New Blu-ray Releases beale street

Hello to all you physical media fiends out there. As usual, I’ve rounded up the best of the best in home entertainment just for you. This week, we have If Beale Street Could TalkVice, a new 4K release of the 1989 Pet Sematary, On the Basis of Sex, and, yes, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. These are the new Blu-ray releases and their special features you should check out this week and beyond.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Am I still a bit miffed that Barry Jenkins‘ If Beale Street Could Talk didn’t land a Best Picture or Best Director nomination at the Oscars? Maybe I am (yes, I definitely am). But while the Academy failed to recognize the overall beauty and brilliance of this film, I believe it will stand the test of time. This achingly gorgeous, emotionally wrenching saga, adapted from the book by James Baldwin, is nothing short of miraculous. The story follows the Tish (KiKi Layne), who learns she’s pregnant just as her lover Fonny (Stephan James) has been locked-up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Jenkins cuts back and forth in time, showing us the early days of Tish and Fonny’s relationship, and the aftermath of Fonny’s incarceration. Regina King shines as Tish’s understanding mother, and the score by Nicholas Britell is breathtaking. Don’t sleep on this movie.

Special Features to Note: 

Over the course of a Making-Of featurette, Barry Jenkins says he wanted the film to convey the same sense of awe he felt when he first read the James Baldwin book. Jenkins adds that at the time he read the book, Beale Street was one of the lesser-known Baldwin works. Love never gets old,” states the filmmaker on why love stories appeal to him so much. “At one point in your life, you’re going to know what it’s like to be in love…With this film, the love was so pure, and so lush, that the chemistry [between KiKi Layne and Stephan James] was just there.”

Special Features Include: 

  • Deleted scenes
  • Featurette:
    • If Beale Street Could Talk: Poetry in Motion
  • Audio Commentary by Barry Jenkins

 

Vice

Adam McKay‘s Vice is blunt and even over-the-top at times. Some critics didn’t take kindly to this, but I was fine with it, believing it fit what the director was going for. Christian Bale gives a wholly believable performance as nefarious former Vice President Dick Cheney, as McKay attempts to pull back the curtain, and show us the true story of Cheney’s rise to power. Bale’s work here is stunning – he fully embodies his character. And the cast around him, including Amy Adams as Cheney’s wife Lynne, is excellent as well. The film is definitely unsubtle, and goes so far as to lay nearly every single problem facing America right now at Cheney’s feet. That’s no doubt not entirely accurate, but that doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have plenty of truth to say.

Special Features to Note: 

We get a Making-Of feaurette in which Adam McKay and his cast talk about their approach to this material, and the historical characters therein. McKay says when he was writing for SNL, he was intrigued by Dick Cheney, and about how people always thought of him as this dark puppet master pulling the strings. This inspired McKay to want to know more about Cheney, and to figure out what made him tick.

Christian Bale says that he tried to come to the character of Dick Cheney with a “positive point of view.” The actor also says there’s no interest to him in bringing his own personal politics to the character, since he’s trying to become Cheney – he has to put himself in Cheney’s mindset, and essentially believe what Cheney believed. McKay calls Bale a collaborator in making the movie, because he kept asking questions about the character he was playing. 

In addition to that, we get a few deleted scenes, including the now-famous “musical scene”, which you can watch below.  

Special Features Include: 

  • Deleted Scenes
    • High School
    • Musical
    • Bunker
  • Gaming the System: The Making of VICE
  • The Music of Power
  • Gallery

 

Pet Sematary

Before you see the new Pet Sematary, you should check out the 1989 film, which is now available in a great 4K transfer. You know the story, I’m sure: family moves to rural Maine. A haunted burial ground behind their house has the power to raise the dead. Pets, and then people, die, get buried, and come back as nasty, deadly facsimiles of their old selves. Terror ensues. Some of the ’89 film doesn’t hold up as well as it should, but director Mary Lambert still brings enough style to the proceedings to make it memorable. Lambert does a particularly good job of capturing the overall sense of dread so prevalent in Stephen King‘s book. But she also knows how to inject some campy humor into the story.

Special Features to Note:

This 4K transfer looks great. As Director Mary Lambert herself says during a new special feature, making the 4K release involved going back to the original negative. The end result is a film that makes shadows softer and brighter moments brighter. They also cleaned-up some of the visual effects. The featurette “Revisitation” has Lambert talking about how she came to direct the film. She’s a strong storyteller, and has a ton of fun bits of trivia about her journey. For example: her first meeting with Stephen King was at a Denny’s, because King loved to eat at Denny’s. 

