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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Aug 102020
 

This Week’s Best Bets

The Criterion Collection is celebrating the boundless creative vision of Agnès Varda with a comprehensive collection of her genre-blurring, culture-shaping films. Bringing together all 39 of her features, shorts, and documentaries for the first time, the 15-Blu-ray box set “The photo for The Complete Films of Agnès Varda Complete Films of Agnès Varda” also contains extensive special features – many created by Varda herself – including introductions to the films, interviews with and tributes from family and friends, once-banned and unfinished works, behind-the-scenes footage, archival programs, and more. The edition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated 200-page book, with notes on the films and essays on Varda’s life and work, as well as a selection of her photography and images of her installation art. A founder of the French New Wave who became an international art-house icon, Varda was a fiercely independent, restlessly curious visionary whose work was at once personal and passionately committed to the world around her. In an abundant career in which she never stopped expanding the notion of what a movie can be, Varda forged a unique cinematic vocabulary that frequently blurs the boundaries between narrative and documentary, and entwines loving portraits of her friends, her family, and her own inner world with a social consciousness that was closely attuned to the 1960s counterculture, the women’s liberation movement, the plight of the poor and socially marginalized, and the ecology of our planet. This comprehensive collection places Varda’s filmography in the context of her parallel work as a photographer and multimedia artist – all of it a testament to the radical vision, boundless imagination, and radiant spirit of a photo for Diva (Special Edition) true original for whom every act of creation was a vital expression of her very being … With “Diva” (1981 — France), director Jean-Jacques Beineix (“Betty Blue”) launched the Cinéma du look movement and this stylish cult thriller remains as innovative today as when it premiered in 1981. Jules (Frédéric Andréi), a young postal carrier, illegally tapes a concert of a reclusive opera singer (American soprano Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez). Jules’ attempts to woo the diva are interrupted when Taiwanese bootleggers come after the recording. His problems worsen when a prostitute slips another tape, one that incriminates a police chief, into his bag. Now, Jules must escape the police chief, the cop’s henchmen and the bootleggers to keep both precious tapes safe — and to stay alive. Featuring a celebrated chase through the Paris Metro and an early appearance by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amélie”) favorite Dominique Pinon, Diva earned César Awards for Beineix, Vladimir Cosma’s (“Le Bal”) sumptuous music and Philippe Rousselot’s (“Henry & June”) eye-popping cinematography. In a Blu-ray Special Edition from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

From TV to Disc:

“The Blacklist Season 7” (2019-20) id s five-disc set with all 19 episodes. After being abducted by Katarina Rostova, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) finds himself alone in hostile territory, unsure of who, if anyone, he can trust. Surrounded by old enemies and new allies, Red must stay one step ahead of the Blacklist’s most dangerous criminal, who will stop at nothing to unearth the very truth Red photo for The Blacklist Season 7wants no one to know about. To find it, Katarina will insinuate herself into the life of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), who has finally reunited with her daughter Agnes. Katarina’s presence will bring danger to Liz’s doorstep and forever alter her relationship with Red. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … “Gold Digger” (2019) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the BBC One’s romantic drama starring Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes about a woman who meets a much younger man on her 60th birthday. As the pair’s relationship grows, her three adult children and ex-husband wonder if their mother’s new boyfriend is in it for love or for money. A dark family secret has also been buried for several decades -— a trauma that has impacted their personalities and decisions in the present. From Acorn Media …
“Playing for Keeps” (2020) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes of the Aussie murder mystery dramedy set on the sidelines of professional football, told from the unique perspective of the real power players: the wives. The real action is away from the grandstands and locker rooms; it’s on the red carpets, in the beauty salons and in the designer bedrooms. It’s love, power, and status all the way – until the death of a team member adds investigation into the mix. From Acorn Media.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Monstrous” (2020), starring Anna Shields, Rachel Finniger and Grant Schumacher, Sylvia, a lonely 20-something, goes searching for answers after her friend mysteriously vanishes in Whitehall, NY, an Adirondack town known for its Bigfoot sightings. She sets off with a mysterious, charming young woman, Alex, hellbent on getting to Whitehall for different reasons. Sylvia soon learns that hiding in the woods is an evil more sinister than she could ever imagine. From Uncork’d Entertainment … “The High Note” (2020), starring Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Bill Pullman, Zoë Chao, Eddie Izzard and Ice Cube, is set in the dazzling world of the LA music scene and tells the story of Grace Davis (Ross), a superstar whose talent, and ego, have reached unbelievable heights. Maggie (Johnson) is Grace’s overworked personal assistant who’s stuck running errands, but still photo for aspires to her childhood dream of becoming a music producer. When Grace’s manager (Ice Cube) presents her with a choice that could alter the course of her career, Grace must choose between playing it safe or listening to her heart in a decision that could change her life forever. On DVD, Blu-ray,from Universal … In “The Wretched” (2019), starring John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Azie Tesfai, Zarah Mahler, Kevin Bigley and Jamison Jones, following his parents’ separation, a rebellious teenage boy, Ben, is sent to live with his father for the summer. The idyllic tourist town offers little solace for him, however, as he is forced to deal with the local, privileged teens and his father’s new girlfriend. Ben’s problems grow increasingly disturbing when he makes a chilling discovery: a thousand year-old witch is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman next door. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight … “Valley of the Gods” (2019), starring Josh Hartnett, Bérénice Marlohe and John Malkovich, is a fantasy thriller that contrasts abundance and poverty through three separate storylines, featuring a middle-class writer, an eccentric photo for Valley of the Godstrillionaire and a struggling Navajo community. Post-divorce, copywriter John Ecas undertakes the biography of the richest man on earth, who is dead-set on mining sacred lands for uranium. When modernity runs afoul of long-dormant guardians from ancient legend, even the most unimaginable wealth may soon meet its match. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In “G-LOC” (2019), starring Stephen Moyer, Tala Gouveia, Shayne Ward, Casper Van Dien and John Rhys-Davies, the Earth is virtually destroyed and Bran Marshall flees to the Rhea, a planet hostile to Earthlings. Escaping onto a Rhean supply ship, he finds the crew slaughtered, with the only survivor a female warrior named Ohsha. As the two try to kill one another, the ship is damaged by meteorites. Bran and Ohsha must join forces to salvage the craft before it impacts the planet below — and the humans that live there. From Lionsgate … In “The Phantom of the Opera” (1962), Herbert Lom stars as The Phantom in Hammer Films’ celebrated production of Gaston Leroux’s horror classic. Mysterious mishaps bedevil a London opera house, but when tragedy strikes during an photo for I Am Vengeance: Retaliation opening night performance, it’s clear that these “accidents” are the deliberate work of a deranged madman – The Phantom. When Christine, the young star of a new musical is contacted by the shadowy specter, her producer investigates, tracking the ghostly Phantom to his secret underground lair. A new 2K scan from the interpositive, with both 1.85:1 and 1.66:1 aspect ratio options available. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … In “I Am Vengeance: Retaliation” (2020), starring Stu Bennett and Vinnie Jones, former professional wrestler Bennett stars as ex-special forces soldier John Gold in this sequel to “I Am Vengeance” (2018). When he’s given the chance to retrieve Sean Teague —- the man who betrayed Gold’s team on their final mission in Eastern Europe —- and transport him to a military prison, Gold, who’d rather kill Teague, is reluctant. But when a government operative promises to expunge the crimes that’ve forced Gold into a life on the run, Gold agrees —- and prepares for the fight of his life against Teague’s band of mercenaries and a mysterious sniper.On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “How to Build a Girl” (2019), starring Beanie Feldstein, Alfie Allen, Paddy Consindine, Chris DOd and Emma Thompson, Johanna Morgan is a bright, quirky, 16-year-old who uses her colorful imagination to regularly escape her humdrum life in Wolverhampton, England, and live out her creative fantasies. Desperate to break free from the overcrowded flat she shares with her four brothers and eccentric parents, she submits an earnestly penned and off-beat music review to a group of self-important indie rock critics at a weekly magazine. Despite being brushed off initially, Johanna clamors to the top of the 90s rock music scene by reinventing herself as Dolly Wilde, a venerable, impossible-to-please music critic with an insatiable lust for fame, fortune, and men. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Films.

Foreign:

In “A White, White Day” (2019 — Iceland), starring Ingvar Sigurdsson, Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, Hilmir Snær Guðnason and Sara Dögg Ásgeirsdóttir, an off-duty police chief (a chilling Ingvar Sigurdsson, who received Cannes Critics’ Week award for Best Actor for his photo for Night Out performance) in a remote Icelandic town begins to suspect a local man of having had an affair with his late wife, who died in a tragic accident two years earlier. Gradually his obsession for finding out the truth takes over his life and inevitably begins to endanger himself and his loved ones. From Film Movement … In “Night Out” (2018 — Germany) , starring Mara Scherzinger, Katerina Clark and Thomas Kellner, it’s Saturday night in Berlin and a bunch of friends go out to have fun. Others are also out exploring the city and their relationships. A colorful mix of singles, couples, heteros, gays, poly-amorous. Different personalities, for different reasons, give a spectrum of contemporary approaches to nightlife. They go all the way, exceeding their limits. An erotic dramedy written and directed by Stratos Tzitzis and winner of the “Achtung Berlin! – New Berlin Film Award” at the Berlin Film Festival. From Corinth Films.

For the Family:

“Arthur: The Ultimate Friendship Collection”” (2020) is a three-disc set with 48 episodes — more than 10 hours — of friendship-themed Arthur adventures. Arthur learns how to work with teams, look out for friends and family, and navigate the everyday situations that he and his friends find themselves in. Arthur plays on a baseball team, Muffy temporarily stays with her friend, Francine, where she has to share a room (and even eat leftovers), Buster returns home after a long exotic vacation, and Arthur gets nervous their friendship won’t be the same, among many other classic episodes. From PBS Kids.

