What’s New on DVD in January: ‘The French Dispatch,’ ‘Her Smell,’ Martial Arts Classics, and More

·14-min read

New Release Wall

Wes Anderson’s latest film, “The French Dispatch” (20th Century Studios), was such a dizzying, fast-moving, visual feast that it begs to be viewed again on physical media, if only to pause on each impeccably art-directed frame to catch details you missed. In that context, the movie could be about anything, really, and we’d just be content to look at it. But it does happen to be about the golden age of American literary magazines, full of archly drawn intellectuals, all of whom are portrayed by a stunning roster of A-list stars delivering Andersonian dialogue in the deadpan manner we’ve all come to know and love.

Also Available:

“The Addams Family 2” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) The sweethearts of creepy and ooky return in an animated family feature.

“Antlers” (Searchlight Pictures) Guillermo del Toro produced this atmospheric horror film starring Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, and a mysterious forest entity (see: name of movie).

“Last Night in Soho” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) Anya Taylor-Joy shares a consciousness with Thomasin McKenzie in this psychological horror film from Edgar Wright.

“Spencer” (Neon) Pablo Larrain’s moving a-few-days-in-the-life “biopic” of the late Princess Diana allows Kristen Stewart to shine, yet again, as one of her generation’s best actors.

New Indie

Elisabeth Moss isn’t playing Courtney Love in “Her Smell” (Gunpowder & Sky), and her fictional band isn’t Hole in this harrowing exploration of rock stardom and addiction. Then again, she’s not not Courtney Love, and that band is basically Hole, but who cares, really? Moss tears it up and delivers the kind of raging, aggressive, obnoxious, tender, and sorrowful performance for which actors usually find themselves nominated for this or that award. If you can handle being inside this character’s tortured head for 135 minutes, then maybe you’re the one who’s Courtney Love.

Also Available:

“Broadcast Signal Intrusion” (Dark Sky Films) Harry Shum Jr stumbles onto a sinister ’90s video conspiracy.

“Ida Red” (Saban/Paramount) Melissa Leo is a terminally-ill woman in prison who turns to son Josh Hartnett for help.

“This Game’s Called Murder” (Kino Lorber) Ron Perlman as a shoe designer (!) in this dark, violent satire about life as we know it.

“Zeros and Ones” (Lionsgate) 2021 action drama from Abel Ferrara, with Ethan Hawke as a soldier on a mission.

New Foreign

Between “Jackie” and “Spencer,” director Pablo Lorrain made “Ema” (Music Box Films), a dance-drama hybrid starring Mariana di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal as a couple dealing with the emotional reverberations of the adopted child that they returned years earlier. Mixing Lorrain’s visual and emotional styles with a driving reggaeton beat, this one-of-a-kind musical makes a unique entry in the filmography of a fascinating contemporary stylist.

Also available:

“The Dry” (RLJE Films) Eric Bana is on the hunt for answers to a murder case gone cold.

“Escape from Mogadishu” (Well Go USA Entertainment) Diplomats find themselves trapped in the middle of a Somali civil war in South Korea’s Oscar entry.

“Golden Voices” (Music Box Films) A Russian couple, both voice actors, move to Israel and find their careers on the rocks.

“Hive” (Zeitgeist Films) Acclaimed drama from Kosovo about a single mother struggling to keep her family together.

“The Man with the Answers” (Artsploitation Films) Two young men, one Greek and one German, hit the road and find love in this LGBTQ drama.

“Memory House” (Film Movement) Folklore, contemporary politics, and magical realism swirl through Joao Paulo Miranda Maria’s Cannes Film Festival hit.

“Only the Animals” (Cohen Media Group) A French murder mystery in the snow. As smart as “Fargo,” minus the laughs.

“Roh” (Film Movement) Quietly shattering horror from Malaysia about a strange, prophetic girl who points a family to their doom.

“Saint-Narcisse” (Film Movement) Canadian queer punk icon Bruce LaBruce’s latest involves identical twin brothers looking for, and finding, love in an unlikely place.