“Fear and Remembrance” features the cast and directors of 2019’s Pet Sematary talking about the 1989 film, and how their film relates to it, and to King’s book.

In addition to these new features, older features from previous releases – including a commentary track from Lambert – have been carried over.

Special Features Include:

  • Fear and remembrance
    • A look back at this classic with the cast and crew of 2019’s Pet Sematary
  • Revisitation – new interview with Mary Lambert
    • Director Mary Lambert shares memories of the movie
  • 3 new behind the scenes image galleries
  • Never before seen storyboards
  • Commentary by director Mary Lambert

 

On the Basis of Sex 

On the Basis of Sex is a perfectly nice, old-fashioned movie. It tells the story of the beginning of Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s career, and life, devoted to the law. We all know that Ginsburg would eventually become a legendary Supreme Court Justice, but if you ever wondered how she got her start, this film attempts to show you. A lot of the elements covered here are also covered in the documentary RBG, but On the Basis of Sex attempts to liven things up by playing up the love story between Ginsburg and her supportive husband Marty. Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg, and she’s quite good in the part, nailing down Ginsburg’s New Yawk accent. Armie Hammer is Marty, and he’s his usual charming self. Jones and Hammer have a nice, easy-going chemistry together that makes the film overly pleasant. All of this is fine! But On the Basis of Sex is too safe, too normal for its own good. Ginsburg is a legendary figure, known for challenging the system. So why make a movie about her that plays by the rules? This is the type of biopic that has characters shout things like, “This one case could change everything!” Do people really talk like that? No. But if you can get past that, you might find a charming drama to enjoy.

Special Features to Note:

In A Supreme Team: Making On the Basis of Sex, director Mimi Leder talks about how she felt compelled to tell the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she had a visceral response to a film about a woman facing discrimination. For the sake of accuracy, the filmmakers turned to the real Ruth Badger Ginsburg for help with the script. It also helped that the screenwriter, Daniel Stiepleman, is Ginsburg’s nephew, which gave him special access to the Supreme Court Justice. 

Beyond the Making-Of, there’s a featurette all about the love story between Ruth and Marty. It’s short and sweet, and highlights how the marriage spoke to the metaphor to the movie in that it was a relationship built on equality.

Special Features Include: 

  • A Supreme Team: Making On the Basis of Sex – Pull back the curtain and see how this incredible team of collaborators brought this true story to the big screen.
  • Legacy of Justice – A deeper look at how Ruth Bader Ginsburg pioneered gender equality in America and gained her seat on the Supreme Court.
  • Martin and Ruth: A Loving Partnership – An intimate look at the symbiotic marriage between Martin and Ruth Ginsburg, and how it helped shape Ruth’s perspective as a judge.

 

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

When you see a film title like The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, you might assume the movie in question is going to be a goofy, Troma-esque horror-comedy. But that’s not what this is. Instead, The Man Who Killed Hitler… is actually a mostly quiet character drama…about a man who killed Hitler, and then Bigfoot. Sam Elliott does awards-caliber work as Calvin Barr, a man who once partook in a top secret mission to kill Hitler and end World War II. Decades later, he’s older, and sadder, and feeling a bit run down, when he gets recruited for another secret mission: hunt and kill Bigfoot. The legendary woodland monster is carrying a plague that could wipe humanity off the face of the earth, and Calvin might be our only hope. The Man Who Killed Hitler… doesn’t entirely come together, but you have to admire a movie with this title, and this premise, being so willing to take itself so seriously. On top of all that, the creature effects on Bigfoot are fantastic. This is a curious film worth your time.

Special Features to Note: 

As the behind-the-scenes featurette on the film explains, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is something that’s trying to be a war movie, a character piece and a monster movie all in one. And it succeeds, so hat’s off to it. Writer-director Robert D. Krzykowski says he set out to write a script that was only about a guy who secretly killed Hitler. But Krzyowski realized that he didn’t have enough of a story there, and then decided to add Bigfoot into the mix. Because sure, why not! As the filmmaker says, Hitler was spreading a plague of ideas, while the film’s version of Bigfoot is spreading an actual plague. That’s the connection, folks. Did I mention this is one weird movie? 

Special Features Include: 

  • The Making of THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Robert D. Krzykowski
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Elsie Hooper Short Film
  • Concept Art Gallery
  • Composer Joe Kraemer Interview
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