Special Interest:

“American Masters: Mae West: Dirty Blonde” (2020): Mae West achieved great acclaim in every entertainment medium that existed during her lifetime, spanning eight decades of the 20th century. A full-time actress at seven, a vaudevillian at 14, a dancing sensation at 25, a Broadway playwright at 33, a silver screen ingénue at 40, a Vegas nightclub act at 62, a recording artist at 73, a camp icon at 85 – West left no format unconquered. She possessed creative and economic powers unheard of for a female entertainer in the 1930s and still rare photo for American Masters: Mae West: Dirty Blonde today. Though she was a comedian, West grappled with some of the more complex social issues of the 20th century, including race and class tensions, and imbued even her most salacious plotlines with commentary about gender conformity, societal restrictions and what she perceived as moral hypocrisy. Mae West: Dirty Blonde is the first major documentary film to explore West’s life and career, as she “climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong” to become a writer, performer and subversive agitator for social change. From PBS Distribution … “Asian Americans” (2020): This program delivers a bold, new perspective on the Asian American experience that will surprise, move, and inspire audiences. The five-part documentary traces the story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, international relations, and cultural innovation. It is a timely, clear-eyed look at the vital role that Asian Americans have played in defining who we are as a nation. Through the lens of the country’s fastest growing population, “Asian Americans” illuminates the way one group of Americans, who were long excluded and considered outsiders, have pursued their visions of the American dream. Their stories are a celebration of the grit and resilience of a people that reflect the experience of many Americans. From PBS Distribution.

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 August 10, 2020 No Responses »
Aug 032020
 

This Week’s Best Bets

In “Shanghai Triad” (1995 — China), starring Wang Xiaoxiao, Gong Li and Li Baotian, naive teenager Shuisheng, hired to be a servant to pampered nightclub singer and mob moll Xiao Jinbao, is thrust into the glamorous and deadly demimonde of Shanghai’s crime syndicates in the photo for Shanghai Triad1930s. Over the course of seven days, Shuisheng observes mounting tensions as triad boss Tang begins to suspect traitors amongst his ranks and rivals for Xiao Jinbao’s affections. Director Zhang Yimou’s inventive take on the gangster film is assured and attention-grabbing. New digital restoration and first time on Blu-ray. From Film Movement Classics … When a young woman spends the night with an alleged terrorist, her quiet, ordered life falls into ruins. “The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum” (1975 — Germany) portrays an anxious era in West Germany amid a crumbling postwar political consensus. Katharina, though apparently innocent, suddenly becomes a suspect, falling prey to a vicious smear campaign by the police and a ruthless tabloid journalist that tests the limits of photo for The Lost Honor of Katharina Blumher dignity and her sanity. Crafting one of the most accessible and direct works of 1970s political filmmaking, Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta deliver a powerful adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s novel, a stinging commentary on state power, individual freedom, and media manipulation that is as relevant today as when it was released. On Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, approved by director Volker Schlöndorff and producer Eberhard Junkersdorf, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Dispatches From Elsewhere” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the AMC series centered around four ordinary people who feel there’s something missing in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on what it is. This diverse foursome is brought together by chance – or perhaps it’s by design – when they stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life. As they begin to accept the mysterious “Dispatches from Elsewhere” photo for Dispatches From Elsewhere challenges, they come to find that the mystery winds deeper than they imagined, and their eyes are opened to a world of possibility and magic. Features Sally Field, Richard E. Grant, André Benjamin, and newcomer Eve Lindley. On DVD, Blu-ray, from AMC … “The Good Doctor Season 3” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 20 episodes. Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, continues to use his extraordinary medical gifts at St. Bonaventure Hospital’s surgical unit. As his friendships deepen, Shaun works harder than he ever has before as he starts dating while navigating his environment and relationships to prove to his colleagues that his talents as a surgeon will save lives. From Sony … “His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes of the HBO series that takes place in a world parallel to our own, where a human’s soul exists outside one’s body in the form of a talking animal called a “daemon.” The all-powerful Magisterium rule over this world where they suppress any knowledge that attempts to challenge its ideas, particularly around the theory that multiple worlds exist. Season One follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a young orphan who was left as a baby at Oxford’s Jordan College by her uncle Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and desires a life of adventure beyond the confines of her bookish, scholarly surroundings. But when Lyra’s best photo for NCIS: Los Angeles: The Eleventh Season friend goes missing, her search for her kidnapped friend uncovers a plot involving stolen children and transforms into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon known as Dust. Over the course of the season, as she journeys through the different worlds – including our own – Lyra encounters extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living and the dead at stake. Adapted from Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of the same name, which has sold over 22 million copies worldwide. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “NCIS: Los Angeles: The Eleventh Season” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 22 episodes. Following the Season 10 finale, Special Agent “G” Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and Special Agent Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) find themselves aboard the USS Allegiance working alongside Navy Captain Harmon “Harm” Rabb, Jr. to capture dangerous spies on the ship. Meanwhile, Deeks and Kensi Blye are trapped in a mobile CIA unit in Iraq under ambush by an ISIS platoon and Hetty Lange has recruited Lieutenant Colonel Sarah “Mac” Mackenzie to help neutralize a missile strike in the Middle East. From CBS/Paramount … photo for NCIS: New Orleans: The Sixth Season “NCIS: New Orleans: The Sixth Season” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 20 episodes. The series centers on the local field office that investigates criminal cases involving military personnel in The Big Easy, a city known for its music, entertainment and decadence Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) a.k.a. “King,” a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right. In the latest season, it’s business as usual for Agent Pride and his team at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, including kidnappers, cults, traffickers and murderers. But, with the tragic loss of one of their own, the situation has become personal and these agents suddenly find themselves driven by more than duty. Will Pride stay loyal to the law or will vengeance push him over the edge? From CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Ride Your Wave” (2019 — Japan) is the latest film by anime auteur Masaaki Yuasa, director of “The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl.” Hinako is a surf-loving college student who has just moved to a small seaside town. When a fire breaks out at her apartment building, she is rescued by Minato, a handsome firefighter, and the two soon fall in love. Just as they become photo for Ride Your Waveinseparable, Minato loses his life in an accident at sea. Hinako is so distraught that she can no longer even look at the ocean, but one day she sings a song that reminds her of their time together, and Minato appears in the water. From then on, she can summon him in any watery surface as soon as she sings their song. But can the two really remain together forever? Features an all-star Japanese voice cast made up of J-Pop royalty including Ryôta Katayose (Generations From Exile Tribe) and Rina Kawaei (AKB48). The home entertainment release also includes an all new English language version of the film. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … After Rini’s mother dies from a mysterious illness, her ghost begins to appear throughout the house in “Satan’s Slaves” (2017 — Indonesia), starring Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Dimas Aditya, Endy Arfian and Nasar Anuz. Terrorizing the family, she lurks in the hallways and calls out to them at night. To protect her little brothers, Rini traces back the roots of the evil and discovers the horrifying truth: Their mother has made a deal with the devil, and she has not returned to visit … she wants to take one of them with her. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Invasion Earth” (2016), starring Charlotte photo for Invasion Earth Gould, Phoebe Delikoura, Tony Fadil, Jon-Paul Gates, Nigel Thijs and David Shaw, is a UK science-fiction thriller about a group of addicts who attend therapy to avoid being sent to prison, while a TV journalist goes undercover and joins the group to try and expose this as a scam. However, all of their lives are thrown into chaos by the beginning of an alien invasion. From Midnight Releasing … In “Limbo” (2019), starring James Purefoy, Veronica Cartwright, Lew Temple and Scottie Thompson, a murderer finds himself on trial in Hell, caught between a bitter prosecutor and an inexperienced defense attorney. From Uncork’d Entertainment … On the surface, Hunter Conrad appears to have it all in “Swallow” (2019), starring Haley Bennett and Austin Stowell. A newly pregnant housewife, Hunter seems content to spend her time tending to an immaculate home and doting on her Ken-doll husband, Richie. However, as the pressure to meet her controlling in-laws and husband’s rigid expectations mounts, cracks begin to appear in her carefully created facade. Hunter develops a dangerous habit, and a dark secret from her past seeps out in the form of a disorder called pica – a condition that has her compulsively swallowing inedible, and oftentimes life-threatening, objects. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Scream Factory.

