This week, an acclaimed independent drama leads the charge of new Blu-Ray and DVD releases. The titles today are low on quality, but the top pick in “The Rider” does keep things from being too rough. Read on for more!

PICK OF THE WEEK

The Rider

About as intimate a character study as it gets, “The Rider” would make a compelling companion piece with “The Wrestler.” Here, it’s a real life cowboy getting a fictionalized tale, though the emotions feel deeply realistic. Filmmaker Chloe Zhao is likely going to be getting some A-list projects off of this one, and rightly so. She takes a narrative story and infuses it with all of the documentary genre’s strengths. The result is something very unique. Here’s a bit from our New York Film Festival review on the site:

A quiet character study, “The Rider” is almost documentary-like in its approach.

“The Rider” was a surprise big player at the Independent Spirit Awards last year. Now that it has finally ended its run, see what all the fuss is about!

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,366,303 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for four awards, including Best Feature, at the Film Independent Spirit Awards

VINTAGE VIEWING

In honor of this week’s release of “BlacKkKlansman,” the pick today will be one of filmmaker Spike Lee‘s last great movies. It’s “25th Hour,” a modern classic from the filmmaker. The best combination of Lee’s anger as well as his mainstream sensibilities, it’s nearly perfect. From Edward Norton‘s compelling turn to the use of music, it’s all incredibly on point. New York City after 9/11 is brilliantly captured and depicted. The San Francisco Chronicle had this rave at the time:

The first great 21st century movie about a 21st century subject.

Lee has crafted one of his three best films with this welcome return to form. Check out what yours truly considers his best work to date, then taken in this new triumph over the weekend!

OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED

Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the sole recommended title “The Rider”:

Aardvark

This well cast drama played last year at the Tribeca Film Festival and didn’t make a peep. Apparently, the cast (including Jon Hamm and Jenny Slate) was rather wasted. Such is life when it comes to a lot of the titles that play at Tribeca and disappear afterwards. The Los Angeles Times chimed in with more or less exactly that in their review. Behold:

Despite a strong lead cast and good intentions, “Aardvark” is a drag.

A shame. While “The Rider” represents the way festival titles can succeed, this is the other side of the coin.

Box Office: N/A

Breaking In

James McTeigue is no David Fincher. So, making a reverse “Panic Room” seemed like a dubious prospect from the start. If nothing else, it’s more proof that Gabrielle Union is often better than the material she’s given. Variety was not a fan in the least, as you can see below:

In the end, the only real suspense comes from seeing whether the film can stretch its wafer-thin premise and paucity of ideas out to a full 90 minutes – and at 88 minutes with credits, even there it comes up short.

Seems like it should have been better, considering the star and filmmaker involved.

Box Office: $46,383,120

Life of the Party

A high concept Melissa McCarthy comedy vehicle that apparently forgot to be funny, her talents are again put to poor use. Sending an adult back to college has potential to be amusing, but this did not work out. In their review, Rolling Stone hammered home on how McCarthy can’t save this silly plot:

Melissa McCarthy is comedy royalty – it’s a scientific fact, look it up – but even the Bridesmaids star can’t keep this mom-goes-to-college fluffball from flatlining.

McCarthy fans only need apply here.

Box Office: $52,856,061

On Chesil Beach

This period romance features yet another highly praised turn by Saoirse Ronan. You know, that kid may be going places. Ronan is at ease in costume dramas, so this little indie played to a lot of her strengths. Reviews were very solid, both for her and the movie on the whole. Our own review found right on the site had this to say:

“On Chesil Beach” is both a lovely story and a heartbreaking one.

A solid other option for this week, besides “The Rider.”

Box Office: $745,971

Revenge

A take on the exploitation genre, with a bit of a modern spin, this has some of the year’s better reviews for a small indie. When you do something new with an old idea, that’s often the way to a critic’s heart. Time Out greatly enjoyed how it subverted expectations, as you can see in their review:

If you usually find the genre icky and exploitative, try this one-but only if you’ve got the stomach for an abattoir’s worth of blood in a single movie.

Something to consider, if you find yourself intrigued by the concept.

Box Office: $102,091

TV RELEASES

“Documentary Now: Seasons 1 & 2”
“Get Shorty: Season One”
“The Good Doctor: Season One”
“Happy Endings: The Complete Series”
“Masters of Sex: The Complete Series”
“Riverdale: The Complete Second Season”
“Six: Season 2”
“Top Gear America: Season One”

THOUGHTS ON WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK ON BLU-RAY OR DVD? SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!