Miss Hokusai, now out on DVD and Blu-ray, is a film that is notable as much for its own meta-history as it is for the story depicted within. From Production I.G., the anime studio responsible for the beloved Ghost in the Shell series, and award-winning director Keiichi Hara, Miss Hokusai presents the true story of the prolific Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (also known as Tetsuzo) and his lesser known but just as talented daughter O-Ei. Though the film doesn’t adhere to any sort of traditional plot structure – which can make the pacing feel rather slow and disjointed – it offers compelling character portraits of a historical figure who rightfully deserve a larger spotlight.
The best kinds of movies provide emotional context to the thorniest political, ideological and philosophical issues that plague us as a species. Now available on DVD and Blu-ray, Desierto, Jonás Cuarón’s Spanish-language feature, tackles one of the most topical concerns of the current United States administration: illegal immigration. By laying out the issue in narrative form, Cuarón adds a relatable, human face to a contentious concept, and delivers a thriller of a cat-and-mouse chase along the way.
For such a groundbreaking story, Jeff Nichols’ Loving, now available on DVD and Blu-ray, is notable for its silence. Although the quiet solemnity of a sparse script served Nichols well in the case of his other 2016 critical darling, Midnight Special, the historic Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision invalidating laws that prohibited interracial marriage may have required a bit more dramatic build-up. Fortunately, Loving’s two lead actors – Ruth Negga, nominated for an Academy Award for this role, and the chameleon-like Joel Edgerton – elevate the movie through their characters by tenderly tapping into the steady strength that defines their humanity.
The truth is a touchy topic nowadays, which is why Denial – now available on Blu-ray and DVD via Bleecker Street and Entertainment One – packs such a strong punch. Directed by Mick Jackson, Denial describes the 1996 libel suit brought by Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) against American Holocaust studies professor Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz), and is based on Lipstadt’s own account of the trial.
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD via RLJ Entertainment, The Phenom is a baseball movie that refreshingly breaks convention by not focusing on the sport itself. Instead , this subtly and evocatively rendered drama is a character study of the highest order, focusing on the little details that pushes talented and unassuming pitcher Hopper (Johnny Simmons) in a ton of different directions.
The comparisons to Casablanca were inevitable, as To Have and Have Not has resistance fighters, a memorable piano player (Hoagy Carmichael), and smoldering chemistry between the leads. But even then and now 72 years later, To Have and Have Not is a classic that stands on its own, and Warner Archive Collection has done a great job with this Blu-ray release. Below are five reasons to love To Have and Have Not.