This week’s home entertainment releases include Taika Waititi’s fun-loving Thor: Ragnarok, Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed slice-of-life drama Lady Bird, an underrated holiday film, the first season of Donald Glover’s innovative Atlanta TV series, and two fascinating documentaries, one from the BBC and another from pioneering female director Agnes Varda.
In The Man Who Invented Christmas (Universal, “PG,” 105 min., $29.98, BD $34.98) Dan Stevens plays Charles Dickens in a holiday-themed revisionist tale of how the great nineteenth Century writer created A Christmas Carol. While this film didn’t do well at the North American box office, earning just $5.7 million, this is actually one of the better holiday movies of recent years, and will perhaps be shown and seen at Christmas time for years to come.
Also due on Tuesday is Woody Allen’s 2017 film Wonder Wheel (Universal, “PG-13,” $19.98, BD $22.98), a period piece that takes place in the 1950s on Coney Island. As is typical with Allen’s movies, Wonder Wheel has a great cast that includes Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake, and Jim Belushi, but the film could only manage a lowly 31% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and earned just $1.4 million at the box office.
The best documentary out this week is Faces Places (Cohen Media, “PG,” 89 min., $25.99, BD $30.99), a film by veteran New Wave filmmaker Agnes Varda and the photographer JR, who travel across France and create large portraits of people they encounter. With all the positive news surrounding female filmmakers like Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), it’s also good to pay homage to the pioneers like Agnes Varda, whose work is underseen and underappreciated.
TV on DVD
The only vintage TV release is the vintage 1970s sketch comedy Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete 3rd Season (Time-Life, $29.95).
For Fairy Tail fans there is the Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry (Funimation, 85 min., $29.98, BD/DVD Combo $34.98), the 2017 anime movie based on Hiro Mashima’s popular manga series. This movie, which Funimation released theatrically last August, takes place between the next-to-the-last and the final story arc of the manga.
But that’s not all the Fairy Tail releases, Fairy Tail Zero: Season 8 (Funimation, 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $54.98), which collects a 12-episode “prequel” to the Fairy Tail saga that aired in 2016.
Also out on Tuesday are the shojo-based romantic comedy Kiss Him, Not Me: The Complete Series (Funimation, “TV-14,” 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), a reverse harem saga produced by Brain’s Base that aired in 2016; and the always interesting (to this reviewer anyway) adaptation of the Edogawa Rampo’s Boys’ Detective Club, Trickster: Part 2 (Funimation, “TV-14,” 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98); and the Girlish Number: Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “TV-14,” 300 min., BD $59.98), which collects the 12-episode 2016 series from Diomedia an inside the industry saga about a voice actress’s struggles to make a career.