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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jun 172019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Us” and “Wonder Park.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

There’s a delcious bounty of collectible DVDs and Blu-rays this week. Let’s start off with three releases the master of modern French cinema, Jean-Luc Godard:

“Detective” (1985 — France)” Godard’s “Detective” is an invigorating deconstruction of film noir that adds a dash of “Grand Hotel” (1932) melodrama and “Body and Soul” (1947) boxing drama, all tied into an arresting Godardian knot. In a luxury Paris hotel, two detectives (Laurent Terzieff and Jean-Pierre Leaud) are working on the vexing case of an assassinated prince. In a nearby room, boxing trainer Jim Fox Warner (Johnny Hallyday) is getting his young protege´ ready for a fight. But Jim owes big money to the mob, as well as to the Chenals, a bickering husband and wife (Claude Brasseur and Nathalie Baye). In Godard’s fractured, poetic style, the tension ratchets up between these groups until they reach a bloody breaking point … “First Name: Carmen” (1983 — France) Godard’s “First Name: Carmen” is a photo for Detective radical reinvention of Bizet’s opera, updating the story of sexual obsession with bank robbery and kidnapping. Godard himself appears as doddering Uncle Jean, who lends his house to his niece Carmen (Maruschka Detmers) while he is recovering in a mental institution. Carmen and her gang of youthful pals stage a bloody robbery of a bank, during which she falls in love with one of the security guards (Jacques Bonnaffé). Her gang is in the planning stages of an even bigger crime — the kidnapping of an industrialist (or his daughter), using the shooting of a documentary on luxury hotels as a pretext. This bizarre crime spree of sex and death is told via Godard’s dizzying deconstructive style and DP Raoul Coutard’s eye-popping colors, creating a singular work of art to rival Bizet … “Helas Pour Moi” (1993 — France) Godard’s “Hélas pour moi” is a provocative film about faith and desire. Inspired by the Greek myth of Alcmene and Amphitryon, it photo for La vie de Jésus investigates the story of a god inhabiting the body of a man to experience the pleasures of the flesh. The incident is told through the eyes of a publisher, Abraham Klimt (Bernard Verley), who is interviewing the inhabitants of a Swiss village regarding the strange story of Rachel (Laurence Masliah) and Simon Donnadieu (Gérard Depardieu). One summer Simon leaves on a business trip, but soon after a doppelgänger arrives in the village purporting to be Simon. He appears to be a god in human form, and he pursues Rachel in a series of philosophical seductions that explore divine and physical ecstasy. One of Godard’s most beautiful films (shot by DP Caroline Champetier), “Hélas pour moi” is a thought- provoking and sensuous work of art. All three films are available on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Classics … The Criterion Collection has on hand two amazing films from French filmmaker Bruno Dumont: “La vie de Jésus” (1997): With his stunning debut feature, the risk-taking auteur Dumont immediately established his reputation as an uncompromising iconoclast on the cutting edge of French cinema. Blending unflinching realism with moments of startling, light-filled beauty, La vie de Jésusfinds unexpected philosophical richness in the quotidian, small-town existence of Freddy (nonprofessional David Douche in a revelatory, one-off performance), an aimless young man with epilepsy who, in his childlike simplicity, embodies both great tenderness and terrifying photo for L'humanité brutality. Leaving the film’s cryptic title tantalizingly open to interpretation, Dumont dares viewers to see the divine in a seemingly dead-end world. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, approved by Dumont, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “L’humanité” (1999): The transcendent second feature by Dumont probes the wonder and horror of the human condition through the story of a profoundly alienated police detective (the indelibly sad-eyed Emmanuel Schotté, winner of an upset best actor prize at Cannes for his first film performance) who, while investigating the murder of a young girl, experiences jolting, epiphanous moments of emotional and physical connection. Demonstrating Dumont’s deftness with nonactors and relentlessly frank depiction of bodies and sexuality, L’humanité is at once an idiosyncratic police procedural and a provocative exploration of the tension between humankind’s capacity for compassion and our base, sometimes barbarous animal instincts. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, approved by Dumont, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Over a decade after re-defining the thriller with “The Third Man,” director Carol Reed returned to the genre with “The Running Man” (1963). Reuniting with that film’s cinematographer Robert Krasker (BAFTA-nominated for his work here), Reed goes in the opposite direction visually, framing the twisty plot in sun-kissed widescreen color. Rex Black (Laurence Harvey) has successfully faked his death in a plane crash and escaped to sunny Málaga under a new identity, waiting for his wife Stella (Lee Remick) to arrive with £50,000 of life insurance money. photo for The Running Man	It’s the start of a blissful, trouble-free new life for the couple — until Stephen (Alan Bates), the insurance agent in charge of investigating Rex’s death, suddenly arrives in town. Is he just holidaying in Spain, as he claims, or is he on assignment to foil Rex’s scheme? Adapted by John Mortimer (later the creator of “Rumpole of the Bailey”) from the novel “The Ballad of the Running Man” by Shelley Smith, this underappreciated entry in Reed’s celebrated oeuvre makes its official worldwide home video premiere. 2K restoration of the film by Sony Pictures. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … Making its Blu-ray debut this week is the rather bizzare but absorbing “Thirst” (2009 — South Korea), from Chan-wook Park, the director of “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Oldboy,” “Lady Vengeance” and “Stoker” In this shockingly original vampire story with a chilling, erotic style, a blood transfusion saves the life of a priest (Kang-ho Song), but also transforms him into a vampire. He struggles to control his insatiable thirst for photo for Thirst blood until a love affair unleashes his darkest desires in deadly new ways. Daring and operatic, “Thirst” is a truly wicked love story that takes classic vampire lore to twisted new heights. From Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “Between the Lines” (1977) is the second feature film from pioneering American independent director Joan Micklin Silver. Set in the offices of a Boston alternative newspaper where the writers and editors enjoy a positive and open-minded work environment. Music critic Max (Jeff Goldblum) uses his influence to score dates, while news reporter Harry (John Heard) is dating the lovely Abbie (Lindsay Crouse), the publication’s lead photographer. However, it seems as though their relatively carefree days are numbered when the owner of a major publishing company buys the paper, leading to more money, but even more changes. Co-stars Gwen Welles, Bruno Kirby, Marilu Henner and Michael J. Pollard. In a 2K restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital, from Cohen Film Collection … And, lasltly, for all you classic horror fns out there, there’s “Universal Horror Collection Vol. 1,” a four-disc set with hi-def verions of four films celebrating horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi: “The Black Cat” (1934), “The Raven” (1935), “The Invisible Ray” (1936) and “Black Friday” (1940). On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

From TV to Disc:

“Suits: Season Eight” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes of the series that centers on a fast-paced Manhattan corporate law firm led by legendary lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), his intelligent but delicate partner, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), and secretary-turned-COO Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty). After surviving leadership turmoil and the loss of key partners, the trio continues to tackle top corporate cases. After muscling her way into the firm, powerhouse attorney Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) joins the ranks of Specter Litt and challenges the status quo. From Universal … “Swingtown: The photo for Swingtown: The First Season First Season” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. The 1970s themed series follows married couple Susan Miller (Molly Parker) and Jack Miller (Jack Davenport) as they move into a suburban neighborhood in Chicago next door to Trina Decker (Lana Parrilla) and Tom Decker (Grant Show), a couple with a peculiar marriage arrangement. Seeking new connections with each other in the midst of the sexual revolution, the swinger couples explore newfound relationships through open marriages, rendezvous and provocative gatherings. From CBS/Paramount … “Will & Grace (The Revival): Season Two” (2018) is a two-disc set with all 16 episodes. Yasss, Queen! The witty ensemble of Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their infamous roles as Will, Grace, Jack and Karen for Season 2 of the revival. This season they return with new looks, new loves, and new guest stars. The legendary James Burrows, director of every original “Will & Grace” episode, returns with a slew of razor-sharp jabs and dirty martinis. From Universal.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

