Ari Aster follows up ‘Hereditary’ with the disturbing, darkly funny ‘Midsommar’


New on Blu-ray

“Midsommar” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; also available on VOD)

Ambitious young genre filmmaker Ari Aster follows up his harrowing supernatural thriller “Hereditary” with a movie every bit as freaky and gory, but with a more cockeyed point-of-view. In “Midsommar,” Florence Pugh plays Dani, who’s still recovering from a catastrophic family tragedy when she impulsively joins her grad student boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his bro-y pals on a trip to a remote Swedish village to witness an ancient festival. The locals’ rituals turn out to be violent, pagan and psychedelic … which happens to suit Dani’s fractured state of mind. Genuinely disturbing and darkly funny, “Midsommar” uses the elements of cult horror to illuminate the psyche of one broken woman, who’s in a miserable relationship and stuck on the weirdest vacation ever.

[Special features: Featurettes]


“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (available Oct. 11 on Netflix)

In 2013, TV’s “Breaking Bad” — producer Vince Gilligan’s brilliant drama about a dying high school teacher’s rise to power in the Albuquerque methamphetamine trade — ended by revealing the ultimate fate of its central character, Walter White. Now Gilligan has written and directed an epilogue, “El Camino,” telling the story of Walter’s younger business partner, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), on the run from the law and from rival drug dealers. Details about the movie have been kept tightly under wraps, but fans of the series can expect something nail-bitingly tense and beautifully cinematic, with a lot to say about how the drive for success can take people places they never meant to go.

TV set of the week

“Deadwood: The Movie” (HBO DVD, $14.97; Blu-ray, $19.98; also available on VOD)

For too long, it seemed like “Deadwood” creator David Milch would never get to finish his dense, Shakespearean western, which was unceremoniously canceled by HBO before completing its tale of outlaws, entrepreneurs and bureaucrats fighting over a rapidly developing stretch of 1870s South Dakota. The two-hour “Deadwood: The Movie” is no substitute for the dozen or so hours of TV Milch might’ve made, but it’s a fine elegy for both the series and the Old West, with Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker and the most of the surviving main cast sliding right back into their now well-weathered and still colorfully vulgar characters, for a look back at how some unlikely folks forged a civilization out of chaos, through subtle power plays and calculated bloodletting.


[Special features: None]

From the archives

“3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg” (Criterion Blu-ray, $99.95)

Josef von Sternberg was only 33 years old but already a journeyman filmmaker when Paramount released his sensational silent picture “Underworld,” a 1927 crime drama often cited as the first and most influential example of the American gangster movie. For the remainder of the silent era, Sternberg stayed on a hot streak, directing masterpieces like 1928’s “The Last Command,” an ingenious melodrama about a respected former Russian revolutionary reduced to working as an extra in a Hollywood war epic, and that same year’s “The Docks of New York,” an intense romance about a steamship coal-stoker trying to woo a dancehall girl on his one night of shore leave. All three of these are now on Blu-ray, in Criterion’s “3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg” set.

[Special features: Video essays and a vintage interview]

Three more to see

“A Bread Factory” (Grasshopper DVD, $34.95; Blu-ray, $39.95); “Toy Story 4” (Walt Disney DVD/Blu-ray, $24.95; also available on VOD); “The Wedding Guest” (IFC DVD, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; also available on VOD)