"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jul 152019

From the Big Screen:

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

This Week’s Best Bets

With her Oscar-winning turn in “Klute” (1971), Jane Fonda arrived full-fledged as a new kind of movie star. Bringing nervy audacity and counterculture style to the role of Bree Daniels — a call girl and aspiring actor who becomes the focal point of a missing-person investigation when detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) turns up at her door — Fonda made the film her photo for Kluteown, putting an independent woman and escort on-screen with a frankness that had not yet been attempted in Hollywood. Suffused with paranoia by the conspiracy-thriller specialist Alan J. Pakula, and lensed by master cinematographer Gordon Willis, Klute is a character study thick with dread, capturing the mood of early-1970s New York and the predicament of a woman trying to find her own way on the fringes of society. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by camera operator Michael Chapman, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … From one of the most underrated directors of Hollywood’s golden era, Mitchell Leisen (“Remember the Night”), comes the heart-rending romantic drama “Hold Back the Dawn” (1941). Charles Boyer gives an enthralling performance as Georges Iscovescu, a Romanian-born gigolo who arrives at a Mexican border town seeking entry to the US. Faced with a waiting period of eight years, George is encouraged by his former dancing partner Anita (Pauline Goddard) to marry an American girl and desert her once safely across the border. He successfully targets visiting school teacher Emmy Brown (Olivia de Havilland), but photo for Hold Back the Dawn his plan is compromised by a pursuing immigration officer, and blossoming feelings of genuine love for Emmy. A moving and thoughtful film with a wonderful script (co-written by Billy Wilder), “Hold back the Dawn” benefits from evocative performances by Boyer and de Havilland, and an over-arching sense of romantic melancholy. An enduring classic of its era, Leisen’s film was nominated for no-less than six Academy Awards and is presented here in High Definition for the first time, transferred from original film elements. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … The warmth and wit of celebrated playwright turned cinema auteur Marcel Pagnol shine in the enchanting slice-of-life comedy “The Baker’s Wife” (1938). Returning to the Provençal countryside he knew intimately, Pagnol draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (the inimitable Raimu, photo for The Baker's Wife praised by no less than Orson Welles as “the greatest actor who ever lived”) snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. Marrying the director’s abiding concern for the experiences of ordinary people with an understated but superbly judged visual style, “The Baker’s Wife” is at once wonderfully droll and piercingly perceptive in its depiction of the complexities of human relationships. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … The “Noir Archive Volume 2: 1954-1956” collection highlights nine more hard to find features from high definition masters with correct aspect ratios; these rare film noir pictures are curated from the Columbia Pictures Library: “Bait” (1954) directed by Hugo Haas and starring photo for Noir Archive Volume 2: 1954-1956 Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, John Agar; “The Crooked Web” (1955) directed by Nathan Juran and starring Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning; “The Night Holds Terror” (1955) directed by Andrew Stone and starring Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards, John Cassavetes, David Cross; “Footsteps in the Fog” (1955) directed by Arthur Lubin and starring Bill Travers, Ronald Squire, Finlay Currie, Belinda Lee; “Cell 2455, Death Row” (1955) directed by Fred F. Sears and starring William Campbell, Robert Campbell, Marian Carr; “5 Against the House” (1955) directed by Phil Karlson and starring Alvy Moore, William Conrad, Kerwin Mathews; “New Orleans Uncensored” (1955) directed by William Castle and starring Arthur Franz, Beverly Garland, Helene Stanton; “Spin a Dark Web” (1955) directed by Vernon Sewell and starring Faith Domergue, Lee Patterson, Rona Anderson, Martin Benson; “Rumble on the Docks” (1956) directed by Fred F. Sears and starring Laurie Carrol, James Darren, Michael Granger. On Blu-ray from Kit Parker Films.

