Home Movies/Out on Digital: July 21
■ Swamp Thing
Long before the current cycle of movies made from comic books, Wes Craven directed Swamp Thing (1982). Drawn from the DC universe, the Thing is a good-hearted monster born from a genetic experiment gone awry. Unlike the bloated and dour thrillers of nowadays, Craven had fun with his material, spoofing the threadbare conventions of B horror and thriller flicks and entirely content to cast the Thing as a man in a green rubber monster suit. Swamp Thing has just been reissued in a DVD/Blu-ray set.
■ London: The Modern Babylon
London is no longer an imperial capital but it’s still a world city with all the expected contradictions of privilege and poverty. Zig-zagging from 1900 through the present, director Julien Temple’s documentary is a brilliant visual montage narrated by longtime London residents. Temple paints a panorama of East End and West End, World Wars, riots and high times, drawing from news reels and feature films—including his own (The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, Absolute Beginners). The perspective is punk, with footage of the suffragettes set to the tune of X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”
■ Letters from Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson
This has been the summer of Jackie Robinson, between 42 and a slew of documentaries. Letters from Jackie is built around the words left behind by a prolific letter writer. He wrote in plain, insightful prose of his gratitude for the opportunity to break the color barrier in baseball and his brave opposition to injustice. Robinson stands among the great Americans of the last century, opening the way to African American dominance in professional sports.