"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Feb 282021
 

From the Big Screen:

Monster Hunter

photo for Monster Hunter (2020) Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her unit (TI Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta) to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral (Ron Perlman). Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown. Based on the global video game series. Vitals: Director: Paul W.S. Anderson. Stars: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, Ron Perlman. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min., Sci-Fi Action, Box office gross: $9.374 million, Sony. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, VOD, Digital. Read more here. 2 stars

Fatale

photo for Fatale (2020) After a wild one-night stand, successful sports agent Derrick (Michael Ealy) watches his perfect life unwind when he discovers the mysterious woman he risked everything for is a police detective (Hilary Swank) who has entangled him in her latest investigation. When his charming bed partner turns out to be a corrupt officer, he finds himself in a living nightmare, as she lures him into an intricate web of lies and deceit, and he has to pull out all the stops to try and save his family, his career, and even his life. Vitals: Director: Deon Taylor. Stars: Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy, Mike Colter, Danny Pino, Tyrin Turner, Damaris Lewis. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $4.284 million, Lionsgate. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo with digital code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Audio commentary with director-producer Deon Taylor and producer Roxanne Avent Taylor, “Making Fatale,” “The Right Direction,” “Cinematography: Finding the Killer Look,” alternate ending. Read more here. 1 stars

Half Brothers

photo for Half Brothers When an uptight aviation executive finds out he has an American half-brother he never knew about, the unlikely duo finds themselves forced to go on a road trip together — and they soon discover they are on the same path their father took from the United States to the Mexican border. Will they continue their brotherly love after the trip is done or will they go their separate ways? Vitals: Director: Luke Greenfield. Stars: Luis Gerardo Mendez, Connor Del Rio, Juan Pablo Espinosa, Vincent Spano, Alma Sisneros, Jose Zuniga. 2020 — Mexico, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Comedy Drama, US box office gross: $2.241 million, worldwide $2.241 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, VOD, Digital. 2 stars

All My Life

Jennifer Carter (Jessica Rothe) and Solomon Chau (Harry Shum Jr.) are a sweet, fun-loving, newly engaged couple whose whole life seems ahead of them. But when Sol is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in December, their plans for a summer wedding become impossible. In a race against photo for All My Lifetime, Jenn and Sol’s friends and family launch an online fundraiser to help the couple create their dream wedding in just two weeks. In the process, they unleash an outpouring of generosity and attention from people around the world who want to celebrate the power of love with them. Through it all, Jenn and Sol’s commitment to each other only deepens, becoming a heartwarming reminder that the strength of true love knows no limits. Vitals: Director: Marc Meyers. Stars: Jessica Rothe, Harry Shum Jr., Marielle Scott, Ever Carradine, Keala Settle, Jay Pharoah. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 93 min., Drama, US box office gross: $.913 million, worldwide $1.965 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, VOD, Digital.
2 stars

From TV to Disc:

“Rick and Morty: Seasons 1-4” (2015-20) includes all 41 episodes from the first four seasons of the Adult Swim series. After having been missing for nearly 20 years, Rick Sanchez suddenly arrives at daughter Beth’s doorstep to move in with her and her family. Although Beth welcomes Rick into her home, her husband, Jerry, isn’t as happy about the family reunion. Jerry is concerned about Rick, a sociopathic scientist, using the garage as his personal laboratory. In the lab, Rick works on a number of sci-fi gadgets, some of which could be considered dangerous. But that’s not all Rick does that concerns Jerry. He also goes on adventures across the universe that often involve his children, Morty and Summer. From Warner … “Victor and Valentino: Folk Art Foes” (2019) is a single disc with 18 episodes. An animated supernatural adventure comedy about two half-brothers — very opposite from each other — who spend a summer with their grandma in Monte Macabre, a small, mysterious town where the myths and legends of Mesoamerican folklore come to life. From Cartoon Network/Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Cheer! Rally! Kill! 5-Film Collection”
Twisted tales of campus queens, awkward teens, ambitious daughters, and overbearing mothers in five cheer-driven thrillers. “The Secret Lives of Cheerleaders” (2019) with Savannah May and Denise Richards: An incoming transfer student reluctantly tries out for the cheerleading team at the insistence of her overly-ambitious mother; “Identity Theft of a Cheerleader” (2019) with Gail O’Grady and Maiara Walsh: A 30-year-old woman takes on a teenage identity and goes back to high school; “The Wrong Cheerleader” (2019) with Vivica A. Fox, Cristine Prosperi and David Meza: An intelligent and sociable high school senior tries out and earns a photo for Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1 uniform on the cheerleader squad but becomes the prey of an obsessive boy; “The Cheerleader Escort” (2019) with Alexandra Beaton: A woman goes off to college and joins the cheer team only to find that it’s a front for an escort ring; and “Undercover Cheerleader” (2019) with Kayla Wallace: A transfer student goes undercover as a cheerleader to expose the cruel culture, only to find that her expose is linked to a series of attacks by a mysterious assailant. From Lionsgate … When a master samurai arrives to duel the disgraced Yoshioka dojo, he walks into an ambush in “Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1” (2020 — Japan), starring Tak Sakaguchi, Kento Yamazaki and Yôsuke Saitô. In the world’s first 77-minute, one-take action film sequence, Miyamoto Musashi (Tak Sakaguchi) fights for his life against 400 warriors, earning a place in history as the Crazy Samurai Musashi. OnDVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In “Nitro Rush” (2016 — French Canada), starring Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge, Michel Charette, Raymond Bouchard, Antoine Desrochers and Myriam Tallard. Max, in prison, learns that a criminal organization has just recruited his 17-year-old son Theo to use him for the production and distribution of a new drug. Desperate to get him out of the situation, Max escapes, and his car chase and athletic skills prove to photo for 400 Bulletsbe a great asset. Read more here. From Breaking Glass Pictures … “400 Bullets” (2021), starring Jean-Paul Ly, Andrew Lee Potts and James Warren, is an edge-of-your-seat military action story about what it means to fight for honor instead of profit. The film packs plenty of gun battles, epic hand-to-hand fight sequences and witty dialogue. One cold winter night in Afghanistan is about to get a whole lot worse for Rana Rae, a Gurkha soldier left to guard a British military outpost, when Captain Noah Brandt arrives looking for refuge from a group of rogue special ops and a cell of heavily armed Taliban. The two soldiers must fight for their lives as they attempt to call for backup before the rogue squad, led by the backstabbing Sergeant Bartlett, can hunt them down to retrieve a case of missile guidance chips that Noah intercepted. Read more here. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory … In “Scare Me” (2020), starring Josh Ruben, Aya Cash, Rebecca Drysdale and Chris Redd, two strangers, Fred and Fanny, are stuck in their Catskills cabin during a power outage. Looking to pass the time, they decide to tell each other scary stories. But the more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life. As the horrors of reality manifest, Fred confronts his ultimate fear that Fanny may be the better storyteller, forcing him to craft the most horrific tale imaginable and put an end to the competition for good. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films.

Foreign Films:

In “1942: Unknown Battle” (2019 — Russia), starring Sergey Zharkov, Ivan Batarev and Oleg Gayanov, it’s WWII, 1942, Rzhev, USSR. After one of the many brutal battles between the Red Army and the Nazis near the village of Ovsyannikovo, only half of the Red Army’s company survives … for the moment. Freezing cold, with little to no reinforcements and the Nazis encroaching ever closer, the company receives the impossible order from Soviet headquarters to keep the village at all costs. While pinned in this crucial strategical position, the members of the company cope with their fear while also finding the strength to believe in their unlikely chance of survival. From Capelight Pictures.

