The Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: Stop Making Sense, Ferrari, Crimson Peak

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.


Stop Making Sense: Let’s not beat around the bush here: deluxe packaging or no, A24 is charging too damn much for the 4K UHD of their recent re-release of the Talking Heads and Jonathan Demme’s all-timer concert film, which is an A24 Shop exclusive with a rather steep current asking price of $53 (plus shipping). Now, that said, if you’ve got it to spend, it’s worth every dime. The early digital recording and careful film restoration means it looks and sounds like it was shot last week (better, frankly, since it’s shot on film), the picture still pulses with the electricity of a magnificent live performance, and its rewatch value is off the charts (I’m finishing my second run of the disc as I write this). Hopefully the label will grant us a budget release down the read, but Heads-heads, you know what to do here. (Includes audio commentary, extended cuts, rehearsal tapes, and alternate mixes.) 


Ferrari: Michael Mann resisted labeling his dramatization of a year in the life of Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) as a biopic, and it’s easy to understand why; calling it that gets it financed, but also gets it lumped in with the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Back to Black. As with Mann’s finest films, Ferrari is at its best when it’s most experiential: the roar of the engine, the speed of the camera movement, the rip of the cuts, the excitement and anticipation of roaring off the starting line before day has broken, the click-click-click cutting, even as Enzo just takes a regular daily drive.  And, as ever, there is the intimacy of his camera, his consistent desire to get as close as he can to the faces and (especially) the eyes of his subjects, so he can peer into their very souls. That urgency, that desire, is what elevates Ferrari from the biopic pack.


Anatomy of a Fall: The opening line of Justine Triet’s thorny crime drama (joining the Criterion Collection, fresh from its Oscar win for best original screenplay) is “What do you want to know?” It’s a casual question, at the beginning of a semi-formal interview, but it becomes Triet’s key inquiry; it is asked by Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller, staggering), a novelist whose husband dies a few minutes into that grabber of an opening. He fell from a high window, so maybe he killed himself, or maybe he was pushed by his wife; Triet pointedly does not tell us, and Hüller’s performance is similarly enigmatic, creating quiet yet searing suspense throughout the investigation and trial that follows. Acting is tip-top across the board, not just from Hüller but from young Milo Machado Graner as her son, who has secrets and reserves of his own. (Also streaming on Hulu.) (Includes deleted and alternate scenes with commentary, Triet interview, audition and rehearsal footage, featurette, trailer, and essay by Alexandra Schwartz.)

All That Breathes: The latest release from Janus Contemporaries is this 2022 Oscar nominee for best documentary feature (it also played Sundance and Cannes). Its subjects are Nadeem Shehzad and Mohammad Saud, who operate New Delhi’s Wildlife Rescue, aiding the region’s black kite birds and returning them to the world. It’s not glamorous work, and Shaunak Sen’s documentary is appropriately unassuming, regarding their interactions from a respectful distance and taking in the political and religious struggles of the region around them. Gorgeously photographed with a stirring score, it’s a modest but unforgettable picture. (Includes interview and trailer.)   

ON 4K:

Narc: Joe Carnahan’s 2002 cop drama was perpetually stuck on DVD, so kudos to Arrow Video for finally giving it not only the Blu-ray but 4K bump. Ray Liotta turns in one of his most memorable and menacing performances as Henry Oak, an unhinged Detroit detective who teams with a disgraced narcotics undercover cop (Jason Patric) on the stalled investigation of Oak’s partner’s murder. Liotta has the showcase role, gnashing and fuming (and doing it well), but Patric holds his own by underplaying, matching Liotta’s roaring fire with a slow burn. (Includes audio commentary, introduction, new and archival interviews, featurettes, trailer, and essay by Michelle Kisner.) 

Crimson Peak: Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic horror/romance is stunningly designed and sumptuously photographed; every frame’s a knockout, every second magnificently crafted (and Arrow’s new 4K is a beaut). A number of critics only granted it that, but I think it’s perhaps del Toro’s most fully realized work to date – it finds the filmmaker in total command of not only his form (which has never been an issue), but his storytelling, as he crafts a gripping, blood-soaked tale of deception, murder, and ghosts, situating the beauty of his images against the savagery of their violence. There are generous helpings of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, and plenty of moody walks down hallways clutching candelabras, but this is no mere echo chamber; Mia Wasikoswka, Jessica Chastain, and Tom Hiddleston find the pulse of their characters before shedding their blood in an appropriately hysterical climax. (Includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, interviews, full-length making-of documentary, featurettes, video essay, and essays by David Jenkins and Simon Abrams.) 


A Story of Floating Weeds / Floating Weeds: This Criterion two-pack of two by Yasujirō Ozu gets an overdue Blu-ray bump, and it’s a marvelous set, offering the rare opportunity to see a filmmaker tackle the same material twice, at two points in his life, in two different styles (cinematically, if not personally). A Story of Floating Weeds was made in 1934, a silent film in black and white; Floating Weeds was released 25 years later, in sound and color. As the title suggests, both are delicate and tender, stories of aging and rethinking, told with beauty and simplicity; Ozu’s direction is, as ever, direct and affecting, with compositions that are striking but never showy. Intoxicating, enchanting filmmaking. (Includes audio commentaries, trailer, essay by Donald Richie.) 