From TV to Disc:

“Broad City: Season 5” (2019) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Comedy Central series that follows two women throughout their daily lives in New York City, making the smallest and mundane events hysterical and disturbing to watch all at the same time. “Broad City: The Complete Series” (2014-19) is a 10-disc set with all 50 episodes. Both on DVD from Paramount … photo for Criminal Minds: The Fourteenth Season “Criminal Minds: The Fourteenth Season” (2018-19) is a four-disc set with all 15 episodes. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit returns to celebrate their landmark 300th episode. Follows an elite team of FBI profilers who delves into the country’s most puzzling crimes and twisted minds. Led by special agent, and founding member of the BAU, David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), the team is faced with a difficult challenge in the 14th season when two of their own, Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), are taken by the “Believers,” a mysterious cult seeking vengeance for the death of their leader a decade before. From CBS/Paramount … “Space: 1999 – The photo for Space: 1999 – The Complete Series Complete Series” (1975-77) is a 13-disc set with all 48 episodes, released for the first time in North America. Includes an entire disc of bonus features. September 1999: A nuclear waste dump on the lunar surface unexpectedly detonates, blasting the moon out of Earth’s orbit and taking the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha on an unbelievable voyage of discovery and adventure. Stars Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse and Catherine Schell. On DVD, Blu-ray from Shout! Factory … “Titans: The Complete First Season” (2019) includes all 11 episodes of the new live-action DC Super Hero franchise. “Titans” follows a group of young soon-to-be Super Heroes from across the world of DC as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise. In three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray sets. From Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Killer Unicorn” (2019), starring Dennis Budesheim, Alejandro La Rosa and Markus Kelle, Danny is your average Brooklyn party boy. This year, he and his friends couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming “Brooklyn Annual Enema Party”; one of Brooklyn’s biggest party events. While the night starts out fun, it quickly takes a turn when Danny is attacked by a stranger. He survives, but now a year later, Danny decides to give his social life a second chance. Wrong choice — as Danny and everyone else who helped him that night are in danger. A man wearing a unicorn mask is killing off Brooklyn, one queen at a time, and he won’t stop until he has his revenge. From IndieCan Pictures … In “Relaxer” (2018), starring Joshua Burge, David Dastmalchian and Andre Hyland, doom and gloom are on the way. The Y2K apocalypse can’t be photo for Relaxerstopped. Abbes older brother issues him the ultimate challenge before it goes down: beat the infamous level 256 in Pac-Man and no getting up from the couch until he does so. Abbie’s survival story begins here; inside a rotting living room with no food or water, and a revolving door of numb-nut friends and acquaintances. It’s “The Exterminating Angel” by way of “Slacker”; “a masterpiece of depraved ’90s nostalgia.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Oscilloscope Laboratories … In “Dogman” (2018 — Italy), starring Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce and Nunzia Schiano, in a seaside village on the outskirts of an Italian city, where the only law seems to be survival of the fittest, Marcello is a slight, mild-mannered man who divides his days between working at his modest dog grooming salon, caring for his daughter Alida, and being coerced into the petty criminal schemes of the local bully Simoncino, an ex-boxer who terrorizes the neighborhood. When Simoncino’s abuse finally brings Marcello to a breaking point, he decides to stand up for his own dignity through an act of vengeance, with unintended consequences. From Magnolia Home Entertainment … Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman with supernatural photo for The Chill Factorabilities must go on the run when her powers are discovered in “Fast Color”
(2018), starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Strathairn, Lorraine Toussaint and Saniyya Sidney. With nowhere else to go, she flees back to her family and the farmhouse she abandoned long ago. There, while being pursued by the local sheriff, she begins to mend the broken relationships with her mother and daughter, and unearths the depths of the power within her. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Exorcist” meets the Winter Olympics in “The Chill Factor” (1993), a tale of demonic possession and snowbound slashing from director Christopher Webster, producer of “Hellraiser” and “Hellraiser II: Hellbound.” For a group of young couples, a snowmobiling trip turns into a waking nightmare when one of their number is thrown from their vehicle and knocked unconscious. Seeking refuge in a nearby abandoned summer camp, the group find themselves holed up in a cabin filled with bizarre and ominous religious artifacts. As night falls, the discovery of a Ouija board amidst the dusty relics awakens a terrifying evil. Barely released outside of its original VHS outing (for which it was retitled “Demon Possessed”), cult enthusiasts Arrow Video have dug up The Chill Factor from its wintry analogue grave so horror fans can rediscover this heady mixture of snow, slaughter and Satan! New 2K restoration from original film elements with original uncompressed stereo audio. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

