The following article was written by my friend and colleague Alonso Duralde. You can learn more about him HERE.

What’s new on DVD/Blu-ray/4K in February: ‘Wonka,’ ‘Gay USA,’ Éric Rohmer, and More!


Wonka (Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment): Timothée Chalamet dons the top hat of the legendary chocolatier in this hit musical, but it’s a film that works better if you think of it not as a prequel to the dark and delightful Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but instead as a third Paddington movie. (It’s from director Paul King, the man who gave us the beloved live-action adventures of the marmalade-loving bear from Peru.) The songs won’t stick to you as much as the Anthony Newley–Leslie Bricusse compositions from the 1971 movie – none of Neil Hannon’s Wonka songs even made the Academy shortlist – but this new take on the Roald Dahl hero has a springy silliness all its own.

Also available:

Afire (Janus Contemporaries): Director Christian Petzold (Transit) sends a group of friends and strangers on a holiday where an impending forest fire portends both literal and metaphorical disaster.

All Quiet on the Western Front (MPI Home Video): The recent Oscar-nominated adaptation of the classic Erich Maria Remarque novel gets a 4K release after premiering on Netflix.

The Canterville Ghost (Shout Kids): Stephen Fry once famously portrayed Oscar Wilde, so who better than to voice the title character in this animated family comedy based on a Wilde short story? (Fry’s old comedy partner Hugh Laurie is along for the ride, as are Freddie Highmore, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Hart, and Toby Jones.)

Dream Scenario (A24/Lionsgate): Nicolas Cage brilliantly portrays a nebbishy professor who suddenly becomes a figure in everyone’s dreams in this darkly comic look at the ups and downs of celebrity.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Lionsgate): Another prequel, this time taking us back to the early years of the bloodthirsty reality show and the origins of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), who will one day become president of Panem.

The Marvels (Marvel/Disney): While this superhero team-up never becomes the paradigm-shatterer it occasionally promises to be, Nia DaCosta’s MCU movie is better than you’ve heard.

Next Goal Wins (20th Century Studios): Taika Waititi turns the true story of the legendarily unsuccessful American Samoa soccer team into an inspirational sports tale.

Priscilla (Lionsgate): Sofia Coppola, who knows her way around stories of women trapped in gilded cages, sensitively adapts Priscilla Presley’s memoir, aided by powerful performances by Cailee Spaeny and Saltburn’s Jacob Elordi as, respectively, Priscilla and Elvis.

Silent Night (Lionsgate): John Woo returns to U.S. cinema with this mostly-wordless tale of a grieving father (Joel Kinnaman) out for bloody, Christmastime revenge.

Strange Way of Life (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal star in this short, sexy Western from Pedro Almodóvar. (Since the movie is only 31 minutes, it seems strange not to have used the extra space on the DVD to release a physical version of Almodóvar’s previous English-language short The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton.)


Weak Layers (Greenwich Entertainment): Three recently-evicted best pals set out to win a ski-movie competition, facing off with highly-paid competitors and the old-boy network of pro skiing, in this indie comedy.


Godard Cinema / Trailer for a Film That Will Never Exist: Phony Wars (Kino Lorber): This documentary celebrates this legendary and always-controversial Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave filmmaker whose cinematic experimentations continue to reverberate today. This new Blu-ray also includes his last film, a trailer for the feature he was working on until his death in September 2022.

Also available:

Cleaners (Kani Releasing): Glenn Barit’s one-of-a-kind coming-of-age movie involved the Filipino filmmaker printing out each frame and hand-coloring it with highlighters, the better to capture its mood of early-2000s adolescent nostalgia.

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Yellow Veil Pictures): A man develops a bond with his dominatrix in this Finnish drama, but his growing addiction to asphyxiation sends them both down a dangerous path.

Lie with Me (Cinephobia Releasing): A gay novelist returns to his hometown in the French countryside after a 30-year absence, only to encounter the son (played by Victor Belmondo, grandson of Jean-Paul Belmondo) of his long-lost love.

The Moon (Well Go USA Entertainment): When a Korean moon launch goes awry, the space agency must turn to its former boss in the hopes of rescuing a stranded astronaut.

