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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jan 132020
 

From the Big Screen:

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and “Gemini Man.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

Exiled to Republic Pictures, director Fritz Lang created the shocking and mordant low-budget thriller, “House by the River (Special Edition)” (1950). Like fellow cinema giants Orson Welles and John Ford, Lang enjoyed a freedom at Republic that allowed him to make a truly unique and personal film. Cahiers du Cinéma declared, “Lang’s main erotic obsession is displayed more clearly than in any of his other films.” Victorian ne’er-do-well Stephen Byrne (Louis Hayward) assaults and accidentally murders his wife’s virginal housekeeper. With the reluctant assistance of loyal brother John Lee (Bowman), Stephen remorselessly consigns the girl’s corpse to the river. But as John’s affection for Stephen’s wife Marjorie (Jane Wyatt), police suspicion about the girl’s disappearance, and the depths of Stephen’s depravity all escalate, the river itself provokes a horrifying reunion between victim and murderer. Boasting an ingenious script by “The Spiral Staircase” scribe Mel Dinelli and evocative photography by seven-time Oscar nominee Edward Cronjager, “House by the River” is a criminally underrated American film, both a work of art and a moral nightmare. In a new 2K restoration from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … photo for The Fugitive Kind Four Oscar-winning actors — Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, and Maureen Stapleton — shine in the enthralling “The Fugitive Kind” (1960), which also brings together the legendary talents of director Sidney Lumet and writer Tennessee Williams. A smoldering, snakeskin-jacketed Brando is Val Xavier, a drifter trying to go straight. He finds work and solace in a small-town southern variety store run by the married, sexually frustrated Lady Torrance (Magnani), who proves as much a temptation for Val as does local wild child Carol Cutrere (Woodward). Lumet captures the intense, fearless performances and Williams’s hot-blooded story­telling and social critique with his customary restraint, resulting in a drama of uncommon sophistication and craft. On DVD, and Blu-ray Disc with high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Sidney Lumet, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the series that tells an entirely new story in the mythology of DC’s iconic Superman universe. Season Two brings us back to a changed Kandor, locked in a battle over its freedom and its future. With Zod now in control, he’s on a ruthless mission to rebuild Krypton according to his ideals and to secure its future by conquering the universe. Faced with a bleak outlook, Superman’s ancestor, Seg-El, attempts to unite a dispersed group of resisters in an effort to defeat Zod and restore hope to their beloved planet. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Veep: The Final Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all seven episodes. Former vice president and onetime president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is back in the campaign trail in the seventh and final season of the acclaimed HBO comedy series. As Selina woos uber-wealthy donors while navigating threats from primary challengers, including aide-turned Congressman Jonah Ryan (Timothy C. Simons), her band of misfits is also back. Meanwhile, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is figuring out how she feels about her pregnancy vis-a-vis Dan (Reid Scott), who seems unwillingly to give up his playboy ways for fatherhood. And rounding out the team are ever-faithful bagman Gary (Tony Hale), cantankerous Ben (Kevin Dunn), numbers-obsessed Kent (Gary Cole) and new staffer Richard (Sam Richardson). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

