Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray and 4K releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art or link to purchase it from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.
Pick of the Week: “Parasite”
Director Bong Joon-ho’s genre-defying film is every bit as excellent as its reputation suggests, masterfully balancing several different tones to tell its dark and socially conscious tale of class warfare. The movie is constantly evolving. Just when you think it’s headed in one direction, with the poor but wily Kim family spinning their web of deceit and slowly integrating themselves into the household of the wealthy but naïve Park family, “Parasite” takes a sharp left turn and then another and another right up to its gut-punch ending. It’s a genuinely funny, thrilling and poignant film that keeps you on the edge of your seat — all thanks to some razor-sharp writing, brilliant direction and great work from its cast, particularly Korean film veteran Song Kang-ho, who delivers a standout performance as the Kim family patriarch. “Parasite” is a wholly unique experience that only gets better with repeat viewings, and it stands head and shoulders above any other film released last year.
Following a lackluster Blu-ray release in January, the Criterion Collection gives “Parasite” the home video release it deserves with a two-disc set that contains both versions of the movie (the original color version and the black-and-white version) as well as over five hours of new bonus material. Extras include an audio commentary by Bong and film critic Tony Rayns; interviews with cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo, production designer Lee Ha-jun and editor Yang Jin-mo; Bong’s master class lecture from the 10th annual Lumière Film Festival; footage from the movie’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
Also Out This Week:
“Haunt” — Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are perhaps best known for writing the 2018 surprise hit “A Quiet Place,” but their directorial debut, “Haunt,” has become a quick favorite among horror fans, and it’s easy to see why. Though it’s held back by the usual clichés, including some incredibly dumb victims making incredibly poor choices, “Haunt” features great set design (which is so important in this genre), a unique group of antagonists and a fair amount of suspense. It’s pretty impressive what Beck and Woods have accomplished on a relatively small budget, and while it’s not without its faults, “Haunt” is better than a lot of the slasher movies released in recent years. Extras include an audio commentary by Beck and Woods, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, a Q&A with the filmmakers and much more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Friendsgiving” — Nicol Paone’s directorial debut is one of the worst comedies in recent memory. It’s noisy, painfully unfunny and stuffed to the gills with one-note caricatures (like Christine Taylor’s Botoxed trophy wife) who serve no purpose other than to fill in the background. There’s nothing realistic or relatable about any of the characters, and everyone in the cast seems to be trying way too hard to get a laugh, especially Chelsea Peretti and the usually reliable Kat Dennings. The whole thing feels like a rejected sitcom pilot that was stretched to feature length in a misguided attempt to salvage the script. But the script is the problem — or at least one of the many problems plaguing this disastrous mess of a movie. Extras include an audio commentary by Paone and actor Malin Akerman, as well as a making-of featurette and a gag reel. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP