Mid-January is a weird, mellow time of the year. The holidays are gone, the weather and blah and there’s a general sense of ennui that floats listlessly through the grey days of winter. It’s no wonder then that so many people decide to stay indoors now and kick back with some movies. Which is part of the reason that the studios unleash so many great new Blu-rays and DVDs in the early part of the year. This week is no exception, as you’ll see with this rundown of titles that are now available…
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)
Five years have passed since Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) pledged herself to the protection of Aurora (Elle Fanning) and the Moors–but now, the young queen has accepted the proposal of her beloved Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). Does the cool response to the union of Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) portend a sinister agenda…and can Maleficent stop an all-out war on her faerie brethren? Fantasy follow-up co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Sam Riley, Robert Lindsay.
Gemini Man (2019)
Having hit age 50, proficient government assassin Henry Brogan (Will Smith) was just looking forward to getting out of the life and into quiet retirement. Someone high up, though, regards him as a loose end needing tied off…and that particular assignment has been handed to Junior (Smith, again), a clone of Brogan’s with all his deadly skills–and half his mileage. Ang Lee’s riveting fantasy-actioner also stars Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge.
The Fugitive Kind (Criterion Collection)(1960)
Emotional drama, based on Tennessee Williams’ “Orpheus Descending,” stars Marlon Brando as “Snakeskin” Xaviera, a guitar-toting wanderer who disrupts the staid life of a small Mississippi town, romancing both his unhappily-married boss at a five-and-dime, older Italian émigré Lady Torrance (Anna Magnani), and town floozy Carol Cutrere (Joanne Woodward). With Maureen Stapleton, Victor Jory, R.G. Armstrong; Sidney Lumet directs.
The Good Fairy (1935)
Wide-eyed Hungarian theater usherette Lu Ginglebusher (Margaret Sullavan) meets amorous meat-packing magnate Konrad (Frank Morgan) at a party. Uninterested in his romantic intentions, Lu forwards his many gifts to one poor soul, lawyer Max Sporum (Herbert Marshall), in exchange for his posing as her husband. Complications arise when Konrad hires Max, but only so he can send his competition off to South America! Romantic comedy also stars Alan Hale; directed by William Wyler.
House By the River (1950)
Skillfully rendered suspenser from Fritz Lang concerns Stephen Byrne (Louis Hayward), a demented writer whose sexual advances towards his maid lead to her unfortunate, unintended demise. Stephen’s hapless brother John (Lee Bowman) is convinced to help get rid of the body…and soon finds himself the prime suspect while Stephen brazenly includes the killing in his latest book. Atmospheric classic co-stars Jane Wyatt, Dorothy Patrick.
The Great McGinty (1940)
In Depression-era Chicago, the local political machine hacks put vagrant Dan McGinty (Brian Donlevy) to work–committing voter fraud–and were so impressed with his aptitude that they started backing him for public office. He rises up the chain all the way to the governor’s mansion…but will he regret listening to the pleas for reform from his new, show-purposes spouse (Muriel Angelus)? Preston Sturges’ directorial debut also netted him the Original Screenplay Oscar; Akim Tamiroff, Allyn Joslyn, William Demarest co-star.
Room at the Top (1959)
Landmark British “kitchen sink” drama stars Laurence Harvey as Joe Lampton, a dissatisfied war veteran who’ll stop at nothing to rise from his lowly accountant job, even if it means scheming to marry a factory owner’s daughter (Heather Sears) while having an affair with an older married woman (Simone Signoret, who won a Best Actress Academy Award). Donald Wolfit, Donald Houston, Hermione Baddeley co-star.
The Whisperers (1967)
This atmospheric and harrowing British drama features an acclaimed performance from Edith Evans as a poverty-stricken elderly woman living alone in a rundown apartment. As she struggles with mental problems that include hearing voices (the whisperers) and the delusions that she’s owed an inheritance, her plight only worsens when she must contend with her estranged shiftless husband and criminal son. Nanette Newman and Eric Portman co-star.
Bored socialite Penelope Elcott (Natalie Wood) was irked by the devotion of banker husband James (Ian Bannen) to his job–and that resentment found expression in outrageous bouts of kleptomania. As she launches elaborate schemes to plunder from their social circle–and James’ workplace–does her dubious psychiatrist (Dick Shawn) have a plan for snapping her out of it? Arthur Hiller’s off-kilter caper farce also stars Peter Falk, Jonathan Winters, Lila Kedrova, Lou Jacobi, Arlene Golonka.
Two centuries before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, the Man of Steel’s grandfather, Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), was fighting to restore the honor stripped from his family by a corrupt ruling council, while trying to comprehend the omens given him by space- and time-traveling Earthman Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) about his line’s destiny. Prequel series that bowed on Syfy in 2018 also stars Georgina Campbell, Elliot Cowan, Ann Ogbomo, Aaron Pierre, Rasmus Hardiker, Wallis Day. All 10 episodes of the second and final season are included in a two-disc set.
Beyond the Law (2019)
After his estranged junkie son turned up dead, disgraced ex-city cop Frank Wilson (Johnny Messner) went back to old haunts and old ways in order to flush out those responsible. While Wilson’s old partner (DMX) wants to keep the case on the up and up, the killer (Zack Ward) has an ex-mobster (Steven Seagal) for a father–and the gone-legit gangster will also go to any lengths to shield his kid. Riveting revenge actioner also stars Bill Cobbs, Chester Rushing, Patrick Kilpatrick, Saxon Sharbino.
Line of Duty (2019)
With his superior’s kidnapped daughter stashed in a hidden deathtrap, could it get any worse for cop Frank Penny (Aaron Eckhart) to have accidentally killed the only lead? Actually, it could, as the dead man’s brother (Ben Mackenzie) is out hunting for bloody payback–and the desperate lawman must hunt for redemption while avoiding his pursuer’s thirst for revenge. Gripping thriller also stars Dina Meyer, Giancarlo Esposito, Jessica Lu, Courtney Eaton.
Veep: The Final Season (2019)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in this scathingly funny and satirical HBO series about fictional U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer. With help from her (usually) dedicated and (more or less) competent staff, Selina finds that the job of the second most powerful person in the world largely consists of dodging political landmines and avoiding public humiliation. Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Timothy Simons also star. All seven episodes of the final season are featured in this collection.
The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)
Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet in this effective Hammer chiller. In 1920 Egypt, an archeological team retrieves and–disregarding an ominous warning–removes the remains of a young pharaoh. It doesn’t take long before the members of the expedition are being killed one at a time by the mummy of the ruler’s bodyguard. André Morell, John Phillips, David Buck, Elizabeth Sellars star.
Brewster’s Millions (Collector’s Edition) (1985)
Think it’s easy being a millionaire? Wait ’til you see minor league ball player Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) try to spend $30 million in 30 days. If he can do it, he’ll inherit $300 million from a recently deceased relative. Brewster soon discovers, however, that it’s much easier to make money than it is to lose it. Hilarious version of the Hollywood comedy classic also stars John Candy and Lonette McKee.