Finding Dory (Disney, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD), Pixar’s sequel to its gorgeous animated aquatic masterpiece, can’t shake off its sequel-ness—it plays like a variation on the theme rather than an original take on the familiar tale—but it’s a Pixar picture with all the care and love and storytelling magic that the studio brings to every project. Which makes this adventure a joyous reunion and a lovely odyssey.
The short-term memory loss of the bubbly blue tang Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), played for humor in Nemo, is now tinged with loss and trauma and regret. We rewind to her childhood and meet her protective parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy), who teach her little songs and mnemonic devices to keep her safe (“Swimming, swimming, swimming…”). It doesn’t save her from separation but it does help her survive the wild depths. Back to the present, taken in by the neurotic worrywart Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his adventurous son Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolence), those early childhood memories are slowly coming back and soon they are off across the Pacific again, this time to find her parents at a marine rescue and rehabilitation institute on the California coast. As her memory comes back in shards, she gets a little help from a new group of friends: a nearsighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson), a sonar-challenged beluga (Ty Burrell), a grizzled seven-armed octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) who just wants a one-way trip out of the interactive marine park and into a safe city aquarium. Hank is the breakout scene-stealer in this film, an animated wonder that slithers out of tanks, pours itself into cracks like liquid flesh, and swings through the human world like an alien acrobat in a jungle gym, all while O’Neill grouses like a grumpy old man who just wants to get back to his easy chair. His reluctant yet dogged commitment to Dory’s rescue plan proves that this crotchety old cephalopod is just a suction-cupped softie at heart.
Apart from the obvious visual wonders of the animated aquarium that is Dory, Pixar once again builds a swift, funny, and engaging story on handicapped characters who discover they can live full and loving lives like anyone else. Scenes of the giggly, adorable young Dory (voiced by Sloane Murray) are almost too cute for words but the unconditional love and support of her parents, giving her the tools that could save her life while building her self-confidence with affirmation and encouragement, are more profoundly moving than might appear on the surface. Pixar is still the best when it comes to illustrating its lessons through action and interaction rather than dialogue. Their happy endings are earned and this is no different.
Nemo writer / director Andrew Stanton is back at the helm, co-directing with Pixar veteran Angus MacLane (who was Stanton’s directing animator on Wall-E) and the voice cast also include Idris Elba and Dominic West as a pair of fun-loving sea lions, Kate McKinnon and Bill Hader as a concerned couple that finds (and then loses) the lost little Dory, and Sigourney Weaver as herself… sort of. It’s a witty little vocal cameo that the film has fun with. The odyssey differs from Nemo only in details but those details are what make a Pixar movie.
Also on disc with the short film Piper (which played in front of the film in theaters) and the original animated short Marine Life Interviews (with aquarium denizens remembering Dory), plus featurettes, deleted scenes, and other supplements.
Finding Dory [DVD]
Finding Dory [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
Finding Dory [3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
Sausage Party (Sony, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, DVD) – From the studio that produced Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustler, and Foxcatcher comes the junk foodie fantasy that stirs American Pie, Toy Story, Logan’s Run, and every torture porn horror of the last decade into a raunchy paean to hedonism with more food puns than a Catskills grocer. It is the kind of raucous, raunchy animated film you can image Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg hatching with buddy Jonah Hill while getting baked at James Franco’s pad and riffing on the snacks laid out for their munchee gorge.
Rogen voices Frank, the gourmet hot dog awaiting his inevitable ascension to food heaven on the Fourth of July holy days, and Kristen Wiig is Brenda, his hot dog bun soul mate. They’ve been resisting their urges to play out the inevitable visual pun of food cohabitation until it is sanctified by the gods (as they call the human consumers) when the dreams of paradise are shattered by a returned jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) who returns from the other side with a shell-shocked revelation: the gods are monsters! His unexamined faith suddenly shaken, Frank goes on a quest to discover the meaning of existence with Brenda and a pair of combative specialty foods, Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton doing a dead-on Woody Allen nebbish) and Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz), a Arabic snack awaiting the promised 77 virgin olive oils of the afterlife.
