"Love Is Strange"
In most romances, no one worries about money or space, not even in high-dollar Manhattan. In "Love Is Strange," writer/director Ira Sachs' 2014 sleeper, new to Sony Classics DVD/Blu-ray and streaming, these forces retain their real-world gravity. So when George (Alfred Molina) weds Ben (John Lithgow), his partner of decades, and loses his job teaching music at a Catholic school in the bargain, the sudden loss of income is a serious problem. And as they scour New York for a new apartment they can afford, the newlyweds have to split up and bunk in other tiny dwellings around the city—George with gay neighbors a generation younger, Ben with his nephew and family, who have their own problems. Complications ensue.
"The Sword of Doom"
In cinema, samurai are like cowboys—the minute you spot that iconic silhouette, you can make some assumptions about skill, stoicism, and adherence to a code. But what if our protagonist isn't a hero in waiting, or even an antihero? What if he's a murderous borderline sociopath? Japanese director Kihachi Okamoto's undersung 1966 film "The Sword of Doom," out now in a new digital transfer from the Criterion Collection, pushes this idea further than Western directors such as Sam Peckinpah or Sergio Leone would for a couple of years. Indeed, its evocation of the psychic costs of a life dedicated to bloody violence feels remarkably fresh today.