The Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: M3GAN, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Streets of Fire, and More

Every Tuesday, discriminating viewers are confronted with a flurry of choices: new releases on disc and on demand, vintage and original movies on any number of streaming platforms, catalogue titles making a splash on Blu-ray or 4K. This twice-monthly column sifts through all of those choices to pluck out the movies most worth your time, no matter how you’re watching.


Streets of Fire: It must’ve been frustrating for Walter Hill to helm a wilded-out gang-kid phantasmagoria like The Warriors and watch folks praise its gritty realism (?!?), so you sorta can’t blame him for going entirely buck wild for this spiritual sequel, which wildly intersperses tones, styles, time periods, and musical numbers. It’s truly a movie with everything: explosions, chases, hit songs, Rick Moranis giving straight-up sleezeball, Amy Madigan crushing beer cans, and Diane Lane emanating so much charisma that you can totally understand why Tom Cody goes through hell and/or high water to get her back. It tanked in 1984, unsurprisingly – this was not a year for movies that you couldn’t compare to any other movie – but it’s a rare artifact of the era where the phrase “cult classic” is both accurate and appropriate. Shout Factory upgrades their fully-loaded Blu-ray special edition to a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and it’s a beaut, folks. (Includes featurettes, music videos, and trailers.) 


All the Beauty and the Bloodshed: Laura Poitros’s chronicles of the protest actions of artist and icon Nan Goldin make for gripping documentary material, recalling the in-the-moment danger of her earlier Citizenfour. But the film’s biographical sections, detailing her fascinating early years,  are just as riveting; Godlin is a tremendous storyteller, and she intersected with several of the most notorious scenes of the late 20th century (Boston in the ‘70s, John Waters’ Dreamlanders, ‘80s downtown NYC, early AIDS art and activism). She’s matter-of-fact but evocative, and sentimental though she doesn’t sentimentalize. All the Beauty could be either the protest movie or the bio-doc and be great; that it is both, and that they intertwine so delicately and devastatingly at its conclusion, made it the finest film (documentary or otherwise) of 2022.


M3GAN: A slasher movie clearly recut for the PG-13? An early January release date? A warmed-over Chucky premise? There were red flags a-flyin’ when Gerard Johnstone’s Blumhouse special hit theaters, and they turned out to be for naught; thanks to Johnstone’s energetic direction, a game Allison Williams lead performance, and a suitably maniacal screenplay by Akela Cooper, it’s an absolute hoot. Poised at a peculiar juncture of slasher horror and self-aware satire, it’s frequently, bleakly funny, with Cooper’s sly script tweaking the Child’s Play/Frankenstein/Terminator mash-up premise just slightly into farce by winking at the situations and making the title character (an AI-powered life-sized doll) into a Freddie Kruger-style quip master. Over the top and built to meme, it’s a blistering little blast of a movie. (Includes unrated and theatrical versions and featurettes.) 

Meet Me in the Bathroom: Lizzy Goodman’s essential oral history of New York’s new millennium rock scene (Interpol, the Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Moldy Peaches, etc.) gets the documentary treatment, and warrants it – the events were recent enough that there’s plenty of good contemporaneous footage, the music is still highly evocative, and the new interviews are just the right mix of thoughtful and legend-burning. Most importantly, directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s execution is appropriately energetic, sweeping you into the excitement of the moment, and the poignancy of its conclusion. And the editing by Andrew Cross and Sam Rice-Edwards (who are also credited as co-directors) is inventive; the mid-point montage, unexpectedly but effectively cut to Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year,” is a little masterpiece. (Includes audio commentary, premiere Q&As, and concert footage.)

ON 4K:

The Exorcist III: Horror three-quels aren’t exactly renowned for their high quality, but this 1990 follow-up to the creepy classic is an exception to the rule, for a couple of reasons. First, it wisely ignores the unfortunate Exorcist II: The Heretic. Second, the original film’s writer/producer William Peter Blatty is back (this time also directing). And third, he doesn’t try to play the original’s game; this time, he crafts a tense police procedural, in which Lt. Kinderman (George C. Scott, taking over for Lee J. Cobb) tracks a string of grisly murders to a supernatural conclusion that’s hard for him to swallow. It’s as much a mystery thriller as a horror flick – particularly in the restored Legion director’s cut (included on the third disc of this set), which removes many of the direct echoes demanded by the studio and restores a series of lengthy dialogue scenes that are closer to Silence of the Lambs– though there are plenty of good scares in it, particularly a hospital sequence that’s a master class in sustained suspense. (Includes both theatrical and director’s cuts, new and vintage interviews, new and vintage featurettes, deleted and alternate scenes, theatrical trailer and TV spots.)

