New to View: Oct. 3
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, Oct. 3, unless otherwise noted:
A Ghost Story (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2017, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, disturbing images, language
The lowdown: “A Ghost Story” may haunt you, but not in the way you would expect.
Admittedly, you have to admire writer-director David Lowery’s conceit of having star Casey Affleck spending the bulk of the movie walking around silently covered by a sheet with eye holes that make it look like a Halloween costume thrown together five minutes before the start of trick-or-treating.
Unlike such genre diverse films as the 1946 Abbott and Costello comedy, “The Time of Their Lives,” the 1947 supernatural romance, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and more recent features as the two versions of “Ghostbusters” and the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore weeper “Ghost,” spirits and humans do not interact in this story.
In fact, the movie’s main conceit is that Affleck’s ghostly character is primarily an observer rather than a participant.
Yet, the manner in which Affleck is framed and his subtle body shifts under the sheet allow audience members to interpret his emotional state.
The movie is a treatise on permanence — in life, in art and in society.
Affleck and Rooney Mara portray a nameless young married couple. They live in a nice suburban home and seem to have a solid, ordinary life, despite hints of some tensions in their relationship.
Things change when the husband is killed in a car accident.
At the hospital morgue, his wife identifies his body, then leaves. The camera lingers on the corpse on the slab for several moments, until it rises and begins a journey from the hospital to its familiar house.
Though rooted in the same space, the ghost begins a rushed journey through times from the future, back to pioneer days and then full circle to a surprise and touching conclusion.
“A Ghost Story” is about insubstantiality Everything is a slave to time that keeps its own pace and cares nothing for manmade or natural creations.
The movie was well received critically, earning a 92 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A featurette on the making of the film and the passing of time, a deleted scene, a look at the film’s music and a commentary track are the major bonus offerings.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Blu-ray + DVD + digital HD)
Details: 2017, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, adventure violence, suggestive content
The lowdown: The wind seems to be going out of the sails in this longtime Disney franchise featuring Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
Depp’s shtick has grown tiresome as these film have progressed.
In this outing, a ghost crew, led by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle. Their aim is to kill every pirate on the high seas — especially Sparrow.
The movie is filled with usual humor, adventure and special effects.
Critics did not take kindly to the film, giving it a cold 29 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 descriptive audio and Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital and English 2.0 descriptive audio; English SHD, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a multipart making of featurette with cast and filmmakers, a blooper reel, deleted scenes and a Jerry Bruckheimer photo diary.
The Wizard of Lies (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2017, HBO Home Entertainment
Rated: TV-MA, language, violence
The lowdown: Robert De Niro stars as Bernie Madoff in this retelling of the Wall Street’s financier’s mammoth downfall after it was discovered his empire was a Ponzi scheme, in which he defrauded investors of more than $65 billion.
The film also chronicles the impact of Madoff’s crimes on his wife and two sons who were thrown into the public spotlight and vilified by public opinion, even though they were not involved in the financial shenanigans.
The performances by De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff are superb.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS digital surround and Spanish 2.0 DTS digital surround; English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include interviews with De Niro, Pfeiffer, director Barry Levinson and author Diana B. Henriques.
Details: 2017, Cohen Media Group
Rated: PG, mature themes, images of war violence, language, smoking
The lowdown: Brian Cox stars as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in this historical drama set around the time of the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Churchill, haunted by the mistakes that led to the defeat at the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I, is reluctant about the invasion and its probable success.
He clashes with Allied leaders such as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (John Slattery) and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (Julian Wadham), who endorse the bold plan.
Churchill’s wife, Clementine (Miranda Richardson), helps him overcome his fears, doubts and the depression that dogged him throughout his life, to gather to resolve and inspiration needed to carry on.
The movie will be of interest to World War II buffs, but many others will find it flat, cold and repetitive.
Critics were basically divided giving the film a 48 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A short making of featurette is the major bonus component.
The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille
Details: 2016, Random Media
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Film buffs will definitely enjoy this documentary that is available for download at various sites.
The movie is the 30-year search to unearth Cecil B. DeMille’s City of the Pharoah set from his 1923 production of “The Ten Commandments” that the director had buried in the sands off the California coast.
DeMille did not want another film company to cannibalize or repurpose the set for any similar, second-rate production, so he had it dismantled.
The set encompassed 20 sphinxes and four 35-ton statues of Ramses.
In 1982, Peter Brosnan heard a story about Egyptian sphinxes buried in the California Dunes. The story set him off on a “Raiders of the Lost Ark”-type of quest to uncover these statues.
Three times Brosnan quit, but was convinced in 2012 to try once more — this time hitting pay dirt.
A Fish Called Wanda (Blu-ray)
Details: 1988, Arrow Video
Rated: R, language, violence, sexual situations
The lowdown: Former Monty Python member John Cleese wrote and stars in this hilarious British caper directed by Ealing Studio veteran director Charles Crichton.
