"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
May 252020
 

From the Big Screen:

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

This Week’s Best Bets

“Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto” (1987-2018): One of the most distinctive and celebrated names in modern Japanese cinema, there’s no other filmmaker quite like Shinya Tsukamoto. Since his early days as a teenager making Super 8 shorts, he has remained steadfastly independent, garnering widespread acclaim while honing photo for Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto his own unique and instantly recognizable aesthetic on the margins of the industry. Frequently exploring themes of urban alienation, physical transformation and psychosexual obsession, his films cross genre boundaries, defying straightforward classification. This exclusive collection gathers together eight feature-length films and two shorts from Tsukamoto’s diverse filmography, including his most recent offering — his samurai drama “Killing,” making its home video premiere. Includes: “Tetsuo: The Iron Man,” “Tetsuo II: Body Hammer,” “Tokyo Fist,” “Bullet Ballet,” “A Snake of June,” “Vital,” “Kotoko,” “The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo” (short), “Haze” (short). On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Wildlife” (2018), the directorial debut of actor Paul Dano, reveals a filmmaking talent of remarkable intelligence and restraint. Adapted by Dano and Zoe Kazan from the novel by Richard Ford, this meticulously crafted portrait of the American nuclear family in crisis charts the rift that forms within a 1960s Montana household when the father and breadwinner photo for Wildlife / (Jake Gyllenhaal) abruptly departs to fight the forest fires raging nearby, leaving his restless wife (Carey Mulligan, in a performance of fearless emotional honesty) and teenage son (Ed Oxenbould) to pick up the pieces. A deeply human look at a woman’s wayward journey toward self-fulfillment in the pre-women’s-liberation era and a sensitively observed, child’s-eye coming-of-age tale, Wildlife poignantly illuminates the complex ways in which families function, fall apart, and find their way. On DVD and Blu-ray, with, new director-approved 2K digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Screen legends Gene Hackman and Barbra Streisand star as the oddest couple to beat the odds in the offbeat comedy “All Night Long” (1981) that proves a man can lose everything and still live happily ever after. After successful executive George Dupler (Hackman) is demoted to photo for All Night Long managing a seedy all-night drugstore, he decides to totally change his life. Leaving his wife, he takes up with Cheryl (Streisand), a sexy but ditzy neighbor — who’s already had an affair with his son (Dennis Quaid)! Now his hands are full with his new wild woman by day and his weird and crazy customers by night in this screwball romantic comedy. The top-notch cast includes Diane Ladd, Kevin Dobson, William Daniels and Ann Doran. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … Essayist, novelist, critic, cinephile, and all-around intellectual dynamo Susan Sontag made her directorial debut with “Duet For Cannibals” (1969), a definition-defying, dryly funny psychological serio-comedy, the result of a Swedish studio’s invitation to her to make a film in Stockholm. The result, revolving around the quadrangular relationship between an arrogant ex-revolutionist German intellectual exile, his elegant wife, their Swedish student secretary, and the earnest secretary’s bride-to-be, is a roundelay of partner-swapping that gradually drifts towards uncharted territory, gamesmanship that broaches the surreal and violent. Defying literal-minded interpretation, “Duet for Cannibals” is both an illustrative companion to Sontag’s criticism and the introduction of a startlingly original filmmaker. On DVD, Blu-ray from Metrograph Pictures/Kino Lorber … photo for Husbands The trailblazing independent auteur John Cassavetes pushes his raw, uncompromising emotional realism to its limit in “Husbands” (1970), an unflinching portrait of masculinity in crisis. Cassavetes joins Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk — both of whom would become key collaborators of the director’s — playing a trio of middle-aged Long Island family men who, following the sudden death of their best friend, channel their grief into an epic, multiday bender that takes them from Manhattan to London in a desperate, debauched quest to feel alive. By turns painfully funny and woundingly perceptive, this self-described “comedy about life, death, and freedom” stands as perhaps the most fearless, harrowingly honest deconstruction of American manhood ever committed to film. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “Scorsese Shorts”” This compilation of five early short films by Martin Scorsese offers a fascinating window onto his artistic development. Spanning the years from Scorsese’s time at NYU in the mid-1960s to the late 70s, when he was emerging as one of the era’s most photo for Scorsese Shortselectrifying talents, “Scorsese Shorts” centers on the intimate home movie “Italianamerican” (1974) — a loving snapshot of the director’s parents — and “American Boy” (1978), a freewheeling portrait of a larger-than-life raconteur. Also included are “The Big Shave” (1967), a daringly visceral response to America’s involvement in Vietnam, and the bracing student films “What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?” (1963) and “It’s Not Just You, Murray!” (1964). Touching on many of Scorsese’s key themes-Italian American identity, family, his beloved New York City-these are hilarious, candid, and illuminating works from the preeminent American filmmaker of our time. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new, director-approved 4K digital restorations of all five films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Agatha Raisin, Series 3” (2019) is a three-disc set with four episodes. Emmy and SAG-nominated actress Ashley Jensen is back in the P.I business as she resumes the comic antics, crafty know-how, and chic fashions of the charismatic sleuth in the quintessentially British village mystery based on the bestselling novels by M.C. Beaton. In Series 3, Agatha is now an official private investigator and operates her first detective agency, where pressures are high to keep new business flowing. When Agatha’s new agency fails to attract clients, her firm investigates the haunting of Ivy Hall, a mystery that has baffled locals, historians and photo for The Deuce: The Complete Third Season ambitious treasure hunters for centuries, as the perfect opportunity to drum up business; Agatha investigates a young woman about to get married and a would-be-assassin found dead; Agatha takes a relaxing trip to a traditional winter festival with her team to temporarily relieve her troubles behind, but her plans are quickly derailed when a gruesome discovery leaves all of Carsely fearing for their safety. From Acorn Media … “The Deuce: The Complete