From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Andrei Rublev”: (1966) Tracing the life of a renowned icon painter, the second feature by Andrei Tarkovsky vividly conjures the murky world of medieval Russia. This dreamlike and remarkably tactile film follows Andrei Rublev as he passes through a series of poetically linked scenes — snow falls inside an unfinished church, naked pagans stream through a thicket during a torchlit ritual, a boy oversees the clearing away of muddy earth for the forging of a gigantic bell — gradually emerging as a man struggling mightily to preserve his creative and religious integrity. Appearing here in the director’s preferred 185-minute cut as well as the version that was originally suppressed by Soviet authorities, the masterwork “Andrei Rublev” is one of Tarkovsky’s most revered films, an arresting meditation on art, faith, and endurance. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “The Day of the Jackal”: (1973) In 1971, Frederick Forsythe shot to bestseller status with his debut novel, “The Day of the Jackal” — taut, utterly plausible, almost documentarian in its realism and attention to detail. Two years later, director Fred Zinnemann (“High Noon”) turned a gripping novel into a nail-biting cinematic experience. August 1962: the latest attempt on the life of French President Charles de Gaulle by the far-right paramilitary organization, the OAS, ends in chaos, with its architect-in-chief dead at the hands of a firing squad. Demoralized and on the verge of bankruptcy, the OAS leaders meet in secret to plan their next move. In a last desperate attempt to eliminate de Gaulle, they opt to employ the services of a hired assassin from outside the fold. Enter the Jackal (Edward Fox): charismatic, calculating, cold as ice. As the Jackal closes in on his target, a race against the clock ensues to identify and put a stop to a killer whose identity, whereabouts and modus operandi are completely unknown. Co-starring a plethora of talent from both sides of the Channel, including Michael Lonsdale (“Munich”), Derek Jacobi (“The Odessa File”) and Cyril Cusack (“1984”) and featuring striking cinematography by Jean Tournier (“Moonraker”), “The Day of the Jackal” remains one of the greatest political thrillers of all time. And Edward Fox, whom many viewers will recognize from “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “Gandhi” (1982), plays one of the most frightenly perfect hitman of all time. Trivia: He’s the older brother to actor James Fox, who starred alongside Mick Jagger in “Performance” (1970). On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Exorcist II: The Heretic”: (1977) Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Paul Henreid, James Earl Jones. Following upon the enormous success of the original, this sequel opened in June 1977 and has come to be labeled one of the worst films of all-time; director Williamn Friedkin thought it diminished the value of the original and called it “one of the worst films I’ve ever seen” and director John Boorman has disowned it. Still, it has gathered some cult status by now: here’s your chance to be the judge with two different cuts of the film, the original and a second cut by Boorman to salvage the work. New 2K scans from original film elements of the 118 minute and 102 minute cuts. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … “The Farmer’s Daughter”: (1947) Loretta Young, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, Charles Bickford, Harry Davenport. Young is The Farmer’s Daughter – blonde, brash and so hilariously heartwarming that she won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. As Katrin, she romps through one uproarious romantic adventure after another, an independent farm girl who becomes a politician and captures the heart of a Congressman along the way. The outrageous antics begin when Katrin, fresh from the farm, arrives in Capitol City ready to take on the metropolis. She takes the very first job she can find: housemaid in the wealthy home of urbane Congressman Glenn Morley, charmingly played by Cotten. But she’s no sooner tied the apron strings around her waist than she’s running for Congress. To complicate matters further, Morley is developing a case of infatuation for Katrin — and it’s looking like love that knows no political bounds. Directed by H. C. Potter (“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”).On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics …
“A Raisin in the Sun”: (1961) Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” was the first play by a black woman to be on Broadway and is now an immortal part of the theatrical canon. Two years after its premiere, the production came to the screen, directed by Daniel Petrie. The original stars — including Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee — reprise their roles as members of an African-American family living in a cramped Chicago apartment, in this deeply resonant tale of dreams deferred. Following the death of their patriarch, the Youngers await a life insurance check they hope will change their circumstances, but tensions arise over how best to use the money. Vividly rendering Hansberry’s intimate observations on generational conflict and housing discrimination, Petrie’s film captures the high stakes, shifting currents, and varieties of experience within black life in midcentury America. On DVD, Blu-ray. from The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Billions: The Third Season” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 12 episodes about the battle between two powerful New York figures, hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades. The third season finds Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and Axelrod (Damian Lewis) in a world that has shifted on its axis. Both men are still determined to destroy the other, but must also battle for their own survival amid new forces and powerful enemies. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Sift), Chuck’s wife and Axe’s performance coach, is all in for both men, an uneasy and dangerous position for her, and one that ultimately puts her to a decision that could alter the direction of her life irrevocably. Money, power, justice and revenge are all on the line. From Showtime/Paramount … “The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special” (2017): When “The Carol Burnett Show” turned 50, CBS honored the groundbreaking comedy series with this Anniversary Special, which aired to a whopping 15.4 million viewers on Sunday, December 3, 2017. Nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special, the one-night event, which was filmed at the series’ original soundstage at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, features Burnett, original cast members Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, costume designer Bob Mackie, and a slew of special guests, including Jon Batiste, Beth Behrs, Jim Carrey, Kristin Chenoweth, Stephen Colbert, Harry Connick Jr., Kaley Cuoco, Bill Hader, Steve Lawrence, Jay Leno, Jane Lynch, Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Amy Poehler, Tracee Ellis Ross, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short and more. Highlights include the most uproarious clips from the landmark series; Carol’s beloved Q&A with the star-studded 50th Anniversary audience including questions from Pat Boone and Tom Selleck; Carol’s guests try out her famous Tarzan yell – Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Tracee Ellis Ross all give it a go; Stephen Colbert, Steve Lawrence, Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth and Carol all come together for a brand-new musical number; more. From Time Life … “C.B. Strike: The Series” (2017) is Cinemax’s compelling detective drama adapted from popular crime novel trilogy by Robert Galbraith, a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke), a war veteran turned private detective, operates out of a tiny office in London’s Denmark Street. He is wounded both physically and psychologically but his unique insight and his background as an SIB investigator prove crucial in solving complex cases, which the police seem unable to solve. Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) is Strike’s new office temp who is in charge of managing his chaotic life. She soon becomes involved with his caseload and begins to see her true potential. Together they crack some of London’s most intriguing cases. From Warner … “The Chi Season One” (2018) includes all 10 episodes. On Chicago’s South Side, an average day finds kids prepping for school as their parents head off to work, young adults trying to make a living, and the elders keeping an eye on things from their front porches. But in this tough neighborhood, real dangers threaten daily to squelch dreams, and the simplest decisions can have life-or-death consequences. The series is a timely coming-of-age drama series, centered on a group of South Side residents who become linked by coincidence but bonded by the need for connection and redemption. From Fox … “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Third Season” (2017-18) includes all 18 episodes. After defeating the Legion of Doom, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow face a new threat created by their actions. By revisiting a moment in time that they had already participated in, they’ve essentially fractured the timeline and created anachronisms all across time! In Season Three, the Legends must find a way to return all the anachronisms to their original timelines before the time stream falls apart. Four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray, from Warner … “Dynasty: Season One” (2017-18) is a four-disc set with all 22 episodes. A modern re-imagining of the iconic primetime soap that follows two of America’s wealthiest families as they feud for control over their fortune and their children. The series centers on the lavish and powerful Carrington family as they defend their throne against the Colbys, new rivals and threats, and even each other. Fallon Carrington is a charismatic, cunning young woman, poised to become the new COO of her father’s global energy empire — or so she thinks. When her father, Blake Carrington, summons Fallon and her brother, Steven, home to the family compound in Atlanta, Fallon is horrified to learn that the reunion isn’t to announce her promotion, but rather to meet her stepmother-to-be, Cristal. Cristal is stunning — and almost as young as Fallon — but she isn’t just some gold-digger to be scared off. Cristal is a driven, principled and savvy publicity maven at Carrington Atlantic, and she truly loves Blake. However, the wealth and privilege of the Carringtons’ world proves challenging to her, as she clashes with Fallon, who all make it very clear Cristal doesn’t belong. Family dynasties flow through blood, and Fallon would sooner draw blood than call Cristal “Mom,” so she asks Cuihane, the family’s chauffeur — and Fallon’s secret lover — to help expose Cristal for the fraud Fallon thinks she is. But, when that backfires and Blake chooses Cristal over his own daughter, Fallon sides up to Blake’s biggest rival, Jeff Colby, mixing business and pleasure to seek her revenge, leaving a jealous Cuihane to watch from the sidelines. From CBS/Paramount.