Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) – Richard Linklater describes this film as the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, his 1993 coming of age (or perhaps more accurately coming of self) classic. Set four years after Dazed and centered on a high school baseball all-star on a sports scholarship arriving on campus for his first year of college, it offers a new slate of characters and experiences embedded in the texture of a small Texas college town in 1980 but otherwise it takes the next step without missing a beat.
Jake (Blake Jenner) is a good-looking, easy-going, all-American Texas kid who lands in off-campus housing exclusive to members of the college’s nationally-ranked baseball team. The film covers the weekend between Jake’s Friday morning arrival and the start of classes on Monday morning, which means plenty of time for parties, club-hopping, and getting high and hanging with his new teammates, some of whom work overtime at establishing their jerk credentials. Thick with the testosterone and egos of competitive athletes tossed together off the field as well as on, it’s a culture shock for Jake, once the top athlete at his school and now the new guy on a team of champions where he has to prove that he belongs in the elite. That Jake rolls with it all is testament to his confidence and his self-awareness. He’s a smart kid who can put sports in perspective. Not everyone there is so self-aware, though many of them are and aren’t shy about sharing their insights. Because what is college life without the young adult philosophizing of the would-be intellectual? It may not always be profound, but it is sincere and I couldn’t help but nod in recognition.
It makes for a pretty male-centric portrait, with only a single female character—Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a theater student—given an opportunity to be more than an object of male interest. (The boys spend every night looking to score and, being the only campus athletes on a winning team, they usually do.) Linklater trades the brilliant intersection of the culturally specific and the generationally universal of Dazed and Confused, which reached across the sexes and the stratified cliques in its portrait of high school life, to dive into the culture of the college athlete, something Linklater knows firsthand.
It’s not a limitation, merely a perspective, and Everybody Wants Some!! is a smart and perceptive look at this world, with such superb era-specific texture (from the music and big American cars to the polyester wardrobes) that you forget it’s all a recreation. Linklater strolls through it all with an easy, laid-back rhythm, taking his time on a conversation here, a competition there, or simply watching the way they strut their way into a club (disco or country bar, they swagger like they class the place up). A few narrative contrivances add a trip to a punk show (where the athletes may not know the music but can dig slamdancing in the mosh pit) and a theater party. And when they finally suit up for a pre-season baseball practice, the chestbeating gives way to focus and athletic competitiveness. They show why they landed with the elite. Along the way, Linklater offers astute observations about college life and young adults exploring their first taste of independence while reminding us that there’s more on their minds than just getting some!!
Blu-ray and DVD with “Everybody Wants Some!! More Stuff That’s Not in the Movie), a 25-minutes collection of deleted scenes and outtakes, plus three featurettes and “Skills Videos” which the actors provided as audition footage to show their baseball chops.
Also on Cable and Video on Demand and Digital formats.
My Golden Days (Magnolia, DVD, VOD) is also a remembrance of times past, and it is as definitively a French film as Everybody Wants Some!! is American. Directed and co-written by Arnaud Desplichin, it’s a kind of sequel / prequel to Desplichin’s breakthrough feature My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument (1996) with Mathieu Amalric (Desplichin’s cinematic alter-ego) reprising his role as Paul Dédalus. 20 years after his introduction, he is now a world-traveling anthropologist who is stopped at passport control on his way back to France after eight years teaching and studying abroad, most recently in Tajikistan. Complications involving his passport send his mind reeling back to his youth as he relates three formative experiences to the serious but understanding passport control officer (French film legend André Dussollier providing gravitas to a tiny role). Amalric’s role is limited to the framing sequences of the present, with Quentin Dolmaire carrying the bulk of the portrait as the teenage Paul and Lou Roy-Lecollinet as Esther, the first great (and somewhat troubled) love of Paul’s life. Both young actors make their respective film debuts here.
The original French title translates to “Three souvenirs of my youth,” and there are indeed three extended flashbacks to three key points in his youth, all in the 1980s or so. In either language it suggests a more idealized life than the one Paul survives: a troubled, emotionally unbalanced mother who kills herself when he’s 12, a father who constantly travels for business and is absent even when he’s present, and a college life in Paris where he’s so poor that he lives out of hostels and occasionally on the couches of friends and acquaintances. But there is also the glow of nostalgia, the thrill of Cold War heroics in a class trip to the Soviet Union, the rush of new love, the rollercoaster of l’amour fou, and the joy of knowledge and discovering an educational path and an intellectual mentor. As I said, it’s very French, and this memoir slips into literary narration in the third remembrance, the longest and most complicated section of the film, as if the omniscient narrator has cast his life as a novel. And the characters themselves are far from idealized. Dolmaire’s Paul is confident and smart and a little reckless, leveraging his charm and good looks to get by so he can spend his limited funds on his studies and Roy-Lecollinet’s Esther is used to being the class beauty, juggling beaus with a haughty arrogance that hides her fragility. She is so good at appearing in control that she’s hardly prepared for life outside the high school fishbowl.
DVD only, in French with English subtitles, with three featurettes: “A Conversation with Director Arnaud Desplichin” (14 minutes), “Two Pauls and Three Esthers – Meeting the Actors from My Golden Days” (interviews with Quentin Dolmaire and Lou Roy-Lecollinet, 12 mins), and “Casting Session: Paul & Esther” (audition tapes of Dolmaire and Roy-Lecollinet, 4 mins).
Also new and notable:
The Ox-Bow Incident (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD) and Yellow Sky (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD) – Two terrific westerns by William A. Wellman debut on Blu-ray. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) is the best known of the two, an adaptation of Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s famous novel of lynch mob hysteria starring Henry Fonda and Henry Morgan as bystanders to the events. Wellman creates an increasingly oppressive atmosphere to an outdoor western that plays like a drawing room drama at times. Gregory Peck takes a rare role as a flinty outlaw in Yellow Sky (1949), an edgy western thriller about an criminal gang taking refuge in a ghost town and taking the lone inhabitants (Anne Baxter and James Barton) hostage. Richard Widmark is the volatile gang member whose greed and violent nature forces Peck to pick sides.
The Ox-Bow Incident carries over the commentary by western scholar Dick Eulain and William Wellman Jr. (son of the director) and the A&E Biography episode “Henry Fonda: Hollywood’s Quiet Hero” from the earlier DVD release. Yellow Sky features new commentary by William Wellman Jr. Both include a trailer gallery.
Belladonna of Sadness (Cinelicious, Blu-ray), a lost 1973 classic of Japanese animation, is indeed an erotic drama, but perhaps not what you might think. Set in an unnamed kingdom in an abstracted medieval Europe, it is part subversive folk tale, part rock ballad musical, and part experimental filmmaking. Whatever you want to call it, it’s nothing like the manga serials or sexually explicit anime horrors that comes to mind in the intersection of Japan, animation, and erotica. This has more in common with such animated outliers as Fantastic Planet (France, 1973) and the early features of Ralph Bakshi, and the Czech new wave masterpiece Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970). Review to follow.
Just Desserts (Synapse, Blu-ray) is Michael Felsher’s documentary on the making of Creepshow, the tribute to 1950s horror comics from writer Stephen King and director George Romero. With commentary, extended interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and the archival documentary Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects (with optional commentary by Savini) among the supplements.
Van Gogh (Cohen, Blu-ray, DVD), the 1991 French drama starring Jacques Dutronc as Vincent Van Gogh in the last months of his life, is Volume 3 in Cohen’s “Films of Maurice Pialat” collection. In French with English subtitles, with filmmaker interviews.
Classics and Cult:
Carnival of Souls (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Black Stallion Returns (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
The Russia House (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
Zelig (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
The Gang’s All Here (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
Miss Sadie Thompson 3D (Twilight Time, Blu-ray 3D)
Crimes of Passion (Arrow, Blu-ray+DVD)
TV on disc:
The Colony: Season One (Universal, DVD)
Slasher: Season One (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, DVD)
iZombie: The Complete Second Season (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Defenders: Season One (Shout! Factory, DVD)
More new releases:
The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, 4K UltraHD, VOD)
Green Room (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
Miracles From Heaven (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
The Dresser (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD)
Napoli Napoli Napoli (Raro/Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Mountains May Depart (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Flight of the Butterflies (IMAX) (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 4K)
Rocky Mountain Express (IMAX) (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 4K)