La Syndicaliste (Kino Lorber): Based on a true story, this thriller stars Isabelle Huppert as a union whistleblower whose investigation of business practices in the French nuclear-energy industry put her in increasing danger.

Under the Fig Trees (Film Movement): Tunisia’s 2023 Oscar entry takes a granular look at the day in the life of a fig orchard and the many workers who tend to it.


Gay U.S.A. (Altered Innocence): This fascinating documentary about gay life from legendary queer filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan, Jr. – whose career spanned non-fiction, drama, and even erotica – actually made its way into theaters months before Word Is Out, which is often credited as being the first doc about LGBTQ+ American lives. Subtitled “Snapshots of 1970s LGBT Resistance,” Gay U.S.A. looks at the Pride parades of 1977 to capture the political upheaval of a growing queer political movement. This DVD includes a new commentary track featuring historians Jenni Olson and Don Romesberg as well as four documentary short films from the period.

Also available:

The Book of Harth (MVD Entertainment): Conceptual artist David Greg Harth spent decades getting the signatures of culturally important figures in his copy of the Bible, and this doc follows that quest.

Imagining the Indian (First Run Features): With the Kansas City Chiefs once again winning the Super Bowl, it’s the perfect time to check out this look at how sports teams have exploited Native-American imagery in creating mascots.

Sex and Broadcasting: A Film about WFMU (Factory 25): A close-up look at the legendary New Jersey indie radio station and its ongoing survival in an era where terrestrial radio faces unprecedented challenges.

Youth (Spring) (Icarus Films): Winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Douglas Edwards Experimental Film Award, Wang Bing’s documentary examines textile factories in rural China and the underpaid employees who work there and fight for better conditions.


Drifter (Kino Cult): Like Arthur Bressan, Pat Rocco also began as a pioneer of queer erotic cinema before branching out into other genres. This 1974 feature, often referred to as a West-Coast take on Midnight Cowboy, stars Joe Adair as a bisexual hustler making his way through random encounters with men and women in Southern California. In addition to a 2K restoration of the film for its 50th anniversary, this Blu-ray also includes four Rocco shorts.

Also available:

Anaconda (Mill Creek Entertainment): The J.Lo-versus-a-giant-snake saga returns in a new steelbook edition.

Black Tight Killers (Radiance): A war photographer pursues a stewardess who has been kidnapped by a team of deadly female assassins (who use LP records, among other items, as lethal weapons) in this action-packed Japanese camp classic.

Burnt Offerings (KL Studio Classics): Oliver Reed and Karen Black get way more than they bargained for in their creepy summer rental, which turns out to be plagued by the presence of evil.

A Creature Was Stirring (Well Go USA Entertainment): A pair of home invaders take refuge in the home of a secretive nurse (Chrissy Metz) during a Christmas blizzard, only to stumble upon some horrifying family secrets.

Darkman (Scream Factory): Sam Raimi’s original take on superheroes has amassed a cult following in the decades since its release, and now there’s a new 4K collector’s edition.

Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman (Well Go USA Enterainment): A phony exorcist finds himself battle real ghosts – and overcoming long-forgotten childhood horrors – in this witty thriller from South Korea.

Funeral Home (Scream Factory): A teenager and her grandmother attempt to turn a mortuary into a bed-and-breakfast, only to discover that the building makes bodies pile up, no matter what business is being conducted there.

The Heroic Trio / Executioners (The Criterion Collection): Now that Michelle Yeoh has been minted as an Oscar-winning actress, it’s the perfect time to revisit two of the Hong Kong action classics that first made her a star.

Hollow Man (Mill Creek Entertainment): Paul Verhoeven’s take on The Invisible man gets a steelbook release of his director’s cut.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (Mill Creek Entertainment): Newly released in the steelbook format, this cult film remains beloved by its fanbase, even if it never quite leaves the shadow of the Scream franchise.

Peacock (IndiePix Films): A young woman raised in a strict South African cult is sent off to care for one of its founder, plummeting both of them into terrifying visions of the past.

Rad (Mill Creek Entertainment): Long unavailable on home video, this cult favorite about BMX racers gets a new steelbook edition.

