new blu-ray releases little women

The coronavirus pandemic is not only effecting movie theaters, it’s also causing some trouble in the home video world, too. As a result, some physical release copies are being delayed while studios push digital. As always, I remain committed to physical media, but for now, I’m going to have to make an exception for some digital releases as well. That’s just how it goes, folks. Case in point: I was unable to get a physical copy of Underwater in time for this column, but I was provided with a digital release. So onto the list it goes. I’m also changing things up a bit. In the past, I was explaining why a film on the list was worth owning. But the fact of the matter is…not every film is worth owning. So instead, I’ll be advising you on whether the film in question is worth buying – or just renting. And now, these are the new Blu-ray releases (and digital releases, too) you should check out this week.

Little Women

Oh, what an utter delight this movie is. I’ll confess I’m the one person in the entire world who didn’t like Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird, so I was a tad apprehensive going into Little Women – even though I love Gerwig’s scripts for Frances Ha and Mistress America. My apprehension evaporated almost instantly. With Little Women, Gerwig has crafted a vibrant, charming, funny, and heartbreaking saga of a family. I laughed, I wept, I wept some more, I wept even more. Okay, I cried a lot. Gerwig blends past and “present” beautifully, cutting back and forth in time to show the trials and tribulations of the March family. And while Jo (Saoirse Ronan) gets the most screentime, and Ronan is as great as she usually is, the real standout is Florence Pugh, who turns the often disliked Amy into a surprisingly sympathetic character. I missed this in theaters last year, but had I caught it, it would’ve been in my top 10 of the year for sure.

Own or Rent? 

Everyone’s taste is subjective, but honestly, how can you not want to own this film? It’s such a breath of fresh air, especially in these troubling times. I imagine I’ll want to revist this again, and again. Not every movie is inherently rewatchable – I get that. But Little Women definitely fits into that category, and with ease. Don’t hesitate: pick it up.

Special Features Include: 

  • A New Generation of Little Women: The superb cast recreated the beloved world of the March family with realism, humor and vulnerability
  • Making a Modern Classic: The film combines its modern elements—kinetic camerawork and overlapping dialogue—with the historically authentic bespoke costumes, sets and locations
  • Greta Gerwig: Women Making Art: Go behind the camera with Writer/Director Greta Gerwig, discover her process and how she applied her own style to the story
  • Hair & Make-Up Test Sequence: A lovely showcase featuring the outstanding costumes, hair and make-up crafted for the film
  • Little Women Behind the Scenes: Take a quick look behind the scenes on the set of LITTLE WOMEN
  • Orchard House, Home of Louisa May Alcott: Find out more about Louisa May Alcott and visit the real-life Orchard House in Concord, MA

 

Just Mercy

Just Mercy is a movie made with the very best intentions. Based on a true story, the film follows fresh-faced lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he attempts to get an innocent man, Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), off of death row. Everyone here is bringing their A-Game. Jordan is one of our best young actors, and he commands the screen. Foxx hasn’t been this good in a few years. And Brie Larson is a welcome presence as a local who works with Stevenson. But…for all of its good intentions, and important messaging, Just Mercy feels oddly flat. It’s a kind of paint-by-numbers prestige pic – the kind that seems to be itching to be called “Oscar bait.” That’s not to say the film is bad – it’s not! It’s just not particularly great, either. It’s what I’d call a serviceable film.

Own or Rent?

This one is going to have to fall firmly in the “rental” category. I definitely think Just Mercy is worth seeing at once, but I’m not sure if it’s the type of movie you’re going to want to revisit again and again. But you should at least give it a chance.

Special Features Include: 

  • Making ‘Mercy’
  • This Moment Deserves
  • The Equal Justice Initiative
  • Deleted Scenes

 

Underwater

Underwater opened in January, which is usually a bad sign for a movie – especially a horror movie. But the film was a pleasant surprise. Sure, it owes a huge debt to films like Alien and The Abyss. But it’s also a nifty, compact, well-made deep sea thriller. Rather than give us a bunch of set-up, the movie jumps right into the action with a huge disaster at an underwater research facility. The folks who work deep down under the sea – including the melancholy Norah, played by Kristen Stewart – have to fight their way to the surface. But they soon find out they’re not just dealing with structural problems. There are also sea monsters out there. And that’s basically it! This is on pair with films like Pitch Black – simple-but-effective genre pics that get the job done.

