Blu-rays of the Week
Dragged Across Concrete (Lionsgate)
There are no good guys in S. Craig Zahler’s relentlessly grim and gratuitously brutal crime drama about a couple of rogue cops who get caught up in a bank robbery masterminded by a group of sadistic crooks. Despite a good cast—Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are surprisingly effective as the policemen—and some intense sequences, the film is dragged down by an ungodly 160-minute running time and much pointless and casual cruelty, including, just minutes after she first appears, the killing-off of a bank employee quite conflicted over returning to her job after maternity leave. Some might call it realistic, but it’s really lazily manipulative, and too much of the film relies on one-upping its own violence to be truly worthwhile. The film looks superb on Blu; extras comprise several on-set featurettes with interviews.
Frankenstein 1970 (Warner Archive)
Boris Karloff returns as another Frankenstein, this time a grandson of the Baron, who lets a Hollywood crew rent his Bavarian castle while making a movie so he can to fund his own mad-scientist experiments in Howard W. Koch’s low-budget, low-energy 1958 thriller. Karloff’s hamming is the most entertaining aspect of this weak black-and-white entry in the series, whose scant 80-minute running time betrays that little imagination went into making this; even the monster’s killing scenes are pretty paltry. The most effective moment is the opening, a clever head fake that would have made a terrific start to a better movie. At least there’s a beautifully detailed hi-def transfer.
My Brilliant Career (Criterion)
In Gillian Armstrong’s incisive 1979 portrait of a young Australian woman whose independent streak finds her out of step with her conservative family, Judy Davis gives a star-making performance as the headstrong heroine, and she’s matched by Sam Neill as the wealthy childhood friend who falls for her despite (or because of) her iconoclasm. Armstrong was the first woman to break through among the Aussie New Wave (which featured Bruce Beresford and Fred Schepisi, most notably) and her film remains a sharp exploration of female independence. Criterion’s release has a first-rate hi-def transfer; extras are Armstrong’s commentary, new interviews with Armstrong and production designer Luciana Arrighi, archival Davis interview—too bad there’s nothing new from Davis and Neill—and Armstrong’s 1973 student short, One Hundred a Day.