With the current rise of cryptocurrency, people will always find ways to exploit the system and the global economy. In “Crypto” (2019), starring Beau Knapp, Alexis Bledel, Luke Hemsworth, Kurt Russell and Vincent Kartheiser, when Wall Street banker Martin (Knapp) is sent to a bank branch in upstate New York, he uncovers suspicious cash flow through a local gallery selling million-dollar paintings. As Martin traces links to a violent global mob, he realizes he’s put his nearby family in grave danger. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … photo for Lords of Chaos In “Lords of Chaos” (2019), starring Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira and Sam Coleman, it’s Oslo, 1987, and 17-year-old Euronymous is determined to escape his idyllic Scandinavian hometown and create “true Norwegian black metal” with his band, Mayhem. He’s joined by equally fanatical youths — Dead and Varg. Believing that they’re on the cusp of a musical revolution, the group gets even darker, driven by the black metal dogma to spread evil. They begin burning down churches throughout the countryside and stealing tombstones for their record store. But when the press catches up with them and Euronymous takes more credit than he’s earned for the group’s violent acts, Varg, fresh out of jail, arranges a dark encounter to settle the score and ultimately determine who the darkest black metal musician is. Inspired by a true story. From Unobstructed View … Welcome to Slaughterhouse, an elite boarding school where boys and girls are groomed for power and greatness… and they’re about to meet their match. In “Slaughterhouse Rulez” (2019), starring Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this ancient and ordered world is about to be shaken to its foundations — literally — when a controversial frack site on prized school woodland causes seismic tremors, a mysterious sinkhole and an unspeakable horror is unleashed. Soon a new pecking order will be established as pupils, teachers and the school matron become locked in a bloody battle for survival. From Sony … “The Beach Bum” (2019), starring Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Stefania LaVie Owen, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Efron and Martin Lawrence, folloes the misadventures of Moondog (McConaughey), a rebellious stoner rogue who always lives life by his own rules. Directed by Harmony Korine (“Kids,” “Spring Breakers”). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … photo for Run the Race The faith family drama “Run the Race” (2018) tells the dramatic journey of two high school athletes and brothers who see their relationship tested as they seek different paths out of their troubled lives. Reeling from his mother’s death and his father’s abandonment, Zach, an All-State athlete, finds glory on the football field, working to earn a college scholarship and the brothers’ ticket out of town. When a devastating injury puts Zach -— and his dreams — on the sidelines, brother David laces up his track cleats to salvage their future and point Zach toward hope. Stars Mykelti Williamson, Frances Fisher, Kristoffer Polaha and Tanner Stine. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “Hotel Mumbai” (2018), starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs, is the true story of humanity and heroism that vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India. Among the dedicated hotel staff is the renowned chef Hemant Oberoi (Kher) and a waiter (Patel) who choose to risk their lives to protect their guests. As the world watches on, a desperate couple (Hammer and Boniadi) is forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … In “Under the Silver Lake” (2018), starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough and Topher Grace, Sam (Garfield) is a disenchanted 33-year-old who discovers a mysterious woman, Sarah (Keough), frolicking in his apartment’s swimming pool. When she vanishes, he embarks on a surreal quest across Los Angeles to decode the secret behind her disappearance, leading him into the murkiest depths of mystery, scandal and conspiracy in the City of Angels. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “Felix Austria!” (2013), compelled by the inheritance of a mysterious box of letters, American aesthete Brian Pfeifle, a young man from Modesto, California, begins the journey of a lifetime to reach the source of the correspondence: the last heir of the Holy Roman Emperors, aging Archduke Otto von Habsburg, in this quirky documentary. Assuming the name of Felix Etienne-Eduoard Pfeifle, spiritual heir to the Habsburg Empire, the quest takes him from the barrio of Los Angeles to Vienna itself, with an unlikely detour to upstate New York, allowing him, along with viewers, to explore matters that are exceptionally timely within the context of contemporary American culture –questions of identity, sexuality, appropriation and use — as well as issues that resonate within our own lives. What does it take to construct, and become, an independent self? From IndiePix Films.

Foreign Films:

“Modest Heroes” (2018 — Japan) is a collection of three animated stories exploring ideas of heroism in their own unique way. “Kanini & Kanino” is directed by Academy Award-nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi (“When Marnie Was There”, “Mary and The Witch’s Flower”); “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose,” featuring the voice of Maggie Q (“Nikita,” “Designated Survivor”), is helmed by Yoshiyuki Momose, who was a key animator on Isao Takahata’s films at Studio Ghibli; and “Invisible” director Akihiko Yamashita was a key animator on many of Hayao Miyazaki’s best-known photo for Modest Heroes films. Each is produced by Studio Ponoc’s Yoshiaki Nishimura. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … K-pop star Do Kyung-soo, Jared Grimes, Park Hye-Su, Oh Jung-Se and Kim Min-Ho star in “Swing Kids” (2018 — South Korea), a swinging musical drama set during the Korean War in which the soldiers at a POW camp plan a tap show to distract both themselves and the prisoners from the hardships of war. Led by a former Broadway dancer and a rebellious North Korean soldier, the band of prisoners find a new sense of freedom in dancing. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In “Kanarie” (2018 — South Africa), starring Schalk Bezuidenhout, Hannes Otto and Germandt Geldenhuys, drafted during apartheid by the South African Army, Johan Niemand’s love for Boy George and Depeche Mode lands him a spot in the SADF Choir called the Canaries. Against a landscape where law and religion oppress individuality, Johan and the Canaries have to survive military training and go on a nationwide tour of the country, entertaining people whilst fortifying the belief in the military effort and promoting the cause of both Church and State. An unexpected romance on the battlefield forces Johan to reckon with his long-repressed sexual identity. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Special Interest:

“The Brink” (2018): When Steve Bannon left his position as White House chief strategist less than a week after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017, he was already a notorious figure in Trump’s inner circle, known for bringing a far-right ideology into the highest echelons of American politics. Unconstrained by an official post — though some say he still has a direct line to the White House — he became free to peddle influence as a perceived kingmaker and market his nativist views as a global movement. The documentary follows Bannon through the 2018 mid-term elections in the US, shedding light on his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. To maintain his power and influence, the former Goldman Sachs banker and media investor reinvents himself — as he has many times before — this time as the self-appointed leader of a global populist movement. 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 June 17, 2019 No Responses »
Jun 112019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Captain Marvel,” “Five Feet Apart” and “Captive State.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“Swing Time” (1936): In this irresistible musical, the legendary dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are at the pinnacle of their art as a feckless gambler and the shrewd dancing instructor in whom he more than meets his match. Director George Stevens laces their romance with humor and clears the floor for the movie’s showstopping dance scenes, in which Astaire and Rogers take seemingly effortless flight in a virtuosic fusion of ballroom and tap styles. Buoyed by beloved songs by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern—including the Oscar-winning classic “The Way You Look Tonight”—Swing Time is an exuberant celebration of its photo for Swing Timestars’ chemistry, grace, and sheer joy in the act of performance. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “Devil’s Kiss (Redemption)” (1976 — France/Spain) From the film vaults of Eurociné — the mind-boggling company that brought you “Zombie Lake,” “Crimson,” and “Orloff Against the Invisible Man” — comes this riotous French/Spanish co-production, originally titled “La perversa caricia de Satán” (“The Perverse Caresses of Satan”)! When the Countess de Moncourt (Silvi Solar) is left destitute by the suicide of her husband, she resumes her former identity as Claire Grandier — comely Goth and medium! Teaming up with Dr. Gruber (Olivier Mathot), a down-on-his-luck telepath, they accept an invitation from an eccentric duke to stage a séance at his candle-lit castle, as a follow-up to a funky fashion show of hilarious “avant garde” wear. Impressed by Claire’s command of the supernatural, the duke invites her and Gruber to room at his chateau. Working from a dank cellar with the help of a lascivious dwarf, Claire — aided by Gruber’s telepathic powers — succeeds in reanimating a pauper’s mutilated corpse and sending it on a mission of revenge … but how will she control this doddering zombie should Gruber succumb to his weak heart? “Devil’s Kiss” was the first and only horror film directed by “Georges Gigo” — the French pseudonym of Spanish-born Jorge Luís Gigó Aznar, who can be seen as the fashion show announcer. A moody mélange of Frankenstein, Dracula, Lovecraft, and Munster cheese, it’s the sort of atmospheric, lecherous, ultimately insane witch’s brew that could only come from the cauldrons at Eurociné.On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber … photo for Frankenstein Created Woman Blu-ray Collector’s Edition “Frankenstein Created Woman Blu-ray Collector’s Edition” (1967) Stars Peter Cushing, Thorley Walters, Robert Morris, Susan Denberg. A new 2K scan from the original film elements. Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) and Dr. Hertz (Walters) are embarking upon an experiment to capture the souls of the dead and impose them into other bodies. When their assistant, Hans (Morris), is unjustly accused of murdering his girlfriend Christina’s father and put to death, the two men claim his body and trap his soul in their laboratory. Meanwhile, Christina (Denberg) is consumed with grief and commits suicide. Frankenstein and Dr. Hertz are able to transfer Hans’ soul into Christina’s healed body, which results in a vision of beauty. Their experiment appears successful until Frankenstein discovers that Christina’s seductive appetites are being driven by the spirit of Hans and his passion for revenge. From Scream Factory.

