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Recommended Discs & Deals: ‘A Touch of Zen,’ ‘To Have and Have Not,’ and More

Written by on July 19, 2016 

a touch of zen king hu

Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

Night & Fog (Alain Resnais)

Night and Fog

Ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais documented the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz and Majdanek in Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard), one of the first cinematic reflections on the Holocaust. Juxtaposing the stillness of the abandoned camps’ empty buildings with haunting wartime footage, Resnais investigates humanity’s capacity for violence, and presents the devastating suggestion that such horrors could occur again. – Criterion

A Touch of Zen (King Hu)

A Touch of Zen

“Visionary” barely begins to describe this masterpiece of Chinese cinema and martial arts moviemaking. A Touch of Zen (Xia nu) by King Hu depicts the journey of Yang, a fugitive noblewoman in disguise who seeks refuge in a remote, and allegedly haunted, village. The sanctuary she and her three companions find with a shy scholar is shattered when a nefarious swordsman uncovers her identity, pitting the five against legions of blade-wielding opponents. At once a wuxia film, the tale of a spiritual quest, and a study in human nature, A Touch of Zen is an unparalleled work in Hu’s formidable career and an epic of the highest order, characterized by breathtaking action choreography, stunning widescreen landscapes, and innovative editing. – Criterion

To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks)

To Have an Have Not

Help the Free French? Not world-weary gunrunner Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart). But he changes his mind when a sultry siren-in-distress named Marie asks, “Anybody got a match?” That red-hot match is Bogart and 19-year-old first-time film actress Lauren Bacall. Full of intrigue and racy banter (including Bacall’s legendary whistling instructions), this thriller excites further interest for what it has and has not. Cannily directed by Howard Hawks and smartly written by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman, it doesn’t have much similarity to the Ernest Hemingway novel that inspired it. And it strongly resembles Casablanca: French resistance fighters, a piano-playing bluesman (Hoagy Carmichael) and a Martinique bar much like Rick’s Cafe Americaine. But first and foremost, it showcases Bogart and Bacall, carrying on with a passion that smolders from the tips of their cigarettes clear through to their souls. – Warner Archive

Bonus: We watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition and along with our thoughts on the podcast, here’s an encapsulation:

Bvs Ultimate

Bigger, louder, and more violent might serve some people but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition doesn’t satisfy as much as you would hope. Part of the reason is that it highlights a few key plot holes that are solved by mere seconds of additional screentime, like the controversy around a particular bullet plotline. What do we ultimately end up with, though? A film that doesn’t feel that much longer in my estimation. Sure, there are over 30 minutes added but it somehow doesn’t slow things down that much. So why would you invest in a second watch with this edition or dip your toe in for the first time? There’s more set-up and world-building done that helps lead you to understand that, yes, Gotham is just across the bay from Metropolis and it helps flesh out the fact that there might be a bigger threat looming. The same big issues are here, though. That doesn’t change, and the opening sequence is also worse off by giving us an origin story from the outset. – Bill G.

Also Arriving This Week

Demolition (review)
Elvis & Nixon (review)
Kill Zone 2 (review)
Miles Ahead (review)
Muriel, or the Time of Return
A Perfect Day

Recommended Deals of the Week

Top Deal: The Criterion Collection is currently 50% off at Barnes & Noble this month.

All the President’s Men (Blu-ray) – $8.99

The American (Blu-ray) – $6.97

Amelie (Blu-ray) – $6.50

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Beginners (Blu-ray) – $5.94

Bone Tomahawk (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Brothers Bloom (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) – $8.89

Casino (Blu-ray) – $9.49

The Conformist (Blu-ray) – $13.99

Cloud Atlas (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Dear White People (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Deer Hunter (Blu-ray) – $10.35

Eastern Promises (Blu-ray) – $8.14

Far From the Madding Crowd (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Greenberg (Blu-ray) – $5.10

The Guest (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Heat (Blu-ray) – $8.37

Holy Motors (Blu-ray) – $10.59

The Informant! (Blu-ray) – $8.01

Inglorious Basterds (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Interstellar (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Iron Giant (Blu-ray pre-order) – $9.99

Jaws (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Blu-ray) – $9.69

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Blu-ray) – $9.89

The Lady From Shanghai (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Looper (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Macbeth (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-ray) – $11.99

Magnolia (Blu-ray) – $9.11

The Man Who Wasn’t There (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Margaret (Blu-ray) – $9.85

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Blu-ray) – $5.26

The Master (Blu-ray) – $11.42

Michael Clayton (Blu-ray) – $8.07

Moneyball (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Nebraska (Blu-ray) – $8.90

Never Let Me Go (Blu-ray) – $7.99

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Obvious Child (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Pan’s Labyrinth (Blu-ray) – $7.99

ParaNorman (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Persepolis (Blu-ray) – $5.79

The Piano (Blu-ray) – $7.34

A Prophet (Blu-ray) – $7.91

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray) – $9.87

Re-Animator (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Rio Bravo (Blu-ray) – $5.99

Road to Perdition (Blu-ray) – $8.99

The Searchers / Wild Bunch / How the West Was Won (Blu-ray) – $10.06

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Blu-ray) – $6.37

Short Term 12 (Blu-ray) – $9.89

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $6.79

A Separation (Blu-ray) – $6.80

A Serious Man (Blu-ray) – $5.20

Seven Psychopaths (Blu-ray) – $7.99

A Single Man (Blu-ray) – $5.99

Somewhere (Blu-ray) – $5.20

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $9.19

The Tree of Life (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Blu-ray) – $6.00

Volver (Blu-ray) – $5.95

Where the Wild Things Are (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Wrestler (Blu-ray) – $7.31

See all Blu-ray deals.

What are you picking up this week?

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