New on DVD and Blu-Ray

An impressive week of releases, including Lars von Trier’s Twin Peaks, the first Andrei Tarkovsky film in 4K, the best movie ever made about “microprocessahs”, and the masterpiece of cinematic form that Phil Lord doesn’t want you to see. And there’s just as many left-field highlights as canonical classics, like the two very disparate Paul Schrader movies, the post-Taxi Driver Vietnam-vet thriller Rolling Thunder and the post-Tarantino Elmore Leonard religious satire Touch. Touch, basically a comedy First Reformed with an I Love The 90s cast but not quite as good as that sounds, isn’t even the oddest film about spirituality out this week, because there’s also Nancy Savoca’s epic, intimate Household Saints (restored Blu-Rays of Savoca’s two films before it are coming next week). Its restoration and Blu-Ray release is a major event for a movie only ever released on VHS, which I previously watched in a copy that was only a little better than not watching it at all. I struggled a little to get a good grasp on its blend of a warm-hearted Italian family comedy and an ambiguously sinister coming-of-age tale about a modern-day saint, but it’s one I’m happy to puzzle over again now that I can watch the whole thing.

But of course, what I really want to talk about is the Margaret Qualley lesbian rom-com. I could lead with Drive-Away Dykes being a hilarious return to goofy Coen(s) form, to the point that I’m as confused by the unsatisfied reactions as I am by the contemporary negative reviews of The Big Lebowski. But so much of what makes this special is that while it’s definitely an Ethan Coen movie (this and Tragedy of Macbeth make clear what each brother was bringing to the partnership), it’s just as much a movie written, edited, and (by all accounts) co-directed by Ethan Coen’s lesbian wife. Tricia Cooke brings a verisimilitude to this story of turn-of-the-21st-century queer culture that previous Coens cartoon universes haven’t tried for (do you think Ethan knew about Le Tigre?), and while pushing Ethan’s silliest instincts to new lurid and trashy heights (only an editor could push for this level of insane scene transitions), she also makes this a startlingly sincere and sexy romance without any Intolerable Cruelty quotation marks. Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan are so funny and so hot and full of such love beneath their party-girl and party-pooper exteriors, approaching verbose linguistic and cunnilinguistic comedy with shocking sensitivity. Viswanathan unfortunately is headed into the increasingly dysfunctional Marvel machine from here, but Qualley will reunite with Ethan and Tricia on Honey Don’t!, a gay detective story (the second Coen homage to Altman’s The Long Goodbye) where Qualley will romance and/or fuck Aubrey Plaza. Maybe Joel and Ethan should stay separate for awhile longer.

The Beekeeper 4K (Warner)
Black Mask (Eureka Classics)
The Cat and the Canary (Masters of Cinema)
The Demoniacs 4K (Indicator)
The Departed 4K (Warner)
Drive-Away Dykes (Universal)
Goodbye Uncle Tom 4K (Blue Underground)
Household Saints (Milestone)
I Am Cuba 4K (Criterion)
Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom Trilogy (MUBI)
Nostalghia 4K (Kino)
The Nude Vampire 4K (Indicator)
Rolling Thunder 4K (Shout Factory)
Steel Magnolias 4K (Sony)
Touch (Cinématographe)
Trenque Lauquen (Cinema Guild)