Foreign:

Positioned against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Seoul in 1994, a lonely 14-year-old girl moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness wherever she may find it in “House of Hummingbird” (2018 — South Korea), starring Ji-hu Park, Sae-byuk Kim, Seung-Yeon Lee and In-gi Jeong. Deprived of attention from her family, the girl roams the photo for House of Hummingbird neighborhood with her best friend, attempts romantic relationships with both girls and boys alike and is sent to the hospital with an unclear diagnosis. When a new teacher arrives, she becomes the first adult the young girl feels really understands her. On Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … “The Resistance Fighter (a.k.a. Kurier)” (2019 — Poland), starring Philippe Tlokinski, Patricia Volny, Julie Engelbrecht, Bradley James and Zbigniew Zamachowski, tells the incredible true story of the Polish war hero Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, a man of extraordinary courage, who served as an emissary between the commanders of Poland’s resistance movement and the Polish government in exile in London at the height of the Second World War. Hunted by all the Axis Powers’ secret services, he is smuggled out of Poland on a mission to make his way to London with information that would decide the fate of the war. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Studios.

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 August 3, 2020 No Responses »
Jul 262020
 

This Week’s Best Bets

The Poverty Row, Pre-Code marvel “The Sin of Nora Moran” (1933), that stunned audiences when released in 1933, stars Zita Johann as Nora Moran, a young woman sentenced to death for a murder she did not commit. Awaiting her sentence, Nora explores the patterns of her life in a photo for The Sin of Nora Morandream-like haze, including the dark secret that could change not only her own fate, but the fate of those she holds most dear. Directed by Phil Goldstone, “The Sin of Nora Moran” masterfully utilizes flashbacks, dreams and hallucinations to tell the tale of fateful doom, true to the thematic style of the Pre-Code era. New, 4K restoration of the film from the original 35mm camera negative; the DVD is presented in Dolby Stereo and the Blu-ray in DTS, a restored, dual mono original. The release is in collaboration with film historian and producer Sam Sherman and the Independent-International Pictures team and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. On DVD, Blu-ray (in a special, limited-edition collectible with only 1,500 available), from The Film Detective.