The film, in the vein of such Ealing classics as “The Lavender Hill Mob,” tells of an uptight barrister (Cleese) who is drawn into a complicated bank robbery and getaway scheme by a sexy con artist, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and her super-macho boyfriend, a very funny Kevin Kline.
The movie, for which Kline won a best supporting actor Academy Award, is filled with humor — most of which is in bad taste.
But don’t let that stop you from viewing this outrageously funny feature.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus features include an introduction to the film by Cleese, a documentary about the shooting locations, 24 deleted and/or alternative scenes, a 15th anniversary retrospective featurette, interviews with filmmakers, including composer John Du Prez, a 1988 documentary on the making of the movies that features interviews with Cleese, Curtis, Kline, co-star Michael Palin and Crichton, a new appreciation of the film by Vic Pratt of British Film Institute National Archive and a commentary by Cleese.
Home for the Holidays (Blu-ray)
Details: 1995, Shout! Factory
Rated: PG-13, language, mature themes, drug use
The lowdown: Holly Hunter stars in this rather unpleasant comedy about a young woman at loose ends who returns home for Thanksgiving and must deal with her very dysfunctional family.
You really end up not caring or liking any of these people, which dilutes what little humor the film has to offer.
Jodie Foster directed a strong cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin, Charles Durning, Claire Danes and Steve Guttenberg.
Why any of them became involved in this feature is mystifying. The release is part of the new Shout Select series of films that the company feels deserves a place in the spotlight.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A commentary track by Foster is the major bonus feature.
The Illustrated Man (Blu-ray)
Release date: Sept. 19
Details: 1969, Warner Archive Collection
The lowdown: Rod Steiger and his then-wife, Claire Bloom, star in this adaptation Ray Bradbury’s short story of doom and danger.
Steiger stars as the tattoo-covered man. Each illustration tells a tale that usually ends in terror. Bloom is the seductress who created the “art.”
The film features three short tales, each of which ends rather badly. The tales feature either Steiger and/or Bloom as well as Robert Drivas, who plays a drifter helping Steiger’s tattooed individual.
The movie is rather sluggish and fails to live up to Bradbury’s visions.
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, 2.35:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A vintage featurette about a tattooed Steiger is the main extra.
Children of the Corn (Blu-ray)
Details: 1984, Arrow Video
Rated: R, violence, language, disturbing images
The lowdown: This is a rather poor adaptation of a Stephen King short story about a town taken over by a sinister juvenile cult and the young couple who stumble into the town and — as is the custom in movies of this sort — fail to escape when they have a chance.
The movie is more laughable than scary. It was followed by six sequels, which is even more frightening.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DT-HD Master Audio and stereo; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a featurette looking back on filming in Iowa, an interview with actor Rich Kleinberg about the “lost” Blue Man scene, “Disciples of the Crow,” a 1983 short film adaptation of a King story, interviews with producer Donald P. Borchers, writer George Goldsmith, composer Jonathan Elias, production designer, Craig Stearns, actors Julie Maddalena, John Philbin, director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains, a commentary track and an interview with Linda Hamilton.
Queen of the Desert (Blu-ray + DVD)
Release date: Sept. 26
Details: 2017, Shout! Factory
Rated: PG-13, nudity, mature themes
The lowdown: Nicole Kidman stars in this biopic directed by Werner Herzog about Gertrude Bell, who fled the stifling social confines of turn-of-the-century England for freedom and adventure in the Middle East.
Bell travels to Tehran, from where she begins a lifelong journey across the Arab world, facing danger, adversity and experiencing romance with a British officer, played by James Franco, and an encounter with the legendary T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson).
The movie, shot on location in Morocco and Jordan, unfortunately did not find an audience.
Nor did critics take to this saga, giving it a mere 17 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com, where most of those who reviewed it called it bland, dull and a misfire.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and stereo; English SDH subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 amamorphic widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital and stereo; English SDH subtitles.
Legend of Bruce Lee: Volume Three
Details: 2008, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The 10 episodes covered in this three-disc set follow Bruce Lee’s attempts to make it in Hollywood, exhibit his new kung fu style of Jeet Kune Do and change the negative portrayal of the Chinese in mainstream media.
Of course, he is thwarted by industry discrimination and short-sightedness. But Lee continues his dream to become the first Chinese martial arts film star to achieve global fame.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture; English Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Jackals (Blu-ray) (Scream Factory-TAP Inc.)
The Suspicious Death of a Minor (Blu-ray) (Arrow Video)
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS and STREAMING
Armstrong (Screen Media)
Cult of Chucky (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
The Forlorned (Midnight Releasing)
Girls Trip (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Lady Macbeth (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Out of Nothing (Uncork’d Entertainment)
Rodney Carrington: Here Comes the Truth (Netflix)
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Paramount Home Entertainment, Oct. 6)
Cold Moon (Uncork’d Entertainment)
The Crucifixion (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Demons (Uncork’d Entertainment)
I am a 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 email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. My movie reviews also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.