The post-holiday release slump continues this week, with not a single theatrical A-list title to review. Still, there are some more unusual choices available for those of you looking to shake your viewing habits up a bit. Read on for the full release slate!
The Movie: This 2022 festival film is finally getting a home video release. Starring Nicolas Cage, Fred Hechinger, Xander Berkeley, and Jeremy Bobb, Butcher’s Crossing is a western that sees Hechinger’s character Will — a dropout from Harvard — hook up with a Buffalo hunter and his men on a hunt that will supposedly bring them big money. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly as planned, and not everyone on the hunt is what they seem. The movie is based on a 1960 book of the same name by John Williams that s apparently well-loved. I’ve never read it, but this adaptation is solidly mediocre. It’s not a terrible film but it’s not a great one, either, despite a decent and somewhat restrained performance by Cage.
The Special Features: Sadly, there are no extra features on the Blu-ray.
The Wrap-Up: Butcher’s Crossing is just kind of a so-so western; I’ve definitely seen worse in the direct-to-video landscape where most westerns end up these days, but I’ve also seen better. The fact that it took almost two years to make it to home video might give you some clue of what to expect.
The Road to Hong Kong
The Movie: Kino Lorber continues to bring great catalog titles to home video with this week’s Blu-ray release of The Road to Hong Kong, one of the many great The Road To… films starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Released in 1962, this was the final entry in the series, made some ten years after the sixth film in the franchise, making it sort of a legacy sequel of sorts. The movie, which is too wildly convoluted to boil down to a few pithy sentences, effectively sees Hope and Crosby teaming up once again as a pair of con men; when one of them gets amnesia, they set off for a locale in Hong Kong to try and get his memory back… and the memory of where there money is with it. Despite the fact that the franchise (which started in the 1940s) was past its prime, this is still a fun and enjoyable movie thanks to a strong script, the charisma of Hope and Crosby, and some fun cameos.
The Special Features: There is an audio commentary featuring historians Michael Schlesinger and Stan Taffel, plus the film’s trailer.
The Wrap-Up: While this isn’t the film I’d start with if you want to explore the The Road To… series, it is a must-have if you’re putting the whole franchise into your collection. Glad to see Kino Lorber keeping hard-to-find classic Hollywood movies alive with their home video efforts.
The Movie: This new Korean action thriller was written, directed and produced by Park Hoon-jung, who directed The Witch Part 1 and Part 2 (not the American horror movie, but a Korean superhero-esque franchise). In it, an amateur boxer from the Philippines sets out to find his father in Korea, only to find himself being pursued by an unknown man. As he goes on the run, more and more people become involved with the chase for reasons unknown. Obviously, I don’t want to spoil anything here, and the film explains everything in time. The Childe features some terrific heart-pounding action scenes, but it also feels a bit too long at two hours. There are times where you wish the film would get to the point a little bit quicker. That said, it’s still an interesting and engaging action thriller.
The Special Features: There are no extra features on the disc.
The Wrap-Up: The Childe is far from a masterpiece, but there’s no denying the kinetic energy of the action sequences. I wish it was a tighter, more focused film, but action junkies will probably do well to track this one down.
Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia
The Movie: It’s been over a decade since the Oscar-nominated animated film Ernest & Celestine, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for a sequel. Although “sequel” is kind of a strong word, as this really just another adventure starring Ernest, the dour bear, and Celestine, the positive mouse, who also happen to be best friends. This time around, the pair travel to Gibberitia, Ernest’s home, only to discover that it isn’t the utopia it seems to be at first glance. Instead, the music there is relegated to single notes only — as is society, in a way. Celestine realizes something must be done, and the resulting adventure is a tale that celebrates friendship but also works in some deep allegories about modern day society. Much like the first movie, it’s a charming little story that works well for all ages. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolutely stunning animation, which feels like a children’s book come to life; it’s simply beautiful.
The Special Features: There is a making-of featurette, three interview featurettes with the directors, the cast, and the producers, plus a ‘How to Draw’ feature. You also get the movie’s trailer.
The Wrap-Up: Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia is a more complicated film than its predecessor, but it is an enjoyable one that features great characters and gorgeous animation that’s worth tracking down.
Please Not Now
The Movie: Another catalog Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber this week, Please Not Now stars the ultimate 1960s sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot, in a comedy by acclaimed director Roger Vadim (best known for Barbarella.) It’s a bit of an oddball film, but it has a lot of charm. In it, Bardot plays a model who learns that her boyfriend is going to leave her for another woman. She goes after him with a shotgun, and a doctor who’s in love with her steps in to help her keep from shooting him, all while trying to win her over. It’s French New Wave-Lite, but it’s hard to deny the sizzle that Bardot brings to the screen. It’s also quite sensual for the time, even if it barely raises eyebrows by today’s standards. Still, when said sensuality includes Brigitte Bardot, it’s hard to argue.
The Special Features: There is an audio commentary featuring historian Alexandra Heller Nicholas, plus the film’s trailer.
The Wrap-Up: A fun film that gives an entry into French New Wave and also introduces viewers to the talents of Vadim and Bardot is hard to argue with. Please Not Now? How about right now!
The Movie: Two westerns in one week? I guess if you’re a fan of westerns, than this is good news. But having watched both of them… I question how good that news is. Much like the aforementioned Butcher’s Crossing, Far Haven isn’t bad, it’s just… mediocre. The film sees Bailey Chase play Hunter Braddock, a good guy who was wrongly imprisoned for two years for treason. He returns home to his wife and in-laws, only to have his father-in-law attacked. From there, it’s a case of a good guy up against opposing forces, not all of which I’m going to name here. There is also a subtle religious undertone to the film, which took me a little by surprise. It’s not overly heavy handed, but be aware that it’s there if that’s not your thing (or it is.)
The Special Features: There is just an Inside Look making-of featurette.
The Wrap-Up: Far Haven features some welcome supporting cast members such as Bruce Boxleitner (a favorite of mine), Martin Kove, Nancy Stafford, and Don Most. So while it’s not a masterpiece, there’s enough there to make it at least a decent watch for western fans.
Millie Lies Low
The Movie: Millie Lies Low is a great example of a film that a lot of people will probably like, even if it wasn’t ultimately my cup of tea. The movie sees Millie, a young New Zealander, getting off her plane to a fancy internship in New York City due to a panic attack. Out the money for her ticket, she’s stuck in her hometown but too embarrassed to admit it, so she begins to fake that she’s in NYC through her social media channels, all while laying low in her home city. It’s one of those films that addresses an important topic like anxiety, but also leaves you feeling slightly awkward and uncomfortable as you question almost every choice the main character ,makes. Ana Scotty’s [performance is outstanding, and the film blends drama with some lighter moments, but I don’t love movies that make me squirm, and this one does that.
The Special Features: There is an audio commentary with the film’s director, Michelle Cavill.
The Wrap-Up: If you don’t mind movies that might make you uncomfortable, check out Millie Lies Low. It’s a well-acted and tonally solid film that I think a lot of people will find rewarding.
What’s New on Home Video: January 16th, 2024 – Butcher’s Crossing, Ernest & Celestine, & More!
User Review( votes)