New DVDs: May 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah

FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback). Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) commands?

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“The film, directed by Shaka King from a script he wrote with Will Berson, is a special sort of twofer—a powerful, and candidly sympathetic, political biography with contemporary relevance, and a morality tale set forth as an exciting action adventure.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“This is a throwback movie in the best sense of the term, asking the audience to consider the not-too-distant past of anti-Black racism as prologue to its similarly murderous present. It’s also a return to a brand of muscular, serious-minded filmmaking that has been virtually forgotten in recent years.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“Led by sensational performances from Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, the FBI informant who infiltrated his inner circle, this is a scalding account of oppression and revolution, coercion and betrayal, rendered more shocking by the undiminished currency of its themes.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Available Formats [5/4]:

DVD


The Little Things

Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt, L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Malek and Washington are electric together in this atmospheric, moody thriller that will keep you guessing and on the edge of the proverbial seat (or living room sofa). You won’t be able to shake this one off for a very long time.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

“Led by a trio of Oscar winners knocking it out of the park, The Little Things is a murky must-see.” – James Mottram, Total Film

“Especially in its upending, pivoting-away-from-crime norms, morally ambiguous ending, Hancock’s picture reveals itself to have much more on its mind than expected, and becomes a thoughtful meditation on the rigors of police work and the psychic toll that it takes on the soul.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

Available Formats [5/4]:

Blu-Ray | DVD


The Virtuoso

Danger, deception, and murder descend upon a sleepy country town when a professional assassin (Anson Mount) accepts a new assignment from his enigmatic mentor and boss (Anthony Hopkins). Given only where and when along with a cryptic clue, the methodical hit man must identify his mysterious mark from among several possible targets, including a local sheriff (David Morse). Meanwhile, a chance encounter with an alluring woman (Abbie Cornish) at the town’s rustic diner threatens to derail his mission in this noir-style cloak-and-dagger thriller.

Description provided by Metacritic.

Available Formats [5/4]:

DVD


Grand Unified Theory

During one unusual weekend, the family of a brilliant astrophysicist (Scott Bellis) has a complete meltdown, setting in motion a series of events that mirror his own radical theories about the universe.

Description provided by Rotten Tomatoes.

“…this Theory really works because Ray obviously loves his characters and, sure enough, so do we.” – Adrian Mack, Georgia Straight

“Don’t miss this brilliant comedy full of heart…” – Pamela Powell, Reel Honest Reviews

Available Formats [5/4]:

DVD


Sometime Other Than Now

A man falls for the manager of a motel while trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Description provided by Rotten Tomatoes.

“Besides wonderfully natural and lifelike performances, the film has a good deal of authentic heart.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said

“Slow, easygoing movie about adult love. Solid cast is a plus.” – Jackie K. Cooper, jackiekcooper.com

“…the performances are consistently engaging, and the town is a pleasant place to spend a little time.” – Josh Bell, Crooked Marquee

Available Formats [5/4]:

DVD


Rocks in My Pockets

Fighting for her sanity, Signe Baumane uses wit and imagination to confront the secrets of her family’s madness.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Boasting a narrative of extraordinary complexity and density, stuffed with irony, humor and tales-within-tales, the imaginative animated memoir Rocks in My Pockets merges a mini-history of 20th-century Latvia with that of helmer Signe Baumane and her forebears.” – Alissa Simon, Variety

“The bravery of Ms. Baumane’s own coping methods (which some may disagree with) brings her tough-minded film to a cleareyed, forward-looking conclusion that doesn’t lose sight of her demons.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

“This is a brave film, a unique way of exploring a taboo topic. The animation works on many levels, but at the end of the day, it’s about how art helps Signe overcome her madness. That’s a heartfelt message — and here it feels genuine.” – David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle

Available Formats [5/4]:

DVD


The Marksman

Hardened Arizona rancher Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) simply wants to be left alone as he fends off eviction notices and tries to make a living on an isolated stretch of borderland. But everything changes when Hanson, an ex-Marine sharpshooter, witnesses 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Jacob Perez) fleeing with his mother Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) from drug cartel assassins led by the ruthless Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba). After being caught in a shoot-out, a dying Rosa begs Jim to take her son to safety to her family in Chicago. Defying her cop daughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), Jim sneaks Miguel out of the local U.S. Customs and Border Patrol station and together, they hit the road with the group of killers in pursuit. Jim and Miguel slowly begin to overcome their differences and begin to forge an unlikely friendship, while Mauricio and his fellow assassins blaze a cold-blooded trail, hot on their heels. When they finally meet on a Midwestern farm, a fight to the death ensues as Jim uses his military skills and code of honor to defend the boy he’s come to love.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“The movie displays the measured pacing and tautness marking many of Eastwood’s films, and Neeson delivers an Eastwood-style performance while also revealing an emotional vulnerability that proves fully relatable. It’s easy to see how his distinctive combination of mature rugged masculinity and Irish soulfulness has made him a perfect action hero for these complicated times.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“We know what we’re getting with this particular genre, and The Marksman, starring Neeson as a Texas rancher protecting a young boy from drug cartels, is a perfectly adequate exercise in providing it. If it lacks some of the panache and grindhouse appeal of previous installments, it also avoids the xenophobia and general mean-spiritedness.” – Vince Mancini, Uproxx