From TV to Disc:

“Deadwater Fell” (2020) is a two-disc set with four episodes. Award-winning actor David Tennant (“Broadchurch,” “Doctor Who”) and award-winning actress Cush Jumbo (“The Good Fight,” “Vera”) lead an ensemble cast in UK Channel 4’s second highest-rating drama (total audience) in the past year. The psychological mystery explores the cause and aftermath of a horrific crime in a small Scottish community. Dr. Kendrick (Tennant) is a trusted, admired and much-liked member of the community, doting father of three, and seemingly loving husband to Kate (Anna Madeley); their lives seem nothing short from perfect. But in one night the illusions of happiness and contentment are shattered as the community rushes to Kate and Tom’s home on fire. Amid the confusion, Kate and her children are found dead, and Tom, found unconscious in his photo for Hawaii Five-0: The Final Season bed, is rushed to the hospital. As more suspicious details of that night emerge, Jess (Jumbo) – who was Kate’s best friend and closest confidante – becomes desperate to understand what could have caused such a tragedy, and what secrets lie at the root of this terrible act. From Acorn Media … “Hawaii Five-0: The Final Season” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 22 episodes. The Aloha State’s elite task force returns to wipe out crime on the Hawaiian Islands one last time. In the 10th and final season, Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the Five-O find themselves reeling from the shots fired at the headquarters. After the smoke clears, McGarrett recognizes a few familiar faces including his mom, Doris McGarrett (Christine Lahti), and imprisoned hacker Aaron Wright (Joey Lawrence). The elite task force soon finds allies in their quest to wipe out crime that washes up on the islands’ sun-drenched beaches. Also, Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) makes a special appearance in a “Magnum P.I.” crossover episode. From CBS/Paramount … “NCIS: The Seventeenth Season” (2019-20) is a five-disc set with all 20 episodes. NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a former Marine gunnery sergeant whose skills as an investigator are unmatched, leads a troupe of colorful personalities. Gibbs, a man of few words, only needs a look to explain it all. The team includes NCIS Special Agent Timothy McGee, an MIT graduate with a brilliance for computers; NCIS Special Agent Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop, a mysterious mixture of analytic brilliance, fierce determination and idealism who specializes in international threat assessment and global preparation; the charismatic, unpredictable and resilient NCIS Special Agent Nicholas “Nick” Torres, who has spent most of his career on solo undercover assignments; and NCIS Special Agent Jacqueline “Jack” Sloane, who built her reputation as the agency’s photo for NCIS: The Seventeenth Season premier forensic psychologist and enjoys challenging Gibbs. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, these special agents investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties. From CBS/Paramount … “The Outsider: The Complete First Season” (2019) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name, the drama series follows a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy. When 11-year-old Frankie Peterson’s body is found mutilated in the Georgia woods, police detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) sets out to investigate — with eyewitnesses and physical evidence pointing to Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman), a popular high school teacher, Little League coach, doting husband and father. While the case appears ironclad, Ralph is baffled by the emergence of contradictory evidence that places his suspect in a neighboring city at the time of the murder. The mysterious set of circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, a seasoned cop still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the unexplainable. On DVD, Blu-ray, from HBO.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

For her entire life, the cult she was born into has been all that teenage Selah has known in “The Other Lamb” (2019), starring Raffey Cassidy and Michiel Huisman. Along with a band of similarly cloistered young women she lives seemingly unstuck in time, cut off from modern society in a remote forest commune presided over by a man called Shepherd, a controlling, messiah-like figure with a frightening dark side. But when her insular world is rocked by a series of nightmarish visions and disturbing revelations, Selah begins to question everything about her existence including her allegiance to the increasingly dangerous Shepherd. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Films … photo for Revenge of the Living Dead Girls In 1987, Parisian pornographers Pierre B. Reinhard and Jean-Claude Roy deviated from their usual high-end skin fare to instead create un cassoulet d’atrocités that remains the most extreme French gore film in history. When a trio of vixens is killed by corporate-tainted milk in “Revenge of the Living Dead Girls” (1986– France), their nubile corpses will rise from the grave for a Jean-Rollin-meets-Return of the Living Dead orgy of depravity that DVD Drive-In calls “A fetishistic ode to blood, breasts, and brutality.” Stars Cornélia Wilms, Kathryn Charly and Anthea Wyler. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … “Dead Dicks” (2019), starring Heston Horwin, Jillian Harris, and Matt Keyes, is a psychological horror/sci-fi film about a young man’s attempts to kill himself, only to find himself constantly reborn. When Becky, a young nursing student, receives a series of panicked messages from her suicidal older brother, Richie, she rushes over to check on him. When she gets to his apartment, she finds him alive and well – surrounded by copies of his own dead body. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Artsploitation Films … photo for Thir13en Ghosts Collector's Edition BLU-RAY DEBUT “Thir13en Ghosts” (2001), starring Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Rah Digg and F. Murray Abraham, is a modern remake of the 1960 classic. When Cyrus Kriticos, a very rich collector of unique things dies, he leaves it all to his nephew and his family. All including his elegant steel-and-glass mansion, his fortune, and his malicious collection of ghosts that can be seen only through special goggles. In a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray debut from Scream Factory … A decade ago, agent Martin Baxter quit MI6 after his wife’s tragic murder in an operation gone wrong in “Legacy of Lies” (2019), starring Scott Adkins, Honor Kneafsey and Andrea Vasiliou. But when Sacha, a beautiful journalist, asks for help solving an old case, Martin finds himself in the crosshairs of both UK and Russian intelligence. Now, with his daughter held captive by the KGB, Martin has just 24 hours to deliver the secret case files — which means risking both Sacha’s life and his own. From Lionsgate.