“Sleep” (Arrow Video) David Lynch, Franz Kafka, and Grimm’s fairy tales are the reference points for this psychological horror film from Michael Venus.

“Weathering With You” (GKIDS) A young boy in Tokyo meets a girl who can change the weather in this fantasy anime from director Makoto Shinkai (“Your Name”) — now making its North American 4K debut.

“Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” (Film Movement) Three women’s lives intersect in this acclaimed film from Japanese auteur Ryusuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”).

New Doc

Garrett Bradley’s searing, poetic documentary “Time” (The Criterion Collection) examines the inequities of the U.S. prison system, particularly as they apply to Black men, through the decades-long struggle of Fox Rich and her ongoing efforts to get her husband out of jail. It’s a beautiful portrait of love, of parenthood, and the ways in which people can build new lives for themselves when the system is seemingly designed to crush them.

Also available:

“ABBA Forever: The Winner Takes It All” (Wienerworld) A charming documentary about the most beloved pop band in the world, and just in time for their first album in 40 years.

“Dick Johnson Is Dead” (The Criterion Collection) The loving and inventive story of a filmmaker who helps her aging father prepare to die.

“The Great Postal Heist” (Cinema Libre Studio) A fiery documentary about the struggle of a 30-year post office clerk and the downsizing of the oldest federal agency in the U.S.

“Little Girl” (Music Box) Thoughtful and gentle documentary about an 8-year-old transgender child named Sasha.

“Moments Like This Never Last” (Utopia) A look into the world and career of the late street artist Dash Snow.

“Try Harder!” (Greenwich Entertainment) The stress endured by, and pressures placed upon, students vying for spots at elite colleges will make you wonder why anyone bothers.

New Grindhouse

Whether you’re a newcomer or an old-school fan of kung fu cinema, you’re going to love Shawscope Volume One: Limited Edition Box (Arrow Video). This limited edition box set showcases a dozen titles from the godfathers of Hong Kong martial arts filmmaking, the Shaw Brothers. You get “King Boxer” (aka “Five Fingers of Death”), “Mighty Peking Man,” “The Five Venoms,” and more, all restored and remastered, with fresh subtitle translations and bonuses like original mono audio tracks, interviews, deleted scenes, and alternate versions. It’s a feast.

Also available:

“Arrebato” (Altered Innocence) Late-’70s Spanish horror classic championed by Pedro Almodóvar is, as you might imagine, a mind-altering trip.

“The Awakener” (Shout Factory) A Brazilian agent tries to fight political corruption and winds up with a fight on his hands.

“The Card Player” (Scorpion Releasing) Dario Argento’s 2004 internet serial killer thriller is a late career high.

“Disciples of Shaolin” (88 Films) Another classic ’70s Shaw Brothers martial arts mindbender, starring Sheng Fu.

“The Djinn” (RLJE Films) A mute boy makes a wish and winds up with a monster in his home.

“Double Walker” (Cranked Up) A young woman’s ghost is on the hunt for the person who killed her.

“Final Justice” (MVD Rewind Collection) “Walking Tall” king Joe Don Baker stars in this ’80s cult classic (MST3K approved!) about a Texas sheriff battling the mafia.

“Halloween Kills” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) Michael Myers stabs more people and turns the community of Haddonfield against itself.

“The Midnight Swim” (Vinegar Syndrome) Sarah Adina Smith’s debut feature is a mysterious story about a bottomless lake, a missing mother, and the daughters who embark on an incredible journey.

“Shock” (Arrow Video) Mario Bava’s final film, a 1977 masterpiece of psychological horror, lives up to its title.

“Street Fighter” (Mill Creek Entertainment) Jean-Claude van Damme breaks out of the video game into live-action kicking alongside Raul Julia in this new steelbook edition.

“The Superdeep” (Shudder/RLJE) This Russian thriller follows a research team who find more than they bargained for when they decide to burrow into the earth.

“The Toolbox Murders” (Blue Underground) The driller-killer exploitation classic gets the 4K treatment.