The Mocumentary “Mister America” (2019), starring Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington and Terri Parks, has a freshman filmmaker following comedian Tim Heidecker’s attempt to enter the world of politics. After beating a murder charge for selling faulty e-cigarettes at an EDM festival, Heidecker seeks revenge by running a campaign to unseat the San Bernardino District Attorney. Fueled by ego and ignorance, he tries to surmount a lack of experience, funds and photo for Mister America likability by personally connecting with unsuspecting constituents. Formats: DVD, VOD, Digital. From Magnolia Home Entertainment … After the tragic loss of his wife battling the forces of darkness, Gabriel is persuaded to rejoin his former team of demon hunters traveling from relatively obscurity in America to the deep unknown regions of Europe in “Angels Fallen” (2020), starring Houston Rhines, Michael Teh, Nicola Posener and Michael Madsen. He’s joined by his estranged best friend Michael who harbors a dark secret, the mystical Hannah, whose visions predict the future, and a motley crew of demon slayers. After losing part of his team Gabriel must confront his tragic past and decide who really is friend or foe. From Uncork’d Entertainment … “Mob Town” (2019), starring David Arquette, Jennifer Esposito, Robert Davi, Danny A. Abeckaser, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and PJ Byrne, is a true crime thriller inspired by the notorious mob summit of 1957, when over 50 mafia leaders across America converged on a small town in upstate New York to honor the “capo dei capi.” Stumbling upon their illegal operations, Sgt. Ed Croswell (Arquette) risks his life to stand up for justice, shedding light on the massive web of corruption to change the face of law enforcement forever. From Paramount … photo for Brewster’s Millions [Collector’s Edition] In “Brewster’s Millions [Collector’s Edition]” (1985), starring Richard Pryor, John Candy and Lonette McKee, minor league baseball pitcher Montgomery Brewster (Pryor) gets the surprise of his life when he learns a rich, distant relative has died and left him his entire fortune. But there’s a catch: he must spend $30 million in 30 days as a condition of receiving his real inheritance of $300 million. And to complicate matters, he can’t tell anyone why he’s “throwing away” all that cash … or he will forfeit everything. On Blu-ray from Shout! Select … In “Nothing Man” (2017), starring Daniel Hall, Jennifer Jordan, Ric Vince and Tony Goodall, a frightened amnesiac, Noam, has taken himself away from society, living life as a homeless man. When his only friend is murdered in cold blood, Noam sets out in search of justice and truth, but at the cost of unlocking his own checkered past. From High Octane Pictures … In “The Turkey Bowl”
(2019), starring Ryan Hansen, Matt Jones, Kristen Hager, Brett Cullen and Barry Switzer, a former small-town high school quarterback and now a high-powered Chicago businessman, is lured back to his tiny Midwestern town at Thanksgiving by his old friends to finish the legendary Turkey Bowl — a football game that was snowed out 15 years ago. Patrick must risk his future to lead his ragtag team against their bitter crosstown rivals, ultimately realizing how much he misses the simpler life and the girl that got away. From Lionsgate … In photo for Line of Duty “Line of Duty” (2019), starring Aaron Eckhart, Courtney Eaton, Jessica Lu, Dina Meyer, Ben McKenzie and Giancarlo Esposito, Eckhart stars as Frank Penny, a disgraced cop looking for a shot at redemption. When the police chief’s 11-year-old daughter is abducted, Frank goes rogue to try and save her. But to find the girl, Frank will need the help of Ava Brooks (Eaton), whose live-streaming news channel is broadcasting Frank’s every move. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … In “Jexi” (2019), starring Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Ron Funches, Charlyne Yi, Wanda Sykes, Justin Hartley, Michael Peña and Rose Byrne, Phil has a major dependency issue — he’s addicted to his phone. He has no friends, he has a job writing pop culture “Top 10” lists, and his love life is non-existent. But his Facebook status is about to change. When he is forced to upgrade his phone, the latest model comes with an unexpected feature … Jexi – an A.I. life coach, virtual assistant and cheerleader. With her help, Phil begins to get a real life. But as he becomes less dependent on his phone, Jexi’s artificial intelligence morphs into a tech nightmare determined to keep Phil all to herself, even if it means ruining his chances of finding success. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “2050” (2019), starring Dean Cain, David Vaughn, Irina Abraham and Devin Fuller, is a satiric comic sci-fi fantasy that tells the story of a married video game developer who is introduced to a warehouse that customizes androids for human companionship. From Uncork’d Entertainment.

Foreign:

In “Britt-Marie Was Here” (2019 — Sweden), starring Pernilla August, Vera Vitali, Peter Haber and Olle Sarri, housewife Britt-Marie’e 40-year-old marriage has just ended because she learned her husband was unfaithful. Now, at 63 years old, she is faced with making a new start in life in the small Swedish town of Borg. Told she is nothing but a nagging, passive-aggressive aunt, the only job Britt-Marie can find is a true challenge for which she has had zero training: to coach the town’s youth soccer team. She knows nothing about soccer or coaching, and the team is the town’s pride and joy, but she takes the job anyway, beginning a journey filled with struggles and challenges but also humor, warmth and love. The comedy is based on the best-selling novel by Fredrik Backman, author of “A Man Called Ove.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Media Group … photo for The Golden Glove “The Golden Glove” (2019 — Germany), starring Jonas Dassler and Margarete Tiesel, is based on the best-selling novel of the same name, acclaimed filmmaker Fatih Akin delivers a gruesome tale of notorious German serial killer Fritz Honka as he haunts Hamburg’s red light district in the 1970s, frequenting his favorite bar of boozy castaways, the “Golden Glove,” and chasing after any lonely woman he might just be able to lure into his attic. From Strand Releasing … The fantasy film “A Rough Draft” (2018 — Russia), starring Nikita Volkov, Severija Janusauskaite and Vilen Babichev, is written by Sergei Lukianenko, author of the Russian blockbuster “Night Watch,” and is set in and around the concept of open world video gaming, following a man without an identity nor memories who plays middle-man to corresponding worlds. Kirill’s identity has been eliminated, erased from the memories of everyone around him, and he’s forced to serve as the gatekeeper of a portal that connects parallel worlds. From High Octane Pictures.

For the Family:

“The Big Trip” (2020), with the voices of Drake Bell and Pauley Shore, is an animated family film about a gang of misfit animals on an exciting quest to return a panda cub to its family when a stork accidentally delivers it to the wrong place. Received the Dove Seal of Approval for all ages. From Lionsgate.

