The Hateful Eight

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.

Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica)

Bicycle Thieves

Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, the Academy Award–winning Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica, defined an era in cinema. In poverty-stricken postwar Rome, a man is on his first day of a new job that offers hope of salvation for his desperate family when his bicycle, which he needs for work, is stolen. With his young son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. Simple in construction and profoundly rich in human insight, Bicycle Thieves embodies the greatest strengths of the Italian neorealist movement: emotional clarity, social rectitude, and brutal honesty. –

Chantal Akerman: Four Films

Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman’s death did more than take away one of our greatest filmmakers, one still so very active. Her work offered so many lenses into new worlds, and in such generous quantities, that her passing felt like the sudden and violent closing of a glimpse into cinema’s many possible forms. This becomes clearer when looking at Akerman’s ethnographic documentaries, four of which have been collected by Icarus for an excellent collection titled, simply enough, Chantal Akerman: Four Films.

First is D’Est (From the East), a portrait in lateral tracking shots of various eastern European countries stuck somewhere between the fall of the Soviet Union and whatever will come next, a major question to which this film is wise enough to pose no real answer. Following that is Sud (South), which, through its curious and unflinching foreigner’s eyes, emerges as one of the greatest films ever made about the American south. Its greatest quality is an empathy towards its subjects, even those who may see the world in imbalanced terms; this puts it in league with From the Other Side, somewhat less successful in taking on a similar subject — Akerman moved from a hate crime’s fallout to the travails of Mexican-American immigrants, as well as those attempting to cross over — yet nevertheless thrilling when it captures the unseen. (Rarely has a non-weaponized helicopter seemed so threatening.) Then there’s the contradiction-driven Là-bas (Down There): an agoraphobic self-portrait in which the creator is almost never seen and Israel, the central location, is a land not so much politicized as peered at from a distance, through curtains and in small segments. Last is Chantal Akerman, From Here, an hour-long 2010 interview with the artist — honest, self-critical, and unwilling to put up with any nonsense. Coupled with two original essays by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Amy Taubin, Chantal Akerman: Four Films is an obvious must-buy for any admirer. – Nick N.

The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino)

The Hateful Eight

Not only a film about hatred, but a film that has hatred in its bones — for the ways of its ostensible heroes, for the destruction they bring, and, by extension, for the ways that both can be felt in the modern day. (The timing of this release and the writer-director’s recent protests certainly doesn’t feel coincidental when you consider the trajectory of, to name but one example, Samuel L. Jackson‘s Major Marquis Warren.) And while Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film isn’t simply a howl into the winter winds — hardly a surprise, since he’s never been interested in such single-minded gestures — it remains capable of startling whenever empathy, gentleness, and grace shine through. (How easy a constant brutalization of Jennifer Jason Leigh‘s Daisy Domergue, the sole female lead, makes easy to forget this movie’s willingness to stop and watch her catching snowflakes on her tongue during an ever-so-brief freedom.) With its ensemble cast working in morbidly funny harmony, Robert Richardson helping beautify its battered world, and Ennio Morricone serving giallo-esque musical stylings (better than hats or horses as a signal of what’s being attempted), The Hateful Eight is also a grand entertainment — in many ways the most complete cinematic package of 2015. – Nick N.

A Poem is a Naked Person (Les Blank)

A Poem is a Naked Person

Les Blank considered this free-form feature documentary about beloved singer-songwriter Leon Russell, filmed between 1972 and 1974, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. Yet it has not been released until now. Hired by Russell to film him at his recording studio in northeast Oklahoma, Blank ended up constructing a unique, intimate portrait of a musician and his environment. Made up of mesmerizing scenes of Russell and his band performing, both in concert and in the studio, as well as off-the-cuff moments behind the scenes, this singular film—which also features performances by Willie Nelson and George Jones—has attained legendary status over the years. It’s a work of rough beauty that serves as testament to Blank’s cinematic daring and Russell’s immense musical talents. –

Also Arriving This Week

Point Break (review)

Recommended Deals of the Week

Top Deal: Inside Llewyn Davis, Moonrise Kingdom, The Game, Mulholland Dr., In the Mood for Love, and more Criterion Blu-rays are 45% off.

The American (Blu-ray) – $7.13

Amelie (Blu-ray) – $8.99

The Assassin (Blu-ray) – $14.99

Attack the Block (Blu-ray) – $9.35

Beginners (Blu-ray) – $8.69

Bone Tomahawk (Blu-ray) – $12.99

Bronson (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Brothers Bloom (Blu-ray) – $10.30

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) – $7.64

Captain Phillips (Blu-ray) – $9.88

Casino (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Conformist (Blu-ray) – $14.79

A Dangerous Method (Blu-ray) – $7.56

Dear White People (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Eastern Promises (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray) – $5.09

A History of Violence (Blu-ray) – $9.69

Heat (Blu-ray) – $8.12

Holy Motors (Blu-ray) – $13.79

Inglorious Basterds (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Jaws (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Blu-ray) – $9.69

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

Lincoln (Blu-ray) – $9.97

Looper (Blu-ray) – $8.00

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Magic Mike (Blu-ray) – $4.99

Magnolia (Blu-ray) – $9.19

Margaret (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Blu-ray) – $6.48

Michael Clayton (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Munich (Blu-ray) – $12.23

Never Let Me Go (Blu-ray) – $8.00

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Obvious Child (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Paddington (Blu-ray) – $13.00

ParaNorman (Blu-ray) – $9.45

Pariah (Blu-ray) – $6.69

Persepolis (Blu-ray) – $6.23

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Re-Animator (Blu-ray) – $9.59

Road to Perdition (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Seven (Blu-ray) – $4.99

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Blu-ray) – $6.19

Short Term 12 (Blu-ray) – $9.83

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $7.50

A Separation (Blu-ray) – $6.00

A Serious Man (Blu-ray) – $6.21

A Single Man (Blu-ray) – $4.99

Snowpiercer (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Synecdoche, NY (Blu-ray) – $6.25

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $9.15

The Tree of Life (Blu-ray) – $5.99

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Blu-ray) – $5.40

Volver (Blu-ray) – $5.95

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

Whiplash (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Wrestler (Blu-ray) – $6.97

See all Blu-ray deals.

What are you picking up this week?

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