“Ultimately, The Marksman hits its generic target. It is the kind of film you watch on accident more than seek out, but you probably won’t regret the accident.” – Evan Saathoff, /Film

Available Formats [5/11]:

Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack


The Mauritanian

Captured by the U.S. Government, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) languishes in prison for years without charge or trial. Losing all hope, Slahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). Together they face countless obstacles in a desperate pursuit for justice. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), eventually reveals a shocking and far reaching conspiracy. Based on the New York Times best-selling memoir, this is the explosive true story of a fight for survival against all odds.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

The Mauritanian is an incredibly powerful, poignant, enraging film, one that is uplifted by an incredibly magnetic lead performance by Tahar Rahim.” – Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant

“As directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), it’s a steady, compelling accounting of events that intends to leave you infuriated and succeeds.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“The story gains momentum as it goes, and by the end, it’s positively gripping.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

Available Formats [5/11]:

DVD


Land

Edee (Robin Wright), in the aftermath of an unfathomable event, finds herself unable to stay connected to the world she once knew and in the face of that uncertainty, retreats to the magnificent, but unforgiving, wilds of the Rockies. After a local hunter (Demián Bichir) brings her back from the brink of death, she must find a way to live again.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Wright provides a film of hope and faith with extreme, challenging, and harsh realities and presents them with flawless character and a connection to nature and its healing properties.” – Sabina Dana Plasse, Film Threat

“Wright the filmmaker wrings out one of Wright the actor’s career-best performances.” – Dan Mecca, The Film Stage

“Wright’s movie is ambitious (that location! that weather!), but not grandiose. Its storytelling economy helps make it credible and eventually moving.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

Available Formats [5/11]:

Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack


Pixie

Pixie (Olivia Cooke) wants to avenge her mother’s death by masterminding a heist, but her plans go awry and she finds herself on the run with two young men (Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack) who are way out of their depth being chased across the Wild Irish countryside by… deadly gangster priests. She has to pit her wits against everyone, taking on the patriarchy to claim the right to shape her own life.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“The film is bolstered by the strength of Cooke’s magnetic performance and is energetically entertaining, heartbreakingly sad, and darkly humorous.” – Mae Abdulbaki, ScreenRant

“The film simply wouldn’t be much, however, without Cooke’s quick-witted performance. She’s formidable and disarming at the same time, all the time. The character’s always got a line and, usually, a good move for any situation.” – Bob Strauss, San Francisco Chronicle

“It’s got a good enough cast, a couple of twists and enough brute force to it that it’s worth taking in on its own terms. Those terms being ‘We’re imitating the McDonagh Brothers, so what?'” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

Available Formats [5/11]:

DVD


Minari

A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“It’s at once intimate and expansive – a film with a big heart and not a bad word to say about anyone.” – Phil de Semlyen, Time Out

“A profound, detail-perfect and soulful slice of American family life, with some of the year’s most sincere performances to date.” – Terri White, Empire

“It is not just about the American dream; it is a search for America’s soul.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

Available Formats [5/18]:

Blu-Ray | DVD


Raya and the Last Dragon

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Sure to be an instant animated classic as it expertly balances emotion, humor and social politics amid a backdrop of surreal, eye-popping visual beauty.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

“The film is crammed with so much transporting spectacle and visual invention, it feels epic even at living-room size.” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

“On its own gorgeously depicted terms, this film sticks the landing as a celebration of hope, a manifestation of what unfettered trust in our shared humanity could look like.” – Dan Rubins, Slant

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


The Nest

Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur and former commodities broker, persuades his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), and their children to leave the comforts of suburban America and return to his native England during the 1980s. Sensing opportunity, Rory rejoins his former firm and leases a centuries-old country manor, with grounds for Allison’s horses and plans to build a stable. Soon the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel and the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Writer-director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) has delivered a nearly perfect film here — the cinematic equivalent of those substantial, long-but-not-too-long short stories that says everything about its subject without actually saying everything.” – Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com

The Nest is a somber, grown-up sort of movie, made with remarkable poise and maturity, and a level of craft so compelling it can be difficult to tear your eyes from the screen.” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

The Nest is one of the best films of the year: Though it’s set in the past, it’s about the feeling of one’s own home turning against you when the world outside feels all the more hostile—a theme that resonates far beyond its time period.” – David Sims, The Atlantic

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


Supernova

Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), partners of twenty years, are traveling across England in their old camper van visiting friends, family and places from their past. Following a life-changing diagnosis, their time together has become more important than ever until secret plans test their love like never before.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“It’s rare to see a cinematic drama executed with such consistent care as Supernova, written and directed by Harry Macqueen and starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. And here, that care pays off to devastating effect.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“Tucci and Firth have never been better than they are here, and they earn every superlative that has been laid on them in early reviews.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

Supernova is modest in every respect except its emotional impact. In the characters’ internal arcs, the title—the name for a stellar explosion—comes fully into perspective.” – Karen Han, Slate

Available Formats [5/18]:

Blu-ray


Shithouse

Lonely college freshman Alex (Cooper Raiff) has closed himself off from his peers, who all appear to have this whole “college thing” figured out. But everything changes one night when Alex takes a leap and attends a party at Shithouse – a legendary party fraternity – where he forges a strong connection with Maggie (Dylan Gelula). The next day, she ignores him completely and seems to have forgotten about their amazing night. Desperately clinging to his social breakthrough, Alex pulls out all the stops with one more night at Shithouse, hoping to rekindle that moment of connection.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“One of the most extraordinary debuts of the year.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle

“Raiff is so credible in the part one can’t help but suspect there’s a lot of him in Alex; the film’s willingness to look so frankly at his vulnerability, in an unmanipulative way, feels especially refreshing now.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“It’s one of the freshest college movies in years, a nano-budget breakthrough of rare sensitivity that announces more than one new talent.” – Jake Coyle, Associated Press

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


Son

After a mysterious group of individuals breaks into Laura’s home and attempts to steal her eight-year-old son, David, the two of them flee town in search of safety. But soon after the failed kidnapping, David becomes extremely ill, suffering from increasingly sporadic psychosis and convulsions. Following her maternal instincts to save him, Laura commits unspeakable acts to keep him alive but soon, she must decide how far she is willing to go to save her son.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Upholding genre tropes whilst subverting them, Son is an unsettling fever-dream drenched in unspeakable acts that leave viewers on edge until the end.” – Debopriyaa Dutta, ScreenRant

“Kavanagh and Matichak do a remarkable job of capturing an amped-up version of everyday parental paranoia. This is ultimately a movie about a woman who loves her child so intensely that she becomes irrational — and dangerous.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“The movie keeps us tense, guessing and most of all concerned for Laura on her odyssey through a very bloody heartland.” – Michael Gingold, Rue Morgue

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


Hunted

What started as a flirtatious encounter at a bar turns into a life-or-death struggle as Eve (Lucie Debay) becomes the unknowing target of a misogynistic plot against her. Forced to flee as two men pursue her through the forest, she’s pushed to her extremes while fighting to survive in the wilderness—but survival isn’t enough for Eve. She will have revenge.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

Hunted doesn’t exactly rewrite the original tale, but it doesn’t have to. It just has to have teeth, and Paronnaud’s kept those canines sharp and savage.” – Andrew Crump, Paste

“Here’s one for the artsy crowd that loves a good scare – a moody takeoff of the Little Red Riding Hood fable that will give you night sweats.” – Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News

“Unnerving in the right ways and flecked with colourful, unexpected specks of wit.” – Leslie Felperin, The Guardian

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


Above Suspicion

The chilling true story of a newly married F.B.I. poster boy assigned to an Appalachian mountain town in Kentucky. There he is drawn into an illicit affair with an impoverished local woman who becomes his star informant. She sees in him her means of escape; instead, it’s a ticket to disaster for both of them. This scandal shook the foundations of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, ending in the first ever conviction of an F.B.I. Agent for murder.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“What Above Suspicion lacks in flashy direction, it makes up for in strong performances and gripping true-life material to draw from.” – Al Horner, Empire

“To Noyce’s credit, the film makes an impression even when it feels truncated.” – Jesse Hassenger, NME

“The stranger-than-fiction weirdness and emotional dysfunction are what’s interesting here, and the film doesn’t quite take the lid off it. But Clarke is effective as Smith and carries the picture.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


The Alienist: Angel of Darkness

Set a year after season one, Sara, now running her own detective agency, teams up with Dr. Kreizler and John Moore to help find the Spanish Consular’s kidnapped baby in the second season subtitled: Angel of Darkness and based on Caleb Carr’s novel of the same name.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“The second season… improves its storytelling significantly while maintaining one of the most interesting aesthetics on air.” – Jacob Oller, Paste

“[S]ometimes all you want is a really compelling murder mystery with high production value and compelling characters, and in that way The Alienist: Angel of Darkness delivers.” – Adam Chitwood, Collider

“This is a complex crime story with enough twists and turns to keep even the most experienced genre addict on their toes.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Film International

