As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m a fan of movies on disc. I want to own all my favourite films.
I’ve thought a lot about the collector mania that feeds this, and while I enjoy that aspect it’s more than just adding those titles to my shelf, it’s about my relationship to the stories I’ve always loved. It’s a pathway to my movie-loving past, and says something about my identity as a cinephile.
As a semi-professional critic I see a lot of new movies, too, and now we’re solidly in the era of boutique movie discs — a Blu-Ray frequently goes for $30 or $40, more if it’s Criterion or 4K. That’s easily double the retail price they were 10 or 15 years ago when the market for discs was booming and distributors made a lot of back-end profit on their sales.
These days, many new movies simply aren’t available on physical media.
This article on Indiewire prompted a question in my head: What recent films would I like to see preserved on disc?
Obviously, many enjoy movies at home on streaming services, myself included, but I don’t trust that they won’t disappear from those sources. Even if Netflix, Amazon, or Apple are responsible for producing a new feature that I admire, who’s to say they won’t quietly remove it when it suits them?
That’s why I want to see the following films on disc, professionally presented, for archival reasons as well as my own selfish needs. Maybe with a few extras like deleted scenes or even a director’s commentary.
I have a wishlist from 2023, but they might yet arrive on disc. It’s perhaps premature to complain that David Fincher’s The Killer, now on Netflix, The Artifice Girl, now on VOD, and Rye Lane, on Disney + in Canada, aren’t available. Fingers crossed.
For the others, and I’m only scratching the surface here, let’s go:
I can look over my shoulder at the copy of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out on my shelf. Why isn’t the sequel available on disc? And does this mean future entries in this franchise — and it’s sure to continue given the blockbuster success of the first two — also won’t be?
This lean, digital thriller is maybe the best Soderbergh since his golden period at the century’s turn, when he made Out Of Sight, The Limey, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Oceans 11, and Solaris in rapid succession. (We’ll just ignore Full Frontal for the sake of argument.) A browse of Amazon suggests an overpriced, DVD-only “unbranded” disc is available, but the lack of information about it, or extras, makes me seriously doubt the reliability of the source.
Indian art house master, Chaitanya Tamhane’s earlier film, Court, is available on disc, thankfully, though not easily found. His follow-up is consigned to Netflix, which is frankly disappointing. Who’s going to discover this astonishing exploration of artistic struggle there? Roma‘s release on disc — thank you Criterion! — is an example of Netflix opening the gates. Let it continue!
The Andy Samberg – Cristin Milioti sci-fi romcom from 2020 is an all-timer, deftly jumping off from the granddaddy of time loop romcoms, Groundhog Day, to something that feels younger, fresher, and altogether fun. It’s on Prime, and weirdly, there’s a Region B disc (that plays in machines in Europe or if you have an All-Region player) with German and English language tracks. That’s frustrating because clearly there’s a market for this movie on disc overseas. It could be here, too.
A charming family picture from the popular kids book series, both hilarious and poignant, was available on Disney+ for awhile but, for reasons beyond understanding, it’s now only on VOD where it languishes. This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about — a Disney movie no longer welcome on the Disney streaming service. This picture deserves a Paddington-esque fanbase around it, which it’s not liable to get while lost in the wasteland of digital platforms.
Next to nobody saw this when it landed on Amazon Prime, but it was one of my favourites of 2020 and it’s only grown in my estimation since. A low-budget character study and romance set against the vivid monuments of Egyptian history, it’s got a gorgeous, hypnotic quality to it, anchored by the unnerving talent of Oscar-nominee Andrea Riseborough. Now available on Hoopla, TUBI, and somewhere on VOD, but not on disc.
Andrew Patterson’s impressive debut indie science fiction picture arrived on Prime in 2019, and it’s still there, still available. For now.
Stalwart character actor Macon Blair, recently spotted as J Robert Oppenheimer’s lawyer in the Christopher Nolan smash, made his debut as a feature filmmaker with this crime thriller/comedy, which if there was any justice in the world would have a frenzied cult. Hard to build such a thing with it stashed in some corner of Netflix.
Here’s a deeply unorthodox British musical that barely got a release over here, and never found its way onto disc — fans of international cinema are frequently the biggest losers in this era. You can see London Road on Hoopla, but how great would a fully fledged disc package be, maybe from somewhere reputable like Criterion? Olivia Colman and Tom Hardy both star, and both sing. That should be enough of a draw.
This is worth a whole other list: films shot in Nova Scotia that haven’t found release on disc — Weirdos, Werewolf, and Candy Mountain are three right off the top of my head. Andrea Dorfman’s sweet romance is one of my favourite local films for its portrait of Halifax at its most fetching, with a suite of lovely performances from locals like Tanya Davis and Stephanie Joline. Andrea mentioned to me a small run of discs of the film were made and distributed to Canadian libraries. Maybe you can find one. It’s also rentable on VOD, sure, but what would I give for this picture, presented at its best, with a full suite of extras and interviews with the cast? The film is 10 years old in 2024, if anyone needed an excuse.