2018) A new documentary about the film made by Ferrara especially for this release, featuring actors Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor, composer Joe Delia, Ken Kelsch, and Ferrara himself
    • New interview with Abel Ferrara
    • New interview with Brad Stevens
    • Abel Ferrara Edits The Addiction, an archival piece from the time of production
    • Original trailer
    • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

    Memoirs of an Invisible Man

    (Available July 24)

    John Carpenter's movies are rightly regarded as genre classics, but there's one Carpenter film that virtually no one talks about: Memoirs of an Invisible Man. In fact, I'd reckon many people don't even know Carpenter helmed the film. It doesn't exactly have his unique style. The filmmaker also deliberately left off his traditional "John Carpenter's" classification above the title because the studio – Warner Bros. – interfered too much for him to maintain ownership of the picture.

    So is Memoirs of an Invisible Man a bust? It's certainly not the best Carpenter film, but it's not a total wash either. Chevy Chase stars as a lazy, womanizing cad who just happens to be rendered invisible by a science experiment. The CIA, represented by a scene-stealing Sam Neill, wants to turn Chase into a weapon. But all Chase wants to do is score with Daryl Hannah.

    Chase is fine here, using his trademark smarm and charm that made him such a big comedy star. The same can't be said for Hannah, who seems utterly lost during the bulk of the film. The real standout here, though, are the special effects. The invisibility effects were cutting-edge at the time, and while some of them don't really hold up that well today, they're still fun to watch.

    If you're a John Carpenter completist, and have been waiting for this film to make it's Blu-ray appearance, here's your chance.

    Special Features to Note:

    Unlike most Shout! Factory releases, there are no new features here. There's a new 2K scan of the film, but beyond that, all the features on this disc are ported over from previous DVD releases. There are vintage interviews with Chase, Hannah and Carpenter. Chase is very complimentary to Carpenter, saying he's one of the best directors he ever worked with (rumor has it, though, that the two did not get along). Carpenter seems mostly bored in his interviews, basically just describing what the movie is about. I hope he got a big paycheck.

    The big feature is a vintage doc about the creation of the special effects. We get to see all the work that went into turning Chevy Chase invisible, and fans of behind-the-scenes VFX work will no doubt get a kick out of this. It also highlights how far the medium has come – effects that took hours and hours to create here could likely be created today in ten minutes.

    Special Features Include: 

    • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements
    • How To Become Invisible: The Dawn Of Digital F/X
    • Vintage Interviews With Director John Carpenter And Actors Chevy Chase And Daryl Hannah
    • Behind The Scenes Footage
    • Outtakes
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • TV Spots