Special Interest:

“Zappa” (2020): With unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and all archival footage, this documentary explores the private life behind the mammoth musical career of Frank Zappa, which never shied away from the political turbulence of its time. Director and writer Alex Winter’s (“Bill & Ted Face the Music”) assembly features appearances by Frank’s widow, Gail Zappa, and several of Frank’s musical collaborators, including Mike Keneally, Ian Underwood, Steve Vai, Pamela Des Barres, Bunk Gardner, David Harrington, Scott Thunes, Ruth Underwood, Ray White and more. Read more here. On DVD, Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on February 28, 2021 No Responses »
Feb 212021
 

From the Big Screen:

The Croods: A New Age

photo for The Croods: A New Age (2020) The first prehistoric family is ready for another rocking adventure: The Croods have survived fanged beasts, natural disasters, and even young love, but now they must face their biggest challenge yet: another family. In search of a new home, the Croods discover a walled-in paradise created by the sophisticated Betterman family (emphasis on the “better”). As they try to coexist, the differences between the two families escalate into a full-blown feud, but when a new threat forces both families to embark on an epic adventure, they must all learn to work together … or they’ll all go extinct. Vitals: Director: Joel Crawford. Stars: Voices of Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Peter Dinklag, Kelly Marie Tran, Leslie Mann. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 95 min., Animated Family Adventure, US box office gross: 43.924 million; worldwide: $144.4 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo with digital code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, VOD, Digital. Read more here. 3 stars

The Last Vermeer

photo for The Last Vermeer (2020) While Joseph Piller (Bang), a Dutch Jew, was fighting in the Resistance during the Second World War, the witty, debonair aesthete, Han van Meegeren (Pearce) was hosting hedonistic soires and selling Dutch art treasures to Hermann Goring and other top Nazis. Following the war, Piller becomes an investigator assigned the task of identifying and redistributing stolen art, resulting in the flamboyant van Meegeren being accused of collaboration — a crime punishable by death. But, despite mounting evidence, Piller, with the aid of his assistant (Krieps), becomes increasingly convinced of Han’s innocence and finds himself in the unlikely position of fighting to save his life. Vitals: Director: Dan Friedkin. Stars: Guy Pearce, Claes Bang, Vicky Krieps, Roland Moller, August Diehl, Olivia Grant. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 118 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.685 million, Sony.
Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, Digital. Read more here. 2 stars

This Week’s Best Bets:

Directed by Frank Launder (scriptwriter for “The Lady Vanishes” and “Night Train to Munich”), the classic British comedy “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” (1954) — which spawned several sequels — features one of Alastair Sim’s most unforgettable performances. In an all-photo for The Belles of St. Trinian's girls school, where the unruly students are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, the arrival of Princess Fatima of Makyad and the return of recently expelled Arabella Fritton — who has a kidnapping scheme on her mind — inspire even more chaos than usual. Featuring an all-star line-up, the cast includes Sim playing dual roles as both headmistress Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother, Clarence. Co-stars Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Hermione Baddeley, Betty Ann Davies, Renee Houston, Beryl Reid, Irene Handl, Mary Merrall. Based on the cartoons of Ronald Searle. In a new digital remaster. On Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics … photo for Man Push Cart A modest miracle of 21st-century neorealism, “Man Push Cart” (2005), the acclaimed debut feature by Ramin Bahrani speaks quietly but profoundly to the experiences of those living on the margins of the American dream. Back in his home country of Pakistan, Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi, elements of whose own life story were woven into the script) was a famous rock star. Now a widower separated from his son and adrift in New York, he works long hours selling coffee and bagels from a midtown Manhattan food cart, engaged in a Sisyphean search for human connection and a sense of purpose that seems perpetually just out of reach. A rare immigrant’s-eye view of a post-9/11 city suffused with subtle paranoia and xenophobia, “Man Push Cart” gives at once empathetic and clear-eyed expression to the everyday drama of human endurance. On DVD, Blu-ray, with high-definition digital master, supervised and approved by director Ramin Bahrani, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for Chop Shop For “Chop Shop” (2007), his acclaimed follow-up to “Man Push Cart,” Ramin Bahrani once again turned his camera on a slice of New York City rarely seen on-screen: Willets Point, Queens, an industrial sliver of automotive-repair shops that remains perpetually at risk of being redeveloped off the map. It’s within this precarious ecosystem that 12-year-old Ale (Alejandro Polanco) must grow up fast, hustling in the neighborhood chop shops to build a more stable life for himself and his sister (Isamar Gonzales) even as their tenuous circumstances force each to compete with other struggling people and make desperate decisions. A deeply human story of a fierce but fragile sibling bond being tested by hardscrabble reality, “Chop Shop” tempers its sobering authenticity with flights of lyricism and hope. On DVD, Blu-ray, with high-definition digital master, supervised and approved by director Ramin Bahrani, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for Smooth Talk Suspended between carefree youth and the harsh realities of the adult world, a teenage girl experiences an unsettling awakening in “Smooth Talk” (1985), a haunting vision of innocence lost. Based on the celebrated short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, the narrative debut from Joyce Chopra features a revelatory breakout performance by Laura Dern as Connie, the 15-year-old black sheep of her family whose summertime idyll of beach trips, mall hangouts, and innocent flirtations is shattered by an encounter with a mysterious stranger (a memorably menacing Treat Williams). Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance,”Smooth Talk” captures the thrill and terror of adolescent sexual exploration as it transforms the conventions of a coming-of-age story into something altogether more troubling and profound. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Joyce Chopra, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

photo for Inside Amy Schumer: The Complete Series “Inside Amy Schumer: The Complete Series” (2013-16) is a seven-disc set with all four seasons that provide an intimate look into the mind of comedian Amy Schumer, who, through a series of scripted vignettes, stand-up comedy, and man-on-the-street interviews, explores topics revolving around sex, relationships, and the general c1usterfck that is life. Guest stars include Tina Fey, Zach Braff, Steve Buscemi, Lena Dunham, Paul Giamatti, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Selena Gomez, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Hader, Nick Kroll, Liam Neeson and more. From Comedy Central/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Wrong Turn” (2021), starring Matthew Modine, Emma Dumont and Charlotte Vega, is a reboot of the franchise that began in 2003. Backwoods terror and never-jangling suspense meet when Jen (Vega) and a group of friends set out to hike the Appalachian Trail. Despite warnings to stick to the trail, the hikers stray off course —- and cross into land inhabited by The Foundation, a hidden community of mountain dwellers who use deadly means to protect their way of life. Suddenly under siege, Jen and her friends seem headed to the point of no return —- unless Jen’s father (Modine) can reach them in time. On DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, from Lionsgate … photo for Redemption Day In “Redemption Day” (2021), starring Gary Dourdan, Serinda Swan, Martin Donovan, Ernie Hudson, Samy Naceri and Andy Garcia, having just returned home, decorated U.S. Marine Captain Brad Paxton’s (Dourdan) wife, Kate, is kidnapped by a terrorist group while working in Morocco. He is forced back into action for a daring and deadly operation to save the woman he loves. From Paramount … “Silk Road” (2021), starring Jason Clarke, Nick Robinson, Katie Aselton and Jimmi Simpson, is a crime thriller that follows the rise and fall of Silk Road, the infamous darknet site that sent a seismic shock through the World Wide Web. Young, idealistic, and driven to succeed, Ross Ulbricht (Robinson) creates the internet’s first unregulated marketplace: Silk Road. But when it becomes a multimillion-dollar pipeline for illicit drugs, Ross is set on a collision course with Rick Bowden (Clarke), a disreputable and dangerously unpredictable DEA agent, who will use any means necessary to take him down. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … photo for The Attic Expeditions “The Attic Expeditions” (2001), starring Andras Jones, Seth Green, Jeffrey Combs, Ted Raimi, Wendy Robie and Alice Cooper, is the hallucinatory debut by director Jeremy Kasten (“The Dead Ones,” “The Theatre Bizarre,” “The Wizard of Gore” remake) about a young man — who may have or may have not brutally murdered his girlfriend — committed to an asylum where madness, mayhem, and murder may rip apart his mind forever. Scanned in 2k from the original negative. In a Blu-ray premiere from Severin Films … In “Centigrade” (2019), starring Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent Piazza and Mavis Simpson-Erns, a young American couple, Matthew and Naomi, travel to the arctic mountains of Norway . in 2002. After pulling over during a snowstorm, they wake up trapped in their SUV, buried underneath layers of snow and Ice. As if the stakes aren’t high enough, Naomi is eight months pregnant in their frozen prison. With few resources, a dwindling food supply, and nothing but time, tension, blame, and personal secrets bubble to the surface. Matthew and Naomi realize they must work together to survive in a crippling battle against the elements, hypothermia, disturbing hallucinations, and plunging temperatures reaching as low as -30C. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … photo for Castle of the Creeping Flesh From writer-director Adrian Hoven — creator of the infamous “Mark of the Devil” — comes the rarely-seen EuroSleaze masterpiece “Castle of the Creeping Flesh” (1968 — Germany), starring Janine Reynaud, Howard Vernon and Elvira Berndorff, packed with krimi depravity, mondo-style shocks, and graphic gothic insanity. When a group of bourgeois swingers stumbles upon the creepy castle of the cursed Earl of Saxon, they’ll discover an unholy nightmare of sexual violence, bombastic philosophy, deranged performances, grisly medical experiments, inappropriate music cues, and one very pissed off bear. On Blu-ray from Severin Films … Also from Severin Films is “Plague Town” (2008), starring Josslyn DeCrosta, Erica Rhodes, David Lombard and Lindsay Goranson in which a tourist family gets lost in the Irish countryside near a remote village that hides a hideous secret. It’s a hybrid of grisly 70s shockers and graphic 21st-century folk-horror. From co-writer-director David Gregory (“Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson”) and the producers of “Stakeland,” now featuring an uncensored HD master on Blu-ray.