Third Season” (2019) brings us into the world of 1985, just as VHS overtakes film as the primary medium for porn production and distribution. The lure of the California sunshine, the city’s aggressive takeover of commercial sex properties in Times Square and the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic mark the end of an era. With the party of the 1970s winding down, 42nd Street has deteriorated into a hive of uncontrolled violent crime and seedy video stores, making urban renewal seem more unlikely than ever before. Following the interconnected lives of Times Square’s barkeeps, prostitutes, pimps, police, mobsters, porn actors and producers, the third season brings the series’ arc to a dramatic conclusion. Three episodes from Warner … “Silicon Valley: The Complete Sixth Season” (2019) contains all seven episodes. In the final season of the hit series, Pied Piper is finally seeing the fruits of their labor – they have a huge new office and employees to fill it. But they soon find that being a bigger company means dealing with bigger problems. Can they achieve their vision without sacrificing their morals? From Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Escape From L.A. (Collector’s Edition)” (1996), Kurt Russell rejoins filmmakers John Carpenter and Debra Hill to do to Los Angeles what they did to the Big Apple in “Escape From New York.” Snake Plissken (Russell) takes on Los Angeles after a 9.6 earthquake decimates the city. His job: wade through L.A.’s ruined landmarks to retrieve a doomsday device. Snake surfs Wilshire Blvd., shoots hoops at the Coliseum, dive bombs the Happy Kingdom theme park, and mixes it up with a wild assortment of friends and foes including Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, Bruce Campbell, Peter Fonda, George Corraface, Cliff Robertson and Pam Grier. New 4K film scan from the original negative. On DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Scream Factory … When social outcast Jessica is accepted into a trio of teenage vampires, she finds herself thrust into a nocturnal world of murder, drugs and all-night parties as they stalk the patrons of local bars and clubs in “Girls Just Wanna Have Blood” (2019), starring Bettina Skye, David M. Sitbon and Gigi Gustin. Meanwhile, a mysterious, foreign vampire hunter searches the underworld in hopes of putting a stake right through their plan to party forever. From Wild Eye Releasing … photo for Blood Tide In “Blood Tide” (1982 — UK/Greece), terror strikes in paradise as Academy Award-winning actors James Earl Jones, José Ferrer and Lila Kedrova star in a thrilling tale of sea monsters and sacrificial virgins, from the people that brought you the notoriously gruesome “Island of Death.” When treasure hunter Frye (Jones) accidentally awakens an ancient sea monster that has been lying dormant on a Greek island, the inhabitants are forced to resume the practice of sacrificing virgins in order to placate the demonic creature. Meanwhile a couple, Neil and Sherry, arrive on the island in search of Neil’s missing sister, Madeline. Written and produced by Nico Mastorakis, this is a suspense-filled creature feature surging with blood, nudity and beachside aerobics. New restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Produced in 1960 as “Body in the Web,” “Horrors of Spider Island” (1960 — Germany), starring Harald Maresch, Helga Franck and Alexander D’Arcy, became a notorious Adults Only feature throughout Europe (though banned in the UK). Three years later and sheared of its nudity, it was repackaged for American audiences as a brain-melting monster movie filled with stripper-cat-fights, skimpy lingerie, and radioactive arachnids. The completely uncensored version, scanned from the Düsseldorf dupe negative, as well as the alternate U.S. release, scanned from a pristine low con print, are now together for the first time. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … photo for White Fire In “White Fire” (1985 — France), Robert Ginty and Belinda Mayne play Bo and Inga, brother and sister jewel thieves who target the legendary “White Fire” diamond — a priceless rock so hot it actually burns those who try to lay their hands on it. When tragedy strikes, Bo undertakes an outrageous plan involving plastic surgery and explosives to infiltrate the mine where the diamond awaits. Bo’s plan hits an unexpected snag with the arrival of smooth-talking badass Noah Barclay, played by Fred Williamson. Noah’s hunting for a missing prostitute — and he thinks Bo and Inga hold the key to her disappearance. Erotic filmmaker Jean-Marie Pallardy (“Erotic Diary of a Lumberjack”) brings his kinky touch to high octane action in this infamous exploitation epic, complete with chainsaw mayhem, awkward brotherly love, and a very 80s theme song by the band Limelight. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … With “Satan’s Slave” (1982 — Indonesia), starring Ruth Pelupessi, W.D. Mochtar and Fachrul Rozy, Indonesian exploitation studio Rapi Films and writer-director Sisworo Gautama Putra unleashed a chiller that rocked the Muslim nation, transformed the country’s genre film industry, and remains one of the most influential shockers in Asian horror history. While mourning the death of his mother, a troubled teen discovers a nightmare world of restless spirits, supernatural vengeance and occult terror. Scanned from the original negative. A 2017 remake became an international festival favorite and one of Indonesia’s biggest hits ever. On DVD, Blu-ray from Severin Films … In “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh” (1971 –Italy), starring George Hilton, Edwige Fenech, Conchita Airoldi, Ivan Rassimov and Alberto de Mendozam Fenech stars as an unfaithful diplomat’s wife who finds herself hunted by a razor-wielding sex maniac while simultaneously haunted by her own depraved desires. Also known as “Blade of the Ripper” and “Next!” Newly scanned in 4k from the inter-negative. In English and Italian with English subtitles. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severn Films… photo for The Woman Almost a decade after Lucky McKee burst upon the indie horror scene and became a “Master of Horror” in the making thanks to his directorial debut, “May,” he teamed up with legendary cult author Jack Ketchum for his most shocking and brutal film to date: “The Woman” (2011), an instant cause célèbre on its Sundance premiere. The Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) is the last surviving member of a deadly clan of feral cannibals that has roamed the American wilderness for decades. When successful country lawyer Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) stumbles upon her while hunting in the woods, he decides to capture and “civilize” her with the help of his seemingly perfect all-American family, including his wife Belle (Angela Bettis) and daughter Peggy (Lauren Ashley). The Cleeks will soon learn, however, that hell hath no fury like The Woman scorned … In a definitive new edition with a 4K remaster. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

On the Indie Front:

On a summer night in Harlem during her last months at home before starting college, seventeen-year-old poet Ayanna meets Isaiah, a charming music producer who has just moved to the city in
“Premature” (2019), starring Zora Howard and Joshua Boone. It’s not long before these two artistic souls are drawn together in a passionate summer romance. But as the highs of young love give way to jealousy, suspicion, and all-too-real consequences, Ayanna must confront the complexities of the adult world whether she is ready or not. From IFC Films.

Foreign Films:

“The Man Standing Next” (2020 — South Korea), starring Lee Sung-min, Kwak Do-won and Lee Byung-hun, is set in the 1970’s, when South Korea is under the absolute control of President Park Chung-hee, who controls the KCIA, the country’s spy and intelligence service. In the midst of Park’s reign of fear, a former KCIA director, Park Yong-gak, exiles to the U.S where an investigation of “Koreagate” is underway. As the tension escalates, the stifling political maneuvering leads up to Park’s assassination in 1979. On DVD, Blu-ray, from MPI Media Group.

Special Interest:

“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” (2019): Inspired by Robbie Robertson’s 2017 bestselling memoir “Testimony,” this documentary deeply dissects The Band’s magic and dysfunction, presenting a backstage view of the group’s inner workings and offering audiences an unseen look at their impact on the music industry. The documentary chronicles Robertson’s introduction to music and the group’s revolutionary collaboration with Bob Dylan, to their final tour as one of the most influential groups of their era. Brings together never-photo for lbert Einstein: Still a Revolutionarybefore-seen archival footage and audio, while offering a refreshing backstage look at the band through interviews with Robertson, Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Ronnie Hawkins and more. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Magnolia Home Entertainment … “Albert Einstein: Still a Revolutionary” (2020): Albert Einstein, the most famous scientist of all time, was a world renowned celebrity, greeted like a rock star when he appeared in public. An anti-war firebrand, Einstein also spoke out on issues ranging from women’s rights and racism to immigration and nuclear arms control. But today, his image has been neutered into that of a charmingly absent-minded genius. He was, in fact, a powerful force for social change and a model for political activism. Using a wealth of rarely-seen archival footage, correspondence, and new and illuminating interviews, Julia Newman’s documentary makes the case that Einstein’s example of social and political activism is as important today as are his brilliant, ground-breaking theories. From First Run Features.