This is an uninhibited celebration of hedonism and a raunchy plea for skepticism of unquestioned dogma with a streak of atheism, expressed through an animated feature that plays like a profane parody of Pixar comedies, a shaggy take on the classic Pixar journey film, strewn with stoner humor, dumb snack puns, perverted sex fantasies, and F-bombs that show up right there in the opening song. We’re talking R-rated animated feature flooded with profanity, sexual innuendo, and a perverse parody of modern horror films; if food could talk, imagine how it would scream while it’s being peeled, sliced, boiled, fried, and masticated! And in the final act, after going to war against the false gads, the innuendo gives way to an animated orgy. It gives all new meaning to the term food orgy. Some jokes fall flat and visual gags go for ribald outrageousness over inventiveness but the gags come fast and furious and the cast of co-conspirators (the voice cast also includes Michael Cera, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Nick Kroll, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Paul Rudd) brings the right spirit to the enterprise.
Also on disc with the featurette “How Did This Get Made?” plus improvised line outtakes and a food gag reel. The Blu-ray three additional featurettes, the “Seth Rogen’s Animation Imaginarium” advance promo, and a bonus Ultraviolet HD copy of the film.
Sausage Party [DVD]
Sausage Party [Blu-ray]
Indignation (Summit, Blu-ray, DVD) – Oscar-nominated screenwriter and producer James Schamus makes his directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel about a serious, studious Jewish college student from working class New Jersey out-of-step with the conformist attitudes of his small Ohio college in 1951. Logan Lerman stars as Marcus, an atheist and a defiantly independent budding intellectual, Sarah Gadon is the porcelain blond beauty Olivia who seems aloof and distant yet has a sexual confidence that shocks Marcus, and Tracy Letts is the pious Dean of Students who turns concerned conversations into interrogations and challenges to Marcus’ independence.
Schamus builds this adaptation on Roth’s words and his literary style, creating a series of conversations that veer into philosophical and moral debates that play out in extended scenes, the engagement as important as the ideas expressed. It’s also a marvelous recreation of the period, a film both seeped in the era and entirely out of time. The characters at Winesburg College (a telling literary reference in its own right) are always perfectly presented and the details of the well-groomed campus a little too neat and formal, not so much realism as an evocation of unreal expectations and the students projecting the face they choose show to the world. Marcus and Olivia are no different, but they manage to push past the surfaces and the prescribed barriers. The performances are precise and the dialogue exacting and there’s something about the way Schamus directs his background characters, as simply a part of the sets and settings, that feels like a 1950s movie as seen through modern eyes. Indignation is a film that hides its drama under a controlled visual style and measured rhythm that proves to be far more evocative than it appears on the surface. Just like the story.
Blu-ray and DVD with the featurettes “Timeless: Connection the Past to the Present” and “Perceptions: Bringing Philip Roth to the Screen” and a bonus Ultraviolet Digital copy of the film.
Indignation [DVD + Digital]
Indignation [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
Also new and notable:
Bubba Ho-Tep: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory, Blu-ray) – Cult film icon Bruce Campbell, in frizzy sideburns, pouchy jowls, and a lazy drawl, is a gloomy senior citizen who claims to be Elvis (and just might be). Ossie Davis, spouting conspiracy theories that would make Oliver Stone giggle from a whirring electric wheelchair, is a restless codger who insists that he is John F. Kennedy (less likely, but who knows?). They’re a pair made in the buddy movie heaven of an alternate universe in Don Coscarelli’s weirdly inspired, unclassifiable horror comedy, adapted from a Joe Lansdale story that wraps JFK conspiracies and Elvis sightings around a mummy movie set in a drab Texas retirement home. This isn’t a comedy of guffaws and goofy gags but a wry, underplayed little piece torn between the absurdities of its inspired premise and the melancholy ruminations of a dethroned King who drove away everyone he loved and now rots away in near solitude, and Campbell is brilliant, less a parody than a sad suggestion of a forgotten King. Coscarelli never finds his balance but he does inject a profound sense of loss between the cracks of the unbalanced weirdness of two senior citizens who take on the undead armed with little more than a walker and creaky kung fu moves. “Hail to the King, baby!”