Foreign Films:

From the outrageous imagination of cult director Teruo Ishii (“Orgies of Edo,” “Horrors of Malformed Men”) comes “Shogun’s Joy of Torture” (1968 — Japan), an infamous omnibus of three shocking tales of crime and punishment based on true-life documented cases set during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate. The first tale sees the beautiful Mitsu (Masumi photo for Shogun's Joy of Torture Tachibana) going to horrifying lengths to tend to her older brother Shinzo (Teruo Yoshida), a carpenter injured in a work accident, but the law catches up on them and metes out a terrifying retribution after they violate the ultimate taboo. In the second, unfettered passions in a Buddhist nunnery are not allowed to go unpunished after abbess Reiho (Yukie Kagawa) and her attendant Rintoku (Naomi Shiraishi) encounter a virile young monk from a neighboring temple. In the closing segment, a sadistic torturer (Fumio Watanabe) attempts to show a tattoo artist (Asao Koike) how to depict convincing expressions of faces of pain in his work by allowing him to sketch a selection of Europeans as they are tortured for entering Japan with the aim of spreading Christianity. Ishii’s notorious portmanteau of Edo-era excess signalled a change in direction for a director until then regarded for his crime and yakuza films, setting the ball rolling on the run of grotesque historical anthologies for which he is now best remembered. Vehemently denounced by the critics of the day, “Shogun’s Joy of Torture” set a new benchmark for the depiction of sex, sadism and depravity in Japanese exploitation, with Ishii staging his elaborate torture methods with an unmatched verve and inventiveness. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … photo for Alone With Her Dreams Filmed on the rugged and stunningly beautiful Sicilian coast and set in the late 1960’s, “Alone With Her Dreams” (2020 — Italy), starring Marta Castiglia, Tania Bambaci and Nicoletta Cifariello, explores the issues of immigration, community values and family devotion through the eyes of a young girl, Lucia who is left behind with her grandmother, Maria, while her parents emigrate to France to find work. Lucia pains to be with her family as she struggles to learn her role in the tiny, traditional village under the watchful guidance of her stern grandmother. As Lucia enters womanhood, her childhood innocence is lost to a hideous family secret and her world of childhood fragility and heartbreaking nostalgia melts into adulthood’s poignant understanding. Winner of Best First Feature and Best Original Score at the 2020 Italian Golden Globe Awards. From Corinth Films.

For the Family:

In “Scooby-Doo The Sword and the Scoob” (2021), the Scooby-Doo gang is transported to the mythical castled city of Camelot in this brand-new, full-length animated family film. Our favorite teen sleuths take a trip to England to trace Shaggy’s family roots, where they suddenly find themselves in the Middle Ages and meet the legendary King Arthur and his noble knights. An evil sorceress tries to seize power in Camelot, so King Arthur needs the help of the Mystery, Inc. super sleuths to save his throne. But will their valiant efforts only make things royally worse? From Warner.

Special Interest:

“Collective” (2019 — Romania): After an explosive fire claimed the lives of 27 people at Colectiv Nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, officials reassure the public that surviving victims will receive care in facilities that are better than Germany’s state-of-the-art trauma centers. As the casualty count rises weeks later, intrepid reporters at the Sports Gazette begin to investigate the reason behind the increased number of deaths. As a crucial tip exposes Hexi Pharma, a pharmaceutical company at the heart of the scandal, the company’s owner dies under mysterious circumstances, leading the health minister to quietly resign amid the uproar — opening the first chapter in a thrilling, ever-twisting exposé. Closely tracking the efforts of the Gazette team as they methodically discover layer upon layer of fraud and criminal malfeasance, director Alexander Nanau’s documentary is a fast-paced, real-time detective story about truth, accountability and the value of an independent press in partisan times. From Magnolia Home Entertainment … photo for Betty White's Pet Set: The Complete Series “Betty White’s Pet Set: The Complete Series”: The long-unseen series created by and starring the sitcom legend will make its debut on digital platforms and DVD. In an unparalleled television career spanning over 70 years, Betty White has brought laughter and joy to millions of fans of all ages via such hit series as “The Golden Girls,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Hot in Cleveland,” as well as countless game show appearances. In 1971, just prior to Betty’s sitcom superstardom, she created and hosted a weekly program celebrating her lifelong love of animals. Produced with her husband Allen Ludden (“Password”), Betty White’s Pet Set featured Betty welcoming celebrity friends with their dogs, cats and horses — in addition to a wide range of wild animals including tigers, bears, elephants, lions, wolves, gorillas, chimps, cougars, cheetahs, seals, kangaroos, zebras, eagles, snakes and penguins — both in the studio and on location. The 39 episodes feature such entertainment greats as Carol Burnett, Doris Day, Jimmy Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Burt Reynolds, Shirley Jones, Michael Landon, Barbara Eden, James Brolin, Della Reese, Vincent Price, Rod Serling and many more. From MPI Media Group … “You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski” (2020) captures a raucous night of drinking and talking about sex, literature, childhood and humanity with the cult writer Charles Bukowski in 1981. This documentary is based on a video interview conducted by producer and journalist Silvia Bizio with Bukowski and his soon-to-be wife Linda Lee Beighle at their home in San Pedro, California. The interview was shot on U-matic tapes which have been digitized and edited along with new shots in Super 8 of scenes of Los Angeles today and poems read by Bukowski. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on February 21, 2021 No Responses »
Feb 142021
 

This Week’s Best Bets:

One of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era, Dziga Vertov’s “Man With a Movie Camera” (1929) utilizes rapid editing and innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of amazing modernity and power. This dawn-to-dusk view of urban Soviet life shows people at work, at play, and at the machines that endlessly whirl to keep the metropolis alive. It was Vertov’s first full-length film, and it employs all the cinematic techniques at the director’s disposal — dissolves, split-screens, slow-motion, and freeze-frames — to produce a work that is as exhilarating as it is intellectually brilliant. Restored by the British Film Institute, this edition features an orchestral score composed and conducted by Michael Nyman (“The Piano”), first performed on May 17, 2002 at London’s Royal Festival Hall. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber … photo for Mandabi “Mandabi” (1968), the second feature by Ousmane Sembène, was the first movie ever made in the Wolof language — a major step toward the realization of the trailblazing Senegalese filmmaker’s dream of creating a cinema by, about, and for Africans. After jobless Ibrahima Dieng receives a money order for 25,000 francs from a nephew who works in Paris, news of his windfall quickly spreads among his neighbors, who flock to him for loans even as he finds his attempts to cash the order stymied in a maze of bureaucracy, and new troubles rain down on his head. One of Sembène’s most coruscatingly funny and indignant films, “Mandabi” — an adaptation of a novella by the director himself — is a bitterly ironic depiction of a society scarred by colonialism and plagued by corruption, greed, and poverty. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

