View From The Couch is a weekly column that reviews what’s new on Blu-ray and DVD. Ratings are on a four-star scale.
Vin Diesel in Bloodshot (Photo: Sony)
(View From The Couch is a weekly column that reviews what’s new on Blu-ray and DVD. Ratings are on a four-star scale.)
BLOODSHOT (2020). One of the last gasps of the moviegoing experience before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered all theaters, this adaptation of the Valiant Comics franchise stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a U.S. Marine who’s murdered alongside his wife Gina (Talulah Riley). But like RoboCop, Ray is brought back and rebuilt better than ever, albeit with only flickering memories of his past life. For those not familiar with the comic book, Bloodshot features an entertaining twist that briefly gooses the movie to life; otherwise, this is strictly boilerplate, with cacophonous action scenes, sleepy performances, and villains (the saving grace in many a lame film) who manage to be even duller than the heroes.
Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes and a blooper reel.
DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (1940). It’s impressive enough that Dorothy Arzner was the only woman director to find steady work in Hollywood from the late 1920s through the early 1940s — throw in the fact that she was openly gay and her success seems like nothing short of a miracle. Her most popular picture is arguably Dance, Girl, Dance, with Maureen O’Hara as a prim dancer hoping to make it as a ballerina and Lucille Ball (terrific) as a hoofer who prefers to use her talents to perform in a bawdy burlesque show as well as to nab rich fellows. It’s the classic Madonna/whore, virgin/vamp, good girl/bad girl dichotomy, but Arzner and her trio of writers provide it with welcome complexity. Not surprisingly, the scene where O’Hara’s character directly lambasts an audience for its collective “male gaze” retains its topicality.
Blu-ray extras consist of a new introduction by critic B. Rudy Rich and a new interview with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
HUSBANDS (1970). Many years ago, Criterion released John Cassavetes: Five Films, a gorgeous box set that contained such gems as Shadows and Faces. Had Husbands been included in that collection, it would have brought up the rear. This is an example of improvisation at its worst, as the writer-director spends nearly two and a half hours following three louts (Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk) in the aftermath of their close friend’s fatal heart attack. They drink, fight, sing, play basketball, and even fly from NYC to London to gamble and pick up women. Some astute observations are lost in an avalanche of endless scenes and a cascade of tiresome and self-absorbed characters.
Blu-ray extras include new interviews with producer Al Ruban and co-star Jenny Runacre; the 2009 program The Story of Husbands — A Tribute to John Cassavetes; and a 1970 episode of The Dick Cavett Show featuring Cassavetes, Gazzara and Falk.
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967). Any film in which character actor Michael Gough receives billing as “Master of the Moon” should at least be good for a soupçon of entertainment, but this adaptation of a book with a much more colorful title (The Gods Hate Kansas) is too dull and derivative to stir much interest in any direction. A clumsy combo of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Quatermass trilogy, this finds extra-terrestrial invaders taking over the bodies of earthlings for some mysterious purpose; the only one who can stop them is Dr. Temple (Robert Hutton), who’s immune to their powers thanks to the metal plate in his head. Even at 85 minutes, this gets bogged down with repetitious scenarios; the makeup and visual effects work isn’t so hot, either.
Blu-ray extras consist of audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCoteau (Creepozoids, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama), and the theatrical trailer.
TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003). A tragic figure in the world of anime, Satoshi Kon made only four feature films before succumbing to cancer in 2010, at the age of 46. Loosely adapted from the same novel that gave birth to the 1948 John Ford-John Wayne Western 3 Godfathers, Tokyo Godfathers centers on three homeless people — a drunk, a drag queen, and a teenage runaway — who discover a baby tucked away in the trash on Christmas Eve. They elect to find out what happened to her parents, a twisty mission that introduces them to interesting new people while also bringing up faces from their various pasts. Tokyo Godfathers is less fanciful in plot and style than Kon’s other three movies (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Paprika), yet it compensates with its deep humanism.
Blu-ray extras include a making-of featurette; Kon’s 2008 short film Ohayo; an art gallery; and trailers.
ZOMBI CHILD (2019). The ideas are often better than the execution in Zombi Child, an unusual horror film written and directed by French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello. One storyline is set in 1960s Haiti and focuses on a man (Mackenson Bijou) who’s brought back from the dead specifically to toil in the fields; the other takes place in modern-day France and centers on a sorority which accepts a Haitian teenager (Wislanda Louimat) into its ranks. Cultural appropriation, white privilege, and French colonialism are among the topics at hand, but the rough-hewn screenplay isn’t always adept at tying the material together in a sensible or satisfactory manner.
DVD extras consist of audio commentary by Bonello as well as writer-director Phillip Montgomery’s 2017 short film Child of the Sky.