Blu-ray & DVD Review Round-Up: The GRIFTERS, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI & More

This time around: Frances McDormand puts up Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, James Whale makes a visit to The Old Dark House, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law play eXistenZ, John Cusack, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening are The Grifters and Ridley Scott spends All The Money In The World replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer. 

DVD Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was the big winner during the 2017/2018 awards season and Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell won awards by the bucket-load for their performances. It’s a wonderfully composed piece of storytelling and you could argue the film’s script and characterisation helped score the awards for McDormand and Rockwell rather than their acting (controversial).

McDonagh’s film is as vibrant as it is incendiary and in lesser hands it could have been a grossly insensitive piece. But the writer-director strikes things just right, delivering a wonderfully on-point dark comedy. 

Special Features

The DVD comes with The Shooter, a short film from Martin McDonagh starring Brendan and Domhnall Gleeson. 

Blu-ray Review: The Old Dark House

Director James Whale followed-up Frankenstein with this wonderfully atmospheric 1932 horror-thriller, based on the J.B Priestly novel, Benighted. Boris Karloff is the big name for genre fans, but Charles Laughton and Melvin Douglas also star – but the stand-out is Titanic actress Gloria Stuart.

There’s a lot of tension on display here and Whale cranks-up the energy until the film’s last act. Sadly, this has been over-looked in recent years but hopefully it will find a new audience with this excellent Masters Of Cinema release.

Special Features

  • An exclusive video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns
  • Feature length audio commentary by critic and author Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
  • Feature length audio commentary by Gloria Stuart
  • Feature length audio commentary by James Whale biographer James Curtis
  • Daughter of Frankenstein: A conversation with Sara Karloff
  • Curtis Harrington Saves The Old Dark House – an archival interview with director Curtis Harrington about his efforts to save The Old Dark House, at a time it was considered to be a lost film
  • Trailer for the 2018 UK theatrical release
  • A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp; archival material and an abundant selection of unseen imagery and ephemera.

Blu-ray Review: eXistenz

David Cronenberg’s 1999 sci-fi thriller has a lot of themes which continue to resonant 20 years on but this gaming thriller was superseded by The Matrix, which opened later in the same year. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law star and both do good work, even if the film doesn’t quite come together until the last few minutes.

It’s not one of Cronenberg’s finest movies, but it’s certainly worth checking out – especially with the batch of special features included on this release (see below).

Special Features

  • The Leader: An interview with Christopher Eccleston
  • Commentary with Kim Newman & Ryan Lambie
  • Commentary with Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson
  • Limited Edition Booklet: Includes ‘Enemy of Reality: David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ’ by Alex Morris, and ‘Of Fabrics and Flesh: An interview with Denise Cronenberg’ by Phillip Escott.
  • Audio commentary by David Cronenberg
  • Making-of documentary
  • Promo Featurette
  • Special Effects Featurette
  • Backstage interviews with Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Willem Dafoe, Jim Isaac (visual effects) and David Cronenburg

Blu-ray Review: The Grifters 

Stephen Frears’ The Grifters is an exceptional noir, based on Jim Thompson’s hard-boiled 1963 novel. John Cusack, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening star in this stylish thriller which hits all the right notes (they might even give career-best performances). It’s cool and calculating – and worth seeking out on blu-ray.

Special Features

The blu-ray comes with the hour-long documentary Seduction. Betrayal. Murder: The Making of The Grifters. It’s got comments from everyone involved in the film, except Cuasck, Huston and Bening.

 

Blu-ray Review: All The Money In The World

A film which is forever destined to be a Trivial Pursuits question, All The Money In The World hit the headlines when Ridley Scott decided to cut-out sex pest Kevin Spacey and replace him with Christopher Plummer mere weeks before the film’s release. Once you get over the initial curiosity to see if he pulled it off (timesaver: he did), you can settle into the rhythm of this kidnap drama.

Plummer delivers a performance which is likely more nuanced than the one Spacey would have delivered, while Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams do some solid work.

Is it Scott’s best movie? No – but you can’t deny the skill in which it’s all put together,

Special Features

You get s lot of brief featurettes – they’re worth watching but a little lightweight.

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