In Season 2 of the Finnish Nordic Noir hit “Bordertown Season 2” (2018 — Finland), chief investigator Kari Sorjonen of the Serious Crimes Unit deals with a variety of harrowing homicides on the border between Finland and Russia. Each of these murder cases takes the viewer on a journey into humanity’s dark underbelly, in which no one will be able to escape their past. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber … “Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the HBO series. Based on the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff, “Lovecraft Country” follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his childhood friend Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip from Chicago across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father, Montrose Freeman (Michael K. Williams). Their search-and-rescue turns into a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and monstrous creatures that could be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Faceless” (2021), starring Brendan Sexton III, Alex Essoe, Terry Serpico and Richard Haylor, after waking up disoriented and frightened in a hospital room, George (Sexton) discovers that he has received a full face transplant. Following the initial shock of an unfamiliar face, George becomes plagued by vivid, unexplainable flashbacks. Shortly thereafter, he is released from the hospital and expected to fend for himself without any recollection of his previous life. With no end in sight and nobody to turn to but a mysterious woman named Sophie, George must overcome his flashbacks, unexplained daily occurrences and a persistent, masked stalker to put the pieces together before it’s too late. From Indican Pictures … photo for Tomato Red: Blood Money In “Tomato Red: Blood Money” (2021), starring Julia Garner, Jake Weary, Nick Roux and Anna Friel, when small town drifter Sammy Barlach (Weary) drives into town on the search for his next cold beer, he gets a lot more than he originally bargained for. Thanks to redheaded Jamalee (Garner) and her brother, Jason (Roux), who dream of hitting the big time, Sammy receives food, lodging and the possibility of a better future — but it’s not long before he realizes that breaks don’t come easily in a small town like Venus Holler. Soon, the trio finds themselves powerless against the forces of corruption and prejudice, and Sammy must begin the fight of his life. Read more here. From Indican Pictures … In “Butchers” (2021 — Canada), starring Simon Phillips, Michael Swatton, Julie Mainville and Anne-Carolyne Binette, a family of sadistic butchers has dug into the back country and, from the deep freeze of winter to the dog days of summer, anyone who crosses their path is dead meat. A group of stranded friends must fight to survive the attacks of the brutal brothers. From Breaking Glass Pictures … In “Archenemy” (2020), starring Joe Manganiello, Skylan Brooks, Zolee Griggs, Paul Scheer, Amy Seimetz and Glenn Howerton, Max Fist (Manganiello) is a local drunk who claims to be a superhero from the planet Chromium. He tells anyone who will listen that he was pulled into a wormhole, falling through time and space, and dropped to earth without any of his powers. No one pays any photo for Archenemy attention to Max except a teenager named Hamster (Brooks) who can’t get enough of Max’s stories. When Hamster and his sister (Griggs) get in trouble with a vicious drug syndicate led by The Manager (Howerton), Max takes to the streets as a brutal vigilante hellbent on proving himself as the hero no one believes him to be. On DVD, Blu-ray. from RLJE Films … In “Random Acts of Violence” (2021), starring Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Niamh Wilson and Jay Baruchel, comic book creator Todd Walkley, his wife, assistant and best friend, are heading to NYC Comic Con when bad things start to happen —- people start getting killed. It soon becomes clear that a crazed fan is using his “SLASHERMAN” comic as inspiration for the killings. And as the bodies pile up, and Todd’s friends become victims themselves, he is forced to face the killer and put an end to his notorious comic once and for all. On DVD, Blu-ray. Read more here. From RLJE Films … In “A Call to Spy” (2019), starring Sarah Megan Thomas, Stana Katic and Radhika Apte, just at the beginning of WWII, with Britain becoming desperate, Prime Minister Winston Churchill orders his new spy agency – SOE – to recruit and train women as spies. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … In “Horizon Line” (2020), starring Alexander Dreymon, Allison Williams, Keith David, Pearl Mackie, Jumayn Hunter and Lamin Tamba, former couple Sara and Jackson photo for Horizon Line board a single-engine plane for a routine and casual flight to their friend’s tropical island wedding. However, within minutes of takeoff, their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving them with no idea where they are, and no clue how to land the plane. With nothing but miles of ocean and sky in every direction, and a terrifying storm that’s about to envelop them, Sara and Jackson have only one shot — and there’s no going back. On DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, from Universal … A few days after Christmas, half-sisters Ida and Tuva set out on a winter dive in a remote part of the Norwegian coastline in “Breaking Surface” (2019 — Sweden-Belgium-Norway), starring Moa Gammel and Madeleine Martin. Towards the end of the dive, a rockslide traps Tuva under water. As Ida surfaces to call for help, she discovers that the rockslide has struck above water as well, burying their equipment, phones and car keys — they are completely cut off from any chance of rescue. As the frantic race for survival unfolds, Ida is put to the ultimate test of character and forcefulness. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Doppelganger Releasing … In “The Informer” (2019 — UK), starring Joel Kinnaman, Ana de Armas, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Sam Spruell, Martin McCann and Jenna Willis, an ex-convict working undercover intentionally gets himself incarcerated again in order to infiltrate the mob at a maximum security prison. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “Things Don’t Stay Fixed” (2021), starring William Gregory Lee, Melissa Saint-Amand, Tara Ochs and Brenda Bynuma, worldly photojournalist Sam Grace (Lee) returns home to the Deep South in an attempt to stop his daughter, Nina, from marrying and destroying her future. Sam’s return home becomes more telling as he discovers that he’s the one that has been stuck in the past all along. From Indican Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“AK47: Kalashnikov” (2020 — Russia), starring Yuriy Borisov, Artur Smolyaninov, Maksim Bityukov, Valery Barinov, Vitaliy Khaev and Aleksey Vertkov, is set on the Eastern Front in 1941, where young tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov is seriously wounded in battle. Unable to work and with no prospect of returning to the front, yet eager to continue to help his country, he begins developing designs for a more robust, effective and reliable assault rifle. With the help of a few train welders, Kalashnikov’s first prototype catches the photo for The Swordsman interest of a high-ranking military official. This opens the first of many doors for Kalashnikov for the world’s most advanced and reliable weapon – the AK-47. From Capelight Pictures … “The Swordsman” (2020 — South Korea), starring Jang Hyuk, Kim Hyeon-soo, Joe Taslim and Jeong Man-sik, is a hybrid of mainstream historical drama and traditional martial arts action. After failing to protect and prevent the downfall of the King, the best swordsman in Joseon leaves and lives in seclusion with his daughter in the mountains. As his eyesight begins to fail due to an old injury, his daughter seeks to find a treatment for him. When she is captured and taken away by a slave trader, the swordsman is forced to raise his sword again in order to save her. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA.

Special Interest:

“Filmworker” (2017): Leon Vitali was a rising British television actor when Stanley Kubrick picked him for the role of Lord Bullingdon in “Barry Lyndon.” That first encounter with the famed auteur proved decisive — he swiftly resolved to devote the rest of his life working for the director, this time behind the scenes, and took on just about every job available: casting director, acting coach, location scouter, sound engineer, color corrector, A.D., promoter, and eventually restorer of Kubrick’s films. Tony Zierra’s affecting documentary profiles the devoted “filmworker” — Vitali’s preferred job title — as he enthusiastically recounts his days with the notoriously meticulous, volatile and obsessive director. The experiences brought both tremendous sacrifice and glowing pride. “Filmworker” celebrates the invisible hands that shape masterpieces, reminding us that behind every great director, there is a Leon Vitali. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on February 14, 2021 No Responses »
Jan 312021
 

From the Big Screen:

Let Him Go

photo for Let Him Go (2020) After their life is set off course following the tragic loss of their son, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) leave their Montana ranch on a mission through the North Dakota desert to rescue their young grandson from a dangerous family living off the grid. Navigating tragedy and tumult, the couple soon discover that the Weboy family, a deep-rooted local clan led by ruthless matriarch Blanche (Lesley Manville) has no intention of letting the child go, forcing George and Margaret to ask how far they will go to fight for their family. Explores the strengths of family ties, the bittersweet and brutal cost of vengeance and the true stakes of heroism set against an iconic American backdrop. Vitals: Director: Thomas Bezucha. Stars: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville, Jeffrey Donovan, Connor Mackay. CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Action Thriller, Box office gross: $9.358 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, DVD/Blu-ray combo with digital code, VOD, Digital. Read more here. 3 stars

Wild Mountain Thyme

photo for Wild Mountain Thyme (2020) The headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) has her heart set on winning her neighbor Anthony Reilly’s love. The problem is Anthony (Jamie Dornan) seems to have inherited a family curse, and remains oblivious to his beautiful admirer. Stung by his father Tony Reilly’s (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm), Anthony is jolted into pursuing his dreams in this comedic, romantic tale. From John Patrick Shanley, who created the classic “Moonstruck.” Vitals: Director:. Stars: Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Jon Hamm, Dearbhla Malloy, Christopher Walken. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Roamnace, Box office gross: $.213 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, VOD, Digital. Read more here. 2 stars

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

The “Host” (2020), starring Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward, Emma Louise Webb and Edward Linard, was shot remotely during quarantine and features groundbreaking scares, stunts, and surprises, all filmed by the actors in their own homes. Six friends hire a medium to conduct a séance during lockdown for their weekly Zoom call. Jemma decides to pull a prank and makes up a story about a boy she knew in high school who hanged himself. By doing this, Jemma inadvertently invites a demonic presence to cross over. Soon the friends begin noticing strange occurrences in their homes as the evil spirit begins to make itself known, and they all realize this night may be their last. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … With a couple’s impending wedding as the backdrop, “Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” (2020), starring Diane Keaton, Jeremy Irons, Maggie Grace, Andrew photo for Love, Weddings & Other Disasters Bachelor and Diego Boneta, weaves multiple storylines as it follows the search for love by a colorful group of characters including: an inexperienced wedding planner (Grace) nicknamed “The Wedding”; a fussy celebrity caterer (Irons); his blind date (Keaton); and a tour-bus guide (Bachelor) looking for his Cinderella. Their lives and loves intersect in this universally panned(with a 4 rating at Rotten Tomatoes) celluloid misadventure. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “100 Days to Live” (2020), starring Colin Eggesfield, Gideon Emery, Heidi Johanningmeier, Yancey Arias and Chris Johnson, is a thriller that follows a woman who grapples with her inner demons by running a suicide support group in Chicago. But when her fiancé is kidnapped by a known murderer, she must race against the clock to discover the identity of the killer, and more importantly – his motive. Read more here. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cinedigm … “Tesla” (2020), starring Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson, Eli A. Smith, Josh Hamilton, Lucy Walters, Luna Jokic and Kyle MacLachlan, is a freewheeling take on visionary inventor Nikola Tesla, his interactions with Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan’s daughter Anne, and his breakthroughs in transmitting electrical power and light. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Films.

On the Indie Front:

“I’ll See You Around” (2019), starring Lucas Monroe, Roger Guenveur Smith, Maria Wilson, Darlene Monroe, Lazifa Gurbanova, Zanura Monroe and Kenji Monroe, explores a day in Lucas’s life, a 30-year-old African-American man living in Ithaca, New York, who is trying to finish his degree at community college. After discovering that his older brother, Kenji, who has just been released from jail, may be responsible for stealing his laptop to buy drugs, Lucas embarks on an emotional journey to learn how to cope with betrayal and dangerous blood ties. Lucas navigates his relationships with his mother, child’s mother, and Ivy League girlfriend while most importantly striving to be a good father to his daughter. Will he be able to reconcile with those he loves, or will his troubled past destroy his chances? Read more here. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Special Interest:

“Peggy Lee: Things Are Swingin’” (2020): Peggy Lee was a performer without peer —- a singer, songwriter, actress and artist who spanned genres and generations with music that remains vital and captivating. Sultry and swinging, Peggy’s biggest hits are featured here: “Fever,” “I’m A Woman,” “Alright, Okay You Win,” “Lover,” “Big Spender,” “It’s A Good Day” and the Grammy Award-winning “Is That All There Is.” This special collection of Peggy’s television appearances also offers an enticing variety of more favorites as well as duets photo for Horror Noire: A History of Black Horrorwith Johnny Cash, Petula Clark, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, a featurette with Michael Feinstein and a salute from Paul McCarty. Read more here. From API Media … Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, “Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror” (2019) traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting Robin Means Coleman’s seminal book “Horror Ire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present,” the documentary presents the living and the dead, using new and archival interviews from scholars and creators, from the voices who survived the genre’s past trends to those shaping its future. Features Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Rachel True (“The Craft”), Ernest Dickerson (“Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight,” “The Walking Dead”), Rusty Cundieff (“Tales from the Hood,” “Chappelle’s Show”), Tina Mabry (“Mississippi Damned,” “Queen of the South”), Paula Jai Parker (“Hustle & Flow”) and Tananarive Due (“The Twilight Zone”) On DVD, Blu-ray. from RLJE Films.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 31, 2021 No Responses »
Jan 242021
 

From the Big Screen:

Come Play

photo for Come Play Desperate for a friend, Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a lonely boy who feels different from everyone else, seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver’s devices against him to break into our world, Oliver’s parents (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen. Vitals: Director: Jacob Chase. Stars: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Horror, Box office gross: $9.584 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, VOD, Digital. 2 stars

Fatman

photo for Fatman To save his declining business, Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson), also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military. Making matters worse, Chris gets locked into a deadly battle of wits against a highly-skilled assassin (Walton Goggins), hired by a precocious 12-year-old after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking. ‘Tis the season for Fatman to get even, in the action-comedy that keeps on giving. Vitals: Director: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms. Stars: Walton Goggins, Mel Gibson, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield, Shaun Benson, Paulino Nunes, Mark Day, Deborah Grover, Michelle Lang, Robert Bockstael. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 99 min., Action Comedy, Box office gross: $.192 million, Paramount. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital. 2 stars