On the Indie Front:

In “One Bedroom” (2019), starring Stephen Hill, Jade Johnson and Sills-Evans, writer-director Darien Sills-Evans combines humor and drama to create a portrait of a relationship at the end of its journey. Set in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood, the whirlwind tale of Melissa and Nate’s courtship is told through vivid flashbacks. Melissa and Nate have been through a lot together, but sometimes Black Love gets broken: Love Means Never Having to Give Up Your Apartment. Premiered at the Tallahassee Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. It went on to have a healthy festival life, including being officially selections at the Brooklyn Film Festival, Bushwick Film Festival, and New Voices in Black Cinema. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“Ash Is Purest White” (2018 — China) finds writer-director Jia Zhangke (“Still Life,” “A Touch of Sin,” “Mountains May Depart”) revisiting familiar themes while continuing to observe modern Chinese society with an urgent, empathetic eye. It centers on Qiao (Zhao Tao, Jia’s wife and frequent star), who is in love with Bin (Liao Fan), a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs, Qiao fires a gun to protect Bin — which gets her sentenced to five years in photo for Ash Is Purest White prison. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off. Beginning in 2001 in the postindustrial city of Datong and then expanding out into an epic narrative spanning 17 years and revealing how abstract forces shape individual lives, “Ash Is Purest White” continues Jia Zhangke’s body of work as a record of 21st-century China and its warp-speed transformations. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Film Collection … With “Don’t Look At Me That Way” (2015 — Germany), Mongolian-born documentary director Uisenma Borchu makes her feature film debut with a compelling, surrealistic film. Hedi (director Borchu, in her first role) and single mother Iva (Catrina Stemmer) live in the same building. After Hedi meets Sophia, Iva’s daughter, the two women become acquainted and eventually begin an intimate affair. And though their relationship is passionate, Hedi is also attracted to men, and Iva, desperately in love, becomes deeply jealous. It seems, however, that only one world exists for Hedi: her own. One day, Iva’s father (Josef Bierbichler) makes plans to look after his granddaughter so the two women can spend time together, but when he doesn’t arrive, Hedi goes searching and the story takes a surprising twist. From IndiPix Films.

For the Family:

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Would You Be Mine Collection” is a four-disc collection of 14 hours of vintage episodes from the most beloved children’s television host in the world, Fred Rogers. Fans will walk down memory lane with Mister Rogers in these 30 hand-picked episodes to photo for The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales revisit the puppets in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. The collection also includes a bonus episode — a visit to the crayon factory — as well as episodes where performers like the group Stomp and world-renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, stop by for a visit. From PBS KIDS … “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” (2017 — France) features three interlocking animated stories of animal misfits. The countryside isn’t always as calm and peaceful as it’s made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly strange: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. If you think life in the country is a walk in the park, think again. Directors Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert adapt Renner’s own acclaimed graphic novel in this delirious slapstick comedy about family and the anxieties of modern life. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