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 May 25, 2020 No Responses »
May 222020
 

Based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Continue reading »

 Posted by on May 22, 2020 No Responses »
May 182020
 

From the Big Screen:

“Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Onward,” “The Way Back,” “Emma,” “Downhill” and “Brahms: The Boy II.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“Lonely Are the Brave” (1962) is a contemporary Western based on a novel by Edward Abbey (“Fire on the Mountain”) and adapted for the screen by the great Dalton Trumbo. Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas ignites the screen in his personal favorite role as a cowboy on a collision course with the modern world. After landing himself in jail trying to break out his friend, photo for Lonely Are the Brave Jack Burns (Douglas) finds himself alone and on the run from the law. Leading the manhunt is Sheriff Morey Johnson (Walter Matthau), who must bring Burns to justice despite his own sympathy for the fugitive. Co-starring Gena Rowlands, George Kennedy and Carroll O’Connor and featuring top-notch cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop (“Experiment in Terror”) with a rousing score by Jerry Goldsmith, “Lonely Are the Brave” is an unforgettable portrait of a man defying life in an orderly world. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … Dorothy Arzner, the sole woman to work as a director in the Hollywood studio system of the 1930s and early 40s, brings a subversive feminist sensibility to the juicily entertaining photo for Dance, Girl, Dance backstage melodrama “Dance, Girl, Dance” (1940). A behind-the-footlights look at friendship, jealousy, and ambition in the ruthless world of show business, “Dance, Girl, Dance” follows the intertwining fates of two chorus girls: a starry-eyed dancer (Maureen O’Hara) who dreams of making it as a ballerina and the brassy gold digger (a scene-stealing Lucille Ball) who becomes her rival both on the stage and in love. The rare Hollywood film of the era to deal seriously with issues of female artistic struggle and self-actualization, Arzner’s film is a rich, fascinating statement from an auteur decades ahead of her time. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 6” (2019)features four episodes of this New Zealand detective drama that features quirky, complex characters, piquant wit, as well as mystifying crimes and compelling whodunnit investigations. After transferring from a big city to the little town of Brokenwood, DSS Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) and Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) investigate the macabre. In Series 6, the detectives investigate a death at a steampunk event, a novelist’s killing modeled on a murder in his new book, the shooting of an animal rights activist, and a suspicious suicide at a women’s prison. In a four-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray. From Acorn Media … “Fear the Walking Dead”: Season 5” (2019) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes. Heading into Season 5 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” the group’s mission is clear: locate survivors and help make what’s left of the world a slightly better photo for The Good Place: The Complete Series (Collector’s Edition)place. With dogged determination, Morgan Jones leads the group with a philosophy rooted in benevolence, community, and hope. Each character believes that helping others will allow them to make up for the wrongs of their pasts. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Good Place: The Complete Series (Collector’s Edition)” (2016-2020) is a nine-disc set with all 53 episodes. What happens when we die? It’s a question everyone has asked, since the beginning of time. But when Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies tragically, she finds out that the afterlife is amazing: full of frozen yogurt, soulmates, and wonderful people who have done incredible things with their lives. It is absolutely perfect. The only problem is Eleanor herself. She isn’t supposed to be in The Good Place. In fact, her life decisions wouldn’t have gotten her even close. But due to a clerical error, she’s been given someone else’s reward and now has to struggle with being good in order to make sure her secret isn’t discovered. On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

