As the calendar rolls over to yet another month and we look outside in hopes of springtime weather left horribly wanting, we look back to our respective ‘shelf’ space to look for something to entertain us in these cold drab months.
In a new feature here at That Shelf, we’ve got the cure for what ails you with our Top 6 Can’t Miss Blu-Ray Choices to add to your Shelf in the month of March.
The Standoff At Sparrow Creek: RLJE Films
After a mass shooting at a police funeral, reclusive ex-cop Gannon (James Badge Dale) finds himself unwittingly forced out of retirement when he realizes that the killer belongs to the same militia he joined after quitting the force. Understanding that the shooting could set off a chain reaction of copycat violence across the country, Gannon quarantines his fellow militiamen in the remote lumber mill they call their headquarters. There, he sets about a series of gruelling interrogations, intent on ferreting out the killer and turning him over to the authorities to prevent further bloodshed.
The debut from writer/director Henry Dunham that wowed audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Standoff At Sparrow Creek is a tightly wound thriller in the spirit of some of the more intense yet minimalist thrillers of the 1970’s like The Conversation, The Parallax View and many others.
It’s a film that’s a near master class in suspension in drama using only words and surroundings, rather than blowing things up, and for anybody who enjoys a well made thriller this one is unequivocally for you.
Feel free to check out my interview with filmmaker Henry Dunham over at In The Seats right here.
Burning: Well Go USA
Burning is the searing examination of an alienated young man, Jongsu (Ah-in Yoo), a frustrated introvert, whose already difficult life is complicated by the appearance of two people into his orbit: first, Haemi (Jong-seo Jun), a spirited woman who offers romantic possibility, and then, Ben (Steven Yeun), a wealthy and sophisticated young man she returns with from a trip. When Jongsu learns of Ben’s mysterious hobby and Haemi suddenly disappears, his confusion and obsessions begin to mount, culminating in a stunning finale.
On the streets during TIFF last year, Burning was one of those movies that people just couldn’t stop talking about from Korean auteur Lee Chang Dong, who we haven’t heard from since 2010’s Poetry. It’s an absolute must see that was and still is in the conversation of being one of the absolute best films of 2018.
If Beale Street Could Talk: eOne Films
Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year old Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne). A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Tish knows that Fonny is innocent, and is mindful that his good friend Daniel Carty (Brian Tyree Henry) has only recently been freed after an unjust incarceration. While Fonny’s mother (Aunjanue Ellis) clings to piety and his father (Michael Beach) grapples with feelings of powerlessness, Tish’s earthy father Joseph (Colman Domingo) and fierce older sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris) are unwavering in their support. Even more anxious to clear Fonny’s name is Tish’s deeply compassionate mother Sharon (Regina King), readying to put herself on the line for her daughter and future son-in-law’s happiness…and for the couple’s unborn child, whose arrival will herald new joys and challenges. Facing the unexpected prospect of parenthood and holding down a job without her partner at her side, Tish must adjust her perspective on the realities of her existence. She visits Fonny regularly, trying to shore up his spirit even as prison takes its toll. As the weeks turn to months, Tish reaffirms their hopes and resilience, relying on familial and inner strength.
A film that should have been much more prevalent in the awards conversation this year and adapted from the work of James Baldwin, Writer/Director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) has out done himself here with a nuanced and heartbreakingly beautiful look at love and race relations in America that simply demands to be seen.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse: Sony Pictures
It’s a standard existence for Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) going about his usual routine looking for his path as a young adult coming up in the world. However, Brooklyn is in mourning as Spider-Man has just died trying to stop the latest criminal plan from the Kingpin – aka Wilson Fisk – (Liev Schreiber). Alternate dimensions are beginning to collide putting all of reality at risk, but Miles quickly learns that not only is there more than one radioactive spider out there, and there’s more than person who can don the mask of Spider-Man.
There’s a reason that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse just won Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, because quite frankly it’s that damn good and was easily the most jaw dropping and flat out entertaining film of the last calendar year. Go get yourself one.
For A Few Dollars More: KL Studio Classics
Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef co-star as two rival bounty hunters who join forces to bring the murderous bandit El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) and his vicious gang of criminals to justice. However not all is as it seems in this second installment of Director Sergio Leone’s trilogy chronicling the famed “Man With No Name”.
We’ll be the first to admit that we hate doing the only re-buy when a new version of a classic film comes along, but when working from a brand new 4K restoration of the source materials you won’t be able to resist taking in this gritty classic as simply looks better than ever!
Perfect Blue: GKids/Shout Factory
Rising Pop Star Mima has decided to quit singing to pursue a career as an actress and a model, but her fans just aren’t ready to see her go. Encouraged by her managers, Mima takes a recurring role on a popular TV show, when suddenly her handlers and collaborators all begin turning up murdered. Harbouring feelings of guilt and haunted by visions of her former self, Mima’s reality and fantasy meld into a frenzied paranoia. As he stalker closes in, in person and online, the threat to Mima becomes more real then she could have possibly imagined.
It’s the debut film from iconic director Satoshi Kon and now available on Blu-Ray and remastered for the first time, this insidiously creepy yet socially relevant piece of Japanese Anime is still as relevant now as when it debuted back in 1997.
Dave Voigt is obsessed with the moving image as he watches far too many movies from, in and around his home in Toronto. Please feel free to visit him over at In The Seats for even more cinematic insight, the occasional nonsensical rant…and lots of contests.