The documentary “Scary Stories” (2019), about Alvin Schwartz’ iconic “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” book series, explores the history of one of the most controversial works of modern children’s literature, the best-selling teen classic that scared a generation of young readers and became one of the most banned books of modern times. Cody Meirick’s doc features more than 40 interviews, from family members of author Schwartz, to fellow children’s book photo for Scary Storieshorror authors like R.L Stine (“Goosebumps”) and Q.L. Pearce, to folklorists, artists and fans discussing the impact that the books have had on both themselves as well as the culture at large. The documentary also explores the various times in which the books were banned or targeted by parent and religious groups as “satanic” or otherwise too macabre for its targeted teen scholastic audience. Penned by Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a three-volume series consisting of short horror stories for pre-teens and children that were adapted from American folklore and urban legends. Because of some of the violent illustrations and the subject matter, parent groups, religious organizations and school boards had the books pulled from libraries and schools at various times. A feature film adaptation of the books, produced by horror icon Guillermo del Toro, is due in theaters this summer. From Wild Eye Releasing.

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 15, 2019 No Responses »
Jul 082019

From the Big Screen:

“Pet Sematary,” “Transit,” “After” and “Little.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

In 1977, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was 32-years old and had already directed more than 25 feature films. That summer, he embarked on a project to trace the postwar history of West Germany in a series of films told from the perspectives of three remarkable women. Fassbinder’s “The Marriage of Maria Braun” (1979), “Veronika Voss” (1982) and “Lola” (1981) — “BRD Trilogy” — would garner him his greatest commercial success, both at home and abroad, and cement his position as one of the foremost figures of the New German Cinema. photo for BRD Trilogy Formats: Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restorations of The “Marriage of Maria Braun” and “Lola,” with uncompressed monaural soundtracks; and high-definition digital restoration of “Veronika Voss,” with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection … As World War II splits Europe, 16-year-old German Jew Salomon (Marco Hofschneider) is separated from his family after fleeing with them to Poland, and finds himself reluctantly assuming various ideological identities in order to hide the deadly secret of his Jewishness. He is bounced from a Soviet orphanage, where he plays a dutiful Stalinist, to the Russian front, where photo for Europa Europa he hides in plain sight as an interpreter for the German army, and back to his home country, where he takes on his most dangerous role: a member of the Hitler Youth. Based on the real-life experiences of Salomon Perel, Agnieszka Holland’s wartime tour de force “Europa Europa” (1990) is a breathless survival story told with the verve of a comic adventure, an ironic refutation of the Nazi idea of racial purity, and a complex portrait of a young man caught up in shifting historical calamities and struggling to stay alive. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Agnieszka Holland, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “This Island Earth” (1955), starring Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue and Rex Reason, one of the all-time great classic sci-fi films, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. When atomic scientist Dr. Meacham (Rex Reason) is chosen to take part in a top-secret research experiment in a remote lab, he quickly discovers that he is really involved in a scheme by alien Metalunans to create a new weapon to fight their enemies. After he and the gorgeous Dr. Adams (Faith Domergue) make their escape shortly before the lab explodes, they are whisked away in a flying saucer to Metaluna, where they discover that photo for This Island Earth BLU-RAY DEBUT the Metalunans have been fighting with the warlike people of the planet Zagon and, in lieu of a new weapon that they had hoped that the Earth scientists would help them build, they would now have to take over the Earth. New 4K scan of the inter-positive: Two aspect ratios: 1.85:1 and 1.37:1. New: The original Perspecta Stereophonic Sound restored by 3-D Film Archive. From Scream Factory … “The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 2: Sherlock Jr. and the Navigator” (1924) is a two-disc set with 4K restorations of the Buster Keaton classics. In “Sherlock Jr.”, Buster plays a movie projectionist who daydreams himself into the movies he is showing and merges with the figures and the backgrounds on the screen. While dreaming he is Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective, he snoops out brilliant discoveries. This landmark cinematic achievement features jaw-dropping special effects as Buster repeatedly enters the film within the film. In the equally hilarious “The Navigator,” Keaton and his sweetheart are cast adrift on a deserted ocean liner. The ship finally runs aground on a desert island where the two unfortunates are chased by cannibals. On DVD, Blu-ray, from the Cohen Film Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Gotham: The Complete Fifth and Final Season” (2019) arrives in three-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray sets, containing all 12 episodes. The fifth and final season of “Gotham” wraps up the iconic series in an unforgettable event that focuses on Bruce Wayne’s ultimate transformation into the Caped Crusader, while Jim Gordon struggles to hold together a city on the edge of chaos. From Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