After his girlfriend Georgia is murdered by European mobsters, Sam flees to Paris to hide out in “Last Moment of Clarity” (2020), starring Samara Weaving, Carly Chaikin, Zach Avery and Brian Cox. Years later, he sees a woman in a Hollywood film who he’s certain is Georgia. In LA to investigate, he encounters enigmatic Kat (Chaikin), who impulsively decides to help him on his quest. But when Sam meets the mystery actress face-to-face, his life spins out of control. From Lionsgate … “Point Defiance” (2020), starring Derek Phillips, Josh Crotty, Lauren Elaine, Sarah Butler and Steven Swadling, is a suspenseful film that focuses on stockbroker Peter Allen (Phillips), whose world is turned upside down when his troubled younger brother Alex (Crotty) returns from military duty in Afghanistan while Peter is under house arrest, forcing the elder brother to dig into a dark and secret past that he’d sooner remain hidden. From Bayview Films … photo for The Postcard Killings In “The Postcard Killings” (2020), starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Famke Janssen, Cush Jumbo, Joachim Król, Steven Mackintos and Denis O’Hare, NY Detective Jacob Kanon’s (Morgan) world is destroyed when his daughter and son-in-law are brutally murdered in London. Unable to sit idly by and do nothing, Jacob travels to London to get the answers he needs. As he learns of similar heinous murders happening across Europe — each preceded by a postcard sent to a local journalist — Jacob is in a race against time to stop the killings and find justice for his little girl. Based on the James Patterson and Liza Marklund #1 New York Times bestselling novel. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In b>”Buffaloed” (2020), starring Zoey Deutch, Judy Greer, Jai Courtney and Jermaine Fowler, Peg Dahl (Deuth) is obsessed with making enough money to get out of her blue-collar existence. She’s betting on her sharp mind to get her into an Ivy League university, but quickly realizes the impossibility of paying tuition. One scalping scheme, a stint in prison and chance phone conversation with a debt collector changes everything. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Magnolia Home Entertainment … In “Waterlily Jaguar” (2020), starring James Le Gros, Mira Sorvino, Stacey Oristano, Dominic Monaghan, Christopher Backus and Steven Swadling, a famous novelist known for his “airport” best-sellers seeks to pen a more serious novel inspired by the ancient remains of the only human ever found in the La Brea Tar Pits, and finds himself tumbling down a photo for The Warrior Queen of Jhansi spiral of obsession that may leave his most important relationship in shambles: his marriage. From Bayview Films … “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” (2019 — UK), starring Devika Bhise, Rupert Everett, Nathaniel Parker, Ben Lamb, Jodhi Ma and Derek Jacobi, is the epic true story of the legendary Rani (translation: Queen) of Jhansi, the fearless freedom fighter who became a feminist icon in India. In 1857 India, this 24-year-old general led her people into furious battle against the British Empire, shifting the balance of power in the region — and setting in motion the demise of the notorious British East India Company and the beginning of the British Raj under Queen Victoria. From Lionsgate … Horror great Peter Cushing stars in this fantastic tale as the monster’s creator, Baron von Frankenstein, determined to bring the creature back to life, in “The Evil of Frankenstein (Collector’s Edition)” (1964). Long thought destroyed, Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is discovered frozen alive and is resurrected in his laboratory. Unfortunately, the creature’s mind is dormant and, much to the Baron’s horror, he finds that only a hypnotist can order the creature to do his unfathomable bidding now. New 4K scan of the interpositive. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

On the Indie Front:

Set against the splendor of the Winter Olympic Games, an intimate and unexpected love story develops between two lonely hearts, each at their own crossroads in life, in “Olympic Dreams” (2019), starring Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll. Penelope is a first time Olympian and introverted cross-country skier, who, after finishing her event early on in the games, finds herself spending time in Athletes Village with the gregarious and outgoing volunteer dentist, Ezra. While both are eager to form connections at the Olympic Games, they’re held back by the very thing that has propelled them to this point; what do you do once your lifelong dream has come true, and you’re faced with taking the next step? Filmed on location in the actual Olympic Village at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. From IFC Films … “Union Bridge” (2019), starring Scott Friend, Emma Duncan, Alex Breaux and Elisabeth Noone, follows Will Shipe, the scion of a powerful family living near the Mason Dixon line, as he moves back home after years in the city. His old friend Nick, who still lives in town, is feverishly digging in the land because of a vision he can’t escape. What’s buried in this small town and the events around it has repercussions that affect the past and future of Shipe’s legacy. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“Zombi Child” (2019 — France), starring Mackenson Bijou, Louise Labèque and Wislanda Louimat, injects history and politics into an unconventional cross-genre film. Opening in 1962 Haiti, the horror-fantasy follows the real-life story of Clairvius Narcisse (Bijou), who falls dead on the street but is soon turned into a “zombi” when he is dug up from his grave and photo for Zombi Child forced to work on a sugar-cane plantation. Shifting to present-day Paris at the Légion d’honneur boarding school, a rebellious teen named Fanny (Labèque) befriends Melissa (Louimat), who moved to France when her parents died in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. After recruiting her into a secret literary sorority, Fanny learns of Melissa’s connection to Clairvius, and becomes obsessed with her new friend’s past and culture, soon doing the unthinkable: seeking out her voodoo mambo aunt to solve her recent heartbreak. From Film Movement … In “Promare” (2019 — Japan), 30 years has passed since the appearance of the Burnish, a race of flame-wielding mutant beings who destroyed half of the world with fire. When a new group of aggressive mutants calling themselves Mad Burnish appears, the epic battle between Galo Thymos, a new member of the anti-Burnish rescue team Burning Rescue, and Lio Fotia, the leader of Mad Burnish, begins. The top-grossing original anime feature of 2019. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