“An Unquiet Grave” (Shudder/RLJE) A man asks for his sister-in-law’s help to bring his late wife back from the dead.

“The Vampire Lovers” (Scream Factory) Vintage gothic horror from the legendary Hammer studios, the brand you trust for lady vampires with extravagant eye shadow.

“The Way” (Gravitas Ventures) A woman on death row undergoes a spiritual transformation.

New Classic

Dad Cinema doesn’t come any more entertaining than “The Great Escape” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics), making its 4K debut. This eminently watchable saga about a real-life WWII POW-camp prison break has wit, stakes, suspense, and one of the great sausage-fest ensembles ever assembled, including Steve McQueen (instantly achieving icon status, with the help of a very cool motorcycle), James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance, Charles Bronson, and David McCallum.

Also available:

“Akira” (Funimation) The anime touchstone that influenced the genre for decades to come makes its North American 4K debut.

“All My Sons” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Burt Lancaster and Edward G. Robinson star in this noir drama, based on the Arthur Miller play, about crime and consequences.

“Breaking In” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Bill Forsyth (“Local Hero”) directs John Sayles’ late-80s crime comedy about an aging burglar (Burt Reynolds) trying to teach a novice (Casey Siemaszko) the robbery ropes.

“The Celebration” (The Criterion Collection) One of the highlights of the Dogme 95 movement was this blistering drama about a family reunion where all the painful secrets of the past get aired in public.

“China” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Japan invades China, but the movie is more interested in Loretta Young falling in love with Alan Ladd.

Corinth Films Historical Drama Collection (Corinth Films) Get your European historical drama on with these five contemporary classics: “Within the Whirlwind,” “Calm at Sea,” “The Chronicles of Melanie,” “Remembrance,” and “Habermann.”

“The Crime of the Century” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) B-movie classic involving an ex-con exposing the titular misdeed.

“Dancing With Crime” / “The Green Cockatoo” (Cohen Media Group) Innocents get mixed up with murder in this double feature of classic British thrillers.

“Double Door” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) 1934 family drama about rich New Yorkers in the grip of a matriarch’s domineering ways.

“Expresso Bongo” (Cohen Media Group) The movie that launched the pop career of British icon Cliff Richard, and yes, it’s got lots of bongos, daddy-o.

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema V (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Hard-boiled is the new happy with these vintage downbeat classics: “The Midnight Story,” “Outside the Law,” and “Because of You.”

“Gambit” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) If you can get past Shirley MacLaine’s semi-yellowface (her character is “Eurasian”), she and Michael Caine have fun with this twisty comedy caper.

“Golden Earrings” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) A spy finds love in this WWII drama starring Ray Milland and Marlene Dietrich.

“A Hard Day’s Night” (The Criterion Collection) The Beatles became movie stars with this one, and it’s no wonder. (Now in 4K.)

“Impasse” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) 1969 World War II action film with Burt Reynolds hunting for hidden treasure in the Philippines

“Journey to Shiloh” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Seven men go on a cross country trek to fight the Battle of Shiloh in this 1968 Civil War–themed western (which features one of Harrison Ford’s earliest screen appearances).

“Juice” (Paramount) A new 4K steelbook highlights Tupac’s acting debut, which charges up this teenage crime drama that also features a young Queen Latifah.

“Laughing Heirs” (Kino Classics) 1933 Max Ophuls comedy about a wine estate heir who won’t inherit a thing if he touches a drop of alcohol.

“The Lover” (Capelight Pictures) Jane March and Tony Leung Ka Fai star in the Marguerite Duras adaptation that had arthouse audiences coming back for more forbidden love-affair action; when it was released in 1992, it was one of the first Western films since Sessue Hayakawa’s silent-screen heyday to present an Asian man as a sexual romantic lead.

“The Mafu Cage” (Scorpion Releasing) Karen Arthur’s oddball cult film with Carol Kane, Lee Grant, and a house full of primates.