New to this edition is commentary by author Joe R. Lansdale moderated by Michael Felsher and new video interviews with director Don Coscarelli (24 mins), actor Bruce Campbell (22 mins), and make-up effects supervisor Robert Kurtzman. Carried over from the 2003 DVD release are even more extras: two additional commentary tracks (one by director Don Coscarelli and star Bruce Campbell, the other by Campbell in character as “the King”), deleted scenes with optional commentary by Coscarelli and Campbell, the featurettes “The Making of Bubba Ho-Tep,” “To Make a Mummy” (on make-up and effects), “Fit For a King” (costumes), and “Rock Like an Egyptian” (music), audio of author Joe Lansdale reading from his original story, still gallery, music video, TV spot and trailer, plus there’s archival Bruce Campbell interview footage shot during the original promotional push for the film.
Private Property (Cinelicious, Blu-ray+DVD), a 1960 American indie thriller starring Corey Allen and Warren Oates and drifters with a sociopathic stream, was considered lost until it was restored in 2016 and rereleased in theaters. A neat little sexually-charged psychological thriller set in the sunny California culture of affluence and trophy wives, it’s the directorial debut by Leslie Stevens, a playwright and screenwriter and protégé of Orson Welles. Review to follow.
Punch-Drunk Love (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD), the 2002 film that Paul Thomas Anderson wrote for Adam Sandler, reworks the familiar Sandler personas—the meek boy-man, the repressed powerkeg who explodes with uncontrollable rage, the mumble mouth goofball, the socially retarded misfit—with a compassion that finds real pathos within his comic clichés. Criterion gives the film, which won the Best Director Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, the special edition treatment with a new digital transfer and new and archival supplements. Review to come.
Dead Ringers: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory, Blu-ray) marks the Blu-ray debut of David Cronenberg’s masterpiece, newly remastered for this release and featuring new and archival supplements. Review to come.
Macbeth (1948) (Olive Signature, Blu-ray, DVD) is a new two-disc special edition release of Orson Welles’ low-budget screen adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy, featuring both cuts of the film from new digital restorations plus new supplements. Review to come.
Cry of the City (Kino Classics, Blu-ray), Boomerang (Kino Classics, Blu-ray), and The House on 92nd Street (Kino Classics, Blu-ray) make their respective Blu-ray debuts for Noirvember. Reviews to come.
Classics and Cult:
The Jungle Book: Special Edition (Disney, Blu-ray+Blu-ray 3D+DVD)
Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)
Lone Wolf and Cub (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)
Private Vices Public Virtues (Mondo Macabro, Blu-ray)
Western Union (Kino Classics, Blu-ray)
Hannie Caulder (Olive Signature, Blu-ray, DVD)
Daisy Kenyon (Kino Classics, Blu-ray)
Coffee and Cigarettes (Olive, Blu-ray)
Carrington (Olive, Blu-ray)
Houdini (Olive, Blu-ray)
One of Our Aircraft is Missing (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
Pimpernel Smith (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
J’accuse (1938) (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
Death of a Salesman (1985) (Shout Select, Blu-ray)
Cinerama’s Russian Adventure (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray+DVD)
The Best of Cinerama (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray+DVD)
C.H.U.D. (Arrow, Blu-ray+DVD)
The Initiation (Arrow, Blu-ray+DVD)
Night Has a Thousand Desires (Mondo Macabro, Blu-ray)
TV on disc:
Game of Thrones: The Complete Season Six (HBO, Blu-ray, DVD)
Looking: The Complete Series and the Movie (HBO, Blu-ray, DVD)
Daredevil: The Complete First Season (Buena Vista, Blu-ray, DVD)
Into the Badlands: Season One (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD)
Billions: Season One (Showtime, Blu-ray, DVD)
Outlander: Season Two (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD)
Better Call Saul: Season Two (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD)
Turn – Washington’s Spies: The Complete Third Season (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD)
Black Sails: The Complete Third Season (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD)
Powers: Season Two (Sony, DVD)
Capital (Acorn, DVD)
The Syndicate: All of Nothing (Acorn, DVD)
Wentworth: Season 1 (Acorn, DVD)
Star Trek: The Animated Series (Paramount, Blu-ray)
More new releases:
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD)
Army of One (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD)
Cardboard Boxer (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD)
Mia Madre (Music Box, Blu-ray)
Summertime (Strand, DVD)
Cosmos (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Fort Tilden (Kino, DVD)
Morris From America (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD)
Phantom Boy (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD)
Snowtime! (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray+Blu-ray 3D, DVD)
Kickboxer: Vengeance (Image, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Almost Man (Big World Pictures, DVD)
Viktoria (Big World Pictures, DVD)