This Week’s Best Bets

In 2001, writer-director Richard Kelly achieved cult status with “Donnie Darko,” an assured debut feature exploring deep existential questions through the lens of 80s nostalgia. Five years later, he followed up with a more ambitious and even more beguiling sophomore effort, “Southland Tales” (2006), in which forces of totalitarianism and anarchism collide photo for Southland Tales against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic, near-future world — the beguiling and baffling “Southland Tales.” Los Angeles, 2008. As the city stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental chaos, the fates of an eclectic set of characters — including an amnesia-stricken action star (Dwayne Johnson), an adult film star developing her own reality TV project (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and a police officer whose identity has split in two (Seann William Scott) — intertwine with each other and with the whole of humanity. A darkly comic futuristic epic that speaks as presciently to our turbulent times as it did to the American socio-political climate in 2006, “Southland Tales” receives a fresh — and timely — lease of life with this new, director-approved restoration. New 2K restoration by Arrow Films, approved by Kelly and director of photography Steven Poster. Includes both versions of the film: the 145-minute theatrical cut and the 160-minute “Cannes cut,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … photo for The Swimmer - Deluxe Edition In one of his finest performances, Burt Lancaster stars as Ned Merrill, a man who confronts his destiny by swimming home, pool by pool, through the suburban nightmare of upper-class Conneticut society. Well-off ad man Merrill is visiting a friend when he notices the abundance of backyard pools that populate their upscale suburb. Ned suddenly decides that he’d like to travel the eight miles back to his own home by simply swimming across every pool in town. Soon, Ned’s journey becomes harrowing; at each house, he is somehow confronted with a reminder of his romantic, domestic and economic failures, until a final visit with an old flame (Janice Rule) leaves him devastated. Based on the acclaimed short story by John Cheever, and directed by Frank Perry (“Diary of a Mad Housewife,” “Mommie Dearest”). Co-stars Janet Landgard, Joan Rivers. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo deluxe edition in a new digital restoration created from 4K scans, with original soundtrack CD album by Marvin Hamlisch, newly remastered in stunning 24 bit/192khz sound from the original master tapes. Includes “The Story of The Swimmer,” a new, five-part, 2-1/2 hour documentary by Oscar-winner Chris Innis featuring in-depth interviews with stars Janet Landgard, Joan Rivers and Marge Champion, composer Marvin Hamlisch, film editor Sidney Katz, assistant directors Michael Hertzberg and Ted Zachary, UCLA Olympic swim coach Bob Horn, and Joanna Lancaster; the original New Yorker short story read by author John Cheever; more. From Grindhouse Releasing … photo for The Court Jester 65th Anniversary Edition BLU-RAY DEBUT “The Court Jester” (1956) marks its 65th Anniversary with a Blu-ray debut this week. The outrageous comedy was originally shot in Paramount’s trademark “VistaVision” widescreen format, capturing a grander scope of information on the film negative. For this new restoration, the original negative was scanned at 6K and one of the “separation masters” was also scanned and recombined with the negative scans to address color fading in the negative. The result is an incredibly vibrant picture that faithfully captures the colors and textures of Edith Head’s sensational costumes and Hal Pariera’s sparkling art direction. Danny Kaye earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical for his leading role in this comic farce, which was added to the National Film Registry in 2004 and included on the AFI’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time. The limited-edition Paramount Presents Blu-ray is presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster, and an interior spread with key movie moments. Danny Kaye is the kind-hearted entertainer Hawkins who disguises himself as the legendary king of court jesters, Giacomo, to help a Robin-Hood-like The Fox unseat an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful King. Hawkins infiltrates the usurper’s court, headed up by an evil photo for The Ascent villain (Basil Rathbone), but when a sorceress hypnotizes him, royal chaos ensues. Alternating identities at the snap of a finger, between swordplay and wordplay, Kaye’s comic genius shines through. The stellar supporting cast includes Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, Mildred Natwick, Cecil Parker, and John Carradine. From Paramount Presents … The crowning triumph of a career cut tragically short, Larisa Shepitko’s final film, “The Ascent” (1977 — USSR), won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and went on to be hailed as one of the finest works of late-Soviet cinema. In the darkest days of World War II, two partisans set out for supplies to sustain their beleaguered outfit, braving the blizzard-swept landscape of Nazi-occupied Belarus. When they fall into the hands of German forces and come face-to-face with death, each must choose between martyrdom and betrayal, in a spiritual ordeal that lifts the film’s earthy drama to the plane of religious allegory. With stark, visceral cinematography that pits blinding white snow against pitch-black despair, “The Ascent” finds poetry and transcendence in the harrowing trials of war. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Doom Patrol: The Complete Second Season” (2020) features all nine episodes of DC’s strangest group of Super Heroes. They’re back again to save the world, but first each Super Hero must face the challenge of moving beyond trauma and failure to come together to save the world. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Snowpiercer: The Complete First Season” (2020), features all 10 episodes of the series set more than seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland and centering on the remnants of humanity who inhabit a perpetually moving train, with 1001 cars, that circles the globe. Class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival play out in this riveting television adaptation based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel series and the film from Academy Award-winner Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”). In a three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray, from Warner … “You: The Complete Second Season” (2019)features all 10 episodes. Bookstore clerk Joe transplants his tongue-in-cheek attitude regarding modern dating, social media and obsessive love from New York to Los Angeles in Season Two of the surprise hit series. In a new city with a new identity and object of desire – the aptly named Love – Joe, now known as Will, attempts to turn over a new leaf in a city that admires the young, the beautiful and the rich. But Will soon discovers that Love’s life is even more complicated than his own … and the twists just keep on coming. From Warner Archive.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Batman: Soul of the Dragon” (2021) is the latest in the popular series of animated feature-length DC Universe Movies. Set in the midst of the swinging 1970s, this Elseworlds adventure finds Bruce Wayne training under a master sensei. It is here that Bruce, along with other elite students, is forged in the fire of the martial arts discipline. The lifelong bonds they form will be put to the test when a deadly menace arises from their past. It will take the combined efforts of Batman, world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei to battle the monsters of this world and beyond! On Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, from Warner … photo for Synchronic In “Synchronic” (2020), starring Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton and Ally Ioannides, when New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Mackie) and Dennis (Dornan) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality — and the flow of time itself. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … Over the course of seven years, three short films about the brutal dissolution of the American family – “Cutting Moments” (1997), “Home” (1998), and “Prologue” (2003) — elicited both horrified gasps and standing ovations at film festivals around the world. When combined into the theatrical feature “Family Portraits” (2003) this trilogy by writer-producer-director-editor Douglas Buck — whose directing credits would eventually include the “Sisters” remake and “The Accident” segment of “The Theatre Bizarre” (see below) -– was hailed as “nightmarish” (The New York Times), “like Todd Solondz on crack” (Digitally Obsessed) and “the most chilling portrait of the loss of humanity in the manicured lawns of Middle America ever made” (LA Weekly). All three scanned in 2k from the original negatives. On Blu-ray from Severin Films … When Covid-19 hit, Severin Films chief David Gregory and “House of Psychotic Women” author Kier-La Janisse decided to ask their industry friends which Top 5 films and segments would make the ultimate horror anthology. The result, “Tales of the Uncanny” (2020), became an international Zoom-enabled documentary featuring Eli Roth, Joe Dante, Greg Nicotero, Mark Hartley, Mick Garris, Ernest Dickerson, Joko Anwar, Ramsey Campbell, David DeCoteau, Kim Newman, Jovanka Vuckovic, Luigi Cozzi, Tom Savini, Jenn Wexler, Larry Fessenden, Richard Stanley, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Brian Yuzna, Gary Sherman, Rebekah McKendry and Roger Corman in a candid discussion of the best portmanteaus in film/TV history. As a Bonus, Severin has included the rarely-seen 1919 German compendium “Eerie Tales” and the thought-lost 1949 French/Belgian anthology “Histories ExtraordinairE/Unusual Tales.” On Blu-ray from Severin Films … photo for The Theatre Bizarre The concept was unprecedented: enlist seven of horror’s most transgressive filmmakers — Douglas Buck (“Family Portraits”), Buddy Giovinazzo (“Combat Shock”), David Gregory (“Plague Town”), Karim Hussain (“Subconscious Cruelty”), Jeremy Kasten (“The Attic Expeditions”), splatter FX legend Tom Savini and Richard Stanley (“Hardware”) — and give them total creative freedom to create their own short films inspired by the Grand Guignol. The result, “The Theatre Bizarre” (2011) — starring genre icons like Udo Kier, Catriona MacColl, Lynn Lowry and Debbie Rocho -– has been called “wildly unique” (Dread Central), “hilarious, grotesque and scary” (Bloody Disgusting) and “one of the best horror anthologies of all time” (Paste). On Blu-ray from Severin Films … In “Born a Champion” (2021), starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Katrina Bowden and Dennis Quaid, after a blood-soaked jujitsu match in Dubai, fighting legend Mickey Kelley (Flanery) falls to superstar Blaine. But years later, an online video proves that Blaine cheated, and the world demands a rematch. Can the aging underdog get back into shape in time to vanquish his foe, get revenge, and claim his prize? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 24, 2021 No Responses »
Jan 172021
 

From the Big Screen:

Dreamland

photo for Dreamland Set during the Great Depression, Eugene Evans (Finn Cole) dreams of escaping his small Texas town when he discovers a wounded, fugitive bank robber (Margot Robbie). Torn between claiming the bounty for her capture and his growing attraction to the seductive criminal, Eugene must make a decision that will forever affect the lives of everyone he’s ever loved. Vitals: Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. Stars: Finn Cole, Margot Robbie, Travis Fimmel, Kerry Condon, Darby Camp. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.294 million, Paramount. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital.

