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This Week in Home Video: ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘Stray Dogs’

This Week in Home Video: 'Nightcrawler,' 'Stray Dogs'

This week’s new Blu-Ray releases are headlined by last year’s best thriller, Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler.” A darkly funny horror movie of corporate speak, capitalism and self-taught businessmen, “Nightcrawler” is powered by Jake Gyllenhaal’s brilliant, deranged performance, which twists the actor’s natural earnestness into the realm of cheerful sociopathy. Those who didn’t see it in theaters now have a chance to catch up with it and marvel at Robert Elswit’s glowing photography and Gyllenhaal’s spectacular creepiness on Blu-Ray.

Also new on home video: former Sleepers of the Week “Force Majeure” and “Stray Dogs” — Cinema Guild’s Blu-ray of the latter also includes director Tsai Ming-Liang’s “Journey to the West” — Lynn Shelton’s “Laggies,” starring Keira Knightley as an emotionally immature woman who befriends a younger girl (Chloë Grace Moretz); HBO’s terrific miniseries “Olive Kittredge;” Jon Stewart’s directorial debut “Rosewater;” the twisty sci-fi thriller “Predestination;” and, on DVD, “Through a Lens Darkly,” a doc about the history of black photographers.

Classic releases, meanwhile, are headlined by a pair of major Criterion releases: Jean Renoir’s masterful short “A Day in the Country” and Nicolas Roeg’s unsettling thriller “Don’t Look Now,” which features both one of cinema’s most famous sex scenes and one of its most shocking endings. Kino Lorber Studio Classics has a box set of Oscar-winning films: “Marty,” “Separate Tables,” “Elmer Gantry,” and “Coming Home.” Each film features a best actor winning performance (Ernest Borgnine, David Niven, Burt Lancaster and Jon Voight, respectively), while “Marty” won Best Picture. They’ve also got a release of the very funny Alan Arkin comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” (which garnered Arkin his first Oscar nomination). Cohen Media has a new Blu of “Syncopation,” an ambitious drama that tracks a quarter-century of history of jazz, with a romance between Bonita Granville and Jackie Cooper at the center. 

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

“Force Majeure”
Criticwire Average: A-

Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune

A hundred different directors from as many different countries could take the premise of “Force Majeure” and treat it differently, raising the stakes to melodramatic heights or pushing toward a broader sort of humor. In his fourth feature, writer-director Ruben Ostlund proves himself a master of finesse. Read more.

Criticwire Average: B

Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger

Of course, at one point a movie with a happy ending — heck, a movie with any ending — would have felt a little too-Hollywood to an entire generation of indie directors. And I’m sure there will be those who see “Laggies” (like Mark and Jay Duplass’ own, stunted-adult movie, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home”) as a commercial capitulation.But I don’t see it as selling out your vision. I see it as finally finding a way to articulate it. Read more.

Criticwire Average: A-

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Gyllenhaal, who summons career-best work, simply couldn’t have played this character a few years ago. His boyish handsomeness undergoes a transformation into ferrety slickness, the actor hammering home Louis’s mania in ferocious, near-OCD monologues—one of which will bring your audience to stupefied applause—that reveal a truly dangerous operator. And thank heavens for a film without the urge to supply a backstory. Read more.

Criticwire Average: B

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club

The same liberal idealism that’s informed Stewart’s sharpest on-air jabs guides this movie toward maudlin bathos and corny truisms about how repressors are themselves repressed. It’s completely sincere and mostly toothless, springing to life only in scenes where Bahari is being questioned by his unnamed interrogator (Danish actor Kim Bodnia, best-known Stateside as the star of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher; the movie is notably short on actual Persians), and then only occasionally. Read more.

“Stray Dogs”
Criticwire Average: A-

Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

Stray Dogs” evokes the whole of Tsai’s filmography, but also pays off his collaboration with Lee, who shows a side of himself that’s been hidden away for all these years. Though Lee’s presence has always emanated loneliness and sadness, seeing real tears crack his visage is like seeing Greta Garbo smiling: It’s a momentous occasion that Tsai held off on unveiling until now. Read more.

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