Foreign:

photo for Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision“Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision” (2013 — Germany) is a sweeping black & white prequel to celebrated filmmaker Edgar Reitz’s landmark “Heimat” series. In the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of Europeans emigrated to faraway South America. It was a desperate bid to escape the famine, poverty and despotism that ruled at home. Reitz — who just received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 German Film Awards –chronicles a domestic drama and love story set against the backdrop of this forgotten tragedy. The film is centered around two brothers who realize that only their dreams can save them. Stars Jan Dieter Schneider, Antonia Bill and Maximilian Scheidt. From Corinth Films.

Special Interest:

“James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction” (2018) takes a uniquely intimate look at science fiction’s roots, futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas through interviews by host James Cameron with A-list storytellers, stars and other whose careers have defined the field, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver, among many others. Cameron takes us on a journey of discovery and exploration, helping us understand where science fiction’s ideas came from – and where they’re taking us. A six-episode miniseries. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … photo for A Bigger Splash “A Bigger Splash” (1974) is an intimate and innovative film about English-born, California-based artist David Hockney and his work, honoring its subject through creative risk-taking. Director Jack Hazan creates an improvisatory narrative-nonfiction hybrid featuring Hockney, a wary participant, as well as his circle of friends, capturing the agonized end of the lingering affair between Hockney and his muse, an American named Peter Schlesinger. The result is at once a time capsule of hedonistic gay life in the 1970s, an honest-yet-tender depiction of gay male romance that dispenses with the then-current narratives of self-hatred and self-pity, an invaluable view of art history in action, and a record of artistic creation that is itself a work of art. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Metrograph Pictures … “An Accidental Studio” (2019) is a documentary that charts the early years of HandMade Films seen through photo for The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield the eyes of the filmmakers, key personnel, and the man who started it all: former Beatle George Harrison. With unreleased archive interviews and footage with Harrison, exclusive interviews with Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant, Neil Jordan, Ray Cooper and unseen interviews with Bob Hoskins, the film explores HandMade’s baptism by fire, the risk it took in producing uniquely crafted intelligent films and the stories that grew up around it. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films “The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield” (1968) is the notorious Mondo mash-up documentary in which a Jayne Mansfield sound-alike narrates footage of Jayne being chased by paparazzi in Rome, wearing bikinis in Cannes and partying with drag queens in Paris, before suddenly veering into graphic photos of her horrific accident and a posthumous tour of her Hollywood mansion. Mickey Hargitay co-stars in this “deranged kaleidoscope of titillating insanity” (Film Threat), scanned from the 35mm Something Weird archival print. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin 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 July 26, 2020 No Responses »
Jul 202020
 

This Week’s Best Bets

The elegantly down-and-dirty “The Wild Goose Lake” (2019 — China), starring Hu Ge, Gwei Lun-mei and Liao Fan, follows the desperate attempts of small-time mob boss Zhou Zenong to stay photo for The Wild Goose Lake alive after he mistakenly kills a cop and a dead-or-alive reward is put on his head. Director Diao Yinan proves his action bona fides in a series of stylized set pieces and violent shocks, simultaneously devising a romance between Zhou and a mysterious young woman who’s out to either help or betray him. Yinan’s much anticipated follow-up to his amazing breakthrough film “Black Coal, Thin Ice.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement … The first Iranian film to win the Palme d’Or, the austere, emotionally complex drama “Taste of Cherry” (1997), by the great Abbas Kiarostami, follows the middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) as he drives around the hilly outskirts of Tehran looking for someone who will agree to dispose of his body after he commits suicide, a taboo under Islam. Extended conversations with three passengers (a soldier, a seminarian, and a taxidermist) elicit different views of mortality and individual choice. Operating at once as a closely observed, photo for Taste of Cherryrealistic story and a fable populated by archetypal figures, “Taste of Cherry” challenges the viewer to consider what often goes unexamined in everyday life. On Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack, from The Criterion Collection … Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 1981, “Mephisto” (1981 — West Germany/Hungary/Austria) is a malevolent masterwork from Hungarian director István Szabó. It concerns a passionate but struggling actor (Klaus Maria Brandauer) who remains in Germany during the Nazi regime and reaps the rewards of this Faustian pact by finally achieving the stardom he has long craved. Brilliantly adapted from Klaus Mann’s 1936 novel, it is presented in a stunning 4K restoration by the Hungarian National Film Archive. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber … Set in the photo for Marriage Story< lead-up to WWI, István Szabó’s Academy Award nominated “Colonel Redl” (1984 — Hungary) charts the meteoric rise of Alfred Redl (Klaus Maria Brandauer) from a family of railway workers to his post leading counter-intelligence in the Austro-Hungarian Army, rubbing elbows with the Crown Prince (Armin Mueller-Stahl). His hidden homosexuality, however, is used against him by enemies of the state, putting both his professional standing and his country’s security in dire straits. The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber … A love story about divorce. A marriage coming apart and a family coming together. “Marriage Story” (2019) is a funny and harrowing, sharply observed, and deeply compassionate film from the acclaimed writer-director Noah Baumbach. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver tour-de-force performances as Charlie, a charismatic New York theater director wedded to his work, and Nicole, an actor who is ready to change her own life. Their hopes for an amicable divorce fade as they are drawn into a system that pits them against each other and forces them to redefine their relationship and their family. Features bravura, finely drawn supporting turns from Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and Laura Dern — who won an Academy Award for her performance here — as the trio of lawyers who preside over the legal battle. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Noah Baumbach, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “Scoob!” (2020), with the photo for Scoob voices of Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried, was originally scheduled for a massive theatrical release this spring but was knocked out because of COVID-19. Instead, it was released to Digital and VOD and now makes it to disc. A fully animated, full-length Scooby-Doo action adventure that reveals how lifelong friends Scooby and Shaggy first met and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form the famous Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face their biggest, most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this global “dogpocalypse,” the gang discovers that Scooby has a secret legacy and an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined. On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, from Warner.

From TV to Disc:

“Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season” (2019) is a three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray with all 10 episodes. Stephen King’s multiverse is a place that combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of the best-selling author’s best-loved works. In season two, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes, Stephen King’s nurse from hell, gets waylaid in the small town of Castle Rock. Local businessman Reginald “Pop” Merrill is dragged into the fight, when Pop’s nephew, legendary bully John “Ace” Merrill, stirs up trouble. It’s another eerily unforgettable season of Castle Rock, as the mysterious town’s ongoing epic saga continues to unfold. From Warner … “Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Tenth Season” (2020) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the HBO series that revolves around a fictionalized, gleefully misanthropic version of Larry David as a ubiquitous camera chronicles the private, often banal world of this — relatively — private man. In the latest season, Larry gets into a series of escalating predicaments as he takes on a major project to spite a new adversary which ends up proving to be an undertaking way more complicated than he anticipated. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “MASTERPIECE Mystery!: Grantchester, Season 5” (2020) is a two-disc set with all six episodes. It’s 1957, and Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) has settled into his role as the vicar of Grantchester, preaching to a packed church. His best friend, Detective Inspector Georgie Keating (Robson Green), has come to accept his wife Cathy’s commitment to her job. Mrs. C. happily juggles her roles as the vicarage housekeeper and being a well-to-do married woman. But Will’s faith will be thoroughly tested as he and Georgie are reminded once more that there’s darkness lurking in their little corner of Cambridgeshire. From PBS Distribution.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “The Room” (2019), starring Olga Kurylenko and Kevin Janssens, Kate and Matt leave the city to move into an old house, where they discover a secret hidden room that has the extraordinary power to materialize anything they wish for. Their new life becomes a true fairytale. Yet beneath this apparent state of bliss, something darker lurks: some wishes can have dire consequences. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … photo for Survive the Night In “Survive the Night” (2019), starring Chad Michael Murray, Bruce Willis, Shea Buckner and Tyler Jon Olson, after two brothers commit a robbery that goes wrong, one of them, Mathias, is mortally wounded, forcing sibling Jamie to stalk a trauma doctor named Rich (Murray) from the hospital to his home. While holding Rich’s wife and daughter hostage, Jamie forces him to operate on Mathias. For the family to survive the night, Rich must team up with his estranged tough-as-nails father, retired sheriff Frank (Willis), in order to gain the upper hand and turn the tables on the criminals. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Samurai Marathon” (2019 — Japan), starring Takeru Satoh, Nana Komatsu, Mirai Moriyama, Shota Sometani and Danny Huston, is a stunning visual feast complemented by a haunting score from iconic composer Philip Glass. Inspired by a race still held annually in Japan, this is a lively action flick with a samurai twist. In late feudal Japan, a young ninja (Satoh) operates undercover in the court of an aging lord and his rebellious daughter. When the lord challenges his lazy samurai to a punishing marathon—joined covertly by Princess Yuki—the ninja finds his loyalties put to the test. Facing impossible odds, this unusual band of characters is running a race to either win or die. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In “Deadtectives” (2018), starring Chris Geere, Tina Ivlev), David Newman and Martha Higareda, a team of reality TV ghost hunters experience true paranormal activity for the first time while filming a make-or-break episode in the most haunted mansion in Mexico. Facing cancellation on the one hand and supernatural entities on the other, the team must figure out a way to bust the ghosts, deliver the episode of a lifetime, and escape with their lives intact. From RLJE Films … photo for Bloodstone A man of action who can fight with the best of them and a cab driver who would give the Transporter a run for his money, pair up to save a young girl from the clutches of an evil criminal magnate in the adventure thrill-ride “Bloodstone” (1988). The Bloodstone, a priceless stolen ruby, accidentally ends up in the possession of American newlyweds Sandy (Brett Stimel) and Stephanie (Anna Nicholas). Now, their honeymoon in India is interrupted as they become the target of international fence Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame) and his evil henchmen. When Van Hoeven kidnaps Stephanie and ransoms her for the jewel, Sandy joins forces with cabby and dormant stunt-driver Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth) to rescue his young bride. Co-written and produced by genre film luminary Nico Mastorakis (“Island of Death,” “The Wind”) and featuring a stellar performance by legendary Tamil megastar Rajinikanth in his first English-language role, “Bloodstone” is an action-packed romp full of thrills, kick-ass one liners and venomous cobras. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “Attraction 2: Invasion” (2020 — Russia), starring Irina Starshenbaum, Rinal Mukhametov, Alexander Petrov, Yura Borisov and Oleg Menshikov, two years have passed since an alien spaceship crash-landed in Chertanovo. After her direct contact with extra terrestrial technologies, Julia, a previously ordinary girl, has become an object of study at the Ministry of Defense’s secret labs. While undergoing their analysis, she discovers she is developing seemingly impossible superhuman powers. And soon she finds that not only are her fellow humans out to harness her newfound abilities, but that her amazing potential has made her the target of new intergalactic entities, plunging the world into a cosmic threat. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Dark Sky Films … In “The Whistlers” (2019 — Romania), starring Vlad Ivanov and Catrinel Marlon, a police inspector who plays both sides of the law embarks on a high-stakes heist with a beautiful woman and both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery and deception. But a trip to the Canary Islands to learn a secret whistling language might just be what they need to pull it off. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.