Dragonslayer: You gotta give Dragonslayer this much: it delivers what its title promises. You want dragons? Son, you are gettin’ dragons. Co-writer/director Matthew Robbins builds a dragon slaying machine, with a minimum of set-up (a dragon is terrorizing the land, Peter MacNicol is a sorcerer’s apprentice taxed with taking out the wild beast), a generous helping of period atmosphere (the setting is sixth-century England, and one gets the impression Robbins really liked the previous year’s Excalibur), and some mighty impressive special effects – among the first the Industrial Light & Magic created for a non-Lucas production. Those effects have held up remarkably well, and Paramount’s new 4K edition makes them look fresh as a daisy. (Includes audio commentary, screen tests, featurette, and trailer.) 


Chilly Scenes of Winter: “Why would you choose someone who loves you too little over someone who loves you too much?” he asks, and her reply is blunt but potent: “Because it makes me feel like less of a fraud.” Such is the flavor of this decidedly unsentimental 1979 romantic comedy-drama from the great Joan Micklin Silver, new to the Criterion Collection and ripe with spiky charms: the pleasure of seeing go-to character actor John Heard as a romantic (well, “romantic”) lead, the likably dizzy presence of leading lady Mary Beth Hurt, the cleverly intermingled “during” and “after” timelines, his wry voice-overs and direct-to-cameras, and the deliciously bummer ending, the kind of thing Silver could no longer get away with by the time of her wonderful but far more conventional Crossing Delacey a few years later. (Includes new and archival featurettes, original ending, and trailer.) 

Inland Empire: Long hard to see on any format in particular, this 2006 mindfuck (also new from Criterion) is perhaps the Lynch-iest film in David Lynch’s entire filmography, a three-hour mediation on fame, femininity, desire, rabbits, the subconscious mind, and the ugliness of digital video. Laura Dern is staggeringly good in the leading role of an actress making a movie that turns into some kind of a waking nightmare, and reminding us that no actor has proven more game for walking through Lynch’s weirdo world – or more compelling while doing it. Still not sure what the hell is going on in it; still certain I don’t care. (Includes deleted scenes, short films, featurettes, new interview, audiobook excerpts, and trailer.) 

Breathless: When Jim McBride’s drama (new on Blu from Fun City Editions) hit theaters back in 1983, it was all but laughed off the screen. A Godard remake?! With Richard Gere?!? Ho, ho. But time has been kind to this freewheeling, sharp-edged, absorbing potboiler; at risk of getting too academic, it’s less a straight-up remake than a meditation on the question, “What does Breathless mean to me?” (Aside from the fact that no one would resist the idea of the sanctity of any particular picture than J.L. Godard.) Much of its current reputation is thanks to the frequent boosting of Quentin Tarantino (who said of it, “When I saw this in ’83, it was everything I wanted to do in movies”); you can see the stylistic DNA of QT’s tone-hopping, cultural obsessions, and love of rockabilly (to say nothing of the hero’s French lover, a relationship echoed in Pulp Fiction). It’s a hangout movie, a vibe, a film about the way it feels to break the rules, to screw all day, to not give a damn. (Includes audio commentary, isolated music track, new interviews, deleted scenes, alternate ending, and trailer.) 

Party Girl: Parker Posey had appeared in a few films before this 1995 indie gem (also new from Fun City Editions), and made plenty after, but this may still be the definitive Posey picture, the one that best captures her unique persona, charisma, and flair. She plays the title character, a club-hopping, clothes-horsing, dizzy ‘90s dame who begins working as a librarian to pay the bills and finds herself unexpectedly drawn to the work. Co-writer/director Diasy von Scherler Mayer moves at a slapstick clip, juggling memorable characters, distinctive New York scenes, and quotable dialogue (“He-he-helloooo!”). It’s so of its moment that it could’ve dated badly; instead, it feels like a dispatch from what might’ve been the city’s last great era. (Includes audio commentary, new interviews, and trailer.)

Making Mr. Right: Director Susan Seidelman followed up the commercial and critical triumph of Desperately Seeking Susan with another high-concept comedy, featuring Susan supporting player Ann Magnuson as a high-powered PR exec who takes on a unique client: a high-tech company that’s created an android astronaut. John Malkovich is wonderfully weird in the dual role of the cheerful robot and its curmudgeonly creator, while the stacked supporting cast (including Glenne Headly, Polly Bergen, Hart Bochner, and a delightfully unhinged Laurie Metcalf) shines. Some of it has dated poorly, and some of it is a little sweaty. But the Magnuson-Malkovich scenes have real electricity, and Seidelman is clearly having a great time exploring her sun-blasted Miami locations. (Includes audio commentary, interviews, and trailer.) 

Little Miss Marker: Damon Runyon’s tale of the hard-nosed bookie and the little girl who softened him up got the big-screen treatment plenty of times; hell, this KL Studio Classics Blu-ray release follows, by just a few short weeks, the label’s release of Bob Hope’s 1949 take, Sorrowful Jones. This one may not have the wisecracking Hope – though Adolphe Menjou’s rough-edged charm is a good fit for the character – but it does have Shirley Temple, who exudes the exact mixture of precociousness, likability, and street smarts that the role requires. (Includes audio commentary and trailer.) 