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

 Posted by on January 13, 2020 No Responses »
Jan 072020
 

From the Big Screen:

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

This Week’s Best Bets:

From Robert Siodmak, the legendary director of “Phantom Lady,” “The Spiral Staircase,” “The Killers,” and “The Crimson Pirate,” comes the romantic action-adventure “Cobra Woman” (1944), starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Sabu, Lon Chaney Jr., Mary Nash Lois Collier. After Ramu (Hall) discovers that his fiancée Tollea (Montez) has been kidnapped by a lost tribe and taken to a Pacific isle, he and his friend Kado (Sabu) set out across the seas to find her. They soon discover that the island paradise is ruled by Tollea’s evil twin Naja, the Cobra Woman, who commands all strangers to be killed on arrival. Not only does Naja have designs on her new prisoner Ramu, but she also desires to eliminate any competition from her benevolent sister. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … photo for Holiday Two years before stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and director George Cukor would collaborate on “The Philadelphia Story,” they brought their timeless talents to the delectable slice of 1930s romantic-comedy perfection, “Holiday” (1938), the second film adaptation of a hit 1928 play by Philip Barry. Grant is at his charismatic best as the acrobatically inclined free spirit who, following a whirlwind engagement, literally tumbles into the lives of his fiancée’s aristocratic family — setting up a clash of values with her staid father while firing the rebellious imagination of her brash, black-sheep sister (Hepburn). With a sparkling surface and an undercurrent of melancholy, Holiday is an enchanting ode to nonconformists and pie-in-the-sky dreamers everywhere, as well as a thoughtful reflection on what it truly means to live well. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … From Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, the legendary team behind “King Kong,” “The Most Dangerous Game” and “Mighty Joe Young,” comes this early Technicolor science-fiction classic “Dr. Cyclops” (1940), about a brilliant but deranged physicist who learns how to shrink his enemies to one-fifth their normal size. Four explorers are summoned to the remote jungle laboratory of the legendary scientist Dr. Thorkel (Albert Dekker). When they arrive, they discover that his brilliant mind has been warped by radiation and decide to return him to civilization for help. But the half-blind, half-mad Dr. Cyclops will have none of that and uses his experimental body-shrinking device to stop them. Now, harmless items and small creatures suddenly become giant-sized instruments of death. The impressive use of landmark special effects, which garnered an Oscar nomination (Best Effects, Special Effects), helped make this sci-fi yarn one of the most imaginative and memorable horror-fantasy films of all time. New 4K master. Co-stars Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton, Paul Fix, Victor Killan. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

From TV to Disc:

“Big Little Lies: The Complete Second Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all seven episodes. Meryl Streep joins the all-star cast in Season Two, along with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz. In Season Two, on the surface, everything seems the same in the seaside town of Monterey, CA: mothers continue to dote, husbands support, children are adorable, houses are beautiful. But the night of the school fundraiser changed all that, leaving the community reeling as the “Monterey Five” bond together to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Meanwhile, Perry’s grieving mother Mary Louise Wright (Streep) comes to town in search of answers after son’s death.On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “The Cry” (2018) is a two-disc set with four episodes. British psychological thriller and Sundance Now Original Series chronicles the collapse of a marriage in the aftermath of a tragedy and explore the myths and truths of motherhood. The abduction of a baby from a small coastal town in Australia is the catalyst for a journey into the disintegrating psychology of a young woman as she and her husband deal with an unthinkable tragedy, under both the white light of public scrutiny and in their private lives. From Acorn Media.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Blood Hound” (2019), starring Ed Ackerman, David Foy Miles Dougal, Jess Allen and Silvia Moore, private investigator Abel Walker, along with his cameraman, Jim, are on the hunt for a missing woman. As they unravel the mystery of her disappearance, they become caught in a sick and violent game that will end in murder. From High Octane Pictures … In “The Mercenary” (2019), starring Dominiquie Vandenberg, Louis Mandylor and Carmen Argenziano, Maxx (Vandenberg) is a legionnaire turned mercenary. When a mission in South America goes wrong, Maxx is left for dead, but is nursed back to health and reborn with a new outlook on life. He tries to live tranquilly within the confines of his new beliefs surrounded by his new friends at a church. But his peaceful days are short-lived when mercenaries he used to work with cross his path again and he is forced to revisit and face his own demons. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “The Shed” (2019), starring Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro, Sofia Happonen, Frank Whaley, Siobhan Fallon Hoga and Timothy Bottoms, Stan and his best friend Dommer have put up with bullies their entire lives. All of that changes when Stan discovers he has a murderous vampire living in his shed. Seeing the bloodshed and destruction the monster is capable of, Stan knows he has to find a way to destroy it. But Dommer has a much more sinister plan in mind. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … photo for Imprisoned In “Imprisoned” (2019), starring Juan Pablo Raba), Juana Acosta, Laurence Fishburne, Edward James Olmos and John Heard, Dylan Burke attempts to move on from his former life as a criminal with his true love, Maria. He soon realizes that his past will continue to haunt him, when he learns the new local prison warden, Daniel Calvin, has not forgiven him for an old crime. Calvin does everything in his power to make sure that Burke pays for his past mistakes, even going as far as to frame him for a murder he didn’t commit, landing him back in jail. When the prison erupts into a riot, Burke and Calvin are each forced to make a choice between righteousness and revenge. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cinema Libre Studio … In “Countdown” (2019), starring Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold, P.J. Byrne and Peter Facinelli, a young nurse downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die. With only three days left to live and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … In “Girl on the Third Floor” (2019), starring Phil “C.M. Punk” Brooks, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks, Elissa Dowling and Travis Delgado, bursting pipes, rotting walls, and unidentifiable slime were not what Don Koch (WWE legend Brooks) expected when he convinced his wife, Liz (Dunn), that he could rehab their new Victorian home himself. In over his head, under duress, and tempted by his old weaknesses, Don soon discovers that the house has its own dark, sordid history and won’t be so easy to renovate after all. On DVD, Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films.

