I keep the “DVD” part of the title mostly vestigially, I rarely spotlight DVDs until today. Warner Bros., in their infinite wisdom, has finally given Steven Soderbergh’s Let Them All Talk and No Sudden Move disc releases (they did the same for Kimi, unbeknownst to me, earlier this month), but exclusively on DVD. It’s more than a little galling that DVD-only releases are still a thing, and if Criterion really wants to partner with streamers, they should do their due diligence and treat these with the proper respect. But some people don’t have HBO Max and/or a Blu-Ray player, so I’m glad they’re getting to see these movies. No Sudden Move is very solid, it’s Soderbergh playing in familiar waters (crime/heist movie-turned-“capitalism is a demon that will eat us all alive”) but not just copying himself, it has a satisfyingly bitter edge beyond the charm of Out of Sight or the Ocean’s movies. It’s always a blast to see Soderbergh presiding over a veritable galaxy of stars and this is a fine bunch indeed, though every marquee name comes second-place to Amy Seimetz’s magnificent performance as a housewife rapidly losing patience with her marriage. One of the best performances in the Soderbergh oeuvre, and then the #1 best performance in the Soderbergh oeuvre comes from Lucas Hedges in Let Them All Talk, itself a top-five Soderbergh movie (the “minor Soderbergh” tag usually gets applied to the wrong movies and anyone throwing that at this simply wasn’t really paying attention to it). It requires a lot of talent to take any of Soderbergh’s movie-star roles and then it takes extraordinary discipline and lack of ego to so convincingly present the illusion that we’re watching an adorable, somewhat inarticulate person as they actually exist and not just a performance, that’s what Hedges does and makes look like the easiest thing in the world.
No Sudden Move leads us naturally into one of the biggest titles of a packed week, Criterion’s 4K of Carl Franklin’s Devil in a Blue Dress, which gave Move star Don Cheadle his breakout as Denzel Washington’s alarmingly trigger-happy partner. Criterion also has out Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, perhaps the most surprising Cannes breakout-to-awards contender of recent memory for the barrier to entry (at least for the Academy’s dummies) of a three-hour, very talky Japanese drama about performance as a natural part of the grieving process. But it made it because it’s that undeniable, even if I prefer Hamaguchi’s fellow 2021 film Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (on Criterion Channel!). If the Academy was really so desperate to celebrate sign language on film, they should’ve nominated Park Ru-rim while they were at it.
Elsewhere, we have Ethan Hawke’s John Brown miniseries The Good Lord Bird, a 4K mirror held up to the legendary brutality and ugliness of Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To, The Wedding Planner (did Sony know something about Jennifer Lopez’s plans that we didn’t?), and the 1990 Desperate Hours, a minor entry in the career of who’s now known to be one of the most high-profile trans directors of all time, Michael (or Nikki) Cimino. Not many people have bothered going to the mat for Cimino’s post-Year of the Dragon movies, but maybe the tide will start turning for them like it eventually did for Heaven’s Gate.
Adventures of Don Juan (Warner Archive Collection)
The Bob’s Burgers Movie 4K (Disney)
Desperate Hours (MVD)
Devil in a Blue Dress 4K (Criterion)
Drive My Car (Criterion)
Gamer 4K (Lionsgate)
God Told Me To 4K (Blue Underground)
The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)
Hell High (Arrow)
JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (Shout Factory)
Let Them All Talk (Warner, DVD)
Lion of the Desert 4K (Shout Factory)
The Message 4K (Shout Factory)
Native Son (Kino)
No Sudden Move (Warner, DVD)
Only You (Sony)
Reno 911!: The Hunt for QAnon (Paramount)
They Call Me Mister Tibbs! / The Organization (Kino)
The Wedding Planner (Sony)
Where the Lilies Bloom (Scorpion)
Yellowjackets: Season 1 (Showtime)