Own or Rent? 

This is an own, folks. Seriously – Underwater is a blast. It’s big, sloppy, junk food cinema – a Hollywood B-movie that holds up on revisits, and is perfect to kick back with when you want something that’s not too psychologically taxing. More movies like this, please. Whenever movies start happening again, I mean.

Special Features Include: 

  • Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary*
  • Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary:
    • Rock Garden
  • Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary:
    • Crew Suit Up
    • Gantry Exit
    • Baby Clinger
    • Midway Station
    • Ocean Floor Walk
    • Smith Departure
  • Featurettes:
    • Real Bunny Montage
    • Making Underwater
    • Design
    • Production
    • Creatures & Visual Effects
  • Feature Audio Commentary by William Eubank, Jared Purrington and Phil Gawthorne

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Miranda July‘s weird, funny Me and You and Everyone We Know almost defies classification. Is it a drama? A comedy? Is it even set in the real world? Equal parts surreal and earnest, the film follows several eccentric characters who are all intertwined one way or another. At the center is a morose shoe salesman, played by John Hawkes, going through a divorce. He catches the eye of Christine (Miranda July), an amateur artist who also moonlights as a cab driver for senior citizens. We also follow the shoe salesman’s kids, an art gallery owner, two teenage girls, and more. This is the very definition of a film that’s “not for everyone.” July makes art outside the norm – some might even say she makes the prototypical “quirky indie film” here. But Me and You and Everyone We Know is so unique, and so unflinching in its earnestness that it’s truly special.

Own or Rent?

This is a Criterion Collection release, so it’s an own all the way. As always, you get the wealth of unbeatable Criterion special features, plus a great looking transfer of the film as well. It’s a no brainer, really. Unless you don’t like this movie. In which case, uh…let’s move on!

Special Features Include: 

  • High-definition digital master, approved by director Miranda July, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New documentary featuring a conversation between July and filmmaker Lena Dunham about July’s artistic beginnings and the development of her debut feature
  • Open to the World, a new documentary about the 2017 interfaith charity shop and participatory artwork July created in collaboration with Artangel
  • July Interviews July: Deauville, 2005, a discovery from July’s archives, newly edited
  • Footage from the 2003 Sundance Directors Lab, where July workshopped the film, with commentary by July • The Amateurist (1998) and Nest of Tens (2000), short films by July
  • Four films from July’s Joanie Jackie video chain letter, and a documentary about the project
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: Essays by artist Sara Magenheimer and novelist Lauren Groff

 

VFW

I don’t mean this in a negative way, but director Joe Begos is not what you’d call an original filmmaker. Almost all of his movies are pastiches – films that owe a huge debt to other famous horror works. His The Mind’s Eye is basically a remake of Scanners. His recent vampire flick Bliss is heavily indebted to the work of Abel Ferrara. And now here’s VFW, which is more or less a riff on John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13. Again – I’m not knocking Begos. He does a very good job apeing other people’s style. I just wish he had a bit of a voice of his own. That said, VFW is definitely the best film he’s made so far. It’s a nasty, gnarly splatter flick about grizzled army vets fighting mutant punks – and sometimes, that’s all you need. The vets are stuck in a local VFW as the punks come calling, and VFW falls into a groove: punks break-in, vets bash their fucking faces in with bats or axes, punks retreat. Repeat. You’re not going to find anything groundbreaking here, but the grainy style mixed with the practical gore is probably going to be enough for some genre fans.

Own or Rent? 

I’m going to vote “rent” here, but if you’re a big fan of throwback horror, you might want to go all-in and buy this thing. You could easily throw this on in the background, and perk up every time a gory kill happens – which is often.

Special Features Include: 

  • Two Filmmaker Audio Commentaries
  • The Making of VFW
  • Meet the Cast of VFW
  • The Special Make-Up Effects of VFW
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