The Climb

photo for The Climb An oftentimes awkward examination of the toxic lifelong friendship of Mike and Kyle. While Kyle is kind and a bit of a pushover, Mike is a train wreck, who, despite his affection for Kyle, always seems to sabotage Kyle’s relationships. Told through a series of vignettes, Kyle struggles to deal with the fact that his best friend might just be the worst person for him. Vitals: Director: Michael Angelo Covino. Stars: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godreche. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $.234 million, Sony. Extras: Filmmaker commentary, original short film, deleted & alternate scenes. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, Digital.

This Week’s Best Bets

Before “Oldboy,” before “The Handmaiden,” visionary filmmaker Park Chan-wook helmed “JSA: Joint Security Area” (2000), a gripping tale of deceit, misunderstanding and the senselessness of war. Gunfire breaks out in the demilitarized zone between North and South photo for JSA: Joint Security AreaKorea, leaving two North Korean soldiers dead while a wounded South Korean soldier (Lee Byung-hun) flees to safety. With the tenuous peace between the two warring nations on a knife-edge, a neutral team of investigators, headed by Swiss Army Major Sophie Jean (Lee Young-ae), is dispatched to question both sides to determine what really happened under cover of darkness out in no-man’s land. The recipient of multiple accolades, including Best Film at South Korea’s 2001 Grand Bell Awards, “JSA – Joint Security Area” showcases Park’s iconic style in an embryonic form, and demonstrates that humanity and common purpose can be found in the most unlikely places. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In 1975, in an America defined by both the self-mythologizing pomp of the upcoming bicentennial and ongoing sociopolitical photo for Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese<turmoil, Bob Dylan and a band of troubadours –including luminaries such as Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, and Joni Mitchell — embarked on a now-legendary tour known as the Rolling Thunder Revue, a freewheeling variety show that was part traveling counterculture carnival, part spiritual pilgrimage. In “Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese” (2019), director Scorsese blends behind-the-scenes archival footage, interviews, and narrative mischief, with a magician’s sleight of hand, into a zeitgeist-defining cultural record that is as much a concert “documentary” as it is a slippery, chimerical investigation into memory, time, truth, and illusion. At the center of it all is the magnetic Dylan, a sphinxlike philosopher-poet singing, with electrifying conviction, to the soul of an anxious nation. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for Giant from the Unknown In the cult classic “Giant from the Unknown” (1958), Dr. Frederick Cleveland (Morris Ankrum) and his daughter Janet (Sally Fraser) are joined by scientific researcher Wayne Brooks (Ed Kemmer) in the pursuit of ancient artifacts from Vargas, a giant 500-year-old Spanish conquistador. When a lightning storm interrupts their search, the team finds much more than artifacts when the long-lost Vargas returns to life, with a murderous rage and an axe to grind. Resurrected from the original camera negative with a stunning 4K transfer. A Limited-Edition Giant Cult Film Box Set (DVD or Blu-ray) features exclusive collectibles that will thrill any cult classic film fan, including a 13-month cult film calendar, bookmark, magnet, custom playing card deck and lapel pin inspired by Vargas the Giant himself. Each box set will also include a surprise, TFD Vault cult film, recently restored from the original camera negative in stunning 4K and a one-year subscription to The Film Detective app, unlocking thousands of classic film and television titles available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Film Detective … photo for Bartender: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition The cult-favorite anime anthology series “Bartender” makes its North American Blu-ray debut this week. The “Bartender: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” (2006 — Japan) comes housed in an elegant home entertainment packaging which collects all 11 episodes of the series and bonus content in a two-disc Blu-ray set, with nine cocktail recipe cards and four collectible coasters. Situated in the Ginza district of Tokyo is the Eden Hall, a quiet bar that few people manage to come across. It is run by the legendary bartender Ryu Sasakura, a genius at mixing the right drink for the right customer. Throughout his period at Eden Hall, customers from all walks of life, carrying all sorts of burdens, arrive for a godly glass at the Hall and a kind word with Ryu, both of which assist in clearing their problems up and reviving them for another go at life. Based on the best-selling Japanese manga of the same name by Araki Joh and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo. From Anime Limited/Shout! Factory.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “A Cold Hard Truth” (2019), starring Simone Missick, Dorian Missick, Michael Beach and Shanola Hampton, after his cousin, Lanie Cooper (Missick), commits suicide, journalist Stewart Cooper (Missick) begins to unravel a web of shaming, lies, and secrets. Following the leads he discovers the involvement of the police, his cousin’s ex and the man she had an affair with – her church pastor, Kenneth Little (Beach). Driven by his own emotional turmoil, he turns the tables on them all to avenge his cousin’s demise. From Indican Pictures … photo for Max Cloud When teen gamer Sarah finds an “easter egg” and accidentally opens a portal into her favorite side-scroller, she becomes trapped in a notorious intergalactic prison, home to the galaxy’s most dangerous villains in “Max Cloud” (2020), starring Scott Adkins, John Hannah, Tommy Flanagan and Lashana Lynch. To escape, she must finish the game with a little help from her not-so-savvy friend on the outside … or remain a 16-bit character forever. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In “The Cleansing Hour” (2019), starring Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner and Alix Angelis, Max and Drew run a popular webcast that streams “live exorcisms” watched by millions around the globe. In reality, the exorcisms are just elaborately staged hoaxes performed by paid actors. But their fortunes take a turn when one of the actors becomes possessed by an actual demon and takes the crew hostage. In front of a rapidly growing audience, the demon subjects the crew to a series of violent challenges, threatening to expose the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other unless they come clean and reveal they’re impostors before the show is over. From RLJE Films … In “The Kid Detective” (2020), starring Adam Brody, Sophie Nélisse, Tzi Ma, Wendy Crewson and Sarah Sutherland, a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity. Until a naïve client brings him his first adult case — to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … The thriller photo for Wander “Wander” (2020), starring Aaron Eckhart, Katheryn Winnick, Heather Graham and Tommy Lee Jones, follows Arthur Bretnik (Eckhart), a paranoid private investigator with a troubled past. After Bretnik is hired to investigate a suspicious death in the town of Wander, he becomes convinced the case is linked to the same “conspiracy cover up” that caused the death of his daughter. From Paramount … In “Always and Forever” (2020), starring Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robbie Jones, Wood Harris, Lauren London, Loretta Devine and Joely Fisher, Nicole Taylor, a successful criminal prosecutor with both beauty and brains, has everything going right – until it all goes wrong. When Nicole’s childhood friends begin to die under mysterious circumstances, she becomes convinced their deaths are tied to dark secrets from her past. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJ Entertainment … In photo for Toys of Terror“Spiral” (2019 — Canada), starring Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Laporte, Ty Wood, Chandra West and Lochlyn Munro, a same-sex couple moves to a small town so they can enjoy a better quality of life as they raise their 16-year-old daughter. But nothing is as it seems in their picturesque neighborhood. And when they see that the folks next door are throwing a very strange party, being the new family in town suddenly feels extremely dangerous. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Toys of Terror” (2020), starring Kyana Teresa, Georgia Waters, Verity Marks, Dayo Ade, Saul Elias and Zoe Fish, just before Christmas young Zoe, her brother Franklin and their family move into a secluded mansion with a dark past. While the adults focus on renovating the place, the bored kids find a toy chest hidden in the attic, and are delighted when the toys inside magically come to life. But bizarre events soon begin to take place – events that threaten the family’s lives. As the special day dawns with gifts piled under the tree, the body count rises and the blood starts to flow. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

Foreign Films:

“Spacewalker” (2017 — Russia), starring Konstantin Khabenskiy, Evgeniy Mironov, Aleksandra Ursulyak and Elena Panova takes place in the heat of the Cold War, when the USSR and USA competed for supremacy in outer space. Both superpowers raced to be the first nation to have a man complete a spacewalk. No price was too high and no risk is too great. To set off one of man kind’s most ambitious missions, the USSR paired the unlikely duo of a seasoned war veteran, Pavel Belyayev, and a fearless test-pilot, Alexei Leonov. Without proper testing, and inside a tiny spaceship, the two astronauts launch into the unknown to take on what no man has done before. On DVD, Blu-ray, from MPI Media Group.