From TV to Disc:

“Magnum P.I: Season One” (2018-19) is a five-disc set with all 20 episodes. Remake of 1980s series (which starred Tom Selleck) follows Thomas photo for Magnum P.I: Season One Magnum (Jay Hernandez), a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator. A charming rogue, an American hero and a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan, Magnum-lives in a guest cottage on Robin’s Nest, the luxurious estate where he works as a security consultant to supplement his P.I. business. The “majordomo” of the property is Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), a beautiful and commanding disavowed Ml:6 agent whose second job is to keep Magnum in line … with the help of her two Dobermans. On DVD from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Crisis Hotline” (2019), starring Corey Jackson, Christian Gabriel and Pano Tsaklas, a cynical counselor at a crisis hotline finds himself in a life or death situation when a young man calls and threatens to kill three people and then himself. From High Octane Pictures … In “Hallowed Ground” (2019), starring Miles Doleac, Sherri Eakin, Ritchie Montgomery andLindsay Anne Williams, a married couple, trying to rebuild their relationship after an affair, travels to a secluded cabin and stumbles into a blood feud between the Native American owners of the property and the neighboring clan, who obsessively guard their land and punish those who trespass on it in terrifying ways. From Uncork’d Entertainment … photo for The 27 Club “The 27 Club” (2018), starring Maddisyn Carter, John Hennigan and Victoria De Mare, tries to answer the question, Why did Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Kobain all die at the age of 27? When an aspiring singer and a journalism student seek answers to the notorious curse of the so-called “27 Club,” they find themselves trapped in an evil underworld that takes artists souls as payment for eternal fame. Features legendary singer, songwriter, and record producer Todd Rundgren. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo, from Cleopatra Entertainment … In “Leprechaun Returns” (2018), starring Taylor Spreitler, Pepi Sonuga, Sai Bennett, Linden Porco and Mark Holton, the deadly, wisecracking Leprechaun is back in all his gory glory. When the sorority sisters of the Alpha Upsilon house decide to go green and use an old well as their water source, they unwittingly awaken a pint-sized, green-clad monster. The Leprechaun wants a pot of gold buried near the sorority house, but first he must recover his powers with a killing spree — and only the girls of AU can stop him. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Between the Trees” (2019), four friends on a weekend retreat to the mountains encounter a deranged killer and their fun weekend becomes a deadly fight for survival. From Uncork’d Entertainment … There’s three Blu-ray debuts this week: “They Might Be Giants” (1971), stars George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford, Al Lewsi, Rue McClanahan, Kitty Winn, M. Emmet Walsh, F. Murray Abraham, James Tolkan and Eugene Roche. Wealthy, retired judge Justin Playfair (Scott) has a most peculiar eccentricity: he believes he is Sherlock Holmes. Betrayed by his scheming brother, “Holmes” comes under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Mildred Watson (Woodward). As Watson follows Holmes through Manhattan on a search for his elusive nemesis Moriarty, the unlikely pair are drawn into a world of danger and intrigue. Together, they discover an uncommon reality — and a most magical love. Presented in a special expanded version, featuring additional footage not seen in the original theatrical release. From Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “Final Stab” (2001) stars Erinn Hayes, Jamie Gannon and Bradley Stryker. A murder mystery weekend is the perfect time for a perfect crime. At a secluded estate, a group of college friends have gathered together for a weekend of fun and games. Killer, victim, or innocent bystander, they all have their part to play. But when photo for The Entity Collector’s Edition people begin disappearing — and the bloodshed turns out to be real, everyone quickly realizes that the only way out of this killer game is to be the last one left alive. New 2k restoration from the 35mm original camera negatives, with uncompressed PCM audio. Also on DVD, from Massacre Video … “The Entity Collector’s Edition” (1982), directed by Sidney J. Furie and starring Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa and George Cole. Carla Moran (Hershey), a hard-working single mother whose life becomes a nightmare when she is attacked in her bedroom by someone — or something — that she cannot see. Disbelieved by her friends and dismissed by skeptical psychiatrists, Carla begins to lose her grip as she is repeatedly attacked in her car, in the bath, and even in front of her children. Could this be a case of hysteria, a manifestation of childhood sexual trauma, or something even more horrific? Seeking help from a group of daring parapsychologists, Carla will attempt an unthinkable experiment: to seduce, trap and ultimately capture the depraved spectral fury that is The Entity. From Scream Factory.

Foreign Films:

“The Sower” (2017 — France), Marine Francen’s award-winning debut feature, is a sensual, visually stunning romance set in the 19th century French countryside, part of a photo for The Sower new wave of female-focused historical drama. The year is 1851, and France’s autocratic president Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte has ordered the arrest of all the men of a remote mountain farming village following a Republican uprising. The women spend two years in total isolation, forced to tend the crops themselves. Some women have lost their husbands; others, like the shy but inwardly strong Violette, suddenly have no chance of experiencing physical love or motherhood. The women take an oath: if a man comes, they will share him as a lover. When a mysterious and handsome stranger arrives, he ignites passions and jealousies that threaten to destroy the tight-knit community. From Film Movement.

For the Family:

“Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure” (2019) is a Dove-approved family friendly animated film. While Norm and his friends are preparing to celebrate his grandfather’s wedding, trouble is stirring in Misty Mountain. There, Norm meets an archaeologist named Jin and learns that a priceless Chinese artifact has been stolen by Dexter, Jin’s old partner. With the help of his lemming friends, Norm must embark on a journey across the world to help recover the artifact and return it to its rightful place. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate.

Special Interest:

“Sinatra in Palm Springs — The Place He Called Home” (2018): During his brief yet turbulent marriage to Ava Gardner, Palm Springs was center stage for photo for Sinatra in Palm Springs -- The Place He Called Home Frank Sinatra. And for the rest of his life, the Rancho Mirage compound on Frank Sinatra Drive was the sanctuary he called “My Heaven.” Palm Springs still feels the ghost of the legendary performer. In this documentary film, director Leo Zahn explores Sinatra’s deep attachment to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, capturing the spirit of the Sinatra era and paying tribute to his unique lifestyle. Featuring more than 70 movie and TV show clips and a plethora of rarely seen archival footage as well as revealing interviews with Barbara Sinatra, Mel Haber, Tom Dreesen, Trini Lopez, Nelda Linsk, Michael Fletcher and many others who knew and photo for Michelin Stars: Tales From the Kitchen lived and played with Mr. Sinatra, Zahn offers a fascinating insight into a true icon of entertainment. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory … “Michelin Stars: Tales From the Kitchen” (2017) All chefs dream of a Michelin star, and those who have one (or more) work tirelessly to keep this distinction. This documentary goes behind the scenes to see how the stars are awarded, to talk to the chefs who work tirelessly to maintain their status, and the impact of the Michelin Guide on the world of haute cuisine. At a moment in time when more and more people are obsessed with food –photographing every dish, worshipping cooks and flaunting trophy meals on social media — this documentary goes under the surface and offers an in-depth, honest and relevant view into the every day world of Michelin chefs and restaurants. The film is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on creativity, business, and the art of perfection, chronicling the inner-workings of the culinary world through the eyes of the chefs, the critics, and their customers. From Juno 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 June 11, 2019 No Responses »
Jun 032019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral” and “Gloria Bell.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“The Andromeda Strain” (1971), starring Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olsen and Kate Reid, is one of th most stunning — and innovative — SF films of all time … and one of our favorites. Before he created Westworld and Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton first blurred the line between science fiction and science fact with his breakout success “The Andromeda Strain.” Two years after the novel’s publication, Robert Wise directed the film adaptation, a nail-biting blend of clinically-realized docudrama and astonishing sci-fi visuals that ushered in a photo for The Andromeda Strain new subgenre: the “killer virus” biological thriller. A government satellite crashes outside a small town in New Mexico — and within minutes, every inhabitant of the town is dead, except for a crying baby and an elderly derelict. The satellite and the two survivors are sent to Wildfire, a top-secret underground laboratory equipped with a nuclear self-destruct mechanism to prevent the spread of infection in case of an outbreak. Realizing that the satellite brought back a lethal organism from another world, a team of government scientists race against the clock to understand the extraterrestrial virus — codenamed “Andromeda” — before it can wipe out all life on the planet. Aided by innovative visual effects by Douglas Trumbull (“2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Silent Running”) and an unforgettable avant-garde electronic music score by Gil Melle, Wise’s suspense classic still haunts to this day, and is presented here in a stunning, exclusive new 4K scan and restoration from the original negative. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman”: In 1960, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman began work on three of his most powerful and representative films, eventually presented as a trilogy. Already a figure of international acclaim for such masterpieces as “The Seventh Seal” and “The Magician,” Bergman turned his photo for A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman back on the expressionism of his fifties work to focus on a series of chamber dramas exploring belief and alienation in the modern age. Collaborating with the distinguished cinematographer Sven Nykvist, and eliciting searing performances from his refined cast of regulars—Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Gunnel Lindblom, Ingrid Thulin, and Max Von Sydow among them — Bergman unleashed “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961), “Winter Light” (1963), and “The Silence” (1963) in rapid succession, exposing moviegoers worldwide to a new level of intellectual and emotional intensity. Drawing on Bergman’s own upbringing and ongoing spiritual crises, the films of the trilogy examine the necessity of religion and question the promise of faith. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restorations of all three films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays. From The Criterion Collection … photo for Trapped Alive Genre regular Cameron Mitchell stars in “Trapped Alive” (1988), thrilling tale of escaped hoodlums and underground-dwelling cannibals from director Leszek Burzynski and “Hellraiser” producer Christopher Webster. One wintry night, pals Robin and Monica are making their way to a Christmas party when they’re carjacked by a gang of crooks recently escaped from the local penitentiary. With the two young women taken as hostages, things take an even darker turn when their vehicle plummets down an abandoned mine shaft, trapping them underground with the dangerous crooks — and a mutant cannibal. Filmed in 1988 under the title of “Forever Mine” but not released until 1993, “Trapped Alive” was the first film to come out of Wisconsin’s now-defunct Windsor Lake Studios, which would go on to produce a number of films under the Fangoria Films label in the early-90s, including 1992’s Bruce Campbell-starring “Mindwarp.” Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

From TV to Disc:

“The Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection” is a 30-disc collection that features all five years of the series (1969-74) and the first-ever DVD release of “The Bradys” and “The photo for The Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection Brady Brides” spinoff series as well as all “The Brady Bunch” movies. “The Brady Bunch” made television history when it debuted 50 years ago on September 26, 1969. When widower Mike Brady (Robert Reed) marries a lovely lady named Carol Ann (Florence Henderson), their two families become one. The six children include Carol’s daughters Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb) and Cindy (Susan Olsen), as well as Mike’s sons Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland). Together with their dog Tiger and quirky housekeeper Alice (Ann B. Davis), this wild clan became the Brady Bunch. Along with all five seasons of the series, the set includes “The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series,” “The Bradys” and “The Brady Brides” spinoffs, alongside five television films “The Brady Bunch Movie,” “A Very Brady Christmas,” “The Brady Bunch in the White House,” “Growing Up Brady” and “A Very Brady Sequel.” From CBS/Paramount … “Lost in Space, The Complete First Season” (2018), a reimagining of the original family space adventure, is set 30 years in the future and ­finds the Robinsons torn off course en route to what they hoped would be a fresh start on a distant space colony. Against all odds, but with endless hope and extensive training, the family bands together to survive on a dangerous alien planet. All 10 episodes on four-DVDs of three Blu-rays. From Fox … “Sara Stein — From Berlin to Tel Aviv: The Complete Series” (2018) is a two-disc set with four photo for Sara Stein -- From Berlin to Tel Aviv: The Complete Series feature-length episodes of the internationally flavored crime series. As a criminal investigator of Jewish descent working in Berlin, Sara Stein was used to operating independently of everyone else. Her keen instincts and sound judgement enabled her to navigate sure-footedly through many sensitive cases. But it was not until she found herself investigating the murder of an Israeli DJ that politics and religion played such an important role in her life. Now, facing new challenges as a detective in Tel Aviv, Sara continues to strive for truth and justice while dreaming of peace for her beloved new home, Israel. From Omnibus Entertainment … “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season One” (2018) includes all eight episodes on three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray. John Krasinski stars as Tom Clancy’s iconic CIA analyst in the new hit series already renewed for a second and third season on Amazon Prime Video. When CIA analyst Jack Ryan stumbles upon a suspicious series of bank transfers his search for answers pulls him from the safety of his desk job and catapults him into a deadly game of cat and mouse throughout Europe and the Middle East, with a rising terrorist figurehead preparing for a massive attack against the U.S. and her allies. From Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “The Cleaning Lady” (2018), starring Alexis Kendra, Rachel Alig, Stelio Savante and JoAnne McGrath, Alice (Kendra) seems like a woman who has it all: a gorgeous apartment, a booming career, a stunning physique, and a handsome boyfriend. The only problem is he’s married to someone else. Looking for a way to simplify her life, Alice hires Shelly to clean her house. As Alice begins to confide in Shelly about her illicit affair, their friendship grows… and so does Shelly’s twisted obsession with her new employer. It soon becomes clear that Shelly has motives that reach further than a normal cleaning lady. Shelly wants to cleanse Alice’s entire life and will stop at nothing until she’s done. From RLJE Films … photo for JTLeroy In “JTLeroy” (2018), starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Jim Sturgess, Courtney Love and Diane Kruger, a young woman named Savannah Knoop (Stewart) spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author and cult status character JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law (Dern). The three books were purportedly semi-autobiographical accounts by a teenage boy of his experiences of poverty, drug use, and emotional and sexual abuse in his childhood and adolescence from rural West Virginia to California. Based on a true story. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” (2019), starring Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett and Lydia Hearst, based on one of Hollywood’s most chilling murder cases, follows pregnant 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate (Duff), a rising star about to have her first baby with her husband, director Roman Polanski. Plagued by terrifying premonitions, Sharon sees her worst nightmares come to life with the appearance of Charles Manson and his deadly cult. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “I’ll Take Your Dead” (2019), starring Aidan Devine, Ava Preston, Jess Salgueiro and Ari Millen, William has a simple job: he makes dead bodies disappear. This isn’t something he likes or even wants to do, but through circumstances out of his photo for I’ll Take Your Dead control, his little farm house in the country has become a dumping ground for the casualties of the gang related murders in the nearby city. After a woman’s body is dumped at the house, William begins his meticulous process when he realizes she’s not actually dead. As the gang activity increases, William patches the woman up and holds her against her will until he can figure out what to do with her. As they begin to develop a very unusual respect for each other, the woman’s murderers get word that she’s still alive and make plan to finish what they started. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory … Paying homage to the grindhouse features of the 1960s and 70s, “Rondo” (2018), starring Luke Sorge, Brenna Otts, Ketrick “Jazz” Copeland and Gena Shaw, is a darkly sexual, craftily stylized and wildly entertaining crime and revenge melodrama. Paul, a troubled young veteran, is told by a psychiatrist that sex is the solution to his dependency and drinking problems. But things turns out otherwise as Paul and his sister are sucked into a criminal underworld where sex and murder are daily specials and revenge is served piping hot. From Artsploitation Films … In “The Kid” (2018), starring Jake Schur, Leila Georg, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawk and Dane DeHaan, a young boy, Rio (Schur), is forced to go on the run across the American Southwest in a desperate attempt to save his sister (George) from his villainous uncle (Pratt). Along the way, he encounters Sheriff Pat Garrett (Hawke), on the hunt for the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid (DeHaan). Rio finds himself increasingly entwined in the lives of these two legendary figures as the cat-and-mouse game of Billy the Kid’s final year of life plays out. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “All You Ever Wished For” (2018), starring Darren Criss, Madalina Ghenea and James Remar, Tyler Hutton (Criss) is a young New York fashion executive whose business trip to Milan takes an unexpected turn when he is kidnapped for ransom and whisked off to a remote Alpine village. Little does he or his three bumbling abductors know that the rustic cottage where they spend the night is under a gypsy love spell. Upon waking up the next morning, each of the men fall in love with the first living soul that meets their eyes: which are, for the kidnappers: a homely spinster; a handsome woodsman; and one cute cow. Tyler, as luck would have it, gets smitten by Rosalia (Ghenea), a raven-haired beauty with a sharp tongue and reluctant heart. From Omnibus Entertainment.

Foreign Films:

In “Guy” (2018 — France), starring Tom Dingler and Alex Lutz, Gauthier (Dingler), a young journalist, finds a letter suggesting he might be the son of Guy Jamet (Lutz in a Cesar award-winning performance), a 72-year-old French pop singer who was famous from the 60s to the 80s. As the old-time singer embarks on a tour to promote his newly released covers album, Guathier follows his maybe-biological father under the pretext of filming a documentary about Guy’s career. From Icarus Films … photo for Woman At War “Woman At War” (2018 — Iceland), starring Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson and Juan Camillo Roman Estrada, is the humorous story of one woman’s unique fight against climate change. The seemingly mild-mannered Halla blends in with her community during the day; at night, however, she is the vigilante known only as “The Woman of the Mountain”, whose goal is to take down the aluminum industry. When she is presented with a world-changing opportunity — the chance to adopt a child in Ukraine — she must choose whether or not to continue her life in the shadows or move towards the new light in her life. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.

For the Family:

“Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2018) is an all-New, feature-length animated thriller that finds Gotham City reaching New levels of danger when Shredder joins forces with Ra’s al Ghul to enact a nefarious plan — leading to the team-up of the Dark Knight and the Turtles to combat the combined might of the Foot Clan and League of Assassins. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner … “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” (1995) makes its Blu-ray debut photo for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie this week. Power up with six incredible teens who out-maneuver and defeat evil everywhere as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. But this time, the Power Rangers may have met their match when they face off with the most sinister monster the galaxy has ever seen — Ivan Ooze. From Shout! Factory … “The Best of the New Scooby-Doo Movies: The Lost Episodes” (2019) features eight never-before released episodes that are now available together on DVD for the first time. The Mystery Inc. Gang teams up with stellar celebrity guest stars who help them solve the most intriguing cases. The gang joins forces with heartthrob Davy Jones as well as Josie and the Pussycats. Released just in time for Scooby-Doo’s 50th anniversary. All eight episodes are included in “The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection” (see below). From Warner … “The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection” (2019) includes — for the first time ever — nearly all episodes from “The New Scooby-Doo Movies,” the Scooby-Doo series featuring celebrity guests, now available to own in one collection. Includes 23 episodes. That loveable Great Dane and the Mystery Inc. gang encounter some of pop culture’s most legendary names, including Jonathan Winters, Dick Van Dyke, The Three Stooges, Cass Elliot of The Mamas & the Papas, Laurel & Hardy, Harlem Globetrotters, Batman and Robin and many more, as they embark on their mystery-solving adventures. Released just in time for Scooby-Doo’s 50th anniversary. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital from Warner.

Special Interest:

“Terror in the Skies” (2018) is a documentary that explores hundreds of years of terrifying reports of encounters with massive, winged creatures around the Land of Lincoln. From Alton’s man-eating Piasa Bird legends to recent Chicago sightings of a creature said to resemble West Virginia’s infamous Mothman, “Terror in the Skies” takes an in-depth look at a centuries-old mystery. Small Town Monsters made waves in 2017 with their documentary “The Mothman of Point Pleasant,” which “Terror in the Skies” acts as a “spiritual sequel” to and one that will be concluded in 2020 by the final chapter in their Mothman trilogy, “The Mothman Legacy.” From Small Town Monsters … “Woody Guthrie All-Star Tribute Concert 1970” celebrates the life and work of the legendary folk singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie, whose songs have become part of the bedrock of American life. Three years after Guthrie died of Huntington’s disease in 1967, the California chapter of the Committee to Combat Huntington’s Disease, now known as the Hereditary Disease Foundation, helped stage this concert at the Hollywood photo for Woody Guthrie All-Star Tribute Concert 1970 Bowl in Los Angeles to raise funds for Huntington’s research. Although the concert took place one night only, four-time Emmy award winner Jim Brown filmed this historic event, with performances by Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Country Joe McDonald, Odetta, Richie Havens, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Earl Robinson, and The Band along with narration by actors Will Geer and Peter Fonda. From MVD Visual, due June 7 … “Screwball” (2018) is an irreverent, award-winning story of illegal drugs and famous baseball stars. Recounting the high-profile doping scandal that rocked Major League Baseball, director Billy Corben (“Cocaine Cowboys,” “Magic City Hustle”) takes us into the surreal Miami underworld that provided performance-enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and other star players. The documentary plays like a madcap Floridian crime comedy in the vein of Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and the Coen Brothers while it raises serious questions about the ethics of professional sports. From Greenwich Entertainment … “Cherry Grove Stories” (2018) is an LGBTQ documentary that entertainingly recounts time in Cherry Grove, including queer origins, Tennessee Williams visits, decadent parties, sexual liberation, HIV alienation and the continual swinging of indecent law enforcement … all told through first person accounts and a treasure trove of fabulous, unseen archival footage of the beloved haven. In an era when it was illegal for two men to hold hands in public, the pristine beachfront hamlet of Cherry Grove on Fire Island, N.Y., was a safe haven for gays who were often targeted for arrest and prosecution. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

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 June 3, 2019 No Responses »
May 282019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Greta.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

There’s a host of great collectible releases this week; in alphabetical order:

“Blue Velvet” (1986) Home from college, Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) makes an unsettling discovery: a severed human ear, lying in a field. In the mystery that follows, by turns terrifying and darkly funny, David Lynch burrows deep beneath the picturesque surfaces of small-town life. Driven to investigate, Jeffrey finds himself drawing closer to his fellow amateur sleuth, Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), photo for Blue Velvet as well as their prime suspect, lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini)– and facing the fury of Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a psychopath who will stop at nothing to keep Dorothy in his grasp. With intense performances and hauntingly powerful scenes and images, “Blue Velvet” is an unforgettable vision of innocence lost, and one of the most influential American films of the past few decades. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, both supervised by director David Lynch. From The Criterion Collection … “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” (1977) In the early 1960s in Paris, two young women become friends. Pomme is an aspiring singer. Suzanne is a pregnant country girl unable to support a third child. Pomme lends Suzanne the money for an illegal abortion, but a sudden tragedy soon separates them. Over a decade later, they reunite at a demonstration and pledge to keep in touch via postcard, as each of their lives is irrevocably changed by the women’s liberation movement. A buoyant hymn to sisterly solidarity rooted in the hard-won victories of a generation of women, “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” is one of Agnès Varda’s warmest and most politically trenchant films, a feminist photo for One Sings, the Other Doesn't musical for the ages. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc., with new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Agnès Varda and cinematographer Charlie Van Damme, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “La prisonnière (Woman in Chains)” (1968) The final film of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s (“Diabolique,” “The Wages of Fear”) brilliant career, “La Prisonnière” is a sensuously colorful film of voyeuristic sexual obsession. It maps a love triangle between abstract sculptor Gilbert (Bernard Fresson), his TV editor girlfriend Josée (Elisabeth Wiener), and art gallery owner Stanislas (Laurent Terzieff). At an art opening, Gilbert ditches Josée, so she ends up going home with Stanislas, who shows her a photograph of a woman in bondage. The image is shocking and alluring, and Josée asks to attend his next erotic photo shoot, her first step in unlocking the depths of her desires. Making full use of the psychedelic optical effects that Clouzot developed for the unfinished “L’Enfer,” “La Prisonnière” is a visionary swansong for this legendary cinema artist. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Classics … “Madame X” (1960) Screen goddess Lana Turner stars in one of the best roles of her career in this stunning and emotional adaptation of Alexandre Bisson’s classic play. The ill-fated Holly Parker (Turner) is blackmailed by her evil mother-in-law (Constance Bennett) into photo for The Nun (La Religieuse) leaving her politician husband (John Forsythe) and their baby. Twenty years later, Holly finds herself on trial for her life … where she is defended by her own son (Keir Dullea). Directed by David Lowell Rich and co-starring Ricardo Montalban, Burgess Meredith, Virginia Grey and Warren Stevens. In a Blu-ray debut from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “The Nun (La Religieuse)” (1965) Restored in 4K from the original negative, Jacques Rivette’s “The Nun,” initially banned in France, can now be seen in all its revolutionary glory. Adapted from Denis Diderot’s novel, it follows a rebellious nun (played by an incandescent Anna Karina) who is forced into taking her vows. Initially shunted into a restrictive, torturous convent, she eventually moves on to a more liberated one, where she becomes an object of Mother Superior’s (Liselotte Pulver) obsession. Banned for over a year by the French Minister of Information, and not released in the United States until 1971, it slowly became a landmark of the French New Wave, and with this stunning restoration, should also become an object of worship. In a Blu-ray debut from Kino Classics … “Penny Points to Paradise” (1961), starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Alfred Marks, Harry Secombe, Bill Kerr and Freddie Frinton. The feature film debut of the legendary Peter Sellers. After a big gambling win, Harry Flakers and his friend Spike Donnelly decide to go to the same shabby seaside boarding house that they have always patronized for their summer holiday, but this year all the other guests (including two young women out to marry money, a dodgy investment adviser and a photo for Penny Points to Paradisemaster forger and assistant) are intent on taking the fortune off them in one way or another. Also includes the 32 minute short “Let’s Go Crazy” also starring Sellers in a madcap comedy set in a nightclub combining variety acts with linking comedy sketches. First time ever on disc in North America. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Juno Films Selects … “Portrait in Black” (1960) Screen icons Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn star as an adulterous couple who conspire to kill her tyrannical husband. Soon after the murder, the lovers in crime receive an anonymous letter that says only, “Dear. Mrs. Cabot: Congratulations on the success of your murder.” With this alarming complication, their new life together begins unraveling as they become trapped in the realization that someone, somewhere, knows their dark secret. Directed by Michael Gordon with a screenplay by the writing team of Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts. The strong supporting cast includes Richard Basehart, Sandra Dee, John Saxon, Ray Walston, Virginia Grey, Anna May Wong and Lloyd Nolan. In a Blu-ray debut from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

From TV to Disc:

“Blood” (2018) is a two-disc set with six episodes of the Irish psychological crime thriller about the lies that can fracture a family. Cat Hogan (Caroline Main) returns to her hometown following the sudden death of her mother. But when the details about the accident don’t add up, Cat suspects her father (Adrian Dunbar), a well-respected doctor she has distrusted ever since a childhood trauma. Did he have a hand in her mother’s passing, or is Cat really the troublemaker her siblings perceive her to be? As she sets to find out the truth, Cat uncovers secrets long buried and risks destroying what’s left of her family ties. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Acorn Media.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “General Commander” (2019), starring Steven Seagal, Sonia Couling and Byron Gibson, CIA agent Jake Alexander (Seagal) sees a member of his team killed during a sting operation, and he demands revenge against the guilty mob boss. But the CIA won’t sanction the hit, so Jake and his crew quit the agency and form a task force with just one mission: vengeance. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “A Vigilante” (2018), starring Olivia Wilde, Morgan Spector and Kyle Catlett, after escaping her violent husband, Sadie (Wilde) makes it her life’s mission to help free others in danger. Now, after months of rigorous training in survival skills, boxing, and lethal martial arts, Sadie is back with a vengeance as an avenger who lives to defend victims of domestic abuse. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … In photo for A Record of Sweet Murder “A Record of Sweet Murder” (2014 –Japan/South Korea), Sang-joon has recently escaped from a mental institution and managed to amass a kill count in the high teens. A South Korean journalist and a Japanese cameraman are invited to an abandoned apartment to interview the murderer. They believe the wanted criminal has committed 18 murders, but the criminal claims he has already killed 25. He furthermore claims that if he completes the killing of all 27 on his list, not only will his dead friend be resurrected, but also all 27 will come back to life. On DVD, Blu-ray from Unearthed Films … In “The Unity of Heroes” (2018 — China), starring Vincent Zhao, Vini Li Lubing and Chen Chen, Zhao (“Once Upon A Time in China”) reprises his role as legendary folk hero Wong Fei Hung in this action-packed adventure in which a highly toxic drug is being distributed across the country by a corrupt pharmaceutical company and Wong Fei Hung and his students must stop the invasion. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … In “The Uncanny” (1977), starring Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Joan Greenwood, Donald Pleasence, Samantha Eggar and Susan Penhaligon, Wilbur Gray, a horror writer, has stumbled upon a terrible secret, that cats are supernatural creatures who really call the shots. In a desperate attempt to get others to believe him, Wilbur spews three tales of feline horror. Scanned from an inter-negative recently discovered in a London vault. On DVD, Blu-ray from Severin Films.

Foreign Films:

“Climax” (2018 — France), starring Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub and Claude Gajan Maull, is another truly unique and sensual vision from filmmaker Gaspar Noé (“Enter the Void”) that stirred up a buzz upon its premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. A hypnotic, shock-filled story of a party that descends into delirium over the course of one wintry night. In an empty and remote school building in the 1990s, a French dance troupe has gathered for rehearsal. The rehearsal morphs into a party — and then turns nightmarish as the dancers discover they’ve been drinking sangria laced with LSD. Passions and violence erupt as the night moves from jubilation to full-fledged anarchy. 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 May 28, 2019 No Responses »
May 142019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Cold Pursuit,” “Never Look Away,” “Fighting With My Family” and “Happy Death Day 2U.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“The Landlord” (1970)” Legendary filmmaker Hal Ashby made his directing debut with this acclaimed social satire starring Beau Bridges as a wealthy young man who leaves his family’s estate in Long Island to pursue love and happiness in a Brooklyn ghetto. When Elgar Enders (Bridges) buys a Park Slope tenement, he fully intends to evict the occupants and transform the building into photo for The Landlorda chic bachelor pad. But after meeting the tenants, Elgar adopts a “love thy neighbor” policy instead: first he falls head-over-heels for a sexy young go-go dancer … then he begins an affair with the sultry, married “Miss Sepia 1957.” Featuring brilliant performances by Lee Grant in an Oscar-nominated role, Pearl Bailey, Louis Gossett Jr., Robert Klein, Trish Van Devere, Hector Elizondo, Gloria Hendry and Susan Anspach, and with a potent script by Bill Gunn based on the novel by Kristin Hunter, “The Landlord” is one of the most original and provocative screen comedies to deal with race relations in urban America. Produced by Norman Jewison and shot by Gordon Willis. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber … “The Buster Keaton Collection: The General and Steamboat Willie, Jr.”: “The General” (1926) and “Steamboat Willie, Jr.” (1928), high points not only of Buster Keaton’s incomparable career but of all silent cinema, and both included on the National Film Registry — are presented in new 4K restorations and feature orchestral scores by Carl Davis (“Pride and Prejudice,” “The World at War”). Many critics and historians consider “The General” to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the finest films of all time on international critics’ polls. It is No. 18 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest American Films, and is No. 34 on the latest Sight & Sound critics poll of the Greatest Films of All Time. “Steamboat Willie, Jr.” contains what many consider Keaton’s most memorable — and potentially deadly — film stunt: One side of a house falls on him while he stands in the perfect spot to pass through a window frame unharmed. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Film Collection … photo for The Big Clock Adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Jonathan Latimer from a novel by the equally renowned crime author Kenneth Fearing, “The Big Clock” (1948) is a superior suspense film that classily combines screwball comedy with heady thrills. Overworked true crime magazine editor George Stroud (Ray Milland) has been planning a vacation for months. However, when his boss, the tyrannical media tycoon Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton), insists he skips his holiday, Stroud resigns in disgust before embarking on an impromptu drunken night out with his boss’s mistress, Pauline York (Rita Johnson). When Janoth kills Pauline in a fit of rage, Stroud finds himself to have been the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time: his staff have been tasked with finding a suspect with an all too familiar description … Stroud’s very own. Directed with panache by John Farrow, who stylishly renders the film’s towering central set, the Janoth Building, “The Big Clock” benefits from exuberant performances by Milland and Laughton, who make hay with the script’s snappy dialogue. A huge success on its release, it is no wonder this fast-moving noir was remade years later as the Kevin Costner vehicle “No Way Out.” In a high definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements with uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack.On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … photo for Funny Games Michael Haneke’s most notorious provocation, “Funny Games” (1997) spares no detail in its depiction of the agony of a bourgeois family held captive at their vacation home by a pair of white-gloved young men. In a series of escalating “games,” the sadistic duo subject their victims to unspeakable physical and psychological torture over the course of a night. A home-invasion thriller in which the genre’s threat of bloodshed is made stomach-churningly real, the film ratchets up shocks even as its executioners interrupt the action to address the audience, drawing queasy attention to the way that cinema milks pleasure from pain and stokes our appetite for atrocity. With this controversial treatise on violence and entertainment, Haneke issued a summation of his cinematic philosophy, implicating his audience in a spectacle of unbearable cruelty. New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Michael Haneke, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “Princess Mononoke Collector’s Edition Set” (1997 – Japan): This limited-edition set comes housed in an elegant hard slipcase and includes a new 40-page book with stunning art and essays. Featured in a deluxe disc portfolio is a Blu-ray of the film paired with hours of special features, and the film’s soundtrack made available on CD for the first time in North America. From the legendary Studio Ghibli, this epic fantasy film is one of the best-photo for selling and internationally renowned films of all time. The set’s 40-page book features new essays by film critic Glenn Kenny (The New York Times, RogerEbert.com) alongside amazing imagery and statements from director Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki, and Miyazaki’s poems about the characters.
The first animated film to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, “Princess Mononoke” is Miyazaki’s epic masterpiece that has dazzled audiences worldwide with its breathtaking imagination, exhilarating battles, and deep humanity. Inflicted with a deadly curse, the young warrior Ashitaka heads west in search of a cure. There, he stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi and the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmatic Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves, who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home, and the forest spirits and animal gods who live there. Featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Billy Bob Thornton. On Blu-ray from Studio Ghibli, GKIDS, and Shout! Factory) … photo for House of Games “House of Games” (1987): The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter David Mamet sat in the director’s chair for the first time for this sly, merciless thriller. Lindsay Crouse stars as a best-selling author and therapist who wants to help a client by making restitution for the money he owes to a gambler. After she meets the attractive cardsharp (Joe Mantegna), her own compulsions take hold as he lures her into his world of high-stakes deception. Packed with razor-sharp dialogue delivered with even-keeled precision by a cast of Mamet regulars, “House of Games” is as psychologically acute as it is full of twists and turns, a rich character study told with the cold calculation of a career con artist targeting his next mark. High-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Juan Ruiz Anchía, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Director-approved special edition. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“The Donna Reed Show: Seasons 1 – 5” (1958-66): Originally airing on ABC-TV, “The Donna Reed Show” is one of the most popular and enduring family sitcoms in television history. Starring Academy Award winner Donna Reed as homemaker Donna Stone, Carl Betz as her pediatrician husband Alex, Shelley Fabares as daughter Mary, Paul Petersen as son Jeff and, later, Patty Petersen as adoptee Trisha, the series is a humorous and heartwarming slice of Americana that has earned a legion of new fans through showings on Nick at Nite, TV Land and MeTV. This special collection presents all 186 episodes from Seasons 1 through 5 in complete versions and digitally remastered. From MPI Media Group.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Yakuza Law” (1969 — Japan): Director Teruo Ishii, the Godfather of J-sploitation, presents this gruelling anthology of torture, spawning three district periods of Japanese history and bringing to the screen some of the most brutal methods of torment ever devised. In this deep dive into the world of the Yakuza, meet the violent men who rule the Japanese underworld and the cruel punishments inflicted on those who photo for Yakuza Law transgress them. The carnage begins in the Edo Period with a violent tale of samurai vengeance starring Bunta Sugawara (“Battles Without Honor and Humanity”), before shifting to the Meiji Period as the exiled Ogata (Minoru Oki, “Shogun Assassin”) returns to face punishment for his past transgressions … and, ultimately, to take his revenge. Finally, the action is brought right up to date with a tale of gang warfare set in then-present-day 60s Japan and headlined by Teruo Yoshida (Ishii’s “Orgies of Edo”), as a powerful crime syndicate seeks bloody vengeance for the theft of one hundred thousand yen. Brutal, bewildering and definitely not for the faint-hearted, “Yakuza Law” represents Japanese popular cinema at its most extreme … and most thrilling. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “Impossible Mission (aka The Vibe)” (2018), starring Jimena Gala, Ben Vinnicombe and James Giblin, Rosa, a master assassin with a knack for poisons, sets out on a search and destroy mission against a spiritual leader, but conflicts within her own organization spell disaster for her long before she ever closes in on her target. From High Octane Pictures … “Silencio”
(2018 — Mexico), starring John Noble, Rupert Graves and Melina Matthews, is a sci-fi time displacement drama in which a woman must find a powerful stone — originally discovered in the Zone of Silence, the Bermuda Triangle of Mexico, by her grandfather — in order to save her son’s life. Along the way, she stumbles upon family secrets and enemies who believe the stone’s power is worth killing for. From Uncork’d Entertainment … photo for Backdraft 2 “Backdraft 2” (2019), starring Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, Joe Anderson and Alisha Bailey, is the sequel to the 1991 hit and follows an investigator with the Chicago F.D. who has to track down an arms dealers who use deadly fires as a distraction. Sean McCaffrey (Anderson), son of late Steven “Bull” McCaffrey, now works at the same firehouse with his uncle Brian (Baldwin). When investigating a fire, Sean and partner Maggie realize they are dealing with something bigger. With the help of arsonist Ronald Bartel (Sutherland), Sean must stop who is behind the fire and their devious plans. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “American Exit”
(2019), starring Dane Cook, Udo Kier and Levi Miller, is based on an incredible true story. The crime-thriller stars Cook as Charlie, a desperate father who steals a million-dollar painting from Anton, a shady art dealer. With time running out, he flees to the California desert with his rebellious teen son, Leo. But when Anton and his henchman come seeking revenge, the situation explodes into violence. From Lionsgate … In the futuristic thriller “Life Like” (2019), starring Drew Van Acker, Addison Timlin, James D’Arcy and Steven Strait, Sophie and James purchase a lifelike robot to cook and clean at their sprawling new home. At first, android Henry is quiet and hard-working. But as his artificial-intelligence programming kicks in, Henry starts to anticipate the couple’s needs and desires, ones they themselves cannot fully understand. Will Henry’s terrifying behavior destroy Sophie and Julian’s relationship—and their lives? From Lionsgate … photo for Never Grow Old In “Never Grow Old” (2019), starring Emile Hirsch, John Cusack and Déborah François, a once-peaceful frontier town is now a den of vice after vicious outlaw Dutch Albert (Cusack) and his gang arrived — and began gunning down their opposition. Undertaker Patrick Tate (Hirsch) must choose between the blood money he makes burying the murderers’ victims and the threats he and his family face in this intense action-drama. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Valentine: The Dark Avenger” (2019 – Indonesia), starring Estelle Linden, Matthew Settle, Arie Dagienkz, the City of Batavia has been infested with robbery and violence. Srimaya, a waitress at a café, dreams of a glamorous life as an actress, but a chance meeting with a film director and his assistant leads to a life-changing series of events for her, as they take her on a thrilling adventure that finds the waitress-turned-actress transforming into the person Batavia City needs and deserves most: the consummate kick-ass superhero. Taking to the streets as “Valentine,” she becomes a role model to the people of Batavia, and a foil to the city’s lowlifes and ne’er-do-wells. But when a sinister masked villain emerges from the shadows of the night, Srimaya realizes that all of her vigilante exploits were a mere dress rehearsal for the ultimate showdown. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory/Scream Factory … In “Triple Threat” (2018 — Thailand/China), starring Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Michael Bisping, Celina Jade and Jeeja Yanin, wen a hit contract is taken out on a billionaire’s daughter (Jade) intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate, a team of wanted mercenaries (Jaa,Chen) must take on a group of professional assassins (Adkins, White, Bisping) to stop them from hitting their target. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … photo for Saint Bernard “Saint Bernard” (2013), starring Jason Dugre, Katy Sullivan and Peter Iasillo Jr., is a hallucinatory epic that follows an unhinged orchestra conductor named Bernard (Dugre) as he graphically descends into a surreal odyssey of chaos and psychosis. Features a performance by punk legends The Damned. Transferred from the original negative and unleashed beyond the underground festival circuit for the first time ever. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray. From Severin Films … “Don’t Look” (2018), starring Luciana Faulhaber, Jeff Berg, Jarrod Robbins, Curtis K. Case and Lindsay Eshelman, is a female-directed twist on horror films that centers on five New York City Millennials who escape the big city for a rustic Thanksgiving weekend in the country. But as will happen in horror, something threatens to shatter their peaceful getaway and they are targeted for murder. From Wild Eye Releasing … “Masked Multilator” (2019): In 1994, a production team in Eastern Pennsylvania brought together a group of local pro wrestlers and young actors to make a horror-action film. A quarter of a century later, the movie was finally finished: After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, a professional wrestler takes a job at a group home for youth offenders. But when a psychopath wearing a wrestling mask begins butchering the teenage residents, their rehabilitation will become a no-holds-barred battle for survival. Stars James DeBello, Glenn Hetrick and Brick Bronsky. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Intervision Picture Corp. … In “Beer League” (2006), starring Artie Lange, Ralph Macchio and Anthony DeSando, an unemployed slacker inspires his softball teammates to improve their game so they won’t get kicked out of the local league. From Filmrise … photo for The Big White After finding a frozen corpse in a dumpster, on-the-verge-of-being-bankrupt Alaskan travel agent Paul (Robin Williams) decides to use it to claim his long-lost brother’s life insurance policy in “The Big White” (2005). However, the body is also sought by two dangerous hitmen. Co-stars Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Blake Nelson, W. Earl Brown and Woody Harrelson. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Filmrise … In “Mortuary” (2005), starring Dan Byrd, Denise Crosby and Stephanie Patton, a family moves to a small town in California where they plan on starting a new life while running a long-abandoned funeral home. The locals fear the place, which is suspected to be on haunted ground. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Filmrise … In Virgina Minnesota” (2019), starring Aurora Perrineau, Rachel Hendrix, Susan Walters, Jessica Miesel, Harold Perrineau, Julia Keefe, Eyas Younis and Aaron Hill, two young women embark on an illuminating 24-hour journey, unlocking memories of their childhood, exploring a world of fantastical creatures and buried memories with comical and touching results. From Indican Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“Nina” (2018 — Poland): Struggling in her marriage and yearning for change, Nina longs to have a child but is unable to conceive. Multiple failed attempts have left her disillusioned and at a breaking point, but an accidental encounter with Magda renews her hope. Young and independent, Magda may be a possible solution to their pregnancy problem. But while her husband fails in his attempts to engage Magda as a surrogate, Nina also photo for Nina becomes ensnared by thoughts of Magda. And as her thoughts shift from surrogacy to a more intimate curiosity, Magda awakens a repressed desire in Nina, causing her life to suddenly and unexpectedly spiral out of control. The feature film debut of Polish director Olga Chajdas. Stars Julia Kijowska, Eliza Rycembel and Andrzej Konopka. From Film Movement … “The Return of the Hero” (2018 — France): France, 1809: The charming Captain Neuville (Dujardin) is set to marry the naïve Pauline (Merlant) when the war breaks out, forcing Neuville to depart for the battlefield. After not hearing from the captain for months, Pauline grows sick with worry, and her sister Elizabeth (Laurent) decides to write letters on Neuville’s behalf to cheer her up. Neuville returns home in glory and is welcomed as a hero, but unbeknownst to everyone, he is a coward and a war deserter. A suspicious Elizabeth is determined to expose the real Neuville, and the two imposters find themselves in a ruthless fight. Stars Jean Dujardin, Mélanie Laurent and Noémie Merlant. From Icarus Films.