Foreign:

In “The Nightshifter” (2018 — Brazil), starring Daniel de Oliveira, Fabiula Nascimento, Bianca Comparato and Marco Ricca, Stênio (Oliveira) works the graveyard shift in the morgue of a vast, violent city. Each night he prepares the lifeless corpses for examination, but he’s never alone. For Stênio can talk to the dead…and they talk back. But when the whispers of the dead reveal secrets of his own life, Stênio unleashes a curse that brings forth unimaginable danger and darkness. From RLJE Films.

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

 Posted by on January 7, 2020 No Responses »
Dec 312019
 

 

Happy New Year

 

From the Big Screen:

There are no major releases this week.

This Week’s Best Bets:

“The Peanut Butter Solution”: (1985 — Canada), starring Mathew Mackay, Siluck Saysanasy, Alison Darcy, Michael Hogan. If you were a child in the 80s, you were likely traumatized for life by repeated viewings of this film on cable or VHS. If you’ve never seen it, nothing can prepare you for the damage that
awaits your psyche. For their premiere release, Severin Kids presents the “notoriously strange and creepy” Canadian kiddie feature about burning winos, sudden baldness, psychotic teachers, suburban abductions, juvenile sweatshops and the icky concoction that grows long lustrous pubes. It plays like an Afterschool Special telling kids their hair will fall out, peers will make fun of them, and they will be whisked away to photo for a demented underworld where Celine Dion sings and children beg for their lives. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … “Primal”: (2019), starring Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand, LaMonica Garrett, Michael Imperioli. A big-game hunter (Nicolas Cage) for zoos has booked passage on a shipping freighter with a fresh haul of exotic and deadly animals from the Amazon, including a rare white Jaguar. Also on the freighter is a political assassin being extradited to the U.S in secret. Two days into the journey, the assassin escapes and releases the captive animals, throwing the ship into chaos. Frank feverishly stalks the ship’s cramped corridors in hot pursuit of his prey. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Titfield Thunderbolt” (1953), starring Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne, George Relp, John Gregson, Hugh Griffith. A comical and delightful tale of community spirit, written by celebrated Ealing Studios regular and Academy Award-winner T.E.B. Clarke (“The Lavender Hill Mob”), directed by Charles Crichton (“A Fish Called Wanda”) the comedy tells the story of the inhabitants of the tiny village of Titfield, who endeavor to prove that their single-track railway is a vital form of transportation in this digitally-restored classic from Ealing Studios, whose output from the 1940s and 1950s helped define the Golden Age for British Cinema and the birthplace of the most delectable crop of films to decorate postwar cinema. After British Railways announce the closure of the Titfield to Mallingford branch line, a group of local residents make a bid to run it themselves, backed by a wealthy member of the community. Unfortunately, this puts them into direct competition with Crump and Pearce, two unsavory characters who own the local bus company who’ve introduced a brand new single-decker bus to Titfield and are determined to cease the running of the train by means fair or foul. Ealing’s first color film, digitally restored. On Blu-ray, from Film Movement Classics.

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 December 31, 2019 No Responses »
Dec 232019
 

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas

From the Big Screen:

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

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Adopt a Highway” (2019), starring Ethan Hawke, Elaine Hendrix, Diane Gaeta, Mo McRae, Chris Sullivan and Betty Gabriel, Russ Millings has just been released from prison after serving 21 years for a 3rd strike conviction for possessing an ounce of marijuana. As he tries to adapt to a world he doesn’t recognize — including trying to learn how to use the Internet — he finds an abandoned baby in a dumpster behind the fast food restaurant where he works as a dishwasher. Unsure of what to do, and caught between impulses of kindness and panic, Russ soon realizes this could be his chance at redemption. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “The Gallows Act II” (2019), starring Ema Horvath, Chris Milligan and Brittany Falardeau, is the sequel to 2015’s “The Gallows.” When teenage vlogger and aspiring actress Auna Rue logs onto a sinister website, she’s trapped in the malevolent world of a cursed stage play, “The Gallows.” After performing a passage from the play for her tiny online fan base, Auna instantly achieves the stardom she seeks — as well as a twisted challenge from a deadly spirit (The Hangman) in this nightmarish supernatural thriller. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Kill Team” (2019), starring Alexander Skarsgård, Nat Wolff, Adam Long, Jonathan Whitesell and Rob Morrow, is based on a true story and follows Andrew Briggman (Wolff), a young soldier in the US invasion of Afghanistan who witnesses other recruits killing innocent civilians under the direction of a sadistic leader, Sergeant Deeks (Skarsgård). Andrew considers reporting them to higher-ups, but the heavily armed, increasingly violent platoon becomes suspicious that someone in their ranks has turned on them — and Andrew begins to fear that he’ll be the next target. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

Foreign:

photo for Twin FlowerIn writer-director Laura Luchetti’s strikingly photographed second feature, “Twin Flower” (2018 — Italy), starring Anastasiya Bogach and Kallil Kone, two teenage runaways forge a relationship haunted by their respective pasts. Anna is eluding a human trafficker for whom her father worked, and Basim is a refugee from the Ivory Coast in search of gainful employment. Together they embark on a dangerous trip across the tough but breathtaking terrain of Sardinia in the hopes of overcoming their personal demons. The remarkable chemistry between Bogach and Kone — both nonprofessional actors — carries Luchetti’s powerful film about coming of age in the throes of the refugee crisis. From Film Movement.

Special Interest:

“Jim Allison: Breakthrough” (2019) is the astounding, true story of one warm-hearted, stubborn man’s visionary quest to find a cure for cancer. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film traces Allison’s remarkable life from his school-boy days in Friday Night Lights, Creationist Texas all the way to Stockholm, Sweden where, in December of 2018, he accepted the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Today, Allison is a name to be reckoned with throughout the scientific world — he won the Nobel Prize for discovering the immune system’s role in defeating cancer. But for decades he waged a lonely struggle against the skepticism of the medical establishment and the resistance of Big Pharma. Using intimate interviews with Allison and a set of scientific leaders, paired with the use of graphics and archival material, the documentary takes us into the inspiring and dramatic world of cutting-edge medicine, and into the heart of a true American pioneer, in a film that is both emotionally compelling and deeply entertaining. From Giant 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 December 23, 2019 No Responses »
Dec 022019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Ready or Not.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

Past, present and future collide in darkly satirical fashion in “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1972). Based on Kurt Vonnegut’s classic 1969 novel, this tale of time travel and alien abduction emerged as part of a wave of more cerebral science-fiction films in the late 60s to early 70s, elevating the genre beyond the B-movie fare of previous decades. Upstate New York, 1968: Mild-mannered Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) finds himself “unstuck in time.” Traveling photo for Slaughterhouse-Fiveback and forth across the entire span of his existence, he experiences key events of his life in a random order, including his formative years, the firebombing of Dresden and finally, at some undefined point in the future, his surreal adventures on a distant planet. Praised by Vonnegut himself for its fidelity to his novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five” boasts assured direction by George Roy Hill. Hill was a idiosyncratic director, moving from such early films as the pat comedy “Period of Adjustment” to Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic” to the offbeat “The World of Henry Orient” before hitting the jackpot with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” “Slaughterhouse-Five” followed on that success but was not as enthusiastically received. “The Sting” restored Hill’s position as a bankable director, and he went on to direct several more unusual projects, including the Paul Newman-starrer hockey film “Slap Shot” and an adaptation of John Irving’s “The World According to Garp.” Restored in 4K from the original camera negative, “Slaughterhouse-Five” features a memorable score by renowned concert pianist Glenn Gould. Stars Michael Sacks, Perry King, Valerie Perrine, Ron Leibman and Eugene Roche. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Joan the Maid” (1994 — France), master filmmaker Jacques Rivette’s ambitious historical epic about Joan of Arc, originally released in 1994, stars modern screen icon Sandrine Bonnaire as the young 15th century warrior who became a martyr and French national hero. For “Joan the Maid: The Battles,” the first installment of his ambitious yet restrained photo for Joan the Maid two-part study, director and co-screenwriter Rivette surveys the revelatory period where Joan met with royalty, joined the army and led the French into battle against the English. As Joan, Bonnaire gets at the reality behind the legend, showing the matter-of-fact courage of a teenage girl. “Joan the Maid: The Prisons,” the second part of Rivette’s diptych, brought Bonnaire a César Award nomination for her powerful performance, as she plays out windows in the final two years of Joan’s life, from battlefield victory, to prison life, to horrific execution at the stake. Film critic-turned-filmmaker Rivette (1928-2016) was one of the pioneering figures of the French New Wave, but one whose work stood out in unique ways — marked by improvisational performances, loose narratives and lengthy running times — as he altered the cinematic landscape throughout his long career. His “Paris Belongs to Us,” “L’Amour fou,” “Celine and Julie Go Boating,” “Le Pont du Nord,” “La Belle Noiseuse” and the 13-hour “Out 1” are revered touchstones of modern art cinema. New 4K restoration, from Cohen Film Collection … photo for THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE “The Story of Temple Drake” (1933), loosely adapted from William Faulkner’s controversial novel “Sanctuary,” is a notorious pre-Code melodrama that stars Miriam Hopkins as Temple Drake, the coquettish granddaughter of a respected small-town judge. When a boozehound date strands her at a bootleggers’ hideout, Temple is subjected to an act of nightmarish sexual violence and plunged into a criminal underworld that threatens to swallow her up completely. Steeped in Southern-gothic shadows by influential cinematographer Karl Struss and shot through with moral ambiguity, “The Story of Temple Drake” is a harrowing vision of sin and salvation that boasts an astonishing lead performance from the fiery Hopkins, whose passage through the stations of terror, trauma, and redemption is a true tour-de-force of screen acting. High-definition digital restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for TUNES OF GLORY In Ronald Neame’s “Tunes of Glory” (1960), the incomparable Alec Guinness plays Jock Sinclair — a whiskey-drinking, up-by-the-bootstraps commanding officer of a peacetime Scottish battalion. A lifetime military man, Sinclair expects respect and loyalty from his men. But when Basil Barrow (John Mills) — an educated, by-the-book scion of a military family-enters the scene as Sinclair’s replacement, the two men engage in a fierce struggle for control of both the battalion and the hearts and minds of its men. Based on the novel by James Kennaway and featuring flawless performances by Guinness and Mills, “Tunes of Glory” uses the rigid stratification of military life to comment on the institutional contradictions and class hierarchies of English society, making for an unexpectedly moving drama. New 4K digital restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