They’re going nowhere… Fast! The United States, late 1950s. A time of generational conflict, of immense social change, of bold fashions and toe-tapping music — just some of the elements that collide in thrilling fashion in “The Loveless” (1981), the feature debut of both its star, Willem Dafoe, and its directors, Monty Montgomery (producer, David Lynch’s “Wild at photo for The Loveless Heart”) and future Academy Award-winner Kathryn Bigelow. A motorcycle gang roars into a small southern town en route to the Daytona races, unnerving and angering the locals with their standoffish attitude and disrespect for social niceties. When one of their number, the charismatic Vance (Dafoe), hooks up with sports car-driving Telena (Marin Kanter), he incurs the wrath of the girl’s father, setting the gang on a collision course with the rest of the town as simmering tensions boil over into violent retribution. Raw, angry and honest, “The Loveless” evokes, with unflinching clarity, both an attitude and a bygone era, exploring the tensions between two very different Americas. Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by co-writer/co-director Monty Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “The Dark Within” (2019), starring Paul Flannery, Kendra Carelli and Stephanie Lynn Styles, a disturbed man with unknown psychic abilities tries to unravel the mystery of his parent’s disappearance while battling his own demons. From Uncork’d Entertainment … photo for Mojin: The Worm Valley The “Mojin: The Worm Valley” (2018 — China) is a sequel to hit actioner “Mojin: The Lost Legend,” and is based on the bestselling novel series. In this mystical action-adventure, legendary tomb explorer Hu Bayi sets off with the Mojin Six on a dangerous mission across an island of monstrous creatures to find the Tomb of Emperor Xian. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … Umberto Lenzi, the legendary director of “Cannibal Ferox,” kicked off the Italian police film craze with this hyper-kinetic, ultra-violent, brain-blasting action thriller, “The Tough Ones” (1976 — Italy). Maurizio Meril stars as an Italian Dirty Harry, punching and shooting his way through the sleazy drug, sex, and crime infested cesspool of mid-70s Rome, on the trail of a sadistic, machine gun-toting hunchback, played by Tomas Milian (star of “The Big Gundown”). Original unrated, uncensored director’s cut. On Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing … In photo for High Life “High Life” (2019), starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin and Mia Goth, visionary director Claire Denis brings this eerie sci-fi film to life. Monte (Pattinson) and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of the solar system. The crew — death-row inmates led by a doctor (Binoche) with sinister motives — has vanished. As the mystery of what happened unravels, father and daughter must rely on each other to survive. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Silent Hill” (2006), starring Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige and Jodelle Ferland, is based on the photo for The Professor best-selling horror/action video game. Rose is a desperate mother who takes her adopted daughter, Sharon, to the town of Silent Hill in an attempt to cure her of her ailment. After a violent car crash, Sharon disappears, and Rose begins a desperate search to get her back. She descends into the center of the twisted reality of a town’s terrible secret. Pursued by grotesquely deformed creatures and townspeople stuck in permanent purgatory, Rose begins to uncover the truth behind the apocalyptic disaster that burned the town 30 years earlier. In a Collector’s Edition with an HD master approved by director Christophe Gans. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … After learning he has six months to live, Richard (Johnny Depp), a buttoned-down college lecturer, transforms into a rebellious party animal in “The Professor” (2018), co-starring Roasmarie DeWitt and Ron Livingston. To the shock of his wife (DeWitt) and school chancellor (Livingston) –and the delight of his students –Richard leads a hilarious crusade against authority and hypocrisy in this dark comedy. 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 July 8, 2019 No Responses »

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