Home Video Picks & Passes 06.20.21

Four films make the list.

Register film critic offers his recent 'picks.'
Register film critic offers his recent 'picks.' (photo: Shutterstock / Shutterstock)

Arachnophobia (1990) — PICK

Charlotte’s Web (1973) — PICK

Places in the Heart (1984) — PICK

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) — PICK

This week’s eclectic small-town picks — a family-friendly horror-comedy, an okay cartoon version of a beloved children’s book, a spiritually fraught period drama, and an all-time classic Western — are brought to you by Hulu.

I’ll pitch the quietest movie first: Sally Field gives her best performance in Robert Benton’s earnest drama of Depression-era life in rural Texas, Places in the Heart

Field plays a Depression-era wife and mother whose life is shattered by tragedy. Without overtly moralizing, the film is wise about good and evil in everyday choices and real-life situations. 

Morally significant themes include prejudice, violence, fortitude, self-sacrifice and generosity.

Jeff Daniels is endearing in a very different small-town scenario, a new doctor in a small town where people keep mysteriously dying — though the title, Arachnophobia, gives it away. The 1973 Hanna-Barbera Charlotte’s Web doesn’t do justice to E.B. White’s classic, but it probably beats the live-action Walden Media version. 

And John Ford’s masterful The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance pits two very different American icons — John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart — against one another, in the process raising fundamental questions about America and the Western.


CAVEAT SPECTATOR: Arachnophobia: Suspense and menace; graphic shots of spider bites and dead bodies; a brief shower scene (nothing explicit); brief language. Teens and up. Charlotte’s Web: Nothing problematic. Fine family viewing. Places in the Heart: A few disturbing scenes; an adulterous affair (no sex or nudity). Teens and up. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: Some strong frontier violence. Teens and up.