Top Film Picks on DVD/Blu-Ray: A 1950s-Set Neo-Western; Ang Lee’s Tale of China Under Japanese Occupation

LJ’s film columnist picks the month’s top indie, foreign, and classic films, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Another Round. 117+ min. In Danish and Swedish w/English subtitles. Samuel Goldwyn Films. 2020. DVD UPC 857789008914. $19.99; Blu-ray UPC 857789008938. $24.99.
Led by Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), several Danish high school teachers test a theory that continuous moderate inebriation promotes relaxation and creativity. Its initial success in the classroom and in marital relations leads to a more-is-better approach, until the experiment goes too far. Thomas Vinterberg’s tragicomic drama reunites the filmmaker with his lead from The Hunt (2012), in which Mikkelsen also played a teacher, one whose life is undone by an innocuous lie. Here, the lies that Martin tells himself compel him to threaten his marriage and livelihood.

Céline and Julie Go Boating. 193+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Criterion. 1974. DVD UPC 715515256711. $29.99; Blu-ray UPC 715515256612. $39.99.
Eccentric Céline (Juliet Berto) becomes fast friends with Julie (Dominique Labourier), who chases her down while picking up possessions Céline has dropped, à la Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit. Soon Julie is caught up in Céline’s fantasy life—seen as a film within the film—where each woman takes turns playing nurse to the sickly child of a widower. Jacques Rivette (La Belle Noiseuse) lays on the whimsy in this tale, replete with stylistic tics, like jump cuts and blackouts, that were popularized by French new wave film.

Let Him Go. 113+ min. Universal. 2020. DVD UPC 191329136942. $29.99; Blu-ray/DVD UPC 191329136959. $34.99. Rated: R.
A retired sheriff (Kevin Costner) and his wife (Diane Lane), worried about the abusive treatment of their toddler grandson and his mother (their son’s widow), drive from their Montana ranch to North Dakota. They are determined to rescue the pair from a short-tempered stepdad and his clannish brothers, who are under the thumb of an assertive matriarch (Lesley Manville). Adapted from Larry Watson’s acclaimed novel, writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s familial drama segues into a nerve-jangling thriller—a ’50s neo-Western centered on a couple fighting for the ties that bind.

Lust, Caution. 157+ min. In Mandarin, Japanese, and English, w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 2007. Blu-ray UPC 738329251932. $29.99. Rated: NC-17.
In a late-’30s/early-’40s Japanese-occupied China, the Chinese resistance movement recruits a young woman with acting talent (Tang Wei) to seduce an official of the puppet government (Tony Leung). The mission is successful, but she becomes emotionally involved, putting assassination plans at risk. Loosely based on a true story, Oscar winner Ang Lee’s (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain) provocative, unflinchingly honest tale of wartime espionage makes its high-def debut in unexpurgated form.

Secrets & Lies. 142+ min. Criterion. 1996. DVD UPC 715515256919. $29.99; Blu-ray UPC 715515256810. $39.99.
After her adoptive mother’s death, Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a Black optometrist, goes searching for her birth mother. Her journey unexpectedly leads her to Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), a white factory worker whose eventual acceptance of her forgotten daughter meets with resistance from other family members, in writer-director Mike Leigh’s Palme d’Or–winning drama. Emotionally wrenching but not tear-jerking, the veteran filmmaker’s best work relies on his improvisational approach with a great cast (Timothy Spall, Phyllis Logan, et al.) baring their souls.

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