Available Formats [5/18]:

DVD


Chaos Walking

In the not too distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious girl who crash lands on his planet, where all the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by “the Noise” – a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened – and as Todd vows to protect her, he will have to discover his own inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“As the film begins to reveal its easily guessed secrets, it also doubles as a resonant tale of misogyny in the face of exposure: an allegory about how male rage grows directly out of male insecurity and is fortified by religious zealotry. Miss those themes announced like thoughts put into words, and there’s still the way Liman and his writers play their Philip K. Dick-worthy concept for screwball comedy and suspense.” – A.A. Dowd, AV Club

“Mikkelsen has played iconic villains before, and while Prentiss isn’t nearly as memorable as Hannibal Lecter or Le Chiffre, he still manages to imbue Chaos Walking with a sense of danger.” – Christian Holub, Entertainment Weekly

“In classic unpredictable Liman fashion, this jumbled and seemingly truncated adaptation of the first book in a YA trilogy is nonetheless likable, entertaining science fiction.” – Jesse Hassenger, Polygon

Available Formats [5/25]:

DVD


Happily

A happily married couple (Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé) discover their friends are resentful of their lustful relationship. When a visit from a mysterious stranger leads to a dead body, they begin to question the loyalty of their so-called friends.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“First-time feature helmer Grabinski firmly steers his script away from sticking in one mode or another: It’s neither purely scary, nor purely tense, nor purely hilarious, but instead most or all of these at once, producing a uniquely unnerving tone where shortness of breath in one moment instantaneously gives way to cackles in the next.” – Andrew Crump, Paste

“A clever, high-concept dark comedy that uses the moral clarity of The Twilight Zone to see through the veil of modern cynicism, Happily jackknifes into the murky waters between #RelationshipGoals and #BodySnatcherVibes as it skewers the assumption that something must be very wrong with anyone who’s too happy for too long.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“It’s not just the premise that makes this work, but also the execution of light comedy and heavy horror. The humor is humorous, the horror horrific. Happily draws from genre conventions but feels completely fresh. It’s a trip, and if you’re willing to follow that trip to the end of the road, it’s a trip worth taking.” – Asher Luberto, The Playlist

Available Formats [5/25]:

DVD


Supernatural: Season 15

The epic journey of the Winchester brothers come to a close as Supernatural enters its fifteenth and final season. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) and the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) have battled demons and angels, mythical creatures and monsters, in a seemingly unending quest to save the world. But in the final battle of the show’s 14th season, they faced off against God Himself (Rob Benedict) – refusing to kill their surrogate nephilim son Jack (Alexander Calvert), and thus bringing about God’s decision to end this reality once and for all…

Description provided by Amazon.

“Sam and Dean have matured and evolved along with the people watching them, and their separate journeys speak to the darkness hunkered down within each of us and our wider culture.” – Melanie McFarland, Salon

“The Supernatural series finale took its time, gracefully balancing reference and nostalgia with a hunt and endgame worthy of its legacy.” – IGN

“In classic Supernatural form, it was funny, filled with love, and downright devastating.” – Carissa Pavlica, TV Fanatic

Available Formats [5/25]:

DVD


The Sound of Silence

There are a symphony of almost undetectable sounds that make up a moment of silence, and Peter Lucian (Peter Sarsgaard) is determined to catalogue them all. Through his job as a New York City “house tuner,” the hyper-methodical Peter works meticulously to diagnose the discordant ambient noises—produced by everything from wind patterns to humming electrical appliances—adversely affecting his clients’ moods. When he takes on the particularly difficult case of Ellen (Rashida Jones), a lonely woman plagued by chronic exhaustion, Peter finds that the mysteries of the soul may be even greater than the mysteries of sound. A quietly moving portrait of a harmony-obsessed man learning to embrace the dissonances of human emotion, The Sound of Silence invites viewers to hear the world with fresh ears.

Description and score provided by Metacritic.

“Art is supposed to help us see the world in novel ways. The Sound of Silence, in its quietly exhilarating manner, may make us hear it differently, too.” – John Anderson, Wall Street Journal

The Sound of Silence, anchored by a superbly modulated performance by the always intriguing Peter Sarsgaard, is fascinating, original and, yes, deeply resonant.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

“Director Michael Tyburski and co-writer Ben Nabors’ lyrical character study… deftly balances the cerebral with the soulful in a story of transfixing originality.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Available Formats [5/25]:

DVD

2 thoughts on “New DVDs: May 2021

  1. Do you have any light hearted DVDs ? These all seem to be very intense, dark stories.

    1. That’s just the sort of thing coming out right now we’re afraid. As theaters reopen and more movies begin to get released again, a larger variety should begin to appear once more. In the meantime, we have plenty of classic titles and pre-2020 hits that should fit the bill.

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