Thanks for the Memory / Never Say Die: KL continues their admirable Bob Hope preservation project with this pair of late-‘30s vehicles for the ski-nosed comedian, in which he’s still struggling to adapt his persona for the big screen. The former, which takes its title from his signature song, is a proto-Mr. Mom in which his model wife (the charming Shirley Ross) goes back to work so he can write his novel and keep house; it’s wildly dated, but the portraiture of semi-starving artists is relatable, and the ending is sweet. The broader and wilder Never Say Die is a more successful picture, with Hope in fine form as a millionaire hypochondriac who is misdiagnosed as only having a month to live; he’s well-matched with (a top-billed) Martha Raye, though Andy Devine just about steals the picture out from under them both as Raye’s whiny, mumble-mouthed would-be beau. (Both include audio commentaries and trailers.)   

The Shaolin Invincibles / Seven to One: This double-feature from AGFA almost plays like a rebuff to high-class martial arts releases like Criterion’s Last Hurrah for Chivalry a couple of weeks back – a reminder that much of the genre was proudly disreputable, and while some of these movies are high art, some, like Shaolin Invincibles, feature guys in baggy monkey costumes doing kung fu to stolen music cues. Both of these titles are delightfully weird and sometimes sloppy, but the fights are reasonably inventive and the stars have charisma to burn. The image and sound quality of both is understandably rough, but that ultimately lends to their charm; these feel like movies you shouldn’t be seeing in a pristine, HD presentation, but on a shabby, beat-up print in a fourth-run grindhouse. (Includes a 33-minute martial arts trailer reel.)  

The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee “Scratch” Perry: This 2008 documentary portrait of reggae groundbreaker Perry feels patched together from secondhand materials, bootleg recordings, and third-generation tape dubs. And that’s exactly as it should be, about as precise a case of the medium equaling the message as one can imagine. Narration is provided by Benicio del Toro, and there’s something similarly perfect about a narrator who shot to fame for a role where you couldn’t understand a damn thing he said. (Includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, and trailer.)

Black Sunday: This 1977 adaptation of the first bestseller by future Hannibal Lecter creator Thomas Harris was the work of director John Frankenheimer, and you can feel him straining to recapture the political thriller magic of his earlier masterpieces The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May, to little avail; it’s too long and, in its initial passages, too complicated. But the third act is a dinger, with a suitably, quietly unhinged Bruce Dern doing whatever it takes to execute the suicide mission (bombing the Super Bowl, via the Goodyear blimp) at the story’s center, and a sweaty Robert Shaw determined to stop him. Arrow’s new Blu-ray transfer is a knockout as well. (Includes audio commentary and featurettes). 

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife: Here’s a pedigree to make a classic film fan’s mouth water: A romantic comedy written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and starring Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper. This 1938 gem (new on Blu from Indicator) lives up to that roll call; it’s whip-smart, slyly racy, and utterly endearing. Cooper is a much-married millionaire who falls for Colbert – and truly, who wouldn’t – before she realizes who or what he is, resulting in a series of deceptions and double-crosses that literally put him in a straight-jacket. It’s all very funny and very sexy, and Indicator’s presentation is, as usual, tip-top. (Includes audio commentary, archival Colbert interview, military training film with co-star David Niven, and trailer.)  

State of the Union: Frank Capra’s take on the Hepburn and Tracy picture (also new from Indicator) isn’t up to the standards of Adam’s Rib or Pat and Mike, mostly because it goes so long without feeling like a Hepburn and Tracy picture – she doesn’t even turn up until damn near the half hour mark. So it never really feels like the sum of its parts, but some of its parts are wonderful: the aforementioned Adolphe Menjou is delightful, Angela Lansbury does something like a femme fatale turn, Van Johnson gets some genuine laughs, and most of all, it’s refreshing to see the seemingly made-for-each-other duo play a couple that is, from frame one, in trouble. (Includes audio commentary, Lansbury tributes, original opening and closing titles, and trailer.) 

The Kiss Before the Mirror: This darkly funny effort from director James Whale (of the Universal Frankenstein movies) is cheerfully Pre-Code, centering as it does on unapologetic lovers, jealous husbands, and murder. Betrayal and adultery abound, as a man kills his wife’s side piece and is defended by a lawyer friend, who soon discovers his own wife is unfaithful as well. It’s all a tad overwrought, of course, but Whale’s direction is jazzy and entertaining; he fills the frame with stylish devices and snappy camera moves, which are all the more impressive compared with other early talkies. (Includes audio commentary, Whale short film, and video essay).

Jason Bailey is a film critic and historian, and the author of five books. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Playlist, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Rolling Stone, Slate, and more. He is the co-host of the podcast "A Very Good Year."

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