February is still going strong and we start with one of the best family movies, and straight up one of the best dramas, in recent memory, Wonder. August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay, Room) is a young boy born with a rare medical facial deformity that has put him through over 27 surgeries and a life of homeschooling. But now entering fifth grade Auggie will be attending public school for the first time. He will have to use his brilliant mind, incredible courage and amazing sense of humor to win over his classmates who may be wary of his differences. But with the help of his extraordinary family Auggie’s journey may not only change him, but everyone he encounters.
Wonder is a rare family drama that never resorts to saccharine sentiment in order to tug at your heartstrings, it does it all with genuine character and emotional heft. Tremblay is an extraordinary actor and does such a stunning job here acting through his extensive makeup. He same goes for his entire supporting cast including the various child actors playing his classmates to Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson playing his parents. I cried many, many times during Wonder but only because it was so relatable with its themes of acceptance, alienation and loneliness. Wonder lives up to its name and is not only entertaining but a wonderful set of life lessons for younger viewers.
Next up is a release that has be beyond excited. In 1968 George A. Romero made one of the most influential and socio-political horror films ever with Night of the Living Dead. But due to some bad negotiating, he never retained the right to the film and it became public domain leading to tons of crappy quality releases on all formats for the past almost fifty years. But now thanks to the beloved folks at The Criterion Collection, Night of the Living Dead is getting the full deluxe and proper treatment is has always deserved. The story is a simple one, a small group of strangers find themselves trapped in an isolated farmhouse during a bizarre event causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. But thanks to Romero’s inventive direction and the fantastic performances, especially by Duane Jones, Night of the Living Dead rises above its shoestring budget to become a harrowing survival tale that is just as effective today as it ever was.
This new edition of Night of the Living Dead is going to become the one essential staple in any film library. For the first time the film was full restores, by the Museum of Modern Art no less, with a new 4K digital restoration, supervised by director George A. Romero, co-screenwriter John A. Russo, sound engineer Gary R. Streiner, and producer Russell W. Streiner as well as a new restoration of the monaural soundtrack, supervised by Romero and Gary Streiner and presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray. Viewing the movie is like seeing it for the very first time, no other edition has even come close. But in addition to this new transfer, which is worth the price alone, you also get a full never-before-presented work print of the film entitled Night of Anubis, never-before-seen 16, dailies reels, two audio commentaries from 1994, a new featurette featuring interviews with Frank Darabont, Guillermo Del Toro and Robert Rodriguez, and much much more. This one is a no-brainer folks. Pun fully intended.
Lastly this week is a new series that garnered a lot of praise, The Sinner. Jessica Biel stars as Cora Tannetti, a young woman who commits a horrific act of violence in public and in front of her family, but has no idea why she did it. An investigator, Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman), becomes obsessed with the case and is determined to discover what is behind the inexplicable actions of a seemingly normal woman.
The Sinner is a totally absorbing mystery anchored by phenomenal performances by Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman. The act itself is unexpected and violent, but as the mystery unfolds as to why it happened, it is one of the best suspense shows I have seen in a long time. Much like HBO’s recent The Night Of, The Sinner is a meticulously crafted puzzle with beautiful production design, direction and writing. Do yourself a favor and make this one your next binge watch.
Also of note this week is Shout Factory’s new Collector’s Edition of Sam Raimi’s outrageously fun Drag Me to Hell featuring new transfers and a whack of special features, the remake of the brilliant French horror classic Inside starring Rachel Nichols, and the newest entry in the Hellraiser franchise, Hellraiser: Judgment.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday February 13, 2018
Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials
All I See is You
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend*
Batman: Bad Blood Triple Feature
Blade of the Immortal
Blaze and the Monster Machines: Heroes of Axle City
Broad City: Season Four
Brotherhood of Blades II
Chaos/Don’t Look in the Basement*
Doctor Who Special: Twice Upon a Time
Drag Me to Hell: Collector’s Edition
Halo: The Fall of Reach
Hazlo Como Hombre
Hell or High Water 4K
Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Spring into Friendship
Mystery Science Theater 3000 VII
Night of the Living Dead – Criterion Collection
Night of the Seagulls*
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!
Pretty Fine Things
Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol 1*
Silence of the Lambs – Criterion Collection
The Ballad of Lefty Brown
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Special Edition
The Blood Spattered Bride*
The Child Bride of Short Creek
The Deuce: The Complete First Season
The Gospel Collection
The Gospel of Matthew
The Last Hunter aka Hunter of the Apocalypse*
The Sinner: Season One
The Thomas Crown Affair: 50th Anniversary
Three’s Company: The Complete Series
*Catalog Blu-ray debut