Home Entertainment Guide: January 2023

The 1959 Douglas Sirk remake of this 1934 drama was already in the Criterion Collection (and, in my opinion, is the superior film) but this Claudette Colbert vehicle can now make an interesting companion to that release. Criterion has given the John M. Stahl drama a 4K restoration and included some bonus material that should deepen the historical appreciation of this work, including a new introduction by the brilliant Imogen Sara Smith and a new interview with an expert on African-American performers in the 1930s, who speaks on the work here by Louise Beavers and Fredi Washington. She also pens an informative essay.

One of the best action films of its era, Peter Collinson's "The Italian Job" has been selected by the experts at Kino Lorber for their increasingly impressive 4K treatments. A head of KL recently revealed at Sundance that their Blu-ray restorations have become one of the most successful portions of their business, and it's easy to see why. These releases take collectors seriously, not just in bonus features but in the 4K restorations, usually from the original camera negative. They just don't look as good on streaming. That's the case with this excellent release for one of Michael Caine's early hits. It also includes a ton of supplemental stuff, including two audio commentaries and documentaries about the making of this car-chase classic.

Lars von Trier recently revealed that he might have to step away from filmmaking to deal with his health, dropping the riveting "The Kingdom Exodus" as a potential farewell. If that's the case, we can now look back more completely at his body of work, which started with three films often referred to as the "Europa Trilogy," now collected in one box set by the geniuses at Criterion. His first two films, "The Element of Crime" and "Epidemic" have been restored in 3K, and this third film, his breakout in "Europa," is now in 4K. But that's not all. The set also includes early short films from 1980 and 1982 that Von Trier made when he was a student. It's a wonderful set for LVT fans, the beginning of one of the most influential careers in international cinema.

Is this a new Christmas classic? It's been too long since we had one of those, right? And given that this very adult action/comedy made over $75 million on a low budget, it probably will become an annual hit for certain audiences. David Harbour of "Stranger Things" fame plays Santa himself, who is forced to fight a group of violent mercenaries on Christmas Eve. Goofy and gory, it's a film that arguably should have been better (it needed a rewrite or two) but gets the job done after the kids have gone to bed and you've had too much eggnog. Pick it up now so you don't have to try and find a copy ten months from now.