photo for City on a Hill Season One “City on a Hill: Season One” (2019) is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Showtime Original drama starring Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge. The show is set in the early 1990s, when Boston was rife with violent criminals emboldened by local law enforcement agencies in which corruption and racism was the norm, until it all suddenly changed in what was called the “Boston Miracle.” In this fictional account, driving change is Assistant District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Hodge), who comes from Brooklyn and forms an unlikely alliance with a corrupt, yet venerated FBI veteran, Jackie Rohr (Bacon). Together, they take on a family of armored car robbers from Charlestown in a case that grows to involve, and ultimately subvert, the entire criminal justice system of Boston. From Paramount … This is the one that millions have been waiting for: “Game of Thrones: Season 8” (2019), a four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray set with all six episodes. Also available in Steelbook and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combos. For the ultimate gift, there’s photo for Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray
“Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray,” packaged in a visually stunning wooden shadow box case, featuring beautiful, multi-layered panel designs by Robert Ball (the artist behind the “Beautiful Death” series) that summarize the “Game of Thrones” story. Each season is represented by a different layer, showcasing iconic characters and memorable moments from the show, all clambering toward the Iron Throne. The set also contains a “Hand of the King” pin clasp, which holds all nine custom plated disc sleeves.$249.00. A standard DVD + Digital set will retail for $166.99; Blu-ray + Digital, $199.99. From HBO … “The Simpsons: The Complete Nineteenth Season” (2007-08) is a four-disc set with all 20 episodes. On DVD from Fox.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “The Shasta Triangle” (2019), starring Dani Lennon, Ayanna Berkshire, Helenna Santos and Madeline Merritt, a young woman returns to her hometown to uncover the truth about her father’s disappearance. Deep in the woods, she and her childhood friends battle ancient and terrifying forces controlling the town. From Giant Pictures … In “Blood Bags” (2019 — Italy), starring Makenna Guyler, Emanuele Turetta and Marta Tananyan, two friends break into an abandoned mansion and discover that a creature is stalking the corridors. With all the exits sealed off, the creature hunts them, growing hungry for their blood. Fron High Octane Pictures … “This is Our Home” (2019), starring Jeff Ayars and Simone Policano, is a chilling account of a struggling couple who, during a weekend getaway, are greeted in the middle of the night by a child claiming to be their son, from Uncork’d Entertainment … photo for Savage
“Savage” (2018 — China), starring Chang Chen, Ni Ni, Liao Fan, Huang Jue, Liu Hua, Zhang Yicong and Li Guangjie, is an action-packed heist thriller set on a remote mountain in northeastern China. The film follows a dogged detective as he squares off against a trio of violent crooks. Buried by treacherous conditions at the top of Mt. Baekdu, a policeman must brave the extreme conditions until he’s relieved from his post. When a group of thieves stumbles into the station in search of safe shelter, the night turns into a fight for survival as the two sides must put aside their differences to outlast the night. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In “Low Tide” (2019), starring Keean Johnson, Alex Neustaedter, Daniel Zolghadri and Jaeden Lieberher, Alan, Red, and Smitty spend high summer on the Jersey Shore roving the boardwalk and getting into trouble. But the discovery of good old-fashioned treasure sets the friends on an escalating course of suspicion and violence. From Lionsgate … In “Semper Fi” (2019), starring Jai Courtney, Nat Wolff, Finn Wittrock, Beau Knapp, Arturo Castro and Leighton Meester, Cal (Courtney) is a by-the-book police officer who, along with his close-knit group of childhood friends, makes ends meet as a Marine Corps reservist. When Cal’s reckless younger half-brother, Oyster (Wolff), is arrested after a bar fight and given an unfair prison sentence, Cal – driven by his loyalty to family and fierce code of honor – fights for Oyster in this gripping tale of brotherhood and sacrifice.On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … photo for killerman In “Killerman” (2019), starring Liam Hemsworth, Emory Cohen and Diane Guerrero, Hemsworth stars as money launderer Moe Diamond in the dangerous criminal underworld of New York City. When a lucrative drug deal goes wrong, Diamond wakes up from a car crash with no memory, millions in cash, and a crew of dirty cops hunting him down. With a stranger who says he’s his best friend and a fiancee he does’t remember, Moe must race against the clock to discover his own identity–and escape his past, before it destroys any chance at a future. From Paramount … When their father is murdered, three brothers descend upon an Oregon mountain river to spread his ashes in “Red Handed” (2019), starring Michael Biehn, Christian Madsen, Owen Burke, Ryan Carnes, Kenzie Dalton and Michael Madsen. After they arrive, one of their children goes missing. One of the brothers was himself abducted 30 years ago when they visited this same river, but he has blocked the incident out of his mind. Only by unlocking the mysteries inside his subconscious, will they be able find the child and return him to safety. From High Octane Pictures … When her sister is taken by a gang of white slavers, Margaret (Karen Kopins) knows she needs a hero with a difference to bring her home in photo for Jake Speed “Jake Speed” (1986). Enter Speed (Wayne Crawford), leaping from the pages of pulp thriller novels and into the real world. With Margaret and his trusty sidekick Desmond Floyd (Dennis Christopher), Jake arrives hot on the heels of the kidnappers in a southern African country gripped by civil war. But it soon turns out Jake got more than he bargained for when he discovers that the ringleader of the slavers is none other than his own arch-nemesis: the wicked, criminally insane Sid (John Hurt). A ripe slice of 80s action cheese with romance, death-defying stunts, spellbinding scenery shot on location in Zimbabwe … and best of all, a wickedly off-the-wall performance by the late John Hurt. Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original 35mm interpositive. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986), Kurt Russell stars as Jack Burton, a tough-talking truck driver whose life goes into a supernatural tailspin when his best friend’s fiancée is kidnapped in John Carpenter’s action film. Jack suddenly finds himself in a murky, danger-filled world beneath San Francisco’s Chinatown, where Lo Pan, a 2,000-year-old magician, mercilessly rules an empire of spirits. Facing down a host of unearthly terrors, Jack battles through Lo Pan’s dark domain in a full-throttle, action-riddled ride to rescue the girl. Co-stars Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun and James Hong. In a two-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