Sexy S.W.A.T. Team (Sacrament): Someone is hypnotizing commuters on the Tokyo train system to commit acts of perversion, and only the titular all-female squad can stop them.

The Shaolin Plot (Arrow Video): The last martial-arts film to star Sammo Hung before he became a director, this ensemble piece follows a wicked prince (Chan Sing) out to acquire the final two martial-arts manuals he needs to master every form of fighting, setting up a battle royale in a Shaolin temple over the sacred Wu-Tang texts.

The Strangler (Altered Innocence): Before the Italians cornered the market on giallo, French filmmaker Paul Vecchiali took a stab at it with this tale of a young man (Jacques Perrin, The Young Girls of Rochefort) who uses his white scarf to take the lives of a string of women.

Willy’s Wonderland (Scream Factory): Before Five Nights at Freddy’s came this tale of a drifter (Nicolas Cage) whose job as an amusement-park janitor turns deadly when he must fight off deadly animatronic characters.


Éric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons (The Criterion Collection): Legendary French New Wave filmmaker Rohmer had a number of “cycles” over the course of his distinguished filmography – “Comedies et Proverbes,” “Six Moral Tales” – and his final series was this quartet of films named for the four season. Made while the director was in his 70s, these films see the auteur as ever attuned to the vicissitudes of love, whether practiced by the young (as in A Summer’s Tale or A Winter’s Tale) or people later in life (Autumn Tale, Tale of Springtime). These all rank among his greatest work, so it’s a delight to have them captured in this beautiful box set.

Also available:

Alaska Seas (KL Studio Classics): Robert Ryan and Brian Keith star as two-fisted salmon fishermen determined to keep poachers away from their traps.

Allonsanfan (Radiance): Marcello Mastroianni stars as a once-revolutionary aristrocrat adrift after the fall of Napoleon in this classic from the Taviani brothers.

The Big Country (KL Studio Classics): Burl Ives won an Oscar for this sprawling Western about a retired sea captain (Gregory Peck) who finds himself caught in the middle of rivalries over land and power; the cast also includes Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, Carroll Baker, Charles Bickford, and Chuck Connors.

Blood on the Sun (KL Studio Classics): James Cagney stars as an American journalist in Tokyo on the eve of Pearl Harbor, enmeshed in espionage and intrigue.

Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, Volume 4 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The studio continues its series of 4K releases – and the celebration of its centenary – with a box set that includes ultra-hi-def editions of His Girl Friday, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Kramer vs. Kramer, Starman, Sleepless in Seattle, and Punch-Drunk Love.

Contagion (Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment): Steven Soderbergh’s prescient thriller about a deadly pandemic – which suddenly took a new level of relevance during 2020 – gets it first 4K release.

The Early Films of Asghar Farhadi (Film Movement): This new collection features films made by the Iranian filmmaker before his international breakthrough with 2011’s A Separation: Dancing in the Dust and Beautiful City.

Fear and Desire (KL Studio Classics): Stanley Kubrick’s ambitious debut feature, now available in 4K for the very first time.

Fear Is the Key (Arrow Video): Barry Newman and Suzy Kendall star in this fast-paced thriller, which features Ben Kingsley’s first screen appearance.

Footloose (Paramount Home Video): Kevin Bacon brings the boogie to John Lithgow’s small-town theocracy, now in 4K.

The Golden Coach (Raro): Jean Renoir’s sumptuous tribute to the theatrical life, a personal favorite of François Truffaut’s, stars Anna Magnani as an 18th-century stage star pursued by three potential lovers.

Goodbye & Amen (Radiance): Damiano Damiani’s espionage thriller about a CIA agent (Tony Musante) fomenting revolution in an African nation co-stars Claudia Cardinale and John Forsythe.

Gunfight at the OK Corral (KL Studio Classics): A 4K release of the legendary Burt Lancaster–Kirk Douglas Western.

Jeanne Moreau, Filmmaker (Carlotta Films US): The legendary actress has created art on both sides of the camera; this set includes 4K restorations of her narrative features Lumière and L’adolescente and an HD restoration of her documentary Lillian Gish.

