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Welcome back, fans of physical media. There are several great Blu-ray releases hitting the shelves this week, and if you’re one of those weirdos like me who cherishes physical copies, you’re going to want to grab some if not all of these. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.Knives Out
One of the most entertaining movies of last year, Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out is both a send-up of and a loving tribute to whodunits – specifically locked room mysteries in which a gaggle of colorful characters are all treated as suspects. Daniel Craig‘s private detective Benoit Blanc gets top billing here, but he’s actually a secondary character. The film truly belongs to Ana de Armas, playing Marta, the immigrant nurse of a wealthy author Christopher Plummer. After the author turns up dead by apparent suicide, things take a turn for the surreal as the dead man’s family jockey for his inheritance. Johnson has so many tricks up his sleeve here that it borders on the absurd – and that’s part of the fun. Just when you think you’ve got Knives Out figured out, a new twist arises and shows you how wrong you’ve been.
Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray:
You might assume that knowing the twist or rather, twists of Knives Out makes for a less-fun rewatch. But you’d be wrong! Knives Out is inherently rewatchable. In fact, rewatching it helps you pick up on the clues you missed the first time around. In addition to the film itself, you get two different commentary tracks – one with Rian Johnson, DOP Steve Yedlin, and frequent Johnson player Noah Segan; one Johnson recorded to be used in theaters. Johnson is a filmmaker who knows his stuff, making his commentary tracks must-listens. And if that isn’t enough for you, there’s a 2-hour making-of featurette.
Special Features Include:Audio Commentary by Writer-Director Rian Johnson, Director of Photography Steve Yedlin, and Actor Noah Segan In-Theatre Commentary by Rian Johnson Deleted Scene: “Bicycling Accident” with Optional Audio Commentary by Rian Johnson Deleted Scene: “Don’t Do Anything Rash” with Optional Audio Commentary by Rian Johnson “Making a Murder” Eight-Part Documentary “Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder” Featurette Writer-Director and Cast Q&A Marketing Gallery “Meet the Thrombeys” Viral Ads Frozen 2
There seem to be two camps regarding Frozen 2. On one side you have those who think this is a step-down from the original. And then on the other you have people like me, who think this is, in fact, the superior film. The original Frozen is good, don’t get me wrong. But it kind of runs out of energy midway through, and never really recovers. That doesn’t happen...
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is one of the most visually dazzling films that Disney has put out this year, expanding on the lush fairy-tale visuals of the 2014 Maleficent to show us a rich Avatar-like underworld. It’s a world that you would expect to be completely created by the VFX team, but a new Maleficent Mistress of Evil clip that /Film is debuting ahead of the film’s digital and Blu-ray release proves that not to be the case.Maleficent Mistress of Evil Clip
/Film is debuting a new Maleficent: Mistress of Evil clip that will be available in full upon the film’s release on Digital and Blu-ray later this month. The clip digs into the VFX used in the film, overseen by VFX supervisor Gary Brozenich. The fantastical world of Maleficent seems at first to be composed entirely of CG shots, but producer Jeff Kirschenbaum describes how that is not the case.
“Not only is the Maleficent world built practically, it’s augmented by visual effects,” Kirschenbaum describe in the clip. “You really feel like you’re in the world and the visual effects are enhancing that.”
The clip goes on to show how the VFX team created the wings that Angelina Jolie‘s character uses to fly around the human kingdom of Ulstead and the fairy kingdom of the Moors — wings that are given special focus since the central conflict of the first film, 2014’s Maleficent, surrounded the damaging of Maleficent’s magnificent wings.
While it’s debatable whether Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was a successful sequel, there’s no denying it’s highly imaginative visuals. It’s amazing that a company like Disney would produce a film as visually gonzo and weird as this, and kudos must be given to the VFX team for bringing the vision of director Joachim Rønning to life.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will be available on Digital 12/31 and Blu-ray 1/14.
Maleficent travels to a grand old castle to celebrate young Aurora’s upcoming wedding to Prince Phillip. While there, she meets Aurora’s future mother-in-law - a conniving queen who hatches a devious plot to destroy the land’s fairies. Hoping to stop her, Maleficent joins forces with a seasoned warrior and a group of outcasts to battle the queen and her powerful army.
Although “The L Word: Generation Q” may have tried desperately to speak to a “new generation” of queer women and non-binary folks, fresher creative voices quickly rose to the top in its place. Though people still watched. Showtime’s “Work in Progress” was the best queer comedy of the year, Netflix’s “Feel Good” was an unexpected delight, and “Vida” is returning just in time for queer audiences to catch up on the best show about queer women of color on TV. Yet another contender released a promising first trailer today: “Betty” is a stylish and youthful portrait of Brooklyn teen skaters that already appears extremely queer.
The six-part half-hour arrives on HBO from filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who quickly made waves in 2015 with her her riveting documentary hybrid “The Wolfpack.” “Betty” is adapted from her second feature, the similarly hybridized “Skate Kitchen,” which followed a group of teenage girl skaters in New York City. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews and was released by Magnolia Pictures that year.
In his B+ review of “Skate Kitchen” out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “The streetwise alternative to ‘Girls,’ the movie weaves together such a complete vision of its subjects that the rest of the world barely exists. Of course, there's a long-standing precedent to capturing this subculture — ‘Kids’ did it, with more adventurous storytelling twists, more than 20 years ago — but Moselle's subjects hold their own with the surprising ability to clarify their emotions through the cathartic process of hanging out.”
“Betty” features many of the film’s original stars, most of whom had not acted before, including Kabrina Adams, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, and Ajani Russell. All accomplished skaters in their own right, the first trailer shows the charismatic crew navigating various crushes and friendship trials with compelling panache and humor.
“Betty” is directed, co-written, and executive produced by Moselle. Lesley Arfin and Patricia Breen are also co-writers. Arfin, who also EPs, is a comedy writer best known for co-creating the Netflix series “Love” with Judd Apatow and Paul Rust.
HBO will release “Betty” beginning May 1 at 11 pm ET. Check out the exciting first trailer below: