New on DVD and Blu-Ray

If you’ve ever used work as an excuse to avoid some potentially fun social function, and then proceeded to ignore that work to instead bounce a ball, Christian Petzold’s Afire (available now on Criterion Channel in addition to this week’s Janus Contemporaries Blu-Ray) may be either the funniest or the most uncomfortable movie of last year. Petzold movies are rarely laugh riots, but this one is a hilarious and merciless skewering of its party-pooper protagonist, writing a terrible-sounding book while ignoring or neglecting Paula Beer’s advances and staying fully-clothed on the beach. Petzold was once this goober (we’ve all been him at one point or another, some more than others), so he extends some sympathy but sure puts him through the wringer, especially with a turn that drys out the laughs of this “twentysomethings in summertime” farce real fast. The foreshadowing of something ominous coming, climate anxiety harshing the vibes of an otherwise idyllic summer, is laid on thick but there’s still no preparation for what’s actually coming, where a young writer’s solipsism is put in extraordinarily harsh perspective. I can’t in good conscience call a movie that ends this way a comedy, but just enjoy Thomas Schubert’s pouty-baby face before you’re forced to consider much graver matters.

Afire (Criterion)
Beverly Hills Cop III 4K (Paramount)
Darkman 4K (Shout Factory)
Hanna-Barbera’s Superstars 10: The Complete Film Collection (Warner Archive Collection)
The Heroic Trio / Executioners 4K (Criterion)
King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis (Kino)
The Last Castle 4K (Kino)
Leviathan 4K (the Peter Weller one) (Kino)
The Luzhin Defence (Sony)
Nothing But a Man (Criterion)
Paprika 4K (Sony)