For the Family:

Join Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Sister and Brother for 28 fun-filled adventures in“The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume 3” (2019). When Sister must write about a bear she admires the most for a school project in “The Giddy Grandma,” she quickly learns just how many awards and trophies Grizzly Gran won in her younger years. Then, in “Car Trip,” the cubs are excited about going on a family trip – until they find out the destination isn’t Grizzlyland, but instead a tour of Bear Country’s national parks. Finally, the cubs are sad when they hear that their friends down the street are moving away in “Moving Day.” Brother and Sister learn about the positive side of moving – new adventures and new friends. From PBS Kids … Culminating a six-year animated journey that began with the release of “Justice League War” in 2014, the feature-length “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” (2020) finds Earth decimated after intergalactic tyrant Darkseid has devastated the Justice League in a poorly executed war by the DC Super Heroes. Now the remaining bastions of good – the Justice League, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad and assorted others – must regroup, strategize and take the war to Darkseid in order to save the planet and its surviving inhabitants. This is truly the war to end all wars, and only the victor will live to enjoy the spoils. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner.

Special Interest:

“The Venerable W.” (2017 — Switzerland/France): Evil comes in many forms. In Myanmar, it manifests in the casual racism and Islamophobia of influential, charismatic Burmese Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. Through interviews with international journalists and community leaders who protest against Wirathu’s views, shocking amateur footage of the persecution of the Rohingya, and through powerful storytelling, acclaimed director Barbet Schroeder (“Reversal of Fortune,” “Koko: A Talking Gorilla,” and “Barfly”) slowly, but inexorably, builds his case. Perhaps most damning of all are the interviews with the man himself; couching his nationalist fervor in life-affirming rhetoric. From Icarus Films … photo for Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History “Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History” (2020): This four-hour documentary from executive producer Ken Burns and senior producer Barak Goodman is adapted from the bestselling book of the same name by award-winning author Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, about how genes impact heredity, disease, and behavior. It offers the hope that new science that can alter DNA with pinpoint precision could revolutionize the treatment of some of the world’s most complex diseases. The science of genetics holds at once the promise of eradicating disease but also the threat of altering the very essence of what it means to be human. From PBS Distribution … “NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep” (2020): Like virtually every other animal, humans need sleep to survive, but what do we gain from spending nearly a third of our lives in such a defenseless state? What’s at stake if we sleep poorly? The exact benefits of sleeping have long been something of a mystery, but now scientists are looking deep into the brain to see exactly what happens when we catch z’s. One study has revealed that well-timed bursts of pink noise can nudge a person’s brain waves to extend periods of slow-wave, aka deep, sleep. 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 May 18, 2020 No Responses »
May 042020
 

From the Big Screen:

“Gretel & Hansel,” “Bloodshot” and “I Still Believe.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

The great Jason Robards recreates his Broadway role as the iconoclastic Murray Burns in this big-screen adaptation of “A Thousand Clowns” (1965). Murray is funny, feisty, compassionate and very determined to have nothing to do with the lemming-like rush-hour world. But his resolve is tested when social workers Sandra (Barbara Harris) and Albert (William Daniels) tell him that he must shape up … or his 12-year-old nephew Nick (Barry Gordon) will be shipped out to a foster home. Released when workday lifestyles went largely unchallenged, photo for A Thousand Clowns this inventive comedy-drama gleefully speaks to the nonconformist in us all. Martin Balsam, Gene Saks and John McMartin co-star in this classic film directed by Fred Coe with a screenplay by Herb Gardner based on his own play. “A Thousand Clowns” won the 1966 Oscar for Actor in a Supporting Role (Balsam) and was nominated for three more Oscars: Picture (Coe), Adapted Screenplay (Gardner) and Score (Don Walker). In a new 2K master. ON DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “Tea With the Dames” (2018): What happens when four legends of British stage and screen get together? Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright are among the most celebrated actresses of our time, with scores of iconic performances, decades of wisdom, and innumerable Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and BAFTAs between them. They are also longtime friends who here invite you to join them for a weekend in the country as they catch up with one another, reminisce, and share their candid, delightfully irreverent thoughts on everything from art to aging to love to a life lived in the spotlight. Newly released to Blu-ray, From IFC Films … photo for Six Moral Tales Blu-ray Debut The multifaceted, deeply personal work of Eric Rohmer has had an effect on cinema unlike any other. One of the founding critics of the history-making Cahiers du cinéma, Rohmer began translating his written manifestos to film in the 1960s, standing apart from his New Wave contemporaries with his patented brand of gently existential, hyperarticulate character studies set against vivid seasonal landscapes. This near genre unto itself was established with the audacious and wildly influential series “Six Moral Tales” A succession of encounters between fragile men and the women who tempt them, “Six Moral Tales “unleashed on the film world a new voice, one that was at once sexy, philosophical, modern, daring, nonjudgmental, and liberating. Three-disc special edition with new 2K digital restorations, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks. The films: “The Bakery Girl Of Monceau” (1963), “Suzanne’s Career” (1963), “My Night at Maud’s” (1969), “La Collectionneuse” (1967), “Claire’s Knee” (1970) and “Love In The Afternoon” (1972). In a Blu-ray debut from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