King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis (Kino Classics): An essential document of the civil rights movement, this film from Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz captures the staggering accomplishments and ongoing legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Last Castle (KL Studio Classics): Two decades after Brubaker, Robert Redford takes on another corrupt prison – but this time it’s a military facility lorded over by a ruthless James Gandolfini.

Let’s Dance (KL Studio Classics): Fred Astaire trips the light fantastic with Betty Hutton in this 1950 Technicolor musical.

Leviathan (KL Studio Classics): Peter Weller and Richard Crenna lead an all-star cast in this thriller about deep-sea miners caught between storms above and a terrifying creature below.

Little Darlings (Cinematographe): Finally available on home video, this 1980s teen-comedy classic features Kristy McNichol and Tatum O’Neal as rival summer-campers out to lose their virginity (to, respectively, fellow camper Matt Dillon and suave smoothie Armand Assante). With women writing the screenplay, this is a more female-gaze R-rated romp than other films of its era.

Madame DuBarry (Kino Classics): Pola Negri and Emil Jannings star in this early historical epic from legendary director Ernst Lubitsch.

Man-Eater of Kumaon (KL Studio Classics): Sabu and hunter Wendell Corey fight to save a village from the ravages of a deadly tiger.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (The Criterion Collection): Robert Altman’s epic, post-modern Western gets a 4K release in this extras-packed Criterion edition.

Nothing But a Man (The Criterion Collection): A landmark of Black American cinema, this drama stars Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln as a working-class couple striving to create a life for themselves amidst systemic racism.

One Man (Canadian International Picture): Len Cariou stars in this gripping 1977 drama about a reporter who risks it all to investigate the deaths of children caused by a nearby factory.

OSS 117: Five Film Collection (KL Studio Classics): France’s answer to James Bond shoots and smooches his way through a quintet of super-cool spy stories.

Paprika (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Satoshi Kon’s mind-blowing anime feature gets a North American 4K release.

The Road to Shame (Kino Classics): In this thriller from Édouard Molinaro (La cage aux folles), a man fights to liberate his fiancée from sex traffickers and to bring down a criminal ring.

The Roaring Twenties (The Criterion Collection): It’s everything you love about gangster pictures in one great movie, as WWI veteran James Cagney turns to bootlegging, only to battle with Humphrey Bogart’s sadistic gangster to save the life of Cagney’s old pal, now a do-gooder district attorney.

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (Zeitgeist Films): This award-winning docudrama tells the story of the legendary anti-Nazi activist.

The Sting of Death (Radiance): In post-WWII Japan, a woman careens toward madness over her husband’s affair with another woman in Kohei Oguri’s 1990 drama, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.

The Swiss Conspiracy (Film Masters): David Janssen pursues a blackmail ring in the final film from Creature from the Black Lagoon director Jack Arnold, now restored to 4K.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (Shout Studios): Jack Black and Kyle Gass do their thing, now in Blu-ray for the first time ever.

The Thomas Crown Affair (KL Studio Classics): Celebrate the career of the late Norman Jewison with this stylish and sexy caper film starring Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen at their most ravishing.

The Tune (Deaf Crocodile): Bill Plympton’s twisted vision comes to full fruition in this dazzlingly offbeat animated feature.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Mill Creek Entertainment): The movie that tried to save us from rock-biopic clichés – to no avail, apparently – is now available in a steelbook edition.

Witness for the Prosecution (KL Studio Classics): Agatha Christie’s twisty tale remains one of the greatest courtroom dramas ever filmed, with unforgettable turns from Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Lanchester, and Tyrone Power under the direction of Billy Wilder.


Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Eighth Season (Lionsgate): Look, Kim Dickens is back, and that’s reason enough to check out the final season of this zombie-packed spinoff.

Also available:

The Bridge: The Complete Series / The Bridge: Series 4 (both MHz Choice): Another show whose impact was felt around the world (and, like The Kingdom, led to an unsuccessful US remake), these releases include the final season of this taut political thriller.

Monk: Season Four (KL Studio Classics): Tony Shalhoub’s meticulous detective OCDs his way through another season.

Special Ops: Lioness – Season One (Paramount Home Entertainment): Zoe Saldaña stars as a CIA agent fighting the war on terror under the command of bosses Nicole Kidman and Michael Kelly.

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July 2024