“Maria’s Lovers” (Kino Lorber) Nastassja Kinski has a lot of men on hold in this romantic drama from Andrei Konchalovsky.

“The Naked Ape” (Code Red) A 1973 “experience” of a film with live-action and animation exploring the evolution of humanity. (Features a post–”The Rifleman” Johnny Crawford and a pre-“Dallas” Victoria Principal, both game.)

“The Piano” (The Criterion Collection) Jane Campion’s masterpiece, starring Oscar-winners Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, alongside Harvey Keitel and Sam Neill. (Now in 4K.)

“The Pink Jungle” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) James Garner and George Kennedy fight for diamonds and a woman in South America.

“The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (Walt Disney Home Entertainment) The one that started it all, just so you know who to blame. (Now in 4K.)

“Red Angel” (Arrow Video) Yasuzo Masumara’s searing 1966 anti-war film still packs a wallop

“Rich and Strange” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Early Alfred Hitchcock drama about a couple who find that an inheritance leads to more trouble than they expected.

“The 7th Dawn” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) William Holden leads a cast of characters caught up on opposing sides of a Communist insurgency in Malaya after World War II.

“Shake Hands with the Devil” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) James Cagney fights with the I.R.A. against British forces in this 1959 historical drama

The Sherlock Holmes Vault Collection (The Film Detective) Even before Basil Rathbone famously took over the part, the legendary sleuth was already a cinema staple in these four British features from the 1930s.

“Sparrows” (MVD Visual) New restoration of a 1926 social-issue drama starring Mary Pickford.

“Three Women” (Kino Classics) Not to be confused with the Robert Altman film of the same name, this silent Ernst Lubitsch drama concerns a mother and daughter involved in a love triangle.

Through the Decades: 1960s Collection (Mill Creek Entertainment) A dizzingly varied collection of films in one ’60s-themed box — the highlight is Arthur Penn’s “Mickey One,” an existential-neurotic-jazz gangster drama with Warren Beatty, but there’s lots to enjoy here, including “Who Was That Lady?”, “The Notorious Landlady,”
“Under the Yum-Yum Tree,” “Good Neighbor Sam,” “Lilith” (starring Beatty and Jean Seberg), “Baby, the Rain Must Fall,” “Genghis Khan,” “The Chase,” “Luv,” “How to Save a Marriage (and Ruin Your Life),” and “Hook, Line and Sinker.”

Through the Decades: 1970s Collection (Mill Creek Entertainment) You’ll want this assortment for the two Barbra Streisand movies (“The Owl and the Pussycat” and “For Pete’s Sake”) and the rollicking Jane Fonda–George Segal heist comedy “Fun with Dick and Jane,” but there’s plenty more to enjoy here, including “A Walk in the Spring Rain,” “$ (Dollars),” “The Anderson Tapes,” “Brother John,” “The Horsemen,” early Stephen Frears comedy “Gumshoe,” and “The Stone Killer.”

New TV

Naysayers might have originally decried the series as a gimmicky spin-off from a beloved movie franchise, but here we are at “Cobra Kai”: Season 3 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) — with Season 4 new on Netflix — and the show continues to build an audience while cleverly retweaking everything we thought we knew about the iconic characters played, then and now, by Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and the rest of this talented ensemble.

Also available:

“Billions”: Season 5 (CBS/Paramount) The battle of wills in the world of high finance never ends!

“The Bridge of San Luis Rey” (Liberation Hall) A priest on trial for heresy in this 1958 TV adaptation of the Thornton Wilder novel starring Hume Cronyn and Judith Anderson and directed by Robert Mulligan.

“Inherit the Wind” (1999) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott remake the classic play and film for TV.

“Mahalia” (Lionsgate) Danielle Brooks stars as the greatest gospel singer of all time in this biopic

“The Sommerdahl Murders,” Series 2 (Acorn) A married couple and their friend solve murders in this cozy mystery/love triangle.

“Ultraman Gaia”: Complete Series & Specials (Mill Creek Entertainment) Monster fighting in the ’90s — what’s not to love?

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