Foreign:

“Life Is a Long Quiet River” (1988 — France) is an outrageously wicked comedy about two families from award winning debut filmmaker Étienne Chatiliez; the fast-paced satire became the photo for Life Is a Long Quiet Rivermost popular French comedy of the decade. The radiantly bourgeois Le Quesnoys with their immaculate children and perfect manners and the grubby, disreputable Groseilles are thrown together in absurd chaos by an act of revenge as they discover that 12 years prior their babies were switched at birth. A witty send up of class relations and family ties, “Life Is a Long Quiet River” was celebrated with a host of trophies at France’s César Awards ceremony winning for best screenplay, best debut work and acting prizes for Héléne Vincent and Catherine Jacob. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.

Special Interest:

“Target: Philadelphia” (2019): In 1985, Philadelphia police — at the behest of Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. — dropped a military-grade explosive on a residential building to end a standoff with Black liberation group, MOVE. The resulting fire caused by the C-4 bomb destroyed many buildings, and set a new standard for institutionalized violence: 11 people, including 5 children were killed. “Target: Philadelphia” explores the rise of police militarization within the parallel contexts of Black nationalism and the systemic disenfranchisement that incubates movements like photo for Target: Philadelphia Black Lives Matter. Interviewees include Jannie Blackwell, a seven-term West Philly councilwoman, members of MOVE, including Mike Africa Jr., Jerry Ford Africa, Birdie Africa, Ramona Africa and Mo Africa, Omali Yeshitela, founder of founder of the Uhuru Movement, an African Internationalist organization and Dr. Will Guzmán, a noted scholar of African/African American history and culture. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IndiPix Films … In 1995, director Paul Verhoeven’s salacious “Showgirls” — a nasty, over-the-top sex-and-sadism filled exploration of the trials and tribulations of a young woman who hitchhikes to Las Vegas to make it as a chorus girl — opened with an NC-17 rating and alienated literally every film critic in the country. The film was trounced in reviews and died at the boxoffice. Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas had a falling out and star Elizabeth Berkley (who played the lead, Nomi Malone), fresh off the bland TV series “Saved by the Bell,” was dropped by her agent and was pretty much black-listed in Hollywood. Because of its notoriety, “Showgirls” was a success on home video; since its release it has amassed north of $100 million. In the intervening years, “Showgirls” has become a cult classic, and has been re-photo for You Don't Nomi evaluated as more than just a sensational, trashy nudie exploitation film, transcending the “so-bad-it’s-good” category. The film has been defended by such critics as J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum. Even Jacques Rivette, founder of the French New Wave, piped in, calling it in 1998 “one of the great American films of the last few years” for its unflinching look at the dark side of entertainment celebrityhood. Even Berkley’s career picked up; she went on to star in dozens of Broadway productions — to critical raves — and carved out scores of roles on TV. In the documentary “You Don’t Nomi” (2019), a chorus of film critics and fervent devotees explore the complicated afterlife of the film, from its disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption. The film features Adam Nayman (“Vice Guide to Film”) and Peaches Christ (who hosts midnight screenings in San Francisco) as well as archive interview footage with the cast and crew. If you haven’t yet seen “Showgirls,” this documentary is a great introduction to it. It’s fast-paced and well-balanced, deconstructing “Showgirls” with supporters and naysayers alike. Director Jeffrey McHale intersperses clips from other Verhoeven movies to place “Showgirls” in the context of the director’s ouvre (most of his films have contained vibrant scenes of sex and violence (“Turkish Delight,” “Katie Tippel,” “RoboCop,” “Total Recall” and the notorious “Basic Instinct”) as well as centering it among other sex-oriented big screen productions (“Fatal Attraction” among them). And there’s plenty of footage from midnight showings. Unfortunately, there’s no modern interviews with Verhoeven, Eszterhas, Berkley or co-stars Kyle MacLachlan and Gina Gershon (both of whose careers have flourished, thank you). All in all it’s a fun adventure. 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 July 20, 2020 No Responses »

 
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