The year’s highest-grossing not-terrible film (sorry not sorry, “Transformers”) comes to DVD and Blu-Ray this week. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe entries even though it relies on the same kind of dull MacGuffin (an all-powerful orb) as the other Marvel movies, largely due to the chemistry of the cast and James Gunn’s irreverent, oddball touches in the margins. By contrast, the Michael-Fassbender-wears-a-papier-mache-head rock comedy “Frank” has a few too many self-consciously goofy touches in the early going, but the film has a cumulative power as it acknowledges that Fassbender’s “eccentricity” is actually mental illness and his tortured artist persona is actually hindering him. Other new releases include John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary,” featuring strong work from Brendan Gleeson, and “I Origins,” Mike Cahill’s follow-up to his sci-fi drama “Another Earth.”
There’s a boatload of worthwhile classic releases hitting DVD and Blu-Ray this week as well. The best of the bunch is Criterion’s release of “Safe,” Todd Haynes’ harrowing film about a woman whose body starts rejecting its environment, featuring a bravely blank performance from Julianne Moore. Also of note: Criterion’s rerelease Terry Gilliam’s terrific “Time Bandits,” a dark fantasy that suggests that evil is less responsible for bad deeds than whatever omnipotent force made it possible. They’re also rereleasing Liliana Cavini’s “The Night Porter,” about a sadomasochistic relationship between an SS officer and a concentration camp survivor during and after the Holocaust. Its virtues are better sung by those who don’t think it’s empty provocation (not this writer).
Twilight Time, meanwhile, is releasing Stanley Kramer’s strong adaptation of “Inherit the Wind” and a pair of Barbara Streisand films: “Funny Lady,” the sequel to the film that won Streisand her Best Actress Oscar (“Funny Girl”), and “Yentl,” Streisand’s first and best directorial effort. Kino has a couple of deeply flawed but not uninteresting revisionist westerns from 1976 in Robert Altman’s “Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson” and Arthur Penn’s “The Missouri Breaks,” the latter of which features one of Marlon Brando’s most fascinatingly weird performances. Finally, Warner Bros. is rereleasing Joe Dante’s delightfully wicked horror-comedy “Gremlins” again just in time for “Christmas.” Anyone who doesn’t already have it in some form might want to pick up this version.
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com
A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
It’s also a remarkably confident film technically. Cinema has had a love affair with the eye for a century now and Cahill and cinematographer Markus Förderer take the timeless image of the eye and give it emotional resonance in the way they use it, balancing the film’s two equally important halves. Read more.