Special Interest:

“Welcome to Chechnya” (2020) is a powerful,eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, the documentary puts a glaring spotlight on the Russian republic as reports of gay and bisexual men being abducted, tortured, beaten and even killed at the hands of authorities started coming to the forefront. From Music Box Films … photo for Shusenjo: Comfort Women and Japan's War on History “Shusenjo: Comfort Women and Japan’s War on History” (2019 — Japan): One of the most heated issues in Japan and Asia today is over something that occurred 80 years ago: the Japanese Imperial Army’s sexual enslavement of an estimated tens of thousands of Korean women and others in military brothels during World War II. Many nationalist Japanese conservatives, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (with the surprising support of Western media influencers), believe the women were willing prostitutes, not “sex slaves,” and that the estimated number is far smaller than are claimed. But contemporary historians, activists and – most significantly – the surviving victims and their families, believe otherwise; the denial of their suffering so long ago has created an entirely new trauma. Director Miki Dezaki, a second-generation Japanese American who learned about comfort women from his Japanese immigrant parents, questions why accounts in the Western media have often sided with the Nationalists. With a keen eye for detail and precision, he interviews historians, advocates and lawyers who discuss the evidence: historical documents related to the Japanese military’s direct role in managing the brothels, and harrowing testimonies by former comfort women. From First Run Features.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 17, 2021 No Responses »
Jan 112021
 

From the Big Screen:

Ammonite

photo for Ammonite In 1840s England, acclaimed but unrecognized fossil hunter Mary Anning (Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline. With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship. Vitals: Director: Francis Lee. Stars: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secareanu, Fiona Shaw. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.160 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital.
Extras: “The Making of Ammonite.”

This Week’s Best Bets

In the rediscovered masterpiece of film noir “Sudden Fear” (1952), directed by David Miller (“Midnight Lace,” “Lonely Are the Brave” and” Executive Action”), Joan Crawford plays a successful playwright who marries a less than stellar actor (Jack Palance) with a troubling secret. She soon discovers that he not only married her for her money but that he plans to murder her with the help of his lover (Gloria Grahame). Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Crawford), Best Supporting Actor (Palance) and Best Black & White Cinematography (Charles Lang Jr.), this taut thriller also features a score by Elmer Bernstein that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. From Cohen Film Collection … photo for Minding the Gap “Minding the Gap” (2018) is the extraordinary debut from documentarian Bing Liu that weaves a story of skateboarding, friendship, and fathers and sons into a coming-of-age journey of courageous vulnerability. Over the course of several years and with his camera always at the ready, Liu records the rocky paths into adulthood of Keire and Zack, two friends from his own skateboarding community in Rockford, Illinois. As he does so, deeper parallels gradually emerge that ultimately draw the filmmaker into a heartrending confrontation with his own past. With an eye for images of exhilarating poetry and a keen emotional sensitivity, “Minding the Gap” is a powerfully cathartic portrait of fledgling lives forged in trauma and fighting to break free. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc

“Legacies: The Complete Second Season” (2019-20) contains all All 16 episodes. Last season, the supernatural students at the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young & Gifted and their beloved headmaster, Dr. Alaric Saltzman, came face-to-face with a stunning assortment of monsters and mythological creatures. A dragon. A gargoyle. The Headless Horseman. From Warner Archive … “Manifest: The Complete Second Season” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. In this supernatural drama, a commercial plane inexplicably disappears on a transoceanic flight and, more mysteriously, returns five years after being presumed lost photo for Twilight Zone: Season Two at sea. While only hours have passed for those on the flight, years have gone by for their loved ones at home who have learned to live with their losses. As the passengers and flight crew wrestle with their interrupted lives and relationships, the government continues to investigate the anomaly. From Warner Archive … “Twilight Zone: Season Two” (2020) is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes. This updated version of Rod Sterling’s 1959 classic series consists of tales revolving around science fiction, mystery, and horror. Each episode features its own mind-bending and insane journey into a different dimension filled with endless possibilities. The conscious storytelling consists of a standout cast that includes Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Tracy Morgan, John Cho, Zazie Beatz, and many others. This modern take is hosted by Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Jordan Peele.
From CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Beyond Hell” (2020), starring Kearsten Johansson, Gavin R. Downes, Sean Rey and Sebastian Deery, after trying a new version of the drug Changa, Maryssa (Johansson) finds herself transported to a dimension in hell where the demon, Belial (Gavin R. Downes, Still Me), latches onto her. Through Maryssa, Belial claws his way out from the depths of hell by slaughtering her friends, one-by-one. From Indican Pictures … In photo for Jungleland “Jungleland” (2019), starring Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell and Jonathan Majors, Stanley (Hunnam) and Lion (O’Connell) are two brothers struggling to stay relevant in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. When Stanley fails to pay back a dangerous crime boss (Majors), they’re forced to deliver an unexpected traveler as they journey across the country for a high stakes fighting tournament. While Stanley trains Lion for the fight of his life, a series of events threaten to tear the brothers apart, but their love for one another and belief in a better life keep them going in this gripping drama that proves family pulls no punches. From Paramount … In “American Dream” (2021), starring Luke Bracey, Michiel Huisman, Nick Stahl and Agnieszka Grochowska, Academy Award-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (“Saving Private Ryan”) directs an intense thriller about the brutal struggle for success. Desperate for cash, entrepreneurs Scott (Bracey) and Nicky (Huisman) turn to Russian mobster Yuri (Stahl). After they refuse the funding he offers, Yuri gets revenge by trying to take over their construction project. The partners are terrified, until Nicky’s tough Russian girlfriend, Ana, decides to take action herself. From Lionsgate … In “Average Joe” (2021), starring Camden Toy, Jason Sedillo, Caitlin Rose Williams, Akasha Villalobos, Taylor James Johnson and Roman Garcia, former superheroes must come out of retirement to fight evil once again. When Lord Menace returns from the dead to terrorize San Antonio, TX, the old superhero gang must reassemble to save the city. Unfortunately, the superheroes have sat comfortably in retirement since their last group adventure and normal day-to-day responsibilities have taken precedent. Now toting families, day jobs and excess weight gain, they have to learn how to come together and fight otherworldly evil again. From Indican Pictures … photo for Spell In “Spell” (2020), starring Omari Hardwick and Loretta Devine, while flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon. On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, from Paramount … In “Lena & Snowball” (2021), starring Robert Knepper, Wade Williams and Melissa Collazo, Lena, bullied at school and lonely at home, keeps hoping she’ll have a true friend someday. One afternoon, her dreams come true — in the shape of a cuddly white lion cub! Lena tries to keep playful Snowball out of trouble, but the clumsy poachers who kidnapped the valuable cub, and the cruel trophy collector who paid for him, are desperate to get him back. As Lena races to rescue poor Snowball, her new friend Jake will do anything to help. From Lionsgate.

Foreign Films:

One of the greatest achievements in recent art-house cinema and a seminal work of “slow cinema,” director Béla Tarr’s “Sátántangó” (1994 — Hungary), based on the novel by László Krasznahorkai, follows the members of a humble agricultural community living in a bleak and punishing backwater after the fall of Communism. As a few of the villagers secretly conspire to take off with all of the community’s annual earnings for themselves, a mysterious messiah, long thought dead, returns to the village and alters the course of everyone’s lives forever. Shot in stunning black-and-white by Gábor Medvigy and filled with exquisitely composed long takes, “Sátántangó” unfolds in 12 distinct movements, alternating forwards and backward in time, echoing the structure of tango dance. Tarr’s vision, aided by long-time partner and collaborator Ágnes Hranitzky, is enthralling and his portrayal of rural Hungary beset by drunken revelry, treachery, and near-perpetual rainfall is both transfixing and uncompromising. 4K restoration from the original negative and sound materials. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from CAV Distributing.

For the Family:

“Lupin III: The First” (2019) introduces the beloved characters in CG animation for the first time. The iconic “gentleman thief” returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning photo for Lupin III: The First caper, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that have made “Lupin the 3rd” one of the most storied animation franchises in the world. This release will be presented in both the original Japanese version and a new English dubbed version. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout Factory.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 11, 2021 No Responses »

 
 Posted by on February 22, 2018 Comments Off on
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