Three Revolutionary Films by Ousmane Sembene: Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène is no stranger to Criterion — his Black Girl joined the Collection in 2017, and Mandabi followed in 2021. Those were both from his 1960s filmography, pointed but gentle slices of African village life. This set, as indicated in the title, collects three pictures from his later, sharper, more provocative 1970s period: Emitaï, Xala, and Ceddo. They are astonishing examples of a filmmaker reconfiguring his priorities and voice, while retaining his considerable gifts; taken together, they’re fascinating examples of drama as critique, and world cinema that pulsates with righteous indignation. (Includes interview, making-of documentary, and essay by Yasmina Price.)  

Daisy Miller: Peter Bogdanovich’s 1974 adaptation of the Henry James novella was famously his first flop, shrugged off by critics and audiences at the time as a self-indulgent vanity project, a vehicle for his then-girlfriend Cybill Shepard and nothing more. But time has been kind to this one, which would make a fine double feature with Barry Lyndon, another mid-‘70s mash-up of New Hollywood and period drama that was summarily dismissed but rightly reappraised. Bogdanovich’s unconventional idea, of making a period piece with screwball comedy timing and energy, plays better than it sounds, and he shows off his actors’ skill by staging his scenes on long, fluid takes, to let them keep the tempo high. Shepard is delightful in the leading role, an absolute brat and unashamed of it, while the supporting cast shines — especially Eileen Brennan, as a real pill. (Includes audio commentaries, interview, introduction, and trailer.) 

The Philo Vance Collection: Before he was the Thin Man, William Powell was another whip-smart, nattily dressed movie detective: Philo Vance, first seen in S. S. Van Dine’s mystery novels, cast as Powell in these three early talkies collected on one disc by KL Studio Classics. Philo Vance is no Nick Charles, so lower your expectations accordingly, but these are enjoyable, breezily paced whodunits. The weakest is the first, The Canary Murder Case — surprisingly, as it features Louise Brooks in a supporting role, but her refusal to reshoot and dub when it was converted from a silent to a talkie leads to some of the clunkiest doubling this side of Plan 9 from Outer Space. (It also basically ended her career Stateside.) The Greene Murder Case is stronger, already ironing out some of the early-talkie bumps and fleshing out the partnership/rivalry between Vance and blustery Sgt. Heath (Eugene Pallette), while The Benson Murder Case, featuring a timely “stock market in disarray” plot hook, turns into a sharp locked-room mystery. (Includes audio commentaries.)  

Dangerous Game: Everyone remembers the fireworks created by director Abel Ferrara and actor Harvey Keitel’s game of raw cinematic chicken in 1992’s Bad Lieutenant; few remember their follow-up the next year, this mostly forgotten but undeniably effective inside-indie-Hollywood drama that might as well be called Bad Director. Barely released and panned by most critics, it was widely dismissed as self-indulgent claptrap, and done no favors by the scorn surrounding co-star Madonna’s Body of Evidence, released earlier that year. But it’s one of her finest performances, a vulnerable piece of work that blurs the line between fiction and reality (a tad uncomfortably for the actress, by most accounts), and Keitel is, as usual, blisteringly good. Ferrara’s films tend to get better with age; this one’s been overdue reconsideration, so kudos to the new Vinegar Syndrome sublabel Cinématographe for putting some respect on its name. (Includes audio commentary, interviews, video essay, trailer, and essays by Samm Deighan, Peter Labuza and Carlos Valladares.) 

L’important c’est d’aimer: Released on these shores as That Most Important Thing: Love (or The Most Important Thing is Love — these nuances matter!), this 1975 French drama from the great Polish auteur Andrzej Żuławski offers up the kind of emotional intensity and unrestrained insanity we’d expect from the man who would follow it up with Possession. Romy Schneider stars as a self-proclaimed “washed-up actress” whose unstable marriage is unsteadied by the arrival of a self-assured photographer (Fabio Testi). Zulawski heightens this provocative portrait of the life of an actress (it would make a fine double feature with Dangerous Game) with his customary shock jolts of sex and violence, and just when things get momentarily sane, Klaus fucking Kinski shows up—as an insane actor, even. Psychologically thorny and frequently upsetting, it’s the kind of eccentric melodrama that only Zulawski could birth. (Includes interview, English language version, and essay by Kat Ellinger.) 

Vacation!: “Four friends on a beach getaway” sounds like a million horny ‘80s sex comedies, but not in the hands of writer and director Zach Clark (White Reindeer, Little Sister), who made this low-budget black comedy in 2010; it looks like mumblecore, but feels like something much darker, summoning up a persistent dread underneath the deceptively light mood. His smart script keenly captures how it feels to reconnect with friends you’ve drifted from, and the discomfort of navigating their new temperaments and priorities. Performances are bracing, and Clark brings the unpredictable events to a memorable climax — so to speak. (Includes commentary, deleted scenes,  infomercial, and essays by Mark Olsen and Stephen Saito.) 

Shinobi: Raizo Ichikawa stars in this trilogy of ninja action epics, collected in this new box from Radiance Film: Band of Assassins, Revenge, and Resurrection. Set in 16th century Japan, this is mythic storytelling on an epic scale, concerning a brave and extremely persistant warrior who swears to exact revenge against the tyrannical warlord who ordered the elimination of our hero’s village. These are rousing adventure tales, crispy photographed and cleanly composed, with purposeful and precise camerawork, filled with thrilling set pieces. (Includes interviews, visual essay, trailer, and essays by Jonathan Clements and Diane Wei Lewis.)

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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