On the Indie Front:

In “Adam” (2019), starring Nicholas Alexander, Bobbi Salvör Menuez and Margaret Qualley, awkward, self-conscious Adam Freeman (Alexander) has just finished his junior year of high school in 2006. When his cool older sister Casey (Qualley) suggests he visit her in New York for the summer, Adam has visions of meeting a girl and finally gaining some actual life experience. The fantasy doesn’t materialize exactly as expected. Casey has enthusiastically embraced life amidst Brooklyn’s young LGBTQ community and invites Adam to tag along with her to queer bars, marriage equality rallies and other happenings. When Adam falls at first sight for Gillian (Menuez), a smart, beautiful young woman in this new crowd, she mistakenly assumes he is trans. Flummoxed and enamored, he haplessly goes along with her assumption, resulting in an increasingly complex comedy — and tragedy — of errors he’s ill-equipped to navigate. From Wolfe Releasing … In “Santa Fake” (2019), starring Damian McGinty, Heather Morris, John Rhys-Davies and Judd Nelson, Pat Keeley (McGinty), an undocumented Northern Irish immigrant, has made his way to NYC where he is taken in, unwittingly, by a crime boss (Rhys-Davies). Asked to deliver two mysterious briefcases, naive Pat in a panic ends up in the wrong destination: Santa Fe, New Mexico. There he finds a home and a job as the shopping mall Santa Claus, allowing him to hide in plain sight from both the authorities and the gangsters he is trying to evade. As Pat gets wrapped deeper into the spirit of Christmas and his role as Santa Claus, he finds that the phony white beard and big red suit are more than just a handy disguise, but instead his real destiny.From Gravitas Ventures.