At long last, “Gunsmoke: Complete Series” (1955-1975), celebrating one of the most enduring and acclaimed television programs of all time! All 625 episodes from all 20 seasons of this legendary, multiple award-winning Western are available together for the first time, remastered and restored, along with great bonus features like episodic previews, original cast sponsor spots, audio commentaries, featurettes and more. Relive the timeless tales and exciting adventures of Dodge City’s leading photo for Gunsmoke: Complete Series residents: Chester (Dennis Weaver), Doc (Milburn Stone), Kitty (Amanda Blake), Quint (Burt Reynolds), Festus (Ken Curtis), Sam (Glenn Strange) and the first citizen of Dodge himself, U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness). This is the definitive complete collection that no “Gunsmoke” enthusiast can do without On DVD from CBS/Paramount … “Gunsmoke: The Final Season” (1974-75) is a six-disc set with all 24 episodes. A classic concludes, remastered and restored, from 35mm film elements. Even on the wide expanse of the frontier, all things must end. Savor these gems and more from “Gunsmoke’s” 20th season. With location filming at Old Tucson, Matt (James Arness), Festus (Ken Curtis) and Newly (Buck Taylor) pose as outlaws to outwit bandits who’ve captured Doc (Milburn Stone). Matt enlists an ex-lawman, now an alcoholic, to help clean up a lawless town. Someone is killing men in Dodge; photo for Gunsmoke: The Final Season Matt and Newly realize all were involved in a trial years earlier, and Doc is the next victim. And in a multiple award-winning*, poignant episode, “Thirty a Month and Found,” three itinerant cattle drovers take desperate measures when they sense their cowboy way of life is vanishing. From CBS/Paramount … “Humans: Complete Collection” (2015-18) is a six-disc set with all 24 episodes. Uncut UK edition Blu-ray collection debut of the AMC sci-fi series that explores the intersection of man and machine with emotional depth and pulse-pounding tension. In Series 1, when Joe Hawkins buys synth Anita, he hopes it will relieve the pressure on his lawyer wife, Laura. Although Anita is a hit with Joe’s young children, Laura feels uneasy about sharing her home with a synth. Meanwhile, retired synth engineer George refuses to dispose of his beloved but malfunctioning synth, Odi. And mysterious Leo hides secrets that could transform the future of synth technology. Then in Series 2, synths become an inextricable part of society, obediently serving and protecting the human population. But what happens when these Synths are given the right to consciousness and their own free will? Series 3 is one year after the dawn of consciousness. A decimated and oppressed Synth population fights to survive in a world that hates and fears them. Based on the award-winning Swedish sci-fi drama “Real Humans.” On Blu-ray from Acorn Media … photo for Ray Donovan: Season Seven “Ray Donovan: Season Seven”” (2019-20) is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes. Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber), a clever man with questionable skills, is a South Boston thug turned Hollywood fixer. His duties include absolving athletes, celebrities, and tycoons of their problems. Donovan’s father, Mickey, is also a man with a dubious past, spending much of his life behind bars. Once released from prison, Mickey attempts to make amends and repair his shattered family, but Donovan is wary of his father’s motives and goes to great lengths to protect himself and his family. Season seven finds Ray working to be the man his family needs him to be. While he makes progress with Dr. Amiot (Alan Alda), there are dangers from the past that require the Ray Donovan of old. Between NYC mayor Ed Feratti (Zach Grenier), an unrelenting NYPD officer hunting for the truth and clients old and new, Ray struggles to find the balance between fixing for clients and fixing himself. Co-stars Jon Voight and Eddie Marsan. From Showtime/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Arkansas” (2020), starring Liam Hemsworth, Clark Duke, Michael Kenneth Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Eden Brolin, Chandler Duke, John Malkovich and Vince Vaughn, Kyle (Hemsworth) and Swin (Duke) live by the orders of an Arkansas-based drug kingpin named Frog (Vaughn), whom they’ve never met. Posing as photo for Arkansas junior park rangers by day, they operate as low-level drug couriers by night under the watchful eye of Frog’s proxies (Malkovich and Fox). Swin then settles into his day job by taking up a relationship with Johnna (Brolin) against orders to blend in while Kyle continues to question his night job by trying to figure out who Frog really is. Their world is then upended after one too many inept decisions, and Kyle, Swin, and Johnna find themselves directly in Frog’s crosshairs. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … While a small-town widow grieves in isolation, she receives a deadly ultimatum from the privileged sons of a local land developer to sell her beloved property in “Cry for the Bad Man” (2019), starring Camille Keaton, Karen Konzen and Scott Peeler. With 24 hours to decide and her pleas to the town’s corrupt sheriff falling on deaf ears, she realizes she must take matters into her own hands. Her quest for justice turns into an all-out battle and grisly confrontation. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “Better Days” (2019 –China), starring Zhou Dongyu and (C-pop superstar) Jackson Yee, Nian finds her life at a standstill when facing relentless bullying from her peers as she prepares for her college entrance exam. Fate brings her together with small-time criminal Bei, but before they can retreat into a world of their own, both are dragged into the middle of a murder investigation that will change their lives forever. Director Derek Kwok-Cheung Tsang photo for Better Days (“Soulmate”) paints a bleak picture of an oppressive society, in the guise of a gripping fairy-tale love story, exposing the dark world of bullying and societal pressures of achievement facing today’s youth. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In “The Lodge” (2020), starring Richard Armitage, Riley Keough, Alicia Silverstone, Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh, a soon-to-be-stepmom is snowed in with her fiance’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations finally begin to thaw between the trio, strange and frightening events threaten to summon psychological demons from her strict religious childhood. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … In “The Jesus Rolls” (2019), starring John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Jon Hamm, Audrey Tautou, Christopher Walken, Gloria Reuben, Sonia Braga and JB Smoove, hours after being released from prison for good behavior, Jesus Quintana (Turturro) reunites with his best friend and fellow underachiever Petey (Cannavale). In the first in a series of rapidly escalating bad decisions, they steal a vintage car parked in front of an upscale salon and hit the road for a no-holds-barred joyride — until the car’s gun-toting owner (Hamm) catches up with them, wounding Petey. Fleeing the scene with fiercely free-spirited shampooist Marie photo for The Jesus Rolls (Tautou), Jesus and Petey continue their adventure in a series of stolen cars, cementing their partnership with an epic petty-crime spree and a three-way romance. A darkly funny, irreverent and freewheeling road movie was written and directed by Turturro and pays tribute to the classic French farce “Les Valseuses.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Screen Media Films … “Greed” (2019), directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Asa Butterfield, Dinita Gohil, Sophie Cookson, Jonny Sweet, Asim Chaudhry, Shirley Henderson and Isla Fisher, is the story of self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie (Coogan), whose retail empire is in crisis. For 30 years he has ruled the world of retail fashion, but after a damaging public government investigation, his image is tarnished. To save his reputation, he decides to bounce back with a highly publicized and extravagant party celebrating his 60th birthday on the Greek island of Mykonos. A satire on the grotesque photo for Greed inequality of wealth in the fashion industry. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … In 2003, the first episode of a little web series called “Red vs. Blue” began streaming on Rooster Teeth and took the internet by storm. Based on the popular Halo video game franchise, this sci-fi comedy was unlike anything people had ever seen before…and still is. Now, all 12 episodes of Season 17 will be released stitched together as a single movie, “Red vs. Blue: Singularity” (2019). The flow of time is in disarray now that Chrovos has been freed from their old prison, and the Reds and Blues are unwittingly trapped, and forced to relive their past memories. Fortunately, there is still one person in the universe who can do something about it: Donut. Thanks to his quick thinking, Donut manages to trap Chrovos in a temporary cell … but it won’t hold for long. From Warner … In “Human Zoo” (2020), starring Robert Carradine, Trista Robinso, Rachel Amanda Bryant, Jose Rosete, Jessica Cameron and Heather Dorff, the internet watches live, as reality-show contestants struggle against time to see who will stay in solitary confinement the longest and take home the one million dollar prize. From Wild Eye Releasing.

For the Family:

In “A Dog’s Courage (aka The Underdog” (2018 — South Korea), Jacob, a feisty, playful dog abandoned by his owners, joins a pack of strays and comes to terms with his unwanted and abrupt freedom. With his new friends in tow, Ralph heads north and finds the perfect place of safety and peace — the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Animated family adventure, in Korean and with an all-new English dub. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA.

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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