It’s a rare occasion when all the Blu-ray releases in a week can form a sentence. All of these movies should have been contenders for Oscar nominations this year, but only Arrival and Loving are. The Edge of Seventeen did make our list of the best movies directed by women in 2016, and The Eagle Huntress doesn’t need any awards to know she’s badass.
This movie comes right when the world most needs to understand communication. If only it could have come a few years ago. The story exemplifies the patience it takes to wait for others to understand what you’re talking about before you move on.
The picture is exquisite. Subtle visual effects blend seamlessly into the scenery, and the muted colors are crisp and sharp. Flashbacks are muddier and murkier while the present seems to cut through the overcast real world, especially the fog behind the heptapods’ glass. The detail in texture on the alien ship is clear. Behind the scenes footage is a little brighter. It’s cool to see the film’s aesthetic and the actual footage on the set they had to work with.
Beware the bonus features go into spoilers. You don’t usually watch extras first but definitely don’t do that with Arrival. The longest feature, 30 minutes on linguistics, is really all about the film’s development and production. 14 minutes on sound shows the lengths recordists went to to create the unique sounds of the heptapods. With 11 minutes each on score and editing, particularly the editing spot makes you appreciate the flexibility of the film’s timeline.
15 minutes on the themes of time, Memory and Language, are really what Arrival is all about. That’s getting deep into the concepts, how language can be nonlinear, the illusion of linear time, but then why don’t we “remember” the future.
This really should have been the definitive teen movie for this generation. Maybe it still can be. Those films often aren’t discovered in theaters. I remember when my class was watching Heathers six months after I’d already seen it.
The Edge of Seventeen isn’t a visual spectacle. It’s just about regular high school life but it looks great on Blu-ray. The picture is totally clear with lots of bright colors. You can see the seasons change in the front yard. We used to watch teen movies on blurry VHS so this generation may be spoiled.
There are just three deleted scenes: A great moment with Woody Harrelson, a relatable frustration with a talkative mother and a self righteous confrontation between Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) and a yogurt clerk. Classic Nadine. The gag reel has a lot of F bombs. While there’s surely plenty more to discuss about The Edge of Seventeen, I sort of respect a Blu-ray that doesn’t stuff itself with fluff. Just the extra bits for your consideration and that’s it.
The story of Richard and Mildred Loving is as vital today as ever. Racism is being fostered and fueled all over again, and it wasn’t that long ago that this couple was arrested for marrying and fought a landmark case for mixed marriages.
Period piece Virginia and D.C. come to life in HD. The parts that haven’t changed make me nostalgic for my east coast youth but not for east coast racism. The bright green Loving farm is a beautiful backdrop for the ugliness they suffered.
The Loving Blu-ray includes four bonus features under five minutes each. That’s not nearly enough for the spot on the real case but that’s what the movie is for. Writer/director Jeff Nichols speaks well in his commentary about the real Lovings and differences between them and his cast, with very specific information from Mildred Loving herself and the documentary that inspired the film.
This documentary about the first female eagle hunter in a remote nomadic tribe in Asia should be inspiring to anyone. Aisholpan Nurgaiv is doing something amazing and she has a genuinely touching relationship with her eagle.
The footage they got in those conditions is extraordinary. The filmmakers remain unobtrusive to Aisholpan’s journey, yet achieve intimacy and epic scale. Of course it looks stunning on Blu-ray. The Altai mountains reach into a pure blue sky that shines on unadulterated snow. The lower mountains are lush and green. Inside the tends, tapestry, curtains and fur glow gold. Just the vast land between their camp and the nearest city is breathtaking, and the majestic birds perched in the snow or flying across the sky stand out.
A 10 minute Behind the Scenes shows how they filmed The Eagle Huntress, with GoPros, minimal crew and drones. Director Otto Bell’s commentary addresses the pre-Daisy Ridley version, narrative film influences (Ridley Scott and the shining) how he warmed up the male elders in interviews, but he’s sporadic and doesn’t speak consistently through the film.