Foreign:

“Funan” (2019 — France), the winner of the top prizes at the Annecy Animation Festival and the Animation is Film Festival, the critically acclaimed drama Funan is a searing and remarkable debut from filmmaker Denis Do and is based on the true life stories of his family’s harrowing experience under the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia, April 1975. Chou is a young woman whose everyday world is suddenly upended by the arrival of the Khmer Rouge regime. During the chaos of the forced exile from their home, Chou and her husband are separated from their 4-year-old son, who has been sent to an unknown location. As she navigates her new reality, working in the fields day and night under the careful watch of soldiers, and surviving the small indignities and harrowing realities of the increasingly grim work camps, Chou remains steadfast in her determination to reunite her family – even if it means risking everything. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … World War II’s Siege of Leningrad – in which Nazi Germany blockaded the major Soviet city for 28 months – ranks as perhaps the single most brutal and devastating military campaign in modern history. Now, the story of this unspeakable siege is told through the lives of people caught in the middle of it in photo for Battle of Leningrad “Battle of Leningrad”
(2019 — Russia), starring Andrey Mironov-Udalov and Maria Melnikova. September 1941. In a turn of events young lovebirds Kostya and Nastya find themselves on board a barge that will evacuate people from sieged Leningrad. At night the barge gets into the storm. When it starts sinking, enemy planes – but not rescuers – are the first to arrive at the scene.On DVD, Blu-ray, from MPI Media Group … In “The Ground Beneath My Feet” (2019 — Austria), starring Valerie Pachner, Pia Hierzegger and Mavie Hörbiger, Lola, not yet 30, controls her personal life with the same ruthless efficiency she uses to optimize profits in her job as a high-powered business consultant. But when she receives the news that her older sister Conny has attempted suicide, Lola’s secrets begin to unravel into the workplace. As she tries to do what’s best for her sister without jeopardizing all she’s worked so hard for, Lola slowly finds her own grip on reality slipping away. From Strand Releasing.

For the Family:

“Buttons: A Christmas Tale” (2018), starring Jane Seymour, Roma Downey, Abigail Spencer, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury, is a family film narrated by Kate Winslet and Robert Redford. It follows the heartwarming journey of two orphan girls whose only wish is to find a home for Christmas. With a little help from their guardian angels (Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury), they discover that miracles really can happen when you find the power to believe. From Paramount … photo for Sesame Street: 50th Anniversary Celebration In “Sesame Street: 50th Anniversary Celebration” (2019), viewers can join host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the residents of Sesame Street — humans and monsters alike — to celebrate 50 years of learning, laughter, and love. Familiar felt faces like Roosevelt Franklin, Don Music, Sherlock Hemlock, and The Amazing Mumford join original Sesame Street cast members and celebrity guests like Norah Jones, Nile Rodgers, Sterling K. Brown, Meghan Trainor, Patti LaBelle, Elvis Costello and more in this heartwarming special. “Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration” reimagines classic segments and songs as the Sesame Street gang gets ready for a big party to celebrate the neighborhood’s 50th birthday. When the famous street sign goes missing before the party, it’s up to Elmo, Rosita, Grover, and Abby to track it down, while Big Bird and Snuffy plan a surprise of their own. From Sesame Workshop/Shout Kids.

Special Interest:

“To Be of Service” (2019), from Oscar-nominated Josh Aronson and featuring a new song from Jon Bon Jovi, is a documentary about veterans suffering from PTSD who are paired with a service dog to help them regain their lives. Returning home for these vets is often plagued by depression and a painful disconnect from the world they once knew. Family, old friends and jobs seem foreign, and newly returned warriors often struggle to return to a normal civilian life. The film follows these warriors with their dogs as this deeply bonded friendship restores independence and feeling for the men and women who so courageously served our country. From First Run Features … “That Pärt Feeling – The Universe of Ärvo Part” (2018) is an intimate documentary that follows the brilliant, reclusive Estonian composer as he photo for That Pärt Feeling - The Universe of Ärvo Part collaborates with the Cello Octet Amsterdam. Pärt is the most performed living composer in the world, but he is considered to be something of a recluse, and his person and work have rarely been documented on film. Here, home viewers get to know Pärt as an artist combining an incredible sensitivity with humor and energy in his work. His reputation stems from his deeply-held belief that it’s not through words that a great artist communicates, but simply through music. Though he may seem reclusive in his person, what he wants to say and what he means is written in notes. From Film Movement … “Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins” (2019) is a relevant and razor-sharp look at the trailblazing career of political columnist Molly Ivins. Media firebrand Molly Ivins, six feet of Texas trouble, took on the Good Old Boy corruption wherever she found it. Her razor sharp wit left both sides of the aisle laughing and craving ink in her columns. She knew the Bill of Rights was in peril and said, “Polarizing people is a good way to win an election and a good way to wreck a country.” Molly’s words have proved prescient. Now it’s up to us to raise hell. 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.

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