Special Interest:

“Apollo 11” (2019) is a cinematic event 50 years in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission — the one that first put men on the moon, and forever photo for Apollo 11made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “The Shape of Now” (2018): According to estimates, approximately 200,000 people lost their lives in the 50-year Colombian civil war. Another 25,000 were kidnapped, and many are still considered missing. When the peace deal between the government and the FARC rebels was made in photo for The Shape of Now November 2016, guns were banned from the conflict. But since then, Colombians have faced the nearly impossible task of having to agree on a common past. The film follows scientists, academics and activists who are attempting to normalize war-torn Colombia after the disarmament of the country’s oldest guerrilla organization. At the same time, a group of elderly mothers searches for a direct way to approach the possible killers of their missing children, forging a necessary and genuine encounter in an attempt to find clues about their whereabouts — or get closure. Director Manuel Correa attempts to shed light on the difficult process of reconciliation and healing with this powerful documentary about memory and shared experiences during wartime. From IndiPix Films … “Surviving Birkenau: The Dr. Susan Spatz Story” (2019): A compelling and powerful Holocaust documentary follows one photo for Surviving Birkenau: The Dr. Susan Spatz Story woman’s courageous struggles and ultimate escape from the Nazis Final Solution. The documentary — vividly and emotionally narrated by Dr. Susan Spatz at the age of 96 — recounts her astonishing life, from an idyllic childhood in Austria to the unimaginable horrors she and her family suffered at the hands of the Third Reich. Born in Vienna in 1922, Spatz was an only child who lived a life of privilege until the Nazis invaded, and she and her mother found themselves “in the trap,” experiencing many of the terrors of her fellow European Jews: early Nazi oppression in Berlin; post-“Anschluss” Vienna and Nazi-occupied Prague. But, after being deported to Theresienstadt, the true nightmares awaited in Birkenau, the notorious woman’s death camp in Auschwitz. After three years of brutal internment and a transfer to Ravensbrück, a death march led not to the grave, but to freedom. With the assistance of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, filmmaker Ron Small brings Susan’s story to rich life for future generations in this second film to be released from the newly launched Holocaust Education Film Foundation (HEFF). From Dreamscape Media.

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.

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