From the Big Screen:
This Week's Best Bets:
"The Exterminating Angel" (1962) has to be one of my favorite films from the great Luis Buñuel, bracketed as it is by the last of his Mexican films — "Viridiana" (1961) and "Simon of the Desert" (1965) and foreshadowing the great anti-bourgeoisie trilogy "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972), "The Phantom of Liberty" (1974) and "That Obscure Object of Desire" (1977) filmed in France and Spain. Here — as usual — Buñuel pulls no punches in showing his disdain for the Catholic Church and the upper middle-class denizens of (Mexican) society. Here, a group of high-society friends are invited to a mansion for dinner and inexplicably find themselves unable to leave. There's spooky, black comic absurdity and religious putdowns that furthers Buñuel's wicked takedown of the rituals and dependencies of the frivolous Bourgeoisie. First time on Blu-ray, in a restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection … Dark Sky Films has on offer this week the 30th anniversary 4K restoration of "Henry: The Portrait of a Serial Killer" (1986), the film that was a true game-changer, a film so upsetting in its blunt depiction of an amoral murderer that it made the slasher films of its time look like cartoons by comparison. "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" became a lightning rod in heated debates about cinema and censorship but has only grown in stature since its first showing in 1986. Director John McNaughton's film is a chilling profile of a cold-blooded killer that, 30 years after its historic festival premiere, has lost none of its power to shock. The film, loosely based on a true story, has been hailed as one of the most disturbing and terrifying examinations of mass murderers ever filmed. Henry (Michael Rooker) is a psychopathic drifter who has coldly murdered a number of people for no particular reason and without any remorse. Leaving bodies in his wake, Henry makes his way to Chicago, where he settles into the run-down apartment of his drug-dealing former prison friend and occasional roommate Otis (Tom Towles). Also moving into the space is Otis's younger sister Becky (Tracy Arnold), who is fleeing her abusive husband. As she fends off her brother's incestuous advances, Becky finds herself attracted to Henry — unaware that he, along with Otis, are continuing their murderous rampage. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, each loaded with a host of great interviews and featurettes … "Mad Max: Fury Road Black & Chrome Edition" (2015) is a two film collection with the theatrical version of the film and the "Fury Road Black & Chrome Edition" surreal black and white version of mastermind George Miller’s "Fury Road." Includes a special introduction by George Miller describing his vision. On Blu-ray Disc from Warner … The Cohen Media Group has on hand a new 4k restoration of Merchant Ivory's undisputed masterpiece, "Howards End" (1992), starring Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Samuel West and Nicolla Duffett. A saga of class relations and changing times in an Edwardian England on the brink of modernity, the film centers on liberal Margaret Schlegel (Thompson), who, along with her sister Helen (Bonham Carter), becomes involved with two couples: wealthy, conservative industrialist Henry Wilcox (Hopkins) and his wife Ruth (Redgrave), and the downwardly mobile working-class Leonard Bast (West) and his mistress Jackie (Duffett). On DVD, Blu-ray … Also from The Criterion Collection this week is "Heart of a Dog" (2015), which marked the first feature film by multimedia artist Laurie Anderson in over 30 years. A cinematic tone poem that flows from a sustained meditation on death and other forms of absence, the film seamlessly weaves together thoughts on Tibetan Buddhism, reincarnation, the modern surveillance state, and the artistic lives of dogs, with an elegy for the filmmaker's beloved rat terrier, Lolabelle, at its heart. Narrated by Anderson with her characteristic wry wit, and featuring a plaintive, free-form score by the filmmaker, the tender and provocative "Heart of a Dog" continues Anderson's five-decade career of imbuing the everyday with a sense of dreamlike wonder. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new high-definition digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From TV to DVD:
"Beauty & the Beast: The Final Season" (2016) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. The classic fairy tale gets a dark twist. When a homicide detective with a troubled past (Kristin Kreuk) falls in love with a doctor hiding a deadly secret (Jay Ryan), it's anything but a fairy tale romance. This is the fourth and last season. From CBS/Paramount … "BrainDead: Season One" (2016) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. When struggling documentary filmmaker Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) takes a job working with her brother, Senator Luke Healy (Danny Pino), she soon discovers there's more to Washington than meets the eye. As tensions grow amongst political parties, so does a conspiracy involving alien bugs replacing the brains of several members of congress. The investigation unfolds while the infection spreads. Whatever's happening, it's clear this isn't politics as usual. Co-stars Tony Shalhoub. From CBS/Paramount … "Family Guy Season 14 " (2015-16) is a three-disc set with all 20 uncensored episodes. From Fox … "Scream Queens – Season One" (2015-16) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. A mysterious "Red Devil" killer wreaks havoc at Wallace University's Kappa Kappa Tau sorority, putting every pledge on edge. Tension mounts as it becomes clear that anyone could be the murderer — or the next victim. From Fox … "The Secret Agent" (2016), starring Toby Jones, Vicky McClure, Ian Hart, Stephen Graham and Charlie Hamblett, is a three-part BBC series based on Joseph Conrad's timeless novel about terror, espionage and betrayal. In 1886 London, Verloc (Jones) runs a seedy sex shop in the heart of Soho. Unbeknown to his loyal wife Winnie (McClure), Verloc also works for the Russian embassy, spying on a group of London anarchists. The Russians are furious with the English establishment's indifference to the anarchist threat gripping the rest of Europe. So Verloc is assigned a mission: blow up the Greenwich Observatory and make it look like a terrorist attack to provoke a crackdown. Should he fail, Verloc's real identity as a spy will be exposed to his vicious comrades. Verloc is forced to turn to the volatile Professor (Hart) to supply explosives which in turn attracts the attention of Chief Inspector Heat of Scotland Yard (Graham). Caught between the Russians and the police, Verloc grooms Winnie's younger brother Stevie (Hamblett) as his unsuspecting accomplice. When the truth outs, Verloc has to face Winnie's wrath. From Acorn Media … "The Shannara Chronicles: Season One" (2016) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the series based on the 26-volume book series by Terry Brooks that tells the story of an Elvin princess, a bandit, and a half-Elf tasked with stopping the end of the world. Blu-ray Disc debut. From Paramount.